November 08, 2017

Payday lenders, with major business before Trump, to hold conference at Trump Doral

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National charities and industry associations are ditching Trump properties like Mar-a-Lago for annual galas and conferences, but at least one association with business before the White House is set to visit Trump National Doral for its annual conference.

The Community Financial Services Association of America, an interest group that represents the payday loan industry, is hosting its four-day annual conference in April 2018 at Donald Trump’s 90-hole golf resort 12 miles west of downtown Miami.

Payday loans are a form of high-interest credit usually taken out by low-income people who aren’t able to borrow from traditional banks. Many consumers access the loans online, and critics say the loans can be predatory.

Last month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector, finalized a rule that requires payday lenders to determine up front whether people can afford to pay their loans, a decision that was criticized by the Community Financial Services Association of America.

“The CFPB’s misguided rule will only serve to cut off their access to vital credit when they need it the most,” association CEO Dennis Shaul in a statement in October. “The rule is not only misguided, it’s hideously complex for loans of a few hundred dollars.”

The CFPB, established by Congress in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, has long been a target of Republicans, who charge that the agency creates burdensome regulations for industry groups. The CFPB was first proposed by liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, which further rankles Republicans.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is a co-sponsor of a bill proposed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that would eliminate the CFPB.

Diane Standaert, executive vice president for the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit that advocates for stronger regulations on the payday loan industry, said that President Donald Trump and Congress could nullify the new CFPB rule and help the payday loan industry by passing a bill that overturns the rule before the rule goes into full effect about two years from now.

“Payday loans are debt traps by design with interest rates averaging 300 percent,” Standaert said. “These small loans cause big problems for low-income people all across the country.”

Read more here.

September 07, 2017

Rubio would have grudgingly voted for a $15 billion hurricane relief bill, but he was in Miami preparing for Irma



The U.S. Senate passed a $15 billion Hurricane Harvey disaster relief bill on Thursday, but Marco Rubio wasn't there. 

He was in Miami preparing for Hurricane Irma and meeting with local officials. 

Hours after the bill passed on Thursday, Rubio issued a statement explaining that he would have voted in favor of the package even though he had "significant reservations." 

“Today, I am in West Miami, which is now under a watch for Hurricane Irma and currently projected to take a direct hit from this Category 5 storm," Rubio said in a statement. "Tropical Storm conditions are expected in South Florida less than 48 hours after the time of today’s vote, and I am using this crucial time to safely secure my home, my mother’s home and otherwise prepare my family to face the brunt and the aftermath of a potentially catastrophic storm. If I had been able to participate in today’s Senate vote in Washington, I would have voted to approve the supplemental package before the Senate. But my vote would come despite significant reservations about some of the other items attached to this legislation."

Rubio's vote wasn't critical, the measure passed with an overwhelming 80-17 vote. A number of conservative Republicans, most from non-coastal states, voted against it. 

The Harvey relief bill, which helps to fund FEMA as it runs out of money, was tied to an increase in the nation's debt ceiling and the National Flood Insurance Program after Donald Trump cut a deal with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday. 

Rubio opposed the deal. 

"I strongly disagree with the decision made by the administration to agree to pair funding for FEMA and emergency disaster relief to short-term extensions to the continuing resolution, the debt ceiling and the National Flood Insurance Program unaccompanied by significant reforms," Rubio said. "Absent extenuating circumstances such as the outbreak of the Zika virus last year, I have consistently opposed passage of short term continuing resolutions, because they are an incredibly inefficient way of spending taxpayer dollars and fails to provide the certainty required for effective planning. Additionally, I am frustrated Congress has once again temporarily reauthorized the outdated National Flood Insurance Program without enacting a long-term solution that provides much-needed improvements for the people of Florida and places this vital program on a sustainable path for the future." 

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson voted in favor of the proposal. Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn also voted in favor, even though Cruz has been a vocal critic of raising the nation's debt ceiling in the past, as Texas faces a massive recovery effort from Hurricane Harvey. 

"Given that Texas continues to recover from the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Harvey and that the state of Florida is facing the most powerful Atlantic storm ever recorded, I have no choice but to support this measure," Rubio said. "Nevertheless, I consider the manner in which this measure was structured, linking emergency disaster relief for victims in need of immediate assistance with other controversial measures we still have time to debate through regular order, to be among the most politically cynical efforts I have ever witnessed."


September 06, 2017

Rubio voted against Sandy aid in 2013. Now he wants money for Irma.

Marco Rubio


Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson urged Congress to approve additional funds for disaster relief as Hurricane Irma threatens Miami, a bipartisan ritual for politicians with constituents facing hardship from a major storm.

But in 2013, Rubio was one of 36 Republican senators who voted against a Hurricane Sandy relief bill for New Jersey and New York, and now his South Florida colleagues hope he has learned a lesson.

“You can be a fiscal conservative until it hits you and your community and then you have a different point of view,” said Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Rubio in 2013 argued that the $60 billion bill for Sandy relief, which passed after months of delays, was filled with unnecessary spending.

“The Hurricane Sandy supplemental bill goes far beyond emergency relief to impacted victims and communities, which is why I voted no on final passage,” Rubio said in a 2012 statement. “The current spending bill goes far beyond emergency relief and all efforts to strip the bill of unrelated pork are being blocked.”
He was the only member of Congress who represented Miami-Dade County to vote against the bill. Nelson, Republican Reps. Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, former Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia and Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson all voted in favor of the Sandy bill, which passed after a minority of Republicans joined Democrats.
Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who came to Congress after the Sandy vote, described the decision by some Republicans to vote against Sandy relief as “horrible.”

“I’m sure a lot of them are regretting it today,” Curbelo said of the Sandy vote. “My message is, you could be next. When a significant number of Americans are suffering due to a natural disaster, we need to come together as a country and we’re really worried about spending around here, we should look at our entitlement programs, not refuse to help people who are homeless and lacking food.”

On Wednesday, Rubio and Nelson issued a joint letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, urging Congress to include additional funds for Irma relief in the spending package that lawmakers are preparing to help Texas recover from Harvey.

“As Floridians are preparing for one of the worst storms on record, they need to know that the federal government is both ready and willing to direct the necessary resources needed to help them in the recovery process,” Rubio and Nelson wrote. “As such, we strongly urge you to include additional funding in the Hurricane Harvey aid package to account for the additional costs FEMA will likely incur responding to Hurricane Irma.”

Read more here. 

August 02, 2017

Ted Cruz calls Nicolás Maduro a "bus driver turned authoritarian thug in a track suit"



Texas Sen. Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to oppose Venezuela's constituent assembly that will have the power to rewrite the nation's constitution in favor of President Nicolás Maduro

He didn't mince words. 

"Venezuela is not the private preserve of a bus driver turned authoritarian thug in a track suit," Cruz said, mocking Maduro's rise to power. "Instead, Venezuela is a proud and free nation with a glorious past and an even greater future." 

In a 10-minute-long speech, Cruz, a Cuban-American Republican, blasted the constituent assembly and called on the White House to ramp up pressure on Venezuela in addition to sanctions announced by the Treasury Department earlier this week. 

"I support the Treasury Department's sanctions against senior Venezuelan officials, including Maduro, placing him in the ignominious company of Kim Jong Un and Robert Mugabe," Cruz said, referring to the leaders of North Korea and Zimbabwe. "We must keep the pressure on and continue to isolate and delegitimize Maduro's regime." 

Cruz likened the overnight arrests of opposition leaders Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma to his family's experience in Cuba. 
"Members of my own family lived through this sort of oppression in Cuba, where a lawless government can raid your home without warning, arbitrarily detain your relatives and neighbors and ensure that you hardly, if ever, see them again," Cruz said. 
Watch video of Cruz's speech below: 

September 23, 2016

Ted Cruz endorses Donald Trump


Remember the Ted Cruz who stole the show during July's Republican National Convention, failing to endorse nominee Donald Trump?

He's gone now.

The Texas senator posted a robust Trump endorsement on his Facebook page Friday.

Trump issued a brief statement on Cruz's about-face.

"I am greatly honored by the endorsement of Senator Cruz," he said. "We have fought the battle and he was a tough and brilliant opponent. I look forward to working with him for many years to come in order to make America great again."

Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

July 21, 2016

'Rude' Cruz non-endorsement is talk of Florida delegation's GOP convention breakfast


INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tweeted late Wednesday night it was "no big deal" that primary runner-up Ted Cruz refused to endorse him on the convention floor.

Perhaps not for Trump. But Cruz was all Florida delegates could talk about Thursday at an early-morning breakfast.

"It was unfortunate that he made those statements and he did what he did," Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said. "I do not know if that was the intended outcome of his speech, but if it was, it was an extremely unstatesmanlike, and he probably should have declined the invitation to speak."

At a buffet line, one delegate was overheard telling another Cruz was plain "rude."

The top-billed breakfast speakers also couldn't avoid reflecting on Cruz the day after.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott tried to stay above the fray without referencing Cruz directly. "This is a time to be unified," he told reporters.

Other speakers took Cruz's speech head on.

"I'm a friend of Ted's, and I think he made a mistake last night," U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said, though he also struck a note of empathy for his Texas colleague. "It's just hard for us, who've been in the center of it, to get along."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich posited that "part of what's going is the kind of normal turmoil when something historic has occurred."

Cruz, Gingrich added, is "a brilliant Princeton debater and a brilliant Harvard debater" who could "give you a wonderful speech on the theory of kicking over tables." About two-thirds of the way in, he added, "Donald Trump would walk into the room and kick over the table."

"In all fairness to Ted, he has always had this challenge of being sensitive to people," Gingrich continued, drawing laughs. He said a reporter asked him Wednesday night, "Isn’t this a sign of division?"

"Well, there were 5,000 people on one side," Gingrich said. "And Ted."

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But not all the delegates felt rancor toward Cruz.

“I liked it,” Miami-Dade County alternate delegate Rey Lastre said of the speech. “It’s important to have diversity of opinion. The Republican Party is supposed to be a big tent. I was clapping for Ted. Other people were too."


July 20, 2016

Ted Cruz steals Mike Pence's show at GOP convention's unofficial Florida night



CLEVELAND -- Mike Pence was the marquee name at the Wednesday at the Republican National Convention. But Ted Cruz stole the show.

The Texas senator, the last candidate to lose to Donald Trump in the GOP presidential primary, used his prime-time speaking slot not to endorse the nominee, but to lay out a methodical, ideological vision that sounded like the foundation for a potential Cruz candidacy in 2020.

“To those listening, please, don’t stay home in November,” Cruz said. “Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”

Thousands of Trump delegates assembled on the floor of Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena did not take it well. By the time Cruz concluded, the riled-up audience jeered and booed him off stage.

It was astonishing political theater.

The night had been intended to celebrate Pence, the Indiana governor Trump selected as his running mate.

“You know, I’m new to this campaign, and honestly, I — I never thought I’d be standing here,” Pence said, pivoting to Trump. “He’s a man known for a large personality, a colorful style and lots of charisma — and so I guess he was just looking for some balance on the ticket.”

Wednesday was also Florida’s unofficial night in the spotlight.

More here.

Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

May 09, 2016

Donald Trump's record hiring foreign workers at Mar-A-Lago


Donald Trump has promised to be the "greatest jobs president that God ever created." But he’s also been attacked for his record of hiring foreign workers.

A Ted Cruz ad that aired in Indiana attacked Trump’s use of temporary foreign visas known as the H-2B program:

"Trump still brings in hundreds of foreign workers to replace Americans," stated the narrator.

Cruz dropped out of the presidential race May 3 after losing Indiana, but we suspect Democrats will be happy to launch this same attack line at Trump in the months to come. So we decided to look into it.

The bottom line: Trump did try to hire hundreds of foreign workers at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, although it’s unclear just how many actually took jobs. The workers also weren’t necessarily replacing Americans, but filled temporary jobs locals allegedly couldn’t do or didn’t want.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

May 04, 2016

Fact-checking Ted Cruz who dropped out of presidential race

Donald Trump won a decisive victory in the Indiana primary on May 3, and that has prompted Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to suspend his 2016 presidential campaign.

Here is a snapshot of Cruz’s Truth-O-Meter scorecard on the night he pulled out. (See the current state of his scorecard, which updates automatically as we publish new fact-checks.)

Here at PolitiFact, we’ve been fact-checking Cruz since 2011, when he ran against an establishment favorite (then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst)  in a primary to win the Republican Senate nomination. He won the general election in 2012 and holds the seat until 2018.

At PolitiFact Florida, we covered the Cruz's battle with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio about immigration, his misleading claim that the EPA tried to regulate puddles and his attack at the Miami debate about Trump's statement about Israel.

Keep reading our story from PolitiFact about Cruz.


May 03, 2016

Ted Cruz drops out of GOP presidential race


Ted Cruz lost the Indiana primary resoundingly to Donald Trump on Tuesday, clearing Trump's path to the Republican presidential nomination and prompting Cruz to withdraw from the campaign.

"Together we left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we've got," Cruz told supporters in Indianapolis. "But the voters chose another path."

The Texas senator said he suspended his campaign "with a heavy heart," because he no longer has a "viable path" to the nomination. That makes Trump the almost-certain nominee, though he has yet to garner the 1,237 delegates needed.

"When we launched this campaign 13 months ago, we saw a movement grow. The pundits all said it was hopeless," Cruz said. "I am so grateful to you.... The movement that you have started is extraordinary."

That leaves a single symbolic rival to Trump: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has remained in the race even though he only won his home state and has fewer delegates than Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who ended his candidacy March 15.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus made it clear Tuesday night that Trump is the party's choice (with a typo in the tweet to boot):

From New York, Trump congratulated Cruz, whom he had branded "Lyin' Ted" during the race and with whom he traded forceful accusations earlier Tuesday. By evening, Trump called Cruz a "hell of a competitor."

"He is a tough, smart guy," Trump said. "He's got an amazing future."

The celebrity businessman seemed awed by his own success.

"It's been some unbelievable day and evening and year," Trump said. "It's a beautiful think to watch and a beautiful thing to behold, and we're going to make America great again."

"We are going to win bigly," he added.