Wednesday, January 21, 2015

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

"Scott engulfed in a full-blown crisis"

"It was the strongest sign yet that all three elected officials, under fire for not questioning the forced resignation of former FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey, are distancing themselves from Scott, now engulfed in a full-blown crisis barely two weeks into his second term." "Florida CFO Jeff Atwater breaks with Gov. Rick Scott, wants new search for FDLE chief."

Scott Maxwell writes that "the latest accusations against Scott aren't coming from longtime critics. They're coming from one of Florida's top law-enforcement officials — a respected veteran who worked closely with the governor for the past four years."

And that, my friends, is a big deal ... and why Scott now has a full-fledged scandal on his hands.

For those who missed it, the former head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement — 35-year-veteran Gerald Bailey — has started spilling the beans.

Bailey portrays Scott and his staff as a group of unethical, hard-core politicos who would go to great lengths — willing even to fabricate a criminal investigation — to get themselves out of a jam.

"Rick Scott's FDLE scandal blows open, demands probe."

More: "The sudden ouster of the leader of Florida's main law-enforcement agency is now causing a rift between Gov. Rick Scott and other top Republicans less than a month after his second term in office started." "Atwater, Scott tangle over FDLE chief's ouster."

Hiaasen drinks the Kool-aid

Carl Hiaasen buys into the mainstream line, that if "you're Hillary, you're nervous about Jeb because he remains well-liked in Florida although he hasn't campaigned for office in more than a decade." "Jeb could ruin Hillary's political run."

But the usually astute Hiaasen overlooks the fact that polling shows that Floridians ain't impressed with Jeb, and even a very recent Republican oriented "poll shows Clinton taking 37 percent while Bush is right behind with 36 percent. But, despite Florida voters' familiarity with both candidates, more than a quarter of those surveyed -- 28 percent -- are undecided." "Hillary and Jeb Close in Florida in 2016 Poll."

It is not hard to imagine what the "undecided" voters will do - many of who were not around during Jeb's reign - when the national media reminds them of Bush's extremism. Consider:

S.V. Date, author of Jeb: America’s Next Bush, wrote in Politico magazine that the push to label Jeb a moderate was “mind-boggling.” Veteran Tampa Bay Times reporter Adam Smith mocked the idea Bush was a “moderate squish” in a column that quoted Bush-era legislative leaders from both parties alternately lauding and condemning his conservative ways.

“For us who live in Florida, who experienced the eight-year Jeb Bush governorship, it’s almost laughable and maybe even hysterical for people who live outside of Florida to claim that he’s a moderate,” former state House Speaker Will Weatherford told Smith.

"Jeb Bush was a severely conservative governor – will the GOP care?"

Its complicated

Nancy Smith: "" "Seminole Hard Rock Obstructs Scott Walker's Presidential Aspirations."

Jax laff riot

"Republican mayoral challenger Lenny Curry knocked Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown over the city’s pension woes in a recent campaign flier mailed to some voters, which blasts Brown for playing politics on big issues and having 'made a mess of things in City Hall.'" "Alvin Brown campaign labels Lenny Curry flier 'a hit piece'."

Bondi dodges Bailey scandal

The below transcript in the Miami Herald shows just how determined Bondi is in avoiding the questions about the ouster of FDLE Chief, Bailey:

Question: You’re in law enforcement, you haven’t said anything about (Bailey’s) exit. Can you shed a little light on your feelings of Bailey leaving the FDLE?

Bondi: Oh, I think he’s an amazing man. It’s interesting because I almost talked about him today.

Question: Why didn’t you?

Bondi: It escaped me. They kept going. But he’s a very private man. But I’ve been talking to my staff about doing something in his honor.

Question: As a cabinet member you do have some authority on his leaving.

Bondi: Yes. And I think the world of Commissioner Bailey.

Question: Why is he leaving?

Bondi: I do not know.

Question: Have you asked Gov. Scott why he’s leaving?

Bondi: I can tell you that I’ve know Commissioner Bailey for many many years. In fact, I knew him back when he prosecuted the boot camp case back in the days of (Former FDLE Commissioner) Guy Tunnel when I was a prosecutor. And Gerry Bailey came into this agency and restored integrity, so I think the world of Gerald Bailey.

Question: So why would you not ask questions about his departure?

Bondi: I’m fine with (new FDLE Commissioner) Rick Swearingen. I think Gerry Bailey has retired. I think he’s a very private person. And you can talk to him about that.

Question: But apparently, the understanding is that (Bailey) stepped down because he was told that he no longer had confidence and support from members of the Cabinet, which includes you. So are you saying at no point in time that you ever communicated to anyone in the Scott administration that you were willing to get rid of Commissioner Bailey?

Bondi: I think the world of Commissioner Bailey.

Question: You’re not answering the question.

Bondi: I think the world of Commissioner Bailey.

Question: So you don't think Florida taxpayers deserve to know whether or not their top law enforcement official was forced out?

Bondi: I think the world of Commissioner Bailey.

Read it all here: "Bondi mum on ouster of FDLE's Bailey."

"Not exactly friendly territory for female legislators"

Jeff Henderson: "The Florida House isn’t exactly friendly territory for female legislators, and plenty of them -- usually on the Democratic side -- will note that a woman has never led it as speaker. But there are plenty of women who have been moving up in the leadership ranks, including Marti Coley as speaker pro tempore last session and Dana Young who currently is the House majority leader." "Dana Young One of the Powers of the Florida House."

Jeb and the "militant Cuban exiles"? Oh never mind

Florida's Batista-apologists are in a full-on whine: "Miami lawmakers join Cuban advocates to blast Obama plan." See also "Florida Politicians Break on Party Lines Over Obama's State of the Union" and "South Florida lawmakers’ reactions to President Obama’s speech."

Meanwhile, these "Cuban freedom fighters" have never asked Jeb Bush to account for his being "instrumental in securing the release from prison of militant Cuban exiles convicted of terrorist offences, according to a [2002] book." Jebbie's "connections go back to 1984 when [he] began a close association with Camilo Padreda, a former intelligence officer with the Batista dictatorship overthrown by Fidel Castro."

By the way, the book in question, the book has been positively reviewed by, among others, the venerable Foreign Affairs, which calls it as a "marvelous and evocative deconstruction of the incestuous relationships and hardball tactics that have kept Cuba firmly under Fidel Castro and U.S. policy toward Cuba paralyzed under the influence of Miami's Cuban Americans."

Another fine FlaBagger

"Curt Clawson Takes Aim at Obama in Tea Party Response to State of the Union."

Form over substance

"The nation’s highest court heard arguments in a case from Florida that tests whether states can prohibit judicial candidates from making personal appeals for campaign donations." "Justices debate Fla. judicial candidates' campaign appeals."