Friday, July 27, 2012

Today's Florida Political News and Punditry

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

"Where there's smoke, there's an elephant"

Daniel Ruth: "Memo to the spats of the very modern major generals running the Republican Party of Florida: Hell hath no fury like a politician scorned."

But you probably figured that out by now.

For but the pettiness of stiffing a former party chairman out of $130,000 to shut up and go far away, the GOP brain trust has found itself in the crosshairs of Jim Greer's campaign for revenge.

It's isn't pretty. But it sure makes for some swell reading.

Greer was the hand-picked coat holder for Gov. Charlie Crist to oversee the affairs of the state party. And it is probably true it didn't take long for Greer to see himself as Caesar as he gallivanted about on private planes, stayed in swanky hotels and treated the post as his own personal ATM.

But as the now-disgraced Greer faces criminal fraud charges stemming from the time of his rule, the former chairman is lashing out at those he accuses of plotting against him. The list of usual suspects is impressive: outgoing Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, state Sen. John Thrasher, party counsel Jason Gonzalez and even Crist's former chief of staff, Eric Eikenberg.
"Let the shames begin."
in a lengthy deposition in the civil case, the chatty Greer unloaded on his former party brethren as liars, crazy nuts, brigands and connivers hatching schemes to suppress the voting rights of black Florida voters.

And all this was going on while everyone was conspiring to stab each other in the back. There is something to be said for multitasking. Was this the inner workings of a political party, or Tallahassee's answer to Macbeth meets The Departed?

With Greer's allegation of racially motivated GOP shenanigans to suppress black voter turnout, it is little wonder in an election year the party would welcome any effort to postpone the defrocked chairman's criminal trial until 2112. ...

But considering Gov. Rick Scott and the rest of the Tallahassee Republican establishment embraced other voter suppression efforts such as reducing the number of early voting days and scrubbing of voter rolls, it would be reasonable to conclude where there's smoke, there's an elephant.

The litany of self-indulgence Greer alleges makes The Jersey Shore look like The Waltons, although it's hard to envision Thrasher as Tallahassee's answer to Snooki.

Greer suggests things began to go south when Crist, forgetting he was supposed to be a Republican, greeted President Barack Obama with a warm embrace rather than tossing him the keys to park the car. It is was bad enough the governor wanted to let "those people" vote. Avert your eyes!

In Greer's view, the state GOP allowed itself to be hijacked by "whack-a-do, right-wing crazies," who wanted him to "censure" Crist for palling around with a Democratic president. Let's not forget Greer was sworn to tell the truth.
"Hell hath no fury like a scorned pol".

Mini-Mack courts one percenters

"Connie Mack’s Senate campaign sent out a fundraising email to tell supporters about Sen. Bill Nelson’s vote to raise taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year." "Bill Nelson's tax vote could help the budget — of Connie Mack's campaign".

"Latest investigation of potential absentee ballot fraud in Miami-Dade"

"The latest investigation of potential absentee ballot fraud in Miami-Dade County was triggered by a private investigator who went to police with his suspicions that a woman active in Hialeah politics was illegally collecting absentee ballots from voters."

Miami private investigator Joe Carrillo said he first went to Miami-Dade public corruption detectives last week about Daisy Cabrera, who Carrillo said had been handing out business cards to voters offering assistance with their ballots.

Carrillo obtained a copy of one of Cabrera’s cards, decorated with the stars and stripes and a handwritten message in Spanish on the back: “When the ballot arrives you call me. I work every election.”

Then, on Tuesday, Carrillo said he observed Cabrera knocking on doors in a Hialeah neighborhood before visiting the Hialeah campaign office of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who is seeking re-election Aug. 14. Cabrera then went to the Miami-Dade Elections office, and finally the post office, he said. Carrillo videotaped some of Cabrera’s travels.

Cabrera was questioned Wednesday by detectives who found her in possession of several absentee ballots, sources said. Under a new county ordinance, it is a misdemeanor for anyone to possess more than two ballots belonging to other voters.

A second woman, Matilde Martinez, is also being investigated by police and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, the sources said.
"Private eye’s tip led to absentee ballot fraud probe in Hialeah".

Delmar Johnson wore a wire

In the Greer case, "new evidence being released by prosecutors shows it wasn't that long ago that he was secretly bragging about the money he got from state party coffers."

In a recent deposition in which the indicted former Republican Party of Florida chairman calls Republican higher-ups "whack-a-dos" and "crazies," in elaborating on the party rebellion that led to his resignation in 2010. But the statewide prosecutor's office also released other documents this week, including a March 2010 recording of former executive director-turned-prosecution witness Delmar Johnson wearing a wire in Greer's Oviedo home. ...

[In] a tantalizing, two-day deposition of Greer taken in May, the former chairman derides the RPOF board as being disinterested in party management and "more interested in whether we were having shrimp at the quarterly meeting coming up versus anything substantive."

He says RPOF consultants and political staff held meetings where they "talked about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting."
"Prosecutors in Greer trial reveal secret recording". See also "Talk of money on secret tape".

House race turns nastier

"The GOP race for House District seat 112 is vicious, with both candidates leveling attacks on each other’s moral character." "Nasty state House race turns nastier".

HD 116

"Rep. Ana Rivas Logan and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, both with Cuban-American roots, face off in House District 116. Campaign fliers have questioned Logan's background while Diaz said her supporters are claiming he's gay." "Primary Profile: 2 Republican House incumbents pitted in vicious Miami race".

Florida's ALEC shills outed

"A new report criticizes Florida lawmakers’ ties to a corporate-sponsored group that advocates for laws it says are 'harming the rights and opportunities of everyday citizens.'"

The study by Progress Florida, Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy says the group -- American Legislative Exchange Council -- furthers its agenda by wining and dining lawmakers at resort settings. ALEC is a 501c organization so contributions to it are tax-deductible, but as a nonprofit there are limits on its political activities. One critic suggests that ALEC should lose its nonprofit status.

“They clearly state they are not a lobbying organization,” said Damien Filer of Progress Florida while discussing the report Thursday. “We’ll leave that up to the IRS to look into.”

ALEC is an organization made up of lawmakers from various states, businesses and corporations. It serves as a networking organization for advocates of limited government and promotes “best practices” to implement public policy. Members gather at annual meetings and collaborate on drafting legislation that lawmakers then take to their statehouses and submit as proposed legislation. The report says often the legislation provides benefits for ALEC corporate members.

“I have never been to an ALEC event and as far as I know I’ve never filed any legislation from them,” said Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, listed in the report as a dues-paying member. He denied being a member of the group as far he knows. The only way it could have happened, he said, is that a staff member may have inadvertently sent money to the organization without his knowledge. ...

“(ALEC) is Republican leaning and Republicans control the Legislature; I would definitely say ALEC has influence in the Legislature,” said House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders, D-Key West, who disputed the report's listing him as a member. He echoed Plakon's explanation. “Heck, one legislator filed a bill and left ALEC’s name in the legislation.”

Saunders was referring to HB 685, a proposal urging Congress to cut the federal corporate tax rate. Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, withdrew it and replaced it with HB 717, which died in the Senate Commerce Committee.
"New report contends state lawmakers linked to ALEC".

"Rooney a Heavy Favorite"

"CD 17: Tom Rooney a Heavy Favorite to Win a 3rd Term".


"President Barack Obama campaigns in Jacksonville and West Palm Beach, but he faces a more pessimistic electorate than in 2008 and he’s grappling with tougher opponent in Mitt Romney." "As thrill fades, President Barack Obama fires up supporters on Medicare, tax cuts".

"Wrong and inexcusable"

"After an online petition drive garnered hundreds of signatures demanding her apology, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll on Thursday apologized to the head of an advocacy group saying that her anti-gay comment two weeks ago was 'wrong and inexcusable.'" "Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll apologizes for anti-gay remark". See also "Fla. Lt. Gov. apologizes for remark about lesbians", "Lt. Gov. Carroll apologizes for comment that offended gay activists" and "Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll apologizes for anti-gay remark".

"Politically Perfect Anti-Casino Strategy"

Nancy Smith: "Historic Preservation for the Miami Herald? It's a Politically Perfect Anti-Casino Strategy".

HD 88 "fight for survival"

"While all four Democratic candidates for the newly drawn state House District 88 want to talk about community service, public education and unemployment, the race has instead turned into a fight for survival for a few of them." "Winner of 4-person Democratic primary will take House District 88".

"Lice and scabies"

"A key member of the governor’s panel looking to improve ALFs owns a home that was fined after a resident was found with lice and scabies." "ALF task force includes owner of home fined for neglect".

"Atwater, DMS at Odds"

"Jeff Atwater, DMS at Odds Over Paying for Appeals Court Art".

Mini-Mack missed work 28.6% of the time, not 50% as Weldon claims

"The Weldon robocall said that Connie Mack "missed almost half of his votes" this year. Actually, Mack missed about 28.6 percent of votes this year, which is significantly less than the robocall claimed. The Weldon campaign conceded that they relied on out-of-date information for their attack." "PolitiFact: Dave Weldon wrongly claims Connie Mack IV this year missed ‘almost half’ of his votes in Congress.".

"Private insurance companies want to get their hands on it"

"After six years without a hurricane, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has built up a massive cash surplus of about $6.1 billion. And private insurance companies want to get their hands on it." "Citizens’ cash eyed by private insurers".

A related issue - from the Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Editorial: Higher insurances rates would hurt Florida’s economy".