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Nan Rich Editorial on Medicaid Reform

Guest editorial from Senator Nan Rich, the only declared 2014 Democratic Gubernatorial candidate over at the Florida Squeeze.

Italian Elections Ongoing Coverage

The world is closely watching the Italian Parliamentary Elections which are taking place today. For the latest coverage please visit Dave Trotter’s new site, How The World Votes.

When Blind Ideology Trumps Realism Southeast Florida Pays

From the Florida Squeeze:

Bubby Nevins, longtime Broward County political watcher and former Sun Sentinel political maestro has taken issue with a recent vote of Rep. George Moratis (R-Fort Lauderdale).  Republican legislators voting against both the wishes of the constituencies they serve and against the wishes of local elected officials is nothing new. This has been happening since the GOP takeover of the Florida House in 1996, when Speaker Dan Webster (R-Ocoee)  demanded blind ideological loyalty and purity from his troops, intimidating and cajoling more moderate and consciousness Republicans at every turn.  If you voted against Webster and were a Republican you may find your office moved or parking space eliminated the next week when you returned to the Capitol. Since then the GOP has used various sometimes more subtle tactics to keep the troops in line.

What’s particularly interesting about Nevins excellent piece is how he starts his argument saying ” One problem with the capital being in Tallahassee 450 miles away is that legislators sometime vote against our interests and nobody seems to notice.”

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Bill Nelson Does the Right Thing…Again!

Tea Party favorite Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has become the national GOP’s second favorite flavor of the month behind Marco Rubio. Cruz, whose upset victory in the Texas Republican Primary was the biggest Tea Party triumph of 2012 has attacked the patriotism and loyalty as an American of Senator Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s choice to be Secretary of Defense. I need not remind our readers that Hagel received Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, two Purple Hearts, Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge for his service in Vietnam.

Yesterday, our own Senator Bill Nelson bit back at Cruz publicly, and unfortunately this was lost in the State of the Union excitement. “He basically has impugned the patriotism of the nominee,” Nelson said. “You also stated your opinion that you don’t think he has been truthful with this committee. Those are two fairly strong statements.”

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Jim Greer Pleads Guilty (UPDATED)

Greer plead guilty on five counts this morning. So much for the trial of the century in Florida politics.

The RPOF has released this statement:

“Today, Jim Greer, the man Charlie Crist personally picked to lead the Republican Party of Florida, admitted his guilt to five felony charges. For the past three years, Jim Greer has tried to damage the reputation of the Republican Party and its leaders, but the truth is now known that Jim Greer broke the law, stole from RPOF and our donors, and then said and did everything he could to cover up and distract attention from his crimes. Everything Jim Greer has said and done over these past few years should be considered in that light.”

Obviously this spares Governor Crist and many Republicans the potentially embarrassing details that may have altered the complexion of the 2014 races for Governor, Cabinet and Legislature.

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Accused War Profiteer Harry Sargeant Proving to be a Key Figure in the Greer Trial

Harry Sargeant, the former RPOF Finance Director has proven to be a key figure thus far in the trial of Jim Greer. Sargeant has previously escaped significant notoriety among politicos in the lead up to this trial yet he was without a doubt an important factor in much of the nonsense that went on in Republican politics between 2006 and 2009. Sargeant has been brought up in reference also to the decadent junket the RPOF had in the Bahamas as the private planes that jetted lobbyists and other officials were owned by him and he may have been heavily involved in the planning and execution of the junket with Greer.

Sargeant, a former Marine is a billionaire thanks to his investments energy and shipping. The Palm Beach County based investor has been friendly with Charlie Crist since they were fraternity brothers in the 1970s at Florida State. Sargeant has been accused of war profiteering using his Republican contacts to his advantage during the Iraq War. But others claim Sargeant has been more of a victim, blackmailed by politicians in both the Middle East and Florida due to his extensive business contacts, and access to money.  He’s had issues in Jordan but who is at fault there is unclear and he has also played a critical role in raising money for Republicans in Florida. Some of the Pentagon contracts he received thanks to his active Republican fundraising have continued to arouse suspicions including among Congressional Democrats who have indicated he is the worst type of war profiteer.

On the federal level Sargeant gave money, lots of it exclusively to Republicans (with the exception of a few contributions to his local Congressman, Democrat Robert Wexler - post published edit) in the 2000s. Here is a list of his direct candidate  and partisan committee contributions. Additionally, some of his  bundled contributions to Charlie Crist were flagged as “illegal” by the feds

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Lawsuit Filed Regarding Sugar Lease Extensions

Last month the Cabinet  unwisely approved the extension of Sugar leases on environmentally critical Everglades wetlands. Yesterday, several environmental groups filed suit to stop the leases from being implemented. The giveaway of land by the Florida Cabinet is the latest political payoff to big sugar who has spent tens of millions on political campaigns and elected officials in both parties over the past two decades. This comes at a time when as contributor Elroy John pointed out in a guest column last week, little progress has been made on restoring the historic hydrology of the Everglades ecosystem.

Rick Scott and the current cabinet has compromised the previous good work of many Republicans on issues related to the Everglades. The lawyers and lobbyists from southeast Florida who worked hard to promote, protect and preserve the Everglades in the 1990s and 2000s were disproportionately Republicans. (While those interested in preserving the Everglades from outside southern Florida were disproportionately Democrats) While many Republicans, including Jeb Bush remained bad on the environment, Governor Charlie Crist was excellent on Everglades related issues and he could draw his lineage from Republicans who as conservationists put protection of our natural resources over campaign cash and polluters.

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Darryl Rouson and LGBT Issues

Since Dave Trotter published this 2005 video the other day much discussion has permeated Florida Democratic circles about Darryl Rouson and LGBT issues. Rouson is considered the runaway front runner to be the next House Democratic leader. I have already editorialized that I feel the next leader should be if possible a woman as the House Democratic Caucus has a woeful record of promoting women into leadership positions over the past decade.  However, let me state that it is important to pick the best possible leader and with the discussion of Rouson becoming poisoned recently, I sought out a few reliable sources on this issue.

It appears Rouson has “evolved” on the issue of LGBT rights from advocating outright discrimination in 2005 to being a supporter and some have told me even a champion of these rights in 2013. In fact his “evolution” while perhaps more pronounced than many progressives does mirror to an extent what has happened on the left and in general throughout American society over the past decade.

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Time to Focus on Taking Down Pam Bondi

Much of the attention of Florida Democrats has been rightfully focused on ousting Governor Rick Scott next year. However, little if any time has been spent in discussing the statewide cabinet races, a place where Democrats must take advantage of shifting attitudes and demographics in the state.  Democrats have lots 10 of the last 11 cabinet races with the lone victory coming in 2006 when Alex Sink defeated Senate President Tom Lee who had become unpopular among Tallahassee lobbyists and Republican donors/activists throughout the state.  This record is worse than any other Democratic Party east of the Mississippi over the same time period (since 2000). While defeating Jeff Atwater (who boasts support of many nominal Democrats in southeast Florida) and Adam Putnam, the former number three Republican in the House leadership appears a clean fit for Agriculture Commissioner. While Democrats should by no means concede these two races, the focus should be on Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Consider that many members of the Florida Bar consider Pam Bondi to be one of the worst Attorney Generals in the country. Bondi has been the hyper-partisan ideological law enforcement office Florida Republicans have long craved. This is no surprise considering Bondi’s  prior claim to fame was a conservative hack on FOX News’ Hannity show, which is one hour of pure right wing drivel. Bondi won a competitive three way Republican Primary in 2010 and then benefited from a conservative tide and political attacks bordering on slander towards Dan Gelber, the single state legislator who was most qualified to be Attorney General in the State of Florida in order to win her office. Bondi and her surrogates waged a campaign of fear and demagoguery about “Obamacare,”  feminism and “radical environmentalism.”

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Strange Donation from the FDP to Rep. Mia Jones In Dying Days of 2012 Campaign

I think  Rep. Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville) who is a candidate for Minority Leader against the favored Darryl Rouson (D-St Petersburg) and the irrelevant Rep. Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) is a solid choice, and I would like to see her win the post. However, I am very troubled to learn that in the dying days of the 2012 campaign as Democrats were struggling to raise last minute cash in extremely close races that the Florida Democratic Party cut two large checks to Jones campaign in a safe African-American dominated Jacksonville district.

For some strange reason Tallahassee establishment Democrats were patting themselves on the back for winning 44 of 120 House seats in this election while the party carried the state at the Presidential and US Senate level. That’s less than 36% of the seats that was won by the Democrats on a completely new legislative map, where almost as many seats should go Democratic as Republican.  The FDP choose to not contest seriously many pick-up opportunities, for some  inexplicable reason. Incumbency has advantages no doubt, but those advantages are negated to a certain extent when sitting members must run in new terrain. One such example was HD-63 where 2/3 of the district was new to Rep. Shawn Harrison and Mark Danish won despite the indifference of the Tallahassee based FDP leadership.

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