Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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

Court unseals GOP consultants' emails, documents and court testimony

Gary Fineout, yesterday evening at 8:46 PM: "The extent that Republican consultants went to influence Florida's redrawing of congressional and legislative districts was placed into public view on Tuesday by the Florida Supreme Court."

The high court officially unsealed hundreds of pages of emails and documents, as well as court testimony that had been given behind closed doors by one consultant from Gainesville.

The documents were considered key evidence for why a judge ruled this summer that the GOP-controlled Legislature violated a voter-approved law that congressional districts cannot be drawn to favor incumbents or the member of any political party.

Pat Bainter and his firm Data Targeting have fought for months to keep the records sealed, arguing that disclosing them would violate their First Amendment rights and expose trade secrets. The state Supreme Court unanimously rejected those arguments and instead released them all online.

"David King, a lawyer representing the groups that sued over the state's congressional districts, said the documents 'reveal in great detail how they manipulated the public process to achieve their partisan objectives.'" "Supreme Court unseals documents and transcript." See also "Redistricting secrets laid bare" and "Florida Supreme Court unseals documents on districts."

"Republican consultants had to be hush-hush — 'almost paranoid'"

"The Republican consultants had to be hush-hush — 'almost paranoid' in the words of one — because of their high-stakes mission: Get go-betweens to help circumvent a Florida Constitutional ban on gerrymandering." "."

Wingnuts at Florida TaxWatch jump on pension hater bandwagon

The creeps at Florida Taxwatch are drooling hard after police, firefighters, their families and their supposedly "over-generous pensions." "Taxpayers lose on over-generous pensions."

No surprise to see that TaxWatch is joined by the minimum-wage haters at The National Federation of Independent Business/Florida in the anti-pension crusade. The last thing the NFIB wants is their uppity minimum-wage employees getting ideas about pensions.

Scott forced to disclose secret email account he used for state business

"Gov. Rick Scott exchanged emails dealing with vetoes, the state budget and his speeches from a private email account, according to records turned over to the Associated Press on Tuesday."

This despite his previous representations that he did not use private email accounts for state business:

Scott has previously said he used a Google email account to communicate with his family and not for state business. He also said that if ever he got an email dealing with state business he would forward it to his public email accounts.
Here's Scott's latest story:
"This email account is [now] closed and the personal email account the governor uses now has not been given out beyond his family," . . . .

Scott's Google email account has been at the center of an ongoing lawsuit filed against Scott by a Tallahassee attorney and a frequent critic of the Republican governor

Steven Andrews is suing over records related to a dispute about land near the governor's mansion that Andrews wants to buy. During the ongoing legal tussle Andrews got permission from a Florida judge to ask Google about email accounts set up by Scott and other Scott aides. But the governor has privately hired lawyers in California to fight the request.

"Gov. Scott used private email for public business." See also "Gov. Rick Scott and staff used private email account when conducting state business."

Curbelo already in a jam with the FEC

"The Federal Election Commission has asked the campaign of Miami Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Carlos Curbelo to explain tens of thousands of dollars in omitted or mislabeled financial contributions." "Newly elected Miami congressman asked to explain errors in campaign reports."

OK to campaign in uniform?

"Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, a Democrat, hasn't shied away from politics in the two years he's been in office. He has taken sides, issued endorsements, and appeared at political events in uniform." "BSO attorney: Sheriff can campaign in uniform."

"Obama’s immigration 'trap'"

Marc Caputo: "Obama’s immigration ‘trap’ already snaring, irking Republicans."

Get a job

"James Grant won’t be representing Tampa Bay when the Legislature convenes in March but that just might be all right with him as he looks ahead to the future."

Grant was caught in the legal mess of a judge improperly throwing his write-in opponent off the ballot in this year’s general election. Rick Scott set a special election on Monday and Grant will run again for the seat which represents parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Grant will be a heavy favorite to win the special primary on Feb. 10 and then the special general election on April 21.

But despite all the hassle, Grant could end up with the last laugh. First elected in 2010, Grant is only 32 and has strong roots in the area. His father John Grant served 20 years in both chambers of the Legislature. Despite his age, Grant was starting to move up the ranks in his second term, serving as vice chair of the State Affairs Committee.

"Never Mind His Predicament, James Grant Could Be a Big House Winner."

Within days of FSU shooting, NRA pushing guns on campus

"Days after a gunman opened fire in the Florida State library, a student group is calling for legislation allowing guns on campuses." "FSU shooting revives debate over guns on college campuses."

More guns

"Pam Bondi: School Districts Can Hire Armed Security Guards." See also "Guns for Surrogate School Resource Officers Returning in 2015 Bill Proposal."

Ethics case settlement

"Broward Commissioner and former mayor Barbara Sharief will admit she broke the law and will pay a fine for filing error-filled financial disclosure forms, under a proposed ethics case settlement." "Broward's Sharief to admit guilt, accept $3,000 fine in ethics case."