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10 posts from November 13, 2013

November 13, 2013

Miami commission candidate to be fined for late campaign-finance report


As Miami commission candidate Richard P. Dunn II announced a handful of endorsements Wednesday before next week’s runoff election against Keon Hardemon, city elections coordinator Dwight Danie was crafting a letter informing him he would be fined up to $6,000 for the most recent campaign report — due at the beginning of the month but filed 12days late.

Dunn, who was considered a favorite to win the Nov. 5 election, has changed his management team since his surprising second-place showing. He said Wednesday if he receives a letter from the city about the fine he will appeal to the state’s Division of Elections.

“We have a new team working on that now,” he said.

The fine — $500 a day for each late day — is the latest in what is now a laundry list of campaign-finance irregularities the senior pastor at Faith Community Baptist Church is dealing with as he campaigns for the city’s District 5 seat to replace term-limited Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones. Spence-Jones, still popular throughout her district, is a key supporter of Hardemon’s.

The city received Dunn’s most recent report on Tuesday, 12 days past the Nov. 1 due date. It lists contributions of $46,950, but no expenditures.

More here.

Confirmed: Jameis Winston is being investigated for sexual assault

TALLAHASSEE _ Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston is under investigation for sexual assault on a woman in a Tallahassee apartment last year, the university and law enforcement sources said Wednesday. 

State Attorney Willie Meggs would not confirm that the investigation is of Winston but said an 11-month-old complaint was turned over to the Leon County state attorney on Wednesday after media inquiries were made to the Tallahassee Police Department. The complaint was first reported by the online web site TMZ.
Police released a copy of the incident report but redacted the name of the alleged victim and listed the perpetrator as "unknown unknown." Sources confirmed Winston is the subject of the report.
According to the report, Winston is accused of using physical force to assault an individual on Dec. 7, 2012, at an apartment in Tallahassee.  Download HTE 12-32758
Winston, a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy, could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Tallahassee attorney Tim Jansen said on Wednesday that no charges have been filed, the case was closed in February and Winston has denied the allegations. 

Continue reading "Confirmed: Jameis Winston is being investigated for sexual assault" »

Another Obama-ite to lead team Charlie Crist


Add another Obama-ite to Charlie Crist's race for Florida governor: Bill Hyers, who most recently ran Bill de Blasio New York City mayoral race.

Hyers, announced as the campaign manager, ran President Obama's Midwest operations in 2008 and his Pennsylvania campaign in 2012. He joins at least seven other Obama campaign folk from Florida mentioned today in this piece.

Florida 2014 won't be like any of those other contests, and Hyers shouldn't expect a cakewalk of an election like NY's mayoral race, where a liberal Democrat was elected in a Democratic city (and faced pervert/jerk Anthony Weiner in the Democratic primary. Albeit, the Democratic primary was still tough and crowded ht Maggie Haberman)

Still, Hyers has experience running tough races, helping Democrat Steve Beshears win in Kentucky in 2011 and current U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand's 2006 election in a contested NY seat (albeit, it was a Democratic wave year).

Hyers role isn't so clear. Crist is the ultimate Florida strategist (he has run statwide five times already and won three different seats) and he has seasoned strategists like Steve Schale and Tallahassee advisor Kevin Cate advising him. So maybe Hyers will keep the trains running on time as Crist chugs along.

Here are the Obama-ites in the Crist pile:

•  Steve Schale, Obama’s state campaign manager in 2008 and senior campaign advisor in 2012.

•  Jim Margolis, a top Obama media consultant for both campaigns.

•  Dylan Sumner, a Florida mail consultant who worked on both campaigns.

•  John Anzalone, pollster for Obama on both campaigns.

•  Kevin Cate, an Obama’s regional spokesman in 2008.

•  Franco Ripple, a 2008 Obama campaign field organizer and former White House advance man.

•  Jessica Clark, Obama’s 2012 Florida finance director.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/12/v-fullstory/3749087/charlie-crist-campaign-team-looks.html#storylink=cpy


Nan Rich's fundraising woes (aka: the grassroots ain't greener than cash)


 Nathan Gonzales wrote a good column earlier this year titled, "10 Things Losing Candidates Say." Number one on the list? 1. “I’m running a grass-roots campaign.”

This translates to: “I’m not going to raise any money.” Running an effective grass-roots and get-out-the-vote operation is important for a campaign, but winning a competitive House or Senate race requires multiple millions of dollars to make your case in paid advertising." Gonzeles wrote.

That's precisely the situation facing Democratic gubernatoral candidate Nan Rich, who, when asked about her anemic money-raising, likes to say she's building a grass roots infrasture that few people see and invoke the names of former longshots Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, and Lawton Chiles.

For all practical purposes, though, respected former state Sen. Rich barely passes the threshold of viability. To date, she has raised $224,000 for her statewide campaign, less than Rick Kriseman did for his campaign for mayor of St. Petersburg. In October, Rich raised nearly $8,300 and spent nearly $8,800. She has about $62,000 on hand, and tends to draw most attention when Florida GOP Chairman Lenny Curry is touting her candidacy.

Barring an infusion of financial help for Rich from the Florida GOP, it's hard to argue that Charlie Crist faces anything close to a serious primary challenge for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Obamacare sign-up numbers tell story of dysfunction, partisanship and need.


The Obamacare enrollment numbers tells the story of its dysfunctional website and our politics as well: Just 106,185 have selected an Affordable Care plan nationwide since the individual-market plans became available Oct. 1

Only 3,571 – about 3 percent -- are from Florida, the state with the second-highest uninsured rate. Florida has the most enrollees of the 36 states where the federal government is running the Obamacare insurance marketplaces. The state with the highest uninsured rate, Texas, has even fewer selectees, 2,991.

Those numbers also tell a story of partisanship and of need.

Both states are Republican run and opted to fight the Democrat-passed Affordable Care Act at every turn. So they didn’t establish a state-based insurance-selection marketplaces.

Democratically run California cooperated. And so it has 35,364 -- 10 times as many enrollees as Florida. Democrat-run New York also tried to make Obamacare work. It has 16,404 enrollees.

Continue reading "Obamacare sign-up numbers tell story of dysfunction, partisanship and need. " »

Charlie Crist goes gangsta, says Rick Scott is "like Al Capone"


Charlie Crist was in fine form at a hometown fundraiser last night at his sister's waterfront home, sounding utterly contemptuous of Rick Scott, primed for a tough campaign, and, as always, perfectly comfortable pressing people to write the largest possible campaign checks. (Yes, he invited us to come after we reported his campaign was barring reporters).

The Republican-turned-Democrat made a point of reminding the more than 100 people gathered on Snell Isle that the cap on campaign contributions had increased from $500 to $3,000 on Nov. 1, and urging them to donate as much as they possibly can to combat the $100-million Gov. Scott's campaign has said it intends to spend.

"If you continue to load my gun, I will fire the cannon," Crist said.

He noted too that people can write unlimited checks to a seperate campaign committee.

"Steve, I'm talking to you," Crist said to a chuckling Steve Yerrid, a wealthy trial attorney from Tampa. "To those who have much, much is expected."

Continue reading "Charlie Crist goes gangsta, says Rick Scott is "like Al Capone"" »

Koch brothers group targets GOP state senators with attack ads


Three Republican state senators are the target of a well-financed campaign this month that portrays them as giving subsidies to billionaires, being unresponsive to parents of children in struggling schools, and being reckless with pensions.

But it’s not Democrats taking aim at Sen. Charlie Dean of Inverness, Sen. Nancy Detert of Venice and Sen. Greg Evers of Baker. Rather, it’s Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group founded by billionaire libertarian brothers David and Charles Koch.

“I don’t pretend to understand these people,” Detert said. “They are supposed to be Republicans. They are attacking Republicans. If they’re not happy with Republicans, they should go out and start their own party.”

Slade O’Brien, the Florida Director of Americans for Prosperity, insists his group isn’t partisan. It is, however, conservative, he says. The group’s scorecard rated Dean, Detert and Evers with the lowest grades of any Republicans in the Legislature.

“They all voted against pension reform, parent trigger and for tax credits for billionaires,” O’Brien said. “They are just terrible on all of our issues.”

Starting this month, O’Brien said Americans for Prosperity is spending a “substantial amount” against the three senators on several direct mail pieces, social media, and ads to be aired on cable TV.

Continue reading "Koch brothers group targets GOP state senators with attack ads" »

UPDATED Sweetwater mayor, lobbyist plead guilty to federal corruption conspiracy


On a summer morning, FBI agents came knocking on lobbyist Jorge Forte’s door. He admitted that he and his longtime friend, Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño, were splitting thousands of dollars in kickbacks in exchange for official favors.

Forte quickly agreed to cooperate in the FBI’s sting operation and arranged to meet the mayor in the lobbyist’s car outside city hall in early August. Forte, wearing a recording device, handed Maroño $5,000 in cash — a bribe from a sham Chicago company that had roped both men into a phony federal-grant scheme.

Forte’s flipping on his friend was revealed for the first time Wednesday, when the former political allies and business partners pleaded guilty to a corruption conspiracy charge in Fort Lauderdale federal court. The honest-services fraud charge accused them of illegally splitting $60,000 in cash and checks for official favors and concealing those payments from the public.

Maroño, 41, who had served as Sweetwater’s mayor for the past decade, faces at least three years in prison at a Jan. 23 sentencing hearing. But Forte, also 41, is likely to receive a much lower sentence because he was not a public official and, more significantly, he helped the feds seal their case against the now-suspended Sweetwater mayor.

Their demise as movers and shakers in local politics — Maroño was also close to Gov. Rick Scott — reverberated throughout Miami-Dade County. 

More here.
This post has been rewritten to reflect that the two men plead guilty, and not just that they were planning to do so.

Feds: County, city governments violated Civil Rights Act in Coral Gables trolley case

By Jenny Staletovich

Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami and Coral Gables violated part of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 when they allowed a controversial trolley garage to be built in a historic black neighborhood in Coconut Grove, federal officials have found.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation, triggered by a neighbor’s complaint, found the county failed to ensure the cities followed the law. The cities, in turn, violated the law by not conducting a study during the garage’s “planning stages” to ensure that race did not play a part in determining where it was built or whether the garage would have an “adverse impact” on the West Grove neighborhood, which has long struggled to attract business.

The two municipalities, which say they were unaware of the requirements, also failed to perform public outreach as required by the law, the investigation found.

The county and the cities must now submit a plan for addressing the violations, including a study on whether the garage negatively impacts the neighborhood and whether a better location exists.

University of Miami law professor Anthony Alfieri, whose Center for Ethics & Public Service has helped residents fight the garage, said the ruling calls into question whether the governments violated the law in other projects where federal transportation money was used.

More here.

In Miami, Gov. Rick Scott says 'signature bridge' will replace I-395 overpass


Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday the early stages of an agreement with the city of Miami in which the state will put up $600 million to reconstruct the Interstate 395 overpass and bridge that connects the mainland to Watson Island and Miami Beach.

Speaking briefly at a Coalition of Miami-Dade Chambers function at PortMiami, the governor said construction could begin by 2018, but didn’t go into details on the project, referring to it only as a “signature bridge.”

Scott said the Florida Department of Transportation will seek funding to build the bridge from the Legislature, and listed a group of South Florida state lawmakers who support the initiative, including Sen. René García and Reps. Eddy Gonzalez and Manny Diaz.

“In partnership with the city of Miami we have developed a path forward in erecting the bridge,” Scott said.

Scott’s announcement comes on the heels of an agreement reached last week between Miami and the Florida Department of Transportation. In March, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Commission Chair Marc Sarnoff sued state transportation officials to stop them from considering a plain-vanilla plan for the new I-395 overpass. They argued FDOT’s stripped-down plan broke a public promise to build a dramatic suspension bridge, known as the Wishbone Arch, that would gain worldwide recognition.

More here.