Thursday, October 08, 2015

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

Q Poll shows Grayson leading all comers

So much for that "Grayson is unelectable" meme:

In Florida's 2016 U.S. Senate race, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy leads Republican Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera 37 - 29 percent and tops U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis 37 - 30 percent. Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson gets 35 percent to Lopez-Cantera's 32 percent and leads DeSantis 37 - 31 percent.
October 8, 2015 Q Poll Here's the Poll Detail. See also "Race to Replace Marco Rubio Still Unsettled With Independents Up for Grabs."

Jeb's "cash-flush tangle of entities created to boost his bid."

"Super PACs are supposed to be both transparent and independent from the politicians they are supporting."

But it’s not clear that Right to Rise USA, the super PAC formed by Republican Jeb Bush prior to his presidential bid, is either.

The super PAC’s biggest single vendor this year through June is a mysterious limited liability company, LKJ, LLC, whose owners are hidden behind the state of Delaware’s opaque registration laws. The company doesn’t appear to have a website or a physical office.

"It’s only known address: a Washington, D.C., post office box — one it shares with a company run by Heather Larrison, the national finance director for Bush’s official presidential campaign."
The company’s Delaware origin makes it impossible to determine whether a chief Bush lieutenant is embedded in — and profiting from — the cash-flush tangle of entities created to boost his bid.

The arrangement is also a prime example, in the post-Citizens United era of politics, of how the borders separating presidential campaigns and super PACs can be simultaneously porous and difficult to penetrate.

Right to Rise USA, the Bush campaign and Larrison all refused to answer, or did not respond to, questions from the Center for Public Integrity.

"Is pro-Bush super PAC obscuring spending?"

Is Obama appointing a Jeb Hack?

"“Obama’s pick for education secretary worked with Jeb Bush foundation,” by POLITICO Florida’s Jessica Bakeman: Shortly before he was named by President Barack Obama to replace Arne Duncan as U.S. education secretary, John King appeared in a video produced by Jeb Bush's education reform foundation." "From Jeb to Obama."

"Fear is a powerful unifier"

Nancy Smith: "To my knowledge, nobody has threatened a single Florida clergyman. But never mind that. Fear is a powerful unifier. And now legislators in each chamber are plowing ahead with bills to protect the religious freedoms of lawsuit-fearing clergy in case the U.S. Constitution doesn't." "Sad Day if Our Constitution Needs Another Layer of Protection for Religious Freedom."

Senate Dem lawyer shut out of redistricting process

"Tensions mounted Wednesday more than a week before the special session on Senate redistricting is set to begin as House and Senate leaders acknowledged that staff had begun drafting maps using guidelines agreed to exclusively by the leaders and their lawyers, but the lawyer hired to represent Senate Democrats would not be allowed to take part in the process."

Senate Redistricting Chairman Bill Galvano acknowledged that the drawing of Senate districts is well underway by House and Senate staff for the three-week special session that begins Oct. 19. They are working in a sequestered space in the Senate redistricting suite and are being advised by the lawyers hired by the GOP-led Senate and House but, he said, the Senate Democrats will not have a separate lawyer at the table.

Senate Democrat Leader Arthenia Joyner told the Herald/Times she has hired Tallahassee attorney Mark Herron to represent Senate Democrats in the redistricting process, using funds from the Florida Democratic Party, after Senate President Andy Gardiner twice rejected her request to allow the Democratic caucus to have its own lawyer advise them during the drawing of the Senate redistricting map.

“I had no choice,” Joyner said. “There is an inherent conflict because they drew the maps to favor Republicans. These same lawyers defended the maps and then admitted they violated the Constitution. Now, these lawyers are giving advice ... Either fire them and get new lawyers, or hire us our own lawyers.”

Joyner "said the Senate’s current lawyers, former Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero and Jason Zakia, were the Senate’s lead lawyers defending the existing maps in the protracted legal battle over the congressional and Senate redistricting maps first adopted by lawmakers in 2012.

"Cantero’s signature was on the stipulated settlement agreement admitting that the Senate map violated the state constitution’s Fair Districts standards." "Tension mounts over which lawyers get access to Florida Senate redistricting maps."

As an aside, Cantero is former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista's grandson, who during his brief career as a lawyer before being promoted to the Florida Supreme Court by Jeb Bush, helped defend Orlando Bosch, an anti-Castro extremist who was labeled a terrorist by the U.S. government for his purported ties to bombing raids on Cuba.

Florida voters support legalizing MJ

"Florida voters support legalizing personal marijuana use 51 - 45 percent. Men support it 57 - 41 percent, with women narrowly opposed 49 - 46 percent. Support is 66 - 30 percent among voters 18 to 34 years old, 52 - 44 percent among voters 35 to 49 years old and 55 - 43 percent among voters 50 to 64 years old. Voters over 65 are opposed 56 - 39 percent. But 65 percent of voters say they would "definitely not" use marijuana if it were legalized. " "October 8, 2015 - Florida, Ohio Back Personal Pot; Pennsylvania Split, Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll Finds."

"Bush family’s War on English continues"

The Miami Herald editors: "And the Bush family’s War on English continues."

You are, by now, familiar with the astonishingly tone-deaf response by Jeb Bush, the nation’s would-be 45th president, to last week’s shooting at a community college in Oregon in which a gunman killed nine people. “Look,” said Bush, “stuff happens.” . . .

When a reporter asked about the wording afterward — perhaps trying to spare Bush some grief — the former Florida governor turned attitudinal. “No, it wasn’t a mistake,” he said. “I said exactly what I said. Explain to me what I said wrong.”

“You said, ‘stuff happens,’ ” said the reporter.

Whereupon, Bush hunkered deeper into his snit. “ ‘Things’ happen all the time,” he said. “ ‘Things.’ Is that better?”

Um . . . no.

And the pasting that followed was entirely predictable. Bush was slammed by Hillary Clinton and President Obama. In Mother Jones, the liberal magazine, his words were called “callous.” In Salon, they were dubbed “tactless, graceless and ham-handed.”

But let’s not miss what’s truly offensive here.

"Bush’s latest misfire on guns."

Latvala takes Scott shill to the woodshed for his "arrogance" toward union rep

"Gov. Rick Scott's jobs guru, Jesse Panuccio, never got a chance Wednesday to make his pitch for $3.5 million to fight benefits fraud in the Department of Economic Opportunity. Instead, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, took the DEO chief to the woodshed, criticizing his "arrogance" toward a union lobbyist and telling Panuccio, a Scott favorite: "I frankly don't like your attitude.""

It's the latest sign of open hostility between the Senate and Scott, and it's clear Panuccio could have problems winning Senate confirmation next session. If Panuccio is not confirmed, he'll lose his $141,000-a-year job -- a decision the jobs chief says is "out of my hands."
"Panuccio, testifying before Latvala's Senate budget subcommittee, hit his usual points: The economy is improving, the number of jobs is growing, unemployment is declining -- and fewer Floridians are filing for unemployment benefits."
That was the opening senators were waiting for. They cited persistent complaints from constituents who can't file for unemployment because of problems with Connect, DEO's troubled online system for filing claims. Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, said of the unemployed: "They don't get paid, therefore the statistics look good. You can't get anybody on the phone. I just want the system to work."

AFL-CIO lobbyist Rich Templin cited statistics on the unemployed that Panuccio called "invalid" and suggested the left-leaning labor organization had a political agenda for refusing to acknowledge that Scott's policies have improved the economy. At that point, Latvala defended the AFL-CIO lobbyist for his "courage" and tore into Panuccio.

"Latvala blasts Scott aide's 'arrogance,' defends union lobbyist."