Saturday, October 17, 2015

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

Jeb's Lehman Brothers thing

"It was early 2008, and Florida lawmakers were under pressure to explain how the state’s pension officials had come to buy massive quantities of toxic assets from Lehman Brothers."

After the investments defaulted, politicians wanted to know whether Jeb Bush -- who joined the Wall Street firm in 2007 as a consultant just months after leaving the governor’s office -- had been involved in persuading his former government colleagues to invest state money in Lehman.
"Bush has denied any involvement in the transactions, which might eventually cost Florida taxpayers as much as $1 billion."
But a state official named Michael Lombardi -- who managed investments for the part of Florida’s pension that bought Lehman assets -- invoked Bush’s name in a Jan. 9 email exchange with a Lehman managing director who was announcing his new job at the firm.

“Congratulations on the new career!” Lombardi wrote in the email, which was obtained by International Business Times through an open-records request. “Of course, you understand we can never speak to each other unless I get the word from Jeb! (Ha, ha!)”

Lombardi’s suggestion -- that Bush, as a Lehman consultant, wielded influence over Florida pension decisions -- looks like a joke, but the email may rekindle questions about the former governor’s role at the doomed Wall Street bank.

Bush’s gubernatorial administration steered Florida pension money to Lehman before Bush got his $1.3 million-a-year job at the firm. Emails show Bush as governor periodically recommended specific pension investment decisions, and the fund was run by one of his allies.

Details and links here: "Jeb Bush At Lehman Brothers: Florida Official Joked About Bush’s Influence Over State Pension."

"Tampa Tribune Whitewashes Jeb Bush's Murky Business Record In Support Of Presidential Run."

"How Jeb Bush Spent His Years on Wall Street," "Where are they now? The key figures in the collapse of Lehman Brothers" and "How Jeb Got Real Rich, Real Fast."

Florida Education Association elects new president

Update: "FEA elects Joanne McCall as its new president." "Fifteen years ago, Florida had two statewide teachers unions and the division was deeply felt among members."

Now, some say it’s only the oldest members who know or care that the Florida Education Association used to be split, one side affiliated with the National Education Association, the other with the American Federation of Teachers.

Other past and present union leaders credit Andy Ford, who has led the merged union for the last dozen years, with uniting the groups.

Ford will be the union’s longest serving president, since term limits implemented after he took office now hold leaders to three, three-year terms. Friday is his last day.

"Outgoing FEA president’s legacy: Holding together merged union."

You're Fired!

"The Florida Department of Education pushed out a top staff member at the agency after the woman approved removing references to SeaWorld from the agency website. An animal rights group requested in September that the agency remove SeaWorld from its list of fun field trips and teacher discounts. Emails show that the issue was discussed among several officials including department attorneys. Jennifer Hartshorne, the deputy communications director, approved taking down the SeaWorld references. But the department fired her after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals heralded the decision." "Florida Education Dept. fires employee for scrubbing SeaWorld from website."

Bush fundraising slows

"Bush cuts campaign salaries as fundraising slows." More: "Bush, Rubio start October with about $10 million each."

FlaDem establishment throws money at Murphy

"Patrick Murphy Leads Alan Grayson in the Money Chase After Third Quarter."

Judge tosses first amendment challenge to redistricting standards

"Just days before lawmakers go into a special session to redraw Senate lines, a federal judge this week tossed out a challenge to the way Florida has carried out redistricting standards approved by voters in 2010."

Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers rejected arguments by Republican Party leaders from Walton and Pasco counties who contended that their First Amendment rights are being violated amid long-running legal and political battles about Senate and congressional maps.
"Judge tosses GOP redistricting challenge."

Graham talks

"Last week, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis recommended that the Florida Supreme Court adopt a congressional map drawn by plaintiffs challenging the state's current political lines. The proposed map would split Tallahassee into two congressional districts and leave Graham in one that leans more Republican." "Graham talks fights over district lines, House leadership."

Legislature releases proposed draft maps of Senate districts

The Sun Sentinel editors: "Will new Senate map create new direction?"

"The Legislature released six draft maps of Senate districts for a special session that begins next week, opening up the next phase of a long-running battle over Florida's congressional and legislative lines." "Draft Senate Maps Released as Special Session Looms."

Curbelo vs. Taddeo

"Even as congressional redistricting remains up in the air in Florida, congressional candidates in the southern part of the state are trying to pin national leaders on each other." "Carlos Curbelo, Annette Taddeo Try to Pin Congressional Leaders on Each Other."

"Dude, drop out or do something"

"Jeb Bush Jr. told a group of college students Thursday afternoon that Sen. Marco Rubio should "drop out or do something" rather than miss votes by campaigning for president." "Jeb Jr.: Rubio should ‘drop out or do something’."

Over Protests, B-C to Honor Rick Scott

"The board chairman at Bethune-Cookman University is defending the school’s decision to honor Gov. Rick Scott during an upcoming gala, amid online protests by some alumni and students. . . . The petition opposes the selection, saying that Scott has a record of disenfranchising minorities in Florida. " "Bethune-Cookman chairman defends selection of Gov. Scott for award."

"Botched maps"

"$11 million later, Florida lawmakers are still trying to fix botched voting maps."

"what's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

Marc Caputo: "POLITICO Florida Playbook, presented by PhRMA: How Marco=Jeb – DEBBIE DISCORD: Another Dem swings at DWS – Rep. Murphy towers in Senate race cash dash – Scott gets a LIP fix win."

Yee Haw!

"Critics of Florida's bear hunt fear a slaughter of the state's largest native land mammal, arguing the army of hunters loaded for bear next Saturday will undo decades of conservation that led to the rebound of an animal once near extinction." "FWC: Hunters unlikely to hit bear-kill quota."

Raw political courage

"Floridians would receive more tax cuts if the governor and the Legislature can agree on a plan in the coming legislative session." "Scott wants tax cut plan bigger than last year’s."

Jeb outraises Marco

"Jeb Bush has raised $13.4 million in recent months as he works to win the Republican presidential nomination. . . . By comparison, Marco Rubio raised $6 million and Rand Paul $2.5 million." "Bush has $13.4 million in new donations for presidential bid."

"The NRA and its water-carriers"

Joe Henderson: "The intent of the NRA and its water-carriers in the Legislature is to show who runs things around here, no matter how the public feels." "Whatever happened to simply calling the cops?"

"Bush earned $8.4 million in 2014"

"Bush earned $8.4 million in 2014, according to the tax records he released. It was his best year ever, bringing in $1 million more than he earned in 2013, largely the result of his business consulting and public speaking firm. Bush took in $7.1 million from Jeb Bush & Associates." "Records show Republican Jeb Bush healthy and wealthy."

But we've got plenty of Wawas

Tampa Trib editors: "Georgia is finding it profitable pretending to be Florida — at least on film." "Florida losing film industry."