Tuesday, June 10, 2014

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

"Behind every great donor there is a potential crime"

Marc Caputo writes that, "Behind every great donor there is a potential crime."

It’s especially true in scammer-rich Florida.

Had Scott’s campaign-finance team realized this, someone might have vetted (or Googled) James Batmasian. He pleaded guilty in 2008 to failing to collect and pay $253,000 in federal withholding taxes regarding his Boca Raton investment company’s employees. Batmasian spent eight months in prison, paid a $30,000 fine and had his law license suspended in Florida.

"Indeed, this is Scott’s fourth fundraising woe, and the governor won’t directly answer questions about any of them:"
• The Gator Hunt Gaffe: In September, Scott canceled a $25,000-per-donor “private gator hunt” fundraiser after questions arose about the classiness of the event (alligators are a de facto Florida symbol) and the legality of it (gators are a protected species, and hunting permits are limited and supposed to be awarded by lottery).

• The Execution Delay Debacle: Days later, word got out that Scott delayed the execution of convicted Miami murderer Marshall Lee Gore so that Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi could raise funds for her reelection. Scott, who then scheduled a Broward fundraiser for himself on that day, said he didn’t know the reason Bondi’s office requested the delay.

• The Mike Fernandez Fiasco: The Coral Gables billionaire and million-dollar donor to Scott was the campaign’s top finance chairman, but he quit amid a personality dispute in March. Along the way, some of his emails to the campaign leaked out in which he expressed displeasure with the reelection effort’s direction and with the staffers, who were allegedly overheard by a Fernandez business partner joking around in mock Mexican accents on the way to a Chipotle in Miami. The campaign denied the claims.

"Scott campaign flunks crime-watch."

"Despite some nice wins under her belt"

Jeff Henderson argues that, "despite some nice wins under her belt -- including Amanda Murphy picking up a House seat and Rick Kriseman becoming mayor of St. Petersburg -- [Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison] Tant has, so far, failed to build her party." "Allison Tant: It's My Party and I'll Cry (Only) if I Want to."

Flip-flopper on an international scale

Rick Scott is a new man: "Gov. Rick Scott approves in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants."

This from the charming fellow who "gave his blessing to the practice of asking suspects who are stopped by authorities for proof of their citizenship, a measure suggested in a recent Arizona-style immigration bill proposed in his state." "Rick Scott Takes Page Out Of Jan Brewer's Illegal Immigration Playbook."

What's a FlaBagger to do?

"Gov. Rick Scott, who faced intense criticism for rejecting federal money for high-speed rail from Tampa to Orlando, has new train troubles for favoring a controversial rail project on Florida's east coast." "Opposition strengthens to Gov. Scott's All Aboard Florida plan."

Trust us

"Miami-Dade voters say they want to be able to decide whether to give Miami Dade College money for renovations and expansion, but county legislators in Tallahassee said they won’t allow a referendum." "Herald Poll: On pot, plebiscite and power lines, politicians out of sync with Miami-Dade voters."

ALJ Recommendation: "Rivera broke ethics laws"

"A state administrative law judge has recommended that the Florida ethics commission pursue most — but not all — of its remaining charges against former Rep. David Rivera." "Judge: Rivera broke ethics laws with 'corrupt intent'." "The recommendation goes to the state Commission on Ethics, which will make a final determination." "Judge: Rivera received improper travel payments from state."

We're sure North Carolinians appreciate this

"Florida Politicians Take Sides in North Carolina Senate Race".

The best they can do?

Uber-conservative former Jeb Bush speechwriter Lloyd Brown jokes that "the end of the world may be nigh: Uber-liberal politician Sandy D'Alemberte and [he] agree on something. It is that state Sen. John Thrasher would be a great president for Florida State University." "Why Not the Best for FSU?"

Meanwhile, the "consultant brought in to help find FSU a new president, abruptly resigned from the job Monday." The consultant resigned

had advised the committee that Thrasher's aspiration for the job was keeping other desired candidates from wanting to apply.

Thrasher, 70, is an influential figure in state politics. Currently chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, he served as House speaker from 1998 to 2000. Also, he is chairman of Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign and previously served as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

"Recruiter Steps Down From FSU Presidential Search."

Latest web ads in gubernatorial race

Kevin Derby: "With five months to go in the Florida gubernatorial contest, the two major parties took to cyberspace on Monday, launching new Web videos attacking the leading candidates in the race." "Parties Attack With Web Ads in Gubernatorial Race."