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Pit bull-Chihuahua pension mix springs to life in House

by John Kennedy | April 24th, 2014

The House tentatively approved a proposal one Democrat earlier condemned as “marrying a pit bull and a Chihuahua,” a combination that would rewrite the Florida Retirement System and local police and fire pensions.

Over fierce opposition from public employees’ unions, House Republicans have been intent on overhauling the $144 billion FRS, used by 622,000 government workers. But enough Senate Republicans have refused to go along with earlier pitches that House leaders are now turning to a new approach.

The House Thursday combined the FRS overhaul with another, more popular move that applies new standards to the local government plans. The city proposal has been hammered out after several years of off-and-on talks between police and fire unions and municipal officials.

Democrats see the approach as a desperate effort to force the Senate’s hand. Rep. Dwyane Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, last week likened it to unorthodox dog breeding.

Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, sponsor of the dual proposal (CS/HB 7181), defended it.

“The common thread is public pensions,” Boyd told House Democrats, who peppered him with questions Thursday. “We feel the best course of action is to combine two bills into one.”

Negron advice on budget talks: ‘Don’t leave the Capitol’

by John Kennedy | April 23rd, 2014

Millions of dollars in hometown water projects along with money for cleanup of the Everglades and troubled Indian River Lagoon were among the big ticket issues separating House and Senate budget negotiators as they worked toward a midnight deadline Wednesday.

The bottom-line for public schools and terms of the state’s plan to distribute $200 million in performance incentives to Florida’s 12 public universities still separates the two sides, working since Monday on reaching a consensus $75 billion budget for 2014-15.

The dozens of issues that are certain to remain unsettled will be handed over to House budget chairman Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, and his Senate counterpart, Joe Negron, R-Stuart, on Thursday. They’ll begin more deal-making that will stretch through the weekend.

“One thing you learn when you get to Tallahassee is you don’t leave the Capitol building the weekend before session ends, because one of your projects may have been traded for someone who is still in the Capitol,” Negron said. “We’ll be working over the weekend and, of course, the presiding officers will have the last word on the budget.”

Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, have until Tuesday to button-up the spending plan. That would start the clock on the state’s constitutionally required 72-hour waiting period preceding a May 2 vote, the session’s final scheduled day.

The House spends $13 million more than the Senate on three-dozen local water projects, including money sought for work in Palm Beach County. The House also spends $12 million more than the Senate on freshwater springs protection — but the overall level on both sides still falls short of what Gov. Rick Scott wants.

Work on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee — close to Negron’s home district — draws at least $82 million in the Senate, but would get nothing in the House spending plan. Scores of differences also remain on hometown projects close to top lawmakers, including cash for theaters, schools, and social service programs.

“Some of the projects will fall out during conference, some will be added,” Negron said.

Amendment re-writes late-term abortion bill

by Christine Stapleton | April 23rd, 2014

An amendment to a controversial abortion bill, SB 918, filed  just before noon today would re-write much of a bill that would ban late term abortions. Under the amendment, filed by Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, when physicians are faced with saving the life of a fetus or the mother, “the physician must consider preserving the woman’s life and health the overriding and superior concern.”

The amendment also defines several conditions under which abortions of a viable fetus may be performed, including preventing serious injury or death to the pregnant woman and when the fetus has a birth defect that would result in death soon after birth.

The bill and amendment will be taken up by the Senate on Thursday.

House ban on e-cigs for kids lets local regulations stand

by John Kennedy | April 23rd, 2014

Laws already regulating the sale of electronic cigarettes in Palm Beach County and other communities would endure under legislation approved Wednesday that ban their sale to minors.

The House voted 114-0 to approve the statewide prohibition on selling nicotine dispensing devices to those under age 18. The measure still has to win final approval from the Senate before going to Gov. Rick Scott.

Anti-smoking advocates were opposing the House’s earlier version of the bill, which would have eliminated local ordinances restricting various sales and display of the devices.

But sponsor Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, withdrew that provision, drawing praise from supporters of the tougher law.

“He’s doing what’s right for the state of Florida,” said Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek.

Palm Beach County is among 28 counties and 28 Florida cities which have adopted some kind of e-cigarette regulation that could have been affected by the initial House proposal, which took standards regulating cigarettes and smokeless tobacco and applied them to e-cigarettes.

The Florida Retail Federation was among those pushing for the so-called statewide preemption of local regulations.

Florida’s Clean Indoor Air Act, enacted in 1985, has prohibited communities from enacting tougher local standards than what the state law set. But like the name implies, it’s aimed chiefly at barring smoking indoors, at workplaces, restaurants and other public buildings.

Still, the statewide preemption has tripped up local efforts to ban smoking on beaches, and this year inspired a push for legislation to allow a smoking ban on playgrounds, a proposal which hasn’t gained traction with lawmakers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida is among 12 states that have a statewide standard banning tougher local regulations, a number that is down from 19 states in 2004.



Ouch! Democratic leaders in Nan Rich’s home county reject call for primary debate with Crist

by George Bennett | April 23rd, 2014

Nan Rich with Hillary Clinton at a 2008 rally at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

In a blow to Nan Rich in her home county, leaders of the Broward County Democratic Executive Committee on Tuesday night voted down a resolution calling for a Democratic governor’s primary debate between Rich and frontrunner Charlie Crist.

Crist, the former Republican governor who became an independent in 2010 and a Democrat in 2012, has become the heavy favorite to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination over Rich, a former state Senate Democratic leader from Weston. Crist has rejected Rich’s calls for a primary debate, saying he’s focused only on Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Broward County DEC Chairman Mitch Ceasar said the party’s Management Committee — a group of about 20 officials — voted down a resolution calling for a Crist-Rich debate after “significant and emotional” discussion. Ceasor wouldn’t reveal the vote totals or discuss how he or other individuals voted.

Broward County has more registered Democrats — 563,805 — than any other county in Florida.

Broward County Democratic State Committeewoman Maggie Davidson, a Rich supporter who brought up the resolution, said: “I’m disappointed but they feel as though the bottom line, I guess, was we didn’t want to have any divisiveness.”

Hillsborough County’s Democratic Executive Committee approved a resolution Monday calling for Crist and Rich to debate.

In Palm Beach County, Democratic Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo declined to take a position on whether Crist and Rich should debate, saying “it’s up to the candidates.”

‘Outsider’ who challenged Obama to 3-point shooting contest wins GOP congressional primary

by George Bennett | April 23rd, 2014

Businessman and former college basketball player Curt Clawson, who introduced himself to Southwest Florida voters during the Super Bowl with an ad challenging President Barack Obama to a three-point shooting contest, won a special Republican primary Tuesday for the congressional seat of cocaine-busted Trey Radel.

Clawson, who branded himself “The Outsider,” got 38.3 percent to win the four-candidate primary.

State Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, the former Wellington councilwoman who was the favorite of the GOP establishment, finished a distant second with 25.7 percent. Benacquisto did not have to give up her seat because Florida’s resign-to-run law doesn’t apply to candidates pursuing federal offices. With her Senate seat on the ballot in the fall, she has about $185,000 in her re-election account.

In a congressional district where Republicans have a 45-to-27 registration advantage, Clawson will be the heavy favorite in a June 24 special election against Democrat April Freeman and Libertarian Ray Netherwood.

Radel resigned in January after pleading guilty to a cocaine possession charge. Because the charge was a misdemeanor, Radel did not lose his right to vote in Florida and cast an absentee ballot in the primary, according to the Lee County elections office.

Everglades restoration project may be in peril

by Laura Green | April 22nd, 2014

An internal review board within the Army Corps of engineers failed to green light an Everglades restoration project designed to create more drinking water, save wildlife and bring water to parts of the Everglades that are being starved.
The review board is asking for more time to consider the project, which has been in the works for 18 months. That delay could imperil Congressional approval, advocates say.
“Of all things, how ironic on Earth Day, the feckless bureaucrats of the Army Corp of Engineers who have had the central everglades project since August have failed to approve it today,” said Eric Eikenberg, Chief Executive Officer of the Everglades Foundation.
During a more than four-hour meeting Tuesday, the Civil Works Review Board discussed the project meant to resuscitate the “slowly dying” Everglades which has already lost half its mass and is home to 68 federally-listed threatened or endangered species. The failing Everglades is also threatening supplies of drinking water and risking major wildfires.
The meeting started off with only a hint of what was to come. Major General John Peabody, the group’s chairman, talked about the unusual complexity of the project. His comments were followed by nearly two hours of background about the history of the Everglades, and the importance of acting to save it.
Col. Alan Dodd, district commander from Jacksonville, described the Everglades as being on the scale in importance of the Grand Canyon or redwoods in California.
“Simply stated, there is no other place like it in the world,” he said.
And yet, he said it is danger of “being lost forever.”
Dodd noted that the project had been added to President Barack Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative, meant to fast track important work.
After representatives of various agencies, including the Interior Department and the South Florida Water Management District, voiced their support, the meeting devolved into a series of technical questions about timing and agency policy.
The Civil Works Review Board decided not to recommend approval, which would have started a process aimed at putting the project in front of Congress for funding. There was some discussion of holding another meeting this spring, but none was scheduled.
Timing is crucial for the project. The last time Congress approved funding in the same category was 2007, and before that, 2000, advocates said.

Earth Day politics roundup: Hold hearing, tour recycling plant, celebrate Everglades, profess concern

by George Bennett | April 22nd, 2014

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (left) with "Alligator" Ron Bergeron, Sr. at a recycling facility in Broward County.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera toured a recycling plant in Broward County. Sen. Bill Nelson held a hearing on sea-level rise in Miami. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, took time out from her visit to Ukraine to bemoan rising temperatures on Twitter. And a slew of other elected officials and candidates used social media to offer hashtagged expressions of concern for the environment and future generations on Earth Day 2014.

Some examples after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »

While Dems sense political theater, Scott takes stage to fight for immigrant tuition

by John Kennedy | April 22nd, 2014

A few hours after the Senate Appropriations Committee refused to hear an amendment granting in-state tuition to children of undocumented immigrants, Gov. Rick Scott turned to the media Tuesday to keep the issue alive.

The legislation has already cleared the House. But it has hit a roadblock in the Florida Senate where Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and Senate Budget Chair Joe Negron, R-Stuart, say they will refuse to schedule it.

On Tuesday, Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, ruled the in-state amendment out of order.

But since Thrasher doubles as Scott’s campaign chairman, the move fed Democratic suspicions that the standoff is mostly political theater — orchestrated to make Scott look heroic among Hispanic voters, with whom polls show he is far behind Democratic rival Charlie Crist.

“This looks like an election year ploy, and that’s pathetic,” House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale earlier told the Palm Beach Post.

Meeting with reporters outside his Capitol office, Scott blamed Crist both for increasing state tuition and for opposing the in-state tuition provision when he was the state’s Republican governor.

“We’re cleaning up his mess,” Scott said. “I call on the Florida Senate…this is the right thing for the students of our state. We have had a dramatic turnaround in our state. We’ve got to give these children the same opportunity as all children. Whatever country you were born in, whatever family or zip code, you have the chance to live the dream. Part of that dream is being able to afford education.”

As a candidate in 2010, Scott vowed to enact tough, Arizona-style sanctions against illegal immigration to Florida, a promise he later abandoned as governor. Tea party groups remain opposed to the in-state tuition bill, seeing it as rewarding those who are in Florida illegally.

Gaetz said last week that he only recently learned of Scott’s support for the tuition bill, and that the governor had not sought to lobby him. But last week, Scott was joined by former Govs. Jeb Bush and Bob Martinez in calling for action on the bill, a day after Negron said he would not hear the measure in Tuesday’s  Appropriations Committee.

Abruzzo hits pause on revamp of local ethics panels, summit to follow

by John Kennedy | April 22nd, 2014

An effort to revamp how the Palm Beach County Ethics Commission and similar local panels operate will be postponed for a year while organizations which have dueled over the proposal take part in a planned August summit, Sen. Joe Abruzzo said Tuesday.

Abruzzo, sponsor of the ethics rewrite, will be joined Wednesday at a Capitol news conference by representatives of government watchdog groups and officials from the Palm Beach, Jacksonville and Miami-Dade County ethics panel.

The Wellington Democrat said legislation has advanced (SB 1474) and a similar House proposal (HB 1315) are on track for full votes in the two chambers. But lingering questions about the measures have prompted the call for a pause, Abruzzo said.

“I believe it is in the best interest of the people to hold the first-ever statewide summit on ethics reform within the communities,” Abruzzo said. He added that a goal would be to devise “policy that is unanimously supported,” for next year’s session.

Palm Beach County officials initially fought Abruzzo’s proposal, but came around to support the latest version of the plan. Jacksonville and Miami-Dade, however, still questioned some provisions, and had been joined by Integrity Florida, the Florida League of Women Voters, and other groups in urging more work on the proposal.

“The commissions and organizations appear to agree that reform is needed, specifically in the area of due process where one board is not the investigator, prosecutor, jury, judge, appellate court, and clerk of the courts,” Abruzzo said. “This will be the premise of the summit.”

Palm Beach County ethics officials had feared Abruzzo’s bill would strip them of much of their authority. But a later revision softened those concerns, requiring local commissions to give those accused of violations an option of having their guilt decided by an entity other than the ethics commission.

Palm Beach County’s ethics commission currently reviews complaints to determine whether probable cause exists to conduct a hearing. If a formal hearing is held, the commission is also responsible for determining whether the person involved is guilty of violating the county’s ethics rules.


Allen West rips ‘cowards’ who walked out on his Middle East speech in Chicago

by George Bennett | April 22nd, 2014

Allen West at a Palm Beach County GOP dinner this year (BRUCE r. BENNETT / PALM BEACH POST)

Former Rep. Allen West of Palm Beach Gardens spoke about the Middle East at DePaul University in Chicago on Monday night and, according to West’s account, nearly half his audience staged a walkout.

“I guess the truth hurts,” West wrote on his website.

Conservative Republican West was no stranger to controversy during his stormy single term in Congress (here’s one example, and here’s another), and he seemed to relish ticking off a segment of his audience at DePaul.

“But I had my own fun at DePaul. As I stood waiting to speak and surveyed the crowd, it was easy to pick out the ones there to make some protest statement — especially on a college campus where the topic was the Middle East and the Israeli-Arab situation,” West wrote.

West said it was after he made remarks critical of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its late leader Yasser Arafat that about 30 people in the crowd of 70 walked out “at the command of some individual…To me they were cowards who refused to hear anything that countered their radical agenda.”

West wrote that the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict must be based on “a recognition of the right for the Jewish state to exist. There has to be a renouncing of Islamic terrorism.”

Bill giving charter schools more firepower clears House

by John Kennedy | April 22nd, 2014

Charter schools, already growing explosively in Florida, could gain even more firepower under legislation approved Tuesday by the House in a mostly partyline vote.

Democrats sided with school districts, including Palm Beach County, which oppose the measure. It would make it easier for out-of-state “high-performing” charter school companies to enter Florida and force districts to use a standard contract which they say will hurt their ability to negotiate.

Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, urged lawmakers to kill the measure (CS/HB 7083), warning it is certain to draw a constitutional challenge from 67 school boards.

“This bill…is a walking lawsuit,” Saunders said.

The measure cleared the House 68-50, with a handful of Republicans defecting to join Democrats in opposition. The bill’s fate also is uncertain in the Senate, where Republican leaders so far have refused to consider the proposal.

Rep. Manny Diaz, R-Miami, the House sponsor, said concerns about the legislation are overstated. Many of the proposals grew out of a task force including lawmakers and school district officials, which spent the last year reviewing the state’s charter school system.

“This is a bill that was vetted all last year and concessions were made,” Diaz said.

Amendment would gut sober house bill

by Christine Stapleton | April 22nd, 2014

Regulations of sober homes in a bill SB-582 proposed by Sen. Jeff Clemons, D-Lake Worth would be eliminated in an amendment filed on Monday. The amendment guts the bill’s proposed regulations of sober homes and replaces them with a task force to study consumer protection problems pertaining to the health, safety and welfare of recovering addicts and alcoholics and live in recovery residences.

The bill is the second attempt by lawmakers to regulate sober homes, often located in residential neighborhoods. The 2014 bill initially received bipartisan support and goes beyond last year’s bill. The 2014 bill would require all sober houses to register annually with the Department of Children and Families and owners.

In addition, employees would be required to undergo criminal background checks.Convictions for certain felonies could bar ownership and employment at recovery residences.

DCF would be able to inspect registered sober houses and those awaiting registration “at any time.” Operating a sober house without registration would be a first-degree misdemeanor, and chronic health and safety violations could bes punished with a daily fine of $500. Evicted residents would have to receive either 48-hour written notice or shelter for 48 hours.

The proposed amendment is expected to be taken up by the Senate Appropriations Committee today.


Today in Florida: Special GOP primary that has drawn Sarah Palin, Rand Paul endorsements

by George Bennett | April 22nd, 2014

State Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto campaigning this month in congressional District 19.

Over on Florida’s west coast, four Republicans are vying in a special primary today for the congressional District 19 seat of former GOP Rep. Trey Radel, who resigned this year after pleading guilty to cocaine possession.

State Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, who got her start in politics on the Wellington village council, is part of the GOP field. So is former state Rep. Paige Kreegel, big-spending businessman Curt Clawson and small-spending businessman Michael Dreikorn.

The race has drawn some national attention, with Sarah Palin weighing in for Benacquisto and appearing with her at a fundraiser while Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann have endorsed Clawson.

In a district where Mitt Romney got more than 60 percent in 2012, today’s GOP primary winner will be the favorite in a June 24 general election against Democrat April Freeman and Libertarian Ray Netherwood.

Budget talks open, with Gaetz calling for “businesslike schedule”

by John Kennedy | April 21st, 2014

House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz kicked off budget negotiations between the two sides Monday, predicting mostly smooth and swift-running talks toward completing a roughly $75 billion election-year spending plan.

The House and Senate have about a week to complete a process that usually takes at least twice that time. Gaetz, R-Niceville, said the Legislature’s absence last week for the Passover-Easter holidays will force a “very businesslike schedule” for the session’s homestretch.

“This is not a partisan exercise,” Gaetz said. “We’re in this together.”

The session is scheduled to end May 2. But because the constitution requires that the final budget proposal sit for 72 hours before a vote takes place, Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said an agreement is likely needed to be reached by next Tuesday.

A tax-and-fee cut package of $500 million, also sought by Gov. Rick Scott, has been agreed-on, although details of about $100 million worth of givebacks still must be settled. Public school dollars are close, with a per-pupil increase of about 3 percent likely.

But spending on dozens of hometown projects and big-ticket environmental proposals like Everglades restoration, waterway and springs cleanup loom as some of the biggest differences between the two sides.

The House and Senate approved dueling budgets earlier this month that now must be reconciled.  Both sides topped the $74.2 billion blueprint Gov. Rick Scott rolled out in January.

The Senate would spend $74.8 billion, while the House weighs in at $75.3 billion. Each would prove the largest spending plans in state history.

House Republicans turn back Dem attempts to scuttle charter school bill

by John Kennedy | April 21st, 2014

House Republicans beat back efforts Monday by Democrats looking to scuttle a proposal that would further fuel the already explosive growth of charter schools in Florida.

The legislation (CS/HB 7083) is opposed by Palm Beach County and other school districts. It would make it easier for “high-performing” charter school companies operating out-of-state to enter Florida.

The measure also would require school districts statewide to use a standard contract, which districts say will hurt their ability to negotiate with charter school boards.  It likely faces a final House vote today.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, earlier promised a “massive expansion” of school choice options this spring. But so far, fellow Republicans in the Florida Senate have proved a hurdle, rejecting key provisions of the
charter school bill and another to expand private-school vouchers.

“I do understand that we have two chambers in this building,” said Rep. Manny Diaz, R-Miami, sponsor of both efforts. “Our bill is going to be a little different than theirs.”

With the Legislature opening its final scheduled two weeks, the fate of the charter bill, voucher effort and another House-backed, but Senate-rejected proposal to grant in-state college and university tuition to children of undocumented immigrants, will all be likely tied to wide-ranging negotiations between the two sides.

Charlotte’s Web marijuana bill reignited in the House

by John Kennedy | April 21st, 2014

The House jump-started legislation Monday aimed at decriminalizing the possession of low-grade marijuana for use in treating seizures.

The measure has been languishing since shortly after major Republican donor Mel Sembler, an opponent of softening marijuana laws, poured $100,000 into starting a Drug Free Florida political spending committee last month. But the Judiciary Committees’ 15-3 vote in favor of CS/HB 843) positions the so-called Charlotte’s Web legislation for action by the full House in the session’s closing two weeks.

“The effectiveness of this strain of marijuana is hard to debate,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, sponsor of the measure.

The House panel revamped portions of the bill Monday, adding a requirement that the state’s Department of Health establish four organizations in Florida to dispense the low-grade pot. The department also would create the Office of Compassionate Use, to compile a registry of patients doctors consider eligible for being treated with the marijuana strain.

Judiciary Committee Chair Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, was among lawmakers voting against the measure, saying he feared it “was too edgy.”

Gaetz and many lawmakers have become advocates of Charlotte’s Web after hearing from parents of children with severe epilepsy have gained relief by treating them with a liquid form of marijuana rich in cannabidiol or CBD. The pot is low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound which produces a “high.”

The legislation also sets aside $1 million for research into cannibidiol and its effect on childhood epilepsy.

The measure has gotten the blessing of Republican leaders in the Legislature, with many seeing it as potentially blunting a ballot measure in November that would go much further and legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Gaetz, however, told committee members Monday, “there is not a political objective associated with this bill.”


Does lottery inspector general’s appointment create perception issue?

by Palm Beach Post Staff | April 21st, 2014

By Lawrence Mower

Would you appoint someone to inspector general if that person was fired as a cop for participating in a home invasion robbery?

That’s what the Florida Lottery did in 2006, when it named Andy Mompeller inspector general, a position he continues to hold for the $5 billion agency, The Post found.

Mompeller was a Miami-Dade cop for only a few years when he was fired for standing watch while criminals robbed a woman at gunpoint.

He got his job back on appeal and was never charged with a crime. He said he was never involved, and lottery officials stand by him.

But some think it creates a perception problem.

“That’s the problem here,” said former Florida Supreme Court Justice Gerald Kogan. “You have to tell the public, ‘Oh, you can trust this guy, even though he was a suspect in a robbery using a police car.’”


Rick Scott to Hispanic voters: ‘Yo sé el valor de un trabajo’

by George Bennett | April 21st, 2014

Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s Let’s Get To Work committee has released its first Spanish-language TV ad.

Scott himself speaks a sentence in Spanish (Yo no soy un experto en la política pero yo sé el valor de un trabajo — “I’m not an expert in politics, but I know the value of a job”) before professional narrators take over.

According to the Republican Party of Florida, the committee is spending $500,000 for TV and on-line spots that will begin airing Wednesday in the Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and Fort Myers markets

Murphy aide’s side business billed $91,500 in political consulting fees last year

by George Bennett | April 21st, 2014

Eric Johnson, left, when he was chief of staff to former Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler. (Sundance Channel photo)

Eric Johnson was chief political strategist for Democrat Patrick Murphy‘s victory over Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West in America’s costliest House race in 2012.

Murphy tapped Johnson to be chief of staff for his congressional office, a position that paid Johnson $113,417 last year.

For Johnson, taking the six-figure Capitol Hill job didn’t mean giving up his work as a political consultant. His company, Johnson Campaigns Inc., was paid a combined $91,500 in 2013 by the campaigns of Murphy, Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch and three Democratic state House members.

Subscribers to can find out more details on how Johnson balances his official and political jobs in this week’s Politics column.

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