Sunburn for 7/31: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

By on July 31, 2012

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

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‘DARK MONEY’ MAKES UP HALF OF ALL INDEPENDENT SPENDING

The Huffington Post reports that “dark money” has made up at least half of all spending this election cycle by outside groups.

Through July 26, politically involved groups that do not disclose their donors have spent at least $172 million on campaigns that include television, radio and Internet advertising… Total spending by these groups is likely far greater, since they are required to report only a fraction of their spending to the FEC. Politically involved independent groups that publicly disclose their donors, including super PACs, have spent $174 million so far this election cycle.

RNC ‘ROMNEYVILLE’ CAMP FACES LEGAL REVIEW

The City of Tampa is investigating whether the encampment … breaks the law and whether the store’s owner can be fined for allowing protesters to stay in the lot.

Lockett, a member of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, said he has a lease with the owner of the Army Navy store that lets his organization and others camp in the grassy lot behind the business until after the convention.

Tensions were high last week when code enforcement officials visited the camp and told protesters they may have violated city laws, said John Alexander, another activist at the camp. Store owner Nick Potamitis suggested he might back out of the lease agreement after the city told him he could be fined, Lockett said.

>>>Footage released today by the 2012 Republican National Convention shows the earliest stages of how an arena designed for professional hockey is transformed into a setting worthy of its unique role in American history – the site of the nomination of the 45th president of the United States.  “The time-lapse video shows the tremendous amount of work accomplished every day by hundreds of Florida workers,” said convention Chief Executive Officer William Harris. “There is no question a massive undertaking awaits us, but the skill, planning and expertise of our crews are on display for everyone to see now.” Watch here.

>>>Former VP Dick Cheney announced he will not be attending the RNC in Tampa.

>>>The Republican Governors Association and BGR Group are hosting an event with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour as the headliner in honor of  ‘America’s Republican Governors,’ according to an invitation first reported by POLITICO. The event is planned for Tuesday, Aug. 28 at Stumps Supper Club and will feature country music duo Montgomery Gentry.

VOTER REGISTRATION IN FLORIDA: CONTINUING RISE OF THE INDEPENDENTS

The number of independent voters has climbed steadily in Florida since 1972 — when Democrats had an overwhelming majority with 68.5 percent of voters, Republicans had 28.2 percent and independents, only 3.4 percent. But since since the infamous November 2000 election, the number of independent voters in the state has swelled more than 75 percent, from 1.5 million in 2000 to 2.7 million today, making up 23.8 percent of the statewide voting electorate.

STATE WILL APPEAL ‘DOCS VS. GLOCK’ RULING

Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday that the state will appeal a ruling barring the state from enforcing the “docs vs. glocks” law, continuing the court battle over the line between patients’ rights under the Second Amendment and doctors’ rights under the First, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.

“This law was carefully crafted to respect the First Amendment while ensuring a patient’s constitutional right to own or possess a firearm without discrimination,” Scott said in a brief statement released by his office. “I signed this legislation into law because I believe it is constitutional and I will continue to defend it.”

The appeal challenges a federal court’s ruling blocking enforcement of provisions of the law that would restrict doctors and other medical providers from asking questions about gun ownership during medical visits.

GREER CASE ‘MYSTERY’ DOCUMENT ORDERED RELEASED

The Jim Greer case just keeps making news — of the wrong sort for members of Florida’s Republican Establishment.

An Orlando circuit judge Monday ordered the release of a mystery document that had been sought by attorneys for Greer, the ousted former head of the Republican Party of Florida who’ll stand trial later this year for allegedly ripping off $125,000 from the party.

Florida GOP lobbyist Brian Ballard; former party finance chair and major donor Harry Sergeant III; Dane Eagle, the long-time traveling aide to former Gov. Charlie Crist; and former party executive director Delmar Johnson, are all apparently named in the mystery document. Attorney Richard Hornsby sought two weeks ago to keep it sealed, but Circuit Judge Marc Lubet ruled Monday that it will be made public as part of the discovery process. An appeal is expected.

Read Rene Stutzman’s story here. And read the judge’s order here.

DEMAND GROWS FOR INVESTIGATION OF BRAIN INJURY HOSPITAL 

Florida Voices’ Rosemary Goudreau: “It is impossible to look at the pages-long list of abuse allegations from a Central Florida facility for people with brain injuries and not wonder how the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation is allowed to remain open.”

Sunshine State News’ Nancy Smith: “Who knows why it took an investigative reporter 1,200 miles away in Boston to discover and expose the drumbeat of abuse going on at the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation.”

SHAW & MERLIN SAY CITIZENS NON-FLOOD RATE CAP ILLEGAL ANYWAY

Attorney Chip Merlin and Policyholders of Florida founder Sean Shaw, also of the Merlin Law Group, sent a letter to the Cabinet and OIR Commissioner Kevin McCarty urging them to tell Citizens to back off the $15,000 non-flood water damage cap that stalled at last Friday’s board meeting. Although Citizens wants to study it more, Merlin and Shaw say the proposal is against the law . 

The consumer advocates cite language that says Citizens policyholders are entitled to the same treatment as those policyholders with private carriers, and the imposition of an arbitrary $15,000 limit on non-flood water claims doesn’t. 

***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.*** 

ALAN GRAYSON LOOKS TO WEAKEN A REPUBLICAN CHALLENGER BEFORE PRIMARY

Democrat Alan Grayson has a new radio ad that tries to undercut a potential rival in Florida’s new central Florida congressional district. The spot goes after Republican John Quinones, who still has to emerge from a large primary field. Grayson spent nearly $30,000 to make that more difficult, reports Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times.

“The 60 second ad is designed to sound like an actual news report, and falsely accuses Quinones of supporting tax increases during his tenure on the County Commission,” the Quinones campaign said in a statement. “It includes a sound bite from Quinones that is false and taken completely out of context.”

LOIS FRANKEL TOUTS HEALTHCARE RECORD IN LATEST TV AD

In a new campaign ad that begins airing Tuesday, Lois Frankel promises to stand up for the health care of women and seniors.

In the 30-second ad, titled “Health,” a narrator notes that Frankel won’t replace Medicare with vouchers, “which could cost seniors thousands.” The narrator also says that Frankel “forced insurance companies to cover mammograms,” and fought for increased prescription drug funding for seniors. Watch here.

KEITH FITZGERALD TO VERN BUCHANAN:  ‘YOU OWE FLORIDA RESIDENTS ANSWERS’

In response to Vern Buchanan’s failure today to appear at his  court deposition — where he was scheduled to answer questions on camera and under oath relating to his alleged attempts to bribe a witness and force his employees to illegally launder campaign contributions through his car dealerships — candidate for Congress Keith Fitzgerald issued the following statement:

“I’m disappointed in Representative Buchanan today. We are a nation of laws, and it is incumbent upon each of us to do our part — to abide the law — if we want the system to work.  It is especially important for elected officials, at a time when people are losing all trust and faith in government, to respect the law and behave honestly and transparently.  I hope Rep. Buchanan will rethink his unfortunate choice to refuse participate in our vaunted justice system, and begin to show the appropriate respect to the law and is constituents,” said Keith Fitzgerald, former state representative and candidate for U.S. Congress in Florida’s 16th Congressional district.

ADAM HASNER RAISES $175K DURING LATEST, CONDENSED FUNDRAISING PERIOD

Adam Hasner raised more than $175,000 during the latest, condensed reporting period from July 1 to July 25, and now has more than $1,050,000 cash-on-hand.

“With a short fundraising period that encompassed the traditionally difficult period over the Independence Day holiday, we have still been able to achieve our goals to counter our opponents’ efforts even as they engage in their primary battle,” said campaign manager Brad Herold.  “Adam and our team will continue to spend our time meeting with voters and earning new supporters who believe in Adam’s vision that a badly broken Washington must be fixed to create jobs, cut our crippling debt, and get our sluggish economy moving in a truly positive direction.”

IN SD 8, FRANK BRUNO INCHES CLOSER TO DOROTHY HUKILL

Democrat Frank Bruno collected $16,475 in cash and also got $16,425 in in-kind contributions from the state Democratic Party between July 7 and July 20 in the hotly contested Senate District 8 race, according to new campaign-finance reports. State Rep. Dorothy Hukill, the Republican candidate, collected $9,700 during the period. Overall, Hukill had raised $287,711 in cash, while Bruno had collected $223,548. The district is centered in Volusia County and stretches across part of Marion County.

JOHN LEGG CONTINUES TO SEE MONEY ROLL IN FOR SD 17 CAMPAIGN

Pasco County Rep. John Legg collected $25,250 in contributions between July 7 and July 20, adding to his big fund-raising lead over former Rep. Rob Wallace in the Republican primary in Senate District 17, reports the News Service of Florida. Legg had an overall total of $193.672, according to new campaign-finance reports. Wallace, of Tampa, reported collecting $1,440 during the period and had an overall total of $24,200.

BRANDES TOPS FRISHE IN LATEST FUNDRAISING REPORTS

In a fierce Republican primary in Senate District 22, St. Petersburg Rep. Jeff Brandes collected $23,225 in contributions between July 7 and July 20, new reports show via the News Service of Florida. That was better than the $16,095 raised by his opponent, St. Petersburg Rep. Jim Frishe. In total contributions, Frishe had $261,541, while Brandes had $91,675 — but Brandes also has loaned his campaign $500,000.

MACK BERNARD TOPS $28K IN TWO WEEKS FOR SD 27 BID

 Rep. Mack Bernard of West Palm Beach raised $28,606 in contributions between July 7 and July 20, more than double that of his opponent, Rep. Jeff Clemens, in the Senate District 27 Democratic primary. Clemens received $12,935 of contributions during the period and had an overall total of $119,503, and Bernard’s total is not too far behind if he keeps up his bi-weekly at $114,336.

IN HD 20, CLOVIS WATSON MORE THAN DOUBLES FUNDRAISING TOTAL OF OPPONENT MARIHELEN WHEELER

Clovis Watson has a total of $56,428 raised for his House District 20 race. This more than doubles the campaign totals of his primary opponent, Marihelen Wheeler of Gainsville, who has a reported total of $25,700 raised. In fact, within a two-week period this month alone, Watson raised $16,000. Part of his success has to do with major industry supporters such as AT&T and Humana.

IN HD 34, NANCY ARGENZIANO AND JIMMIE SMITH SEEM ALLERGIC TO FUNDRAISING

Between July 7 and July 20, HD 34 independent candidate Nancy Argenziano did not raise any new funds, and her opponent, Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness. raised a modest $1,475 in contributions. Overall, Smith has an extreme fundraising edge in the district with a total of $67,947 compared to Argenziano’s $3,845 overall. Argenziano, a former House and Senate member, is campaigning for a comeback to the Florida Legislature, but contributions appear scarce.

HD 68: FARKAS HAULS IN $35K

Bolstering his effort to return to Tallahassee, former Rep. Frank Farkascollected $35,125 in contributions between July 7 and July 20, according to new reports via the News Service of Florida. Farkas, who entered the House District 68 race in early June, reported an overall total of $54,776. Democrat Dwight Dudley of St. Petersburg raised $5,510 during the period and had a total of $34,175.

HD 89: HAGER TOPS $100K IN OVERALL MONEY

Rep. Bill Hager, a Boca Raton Republican who likely will face a challenge from former Democratic House Speaker Tom Gustafson, raised $17,200 between July 7 and July 20 and had an overall total of $110,075, according to new campaign-finance reports. The Palm Beach County Democratic executive committee this week is expected to choose Gustafson to replace Pam Goodman as the party’s candidate in House District 89. Goodman dropped out of the race last week because of a family health issue.

JOSE FELIX DIAZ IS CRUSHING THE FUNDRAISING TRAIL IN HD 116

Rep. Jose Felix Diaz is battling for the newly drawn House District 116 seat with fellow Republican Ana Rivas Logan. Diaz is way ahead in finances, though, with a total of $265,165 raised and $21,330 brought in during the last two-week reporting period. Logan has a total of $141,470 raised, having brought in $3,500 within the past two-week period.

CAMPAIGN PROFILES

The Tampa Tribune on House District 61: After three terms, Reed, 71, says she has hard-earned legislative experience and knows how to get things done for her district within the Republican-dominated Legislature. Denson would face a learning curve, Reed said.

Daytona Beach News-Journal on House District 61: Deltona’s representation in Tallahassee used to sound like a bad joke: “How many lawmakers does it take to shine a light on Central Florida’s second-largest city?”

Sunshine State News on House District 105: As he seeks a second term in the Florida House, Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, faces a serious challenger in the Republican primary on Aug. 14 and is looking at a very different district than the one he currently represents.

CLINTON MORE POPULAR THAN EVER: A new Gallup poll finds 66% of Americans have a favorable opinion of former President Bill Clinton, tying his record-high favorability rating recorded at the time of his inauguration in January 1993. Clinton nearly returned to this level of popularity at two points in his second term, but has generally seen lower ratings, averaging 56% since 1993.

DID YOU KNOW? Florida Democratic Party executive director Scott Arceneaux took and passed the Bar exam in February? Off to the legal world, I hear. One way or another, the FDP will have a new executive director and a new Chairman come January of 2013.

MEDIA NOTES: Higher education reporter Lindsay Peterson has left the Tampa Tribune. Travis Pillow is now covering Florida’s capital and education policy for the Tallahassee Democrat.

TROUBLING: A new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll finds just 40% of Americans know that there are nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Among college graduates, 52% answered correctly while 40% got it wrong and 8% say they don’t know. Of those without a college degree, 35% got it right, while 52% answered incorrectly and 13% said they don’t know.

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