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4 posts from August 16, 2013

August 16, 2013

More FL Democrat struggles: CFO candidate has past of bankruptcies


Political unknown Allie Braswell was already facing an uphill struggle in taking on state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who has a solid political team, a Midas touch for fundraising and good name ID (he got more votes in 2010 than anyone else on the Florida ballot: Marco Rubio, Adam Putnam, Pam Bondi or Rick Scott).

Here's another hurdle for Braswell: The Florida Times Union reports he filed for bankruptcy as many as three times.

It's not a disqualification, Democrats will tell you as they quickly point to the record Medicare fraud fine paid by the hospital company that Scott ran years ago.

But Scott overcame those challenges with gobs of his own personal money and a sharp group of message masters. It doesn't look like Braswell has either of those at his disposal. And it's tough to run for a finance-related job when your finances were a mess at one point.

Braswell's candidacy is another sign of the Florida Democratic Party's structural problems. It struggles to field big-name candidates of its own. Despite outnumbering Republicans by more than 514,209 registered active voters, Democrats control no statewide seats based in the state Capitol and only have one statewide elected official, Sen. Bill Nelson. They're also heavily in the minority in the Florida House and Senate.

The FDP has no bench.

Right now its best hope, according to polls, used to be a Republican: Gov. Charlie Crist, who might run for his old job as a Democrat. In that one respect, Crist has a similarity with Braswell, who also used to be a Republican.

Here's the Times Union on Braswell:

His most recent petition, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Orlando in October 2008, shows he had $324,325 in assets and $509,155 in liabilities. The case was dismissed by Judge Arthur B. Briskman nearly 13 months after it was filed because Brawell defaulted on payments associated with a payment plan.

At the time of dismissal, he was delinquent on plan payments to the tune of $6,000. “Debtor failed to become current in payments and failed to file a response to the Trustee’s motion to dismiss … this case should be dismissed,” the judge wrote in his final order.

Because it was dismissed, Braswell had to reassume the debt. He would not say how much debt he is carrying today, information that will have to be made public on financial disclosure forms filed by all candidates.

“I used bankruptcy as way to responsibly pay my debt,” he said in an interview Friday.

Senate conservative group looks to Ted Cruz, not Marco Rubio, to carry torch in FL ad


Back in 2009, when it looked as if Marco Rubio had no prayer against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in the GOP race for U.S. Senate, the Senate Conservatives Fund endorsed him wholeheartedly. Rubio won and became a darling of the right.

But then he decided to back bipartisan immigration reform.

Now he's on an image-repair tour with conservatives, and the Senate Conservatives Fund isn't even looking to Rubio to be its messenger in his home state.

Instead, the political group is featuring Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Cuban-American Republican like Rubio, in its latest anti-Obamacare ad running in Florida. One reader sent us a clip of the ad below that's running in Orlando, a key Florida media market (it's also running in Arizona, columnist Matt Lewis says).

So what that Rubio was among the first to call for defunding of Obamacare during budget talks? He's no longer a right-wing golden boy.

Sure, early polls suggested that Rubio's positions on immigration were popular, even among Republicans. And his fundraising was gangbusters. But the conservative media elite and some in the grassroots are having none of it. When Glenn Beck is calling you a "piece of garbage," it's trouble. It's a sign that, in the words of Michelle Malkin, Rubio has "dug himself into a hole and he can't get himself out."

Still, there's time. The 2016 elections are well off. At this rate, Rubio might be happy just to run for re-election rather than shoot for the presidency.

There's still a good chance he'll be featured in the group's ads, which only feature Cruz and, in another spot, Utah Sen. Mike Lee. Along with Rubio, they've been the triumvirate pushing the defund-Obamacare message. So Rubio's absence from these ads is conspicuous.

And to write Rubio off is "just foolish," said Arizona Sen. John McCain. The problem with that statement? McCain said it. Many conservatives, including current die-hard Rubio loyalists, don't respect him.


Search is on for temporary leader for state universities


The Board of Governors has less than a month to decide who will serve as interim chancellor after Frank Brogan leaves for Pennsylvania. No decisions have been made yet, but a former state representative who currently heads a private college is rumored to be the favored candidate.

Bill Proctor served in the House for eight years, until 2012, including stints as chairman of the Education Committee and the higher education subcommittee.

He served as president of Flagler College in St. Augustine from 1971 to 2001, when he was given the title of the college's chancellor that he still holds. Proctor also served on the state's Board of Education, spent several months as Florida State University's interim athletics director and has a half-century of experience in education.

Now, insiders say 80-year-old Proctor is being courted by those searching for Brogan's replacement. Brogan announced last week he was stepping down to take a similar job in Pennsylvania.

The selection will be made by the state Board of Governors on or before its Sept. 12 meeting.

"We’re still early in the process, and we look forward to naming a qualified interim chancellor in the coming weeks," Chairman Dean Colson said via email.

Proctor told the Times/Herald this week that he has had informal conversations with friends about whether he was interested in serving as interim chancellor but denied being offered the job. He said his work at Flagler keeps him plenty busy.

The other name percolating is University of North Florida President John Delaney, who served as interim chancellor for a year before Brogan was selected.  

Delaney told the Times/Herald that he doesn't think he will be tapped this time.

"I think they're trying to look in other places and I respect and appreciate it," he said. "I'm happy to be doing what I'm doing."

Scott, Bondi raise privacy concerns about 'Obamacare' roll out

As the federal government prepares for the Oct. 1 open enrollment period for health exchanges, opponents of the law have come up with a new line of attack: privacy concerns.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded millions of dollars in contracts to organizations that will hire so-called "navigators" to help millions of people sign up for health insurance. In Tampa Thursday, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius personally announced the $67 million in grants, including $7.8 million to eight Florida organizations.

Even before that happened, Attorney General Pam Bondi joined 12 other Republican attorneys general in raising the privacy issue. Their joint letter to Sebelius this week said there aren't enough protections to ensure the personal information the "navigators" collect isn't misused and that applicants for these jobs are properly screened and vetted.

The HHS has said that consumer protections are in place, but Gov. Rick Scott wants more answers. Today, he announced that at the next Cabinet meeting he wants a report from state insurance regulators about these privacy concerns.

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