Sunday, October 12, 2014

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

"A partisan ideologue"

Even the conservative Orlando Sentinel editorial board has had it with Pam Bondi: "When Pam Bondi became Florida's first female attorney general in January 2011, some who had known her as a prosecutor in Tampa had hopes she would be a real problem-solver, not a partisan ideologue. "

Those hopes faded quickly.

Just two months later, as a member of the Parole Board, Bondi enthusiastically voted to make Florida the toughest state for ex-felons to regain their civil rights. She ignored former Gov. Jeb Bush's Ex-Offender Task Force, which concluded that easier rights restoration would help Florida by motivating more ex-felons to stay straight.

Most recently, Bondi has continued her defense of Florida's same-sex marriage ban, despite five court rulings against it.

Same-sex marriage, however, is just one of many issues where Bondi has acted against the interests of the state and its people. In February, she joined a lawsuit opposing cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. Despite the urgency here of restoring the Everglades after decades of abuse from agricultural runoff, Bondi sided in that case with the American Farm Bureau and the Fertilizer Institute.

"Compared to other attorneys general, Bondi also was passive in the multi-state lawsuit against financial companies. She has never intervened on behalf of consumers in a utility rate case, unlike her three predecessors, from both parties. She sued BP very late after the oil explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. She has no major consumer protection victories."
Last year, she talked about joining a lawsuit against Donald Trump's online university. Later, the Trump Foundation donated $25,000 to a committee supporting Bondi. She has not joined the lawsuit.

Bondi waited eight months before visiting the Miami office that is the center of the fight against Medicaid fraud. And two years after she took office, the fraud unit had 23 vacancies. Yet Bondi has found time to argue against the Affordable Care Act before the U.S. Supreme Court. She lost, as she lost her defense of Gov. Rick Scott's efforts to drug-test welfare recipients and the Legislature's stealth attempt to privatize prisons through budget language, rather than legislation.

Bondi demonstrated similar poor judgment last September when, to accommodate her campaign kick-off event, she asked the governor to postpone the execution of double-murderer Marshall Lee Gore, delaying justice.

"Sheldon for Atty. General."

"Far right froths"

Daniel Ruth: "the pillar of salt community, like the Florida Family Policy Council's John Stemberger, argue [that] lifting the gay marriage bans "dilutes and devalues marriage." But how?" "Far right froths as rest of nation yawns."

"Easier said than done"

"As outrage increases over electric rates, particularly in Charlie Crist’s home county of Pinellas, Crist is promising that if elected governor, he’ll 'completely overhaul' the state Public Service Commission that regulates them." "Crist ‘overhaul’ of utility panel easier said than done."

All this and no surprises . . .

The Tampa Trib editors surprise no one with this: "Editorial: Re-elect Rick Scott." Oh yeah, the other FlaGOPers are just fine too: "Tribune endorsements: Bondi for attorney general; Putnam for agriculture commissioner; Atwater for CFO."

Equally unsurprising, the Tampa Bay Times editors like Mr. Crist, writing that "Charlie Crist understands this state and cares about its people and their aspirations, their struggles to make ends meet and their dreams for the future. His return to the Governor's Mansion would advance Florida's best interests and send a message that the concerns of average Floridians are more important than big money and rigid ideology." "Charlie Crist for governor."

"Democrats barely bother"

"Despite an electorate split down the middle that voted for Barack Obama for president twice, half of Florida's All-Republican state Cabinet is cruising toward re-election with only token Democratic resistance." "Florida Democrats barely bother with 2 Cabinet races."

Scott slow dancing with FlaBaggers over federal dollars

"Rick Scott and Charlie Crist agree that Florida should accept $51 billion in federal money for Medicaid expansion, but have conflicting ideas on how — and how quickly — it can be accomplished." "Rick Scott, Charlie Crist split on Medicaid expansion." Related: "Scott, Crist weigh in on Medicaid expansion."

"Debate over whether Scott or Crist is better for education"

"There’s been talk of budget cuts and tuition increases, of curriculum changes and pay cuts. And as Election Day nears, the debate over whether Rick Scott or Charlie Crist is better for education continues to drive the discussion." "Testing, not education spending, key in governor’s race."

Funny how that works

"In the heat of a statewide campaign, with a rush of money coming in and going out, it’s not surprising reporting errors happen."

It’s usually nickel-and-dime stuff: A missed address here, a blank for a donor’s occupation there.

Yet none of the Republican candidates — incumbents Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — has received a single “error report” from the state Division of Elections, online filings show.

But every Democrat —gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, Attorney General candidate George Sheldon, CFO candidate Will Rankin and Agriculture Commissioner candidate Thaddeus “Thad” Hamilton — has been dinged multiple times.

Greg Blair, a spokesman for Scott for Florida, declined comment, referring questions to the division. Brendan Gilfillan, Crist’s spokesman, didn’t respond to an email.

The Division of Elections falls under Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Scott appointee.

"Scott, Cabinet have perfect record on finance reports."