Wednesday, November 12, 2014

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

Bondi gorges on free meals, hotels and trips

Gary Fineout writes that"Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was easily re-elected to a second term, is defending her decisions to take free trips to conferences and socialize with attorneys that represent corporations under investigation by other states."

Gift disclosure records show that in the last four years Bondi has accepted more than $51,000 worth of meals, hotels and free trips - to conferences in locales ranging from California, Wyoming and Michigan as well as for trips to Mexico and Israel with other attorneys generals.
"The trips have been scrutinized by news outlets including The New York Times, which has noted that the one of the main outfits paying the bill for many of the trips, the Republican Attorneys General Association, receives money to pay for the trips from corporate sponsors."
The Times this week reported that Bondi allowed a Washington, D.C., attorney with the firm of Dickstein Shapiro to recuperate from surgery at Bondi’s house. The newspaper reported the stay came after Lori Kalani and two others lawyers from her firm flew on a chartered flight with Bondi to a conference being held by the GOP organization at a resort hotel located on Mackinac Island in Michigan.

Dickstein Shapiro has represented companies who come under scrutiny by other states and it also represented companies involved in a dispute over hotel taxes. One email obtained by the Times showed Kalani pointing out to one of Bondi’s top attorneys how judges in Florida had ruled for the companies. Bondi’s office in 2013 dismissed a case brought by previous Attorney General Bill McCollum against online travel companies. Another chain of emails show that Kalani also played a role in helping schedule a profile of Bondi for a trade magazine.

Much more here: "Trips and friendships place Bondi on defense."

Voucher madness

"With voucher proponents backing their challengers, three public schoolteachers lost their seats in the Florida House last week." "Election altered balance of Florida’s school choice debate."

And Scott Didn't Schedule A Press Conference?

"Most of the workers targeted are based at the company's Jacksonville headquarters. Spokeswoman Melanie Cost tells The Florida Times-Union ( ) that layoffs are possible if fewer than 300 workers take the buyouts." "CSX Corp. plans to cut 300 management workers."

Run Jeb! Run!

"Former President George W. Bush said he and his father believe Jeb Bush should run for president but ultimately the former Florida governor must make a decision regardless of any pressure from the family." "Presidents 41, 43 want Jeb Bush run for White House."

Rubio 'agin net neutrality

Kevin Derby: "Rubio, Business Community Oppose Obama's Internet Neutrality Plan."

"Floridians are living with the consequences"

The Gainesville Sun editors slam "the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to hear another challenge to the [Affordable Care Act]. The lawsuit argues that language in the act suggests the federal government shouldn't be able to offer health-insurance subsidies to individuals in Florida and the 33 other states that didn't create their own insurance exchanges."

It's ridiculous that the court would contemplate ignoring the intentions of the act's authors due to nothing more than poorly-crafted legislative language. In 2012, the court found the act's individual mandate to be constitutional but allowed states to opt out of an expansion of Medicaid.

Floridians are still living with the consequences. Our Legislature refused to expand Medicaid, leaving an estimated 764,000 residents in a coverage gap. Research has shown that thousands of needless deaths could be prevented and millions in economic benefits gained through the expansion.

If Washington and Tallahassee had their priorities straight, those stakes would be on the minds of lawmakers as the Affordable Care Act enters its second year of enrollment. Instead, Republicans are more interested in attacking the president's signature accomplishment than protecting the health of their constituents.

"Getting covered."

Amendment 2 without Morgan

"John Morgan ranks as one of the biggest electoral losers in Florida after last week’s elections. Morgan’s old employee Charlie Crist lost against Rick Scott and Amendment 2 on medical marijuana, which the trial lawyer largely bankrolled, won the popular vote, but came up short." "Any Any Amendment 2 Medical Marijuana Do-Over Needs an AWOL John Morgan."