Sunshine State News Blogs
"[Crist] basically did nothing to try to help Florida out of its recession," said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who serves as Scott's campaign chairman. "Instead, he abandoned his post and his state [when he ran for United States Senate].
"He's cast himself as a moderate or somebody who's trying to be in the middle, but I think everybody knows in this arena being on both sides of every issue isn't being in the middle, it's basically having no integrity, no core principles ... and saying whatever ... audiences want to hear."
Thrasher also criticized Crist over Scott Rothstein's statements that the former governor had an understanding with Rothstein to appoint judges in return for campaign contributions.
"That's a very serious allegation, and one none of us should take lightly," said Thrasher.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the chairman of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, unveiled a bill earlier this week giving the U.S. secretary of veterans affairs the ability to fire or demote senior VA department officials based on performance. Rubio’s and Miller’s bill would give the VA secretary the ability to fire or demote senior executive service (SES) officials in the department. As of fiscal year 2012, there were 448 SES officials in the department. But now the Senior Executives Association (SEA) which represents federal employees is pushing back
“Not only is this bill a solution in search of a problem, it is unfair and does not further the goal that we all share to ensure the highest quality care for our nation’s veterans,” said SEA President Carol Bonosaro. “Further, nearly one third of the career members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) working at the VA are themselves veterans. They share a commitment to continued public service, and it is a shame that the very committee that is looking for ways to increase the presence of veterans in the federal workforce would now enable firing those at the highest career levels without any due process whatsoever.”
The SEA argued this would give SES workers less job protection than other federal employees and would subject them to political pressure.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., continued his calls for higher education reform on Wednesday as he appeared on former U.S. Education Secretary Bill Bennett’s national radio talk-show. Rubio has been making the rounds with the national media after unveiling his proposals for higher education reform at a speech at Miami-Dade College on Monday
“You need more skill than ever before,” Rubio told Bennett about the current job market. “And our system of delivering skills, our education system, is not 21st century. It’s built on 20th century concepts that no longer are truly meeting the needs of our students. So, the single mom with two kids who has to work full-time and raise her family, she has no way to go back to school because there are no programs designed for someone like her, that are flexible enough. The individual who has lost their job, because it was automated or outsourced, needs to be retrained, can’t access the system. And then we have a bunch of young people graduating high school and going into college and getting degrees that don’t lead to jobs. And that’s a big problem because universities are feeding that and they’re giving students no information about their future prospects.
“So one of the proposals I have is that students have a right to know before they go,” Rubio added. “Before you take out a student loan, the school you’re at should tell you, ‘This is how much graduates from our school, with your degree, make.’ So you can make an informed decision about whether it’s worth taking out, you know, a Greek philosophy degree for a $20,000 loan.”
“This whole venture, tell me about it,” Bennett said. “Because people entering into the debate about higher education are often surprised by what they find. If you walk into the temple, the keepers of the temple do not particularly like it. They don’t take criticism well is what I’ve found.”
“Well they’re very insulated, clearly, because tenure insulates them,” Rubio responded. “They believe they’re above politics in many ways, but ultimately why do we invest in public education in this country? Because it is preparing a workforce. It is human infrastructure preparation that allows us to grow and expand our economy. The 21st century economy looks different than the 20th century economy. It demands a certain type of learning, a certain type of skill acquisition, and we need people to learn this stuff faster than ever before. We have an opportunity gap in America. And I said it in the speech, between haves and have-nots — those that have higher education, or some advanced education, and those that do not have it. The Pew study yesterday found that the gap between college graduates and noncollege graduates on an income basis is as wide as it’s ever been. We can close that gap, but we have got to make higher education more affordable, more flexible, and more available.”
As Winter Storm Pax sweeps across the East Coast, its snow and ice are slushing away flights along with thousands of power lines, leaving many Florida travelers, hoping to head north, stranded.
Travelers attempting air travel out of Tallahassee Wednesday came face to face with a dire departures board, as many connections rely on Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, which cancelled a record number of flights, according to an Atlanta airport spokesman.
Delta Airlines canceled more than 1,500 flights in the Southeast, while Southwest Airlines cut all flights out of Atlanta.
More than 275,000 people have lost power across the Southeast during the start of the storm, which is expected to linger for days and impacted northern parts of Florida.
You knew Jeb Bush would rise up and revolt sooner or later, and sure enough.
Over and over Charlie told the world he sees the Republican Party just like Jeb did.
“Jeb Bush said it better than I can say it,” Crist said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and more than half a dozen national TV talk shows last week. “He said today’s Republican Party is perceived as being anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-gay couples, anti-environment, anti-education. I mean, pretty soon, there’s nobody left in the room.”
It's the litany the former Republican governor-turned failed independent Senate candidate-turned 2014 Democratic candidate for governor uses to explain why he dumped the Republican Party.
Then, during his book tour, in order to give his remarks some credibility -- or something -- Crist even said Bush would make a fine president.
Are you kidding me? asks the Bush camp incredulously.
“Charlie Crist is a habitual opportunist with zero credibility,” Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell told The Daily Caller. “Florida voters understood that in 2010 and will once again confirm it in November.”
The Daily Caller points out that there's never been any love lost between Team Crist and Team Bush.
"During Florida’s 2010 Senate race, Bush endorsed Marco Rubio, not Crist — though the endorsement came after Crist bolted the Republican Party," explains the newspaper. "But Bush’s son, Jeb Bush Jr., endorsed Rubio early on when Crist was still running as a Republican, which was seen as a signal from Bush world as to which candidate the family was supporting in the Republican primary."
“Charlie Crist has been such a disappointment, because he will shift his position for his own personal ambition,” the elder Jeb Bush said of Crist in 2010 as Election Day approached. “It’s not that he’s serving anybody, it’s serving himself. He’s the most ambitious man I’ve ever met in politics. He believes in absolutely nothing other than — what’s the next step for him in a path.”
Get thee behind me, Charlie Crist.
The Florida delegation split on party lines as the U.S. House voted on Tuesday night to raise the federal debt ceiling with no conditions until March 2015. The measure passed 221-201 with 28 Republicans sticking with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to support it. Only two Democrats joined 199 Republicans in opposing the measure.
Boehner announced to the House Republican caucus at a meeting on Tuesday that he would move to end the three-year battle over the debt ceiling but received little support from his side. Every single Republican from the Florida delegation opposed raising the debt ceiling while all of the Democrats representing the Sunshine State voted to support the proposal.
“Tonight’s vote to raise our debt limit and increase the debt burden on American families was something I could not support,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla. “Time and again, Congress has voted to raise the debt limit without addressing the serious problem of out-of-control government spending. This crushing debt currently exceeds $17 trillion and is increasing at a steady clip. We must ask ourselves at what point will Democrats and Republicans wake up and address this uncontrollable freight train that doesn’t discriminate according to party affiliation and is the biggest threat to our national security.
“I was elected to Congress to work on solutions to decrease the national debt and enact fiscally responsible laws,” Yoho added. “I am and always will be committed to doing this. The future of our country, and the futures of our children and grandchildren depend on what we do here.”
On Tuesday night, U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., also explained his opposition to raising the debt ceiling.
"If our nation's $17 trillion of debt were divided up, each person would owe more than $54,000. The debt has almost doubled since 2005,” Ross said. “I have consistently stated that I will not support limitlessly increasing the debt ceiling unless it is coupled with a solid plan to decrease our debt. Presidents throughout history -- including President Obama -- have made concessions when it comes to the debt ceiling, and this time should be no exception, especially when almost half of our debt accrued under President Obama's leadership."
“I am pleased to endorse Blaise Ingoglia for District 35 of the Florida House,” said La Rosa. “His business experience will make him a great asset to the Florida House as we aim to keep Florida moving in the right direction.”
La Rosa is the 21st state legislator to voice his support for Ingoglia.
“I am honored to have the support of Rep. La Rosa,”said Blaise Ingoglia. “Rep. La Rosa is a dedicated leader and a strong advocate for his community. He has quickly earned a reputation as a difference maker and I look forward to serving with him in the Florida House."
With Vice President Joe Biden headed to Florida to help former state CFO Alex Sink raise funds, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is going on the attack. Sink is the Democratic candidate in the special election for an open congressional seat in Pinellas County. She’ll take on Republican David Jolly and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 election.
“Alex Sink and Joe Biden have a lot in common including their love for President Obama’s dysfunctional health-care law which guts Medicare and is costing our country jobs,” said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, on Wednesday. “It’s very clear that Alex Sink has already aligned herself with the most liberal Washington Democrats so it should be no surprise to Pinellas families that she will vote with the most liberal Democrats in Congress.”
Florida Senate President Pro Tempore Garrett Richter, R-Naples, endorsed Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, for the Republican nomination in the special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla.
After pleading guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession in November, Radel resigned from Congress at the end of January, leaving a coveted seat in Congress up for grabs.
“I have had the distinct privilege to serve this community with Lizbeth Benacquisto,” Richter said on Tuesday. “Lizbeth is tremendously passionate about standing up for the conservative values we all hold dear. Lizbeth is someone I know and I can trust to be effective, she has earned my respect. I am proud to support her, and know Lizbeth Benacquisto will represent Collier County and all of Southwest Florida in Congress with the dignity and respect we deserve.”
“I am proud to have the support of Sen. Richter. He has proven to Collier and Lee counties that the conservative values we share are getting Florida back on track,” said Benacquisto on the edorsement. “Sen. Richter joins a long list of community leaders who have humbled me with their trust and confidence.”
Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, now the chairman of the Campaign for Liberty after his three presidential bids and retiring from Congress, ripped into Janet Yellen, President Barack Obama’s new chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, on Tuesday. Yellen testified before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, which Paul served on, on Tuesday.
“Janet Yellen’s testimony confirmed suspicions that she would offer more of the same failed inflationary policies. If I were still in Congress and a member of the Financial Services Committee, I would have asked Chairman Yellen the following questions,” Paul said. “Why should Main Street, as opposed to Wall Street, have any confidence in the Fed considering that last Friday’s jobs report provides more evidence of the failures of Quantitative Easing 1, 2, 3, etc. … to help the average American? Why should anyone give credibility to the statements that the Federal Reserve will continue tapering when both Dr. Yellen and her predecessor have made it clear, by their words and actions, that the Fed will not end easy money policies as long as the stock market and the banks are addicted to the morphine of monetary inflation? Where does the Fed get the moral authority to create money out of thin air, something many equate with counterfeiting, and to fix interest rates? How can a chair of the Fed assume to have the wisdom to know what the money supply and the cost of borrowing (the rate of interest) should be? Is it possible to justify this authority to control one half of every economic transaction in a free market, especially when one looks at the results: depressions, recessions, excessive debt, inflation, bubbles, and the destruction of the middle class?
“I might also suggest that Dr. Yellen should not expect to have a pleasant tenure, as the policies she and her predecessors pursued will likely lead to a financial crisis that could very well dwarf the meltdown of 2008,” Paul added.
On Tuesday, the House Business and Professional Regulation Subcommittee advanced a proposal that would allow breweries and beer pubs to sell the 64-ounce and 128-ounce size beer growlers, inching one step closer to ending the ban.
Last year, the bill to legalize beer growlers died a swift death in the Florida Legislature. The same subcommittee rejected a similar proposal that would have allowed the larger beer growlers to be legal in the Sunshine State.
According to Florida law, beer can only be sold in a container of a gallon or more, or 32 ounces or less. Craft beer breweries, which have become increasingly popular in recent years, often sell beer in half-gallon containers called "growlers."
Forty-seven states currently allow the sale of growlers.
A similar bill, SB 406, is currently advancing in the Senate. Another related Senate bill, SB 470, would allow breweries as well as stores like Publix and Costco to offer free beer tastings.
Attorney John Hugh Shannon filed his papers on Monday to run for the House seat currently held by Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, who faces term limits. Shannon is running as a Republican in this district which represents all of Polk County.
On Tuesday, Shannon weighed in on why he was running and pointed toward his service in the Marine Corps.
“The values of faithful service, looking out for the little guy, and the greatness of this nation were instilled in me by my parents and forged in the Marine Corps,” Shannon said. “Sadly, those values sometimes get little attention in government. In their place we get bank bailouts, government takeovers of health care and property insurance, hostility to timeless American traditions, and career politicians.”
“I see this mission as an extension of the oath I took as a young Marine and a calling – not a career,” Shannon added. “I intend to go to Tallahassee and ensure working-class Floridians get a fair shake, government is kept restrained and limited, and we focus on results, rather than who gets credit. One of the first lessons you learn in the Marine Corps is the value of teamwork. I hope to bring some of that ideal to Tallahassee and together – with all citizens of goodwill -- we will leave a country better than we found it for our kids, grandkids, and future generations.”
Community activist Colleen Burton, who worked with Polk Vision, has been in the race since March 2013. Burton lost out to longtime Polk County Elections Supervisor Lori Edwards in the 2012 election cycle. Since entering the race, Burton has been busy, raising almost $64,000 by the end of January and spending almost $9,900 of that.
This is a Republican-leaning district and there are no Democrats in the race to this point. Conservative adoption advocate Franklin Ed Shoemaker is running as the America’s Party candidate, though his focus appears to be on a U.S. Senate bid in 2018. (America's Party had been known as America’s Independent Party and nominated Alan Keyes for president back in 2008.)
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., continued his push for higher education reform, appearing on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Tuesday. Rubio offered a major speech on higher education on Monday at Miami-Dade College.
Asked about how to make higher education more affordable, Rubio offered his thoughts.
“I think people have knowledge they have acquired by living life, by working, through volunteerism,” Rubio said. “They can acquire it by taking online courses. People should be able to get credit for that. I mean, how many people, for example, veterans, return from war knowing how to do all sorts of things, but in order to get a college degree, they’ve got to sit in the classroom and take exams and an entire course, and pay for it on something they learned doing in the military or in other aspects of life. My point is that we need to have a flexible higher education system where people can get college credit toward a degree that gives you credit for all those things.
“But we have a bigger problem,” Rubio added. “We have this rapid transformation in our economy. It is harder and harder to find a job these days if you don’t have some sort of higher education. And yet higher education has become more and more expensive, and it is completely controlled by the existing colleges and universities who play an important role, but have a monopoly in controlling access. And as a result, we have a trillion dollars in student loan debt out there.”
“It's extremely expensive to go to college in this country right now," said Fox News’ Martha MacCallum. “Again, I just have a couple of seconds on this, but a student investment plan that would get sort of the private financial sector involved in financing education?”
“It would allow students to basically have private investment groups invest in them,” Rubio said. “They pay for their education instead of taking out a loan. And in return, the student agrees, in a contract, to pay back that investment over a period of time through a percentage of how much they make. If that adds up to more than what they borrowed, then the investment group made a great investment. If it turns out less, then the investment didn’t work out. But that’s an alternative to loans. Again, the loans will still be there if that’s what they prefer to have, but I think this will really help graduate students going into engineering and the sciences, for example.”
Rep. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, and Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, filed legislation on Tuesday to allow parents and others to see how well school districts in Florida are using their financial resources to improve student achievement.
The bill, HB 875, would call for the education commissioner to create a return on investment (ROI) index by January 2015 to give parents the opportunity to view school districts' financial allocation to improve student achievement. The ROI index for each school will then be required to be posted to the Department of Education's website so that parents and others can make comparisons among similar public schools and school districts.
On top of that, HB 875 also provides for a schoolhouse funding pilot program that would evaluate whether giving principals more authority over school budgets and personnel decisions could provide a greater return on investment based on student achievement.
The pilot program would include 14 schools. Participating schools would be included in the ROI index and their principals would be provided with additional professional development to help them best manage their school and drive student achievement.
“This bill brings some much-needed transparency to our education spending and allows Florida taxpayers to see which schools and districts are providing the best return on investment for our state,” said Rep. Diaz on Tuesday. “It will allow schools and districts to see what is working and what’s not, and make the best decisions on how to prioritize their budgets.”
“The primary function of our schools is to educate our children and we should be giving schools every possible tool to help them do that successfully,” said Sen. Flores. “Our kids deserve the best education system we can give them. By connecting the financial and academic data the state already collects at the school level, we can gain a better understanding of what programs make the biggest impact on student achievement and then allow schools to make budget decisions accordingly.”
Tim Melton, Vice President of Legislative Affairs for StudentsFirst weighed in on the bill, praising Diaz and Flores for taking the initiative to file the legislation.
“Parents, education policymakers, and frankly, all Floridians should know how education dollars are being spent at the school level and what kind of an impact those programs are having. Representative Diaz and Senator Flores are great leaders and allies for parents and students in the Sunshine State and continually demonstrate their commitment to improving education."
Clawson has been particularly vocal about standing up to lobbyists and special-interest groups since he announced his run in January.
“I think we need to elect Congress people who can challenge thinking of a career politician, lobbyists and special interest groups,” he said. “I really am an outsider. I never considered running for office before this.”
But according to Fox 4 News, the former CEO of Hayes-Lemmerz International worked closely with lobbyists while navigating the company through two bankruptcies. During the second bankruptcy, Clawson paid $30,000 to lobbying group Ben Barnes to "help them with manufacturing and bankruptcy."
Hayes-Lemmerz then dumped $93 million of its underfunded pension plan on the federal government -- and the federal agency that absorbed the unfunded pension plans of Hayes-Lemmerz and other automobile companies is now $5.2 billion in debt.
Clawson served as CEO from 2001-2012.
On Monday, the Obama administration announced it was planning to delay the employer mandate for the president’s federal health-care law for another year, prompting a prominent Florida Republican to fire back.
The latest delay, the second one in the past year, moves the federal penalty on medium-sized businesses, those with between 50-99 employees, not complying with the health care law, until 2016.
"This latest delay represents an acknowledgment that Obamacare cannot be implemented as written without doing significant damage to the economy,” said U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., on Tuesday. “The employer mandate is bad policy and should be fully repealed with the rest of Obamacare; however, the administration cannot simply ignore the clear requirements of the law, especially when the motivation for the non-enforcement is transparently political. The president may think that he can ‘do whatever he wants,’ but the Constitution says otherwise."
David Jolly, the Republican running in the special election for an open congressional seat in Pinellas County, released a new video showcasing his work for “Jessica’s Law” and standing against child predators. Jolly takes on former state CFO Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate, and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 special election.
“Many years ago, while awaiting to board a flight at Washington’s Reagan National Airport to return home to Pinellas, I met a man by the name of Mark Lunsford. It was a moment that changed my life,” Jolly emailed supporters on Tuesday. “Most of us know the tragic story of Mark’s loss. His 9-year-old daughter Jessie lost her life at the hands of a child predator who lived in the neighborhood. I’ll never forget my first conversation with Mark. I approached him to express my condolences and to offer my encouragement for the good work he was doing to enact Jessica’s Law in states across the country and to fight for increased federal law enforcement resources through passage of the Adam Walsh Act. When I asked Mark what he was doing in Washington that week, he replied simply, ‘I’m up here lobbying for some appropriations.’ Mark was referring to his efforts to secure funding for the U.S. Marshals Service to go after absconders from the sex offender registry.
“I wanted to help – so I offered to work with him and other surviving parents to convince leaders in Congress to provide the marshals the funding they needed,” Jolly added. “Two years later, as one team devoted to an incredibly important cause, we had succeeded in securing tens of millions of dollars for the marshals to help protect our communities and our children from child predators. Mark has become a dear friend. He has followed this campaign closely. He recently decided to weigh in and record this commercial about our work together.”
Jolly looked to deflect attacks from Sink and her allies against his work as a lobbyist. “Throughout this campaign, my opponent and some in the press have raised politically motivated questions about my work in Washington,” Jolly wrote. “They’ve raised questions of personal trust. They’ve challenged my character. Even more, I have been criticized for saying that I am proud of my work in Washington. I am proud of my work, and Mark is the main reason why. And I am even more proud of my friend Mark and the work he did in Washington -- and I am forever grateful that he let me bear witness to his commitment, his drive and his fight to help parents across the country.
“I didn’t get into this race to seek the affirmation of my opponent or the press. I got into this race to seek the support and affirmation of people like Mark Lunsford. I am humbled by Mark’s support and I’ll let his words in this commercial serve as my response to those in this campaign who continue to criticize my work on behalf of this community,” Jolly continued. “I’ve put my heart and soul into this campaign. I know many of you have as well. It really comes down to this – a campaign like ours that is committed to serving our community and serving those who need help working with Washington, or a campaign started, funded, and run by the Washington establishment with the sole purpose of serving the interests of Washington.”
The Florida Chamber of Commerce unveiled its 2014 legislative agenda for jobs on Tuesday. According to a press release from the chamber, the agenda is "focused on making Florida’s business climate more competitive and lowering the cost of living for Florida’s families and small businesses."
The chamber noted that Florida has the potential to add 198,000 new jobs in 2014, which it believes will "provide Floridians with greater opportunities."
“The Florida Chamber remains focused on creating more opportunities for Florida’s families and small businesses,” said Eric Silagy, 2014 chair of the Florida Chamber and president of Florida Power & Light Co. “We can continue to grow Florida forward by focusing on a globally competitive business climate.”
The Florida Chamber’s 2014 jobs agenda focuses on more than 85 pro-jobs initiatives passed and signed into law over the last three years. The Florida Chamber emphasized that there are several issues the Legislature must tackle "to remain competitive in [a] changing world," including lawsuit-abuse reform, protecting public pensions, targeting tax reform and continued education reform.
View the full agenda here.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday morning to focus on education reform. Rubio offered a speech on the subject on Monday at Miami-Dade College.
Rubio touched on education being the gateway to success and improving your family in the United States.
“Mobility, that ability to rise above the circumstances of your birth, is something I experienced,” Rubio said. “Perhaps many of you have experienced, as well, most Americans have. The data now shows that we’re no longer, perhaps, the most mobile country in the world. And I just won’t accept that. Because that’s one of the things that I think makes us truly exceptional. So what is it that’s holding people back, increasingly in the 21st century and the post-industrial revolution? It’s the lack of access to higher education.
“The problem is we have a 20th century higher education model that says, ‘Everyone has to go and get a four-year degree, then you get a bachelor’s, then you get a graduate degree.’ And that’s still good, but that’s not the only way for everyone,” Rubio added. “There are a bunch of professions being created that require more than high school, but less than college. We have to provide access to those sorts of learning as well. And then you’ve got this explosion in technology that’s brought knowledge and learning to more people than ever before. But, we don’t reward it with a degree. We don’t pay for it with federal student aid. And that makes it inaccessible to many, many people and that’s why you have a trillion dollars in student loan debt out there today across this country.
“So I propose three things. One: More information for students. I filed a bill called Right to Know Before You Go with Senator Wyden,” Rubio continued. “That means students will be told before they take out a loan, ‘This is how much you can expect to make when you graduate with this degree, from this institution.’ I also think we should open up lending to private investment groups that can invest directly in an individual student. And a student pledges to pay that back through a percentage of their income over a defined period of time. And finally, we need to open up the accreditation process and be able to allow people to get credit and ultimately degrees, based not just on classroom work, but also on life experience, work experience, areas that you can show aptitude in through testing and online learning.”
Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Maitland, and Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, reached acorss party lines on Tuesday to promote legislation making insurance companies face the same standards other companies face in regard to investing in companies helping Iran become a nuclear power. The bill would force companies to end investments in companies helping Iran’s military and nucelar ambitions.
“Passing HB 811 is one of my top priorities this session,” Hager said. “Companies that choose to invest in extremist countries like Iran need to know that Florida is serious about holding terrorist regimes accountable for their actions, and will not enable them to develop nuclear weapons or commit further terrorist acts.”
“I am proud to file SB 948 to ensure that Florida’s sanctions keep pace with federal law if Iran does not abide by the interim agreement,” Ring said. “It is important to me that Florida continues to lead the way on this very important issue.”
The Republican Governor Association (RGA) is turning up the heat on former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott despite spending most of his career as a Democrat. The RGA pointed toward the new Democrat’s ties with convicted fraudster Scott Rothstein who said last week that Crist was assigning judgeships based on political donations.
“Recent statements under oath from Scott Rothstein, a ‘convicted fraudster’ and former Charlie Crist fundraiser, about his ‘quid pro quo’ relationship with Charlie during his time as governor, are outrageous,” said Gail Gitcho, a spokeswoman for the RGA. “Florida voters deserve better and should not be saddled with a governor who traded favors and appointments for campaign donations. The only people Charlie should have been working for are the people of Florida, not his felonious friends.”
Scott's "Let's Get to Work" political committee raked in $3.4 million for the month of January. When coupled with $743,000 in contributions to his campaign account, the governor brought in $4.1 million in the first month of 2014.
Charlie Crist, on the other hand, didn't raise quite as much cash in January. According to finance reports, he brought in $637,000 through his "Charlie Crist for Florida" political committee and $375,000 from his own campaign, totaling $1,012,000 -- only a quarter of what Scott raised.
So far, Gov. Scott severely outpaces Crist in the fundraising game -- he's raised $32,263,000 so far while Crist, who announced he'd be running for governor in November, has raised a total of $5,048,000.
“I mean, the embargo has been there -- what -- 50 years now? I don’t think it worked," said Crist on Friday during HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher." "It is obvious to me that we need to move forward and I think get the embargo taken away. Really. I believe that."
In a series of tweets posted Monday -- both in Spanish and English -- Lehtinen slammed Crist for flip-flopping on the issue and expressed her disagreement with Crist over lifting the embargo.
"We MUST NOT lift the anti-#Castro embargo until ppl of #Cuba r able 2 have #humanrights," the Republican congresswoman tweeted, calling Crist's policy reversal "absurd."
In another tweet, Ros-Lehtinen said Crist promotes politics that help Raul Castro and not the Cuban people who "suffer under his dictatorship."
Crist's policy reversal has gathered considerable criticism from Republicans, including Gov. Rick Scott.
Florida Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, also pushed back against Crist on the issue. “As the son of Cuban exiles, who are the victims of the Castro regime's oppression, I am deeply offended by Charlie Crist's shameful comments,” said Garcia. “Our community has endured great pain to now have to endure Crist's disrespectful statement. Note to Crist: The U.S embargo on Castro will not be lifted until Cubans are no longer accosted in the streets of Cuba or tortured in Castro's gulag; until the day that Cubans can assemble without fear and a free press exists; and until the day that they can cast a ballot knowing that they will not be physically beaten or intimidated.
“It's an embarrassment that Crist has positioned himself on the wrong side of history at a moment when the Cuban people need the most solidarity,” Garcia added.
Speaking at Lighthouse Point on Monday, Gov. Rick Scott made the case for his proposed $400 million reduction on motor vehicle fees.
“We are going to undo the 54 percent tax increase Floridians saw in 2009 to annually register their motor vehicles,” Scott said. “Florida families deserve to keep more of the money they earn because it has never been government’s money -- it’s your money. We are building an opportunity economy in Florida and our commitment to roll back these taxes and fees will let families keep more of the money they make so they can invest in their future.”
Scott’s team insists this reduction will move the fees from $71 per family to $46.
Attorney John Hugh Shannon filed his papers on Monday to run for the House seat currently held by Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, who faces term limits. Shannon is running as Republican in this district which represents all of Polk County.
Community activist Colleen Burton, who worked with Polk Vision, has been in the race since March 2013. Burton lost out to longtime Polk County Elections Supervisor Lori Edwards in the 2012 election cycle. Since entering the race, Burton has been busy, raising almost $64,000 by the end of January and spending almost $9,900 of that.
This is a Republican-leaning district and there are no Democrats in the race to this point. Conservative adoption advocate Franklin Ed Shoemaker is running as the America’s Party candidate, though his focus appears to be on a U.S. Senate bid in 2018. (America's Party had been known as America’s Independent Party and nominated Alan Keyes for president back in 2008,)
On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott doubled down on his call to lower the business rent sales tax by $100 million during an appearance at R2 Unified Technologies in Boca Raton.
Scott’s proposed budget contains that reducation and lowering vehicle registration fees by $400 million.
“This tax costs Florida businesses $1.4 billion per year, and our proposed reduction means $100 million in savings for Florida businesses,” Scott said. “These savings will help business grow and allow them to keep more of their hard-earned money.”
The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) unveiled a new Web video on Monday, hitting former Gov. Charlie Crist for his connections with convicted fraudster Scott Rothstein who said last week Crist assigned judgeships in exchange for political donations.
“On the fifth anniversary of Charlie Crist's infamous hug of Barack Obama and his failed policies, Floridians should also remember Crist's many embraces of Scott Rothstein,” said RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry on Monday. “Not only was Rothstein convicted of a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme, he also testified under oath that he bought judgeships in return for political contributions. From whom? None other than Charlie Crist."
State Rep. Richard Stark, D-Weston, issued a statement on Monday concerning Ryan Uhre, a former FSU student serving as an intern in his office. Uhre has been missing since last Sunday and was last seen at Andrew’s in downtown Tallahassee during the Super Bowl. There are signs Uhre could be in South Florida.
"I share the concerns of family and friends over the disappearance of legislative intern Ryan Uhre, who was recently assigned to work in my Tallahassee legislative office,” said Stark. “A 2013 graduate of Florida State University interested in becoming a lawyer, Ryan resided in Weston and his father is a client of my insurance business. In the few days that Ryan has worked with us, he demonstrated exemplary knowledge and performance in all of his tasks.
“According to news reports, Ryan was last seen at about 9 p.m. on Feb. 2 in downtown Tallahassee," Stark added. “Anyone with information about his whereabouts is urged to contact the Florida State University Police Department at 850-644-1234 or the Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477. My thoughts and prayers are with Ryan and his family, and I sincerely hope that his disappearance will have a positive outcome.”
Small-business owner Maurice “Mo” Pearson is running for the Republican nomination to challenge state Rep. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, in November. Pearson won the backing of four Republicans in the Florida Legislature on Monday as Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, Rep. David Santiago, R-Deltona, and Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, lined up behind him.
“I am honored to be endorsed by these dedicated members of the Florida Legislature" said Pearson. “These individuals are committed to making a difference in Florida through tireless public service and know what it takes to get the job done. I, too, am committed to working hard to ensure a brighter future for both Florida and Orange County.”
Former state Rep. Ana Rivas Logan is leaving the GOP and joining the Democrats over immigration issues. Rivas Logan is claiming she was pressured by now-Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera to back an Arizona-style law in Florida back in 2011 when she was a freshman in Tallahassee.
After redistricting in 2012, Rivas Logan was pitted against fellow state Rep. Jose Feliz Diaz, R-Miami, in the primary but lost the contest. Republicans are insisting Rivas Logan switched parties due to her continued political ambitions.
Rivas Logan is getting national attention, including from the Huffington Post, for her party switch.