July 24, 2014

From a ponzi schemer to a secret deposition, 2014's 'mudslinging' looks like 2010 throwback


In Florida’s bareknuckle governor’s race, it’s as if the 2010 campaign season never ended.

The Florida Democratic Party on Thursday announced a digital media effort to highlight a sealed deposition that damaged Rick Scott on the campaign trail four years ago.

At the same time, the Republican Party of Florida took to Twitter and mockingly marked Charlie Crist’s birthday by featuring a photo of the Democrat blowing out birthday candles with convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein — a relationship that haunted the then-governor in his unsuccessful 2010 U.S. Senate bid.

The state GOP also filed elections complaints Thursday that accused Crist of using the recent tour promoting his book — which revolves around his 2010 race — to help circumvent campaign-finance laws. Earlier this week, a batch of election-year complaints against Crist and Scott were rejected as baseless.

The back-and-forth slugfest, which has led to $22 million in TV ads so far and a neck-and-neck race, promises only to intensify as each side tries to make the other guy look like a secretive crook.

Story here

Second take: How Q-Poll shows favorable trends for Rick Scott v. Charlie Crist


Yesterday morning, when Quinnipiac University posted its press release about the governor's race poll, I copied and pasted it on the blog. The news print story went into more depth about the context of the poll, which revealed better trendlines for Gov. Rick Scott than Democrat Charlie Crist.

And as, I've said numerous times: It ain't the topline, it's the trend.

An excerpt:

• Strong leadership. By 54-38 percent, voters say Scott is a strong leader compared to Crist’s 49-43 percent. That’s close to the opposite of the April findings. Scott’s index has moved 11 percentage points in the governor’s favor, Crist’s index has moved 12 points to his detriment.

• Truthfulness. Crist took a notable hit in appearing honest and trustworthy. His -9 index (39-48 percent) is down from a +2 index in April. That’s a net 11-point shift. Scott’s index is about the same.

• Favorability. Only 40 percent have a favorable impression of Scott and 45 percent an unfavorable impression. But his -5 favorability index is an all-time high and a 2-point improvement since April. Crist’s 40-42 percentage favorability spread is an all-time low; a -2 index that represents a 9-point shift to his detriment.

• Job approval. Scott’s anemic 43-48 percent job-approval numbers is his best ever. The -5 index represents a 3-point shift in his favor since April.

• Compassion and caring. Does Crist care about voters? More say no than yes now. His index is -3, a 9-point shift against him. Scott’s index is worse: -11. But that’s an improvement from -17. Crist is seen as more compassionate than Scott by 12 percentage points, but the spread is 3 points smaller than it was in April.

• Head-to-head lead. Leaving out [Libertarian Adrian] Wyllie, Crist’s 5-point lead of 45-40 percent has been cut exactly in half from his 10-point, 48-38 percentage lead he had in April.

Story here

Rubio cites case of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader in latest push for sanctions


U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who has been pushing the Obama administration to impose targeted sanctions on individuals committing human rights violations in Venezuela, flagged the recent case of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López in a letter to the president.

López’s wife made a public plea to U.S. and international leaders this week, saying her husband had been jailed on trumped-up charges by what she called the weak and frightened regime of President Nicolas Maduro. Lilian Tintori spoke at the National Press Club in Washington on Monday.

López is the former mayor of Chacao, a part of greater Caracas. He was a rising star in the opposition ranks and seen as a presidential contender when he was banned from politics by late President Hugo Chávez in 2008. His arrest after a February protest was the beginning of wider crackdown on the opposition, and his trial is scheduled to continue this week.

Since February, Venezuelans protesting Maduro’s regime have been met with often-brutal state-sanctioned violence that’s resulted in deaths, detentions and torture, according to political leaders and human rights observers. U.S. politicians from both parties have urged the Obama administration to intervene more forcefully to help mitigate the violence, but the administration has taken a more cautious approach, saying it doesn’t want to make the situation worse.

In his letter to President Barack Obama on Thursday, Rubio wrote: “Sadly, Maduro's persecution of Mr. López is emblematic of his regime's methods to cling to power... For these blatant violations of basic human rights, not a single Venezuelan official has paid a price.”

Rick Scott haunted by familiar refrain: Release the deposition!


Dr daveRelease the deposition! Your character’s in question!

Shouting into bullhorn and dressed in hospital scrubs, the chant from the Republican who called himself “Dr. Dave” interrupted Rick Scott in 2010 after he cast his ballot in Naples at the end of the GOP primary for governor.

The issue of the deposition had haunted Scott in that race.

And Democrats hope it weighs on him again now that they’ve announced a new digital media buy and website, releasethedeposition.com.

“What is so damning that Rick Scott won’t release it, no matter what the price?” the Democrats’ party chairwoman, Allison Tant, said in a conference call with reporters.

Scott won't release it now, essentially the same answer he gave in 2010: "It's a private matter and I will not release the deposition.”

A week before he first announced for governor, Scott gave the sworn testimony in a lawsuit against Scott’s chain of walk-in-clinics, Solantic, which was accused by a doctor of unlawfully using his name in a regulatory matter.

The Democrats' attack has a one-two-punch against Scott because it leads to mention of: his former healthcare company, Columbia/HCA, which had paid a record Medicare fraud; and how Scott once pleaded the Fifth Amendment 75 times (due to pending criminal investigations) in yet another deposition in a later healthcare lawsuit.

In 2010, Scott’s refusal to release the Solantic deposition badly hurt him in the GOP Republican primary, where internal campaign tracking polls showed his lead over then-Attorney General Bill McCollum dropped precipitously in the wake of the controversy.

InmateMcCollum allies funded TV ads about the issue. They also paid two “Dr. Dave” and another heckler dressed in a black-and-white-striped jail outfit named “Inmate 2010” to follow Scott around in an SUV wrapped with a grainy image of Scott’s face and the message “Rick Scott: Release the Deposition.”

A similar message – “RICK SCOTT, RELEASE YOUR DEPOSITION” -- was trailed behind a biplane at a Jacksonville Jaguars game that Scott visited. NOTE: All these pictures in this blog are of Republicans or Republican-paid operatives, not Democrats, from 2010.

Scott won that GOP race and went on to beat Democrat Alex Sink who also put millions of dollars behind release-the-deposition TV ads. Scott, barely won in what was then a Republican-red year.

Scott received fewer votes than any of the other four Republicans on the statewide ballot.

The Republican Party response to the new website/old attack: "Charlie Crist’s campaign of constant distraction and mudslinging is an attempt to hide his own problems with ethics and transparency. Crist is drumming up old, failed attacks because he doesn’t want to talk about the 38 days it’s been since he refused to release his and his spouse’s tax returns, and the 179 days it’s been since he refused to debate Nan Rich.” –Susan Hepworth, RPOF Communications Director

Scott depo wagon

Wasserman Schultz claims about ACA, pizza and the states

PolitiFact recently fact-checked two claims by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, about the health care law. 

Wasserman Schultz said the Fourth Circuit Court in its ruling wrote, "If you ask for ham and pepperoni on your Pizza Hut pizza but then I actually go get your pizza from Domino’s, it’s implied if I bring back a pepperoni and ham pizza then that’s what you asked for."

This wasn’t the ruling of the entire three-member court, just one judge’s concurring opinion. And she did miss the distinction that the person ordering the pizza said in advance they wanted Pizza Hut, but would be "fine with a pizza from Domino’s."

We rate the statement Mostly True.

Wasserman Schultz said that there were "36 states where Republicans who were in charge refused to implement a state exchange." There are 36 states that use the federal exchange or state-federal partnerships instead of state-based marketplaces. But seven of those states are run by Democrats. And, some of the states with Republican governors, like New Mexico and Idaho, tried to institute a state exchange before opting for federally-facilitated marketplace. So while most of the 36 states had Republican governors, not all of them did.

We rate this statement Mostly False.

The fact-checks were written by Steve Contorno and Molly O'Connor.

The ABCs of RPOF's Mostly False claim about preschool

On the campaign trail, Gov. Rick Scott has appeared in a charming video alongside his toddler grandson and a darling photo with Florida preschoolers. So we know he likes cute little kids.

But does he invest in them?

A new ad by the Republican Party of Florida portrays him as generously funding preschool education.

The Spanish-language ad "Dedicación" shows teachers warmly talking about their profession -- and Scott.

"I like being a special education teacher because many people don’t see the potential of those students," says one teacher. "It's a profession of great dedication," says another.

The teachers continue:

"With Rick Scott, there are more funds for preschool education and that’s very important to me. Florida students are better off due to Scott. They can repeat all the falsehoods they want, the facts don’t lie."

Under Scott, are there more funds for preschool education? We decided to do some homework

After old complaints thrown out, RPOF files new ones v. Charlie Crist


Another day, another election complaint in Florida's governor's race. Make that three. This time, they're from the Republican Party of Florida concerning Charlie Crist's book tour.

A batch of RPOF complaints against Crist and Crist-supporter complaints against Gov. Rick Scott were thrown out this week.

Here are the latest complaints

Download Horwitz.Complaint.7.23

Download Crist.Complaint.7.23

Download CristForGov.Complaint.7.23


Like old Q-poll, new one shows Hillary still leads GOP in FL, Jeb strongest Republican

From a press release:

Even though President Barack Obama remains stuck in a swamp in Florida, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dominates the 2016 presidential landscape, sweeping the Democratic field and topping former Gov. Jeb Bush and other possible Republican contenders by margins of 7 to 21 percentage points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Gov. Bush gets 21 percent in a Republican presidential primary in Florida, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio with 18 percent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas with 10 percent, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky with 8 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 7 percent and New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie with 6 percent. No other candidate tops 5 percent and 13 percent of Republicans remain undecided.

This compares with results of a May 1 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University, showing Bush leading the Republican pack with 27 percent, followed by Paul with 14 percent and Rubio with 11 percent.

Secretary Clinton takes 67 percent of Democratic presidential primary voters, compared to 64 percent May 1, followed by Vice President Joseph Biden and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts with 8 percent each. Another 11 percent are undecided.

“Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may be taking some criticism recently in the news media and among some liberal Democratic precincts, but nothing has changed among average voters in Florida where she remains queen of the political prom,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“Two-thirds of Democrats say she is their candidate for 2016 and none of the others even makes it into double digits. Sunshine Staters are on top when Florida Republicans are asked their top 2016 choice, but former Gov. Jeb Bush slips a little and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio just about caught up with him.”

Florida voters back Clinton over Bush 49 – 42 percent in the 2016 White House race. The Democrat tops other Republicans by wider margins:

• 53 – 39 percent over Rubio;
• 53 – 37 percent over Paul;
• 54 – 33 percent over Christie;
• 51 – 38 percent over U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

More here

State: Haitian American cancer awareness group founder bilked Florida taxpayers


Jacques Calixte ran a much-lauded publicly funded organization purporting to help Haitian American women detect cancer.

Florida authorities on Wednesday pronounced it a sham, saying Calixte billed the state for nearly $400,000 — but arranged hardly any actual breast cancer screenings for at-risk women.

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Atwater, called Calixte’s actions “unconscionable.”

The alleged scam led to Calixte’s arrest on charges of grand theft, aggravated white collar crime and communications fraud. The 44-year-old previously had been hailed for his work as founder and operator of Miami’s Haitian American Association against Cancer, which was supposed to arrange and pay clinics to perform breast cancer screenings for women.

According to state investigators, Calixte provided phony bank statements, payroll checks and healthcare reports to Florida’s Department of Health, which had given the group hundreds of thousands of dollars between January 2011 and June 2013.

But a review of his finances showed Calixte spent as little as $16,000 on actual client screenings in 2011. In 2012 and 2013, there was no evidence of expenditures for clinical screenings or testing for Haitian American woman “as required by the contracts,” according to Florida Department of Financial Services.

In all, Calixte is accused of stealing at least $287,000 in state money.

More here.

Court asked to accept new redistricting map, delay primary elections

Florida should delay the primary or adjust its election dates this year in order to fix its unconstitutional congressional map and avoid an invalid election, lawyers for a coalition of voters argued Thursday in circuit court.

But lawyers for the Legislature told Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis that fixing the map before the November elections would "cause horrific uncertainty" for voters and would be an extreme, unnecessary remedy.

Lewis' ruled on July 10 that the state’s congressional redistricting maps are invalid and declared two of the states's 27 districts unconstitutional – those held by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden.

But the Legislature surprised him last week and decided not to appeal the ruling. House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz then urged Lewis to let them revise the map after the November elections, in order to avoid disrupting the fall elections and to comply with federal voting rules that impose a fixed schedule for sending ballots to overseas military.

The coalition of voters groups, led by the League of Women Voters, filed the lawsuit challenging the state's congressional map as violating the Fair Districts rules approved by voters in 2010.

After a 13-day trial, Lewis concluded that the Republican-controlled Legislature allowed “improper partisan intent” to infiltrate the redistricting process and seemingly ignored evidence that partisan political operatives were “making a mockery” out of their attempts to conduct themselves with transparency.

Continue reading "Court asked to accept new redistricting map, delay primary elections" »

July 23, 2014

Senate Dem leader to Rick Scott: Examine all tax-incentive deals, not just Crist era's

Almost as soon as Gov. Rick Scott's administration announced it would sue a firm to recoup $20 million in a Charlie Crist-era deal, the leader of the Senate Democrats, Fort Lauderdale's Chris Smith, said Florida should broaden its focus. Here's Smith's email and letter:

Dear Governor Scott:

Last week, you announced your intention to file suit against Digital Domain Media Group over its failure to comply with the terms of a $20 million agreement signed by the State of Florida to encourage the company’s relocation to the state and create 500 jobs. The litigation is also reportedly going to include the former governor for his role in the incentives’ approval.

Continue reading "Senate Dem leader to Rick Scott: Examine all tax-incentive deals, not just Crist era's" »

Rick Scott/Fabrizio poll: Crist trails governor by 4% in crowded race, 5% head-to-head


Normally, you can readily dismiss a campaign's polling memo because it's so self-serving. So read the following internal memo from Gov. Rick Scott's pollster, Tony Fabrizio, with caution.

The survey shows Scott beating Democrat Charlie Crist by 5 percentage points in a head-to-head match, while SurveyUSA yesterday found Crist up by 6 points and Quinnipiac University reported today that Crist is winning by 5 points head to head (but up by an inside-the-error margin of only 2 points with Libertarian Adrian Wyllie in the race).

But also remember, it's Fabrizio.

He helped mastermind the mechanics and message of Scott's improbable 2010 primary and general-elections wins. Also, he was one of the few pollsters to get the margin right in the March special congressional election between Democrat Alex Sink and U.S. Rep. David Jolly, who bested her by 2 points.

Another bit of history: Fabrizio was a top advisor for Tim Pawlenty's successful 2002 race for Minnesota governor. It was a three-way contest, and Fabrizio helped perfect the art of getting someone elected with less than 44 percent of the vote.

There's a good chance that could happen here in Florida with Scott, who reaches 45 percent in Fabrizio's poll and 50 percent in a head-to-head matchup against Crist (the highest we've seen the incumbent reach).

Here's the memo

FROM:             Tony Fabrizio & David Lee, Fabrizio Lee & Associates
TO:                   Campaign Supporters
DATE:              July 23, 2014
SUBJECT:       Polling Update

In a survey conducted last week for Let’s Get to Work after Crist and his allies had spent more than $2 million on ads, we found very significant changes in the political environment in Florida. The voters have taken a sharp turn towards Republicans, with a 10-point advantage on the described generic ballot.

President Obama’s numbers have continued their erosion. The President’s job approval is only 41 percent, with 55 percent disapproving. ObamaCare is similarly unpopular, with only 39 percent approving of the law, versus 55 percent who disapprove.

Governor Scott’s ratings continue to strengthen, especially on issues. The Governor leads on the most important metrics: which candidate is best able to create jobs, turn Florida’s economy around, and improve education. That’s why 51 percent of Florida voters say they approve of the job Rick Scott is doing as Governor, with only 41% disapproving.

Governor Scott leads Crist by 4 points – 45% to 41% in the 3-way ballot. Head-to-head versus Crist, Governor Scott reaches the 50% threshold – leading by 5 points, 50% to 45%.

Movers and Shakers

Legislative director leaves

A longtime presence in state government, Darrick McGhee has left his job as director of legislative affairs for Gov. Rick Scott, and will be starting a new position as vice president of government relations for the lobbying firm, Johnson & Blanton, on Aug. 4th.

Darrick is “an outstanding human being, a really good guy,” said Travis Blanton. “He’s very knowledgeable of the (state) agencies because he’s worked in several and he’s very knowledgeable about how Florida government works.”

McGhee’s 17 months as director of legislative affairs included two legislative sessions. His other state posts included interim executive director, and also chief of staff, of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity; director of the Office of Legislative and Cabinet Affairs; and director of the Office of Governmental Relations among other positions.

A graduate of Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, McGhee is also an ordained minister and pastor of the Bible Based Church in Tallahassee.

New human trafficking council taking shape

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle is among the four members appointed to the newly created Statewide Council on Human Trafficking by Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Bondi, who will chair the 15-member council, also appointed Martin County Sheriff William SnyderTerry Coonan, executive director of the Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights; and Dotti Groover-Skipper, chairwoman of the Community Campaign Against Human Trafficking.

The council’s purpose, said Jennifer Meale, communications director for the Attorney General’s office, is to “bring everyone to the table who may be able to assist in the effort to end human trafficking in the state and build on the state and local efforts that are already underway.”

Mike Carroll, interim secretary of the state Department of Children and Families, will serve as vice chairman. Also on the council: State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong; Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek; Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey; Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Interim Secretary Christina Daly; and Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

Other members to be announced will be a senator, appointed by Senate President Don Gaetz; one representative, appointed by House Speaker Will Weatherford; and two members appointed by Scott.

The council is expected to start meeting at the end of August.

Continue reading "Movers and Shakers" »

Nan Rich faces Truth-O-Meter on economy, taxes

PolitiFact Florida fact-checked two claims by Nan Rich, a Democratic candidate for governor, from statements she made to the Florida Press Association July 11.

Rich said, "tourism and retirees are the dominant economic engines in our state."

We didn’t find a simple way to quantify whether tourism and retirees are the dominant economic engine in Florida, but a combination of statistical data and expert analysis suggests that both are important engines, and possibly too important, due to the low-wage jobs they bring.

We rated this claim Mostly True.

Rich also said that there is evidence that Florida has "the third most-regressive tax base," though she acknowledged when she spoke she wasn’t certain if she had the number right.

She was close: A study placed Florida No. 2 in terms of its regressive tax base.

Florida has a regressive tax base because we lack a state income tax. Though the Tax Foundation criticized the report, it didn’t dispute the states’ rankings, and other experts we interviewed also had no qualms about Florida’s placement.

Rich’s number of third place was just a smidgen low, so we rated this claim Mostly True.

Charlie Crist announces 2nd TV spot, attacks Scott on school spending


A day after the Republican Party released a Spanish-language ad touting Gov. Rick Scott's school-spending recording, Democrat Charlie Crist hit back by announcing his second English-language spot that draws attention to the education budget on Scott's watch.

Overall, the spot -- like the RPOF ad -- appears accurate. The education budget was reduced $1.3 billion under Scott (because of the federal stimulus money flameout) and PolitiFact Florida found that per-student education spending was slightly higher under Crist when adjusted for inflation.

But then Crist veers into hyperbole.

"Rick Scott's education cuts are closing that door on Florida's kids," Crist says. Then he pivots from talking per-pupil spending to higher-education scholarships called "Bright Futures," which Crist says were "cut in half."

But not on a per-student spending basis. Based on each recipient, Bright Future awards are about 2,086, which is an increase from Scott's first 2011-12 budget but a decrease of $2,364 under Crist's last budget in 2010-11.

In overall spending and student population, Bright Futures declined from about 180,000 recipients and $423 million under Crist's FY11 budget to 128,000 students for a total of $266 million.

Either way, it's not in half. And Crist made some cuts to Bright Futures as did Scott.


But going forward, Crist might have more of a point.

State data show that the number of newly eligible students (that is, high-school graduates) fell from 41,000 in 2012-13 to slightly more than 21,000 in 2013-14 as the new requirements -- largely passed under Scott and the GOP Legislature -- began to take hold. That’s a 48 percent drop.

Crist tinkered with Bright Futures in a different fashion. He agreed to tuition hikes (halted by Scott in an election year), which made part of the bill for college not covered by Bright Futures.

But the changes approved by Scott and Legislature are expected to have some dramatic impacts, especially on minorities qualifying for it. FSU's interim president recently said at the last trustees meeting that the changes were going to have a big impact at the university.

Let's also not forget that the Legislature appropriates, so it gets it's share of the credit or blame.

Crist's ad is potentially effective because he's talking direct to camera -- instead of using surrogates -- and the commercial initially seems positive in style. But then, voters respond more to negative ads. And people who hate Crist think anything with him is awful (ditto the opposite for Scott ads).


DOH schedules second workshop on medical pot rules


The second workshop on the state's proposed rule to implement new medical marijuana laws will be held Aug. 1.

The rule carries out Senate Bill 1030, the so-called "Charlotte's Web" bill, passed by the Legislature and approved by Gov. Rick Scott this spring. A second draft addressing issues raised at the first standing-room only workshop will be publicized by the end of the week.

The law the Legislature approved authorizes five nurseries in Florida to cultivate and distribute marijuana for a limited number of ailments and medical issues. The Department of Health has proposed a lottery system in each region to give all eligible participants -- including at least 41 growers that have operated consistently for 30 years -- equal opportunity to win.

Critics at the first rule hearing said a lottery would ignore the quality of services and experiences offered by various nurseries and urged the DOH to rethink that portion of the rule.

Florida became the 22nd state to legalize a form of marijuana for medical purposes and the 11th to authorize strains low in TCH, the chemical that causes a feeling of getting high. However, in November Florida voters will be asked to approve a constitutional amendment that would expand the use of medical marijuana for more general illnesses.

Click here to visit the DOH's Office of Compassionate Use site that outlines the process of implementing SB 1030.

Q-Poll: Crist over Scott 39-37%; Libertarian Wyllie has big 9% impact


From a Quinnipiac University press release:

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott trails former Gov. Charlie Crist, running as a Democrat, by a narrow 45 – 40 percent margin in a two-way race. When Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie is added to the mix, the race is too close to call, with 39 percent for Crist, 37 percent for Scott and 9 percent for Wyllie, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to a 48 – 38 percent Crist lead in a head-to-head matchup without Wyllie in an April 30 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

Today, Scott leads former State Sen. Nan Rich 41 – 34 percent in a two-way race.

Wyllie gets his strongest support from independent voters who back Crist over Scott 45 – 38 percent in a two-way matchup, but split with 36 percent for Crist and 34 percent for Scott, with 12 percent for Wyllie, in the three-way race.

Republicans back Scott 79 – 12 percent in the two-way, and 74 – 9 percent, with 5 percent for Wyllie, in the three-way. Democrats go from 78 – 10 percent for Crist in the two-way to 73 – 9 percent, with 6 percent for Wyllie.

Florida voters give Scott a negative 43 – 48 percent approval rating, one of his best scores in almost four years in office, and a negative 40 – 45 percent favorability rating.

Crist gets a split rating, 40 percent favorable and 42 percent unfavorable.

For Wyllie, 92 percent don’t know enough about him to form an opinion.

“The campaign to be Florida’s next governor tightens slightly and takes on a new dimension with a third candidate in the running,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“Libertarian Adrian Wyllie is not, at this point, a serious contender to win the governorship. But he may have a great deal to say about who does win.”

“Virtually no one knows much about Wyllie, but there are a lot of Floridians who aren’t keen on either of the major party candidates, Gov. Rick Scott or former Gov. Charlie Christ,” Brown added.

Gov. Scott does not deserve to be reelected, Florida voters say 51 – 40 percent.

Both candidates get low grades for character:

More here

July 22, 2014

SurveyUSA/WFLA poll: Charlie Crist pulls ahead of Rick Scott 46-40%


Democrat Charlie Crist has jumped ahead of Gov. Rick Scott, leading the Republican 46-40 percent among likely voters in the SurveyUSA latests governor's race tracking poll conducted for WFLA.

Crist's 6 percentage point lead is the largest he has had in the firm's poll track and represents a significant 8-point shift in the race since SurveyUSA's last poll released July 3. Then, Scott led by an inside-the-error margin amount of 2 percentage points.

Three factors are at play: Scott's horrendous week, where numerous TV stations featured Scott ducking the most-basic of questions; new ad buys from Crist and Democrats promoting him and tearing at Scott; and Crist's decision to pick Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chair Annette Taddeo as his running mate on Thursday -- which just happened to coincide with the first day of the five-day poll, said Jay Leve, SurveyUSA's editor.

"The news after-glow for Crist has continued for about five days," Leve said.

Essentially, the race has reset in SurveyUSA's poll track. It's first poll for WFLA, on April 15, had Crist leading Scott 46-41. See the chart below.

Scott clawed ahead by spending more than $12 million in unanswered TV ads. Scott's ad spending, along with the Republican Party of Florida's, now exceeds $16 million. But Crist and the Florida Democratic Party have run and placed nearly $3 million in ads since early June.

Assuming Scott stops the unforced errors and Crist doesn't continue to rack up major favorable news coverage, Leve said, he expects the race to settle back to a near tie. This Crist surge aside, SurveyUSA did have another, less explicable one in early June, before the Crist-FDP ads began.

We'll know more about how these latest numbers stack up tomorrow morning when Quinnipiac University releases its Florida poll.


Rick Scott agency sues Digital Domain in $20 million deal linked to Charlie Crist

Associated Press:

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The state of Florida has filed a lawsuit seeking to recoup millions of taxpayer dollars provided to the failed Digital Domain film visual effects company.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the Department of Economic Opportunity in St. Lucie County Circuit Court against Digital Domain Media Group and a number of other entities. Digital Domain had promised to create about 500 jobs at a Port St. Lucie animation studio and a West Palm Beach film school, but it filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

The lawsuit contends Digital Domain defrauded the state out of $20 million in seed money by misrepresenting its debt problems and other allegedly fraudulent acts. The company also got $62 million in funding from St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties.

Its shutdown resulted in 280 layoffs.

Here's the lawsuit, which mentions Gov. Rick Scott's Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, repeatedly because the deal was allegedly approved with the Democrat's knowledge:  Download Digital-Domain-Complaint

To close cash-gap with Scott, Crist to rely on $1m -- and counting -- from taxpayers


Democrat Charlie Crist says he can't raise nearly as much money as Republican Gov. Rick Scott, but he can close the gap thanks to a big subsidy from Florida taxpayers.

Crist soon will get his first infusion of millions in campaign cash under the state's public campaign financing program, created to help low-budget candidates counter big-money opponents as long as they abide by a self-imposed spending cap of about $25 million.

Candidates for governor and three Cabinet offices who agree to limit spending by their own campaigns are eligible for matching money. The state matches contributions of $250 or less from Florida residents, and Crist has far more small donors than Scott.

Crist says more than 30,000 people have donated $100 or less to his campaign. Larger donations are also matched up to $250 each.

"I think it's a good idea, because the public needs to be involved in our government, our democracy," Crist said at a campaign stop in Tampa on Saturday.

Continue reading "To close cash-gap with Scott, Crist to rely on $1m -- and counting -- from taxpayers" »