Sunshine State News Blogs

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., offered her take on Democratic chances to flip the U.S. House in November -- and said it comes down to Florida.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Pelosi said on Wednesday that she sees a way for Democrats to pick up 25 seats from Republicans and flip the chamber. Pointing to a decision from Judge Terry Lewis last week that ruled the seats currently held by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., do not pass constitutional muster, Pelosi said it could help Democrats in the Sunshine State.

“Florida, you know is big for us,” Pelosi said. “We’ll see how it goes. We have a few and we won that [legal] decision. Now we’ll see what the judge says about where we go from here, for now and for the future, but it really was necessary. It was a major involvement all around. But worth it.”

"I want 25, so how do we get 25?” Pelosi continued. “Well, it depends on how we do in Florida."

“How many do you think are in play now in Florida that they’ve made that ruling?” Ed O’Keefe from the Post asked Pelosi.

"It depends on the judge,” Pelosi answered. “He’s called in the lawyers. That’s what I read in the papers. What I’ve read in the papers is that he’s calling in the lawyers, and I don’t know what he’ll do next. Could be three seats, but what it does is, even if it’s not three seats, it’ll make our others easier."

Currently, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has only one Florida Republican in its various target lists: U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland.
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From his perch on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., took aim at comments made by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a recent interview in which he said “the immigration laws are being enforced." DeSantis, a frequent critic of Holder, fired back on Tuesday.

“I'm still trying to figure out if he was joking,” DeSantis insisted. “Take, for example, the DHS report from earlier this year about the government's release of criminal illegal aliens. These are individuals who were unlawfully present in the country and who were convicted of a serious criminal offense. According to the DHS report, ICE released more than 36,000 criminal convicts during fiscal year 2013 alone instead of returning them to the home country as required by law.

DeSantis continued: “The breakdown of offenses provided by DHS is stunning, and includes the following offenses: 193 homicide convictions (including one willful killing of a public official with gun); 426 sexual assault convictions; 303 kidnapping convictions; 1,075 aggravated assault convictions; 1,160 stolen vehicle convictions; 9,187 dangerous drug convictions;16,070 drunk or drugged driving convictions; 303 flight escape convictions.

“Releasing convicted criminals back into American society is contrary to the safety and welfare of the American people,” DeSantis concluded. “It also sends a message to those who contemplate illegally entering the U.S. that the government is not serious about law enforcement.”
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Pinellas County seems to be getting a little colder toward its hometown gubernatorial candidate, according to a new poll. 

The StPetePolls survey, which was commissioned by SaintPetersBlog, questioned 607 random voters within those registered in SD 22, which covers southern Pinellas and part of Hillsborough County. Only those planning to cast votes in November were included in the poll.

When it came to whether respondents would choose to vote for Gov. Rick Scott or Crist, voters were split, with each candidate receiving under 44 percent. 

Crist easily won the vote in Pinellas County during his Senate bid in 2010 as well as his first gubernatorial bid in 2006. Crist also took Pinellas County during his 2002 bid for attorney general -- in fact, the only time Crist lost an election in his home county was in 1998 during his Senate quest against popular incumbent Bob Graham. It seems somewhat surprising, then, that Crist and Scott would be so close in Pinellas for a candidate who's taken the county in nearly every major election he's participated in over the last 15 years. 

StPetePolls took the poll on July 14 using a sample size of 574 likely SD 22 voters. The margin of error is +/- 4.1 percent, with 95 percent confidence level.

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Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., who has left the door open to a political comeback in 2016, made the case to impeach President Barack Obama on Tuesday. In recent weeks, West has been increasingly calling for Obama’s impeachment.

“Over 135,000 patriotic Americans have responded to my impeachment survey showing that Americans are furious with Barack Obama and his hatred for the Constitution of the United States,” West emailed supporters. “But I've also received an overwhelming number of emails with your thoughts about why Obama should be impeached and I want to be sure to allow every American to voice their opinion.

“Think about it," West continued. “Barack Obama has: traded senior terrorist commanders for an Army deserter; refused to seek justice for the terrorist attack in Benghazi, inviting more violence against our country; engaged in a cover-up regarding Benghazi to hide the truth; ignored acts of Congress and is selectively enforcing the laws as enacted; used regulations and executive orders to circumvent the power of Congress, thereby violating the separation of powers between the branches of government.

“Any one of these are (sic) impeachable offenses and show shameful disrespect for the Constitution and the American people,” West added. “Barack Obama is guilty of committing high crimes and misdemeanors against the Constitution and, by his own actions, has forfeited the right to lead this nation.”

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The  Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) went all out on Tuesday to let the public know that All Aboard Florida is not getting state funds as it looks to bring high-speed rail to the Sunshine State. FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad sent a letter to All Aboard Florida President Michael Reininger in which he notes that.

“This letter is to again restate that All Aboard Florida is not receiving any state funding,” Prasad wrote. “A July 12 news story by Matt Dixon of the Naples Daily News reported that your ‘company planning documents’ showed you ‘could directly request an additional $44 million in state grants.’ However, as we have previously discussed with your company, the department will not invest state dollars in your project.”
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U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., teamed up with U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla, and U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., to bring out the “Fuel Choice for American Prosperity and Security Act” (FCAPS) on Tuesday. The proposed bill lowers CAFE obligations for automakers if they make cars using less petroleum.

“Fuel competition in our transportation sector will improve U.S. energy and national security, increase our foreign policy flexibility, spur economic growth, and lower fuel prices,” Ros-Lehtinen said on Tuesday. “By providing more options at the pump, we can dampen the impact of oil price volatility and reduce the leverage of oil rich governments and rogue regimes that are unstable, repressive, or hostile to the United States and who use oil as a weapon to undermine U.S. foreign policy efforts. Fuel choice will also allow the American economy to capitalize on our plentiful domestic resources, create jobs, and encourage innovation, all while driving down the price of fuel.

“By providing automakers the option of rolling back costly fuel economy regulations, we are incentivizing a technologically neutral, free-market competition for transportation fuels without government mandate and without picking winners and losers,” she added. “I am proud to introduce the Fuel Choice for American Prosperity and Security Act with my colleagues Tom and Matt and look forward to working with the rest of the House to move this important bill forward.”
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Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera went to bat for his boss Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday, releasing a video in Spanish attacking former Gov. Charlie Crist on crime. Despite having spent most of his political career as a Republican, Crist is the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Scott in November.

“Fifteen years ago, Florida passed a law called ‘10-20-Life’ to keep violent criminals off the streets,” Lopez-Cantera said in translation. “It requires minimum jail sentences for specific crimes committed using a gun. He supported it before, but it’s a shame Charlie Crist has now reversed his position on this law that keeps Florida families safe. Floridians simply can’t trust Charlie Crist.”

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Veteran and attorney Paul Renner, engaged in a competitive Republican primary against banker Jay Fant to replace Rep. Dan Davis, R-Jacksonville, in the Florida House, released his first television commercial on Tuesday. The ad stresses Renner’s conservative credentials.

“I’ll cut taxes, fight Obamacare and let families choose the best education for their kids,” Renner says in the ad.

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Leslie Dougher, the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), came out swinging at former Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday over his role in selling a Miami home. Despite spending most of his political life in the GOP, Crist is the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November.

"We have found a document showing that Charlie Crist was part of the sale of a home with Carole Crist in Fisher Island. This document raises some serious questions for Charlie,” Dougher said on Tuesday. “Why was this home never reported before on Charlie Crist's financial disclosure paperwork? Why was the sale of this home never reported on his income taxes? Was Charlie part-owner of this home to help establish a homestead exemption in Florida?”

Dougher noted that Crist was refusing to release his wife’s income taxes.

“The people of Florida deserve answers to these serious questions,” Dougher said. “Tomorrow is exactly one month to the day since Gov. Scott challenged Charlie Crist to release the income taxes of both he and his wife. Charlie has ignored this call for transparency, even after several other previous gubernatorial candidates have kept this tradition of transparency for years. The discovery of Charlie's name on the sale of a home with Carole Crist only adds more urgency to Charlie's need to be transparent with Florida voters. At 30 days and counting, we await his response. Tick tock."
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After a ruling last week which found the congressional seats currently held by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., violated the Fair District amendments passed in 2010, the leaders of the Florida Legislature said they will redraw those two districts but will not touch the other 25. They also asked the judge if this impacted the 2014 elections which are already under way.

“We respect the deliberative and thorough manner in which Judge Lewis approached the trial on the Florida congressional map,” Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Destin, and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said in a joint statement on Tuesday. “While the court directed that Congressional Districts 5 and 10 be redrawn, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ challenge to eight other districts, thereby upholding 25 of 27 congressional districts statewide and leaving intact the vast majority of the actions taken by the Legislature.

“The Legislature does not presently intend to initiate an appeal of the court's decision and will redraw the boundaries of Congressional Districts 5 and 10,” Gaetz and Weatherford added. “Today, we have asked Judge Lewis to clarify, as a legal and practical matter, that his decision does not affect the administration of the 2014 election. According to federal law, over 63,000 Florida military and overseas voters are already casting absentee ballots based on the current congressional map. Next week, hundreds of thousands of printed absentee ballots will be mailed to in-state voters. Any attempt to change the districts at this late stage of the 2014 elections process would cause chaos and confusion and would threaten the rights of our deployed military voters. It has been the practice in other states and in Florida to remedy maps at a future election so as not to disrupt and disenfranchise voters. We believe such action is appropriate and is in the best interest of Florida, and particularly our deployed military servicemen and servicewomen, who are casting their votes now.”
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U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, unveiled a bill on Monday allowing the VA secretary to recoup bonuses handed out to VA employees, including managers at VA hospitals. In recent weeks, the VA has been under fire due to altered waiting lists at medical centers across the nation.

“Apparently, VA officials aren’t sure whether the department has the authority to recoup bonus payments to its own employees,” Miller said on Monday. “This bill is intended to clear up this confusion. Ideally, VA employees and executives who earned bonuses under false pretenses should be subject to prosecution, but at a minimum their bonuses should be paid back in full. I urge my colleagues to support this bill, which would give the VA secretary another tool to instill some much-needed accountability throughout the department.”
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U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., the chairman of the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, took to the House floor on Monday night to shepherd $341 million in cuts to the IRS included in the Fiscal Year 2015 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill. The House is expected to vote on the proposal later this week.
Crenshaw pointed to recent problems with the IRS as he looks to gut it.

“In the business world, poor performance does not warrant a pay increase, and the same must hold true for the federal government,” Crenshaw said. “Targeting groups for further scrutiny based on political belief, lost emails, lost hard drives, and agency employees who don’t pay their own taxes – it’s disgraceful. And, until the Internal Revenue Service can demonstrate principled integrity in the handling of taxpayer dollars, it should not be rewarded by receiving additional funding.

“I commend my colleagues who have joined me in taking action to hold the Internal Revenue Service accountable and encourage the full House to do the same this week,” Crenshaw added.

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A group of five state attorneys criticized former Gov. Charlie Crist over comments he made last week saying Florida's 10-20-Life laws needed to be reviewed. 

Crist said the state should review its Stand Your Ground law as well as the 10-20-Life law during the Florida Press Association and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors' convention in Coral Gables. 

"I'm always open-minded to looking at those kinds of things," Crist said. "When you're faced with new facts, I think you ought to listen."

Crist supported both measures while he was governor. 

“Laws like 10-20-Life give us the ability to keep violent criminals off the streets and are a big reason why Florida is at a 43-year crime low," wrote the attorneys. "In the same week, Gov. Rick Scott vowed continued support for strong sentencing measures, Charlie Crist has reversed his position on 10-20-Life, sending a terrible message to law enforcement and prosecutors who work hard to keep Florida families and visitors safe.”

The state attorneys are listed below:

Phil Archer, 18th Circuit (Brevard and Seminole counties).

Ed Brodsky, 12th Circuit (DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties).

Bruce Colton, 19th Circuit (Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties).

Angela Corey, 4th Circuit (Clay, Duval and Nassau counties). 

Brad King, 5th Circuit (Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter counties) 
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U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., continued to call on the Obama administration on Monday to cut off funding to the Palestinian government as tensions continue to rise in the Middle East.

“With so many crises enveloping the Obama administration, why is the State Department so intent on continuing to fund the Hamas-Fatah unity government?” DeSantis asked. “Hamas has long been officially designated as a terrorist organization, yet the administration feebly claims that the unity government is simply a ‘technocratic’ government in which Hamas doesn't exercise "undue" influence -- even though a torrent of terrorist rocket fire is raining down on Israeli civilian population centers. This position is not only at variance with common sense, it is contrary to the public position of 88 out of 100 U.S. senators, not to mention the wishes of the American people.

“Hamas not only engages in terrorism but actually uses its own civilians as human shields. The contrast is stark: whereas Israel is engaging Hamas in order to protect its own people, Hamas is willing to endanger civilians in the Gaza Strip if it means being able to launch more terror attacks and to score more propaganda points,” DeSantis added. “The U.S. taxpayer should not be forced to underwrite Hamas' campaign of terror.”
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Former Gov. Charlie Crist has been bending over backward as he tries to woo over his new party and now he is taking a page from two of the leading Democrats of the first half of the 20th century -- President Franklin D. Roosevelt and longtime Gov. Al Smith, D-N.Y., who was the Democratic presidential candidate in 1928. Despite spending most of his political life as a Republican, Crist is the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November.

“I'm a happy warrior,” Crist proclaimed on Monday. “I will fight for the people of Florida -- and I'll speak the truth about how Rick Scott has hurt our home, but I'm not going to get in the mud like him. However, he's spent more than $20 million trashing me, you, and the values we share.

“So here's the truth: Scott's thrown all that cash at us because he knows that attacking us is the only way he can avoid answering the tough questions,” Crist continued. “It's time for him to explain why he left $2.4 billion on the table for high-speed rail, or why he's refusing to expand health care for almost 1 million people -- including 41,000 veterans. He owes us an explanation on why he won't take a stand on equal pay for women or on raising the minimum wage.”

Originally taken from a Wordsworth poem, the phrase “happy warrior” became linked with Smith when FDR nominated him for president in the tumultuous 1924 Democratic convention which, after 103 ballots, selected John W. Davis to go up against -- and get run over by -- Calvin Coolidge in the general election. FDR used the phrase again when he nominated Smith in 1928.  

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Rick Scott's campaign announced the "Veterans for Scott" coalition in Largo on Monday. The coalition is comprised of nearly 60 veterans and veteran activists from across the state and will be led by Retired Air Force Brigadier General Chip Diehl and Retired Army Lt. Colonel Chris Hart.

Scott himself was a member of the U.S. Navy, serving as a radar man. He used benefits from the GI Bill to attend college.

“Gov. Scott fought for our military installations and our National Guardsmen through Washington’s gridlock, and was one of the first governors to tackle problems plaguing our VA hospitals," said Chip Diehl, state co-chairman. "By promoting our veterans and offering them opportunities to further their education and careers in the state of Florida, he has earned our trust. We’re confident he will lead us with pride in the years ahead."

"He has done exactly what he said he would do when he asked for our vote," said Chris Hart, state co-chairman. "He has earned our respect, our support and our vote for re-election to serve another term as Florida’s governor. Gov. Scott is making Florida the most veteran- and military-friendly state in the nation. Every day he focuses on expanding our economy and creating more, higher paying jobs for veterans."
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Gov. Rick Scott announced on Monday that Advanced IT Concepts Inc. (AITC) is expanding its headquarters in Seminole County leading to 50 new jobs in the Winter Springs facility over the next five years.

 “AITC’s addition of 50 jobs in Seminole County is great news,” Scott said on Monday. “Now more Floridians will have the opportunity find a job and support their families. Since December 2010, Florida businesses like AITC have created more than 580,000 private-sector jobs. This announcement is further proof that Florida is the best place in the nation to get a job and raise a family.”
“We sincerely thank Gov. Scott, his team and Seminole County government for providing the environment, resources and support needed for this significant step,” said Gabriel Ruiz, the president and CEO of ATIC. “The support received by AITC will allow us to focus on growing the company and creating new jobs to better serve our clients.”
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U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the chairwoman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, met  Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer at the end of last week. After the meeting, Ros-Lehtinen pledged to continue to support Israel in its fight with Hamas and urged President Barack Obama to do the same.

“These are critical times for Israel, and I reiterated to Ambassador Dermer my firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against ongoing attacks by the terrorist group Hamas,” Ros-Lehtinen said on Friday. “No other country in the world would allow these terrorist attacks to continue without taking action. It is appalling that Abu Mazen would accuse Israel of committing genocide when it is Hamas that is using Palestinian women and children as human shields and when it is Israel that is taking every precaution in its response, out of self-defense, to limit civilian casualties. I call on the international community to unilaterally condemn the gross violation of human rights being committed by Hamas.

“Abu Mazen is not interested in peace or else he would demand that Hamas stop firing rockets targeting innocent civilians in Israel and endangering the lives of Palestinian women and children,” Ros-Lehtinen added. “Abu Mazen's inability to stop these horrid tactics demonstrates that he is either incapable of leading the Palestinian people or that he supports such tactics. Abu Mazen is no partner for peace, and he must completely cut off the unity government with Hamas. The Congress stands firmly in support of Israel as it defends itself and I hope the Obama administration will take a clear stance in defense of our ally, the democratic Jewish state of Israel, at this crucial time.”
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From his perch on the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee, U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., teamed up with U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., to introduce a bill last week to increase opportunities for the private sector to explore and mine asteroids. The two congressmen unveiled the “American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities in Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act of 2014” on Thursday.

“Asteroids are excellent potential sources of highly valuable resources and minerals,” said Posey. “Our knowledge of asteroids – their number, location, and composition – has been increasing at a tremendous rate and space technology has advanced to the point where the private sector is now able to begin planning such expeditions. Our legislation will help promote private exploration and protect commercial rights as these endeavors move forward and I thank Rep. Kilmer for working with me to help advance this industry.”

“We may be many years away from successfully mining an asteroid, but the research to turn this from science fiction into reality is being done today,” said Kilmer. “Businesses in Washington state and elsewhere are investing in this opportunity, but in order to grow and create more jobs they need greater certainty. That’s why I’m excited to introduce this bill with Rep. Posey so we can help the United States access new supplies of critical rare metals while serving as a launch pad for a growing industry.”
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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a possible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, turned up the heat on former U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, the leading contender for the Democratic nomination. Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s national radio talk show, Rubio insisted he could beat Clinton in 2016 and criticized her record at the State Department.

"Multiple people can beat her,” Rubio told Hewitt. “Hillary Clinton is not unbeatable.”

The Huffington Post has the details.

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U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., introduced the “Drone Reform Act (DRA)” on Friday, teaming up with prominent members of the liberty movement and leading Democrats to back the bill ensuring all authority on armed drones stays with the Department of Defense (DOD).

“The CIA’s main mission is intelligence collection and analysis,” Yoho said. “It should not be in the business of military strikes. This legislation will bring our armed drone fleet under the jurisdiction of the DOD, where it should be. If our national security requires drone strikes abroad, then one agency should be held accountable to the American people.

“Even our top military officials have been pressing for permission to publicly defend U.S. drone strikes against criticism at home and abroad and against the spread of misinformation from terrorist groups,” Yoho added. “This bill will allow our military personnel to testify before Congress and release details of all strikes. The DRA will make it clear that no other federal agency or department, or any personnel, shall have authority to operate or fire an armed drone except for DOD.”

Yoho has a host of co-sponsors in U.S. Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich., Thomas Massie, R-Ky., Rush Holt, D-N.J., Paul Broun, R-Ga., John Conyers, D-Mich., Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., and Raul Labrador, R-Idaho.
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Al Lewis

Al Lewis

Al Lewis is set to join the South Florida Business Journal as editor in chief on July 14, reports

Lewis was previously a contributing business columnist for The Wall Street Journal Sunday and the Denver Post since August 2010. Before that, he served as a columnist for Dow Jones Newswires from June 2008 to July 2013.

The final installment of his column, "Al's Emporium," will appear July 13 in The Wall Street Journal pages included in the Sunday Denver Post.

Lewis called the move to Florida bittersweet.

"My column has been in The Post, in one form or another, since 2001 and I love the readers. They have emailed me for years -- some complimentary, some insulting, but it's fun to have that discourse," he said. "It's hard to walk away from that. But my career has always been characterized by writing, then editing, then writing. Now it's time for me to be an editor."

South Florida Business Journal is owned by Charlotte, N.C.-based American City Business Journals, which also owns the Denver Business Journal.

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Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., announced on Friday that, with congressional redistricting up in the air, he was ending his bid for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., the man who beat him in 2012. Rivera announced he will run for the Florida House in 2016.

“As you may have already heard, yesterday a Florida court outrageously invalidated the state's congressional district map which had been drawn by the Florida Legislature in 2012,” Rivera announced to supporters. “This decision has created great uncertainty as to the final composition of all of Florida's congressional districts, including CD 26 in South Florida, for which I am a candidate. In essence, liberal activist judges are hijacking the reapportionment process and holding congressional candidates, like myself, hostage until the appeals process concludes at the liberal Democrat-dominated Florida Supreme Court (see Bush v. Gore 2000). As a congressional candidate affected by this decision, I will not be held hostage by Florida's liberal activist judges.

"After consulting with state legislative leaders and reapportionment attorneys, and pending further clarification of this court decision, I have decided to suspend campaigning for CD 26 and will launch my candidacy to the Florida State House of Representatives for the 2016 election cycle. There are just too many issues to solve in Florida -- Common Core, Medicaid, economic development and others -- to sit by and wait for unelected judges to decide the fate of congressional districts. As always, I am humbled and grateful for your support of my candidacy. However, while Florida's liberal activist judges may cast uncertainty by hijacking the congressional reapportionment process, I simply will not allow myself to be one of their hostages.”

With Rivera out, Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo is a strong favorite to win next month’s Republican primary to challenge Garcia.

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After winning two NBA titles and losing two finals in four years for the Miami Heat, LeBron James, the best basketball player in the world, is headed back to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he started his career. James talked to Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated who has the details.

With James out of the mix, the Heat now have to pick up the pieces, including determining what they do with free agent Chris Bosh who has been flirting with joining the Houston Rockets.

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Former state Rep. Carl Domino is taking aim at All Aboard Florida (AAF) as he angles for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla. Domino went after Murphy on Friday, trying to link him to AAF.

“Patrick Murphy signed a letter of support for All Aboard Florida (AAF) in October,” Domino insisted on Friday. “And even though he has stated that 100 percent of what he hears in his office from constituents is in opposition to AAF, he still has not withdrawn his support.

“Murphy’s busy writing letters which ‘ask questions’ and posing for photo opportunities to make us think he has taken our concerns to Washington,” Domino added. “I have and will continue to fight against AAF because it’s a bad investment which will adversely impact our quality of life here on the Treasure Coast.  There will be no voice louder than mine fighting to stop wasteful taxpayer-backed loans to All Aboard Florida.”
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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., reached out across the aisle and teamed up with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., to sponsor the “Girls Count Act" on Thursday. The bill would carve out from current foreign aid programs to create birth registries in underdeveloped countries. The senators noted that 51 million children across the globe are not registered at birth, with most of them being girls.

“Young boys and girls of all ages deserve to be properly recognized and identified. Failing to register children at birth leaves them vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation, yet millions of children around the world continue to be denied this basic human right,” said Rubio. “While both boys and girls fail to receive proper identification in their countries, it is young women who are disproportionately affected. These young girls deserve to be recognized, and they deserve to be counted.

“A nationally recognized proof of birth system is critical to establishing key documentation for a child, which ultimately ensures that child can go on to fully participate and contribute to society,” added Rubio. “The Girls Count Act will help pave the way for women to benefit from new opportunities previously denied to them, and is a strong step forward in the fight against human trafficking and forced labor.”

“Every day women and girls around the world fight to improve conditions for their families and communities, often in the face of gross injustices,” Shaheen said. “The world needs this generation and future generations of women and girls to be recognized and have the opportunity to thrive. The bipartisan Girls Count Act will safeguard the basic human rights of girls everywhere and help them attain the success they aspire to and deserve.”
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A former Broward County police officer filed an election-law complaint against Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday, alleging that Scott's campaign violated the law by having on-duty police officers at a campaign event in Tampa earlier this week. 

The complaint cites a Florida law which says it's a misdemeanor for public employees to engage in political activity during the workday, except for elected officials like sheriffs. 

"Rick Scott's political campaign facilitated the violation of (law) by soliciting the assistance of on-duty law enforcement officers -- under the false pretense of security -- only to repeatedly feature them as props in the background of campaign events," Joe Marano, president of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association, wrote in the complaint.

The Monday event was held at a business which specializes in police uniforms and accessories and several police officers were present. The complaint alleges the officers were asked to provide security for the events but did not know they were political.  

“They deserve better than to be used by Rick Scott as props in his political campaign,” Marano said. “They deserve nothing less than his utmost respect.”

When asked about the allegations, Scott spokesperson Greg Blair said:

"Gov. Scott is proud to have the support of Florida’s law enforcement community, including the Florida Police Chiefs Association and 40 Florida sheriffs. This is just another sad distraction from Charlie Crist’s numerous ethical problems, including his broken promise to be transparent by releasing tax returns for both himself and his spouse."

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U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., said on Thursday that immigration reform is dead for 2014. Diaz-Balart is a vocal proponent of immigration reform. While he praised the help he got from the other side of the isle, the Florida Republican took shots at the Democratic leadership and President Barack Obama, saying they did little to advance the issue.

“From 2009-2010, I had been working with a group of bipartisan colleagues to draft immigration reform legislation. Unfortunately, Democratic leadership refused to consider the bill when they had the majority,” Diaz-Balart said. “During the last year and a half, I have been working nonstop with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to draft legislation that would obtain a majority of the Republicans and a number of the Democrats who are willing to put politics aside and get immigration reform done. In particular, I want to thank Luis Gutierrez for all his help, for his willingness, when necessary, to take on Republicans, Democrats, and the president.

“After lots of work and revisions, we finally drafted legislation that could garner the necessary bipartisan support. We learned our lessons from the 1986 amnesty bill and last year’s Senate bill, and did not repeat their mistakes,” Diaz-Balart said before turning his fire toward Obama. “Due to the extraordinary lack of trust in this president, I worked to ensure that the legislation would independently verify and hold this and future presidents accountable for finally securing the borders. The bill is a common-sense solution to illegal immigration that recognizes we are not going to spend tens of billions of dollars to round up and deport millions of undocumented workers who have been here for many years. My solution would require those who came here illegally to earn legal status, earn their right to remain here, and demonstrate their commitment to the United States. It is an efficient and effective approach that is good for the American economy and fair to the people who came here legally.

 “I am grateful for the cooperation, advice, and trust I received from so many of my colleagues, specifically Speaker Boehner and his staff,” Diaz-Balart continued. “I also want to thank Paul Ryan for his guidance, leadership, and friendship, and countless other House Republicans, like my legislative sister Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for their constructive input on this issue. Despite our best efforts, today I was informed by the Republican leadership that they have no intention to bring this bill to the floor this year. It is disappointing and highly unfortunate, because we have a unique opportunity to secure the borders, fix our broken immigration system, and strengthen our economy.

“This system is not going to fix itself, and delaying a common-sense solution is only going to make matters worse, as is evident by what is going on today with the crisis on the southern border,” Diaz-Balart insisted. “It is highly irresponsible not to deal with the issue. I know it is difficult, especially when you have a president that failed to build the trust of the American people or the U.S. Congress, and who has done little to enforce current law despite his assertions to the contrary. But we were sent here by the American people precisely to tackle difficult issues and not to take the easy way out. By blocking reform, whether it was when Nancy Pelosi was speaker or now, we are in effect abdicating our duty. Particularly when we have a president that is willing to unilaterally act through executive action, that he himself has said is legally circumspect, will not provide a long-term solution to our immigration system, and I believe could even make it worse.

“I hope that in the near future leadership will reconsider and allow my legislation to come to the floor. I for one am not willing to give up and will continue to work until we can finally fix a broken immigration system that everyone recognizes is dysfunctional,” Diaz-Balart said in conclusion. “I want to make it clear that I am ready to proceed at any time.”


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A new poll shows U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., running better in Florida against former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton than two potential Republican presidential candidates from the Sunshine State.

The poll of registered Florida voters from WFLA and Survey USA finds Clinton, the heavy favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, leading Paul within the margin of error. Clinton takes 46 percent while Paul garners 42 percent.

Clinton does much better when matched up against two Florida Republicans in Surevy USA polls from last month. Former Gov. Jeb Bush takes 41 percent but Clinton leads with 47 percent. Clinton routs U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in his home state, taking 53 percent while the Republican pulls 39 percent.

The poll of 849 registered Florida voters was taken from June 30-July 2 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.
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A new poll from WFLA and Survey USA finds Gov. Rick Scott with a small lead over former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite in next month’s Democratic primary despite having spent most of his political life as a Republican.

Scott takes 45 percent in the poll of likely voters while Crist takes 43 percent. While 7 percent back other candidates, 5 percent remain undecided. A Survey USA poll released on June 24 had Scott with 43 percent and Crist at 42 percent.

The poll of 558 likely Florida voters was taken from June 30-July 2 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percent.
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