April 15, 2015

Jeb Bush's claim about gun permits in Florida

Facing a long list of GOP presidential contenders at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush touted his own pro-gun rights record.

Bush took a friendly jab at another potential presidential contender in the room:

"Today there are well over 1.3 million law-abiding Floridians with a valid concealed weapons permit, 1.3 million. That’s the most in the nation -- nearly double that of the second state, which is Texas. Sorry, Gov. Perry."

Yep, Florida does have 1,384,756 million concealed weapon permit holders as of March 2015.

It’s not surprising that Florida would be among the top states for the number of gun permits since it is now the third most populous state in the country. But does Florida lead the nation in gun permits and is that nearly double that of the second state, which is Texas? We were fired up to find the facts.

Turn to PolitiFact Florida to see how we rated Bush's claim and see our full Truth-O-Meter file for Bush.

May 14, 2014

Rick Perry joins Rick Scott at New Smyrna fundraiser


Texas Gov. Rick Perry joins Florida Gov. Rick Scott tonight for a New Smyrna Beach fundraiser tonight in yet another sign of the ongoing friendship between the two governors.

Before he was first elected in 2010, Scott said he wanted to emulate Perry's job-creation record and, since taking office in Tallahassee, Florida's job-growth has been the best in the nation, albeit Texas' economy has remained in much-better shape because of the petroleum industry.

They even challenged each other in a light-hearted fishing competition (Scott won) in 2012, when Perry hired Scott's campaign brain trust (polster Tony Fabrizio and ad men Curt Anderson and Nelson Warfield) to work on his presidential campaign. Perry's contemplating a second run in 2016.

As for tonight's fundraiser, Perry said in a written statement: “Governor Rick Scott understands that private sector growth is generated by lowering taxes and improving the workforce. The people of Florida are enjoying the benefits of Governor Scott’s leadership as their quality of life improves and taxes decrease, allowing them to keep more of their hard-earned money.” 

March 10, 2014

Mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis join Sharpton in fight against SYG

Sharpton3Flanked by the parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, civil rights leader and talk show host Rev. Al Sharpton called for the repeal of the state’s stand your ground law during a Monday march to the Capitol with several hundred supporters.

“The law is inherently wrong, whether it’s an unarmed teenager in Sanford or a man in a movie theater texting his babysitter,” Sharpton said. “It violates federal law.”

The mothers of Martin and Davis said they would work to repeal the law that they blame in the 2012 shooting deaths of their sons.

“I’m not here to accuse Michael Dunn of hiding behind the stand your ground law,” said Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis. “I’m here to accuse that law of giving him something to hide behind. I’m here to accuse the state of Florida and 25 other states of creating legislation that is nothing more than permission to kill. Florida, know this, there is a ground swell rising up and calling for change. I see that change arriving in the busloads that showed up here today and all the foot soldiers that have come to this point today.”

McBath said gun culture in American had become a “runaway train” thanks to Florida.

“This is the state where stand your ground began,” McBath said. “Justified homicides have risen by 200 percent. If this Legislature cannot see the demon that is had unleashed, and make a change to an egregious law, America will take stock of that. The backlash will go beyond the talk show jokes and newspaper columns that sling new ridicule at Florida’s approach to justice. The anger will extend itself to tourism, commerce, industry and public perception.”

“I’ve come too far to give up now,” said Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin. “Florida has a problem and we need to help Florida fix its problem. I’ve heard (all this) talk about F schools. Well Florida is an F state. Because right now, Florida is failing us. Florida is failing our teenagers, Florida is failing our young men and women, Florida has to change this law now.”

Sharpton cast much of his speech in broad legal terms. Tension between state rights and federal law, a crucial clash in the civil rights movement, has come to define the stand your ground debate, Sharpton said on the steps of the Capitol, facing the Florida Supreme Court.

“State law cannot supercede federal law,” Sharpton said. “Segregation was a state law. The right to own men and women was a state law. The history of the civil rights movement was the  history of state law vs. national and federal law. Trayvon Martin had the federal right to go home. Jordan Davis had the right, under federal law, to drive with his friends. The stand your ground law violates national and federal law.”

Joining Sharpton and the other speakers on Monday was the family of Emmitt Till, the Chicago teen whose 1955 murder for allegedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi helped galvanize the civil rights movement.

“To go from whistling in Mississippi in ‘55 to loud music in Jacksonville in (2012) is not a lot of progress,” Sharpton said. “We must protect ourselves, yes, but protecting yourself is not having a social hallucination.”

Sharpton told reporters his National Action Network, which he formed in 1991 to promote civil rights, will campaign against the law through the elections.

“This is the beginning of a  whole spring and summer offensive, to put pressure on not only the Capitol but we’re going to go into these legislative districts,” Sharpton said. “Homicides have gone up since stand your ground. We can’t talk about making guns more available, we ought to be talking about making them less available. The legislation they’re doing I think is deadly.”

But protests like Sharpton’s in Florida have so far proved ineffective. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson visited the Capitol last summer, only to have his trip denounced later by Gov. Rick Scott and other Republican leaders. A group called the Dream Defenders had a 31-day sit-in the Capitol that led to no changes in stand your ground, but did lead to a new rule that bans after hours protests in the Capitol.

An array of new gun legislation is proposed this year that would make guns more prevalent on school campuses and easier to gain access to concealed weapons permits. And polls show continued strong public support for stand your ground.

Sharpton said, despite these trends, he wasn’t discouraged.

“The NRA, which wasn’t around last year, waited strategically until this year when the Legislature’s up, which is why we’re here now,” Sharpton said. “The only reason it’s an issue is because of the protests. It will tip the political scales in Florida. You may end up deciding, in a close election, who the governor and the state legislature on this particular issue.”

July 17, 2013

On a favorite Rick Scott network, Florida doesn't stack up very well

One of Gov. Rick Scott's favorite national media outlets is CNBC, the all-business channel where Scott gets to effusively talk up his state, as he did in May when Hertz revealed plans to move its corporate headquarters from New Jersey. to Lee County.

Scott is also a very big fan of Squawk Box, CNBC's morning show, whether it's as a market-savvy viewer or in-studio guest. But as it turns out, CNBC seems a lot more impressed with the governor than with Florida's ability to market itself to companies building jobs.

The network recently released its annual state-by-state rankings of America's Top States for Business, with input from leading business voices such as the National Association of Manufacturers. You have to scroll all the way down to No. 30 to find the Sunshine State, behind such high-tax, high-regulation rust-belt stalwarts as Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. When you're 30th out of 50 in anything, you're looking pretty mediocre.

CNBC's rankings, like others, is subjective, and the network used 10 separate criteria to measure states' competitiveness. Florida ranks highest in availability of workers (No. 4 nationally) and in technology and innovation (No. 11). The state ranked low in the category of -- ready, Rick? -- the economy, at No. 38, and not much better, 35th, in the category of business friendliness. In the category of quality of life, Florida ranked 28th in CNBC's survey, behind even gritty New Jersey at No. 23.

CNBC said it weighted its 10 categories "based on how frequently they are cited in state economic development marketing materials. That way, our study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves." In CNBC's view, the No. 1 overall state for business friendliness is South Dakota, and (more bad news for Scott) it's followed closely by his arch-rival, Texas.

-- Steve Bousquet

June 21, 2013

Back home, Scott brags of Heat win at Texas' expense

A jet-lagged Gov. Rick Scott arrived back in Florida Friday after a week-long trade mission in France, drumming up business at the Paris Air Show. With his wife Ann at his side, Scott met briefly with reporters at Tallahassee Regional Airport.

For Scott, the Miami Heat's NBA champinship victory in Game 7 of the finals Thursday was even better because it came at the expense of a team in Texas, the home of Scott's alter ego, Gov. Rick Perry.

"It's great that they beat the Spurs and it's especially even nicer that they beat a Texas team," Scott said. "I haven't talked to Gov. Perry yet but I'm going to make sure he knows how that score came out."

Scott touted the planned move by a French firm, Vision Systems, to establish a U.S. base in Melbourne with about 40 jobs, as well as a Virginia aerospace firm, firm, ATR North America, that plans to add 40 jobs in Miami Springs.

He sidestepped several questions about his search for a lieutenant governor, the latest Quinnipiac poll numbers that show slight improvement in his popularity, and about whether he'll sign a bill that bans people with mental health issues from getting guns. "We're still reviewing it," Scott said of the bill (HB 1355).

Scott's next trade mission is planned for November, when he plans to go to Japan.

-- Steve Bousquet

June 20, 2013

State officials skipped interviewing key witnesses in GOP voter registration fraud case

TALLAHASSEE — Criminal investigators couldn't find a better witness than Jeff Jewett.

Last year, Jewett was the field coordinator for a private vendor used by the Republican Party of Florida in Jacksonville, overseeing a staff of 32 people registering voters. He discovered that one of his employees turned in seven bogus forms: fake addresses, non-working phone numbers, multiple signatures made in the same handwriting. He fired the employee, contacted elections officials and turned in the counterfeit forms.

Jewett's tip launched voter registration fraud case JA-32-0001 that would take Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents three months to close. The employee, a University of North Florida college student, admitted to investigators that he forged the forms. Because he had no criminal history, he got probation and was sentenced to 50 hours of community service.

Case closed, right?

Sure, except for one thing.

Jewett, the one who reported the crime, the one who supervised the employee and could best inform investigators if this was an isolated case or was more systemic, was never interviewed.

"I was surprised," Jewett said. "I figured they'd be interested in talking to me considering I was the one who turned him in."

Such a lack of initiative is baffling for an investigation into a crime that Gov. Rick Scott and Republican lawmakers had made a top priority in prosecuting and preventing. In the 18 months leading to last year's presidential campaign, they said the specter of voter registration fraud was so great that it was necessary to push for a purge of ineligible voters and a new law that made it harder to register voters.

Story here


February 01, 2013

Hospitals a bit relieved by Scott's budget

Last year, Gov. Rick Scott delivered quite a shock to the state's medical establishment by proposing a cut of about $2 billion in public funding to hospitals.

So when his $74 billion budget was released Thursday, one of the more interested observers was the Florida Hospital Association. But compared to the previous year, Scott's proposed cut of $82 million, or 2 percent, wasn't so bad, said its president, Bruce Rueben.

"If you’re comparing it to last year, it’s clearly a better start," Rueben said Friday. "It indicates that he's taking a more thoughtful approach. We're still going to have a lot of discussion about the cuts in the coming months. It is time we stop making cuts to the elderly, poor and disabled. Hospitals have been cut by over $1 billion since 2005."

Rueben said Scott's overall message that he would take a hard look at how to implement the expansion of Medicaid through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was encouraging. After all, he could have followed the lead of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has said his state won't implement it.

"(Scott) did not say, 'It’s not going to take place in Florida,'" Rueben said. "He should be commended for taking this seriously." 



January 16, 2013

You hear the one about the pro-Scott satanic cult?

It sure sounded funny.

An outfit called The Satanic Temple announced last week that it was gathering at the State Capitol on Jan. 25 to show support for Gov. Rick Scott, a Christian conservative.

The group’s spokesman/overlord, Lucien Greaves, explained that his group liked Scott for signing SB 98 last year, which allows school districts to create policies letting students deliver “inspirational messages” at public events.  Greaves said his members liked the bill because it allowed promotional opportunities for the dark master.

Greaves swore to god (his, of course) that this was no joke.

But upon further review, it turns out that Greaves is pulling another kind of joke on us.

Greaves is listed as the casting director of a feature film called …wait for it…The Satanic Temple.

Continue reading "You hear the one about the pro-Scott satanic cult?" »

February 27, 2012

Gaffes, miscalculations toll on Romney after win in FL. MI loss would set off 'panic'

Florida crowned Mitt Romney the unofficial Republican nominee last month. Now he’s on the precipice of losing the race in Michigan, his native state.

What happened?

A better question might be: What didn’t happen?

Romney failed to take his main opponent Rick Santorum seriously this month, giving the upstart room to breathe and time to win three state races in a row. Romney, plagued by gaffes, has failed to sell a consistent a message about why he should be his party’s nominee.

And in a volatile election season, Romney has also had the misfortune of being the victim of what one Republican called “Tea Party roulette,” which has extended the primary race and kept him in the cross-hairs.

“Mitt has had a bulls eye on his back for something like two years now,” said Allan Bense, a former Florida House speaker and co-chair of Romney’s Florida campaign.

“Once the bulls eye is on your back and the mainstream and others examine you and your issues and your history, it isn’t pretty,” Bense said. “Rick Santorum is learning that now. So I think we’ll be okay once voters become educated about the other candidates.”

Bense is among the more confident Romney Florida backers. They’ve watched with dismay as the Sunshine State’s primary failed to be a deal-sealer for Romney in the race.

Last week, the campaign had to postpone a Daytona Beach fundraiser so that Romney could focus on campaigning in Michigan, a state he was expected to win handily. Now he’s essentially tied with Santorum. Polls suggest Romney should win in Arizona. Both states hold their primaries on Tuesday. The two states set up the 10-state Super Tuesday contest on March 6.

“If we don’t win Michigan on Tuesday, we will start to panic,” said one top Romney official, who didn’t want to be on record for talking out of school. “We made a few missteps. We allowed Santorum to win in Colorado, but we only really started campaigning there once it was too late.”

More here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/27/2664233/mitt-romney-struggles-to-win-over.html#storylink=cpy

January 20, 2012

Think Bain attacks repel primary voters? Internal GOP polls, Newt surge suggest otherwise

With the near-universal outrage among conservatives over Newt Gingrich's attacks on Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital, it would seem that the line is a sure loser during the Republican primary. But two internal Republican-conducted polls, shared on condition of anonymity, suggest otherwise. Also, Gingrich's double-digit surge in polls in South Carolina (largely fueled by his debate performance) shows that the Bain line wasn't toxic.

The surveys of 500 Iowa caucus goers and 500 South Carolina likely primary voters show that the attack could work well if it's framed the way Gingrich has: That Romney got rich while he fired the little guy. In Iowa, 61 percent of likely primary voters said it would make them less likely to vote for a candidate. In South Carolina, 63 percent said it would make primary voters less likely to vote for a candidate.

Sixty percent is a magic number in polling, a sign that your line of attack or defense has a chance in a campaign.

Yes, it's a leading push poll/message-testing question, one that's used to help sharpen campaign ads or one that consultants use to anticipate future attacks so they can defend their candidate. It doesn't mean the message is fair, accurate or complete. And, yes, this is just a snippet of a poll shared with us to push an agenda. Still, it's worth a note.

Also, the Iowa and South Carolina polls roped in Democrats and independents, who can participate in the early votes there. In Florida, only Republicans can vote in the Jan. 31 primary. But Florida is also a top job-loss state and Romney has yet to explain how his company profitted off of shuttering a Miami factory and laying off hundreds of workers years ago (story is here). And, in the end, struggling Republican Floridians are a lot more like struggling Democrats and independents than the coiffed, well-suited cognescenti of the Washington-New York chattering class.

It's unclear if the Bain attack has hurt or helped Gingrich in the long run. After the near-universal conservative condemnation of Gingrich, polls showed Romney started to consolidate Republican support. But Gingrich is new statistically tied with Romney, 32-31. Gingrich is gaining momentum. Romney isn't.

The line of attack isn't a silver bullet, either. Just ask Rick Perry who tried it out and then dropped it. and then dropped out yesterday. Also, the Bain criticism wasn't used in Iowa and it's relatively new. So Romney and his supporters have time to define Bain Capital the way they want before it's too late. They're doing it, advertising Bain's and Romney's success stories in South Carolina and Florida.

Campaigns are about selling products (candidates) and turning off voters to the other product on the shelf. Messaging -- that is, advertising -- matters. Romney is advertising full blast in Florida. The other candidates aren't.

But, considering that Romney goes off message with lines like "I like to be able to fire people," he might just be advertising his weakness as well.