Sunburn for 7/24: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

By on July 24, 2012

A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

***Campaign Contribution reports are in!  Go to www.purplepagesonline.com today for your free trial subscription and get access to Florida’s one-stop portal for consultants, lobbyists and political junkies to learn about each and every candidate running for the Florida Legislature.***

IS THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN READY FOR A FLORIDA RECOUNT?

Bill Daley, who was intimately involved in the rancorous 2000 presidential recount in Florida, has already raised the question with the Obama campaign, the Daily Beast reports.

IN FLORIDA, VP BIDEN SAYS NATION INDEBTED TO POLICE OFFICERS 

In an address to police officers Monday, Vice President Joe Biden focused almost exclusively on the heroism displayed in the aftermath of last week’s deadly shooting in Colorado, saying law enforcement officers and ordinary citizens who rushed to help victims of the massacre “define who we are as a nation.”

“They make us proud of our country, and maybe more important at this moment, they make us confident that this country is made of that sterner stuff and there is reason to be hopeful and confident,” Biden told the National Association of Police Organizations, meeting in Manalapan, Florida.

Biden avoided any mention of politics or policy, saying he originally intended to discuss those topics but that events on Friday made him reconsider. He praised the group, saying they understood what citizens of Aurora, Colorado were dealing with because they had been in similar situations.

HUFFINGTON POST: BAIN CAPITAL CREATED ‘DEMORALIZING’ CULTURE OF LAYOFFS AT FLORIDA PLANT 

So many Dade workers lost their jobs — 1,700 in the United States, 850 in Miami alone — that the Bain-Dade dealings have become a symbol of corporate bloodletting and a painful memory to those who witnessed the layoffs…In the summer of 1998, amid mass layoffs and mandatory overtime at the Dade East plant, she saw workers crowded around a glass executive suite. Some shook their heads and walked away, and others just stood there staring, she recalled. She walked over to check out what was going on and found several department heads putting golf balls in the office. ‘Here are these people whose lives are upside down, doing mandatory overtime, and the executives are playing golf where all the employees can see’”

RUBIO TO CAMPAIGN FOR ROMNEY IN COLO, NEVADA

Rubio is set to make some high profile surrogate appearances on behalf of Mitt Romney next week in Colorado and Nevada, campaigning solo for the presumptive GOP nominee for the first time, ABC News has learned.

A source with knowledge of the events told ABC News Rubio will campaign for Romney at a rally at Rubio’s old elementary school in Las Vegas, Nevada, Saturday followed by a rally in Denver, Colorado, later that day. Rubio also will participate in finance events for Romney while in the area.

LAWYER FILES FEC COMPLAINT AGAINST CONNIE MACK FOR BROOKS BROTHERS PURCHASES

A Jacksonville lawyer has filed an FEC complaint against Connie Mack’s campaign for allegedly violating federal election law through the purchase of Brooks Brothers clothing.

Mack’s Senate campaign charged nearly $470 for clothing at a Brooks Brothers in Jacksonville, FEC records show.

Asked about the charges last week, Mack spokesperson David James said that the Brookes Brothers charges “were mistakes, inappropriate charges made by travel staff.”

Attorney Clyde Collins — former Duval County Democratic chairman — said in a news release that he filed the complaint because the Mack campaign improperly “obtained expensive and personal clothing with federal campaign funds in violation of the Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA).”

“Connie Mack is well aware that federal campaign funds cannot be used for personal clothing for a federal candidate. Other House members such as Rep. Andrews and Rep. Sanchez, have been cited for similar federal campaign violations,” Collins said.

“There is no excuse for this conduct,” Collins said in the release. “Campaign finance laws are not optional. If Connie Mack can’t abide by the law, how can we trust him to be a lawmaker?”

GOV. RICK SCOTT INVISIBLE IN GOP PRIMARY CAMPAIGNS

Someone is conspicuously absent from the campaign brochures produced by Republican candidates in Florida this summer: Gov. Rick Scott. Hobbled by weak poll numbers, awkward on the stump and still somewhat estranged from the party establishment that shunned him in 2010, Scott is invisible on the campaign trail across Florida.

HOW BOLD! – PR maven Ron Sachs says Charlie Crist ” … could be viable in a statewide race.” You think?

PROSECUTOR WANTS GAG ON ALLEGATIONS AGAINST JENNIFER CARROLL by Whitney Ray of the Capitol News Service

The state is trying to silence accusations against Florida’s Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll. Today prosecutors filed a gag motion in the case of Carletha Cole.

Cole is the former Carroll employee charged with distributing an illegal recording. Earlier this month Cole’s attorney filed a motion alleging Carroll carried on a sexual relationship with a female employee and covered up a fire in Cole’s office. Prosecutors say those claims have nothing to do with the criminal case. They want the defense to stop talking about them. But Cole’s attorney Steve Webster says the allegations show his client was bullied and setup and he’s speaking out to protect his client’s reputation.

“I stand by it 100 percent and I’m going to fight doggedly to show, to bring to light these motives and biases that exist and clearly exist and are corroborated by public records.”

The judge is expected to rule on the gag motion today after a nine o’clock hearing. In the state’s motion, the prosecution claims an internet search of Cole and Carroll returns more than 235 news stories, signally the jury pool could become contaminated.

ECONOMISTS PREDICT EUROPEAN TOURIST LULL, SLOW GROWTH FOR FLORIDA by Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida

Economic woes in Europe will trickle across the Atlantic over the next few years as potential international guests stay home or see their native currency buy less once they arrive, a panel of economists estimated Monday.

… The bigger economic picture remains largely unchanged, said Amy Baker, coordinator of the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research. Florida is expected to avoid another recession, but the climb back remains slow. … Job growth will remain sluggish … Sales and median prices of existing homes will continue to be soft … Overseas tourism may drop by up to 2 percent over the next 12 months.

GENTING’S ELECTION YEAR STRATEG: BIG CHECKS, MANY BETS by Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Genting Group, the Malaysian casino giant, is seeding its bets across Florida’s political spectrum this election year as it continues to secure the foothold it needs to build a Miami casino empire.

The company, which bought the Miami Herald building in downtown Miami with $236 million in cash in 2011 and tried unsuccessfully to get destination resort casinos approved by lawmakers this year, has spent $1.3 million so far in the 2012 election cycle and has embarked on a two-pronged political strategy.

Half of its money has been steered into a petition drive for a pro-casino amendment to the state Constitution that would bypass the Legislature to bring casinos to Florida. The other half of its cash so far — $486,000 to the Republican Party of Florida and $111,000 to the Florida Democratic Party — was primarily given before the legislative session and is being used to back incumbents or political committees, according to a Herald/Times analysis of campaign reports.

The company said it has no direct involvement in any local or legislative races, countering rumors that it has recruited and screened candidates, and says that the cash it has sent to the parties is being steered to the campaigns of casino supporters and opponents alike.

FLORIDA TRANSIT PROJECTS NET $50 MIL. IN FED FUNDS

Attorney Clyde Collins — former Duval County Democratic chairman — said in a news release via The News Service of Florida that he filed the complaint because the Connie Mack improperly “obtained expensive and personal clothing with federal campaign funds in violation of the Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA).

Florida will receive more than $50 million in federal transportation funds for 14 projects to revamp and renovate aging public transit systems, according to a list of projects released Monday by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Included in the list of approved projects is $15 million to renovate transit facilities in Gainesville and $5 million for a new transit facility in Fort Myers. The Florida projects were included in a group of 255 projects in 48 states that were approved for funding under a $787 million U.S. DOT program targeting public transportation. Since 2010, the federal program has pumped $1.8 billion in funding to replace aging transit facilities and vehicles around the country “to meet the growing demand from millions of riders across the country.”

***Are you tired of getting your ASSETS TAXED OFF? Amendment 4 can help. Join the movement at TaxYourAssetsOff.com or check us out on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.*** 

WITH DEMOCRATS OUT-REGISTERING THEM FOR 5 STRAIGHT MONTHS, FLORIDA GOP TAKES TO PAYING STAFF TO REGISTER VOTERS

“Registered Democrat voters currently outnumber registered Republicans in Pinellas Co by 3000 voters (plus or minus) and we have been stuck at that number for the past few months,” writes Mark Zornes, a field director for the Republican Party of Florida in an e-mail to GOP activists.  “Outstanding volunteer efforts over the past year have made great strides to close the gap but we’ve hit a wall and we have to kick it up a notch to break through. … (T)he RPOF has committed funds to help us flip the numbers.”

“I am looking for committed reliable Republicans and will pay $12/hr. to everyone ready to help us win,” writes Zornes.

Zornes even promises that “checks will be cut every week.”

Paying or staff to register voters is nothing new, says Kristen McDonald, a spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida. “As is common in busy presidential election years, outside help has been brought on to assist with our voter registration efforts. This has been done in the past and is not unique to this election cycle.”

FUNNY NEW AD FOR TED YOHO CAMPAIGN FEATURES PIGS AND POLITICIANS

Ted Yoho unveiled a new ad in his effort to defeat Rep. Cliff Stearns in the August 14 Republican primary which features pigs and politicians throwing mud at each other.

FLORIDA CHAMBER ANNOUNCES ITS SECOND ROUND OF LEGISLATIVE ENDORSEMENTS

The Florida Chamber of Commerce announceD additional candidate endorsements for the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate.

“Interviewing candidates to determine where they stand on free enterprise issues is essential to helping ensure we endorse candidates who aren’t afraid to make bold pro-jobs, pro-business decisions once they are elected to office,” said Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President of Political Operations for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber’s thorough and intense endorsement process sends a very strong signal that Florida’s business community can feel confident in supporting these candidates.”

Here is the listing of Florida Chamber-backed candidates: HD 45 – Shannon Currie, D; HD 59 – Joe Wicker, R; HD 68 – Frank Farkas, R; HD 76 – Michael Grant, R; HD 82 – Carl Domino, R; HD 85 – Pat Rooney, R; HD 93 – George Moriatis, R; HD 100 – Sheldon Lisbon, D; HD 118 – Frank Artilles, R; SD 02 – Greg Evers, R.

MIAMI HERALD ENDORSES RON SAUNDERS IN COMPETITIVE DEM. PRIMARY FOR SENATE DISTRICT 39

Via The Miami Herald: Voters have two strong choices. Mr. (Dwight) Bullard, a school teacher, has been a passionate advocate of revamping the FCAT. But Mr. (Ron) Saunders’ years of experience in Tallahassee, both now and back in the 1980s and early ’90s when Democrats were the majority in the House, give him the edge. … Mr. Saunders, who returned to the House in 2006, would be well-suited for the more collegial Senate. As a former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, he knows how to balance the budget and find money for key economic development projects that need state investments. He’s proven to be a successful leader on protecting the Everglades, fighting for more money for cash-strapped classrooms and crucial wastewater projects that protect the bay and other waterways.

HOUSE CANDIDATE BRADLEY MAXWELL: KEEP STATE WORKERS’ SALARIES PRIVATE

Bradley Maxwell, who is challenging two-term incumbent state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, wants to protect state workers from the disclosure of their salaries, benefits and other personnel matters, reports the News Service of Florida.

He told reporters Monday that as he’s gone door-to-door campaigning, he’s heard repeatedly that privacy is a top concern in House District 9, which includes thousands of people who work for the state, and was “shocked” by how much information is out there on them. “I support the Sunshine Law,” Maxwell said.  “I do not support public voyeurism, which is what this amounts to.”  State workers’ salaries are a public record, and can be obtained by request. Gov. Rick Scott has gone further with some workers, putting university employees salaries online, as well as those of public employees who have pensions worth more than $100,000 a year. Maxwell said if elected, he’ll propose a “Privacy Act” that prevents the disclosure of state employees’ salaries, retirement benefits and use of any government service, such as counseling.  He’ll also propose that notice be provided to state workers whenever a third party receives information that identifies the employee or a family member.  Maxwell charged that Rehwinkel Vasilinda has not protected state workers during the four years she has held office.  Asked to elaborate, he said the bills she has filed reflect other priorities. Rehwinkel Vasilinda has focused mainly on alternative energy and taxes, but as a member of the minority party, her bills have almost always failed.  In 2009, she proposed a measure with protections relating to the state group insurance program, but it died in committee.

SEAT-HOPPING KEVIN RADAR GETS ENTHUSIASTIC SUPPORT FROM UNIONS, BUT NOT CONTRIBUTORS

Seat-hopping Democrat Kevin Rader’s decision to leave two different state Senate races and challenge state Rep. Steve Perman has drawn an enthusiastic response from unions — but not, so far, from contributors, reports George Bennett.

The local AFL-CIO switched its endorsement from Perman to Rader after Rader got in the race and the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association is poised to do the same.

Rader holds a financial advantage over Perman, accumulating $95,305 through July 6 toPerman’s $61,385. But most of that money was raised while Rader was a candidate for Senate. After announcing his plans to challenge Perman on June 6, Rader raised $13,050 while Permancollected $26,685.

GOP PRIMARY IN HD 116 SHOWS HISPANIC VOTE NOT MONOLITHIC

“Rep. Ana Rivas Logan’s opponents call her loads of names on the campaign trail. But one seemed to bother her more than others: ‘Nicaraguan.’ ‘They’re making calls to the little old Cubans, telling them, ‘Don’t vote for her. She’s a Nicaraguan. Your commitment is with the Cuban vote,” a choked-up Logan said last week about her bare-knuckle race against fellow Republican Rep. Jose Felix ‘Pepe’ Diaz. Welcome to Miami,” the Miami Herald‘s Marc Caputo reports. “This is a place where calling the daughter of Cuban parents a ‘Nicaraguan’ is a slur even though she was born in Nicaragua and says so on her website…And it stands as a clear sign that Florida’s Hispanic vote is anything but monolithic. Just beyond the Spanish-English language barrier is a not-so-brave world of ethnic tensions, borderline racism and nationalistic pride that will subtly play out this election season – from the Rivas Logan-Diaz state House District 116 race to the top of the presidential ticket.”

PERSONNEL NOTE: KIRK PEPPER TO SERVE AS SENIOR POLITICAL ADVISER TO SPEAKER DESIGNATE CHRIS DORWORTH

Kirk Pepper, a senior staffer in Speaker Dean Cannon’s office and a veteran Republican political operative, will serve as a senior political adviser to Speaker Designate Chris Dorworth.

Dorworth is slated to lead the Florida House during 2015-16. In the lead up to that period, Dorworth will assume de facto control of the Florida GOP’s efforts to maintain its electoral control of the House. It is in this capacity Pepper is expected to most assist Dorworth.

“Kirk has a unique understanding of both the politics and the policy that governs the legislative process,” said Representative Dorworth. “I am honored to have him lead my team.

FUNDRAISER FOR DORWORTH AND JASON BRODEUR – TONIGHT – HOSTED BY THE BEER INDUSTRY OF FLORIDA: Reps. Will Weatherford and Richard Corcoran hosting – at Liam Fitzpatrick’s in Lake Mary – 6:00 p.m.

ALSO RAISING MONEY TONIGHT – REP. KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO – 110 S. Monroe Street, Tallahassee – 5:30 p.m.

CAMPAIGN MISCELLANY

>>>The Florida Nurses Political Action Committee endorses Mike Weinstein in Senate District 4.

>>>Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober endorses Jim Frishe in Senate District 22.

>>>The United Christians of Florida have pulled their endorsement of Cary Pigman in House District 55 and are now solely endorsing Randy Johnson.

MEDIA NOTE 1 – GOP TRUTH SQUADS DIGGING INTO POLITICAL LEANINGS OF POLITIFACT EDITORS AND WRITERS

Republican strategists are poring over the rulings from other state units of PolitiFact, which rates statements from candidates on a scale of “pants on fire” lies to “true” based on source materials.

They are also reviewing the backgrounds of Politifact reporters and editors. “We are poring through the backgrounds of these writers and what Republicans are finding would appear to back up our argument about media bias,” said the official. PolitiFact units operate out of newspapers in Ohio, Virginia, Florida, New Jersey, Georgia, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

The GOP truth squad, for example, wants to find out the party registration of reporters or editors. For example, they found that a PolitiFact Virginia editor has voted in five Democratic primaries and one Republican primary over the last 10 years. They are also looking over the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the reporters and editors for hint of bias.

MEDIA NOTE 2 – THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF A BACKHANDED CANDIDATE ENDORSEMENT

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed Rep. Russ Carnahan over Rep. Lacy Clay in their primary battle but it’s unlikely to be cited in campaign commercials.

“Mr. Carnahan is a plodder, but his record shows little evidence of corruption. He hasn’t been as effective as Mr. Clay in bringing home the bacon to his constituents, but he hasn’t sold out his constituents, either. We choose the plodder over the pal of predatory profiteers.”

ALOE TO SOOTHE THE BURN: Politicians, such as Dan Quayle and Mary Landrieu, recall their first run for elected office in a Washington Post Magazine feature.

BE SURE TO SEND BIRTHDAY WISHES to 2011 Tally Madness winner and all-around good guy Steve Madden, who is celebrating his big day tomorrow. You can drop him a note at SMadden@centene.com.

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