Monday, February 02, 2015

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

Bondi, Putnam and Atwater "were complicit"

Even the neo-Babbits on the Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board recognize that "Florida Cabinet members finally have realized that they work for the state, not the governor — which are not one and the same."

All three — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater — have publicly spoken out against fellow Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s firing of Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey. Unfortunately, they were complicit in voting to accept his forced resignation and to hire his successor, Rick Swearingen.

Recently, however, they have claimed they were “misled” or otherwise made unaware of the circumstances surrounding Bailey’s exit in December. Scott’s office originally said the FDLE chief had retired, but Bailey, a 30-year veteran of the agency who had been in the top job eight years, later said that he was pressured to leave by the governor. Bailey indicated the move was retribution for his refusal to carry out politically charged requests from the governor’s office, such as falsely naming someone a target in a criminal case, hiring political allies for state jobs and interceding in an outside investigation of a prospective Scott appointee. Scott has denied the allegations.

"Bondi last week absurdly theorized that ignorance of Bailey’s ouster extended to Scott, whom she painted as an unwitting victim of his own staff that had orchestrated the move behind his back. That’s less plausible than the explanations for the New England Patriots’ deflated footballs." "Cabinet must scrutinize Scott’s actions."

'Ya reckon?

"Injustice lingers in Jacksonville."

While we were sleeping

While the rest of us were enjoying the Superbowl, our overpaid

Orange County deputy was injured late Sunday night when a suspect rammed the deputy's patrol car and pinned him between two vehicles.

The deputy and his partner then opened fire on the male driver and another man in the car, injuring both.

"Orange County deputies shoot at suspects after car rams deputies' SUV."

The arrogance of these people, to expect their public employers to honor their pension promises. But no.

"A travesty"

Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Responding to an increasing number of human-bear conflicts, including some attacks, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission plans to consider legalizing bear hunting at its Wednesday meeting in Jacksonville. We’re not opposed to bear hunts being allowed if research shows it would not harm the state’s population, but to do so now as a response to residents’ concern about bears would be a travesty." "Editorial: Hunting not solution to bear problems."

"Still Shoveling It"

Nancy Smith: "Gambling and Atlantic City: No Casinos Still Shoveling It."

Journalistic balance

Scott Powers overdoses on journalistic balance, writing that the "Florida governor's race last year saw the candidates sidestep the old, regulated system of campaign finance, as Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic challenger Charlie Crist combined to raise $49 million through huge donations from about 2,100 contributors." Powers reports that

For the first time in 2014, both sides fueled their campaigns mostly through independent political-action committees that could raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions, national groups and wealthy individuals. They relied far less on official candidate campaign committees limited by Florida law to receiving no more than $3,000 per contributor.
You see, the bunch of them - both parties, and "corporations, unions, national groups and wealthy individuals" - are all in this together. It ain't like Scott bought the election, or anything. To be sure,
Scott, who pioneered the strategy in Florida when he was first elected in 2010, saw his independent PAC, Let's Get to Work, raise more than $46 million, according to the final reports released last week by the Florida Division of Elections. That PAC was initially fueled by $27.4 million that Scott carried over from his previous election committee. Not including that money, the average amount of the 288 donations to the new Let's Get to Work PAC was $65,384.
For the first time, the Democrats succeeded at the same strategy, actually drawing more $10,000 checks but not matching the Republican PAC's overall total. Crist's independent PAC, Charlie Crist for Florida, raised a little more than $30 million. The average size of its 1,808 donations was $16,742.

Both Scott and Crist still used traditional campaign committees, collecting thousands of small donations from grass-roots supporters. But in the end, they amounted to small change compared with what the PACs collected.

The biggest contributors to each PAC were the national governors' associations. The Republican governors contributed $15 million to Let's Get to Work. The Democrats gave $3.5 million to Charlie Crist For Florida.

After that, Let's Get to Work's top contributors were mainly businesses and business groups. Crist's were mainly labor unions and law firms.

Powers does redeem himself, just a bit with the following afterthought - at the close of his piece:
In the campaign's closing weeks, [Scott] and first lady Ann Scott contributed $12.8 million, not to Let's Get to Work, but to the Republican Party of Florida, which also was campaigning for him.
"Scott, Crist raised most of their cash through PACs."