The Buzz on Florida politics

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Latest Buzz on Florida politics

November's Florida governor fundraising numbers brought more of the same: Democrats largely struggled to raise as much as Republicans. But there were a few notable exceptions.

Republicans

Adam Putnam continued to blow away the field with another strong fundraising month. The Republican frontrunner brought in about $683,000 more in monetary contributions than he spent between his campaign and political committee. The Agriculture Commissioner will have a substantial war chest — $15 million and counting — that will be tough for anyone to compete with come fall 2018.

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Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, appointed in June by Gov. Rick Scott, pulled in nearly $650,000 during his first month running to capture a full term in the Cabinet post.

Patronis, who could be challenged next year for the Republican nomination by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, began December with $1.26 million in the bank through his campaign account and a political committee.

With Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam facing term limits in 2018 and Patronis running for a full term, here is a look at the latest fundraising numbers in the races for the three Cabinet seats:

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The buttoned-up Oxford Exchange coffee shop in downtown Tampa may seem like a place better suited for a fundraiser than a community event. Portraits of Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy line the wall up the staircase across from the popular café, where customers can feast on $10 avocado toast.

But Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum wasn't at Friday morning's Cafe Con Tampa meeting to ask for money. He was there to show the capacity crowd of about 100 that he is in the Democratic governor's race for keeps.

"There's always the question of viability," Gillum told the crowd as he wound down his brief, informal remarks and prepared to take almost an hour of questions from the crowd. "And I want you to know that we've got over 11 thousand — last I counted — individual contributors. We've got grassroots backing and support all across this state. And the reason why everybody else is going to need more money is because we've got more people, in my opinion."

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It's all about Alabama today as the U.S. Senate race comes to a dramatic conclusion.

Here's what some prominent Florida Republicans had to say about Roy Moore, who would have easily won the race against Democrat Doug Jones had sexual misconduct allegations not surfaced.

Sen. Marco Rubio:

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U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, the only Florida member on the tax conference committee, will have little say in the final product but the Democrat is making her concerns known, from an elimination of a deduction for student loan interest to tax credits for affordable housing.

"It would be better to start over and return to the drawing board because the framework is riddled with special carve outs and uneven treatment," Castor writes in a letter to Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of Ways & Means.

"The GOP tax framework shows that for many of my colleagues, the hard-earned wages of everyday Americans are not as highly valued as investment income or corporate profits. Such policy changes will eat away at the middle class, and therefore America's economic strength."

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The Philip Levine Democratic gubernatorial campaign highlighted some of the notable names on his latest fundraising reports. From a release:

Sheryl Sandberg, a native Floridian, is an American technology executive, activist, and author. She is the chief operating officer (COO) of Facebook and founder of Leanin.org.

Romero Britto is an internationally known neo-pop artist, painter,  serigrapher, and sculptor.

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In the weeks after Hurricane Irma forced the largest mass evacuation in U.S. history, thousands of angry consumers swamped Attorney General Pam Bondi with complaints of price gouging by hotels, gas stations, retailers and restaurants.

Total complaints: 7,500.

Total settlements so far: One.

Keep reading   8 min. read  


The legal wars in the Senate’s sexual harassment saga have moved to circuit court.

Lillian Tysinger, the Senate aide who filed a whistleblower complaint against her former co-worker Rachel Perrin Rogers last week, filed a defamation lawsuit in circuit court on Friday against Rogers. Rogers’ attorney, Tiffany Cruz, said Monday “we will absolutely file a counterclaim.”

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Beyond the Buzz

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Unlocked And Loaded
More than 80,000 guns have gone missing in Florida over the last decade. Most will never be recovered.
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How the slightest shift kept Hurricane Irma from turning into an even worse disaster

A week after Gov. Rick Scott demanded that Orange/Osceola County State Attorney Aramais Ayala provide answers about how she's pursuing the death penalty in an April murder case, he got his response.

"I too, stand with the victims of crime," Ayala wrote in a letter sent Monday to Scott, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "But I also stand boldly on, not just the Constitution, but all the Amendments to it, including the 14th Amendment."

According to the Sentinel:

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The group that's known for tracking politicians, including Gov. Rick Scott, and promoting their embarrassing moments on video has a new quarry: Adam Putnam.

American Bridge 21st Century, which formed in 2010 as a Super PAC accepting unlimited donations from the likes of George Soros, unions and other liberal deep pockets, is launching its campaign against Adam Putnam's bid for Florida governor in 2018.

Paying homage to the 1990 film Problem Child, American Bridge is unveiling its website Problem Putnam today.

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President Donald Trump has named Frank Brogan, one of closest allies of his campaign rival Jeb Bush, to be the assistant secretary of education for elementary and secondary education.

Brogan, 64, a former Martin County fifth grade teacher and schools superintendent who served as Bush’s lieutenant governor from 1998 to 2002, will be in charge of K-12 policy at the agency that is being reworked by Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Brogan left Florida in 2013 after four years as chancellor of Florida’s university system and moved to Pennsylvania where he served as that state’s university chancellor. He resigned earlier this year amid mounting fiscal and enrollment troubles at that state’s higher education system.

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As Florida's politically powerful men fear becoming targets of sexual harassment allegations, the new-found awareness of a male-dominated Legislature has come with a cost: women are collateral damage.

Female staffers and lobbyists who returned to the Capitol last week for pre-session meetings, discovered many male legislators will no longer meet with them privately. Accustomed to Tallahassee's Southern culture, where men and women casually and routinely greet each other with hugs, legislators are doing an awkward dance to replace a hug with a handshake. And the fear of retaliation — against women who brought forward allegations or those who may in the future — is as raw as the fear that legislators' political enemies could turn sexual harassment claims into new political weapons.

"I had a senator say, 'I need my aide here in the room because I need a chaperone,' " said Jennifer Green, a veteran lobbyist, after meeting with a senator in his Capitol office to discuss a client's issue. "I said, 'Senator, why do you need a chaperone? I don't feel uncomfortable around you, do you feel uncomfortable around me? 'Well,' he said, 'anyone can say anything with the door shut.' "

Keep reading   9 min. read  

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran has cast himself as champion of ethics and transparency, a bulwark against special interests in Tallahassee. But he tells The Buzz he has no concerns about his communications director having secretly worked for a controversial company that assists and is funded by lobbying firms.

In a brief text in response to questions this morning, Corcoran said he had been unaware that Communications Director Fred Piccolo worked a Pinellas County political consultant and head of a media company until it was revealed by the Associated Press. Corcoran said it did not concern him that a key employee had been secretly working for a firm that advises lobbyists seeking to influence the legislature.

UPDATE: Corcoran now tells us that he misunderstood the question and amended his response: "No, I did not know about Fred's other work. Yes, I do care and that's why Fred will no longer be engaging in outside work."

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