Thursday, October 04, 2012

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

FDLE announces criminal investigation into GOP voter registration fraud

"The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Wednesday that it is launching a criminal investigation into voter registration forms filed by a GOP vendor, Strategic Allied Consulting."

Submitting false voter registration information is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Questionable forms in a dozen counties, spanning from South Florida to the Panhandle, have turned up that suggest fraud on a wide scale. Many were incomplete, at least one was registered to a dead person, and some in Palm Beach County included addresses for voters that were business locations, such as a gas station, a Land Rover dealership and a Port Everglades administrative office.
"On Tuesday, Bennett Miller, the assistant general council [sic] for the Department of State, sent an email to all 67 county supervisors of elections instructing them to review all the voter registration forms filed by the Republican Party of Florida."
"Please limit access to the registrations to yourselves and a trusted member of your staff," Miller said in the email. "At some point, these registrations may become evidence used in court, so it is important for you to take steps to protect them from tampering."

Counties now must go back and review the forms that have been filed by the RPOF, which many have already started doing.

"FDLE launches investigation into voter registration forms".

It is unlikely Miller's email will be enough to prevent spoilage of evidence of registration fraud. Recall that in the runup to the 2000 election, Republican Supervisors of Election actually permitted Republican Party of Florida operatives to alter thousands of absentee ballot request forms after they had been submitted, and in one county actually allowed Republicans to take absentee ballot request forms out of the Supervisor's office to be altered, and later re-submitted. One can only imagine what might happen to the current evidence of fraudulent voter registrations now in the possession of supervisors of elections.

Only 78 felons regained right to vote in 2011

"Six million Americans, including 1.5 million Floridians can't vote because of felony convictions. While more than 154,000 people had their voting rights restored during the Crist administration, 78 ex-felons regained that right in 2011." "NAACP brings campaign for voting rights restoration to Capitol".

Big ballot blues

"County election supervisors are bracing for an unprecedented influx of frustration from voters in the coming weeks, thanks to the extraordinary length of this year's election ballot." "Huge ballot likely to test voters' concentration, patience".

"Republicans say there's no 'suppression' effort"

"A coalition of union and immigration activist groups said their voter registration drives are working despite an elections law they say is designed to dampen turnout among Democrats. Republicans say there's no 'suppression' effort, and that they're closing the registration gap before the deadline." "Liberal groups tout get-out -the-vote efforts, bemoan 'suppression'; RPOF says there's no problem".

Environmental groups oppose Amendments 3 and 4

"The amendments seek to limit state and local tax increases. 1000 Friends of Florida says limiting revenue hurts programs affecting growth and quality of life, including the environment. Audubon Florida is considering opposition to both, and Sierra Club Florida is opposed to Amendment 3." "Environmental opposition announced to Amendments 3, 4".

"Disparate instances of imprudence"

Fred Grimm: "Who would have thought that two disparate instances of imprudence back in 2003, one in wartime Iraq, one in party-time Miami Beach, would come to have such relevance in the Florida election of 2012?"

Yet, the poor folks trapped in Florida’s 18th Congressional District have been subjected to a barrage of attacks ads suggesting that the events of 2003 tell all one really needs to know about their candidates.

Back in 2003, U.S. Rep. Allen West, then a colonel in the U.S. Army, was charged, though never actually court marshaled, for firing a gun near an Iraqi prisoner’s head. The Army didn’t think much of his interrogation technique, fining him $5,000 and forcing him to retire. Perhaps the incident foretold something about West’s brash character as a politician, but after two years in office, his actual congressional record informs voters exactly how this Tea Party firebrand would perform as their U.S. representative.

In 2003, when challenger Patrick Murphy was 19, he was rousted for disorderly intoxication, a fake ID and mouthing off to a cop outside a Miami Beach night club. The charges were later dropped. This incident too has become the stuff of an attack campaign, as if someone’s behavior as a 19-year-old loose on South Beach might be a useful barometer of his political acumen nine years later.

Meanwhile, a SuperPac has gone after West with a nasty cartoon ad that depicts him with an outsized head knocking old ladies around a boxing ring. Another SuperPac goes after Murphy as one of the generic Democrats who support “wasteful spending like exotic ant research,” as tiny ants scurry across the TV screen. Apparently, the ad refers to a science grant derived from an emergency bipartisan bill passed without safeguards against the money going to the forbidden reaches of entomology.

"When slop passes for political ads".

Politicizing the judiciary

The Miami Herald editorial board: "Once again the Florida Legislature can’t seem to keep its collective hands off the separate and co-equal branch of government, the judiciary." "Don’t tread on judiciary".

Meanwhile, Bill Cotterell reports that "State Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith says his party won't follow the GOP lead and take a position on Florida Supreme Court retention -- but he will as a private citizen." "Democratic chairman: 'Don't politicize the judiciary'".

"Young voters riled up over tuition increases"

"Democrats campaigning to get young voters riled up over tuition increases, state higher-ed budget cuts." "Graham and Democrats rally college students". Meanwhile, the Sunshine State News thinks the solution is to ask daddy for a loan: "Public College Students Demand More Taxpayer Handouts at Florida Democrat Press Conference".

Nelson haters hold a press conference

"Florida Chamber Calls out Bill Nelson to Push Feds for More Customs Officers at MIA".

"Obama Needed Some Red Bull"

"Post-Debate Florida Voices: Romney Substantive, Obama Needed Some Red Bull".

"Only Senate race between two incumbents"

"Bogdanoff, Sachs face off in state’s only Senate race between two incumbents".

Scott ineffective in water wars

"Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been battling over water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system for more than 20 years. While visiting Franklin County, Scott said he has asked the Corps of Engineers to allow more water to flow to Florida but has been told they are doing their job." "While visiting struggling seafood workers, Scott says water focus should be on federal reservoir operations".