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6 posts from October 25, 2013

October 25, 2013

Permit suggests launch of Crist gubernatorial campaign is Nov. 4

Peterschorschpermit2For those waiting for a sign of when or how Charlie Crist will announce he’s running for governor, behold a rather non-descript permit filed earlier this week with the city of St. Petersburg’s parks and recreation department.

The permit, or contract #9090, is for a “rally” at South Straub Park between 7 a.m. and noon on Nov. 4.

The name on the permit? None other than St. Petersburg blogger and political consultant Peter Schorsch.

When contacted by a reporter Thursday, Schorsch was asked what the purpose of the rally was. After all, it comes a day before the St. Petersburg mayoral election. Since Schorsch has made clear he prefers Rick Kriseman over incumbent Bill Foster, could this be a rally in support of Kriseman?

According to Schorsch, yes, the event was a “pre-election eve rally.”

“I’m basically a Kriseman and a progressive supporter,” he said. “What precipitated this were the attacks on Kriseman.”

Schorsch explained that the rally was meant to “push back” on Republican ads.

Still, this rally wasn’t organized through the Kriseman campaign, Schorsch said. And while his name is on the permit, he said he’s not the one who is organizing the rally. When asked who was, Schorsch refused to answer.

Did this have ANYTHING to do with Crist? After all, Schorsch’s wife is Michelle Todd, a former close advisor to Crist who would set up events like this when he was governor. This is exactly the type of work she would do if she were working for him now. And Straub Park was where Crist announced he was running for the U.S. Senate as an independent in 2010. 

Yet Schorsch said no.

“This is city stuff, this is city election stuff,” he said.


Well, what does Kriseman’s campaign manager, Cesar Fernandez, say about the rally?

“I didn’t know anything about this,” Fernandez said Thursday night.

Does he know who might be organizing it on behalf of Kriseman?

“I do not.”

When told it was Schorsch’s name on the permit, Fernandez said he was surprised.

“He hadn’t told me he was organizing an event for us,” Fernandez said.

Ok, that’s odd.

If Schorsch can’t name the organizer, and the campaign manager for the candidate who is supposedly the beneficiary of the rally doesn’t know anything about it, what’s really going on?

Schorsch hasn’t always been  a font of reliable information when he becomes part of the news. So, just to make sure that this event had NOTHING to do with Crist, we asked the man himself.

First, regarding an unsourced assertion by the News Service of Florida report on Thursday that it was “widely believed” Crist was going to announce in St. Petersburg on Nov. 4, Crist said that was not so.

“It’s not widely known that I’ll be announcing until the words come out of my mouth,” Crist said Thursday night.

So the words hadn’t come out of his mouth, right?


Crist said he hasn't announced any date yet because nothing has been decided.

"But stay tuned."

Ok, so what about this permit for a rally at South Straub Park on Nov. 4 between 7 a.m. and noon?

“I don’t know anything about a permit,” Crist said.

How about the event?

“There are lots of events in the city of St. Petersburg,” he said.

Ok, does this particular event, on Nov. 4 between 7 a.m. and noon at South Straub Park in St. Petersburg have ANYTHING at ALL to do with the Crist campaign?

“I can’t confirm that,” Crist said.

And with that, Crist said he was late for a dinner.

“Look, I’ve tried to help you, but now I’m being rude and must go,” he said.

A reporter called Schorsch back just to make sure, again, that this event had nothing to do with Crist.

"This is a city gig,” Schorsch said. “This has nothing to do with Crist.”

Of 'fortress precincts' and Hispanic voters: FL. election turnout war off to early start


Florida Democrats celebrate this weekend at Disney World; Republicans might wind up knocking on your door.

The contrast between the two parties — one reveling in repeat election wins and favorable polls at its state conference; the other canvassing neighborhoods door-to-door statewide — illustrates Florida’s state of political play over the next election year.

“Florida Democrats are in Orlando this weekend to talk to themselves,” Tim Saler, a top RPOF political strategist.

“While their wheels are spinning at their convention,” he said, “we will have hundreds of precinct captains knocking on doors and talking to thousands of real voters about the issues that matter to them.”

For months, even as Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s poll numbers remained poor, RPOF says it has been identifying and then personally contacting thousands of voters — especially the estimated 450,000 Republicans who vote in presidential elections but didn’t in 2010.

More than half live in conservative “fortress precincts” targeted by the RPOF.

RPOF also recently announced three new Hispanic-outreach coordinators. Democrats had already hired three of their own.

Democrats have a bigger edge with Hispanics, the fastest-growing segment of the electorate. And they’re trying to keep it that way.

Since May, the Florida Democratic Party says it has hosted about six monthly voter-registration efforts outside naturalization ceremonies in Central and South Florida, where they also have held an average of three monthly Hispanic community events.

Democrats have tailored some events toward Venezuelans, Colombians, Cubans, Nicaraguans and Puerto Ricans in different areas of the state.

“We haven’t stopped our efforts since 2012,” said the Florida Democratic Party’s political director, Christian Ulvert, estimating the party has out-registered Republicans with Hispanics by a 3:1 ratio.

“We haven’t seen where the Republicans have been doing it in a coordinated way or effective way,” he said.

Full story here

Broward prosecutor named new head of the state's Sexually Violent Predator Program

The Department of Children and Families today announced that longtime Broward County prosecutor Kristin Kanner has been named the new director of the state’s Sexually Violent Predator Program.

Here's the release:

For more than 20 years, Kanner has served as an Assistant State Attorney in the 17th Judicial Circuit and has led the office’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit since 2004.

“After seeing Kristin testify in front of the Legislature last month during hearings on sexually violent predators, I knew she was the right person to lead the program,” DCF Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo said. “This is the first time in the program’s 14-year history that it will be led by a former prosecutor who brings an intimate knowledge of each stage of the process and an increased emphasis on public safety.”

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Suspended Miami Lakes mayor pleads not guilty in FBI corruption case


Since his arrest in August, suspended Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi has defiantly claimed he committed no crime after he was accused of accepting $6,000 in an alleged cash-for-contract scam.

On Friday, the two-term mayor pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with seeking kickbacks in exchange for sponsoring federal grant applications that prosecutors say were meant to enrich him.

Pizzi, indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Miami, is charged with conspiring to commit extortion and four counts of attempted bribery. If convicted at trial, each count carries up to 20 years in prison.

Pizzi made his name as a maverick populist who took on top Miami-Dade officials, developers and rock miners over the county’s westward expansion. But since his suspension as Miami Lakes’ mayor following the FBI’s sting operation, Pizzi has lost his public pulpit.

In emails sent to the Miami Herald this week, the 51-year-old politician has complained of the negative coverage, saying he deserves a “balanced picture” of his career as a “people’s champion with no record of corruption during my tenure as mayor.”

More here.

Ethics Commission not ready to wrap up Fresen case

The state Ethics Commission on Friday declined to accept a written agreement between state Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, and state Advocate Diane Guillemette that would have ended a probe into Fresen's finances.

In the stipulation, Fresen conceded that he had failed to properly disclose his net worth, assets and liabilities on financial disclosure forms filed between 2008 and 2011.

Guillemette had recommended the commission accept the agreement. But commissioners said they needed more time to consider Fresen's response, and what steps he was taking to correct the errors.

"The whole case just smacks of a lack of good faith," Ethics Commissioner Matthew Carlucci said.

Fresen, who did not attend Friday's Ethics Commission meeting, told The Herald that the errors were "minor" and had since been amended.

"There was never a purposeful omission of anything material," he said.

In previous interviews, Fresen called the allegations "baseless" and "a political attack."

The stipulation will come back to the Ethics Commission at its December meeting. If the document is approved, it will be up to the Florida House of Representatives to decide if further action or a penalty is needed.

The investigation into Fresen's finances dates back to 2012, when three separate complaints were filed with the Ethics Commission.

Prior to Friday's meeting, Alice Mensch, who authored one of the complaints, urged the commission to reject the agreement between Fresen and the advocate.

"The proposed stipulation and order is based on an incomplete and deficient investigation, contains material omissions and misstatements of fact, fails to require or compel Mr. Fresen to amend and correct his misleading and deficient public financial disclosures, abdicates the Commission's fundamental responsibility to recommend fair and adequate penalty for violations of law, and is the product of a process that was at best, deeply flawed, and at worst, deliberately designed to subvert public involvement and compromise the best interest of the public in favor of preferential treatment of a serial violator of ethics laws," Mensch wrote.

Guillemette countered that the investigation had been "thorough."

"The investigator even found something which was not included in the complaint," Guillemette said. "He ran the respondent’s name and found a State Farm judgment" of $2,521 that had gone unpaid.

But commissioners were bothered by the fact that Fresen had never paid a $1,500 fine assessed by the commission in 2004.

“Here you got a guy [who] acknowledges [a fine], but just isn't going to pay it because he doesn't have to,” Commissioner Linda Robison said. “There’s a legal issue here and a morality issue here.”

Said Carlucci: "I'm not willing to accept any stipulation until I know a little bit more about what the mentality was behind not paying the fine... You make a mistake, you own up to it, you correct it -- that’s one thing. To thumb your nose at the public trust is a whole different thing.”

Fresen said he was unaware of the fine until 2012. Guillemette noted the statute of limitations had already run out.

Fresen, who is serving his third term in the Florida House and chairs the Education Appropriations Subcommittee, has been dogged by questions about his personal finances.

He is running for reelection in 2014. Democrat Daisy Baez and Republican Amory Bodin are also making bids to represent House District 114, which includes parts of Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay.

Foreshadowing run for governor, Charlie Crist re-launches website, bashes Rick Scott


CharlieSaint Petersblog, closely associated with fellow St. Peter and former Gov. Charlie Crist, announced the Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat re-launched his longstanding campaign website, charliecrist.com, just in time for the 2013 Florida Democratic Party State Conference.

Crist is expected to announce after the conference, but he'll be in attendance.

Crist also released a web video that uses Gov. Rick Scott's motto, "It's working," against the governor. "It's not working," Crist says.

UPDATE: The Republican Party of Florida quickly issued a web ad and this written response: Did you notice what’s missing from Charlie’s new web video that was just released this morning? He forgot to mention the #1 issue most important to Florida voters: jobs and the economy. It’s so blatantly obvious why he doesn’t want to talk about jobs, and that’s because he knows it IS working under Rick Scott – but under his watch as Governor, he was a complete and utter failure.  Look for this to be a running theme from Charlie – talking about anything other than his failed economic record.

 This web video clearly shows Charlie is only about Charlie.

The Saint Petersblog-transcribed script of Crist's ad:

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