Friday, May 16, 2014

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

Scott coddled by "all-white conservative front group"

"The Florida Council of 100, a politically astute [sic] group of top business leaders, abruptly blocked a speech Thursday by Charlie Crist scheduled shortly after an address by Gov. Rick Scott, the Democrat’s successor and likely opponent in November."

The Republican-leaning group had invited Crist weeks ago to address its spring meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, and offered 30 minutes of speaking time.

On Tuesday, it withdrew the invitation, but Crist showed up anyway and listened to Scott’s talk. He then called a press conference and basked in the free publicity.

“It’s silly, childish and, frankly, rude,” said Crist. “It’s galactically stupid.”

The council gave no explanation for silencing Crist, who as a former governor is a lifetime member of the council. Two council leaders, chief executive Susan Pareigis and chairman Steve Halverson, did not respond to phone and text messages and emails.

Crist said Halverson told him Wednesday, “I owe you an apology. I was involved in that,” and that the reason was “we didn’t want it to be political.”

Halverson, a Jacksonville construction executive, has personally given $3,000 to Scott’s reelection campaign and $25,000 more to Let’s Get to Work, Scott’s political committee.

"The highly public snub of Crist by Florida’s corporate leadership played directly into his hands. He’s being vastly outspent by Scott in TV advertising and he’s running as a populist 'people’s governor' who sides with individuals, not corporations that support Scott."
Ironically, Crist’s speech would have been largely ignored because Council of 100 events are off-limits to reporters.

The speech that Crist was not allowed to give was an all-out attack on Scott’s record and his integrity — “a bully with a $100 million checkbook,” according to prepared remarks released by his campaign.

“We have a governor who leads by embracing the ideological fringes, taking care of his friends, bullying his opponents, hiding from the public and press and running from tough issues,” Crist’s text said. . . .

A few council members voiced their opposition to the snub. And state Sen. Dwight Bullard, the leader of the legislative black caucus, and the state House Democrats’ leader, Perry Thurston, wrote the council a letter that accused it of bending to the “bullying of Governor Scott.” They suggested the council was an all-white conservative front group.

"Charlie Crist basks in Florida Council of 100's ‘galactically stupid’ snub." Meanwhile, "Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist dug in on Thursday as they continued to exchange attacks in the increasingly combative Florida gubernatorial race." Another Day, Another Rick Scott-Charlie Crist Battle Royal."

Constitutional challenge targets pols use of blind trusts

"Gov. Rick Scott, the first officeholder to take advantage of the provision, appears to be the target of the action, but he’s not a named defendant." "Constitutional challenge targets Gov. Rick Scott’s use of blind trust law". See also "Suit asks court to stop politicians’ use of ‘blind trusts’" and "Supreme Court petition challenges Scott's use of blind trusts." More: "Civil-rights, media groups sue to force Scott to disclose assets."

Updated: "Careful Who You Blindly Trust: Florida's Sunshine Law and Political Opportunism".


"Proponents of immigration reform have an uphill battle getting a majority of the Republicans in the House behind their agenda. As they continue to push immigration reform, expect Diaz-Balart to play a larger role, secure in the fact that he is no political peril this year." "Unfettered Mario Diaz-Balart Takes On Immigration Reform".

Never mind the Jebacies

"Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday bashed his predecessor, former Gov. Charlie Crist -- his likely opponent for reelection this fall -- for losing more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs during his four years in office (2007-2011)."

He did not mention that Crist’s predecessor, Gov. Jeb Bush, oversaw the loss of 68,100 manufacturing jobs during his eight years in office (1999-2007). Crist was a Republican while in office but switched to the Democratic Party -- Jeb Bush, oversaw the loss of 68,100 manufacturing jobsafter a failed independent bid for U.S. Senate in 2010 -- and is running for his old job against Scott.
"Scott slams Crist on manufacturing job losses, but Jeb Bush lost some too."

Rick Scott nowhere to be found

"Darden lays off more employees at Orlando HQ".

"Attack ads take center stage"

"Attack ads have taken center stage as the candidates maneuver for position to get the edge in the Florida gubernatorial campaign." "Attack Ads Front and Center in Florida Governor's Race".

And the temerity to expect a pension

"OPD lieutenant saves retired firefighter at D.C. memorial." Meanwhile, Fla. police officer buys homeless man shoes".

"The tea party has experts, too"

Carl Hiaasen channels his inner Rick Scott: "My fellow Floridians, as you’ve all probably heard, a new National Climate Assessment report says that Florida is seriously threatened by rising sea levels, mass flooding, salt-contaminated water supplies and increasingly severe weather events — all supposedly caused by climate change."

Let me assure you there’s absolutely no reason for worry. I still don’t believe climate change is real, and you shouldn’t, either.

Don’t be impressed just because 240 “experts” contributed to this melodramatic report. The tea party has experts, too, and they assure me it’s all hogwash.

"Scott takes deep dive into climate change."

GOP "bad girl" not so tuff after all

"An associate of former U.S. Rep. David Rivera plans to appeal a judge's ruling denying her release on bail on charges of campaign finance laws. The attorney for Ana Alliegro has filed court papers saying she will take her case to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Two Miami judges have ordered her jailed until trial as a flight risk." "Bail appeal for associate of ex-Rep. Rivera".

Perry and Santorum Look to Florida

"Two Republicans who ran for their party’s presidential nomination in 2012 and are considering second bids in 2016 are focusing on Florida this month." "Rick Perry and Rick Santorum Look to Florida With 2016 Bids on the Table".

A political year on the education front

"Lawmakers appropriated a record amount for public education, granted in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants and expanded a tax-credit scholarship program." "2014 Session Summary: Education".

"High-profile legal scramble"

"Florida’s Republican legislators and their political consultants mounted a last-minute attempt Thursday to keep key emails, maps and planning documents out of a court case that is scheduled to begin next week over the state’s congressional districts."

The appeal to the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee comes after a circuit court judge ruled last week and again Thursday that several documents considered confidential “trade secrets” by political consultant, Data Targeting and its owner Pat Bainter, should become public — if they are used in court by lawyers.

The high-profile legal scramble comes just days before a two-week redistricting trial is scheduled to begin in the Second Judicial Circuit in Leon County.

The League of Women voters and seven Florida voters are suing the state for violating the state law that prohibits legislators from protecting political parties and incumbents when redistricting the state.

They told the court they plan to use the documents to argue that Bainter and his staff partners, Matt Mitchell and Michael Sheehan, “surreptitiously participated in the process of preparing the 2012 Congressional Plan.”

The parties have been fighting for more than a year over whether the emails between legislators, staff and the political consultants should be kept secret.

"Republicans mount last-ditch effort to keep out of public eye redistricting case documents".

Wingers see the light

"Conservatives from the Sunshine State called on Congress Thursday to pass immigration reform before the end of the year. Immigration reform legislation backed by the 'Gang of Eight,' including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., passed through the Democratic-controlled Senate but it has stalled in the GOP-led U.S. House." "Florida Conservatives Push Congress for Immigration Reform".

Rubio in a dither teachers teach kids about climate change

What's a climate change denier to do as "EPA chief, students talk asthma and climate change." Rubio is traveling five gears in reverse: "Attacked for his position on climate change, Sen. Marco Rubio explains himself."

Are Crist's "Cuba-obsessed advisors working for Rick Scott?"

Fabiola Santiago thinks Crist should "Fire [his] Cuba-obsessed advisors. They must be working for Rick Scott, the Republican governor whose seat easily could be yours again if [he] focused this race on crucial state issues, not U.S.-Cuba policy."

She writes him a personal note:

You didn’t hear me the first time I brought this up after your silly appearance on Bill Maher, so here’s a second round of unsolicited advice: Amateur Democrat Charlie Crist, you’re digging yourself deeper in the hole. Stick to what you know – and what all Floridians need from their governor, leadership on state matters.

How we, Cuban-Americans, feel about Cuba is more complicated and nuanced than any poll could ever measure – and you could understand.

When I finished reading the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times story headlined: “Crist: Embargo ‘has not worked,’ ” I felt that, as a voter, I was done with you.

Not because of any position I hold on the embargo, but because so many of your comments throughout the story show bad judgment and political opportunism — and because I’ve heard from your campaign not an ounce of leadership on endangered springs, rising sea levels threatening our cities, and gun control laws.

"Crist’s stance on Cuba may be his undoing on election day".

Not that he ever had her.

Scott signs off on nuclear plant

"Despite warnings of election-year pushback, the state’s top elected officials have agreed to the largest power plant expansion in 40 years, including construction of hundreds of new high-voltage towers." "Governor and Cabinet approve unpopular power lines and nuclear plant".