Sunshine State News Blogs
"Charlie Crist consistently raised tuition as governor, even allowing it to increase up to 15 percent every single year,” said Leslie Dougher, the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), on Wednesday. “He even said it was the right thing to do. Governor Scott knows that making it harder for Floridians to get a college degree is never the right thing, which is why he reversed Crist’s 15 percent tuition increase and has cut the cost of a college prepaid plan by almost $20,000.”
Let’s Get to Work is putting $2 million behind the ad which hits the airwaves on Friday.
"Raúl Labrador is a conservative reformer who will stand for liberty and challenge Washington sacred cows,” DeSantis said. “He is also a skilled communicator who is capable of articulating limited government principles to a broad cross-section of Americans. I am happy to support a change agent like Raúl for the position of House majority leader."
Gov. Rick Scott signed a law on Tuesday to overhaul the juvenile justice system with the aim of maintaining public safety. HB 7055 aims to codify principles and reform efforts which have contributed to lower juvenile recidivism rates in Florida.
On top of signing the bill, Gov. Scott also announced Christy Daly will become the interim secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice following Secretary Wansley Walters’ retirement later this month.
Daly has held various leadership positions in the DJJ over the last few years, serving as the deputy secretary, chief of staff, legislative director, and the external affairs director.
“I am proud to sign this bill today that emphasizes prevention services and trauma informed care, both of which will help us continue the recent success of the department that has driven delinquency rates down to the lowest levels in 30 years," said Scott on the bill.
“I am honored and humbled that Gov. Scott has entrusted me to lead this agency and continue the reforms he launched 3 1/2 years ago," said Deputy Sec. Christy Daly. "DJJ is an agency of committed staff who work tirelessly every day to better the lives of children and families while keeping communities safe. I am proud of the significant strides we have made and look forward to continuing Sec. Walters’ vision of a national model for juvenile justice.”
“It's official, I qualified to be on the ballot for the Florida governor's race!" Rich announced on Tuesday afternoon. “I was surrounded by friends and supporters in Tallahassee this morning when I filed to qualify to run as a Democrat for governor of Florida. Today, I reaffirm my commitment to this race and my commitment to Florida’s voters.”
“It is long overdue that justice be delivered to the terrorists who conducted the attacks of Sept. 11, 2012, against U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya and killed four Americans. The capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala is welcome news, and a testament to the bravery and skill of U.S. special forces and the FBI,” Rubio said on Tuesday. “The Obama administration should immediately transfer him to the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay for detention and interrogation. In order to locate all individuals associated with the attacks that led to the deaths of four Americans, we need intelligence. That intelligence is often obtained through an interrogation process.
“At times, this administration has been more interested in the politics of the war on terrorism than the execution of it, and we have not had an articulable detention policy in six years,” Rubio added. “I look forward to hearing from the administration how they plan to obtain information from Ahmed Abu Khattala, where they intend to detain him, and what the next steps are for going after those responsible for these attacks. America remains at war and a return to the failed law enforcement approach of the 1990s is not an adequate response to the very real threats we face.”
“The tragic events of recent days show once again that Russia continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty by supporting separatist forces with increasingly sophisticated weapons, and now tanks. We cannot continue to stand idly by in the face of this Russian aggression,” Rubio said on Monday. “I call on the Obama administration to immediately impose sectoral sanctions on Russia targeting the financial services, energy, defense, metals, and mining sectors, among others, and work with our European allies to do the same. We also need to be more responsive to Ukraine’s requests for assistance, including lethal support that addresses the needs of their security forces.
“More than six weeks ago, I joined my colleagues in introducing S 2277, The Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014, which would impose significant sanctions on the Putin regime and provide support to our European allies and partners, including Ukraine,” Rubio added. “I urge my colleagues to support this bill or offer their own alternatives as soon as possible so that Russia’s escalation of the situation in Ukraine does not go unanswered.
“President Putin continues to test the United States and he is not paying a price for doing so,” Rubio concluded.
“As the next congressman representing Florida’s 19th District, Curt Clawson will proudly stand up for unborn children and their mothers,” said SBA List Candidate Fund President Marjorie Dannenfelser on Tuesday. “A man of great intellectual depth, proven leadership ability, and commitment to the lives of women and children, I believe Curt Clawson will emerge as one of the brightest stars of the next Congress. Clawson’s opponent has close ties to EMILY’s List and NOW, both pro-abortion groups that oppose a compassion limit on late abortion. For pro-life, pro-woman voters in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, Curt Clawson is the clear choice.”
Clawson takes on Democrat April Freeman and Libertarian Rey Netherwood in the election next Tuesday.
"For the purposes of qualifying as a candidate for re-election, I have disclosed my financial assets today," said Scott. "However, before that and immediately after filing, these assets were under the management of an independent financial professional in a blind trust in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest."
Scott released three years' worth of joint tax returns filed by him and his wife, Ann. The returns indicated he earned $9.3 million in 2010, $80.3 million in 2011, and $8.7 million in 2012. In addition, Scott revealed a net worth of over $132 million.
The governor invited Crist to do the same and disclose his own tax returns.
When qualifying for the ballot, Crist disclosed a net worth of $1.25 million, earning $712,000 in income last year. Over $296,000 of his income was received from law firm Morgan & Morgan.
"The Castro regime has once again brutally arrested pro-democracy activist Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ‘Antunez,’ and his wife and fellow activist, Yris Perez,” Diaz-Balart said. “Repression in Cuba has increased exponentially despite repeated attempts from the Obama administration to appease the regime with relaxed sanctions and travel visas to Castro operatives. With the arrests of these and other courageous pro-democracy activists, and the unjustifiable imprisonment of U.S. aid worker Alan Gross, we must tighten sanctions against the Castro dictatorship by eliminating so-called ‘people-to-people’ travel, strictly enforcing current sanctions with maximum penalties, and prohibiting visas to those who help the regime inflict human rights abuses.
“I am calling on other pro-democracy advocates, human rights organizations, and our friends in the international community to condemn these arrests and call for immediate consequences to the brutal Castro regime,” Diaz-Balart added. “We cannot remain silent in the face of such egregious human rights abuses.”
“The reports that numerous Veterans Affairs clinics have cooked the books and systematically disregarded the health care needs of our veterans is a disgrace and a disservice to the great men and women who have served this country,” Diaz-Balart said on Monday. “We called this meeting today with the Miami VA to discuss the personal reports of veterans in South Florida and to see what is being done to correct these failures. It is imperative that the Miami VA quickly address the delays and incompetence that have plagued the hospital for years. I will do everything I can to make sure the VA is held accountable for their actions and that they work to fix these issues moving forward.”
“The Miami VA is in desperate need of reform,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “The tragic tales of negligence on the part of the VA staff and administration have caused many of us to question the processes and procedures used, in addition to what appears to be nonexistent discipline. No veteran or patient of any hospital or rehab facility should be faced with an indifferent staff or incompetent administration. Those who sacrificed so much for our nation should be treated with no less than the respect, dignity, and excellent medical care that they have earned and deserve.”
Ballard Partners announced Monday it'd be forming a "strategic alliance" with New York City-based Tusk Strategies Inc., which specializes in political consulting and advocacy campaigns.
"Ballard Partners not only shares several clients with Tusk Strategies, we share a passion for their issues and a driving commitment to their success. The strategic alliance forged between our two firms will provide clients with an even deeper bench of seasoned, knowledgeable professionals at their disposal. I am pleased to be affiliated with Bradley Tusk and his top-notch team,” said Brian Ballard, president of Ballard Partners, in a press release from Ballard Partners.
Bradley Tusk of Tusk Strategies served as campaign manager for former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg during his 2009 re-election bid.
Ballard Partners and Tusk Strategies share several of the same top-level clients like AT&T, Walmart and Expedia.
“At Tusk Strategies, we do three things: we develop the strategy for how our client can achieve their underlying business goal, we build the right team on the ground, and we run the effort like a high-intensity political campaign. We’ve worked with a lot of different firms over the past five years and as I’ve gotten to know Brian and work with him, it’s clear to me that he and his team are the best in class at what they do, and working together makes a lot of sense for our clients,” said Tusk.
“I am thankful that the governor has signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 into law,” Edwards said after Scott signed the bill. “Florida has the opportunity to lead in the research and development of scientific breakthroughs from cannabis-derived therapies. By partnering with our universities, physicians, scientists, and patients, I believe that we are establishing a framework to bring expedited research to the masses so that more patients, not only here in Florida but across the globe, will have access to new therapies that are safe and effective.”
“As a father and grandfather, you never want to see kids suffer,” Scott said. “The approval of Charlotte’s Web will ensure that children in Florida who suffer from seizures and other debilitating illnesses will have the medication needed to improve their quality of life. I am proud to stand today with families who deserve the ability to provide their children with the best treatment available.”
Both Yinka Abosede Adeshina of Tallahassee and Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder of Sarasota each paid the $7,800 qualifying fee to put their names on the primary ballot against Gov. Rick Scott.
According to Adeshina's website, she is a graduate of Wayne State University, College of Pharmacy. Some of her focuses are to provide health care to all Floridians by 2017 and to improve diversification in the workforce and reduce unemployment across the state.
Cuevas-Neunder was named Business Woman of the Year in 2005 by the Republican National Committee. Her website -- which is in both English and Spanish -- describes Cuevas-Neunder as running on a platform on "restoring God, the state, and strong family values" to Florida, which is "a true melting pot of cultures, languages, and religions."
Curbelo appeared on “Fox and Friends” on Fox News on Monday morning along with fellow Republican congressional candidates Evan Jenkins of West Virginia and Richard Tisei of Massachusetts. Neither Garcia nor the Democratic congressmen that Jenkins and Tisei are challenging appeared on the show despite being invited.
Asked about what he is seeing in the campaign, Curbelo said voters in South Florida are “frustrated with the government we have today.” He added young voters and immigrants are losing faith in the American dream. “They don’t see the opportunities this country used to offer.” Curbelo also said voters want Congress to “fix the Obama economy which is leaving so many people behind.”
Asked about what he sees as the most important issue in this campaign, Curbelo said it was the national debt and federal spending.
“Young voters are starting to wake up,” Curbelo said, insisting the Obama administration was running up the national debt on “our generation’s credit card.”
“This administration has kept trying to loosen sanctions against the Castro dictatorship, even though all the regime in Havana keeps doing is repress and abuse innocent Cubans who express their desire for liberty and democracy,” Rubio said on Friday. “The Castro regime’s repressive apparatus is in full swing as it spent this week beating and detaining dissidents without cause. Activists like ‘Antúnez,’ his wife Yris Pérez Aguilera, Berta Soler and her husband Angel Moya have been detained and harassed. Independent journalist Roberto de Jesús Guerra was violently assaulted and reportedly suffered a broken nose and torn ligaments.
“The Castro regime’s repression cannot go ignored,” Rubio added. “The Obama administration should reconsider any policy attempts that ultimately enrich and empower the regime to continue repressing innocent Cubans like this. Let this latest wave of harassment and brutality by the Castro brothers serve as a reminder to those who call for more engagement as a way to bring change to Cuba. The only change that would bring is further entrenching the regime in power by giving them more money to carry out their violent repression of people’s fundamental rights and dignity.”
Former state Sen. Nan Rich said she was in the Florida gubernatorial race for the long haul, and sure enough, she announced Friday she will file her paperwork to qualify on Tuesday in Tallahassee.
Her statement promised that she and her supporters will be at the Florida Department of State, Division of Elections, at 10 a.m. The division is in the R.A. Gray Building, 500 South Bronough St.
Rich has been under increasing Democratic Party pressure to back out of the primary against party favorite Charlie Crist, who was a Republican all his life until 2010, then switched to independent, then in 2012 to Democrat. Rich has consistently vowed not to quit.
"I am the only true Democrat in this race. Those who have known me over the years know I will work hard for Democratic principles and the people of Florida," she has said.
The videos show Scott reflecting on his father as well as his own experiences as a father and a grandfather.
"Rick loves being a dad and grandad, and I can’t imagine a more loving, supportive father. Our girls have grown up with a dad who knows the importance of always being there no matter how much time we spend together," said first lady Ann Scott. "Over the past years we have created so many wonderful memories together as a family, whether it be ballet class, soccer practice, traveling or just having a family night at home. To every incredible father, stepfather, grandfather and fatherly figure around Florida, our family wishes you a blessed Father’s Day.”
View the videos below:
SB 542, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, would make it easier for private companies to sell flood insurance in the state. Scott also signed a bill to tighten restrictions on charities to prevent fraud, an issue which was a top priority for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
One of the more controversial bills Scott signed was HB 1047, which would extend Florida's current law banning most abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy by requiring physicians to conduct tests to see if the embryo is viable prior to performing any abortion. The bill, which will take effect July 1, would keep an exception if a mother's life is at risk or to prevent irreversible physical impairment of a mother's major bodily functions.
In addition to these bills, the governor also signed legislation which will move Florida's legislative session to January in 2016.
“The use of wireless broadband and Internet-connected devices has caused an explosion of economic growth and innovation that was previously unimagined, and wireless traffic is projected to grow exponentially in the years ahead,” Rubio said. “In order to meet that demand and ensure that the U.S. continues to lead the world in wireless innovation and technology, we must ensure that the federal government uses its spectrum in an efficient and responsible manner, and we must free up additional spectrum for commercial use.
“This legislation accomplishes both goals by directing NTIA to reallocate federal spectrum for commercial use,” Rubio added. “The Wireless Innovation Act will also provide transparency on the use and value of federal spectrum and inform the public on how federal entities use a scarce public resource. Passing the Wireless Innovation Act will grow our economy and ensure that consumers continue to enjoy the benefits of wireless technology.”
“When I became governor, I made a promise to Florida families that we would hold the line on tuition. I’m proud to say we’ve done just that," said Scott. "I know what it’s like to work your way through school, but for many kids today, the rising cost of college tuition is making it hard to afford college."
Scott then took aim at former Gov. Charlie Crist.
"That’s why it was so important to reverse Charlie Crist’s 15 percent tuition hike and give every student who grows up in Florida the chance to pursue an affordable college education," said the governor. "I want to make sure that our students can get a great education, start a successful career, and live the American dream right here in Florida.”
Scott gathered support from lawmakers across the state as well as members from the Florida Prepaid College Board.
"Creating an economy with opportunity for future generations in Florida starts with an affordable and quality education," said House Speaker Will Weatherford. "Florida needs to be the place our students create lasting careers, open a business and expand Florida’s workforce."
"The cost of receiving a higher education should never outweigh the benefits for those who hope to attend a state college or university in Florida," said Duane Ottenstroer, chairman of the Florida Prepaid College Board. "Gov. Scott is fighting hard for our students by eliminating the 15 percent yearly tuition increases allowed by the previous governor, as well as lowering the cost of Florida’s prepaid scholarship by nearly $20,000. As chairman of the Florida Prepaid College Board, I know how significant of a break this is for many Florida families struggling to afford college tuition."
In announcing his candidacy, Bensmihen pointed to his experience with spastic cerebral palsy and his work in charitable activities.
“I think I’ve proven that society sometimes has the handicap and an individual only has a disability,” Bensmihen said on Thursday. “Disabilities come in many forms, but a way forward and a way up is only achieved through hard work, perseverance, and commitment. That is what I bring to this race and what our kids and grandkids need to know.
“I am excited to take this next step of service and offer myself to the voters of District 34,” Bensmihen added. “I truly believe that my life can serve as a testament to the American virtues of hard work, never giving up or giving in, and securing the freedom to pursue one's dream. I know, firsthand, what it takes to create – and maintain – jobs for my neighbors because I've done it. I know, firsthand, what true charity is because I've worked to give it. I also know, firsthand, what it is like to be told you can't do something, but to know you can.”
“I know there are those who say Florida, and America, have put our best days behind us,” Bensmihen concluded. “To those who believe that or those who fear it to be true, I intend to campaign as an example of what one can accomplish if we stop labeling each other and start working together. There is no goal we cannot achieve in this country and no mountain too high in our state. I intend to win this race and unite our district in the common cause of freedom, economic prosperity, and world class education for our future.”
Conservative Karin Hoffman is also running in the Republican primary. If she wins, Bogdanoff is expected to support Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latavala's Senate presidential ambitions.
A poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, finds Clinton edges out former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., 46 percent to 45 percent in a potential 2016 matchup. Clinton does slightly better against U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., beating him 48 percent to 44 percent.
Clinton does better against the other Republican hopefuls, beating U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., by 6 percent, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., by 7 percent, Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., by 8 percent and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, by 11 percent.
Half of those surveyed -- 50 percent -- want Bush to stay out of 2016 while 35 percent say he should run. Rubio does even worse with 59 percent saying the senator should not run for president while 27 percent think he should.
Despite her leads, Clinton is upside down in the Sunshine State with 47 percent seeing her as unfavorable while 46 percent see her in a favorable light. A slim majority -- 51 percent -- see Bush as favorable while 35 percent view him as unfavorable.
The poll of 672 Florida voters was taken from June 6-9 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.
A poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, shows Clinton in the pole position with 66 percent. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., places a very distant second with 8 percent followed by Vice President Joe Biden with 7 percent. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., garners 5 percent followed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., with 4 percent. U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., takes 1 percent. Three candidates -- U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md., and former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, D-Mont., take less than 1 percent.
The poll of 251 Florida Democrats was taken from June 6-9 and had a margin of error of +/- 6.2 percent.
A poll of Florida Republicans from Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling shows Bush out front with 30 percent. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., places second with 14 percent while U.S. Sen Rand Paul, R-Ky., stands in third with 11 percent. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, garners 9 percent followed by Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., with 8 percent. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., and Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., are knotted together with 7 percent each. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., takes 2 percent followed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La.., with 1 percent.
If the choice comes down to the two candidates from Florida, 45 percent of Republicans prefer Rubio while 41 percent prefer Bush. While 47 percent of Florida Republicans want Bush to run, 38 percent say he shouldn’t. Florida Republicans are more divided on whether Rubio should enter the fray, with 42 percent saying he should run in 2016 while 41 percent say he should not.
The poll of 315 Florida Republicans was taken from June 6-9 and had a margin of error of +/- 5.5 percent.
“Since our space program began, Florida has been America’s spaceport, and we must continue playing a central role in 21st century space exploration,” Rubio said after the meeting. “Of course, space exploration in this century must look significantly different than it did in the last one, with innovators in the commercial space industry carrying more of the load. I appreciated Director Cabana’s time today to discuss the center’s future. It’s important that NASA and the commercial space industry coexist in a way that benefits our nation’s space and science goals, as well as Florida’s longstanding role as a hub of space-related job creation.
“The main concern I raised with Director Cabana is how we can get commercial space companies to launch from Florida so they can utilize the infrastructure and workforce that make Florida a unique, and ideal, place to conduct launches,” Rubio added. “My hope is that NASA’s management plans for Kennedy do not put Florida at a competitive disadvantage, or deter or hamper commercial space entities from making full use of the facility and other potential launch sites in Florida. He assured me that would not be the case, but this is something I’ll continue exploring in consultations with the different stakeholders.
“The competition for commercial space industry activity is furious among states like Florida, Texas and Georgia,” Rubio continued. “Florida has many decades of proven experience as a space launch hub, but we must keep working aggressively to keep it that way.”
A poll from Rasmussen Reports finds 90 percent of American adults know the words of the song while only 14 percent think it is too hard to sing. A strong majority -- 78 percent -- of those surveyed want to keep it as the national anthem.
The poll of 1,000 American adults was taken from June 7-8 and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.
“I have had time to reflect on my desire to continue to make things better for our community,” Bogdanoff emailed supporters on Wednesday. “After many hours of deliberation and discussion with my family, friends, community leaders, and of course you, I have decided to run for Senate District 34. I will be sending the paperwork to Tallahassee today.”
Bogdanoff will have to defeat conservative Karin Hoffman in the Republican primary. If she wins, Bogdanoff is expected to support Sen. Jack Latavala's, R-Clearwater, Senate presidential ambitions.
“The plan is simple,” the Indy Alliance announced on Wednesday as it launched. “Alliance candidates that win will coordinate decisions on caucusing with the goal that neither party has a majority. This simple act will put the swing votes back into the hands of the people and allow us to force congressional rule changes that will reduce partisan gridlock and restore balance.
“Depending on partisan gains and losses, it may only take a single election to gain another independent senator and a few members of the House to make this a reality,” the Indy Alliance continued. “Even if we do not achieve this in the 2014 midterm elections, we are only laying the groundwork for an even bigger push in 2016.”
“I want to get straight to the point and make this short and sweet,” West emailed supporters on Wednesday. “I submit that Barack Hussein Obama's unilateral negotiations with terrorists occurred without consult from the U.S. Congress and resulted in the release of dangerous al-Qaida leaders. These actions represent high crimes and misdemeanors against our nation and are grounds for impeachment.
“I have called upon the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives; Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to draft articles of impeachment because no one is above the law in America,” West added.