« October 15, 2013 | Main | October 17, 2013 »

7 posts from October 16, 2013

October 16, 2013

The Hollingsworth Effect, pt. 2: FL Chamber poll shows Rick Scott approval slips


Gov. Rick Scott's poll numbers continue to remain somewhere between not-so-good and bad -- even in a survey touted by one of his biggest backers, the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Its poll, released Tuesday, showed Scott's job approval rating has dropped 7 percentage points since its last likely voter survey in June. But the chamber won't actually tell you that. The trend stat was absent from the chamber's press release.

The drop is yet another sign that Scott's poll-obsessed chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, is struggling in fulfilling his mission of improving the governor's public standing (yes, as noted previously, Scott bears ultimate responsibility for his image).

Continue reading "The Hollingsworth Effect, pt. 2: FL Chamber poll shows Rick Scott approval slips " »

Rep. Joe Garcia's campaign pays $25k bill to former adviser under state, FBI probes


What's worse than firing your top political adviser and chief of staff amid a state elections-fraud investigation? Having to pay him $25,000 in invoices that appear once the FBI opens up a separate inquiry.

Welcome to Congressman Joe Garcia's world.

The Miami Democrat this morning reported he had a solid fundraising quarter, pulling in $411,000. But when his reports came online, this $25,000 expenditure stood out: Palm Media for "General Consulting." The company is controlled by Garcia's now-embattled former aide, Jeffrey Garcia (no relation).

The date he was paid: Sept. 13. Friday the 13th. It was also the start of Yom Kippur, so perhaps there's an atonement connection here.

The congressman's campaign adviser, Raul Martinez, Jr., said the unexpected bill was paid after it was sent by mail to the office.

"There were outstanding invoices and we had to honor them. This invoice was for services between January 2013 to May 2013. It was reviewed by our attorney and our campaign treasurer,"  Martinez said

Usually, a campaign has to pay its bills for the period when services are rendered. But what if it receives a bill afterward and if the guy once in charge of the books submits late bills after he's fired?

There's a chance Republican opponents might file a complaint just to find out. At the least, it would keep the story alive.

This isn't the first eye-catching bill from Palm Media. In July, the congressman's reports showed it was paid the same amount, $25,000, as a "campaign win bonus."

The National Republican Congressional Committee pointed out the expenditure with an almost-rhetorical headline: "Democrat Hush Money Over Voter Fraud Scandal in Florida?"

Expect that to be repeated. Perhaps without the question mark.

"Joe Garcia's conduct continues to disgrace and embarrass our community," Carlos Curbelo, a Republican challenger and Miami-Dade School board member said in an email after this blog was posted. "Why would he pay his former campaign manager, chief of staff, and roommate $50,000 since law enforcement authorities started investigating his campaign for potentially fraudulent activities?"

Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Bill Nelson split on Wednesday's final Senate vote on debt ceiling

Congress raced to pass legislation Wednesday night to avoid a threatened national default and end the 16-day partial government shutdown, culminating an epic political drama that placed the U.S. economy at risk.

The final Senate vote to pass the measure was a comfortable bipartisan margin of 81-18.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., voted with the majority. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., voted against it. Here's what they had to say in statements to media.

Said Nelson: “I’m relieved about this shutdown being over and certainly relieved that we have avoided a default of the financial integrity of this country, but this never should have happened in the first place. A couple of senators and a handful of House extremists have managed to embarrass America in front of the world."

Sen. Bill Nelson video: click here

Said Rubio: “This debate has never been about whether to have an open federal government, but about whether we are going to fix it so that it stops spending more money than it takes in. I cannot support this deal because it postpones any significant action on pro-growth and spending reforms and does nothing to provide working class Americans even one shred of relief from ObamaCare’s harmful effects."






Beauty mogul to host Fort Lauderdale fundraiser for governor

Von Allmen invite
Fort Lauderdale venture capitalist and beauty school mogul Doug Von Allmen is the latest in a string of big money men to be host a fundraising reception for Gov. Rick Scott. The governor, who has not yet officially declared his candidacy for re-election next year, is asking a mere $10,000 per couple to get a photo taken with him during the Oct. 30 event, and $5,000 to attend the reception at Von Allmen's waterfront his mansion on the Intracoastal.

Joining Von Allmen on the hosting committee is Fort Lauderdale attorney Bill Scherer and Broward car dealer Rick Case.

"Our Governor has worked tirelessly to get businesses to relocate to Florida since his election.  It has paid off with a very large increase in jobs in our state," wrote Von Allmen in his solicitation letter.

"I recently met a new friend who moved his business here from Ireland.  He said the Governor questioned him for almost 2 hours about his thoughts on how to attract more businesses.  That is the kind of leadership we need...

Continue reading "Beauty mogul to host Fort Lauderdale fundraiser for governor" »

Trooper Swindle seeks to clear name in appeals court

The fight goes on for Charles Swindle, the state trooper who was fired for "cutting breaks" to two legislators he said were speeding. He has gone to court seeking to overturn a state agency's finding that the Florida Highway Patrol had just cause to suspend him for his actions.

Swindle was fired last March and challenged the firing before the Public Employee Relations Commission, which overturned his dismissal in favor of a three-week suspension and ordered that he get several months back pay. PERC agreed with Swindle's contention that the FHP had a longstanding unwritten rule of leniency toward lead-footed politicians on Florida highways -- a claim that the state did not effectively refute during Swindle's PERC hearing last summer.

On Wednesday, Swindle filed an appeal with the First District Court of Appeal, seeking to erase the suspension entirely and "clear his name," attorney Sidney Matthew said. Matthew said PERC relied on the trooper's dashcam video to judge his actions, which the lawyer called "double hearsay" and "insufficient evidence as a matter of law to support PERC’s finding of just cause for FHP to discipline Swindle."

Swindle stopped state Reps. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, and Mike Clelland, D-Lake Mary, on I-10 in Madison last November as the lawmakers drove to Tallahassee for a post-election swearing-in ceremony. The trooper said each man was going 87 miles per hour, but he chose to issue both men low-level citations for not having proof of insurance and in Clelland's case for no registration. McBurney' letter of complaint to FHP triggered an investigation that led to Swindle's firing, but neither lawmaker was asked to testify at Swindle's PERC hearing.

-- Steve Bousquet

Common Core by any other name

Is "Common Core" a dirty word?

No, said state Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand.

Chartrand made the statement Tuesday, after state Education Commissioner Pam Stewart suggested Florida might "rebrand" the controversial Common Core State Standards. The national benchmark are already being used in Florida classrooms, but have drawn ire from Tea Party groups and libertarians, who consider the standards an example of federal overreach.

Board member Kathleen Shanahan said a name change would cause "more public confusion."

Said Stewart: "I don’t know that we are ready to rebrand... I think at the end of the day, I don’t know that we know what we are going to call it."

Still, Shanahan insisted any ambiguity would be problematic.

"We’re talking about a communications plan and we are talking about stepping back," she said. "We’re creating vagaries in terms of where we've been since 2010 [when the state Board of Education approved the standards]. We’re all of a sudden going to walk it back and be mushy about it until we get more public input?"

Stewart said the directive was clear: "For right now, in the classrooms in the state of Florida, teachers will be and should be teaching what they began teaching."

"Which is the Common Core State Standards," Chartrand chimed in. "It’s OK to say it."

"The commissioner is not comfortable saying it," Shanahan said.

Chartrand stressed the board was committed to the Common Core State Standards. The terminology, he added, should reflect that.

"I believe 'Common Core State Standards' is not a dirty word," he said. "It’s something people understand. Let’s not back away from it."

Rep. Joe Garcia posts strong fundraising numbers ($411k). Again.


Under fire and under the microscope for his Cuba policies, an investigation nagging former staffers and his use of the word "Taliban" on the House floor, U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia is still pulling in impressive loads of cash for his reelection campaign.

The Democrat raised $411,000 in the third quarter, spent $171,400 and has more than $1 million in the bank, an adviser said. The third quarter haul was smaller than the second and first quarters ($440k and $550k, respectively).

Garcia's main Republican rival, Miami-Dade School Board Member Carlos Curbelo, reported $450,000 for the third quarter -- however the money included rollover funds from his exploratory committee the quarter before.

The press release:

Today Congressman Joe Garcia’s re-election campaign announced having raised over $1.4 million for the 2014 election cycle with over $1 million cash on hand. The campaign raised $410,000 for the quarter, which spanned from July 1st to September 30th. Garcia is in a strong position to hold his seat next November with roughly a $1 million fundraising advantage over his closest Republican opponent in a district that is trending Democratic. Garcia has received over 1,700 contributions for the cycle.

“I am honored by the overwhelming support as I work on finding a commonsense solution to the totally unnecessary government shutdown that is hurting our community and country" said Garcia.