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Release of inmate Jim Greer’s ‘Shakespearean’ tell-all might be delayed until his own release in July

Monday, May 5th, 2014 by George Bennett

Former Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer's Department of Corrections photo

A tell-all book about former Republican Party of Florida Chairman and Charlie Crist friend Jim Greer‘s plunge from political power to incarceration might be delayed five weeks to coincide with Greer’s July release from custody on grand theft and money-laundering charges.

Authored by Peter Golenbock and published by NewSouth Books, The Chairman: The Rise and Betrayal of Jim Greer, is billed on Amazon as nothing less than “a Shakespearean tale of friendship and betrayal to rival Hamlet.”

The book — which appears likely to take shots at Crist, Sen. Marco Rubio, former Attorney Gen. Bill McCollum and the tea party movement — has been scheduled for June 1 release.

But NewSouth publisher Suzanne La Rosa said the date might be pushed back to July 7. She mentioned possible “safety concerns” for Greer, who is scheduled for release from the Bridges of Orlando work-release facility on July 5.


Roll Call: Sen. Bill Nelson wins ‘Luckiest Politician of 2012′ award

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 by George Bennett


Rothenberg Political Report editor Stuart Rothenberg, writing a best-and-worst-of-2012 piece in Roll Call, says Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is the luckiest politician in America.

Nelson got 55.2 percent in November to defeat Republican Rep. Connie Mack, who according to Rothenberg “raised little money and apparently figured that oozing cockiness was the best way to woo reporters and voters.”

It’s the third time in a row Nelson has been blessed with a “mediocre” Republican foe, Rothenberg says, noting that Nelson beat former Rep. Bill McCollum in 2000 and the Katherine Harris train wreck in 2006.

Florida political committees among nation’s top spenders, report shows

Thursday, March 15th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Political committees that helped drive the election of Florida Gov. Rick Scott two years ago were among the biggest independent spenders in the nation, according to a report Thursday by the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Scott’s own Let’s Get to Work committee, heavily financed by his wife, Ann‘s, cash, spent $17.5 million in 2010, second only to the Republican Governors’ Association’s $26.5 million that cycle. While Let’s Get to Work confined its spending to Florida, the RGA cash was scattered across key battlegrounds.

Two other Florida committees also were included in the institute’s national top 10 of spenders.

Both formerly opposed Scott with fierce television spots and mailers.  But once Scott defeated rival Bill McCollum in state’s GOP primary that year, the cash and attack ads from these committees were aimed at Democratic rival Alex Sink.

The Florida First Initiative spent $6 million in 2010. The committee, led by Alachua County Republican Chairman Stafford Jones, ran television spots accusing Scott of profiting from the “largest Medicare fraud in American history,” before becoming friendly toward the GOP nominee.

During the free-swinging Republican primary, the Florida First Initiative had received $1.1 million from the Florida Liberty Fund, a committee associated with House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park. That money helped sustain the scorched-earth campaign against Scott — who ultimately spent more than $70 million of his own cash to win the governor’s race.

Like the Florida First Initiative, the Cannon-allied Liberty Fund adjusted its aim after the primary, raising money from Florida corporations now intent on defeating Sink.

The third Florida big-spending committee cited in the institute’s findings, the Freedom First Committee, was tied to Senate President Mike Haridopolos and raised $3.6 million in 2010.  It, too, was a Scott enemy, turned ally.

These kinds of shadowy committees have mushroomed in recent years and their spending has climbed double that of conventional campaign donations, the institute reported. Independent spending on candidates increased 69 percent from 2006 through 2010, while the amount of campaign contributions rose by 25 percent, the study found..

In Florida, the spate of spending by these committees prompted one, short-term candidate for governor in 2010, to decry it as “legal money laundering.”

Lawton “Bud” Chiles, III, son of the late Democratic governor, who ran briefly as an no-party candidate, wanted political spending committees dubbed 527s to be required to disclose their $500-plus donors on every television ad or mailer they distribute, or when they give money to another group to use for or against a candidate.

Florida law currently requires 527s, named for the IRS code section that governs them, to report their contributions and spending on a website within five days of the activity.

But Chiles and many elections experts say most voters are unlikely to spend time tracking donations to groups with such names as Floridians for a Better Tomorrow, Floridians for Strong Leadership, or even Citizens for Transparency in Government – all 527s that he cited in his condemnation of the spending.

Former AG Bill McCollum to chair Gingrich’s Florida campaign

Friday, January 6th, 2012 by George Bennett

Former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum will be Florida chairman for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty and former Jeb Bush Secretary of Health Care Administration Alan Levine will be co-chairs.

Gingrich’s statewide steering committee is fairly thin on Palm Beach County-Treasure Coast figures. Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams is on the team, as is state Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart.

McCollum four years ago was Florida chairman for Rudy Giuliani‘s presidential campaign.

Read the Gingrich campaign’s press release after the jump….


Bondi praises justices for taking up federal health care

Monday, November 14th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Critics of the federal health care overhaul supported by President Obama weighed-in Monday, praising the U.S. Supreme Court for agreeing to review the constitutionality of the sweeping measure.

Florida is among 26 states challenging the law, which the National Federation of Independent Business also wants to have overturned.

“I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the States’ challenge to the federal health care law,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has continued to spearhead a lawsuit first brought by her predecessor, fellow Republican Bill McCollum. ”Throughout this case, we have urged swift judicial resolution because of the unprecedented threat that the individual mandate poses to the liberty of Americans simply because they live in this country.”

Justices plan to hear arguments in March.  The dispute turns on Congress’s constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.

Timing of the case only reaffirms that the health care overhaul will continue as a central theme of the 2012 presidential election.

 ”We are hopeful that by June 2012 we will have a decision that protects Americans’ and individuals’ liberties and limits the federal government’s power,” Bondi added. “We look forward to presenting oral argument and defending our position that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, that the entire law fails if one part fails, that the Anti-Injunction Act does not apply, and that Medicaid’s expansion is unlawfully coercive.”

 The Obama administration, which earlier asked the Supreme Court to review the legal challenges, said it’s confident the overhaul will be upheld as constitutional.

“ Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, one million more young Americans have health insurance, women are getting mammograms and preventive services without paying an extra penny out of their own pocket and insurance companies have to spend more of your premiums on health care instead of advertising and bonuses,” said Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer. “We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree.


Rooney ‘probably’ leaning toward Mack in GOP Senate primary

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 by George Bennett


U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, who worked as a Capitol Hill staffer for former Sen. Connie Mack III in the 1990s, says he’s leaning toward supporting late-entering U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, R-Cape Coral, in the 2012 GOP Senate primary.

“Having worked for Connie’s dad, having worked with Connie closely, I’d probably be leaning heavily toward Connie at this point. But let him get in the race and let him get his feet wet first,” Rooney said today.

Rooney, who once considered entering the 2006 GOP Senate primary against a weak Katherine Harris, said he was also asked about entering the 2012 contest because of underwhelming polling numbers by GOP candidates George LeMieux, Adam Hasner, Mike McCalister and Craig Miller. Rooney, who has three young children, said he wasn’t willing to take on the statewide fundraising and campaigning demands associated with a Senate run.

Worker’s comp rate hike rekindles GOP donor fight

Monday, October 24th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty’s approval Monday of a sharp increase in worker’s compensation insurance rates paid by businesses is rekindling a fight between potent power bases of the ruling Florida Republican Party.

McCarty’s 8.9 percent rate hike drew scorn immediately from the business lobby, Associated Industries of Florida, which blamed higher health care costs on doctors pocketing extra money from repackaging prescription drugs they give worker’s comp patients.

“Almost one third of this rate increase is due to the ever-expanding practice of physicians dispensing repackaged drugs at prices exponentially higher than the statute allows pharmacies to charge for the same drugs,” said Jose Gonzalez, an AIF vice-president.

 ”Associated Industries of Florida will diligently seek the Legislature’s intervention to close this loophole during the 2012 session and allow Florida employers to use those millions of dollars to create new jobs rather than line the pockets of those who unfairly manipulate the system for their own gain,” Gonzalez said.

Over the past two years, Florida business groups have been scuffling with the Florida Medical Association, Florida Orthopedic Society and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a Democratic power base, over the prescription repackaging issue.

Last year, lawmakers approved a measure backed by then-Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink that would have imposed new restrictions on doctors’ repackaging, lowering costs to the state and private companies. Sink, who lost to Republican Rick Scott in last fall’s governor’s race, was among those saying the change would have saved private companies $34 million in worker’s comp costs.

But then-Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the measure.

Among those supporting Crist’s veto in June 2010 was Automated Healthcare Solutions, a Miramar company headed by a pair of doctors, Paul Zimmerman and Gerald Glass, who later that summer gave more than $1 million to political spending committees headed by the Legislature’s then-incoming leaders, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon.

The company provides software that helps doctors dispense and manage patient prescriptions, a profitable sidelight for many doctors. Because the legislation vetoed by Crist would have imposed new restrictions on doctors’ repackaging,  it also threatened Automated Healthcare’s services.

Zimmerman, the company’s CEO, says in a statement on the company’s website that its services are designed to “enhance revenue production by allowing physicians to retain profits.”

Haridopolos and Cannon last year used the money funneled from the doctors primarily to help then-Attorney General Bill McCollum in his losing Republican primary fight with Scott.

But with McCollum out of the picture, the doctors quickly pivoted following the campaign – pouring $735,000 into the Florida Republican Party and another $145,000 to Scott’s spending committee – in an attempt to make nice with the new GOP nominee, who is now a resident of the Governor’s Mansion.

And the doctors are still giving. While the business groups looking to cut worker’s comp costs aren’t shy about giving to the ruling state GOP, Automated Healthcare Solutions also has donated $203,500 to the party so far this year, records show, as it becomes more apparent another effort to rein-in repackaging is coming. 






Federal court finds individual mandate unconstitutional, leaves remainder of law intact

Friday, August 12th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Striking a blow to the White House, a federal appeals court ruled Friday that President Barack Obama’s health care law requiring Americans to buy health insurance is unconstitutional.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta also found that the remainder of the law can remain intact.

Florida former attorney general Bill McCollum launched the lawsuit against the federal government over the sweeping law. Twenty-five other states have since joined the suit, now likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

McCalister tries to be tea party alternative to ‘Tallahassee Triplets’ in GOP Senate primary

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011 by George Bennett


Florida’s 2012 Republican U.S. Senate primary so far has been a three-way contest between state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, former appointed Sen. George LeMieux and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner.

But with polls suggesting roughly two-thirds of GOP primary voters are up for grabs, retired U.S. Army Col. Mike McCalister is hoping direct-mail money and tea party buzz can put him in the running. McCalister — whose ultra-low budget 2010 gubernatorial campaign ($8,422 in reported expenditures) got a surprising 10.1 percent in the 2010 GOP primary against Rick Scott and Bill McCollum — has lined up Washington mailhouse Base Connect to raise money and signed veteran GOP operatives Buzz Jacobs and John Yob to advise his 2012 campaign.

Jacobs and Yob both worked on the 2008 John McCain campaign. Yob last year advised unsuccessful tea party Senate-seekers Sharron Angle in Nevada and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware as well as Michigan outsider-turned-Gov. Rick Snyder.

Disparaging Hasner, LeMieux and Haridopolos as the “Tallahassee Triplets,” Jacobs says McCalister “has all the qualities of a candidate that will resonate with Tea Party, Project 9/12, and conservative grassroots Republicans.”

Base Connect is the direct-mail firm used by U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, whose 2010 campaign was marked by stupendous money-raising but also a fairly high burn rate for mail expenditures.

McCollum joins D.C. law firm

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 by John Kennedy

Former Attorney General Bill McCollum is joining a Washington,D.C., law firm as partner — specializing in representing clients in legal matters before state attorneys general.

McCollum spent 20 years in Congress before unsuccessfully running for U.S. Senate in 2000. His four year term as Florida attorney general, 2007-2011, was sandwiched between another failed bid for Senate (2004) and losing to Rick Scott in last summer’s Republican primary for governor.

SNR Denton is an international law firm building a specialty pivoted around cases involving state attorneys general. While McCollum will work out of Washington, also joining the firm is former Indiana Attorney General Jeff Modisett, who will work out SNR Denton’s Los Angeles office.

“With the recent, dramatic growth in state Attorneys General consumer protection investigations involving key industry sectors such as financial institutions, energy, health care, telecommunications and the internet, it made sense for me to join a firm that is known for its deep bench strength in the public sector,” McCollum said, in announcing the move.

UPDATE: Florida gets more time for high-speed rail

Friday, February 25th, 2011 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Lest there be any confusion about where Gov. Rick Scott stands on the issue, the governor used the Web’s social networks to make it clear.

@FLGovScott directed followers to his Facebook site with this Tweet: “My position remains the same on High Speed Rail”

Here’s Rick Scott’s Facebook message:
“My position on High Speed Rail remains unchanged. I believe High Speed Rail is a federal boondoggle, as I said more than a week ago. This morning I communicated to Secretary LaHood that as long as Florida remains on the hook for cost overruns, operating costs and paybacks in the case of default, I will vigorously oppose this project.
Since that time, Secretary LaHood has extended his own deadline for coming up with a way to alleviate Florida’s risk on High Speed Rail. While I appreciate his continued efforts to keep the project alive in Florida, it is important to note that I have yet to see any proposal that accomplishes my goal of eliminating risk to Florida’s taxpayers.”

Florida’s still on track to get $2.4 billion in federal funds for a high-speed rail project from Tampa to Orlando, the latest twist in a tea party-related transportation tale.

Gov. Rick Scott, who rejected the money last week, met with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood this morning in Washington.

Today was supposed to be the deadline for Scott to change his mind and accept the funds, something he insisted he would not do up – until today.

After the meeting, LaHood agreed to give Scott another week to consider alternate proposals.

“This morning I met with Governor Rick Scott to discuss the high speed rail project that will create jobs and economic development for the entire state of Florida. He asked me for additional information about the state’s role in this project, the responsibilities of the Florida Department of Transportation, as well as how the state would be protected from liability,” LaHood said in a statement.

“I have decided to give Governor Scott additional time to review the agreement crafted by local officials from Orlando, Tampa, Lakeland and Miami, and to consult with his staff at the state Department of Transportation. He has committed to making a final decision by the end of next week. I feel we owe it to the people of Florida, who have been working to bring high speed rail to their state for the last 20 years, to go the extra mile.”

Scott said he refused the funds because he remains convinced that the state would be on the hook for some – if not all – of the costs of the $2.7 billion project. He’s relying in part on a conservative think tank’s ridership analysis. And he’s come under pressure from tea party activists who see the project as symbolic of government waste.

Read reactions from Florida lawmakers and officials scrambling to come up with a proposal that meets Scott’s muster.


Bondi’s move on rights continues to draw pushback

Friday, February 25th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Sen. Arthenia Joyner of  Tampa and Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston on Friday renewed Democratic call for Attorney General Pam Bondi to drop her push to tighten Florida’s standards for restoring civil rights to felons after they completed their sentences.

 ”With a staggering unemployment rate of 12 percent, I’d think the attorney general would want to support any effort to help Floridians who have fully paid their debts to society, to find work,”  Rich said.

In a shocker for civil rights advocates and Democrats, Attorney General Pam Bondi is looking to undo Florida’s limited automatic restoration of rights for felons. Bondi said she was likely to have a proposal to put before Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet next month.

“I don’t believe any felon should have an automatic restoration of rights,” the Republican Cabinet member told reporters Thursday morning. “I believe you should have to ask, and there should be an appropriate waiting period” of three to five years.

Joyner, though, said she felt Bondi’s move was aimed at placating tough-on-crime tea party advocates.

“From fighting Floridians access to family doctors, to withholding civil rights, it seems the Republican politicians are more interestedin hurting Florida than helping her,” Joyner said Friday.

Bondi wants to do away with automatic restoration of rights for felons

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Attorney General Pam Bondi wants to do away completely with the state’s limited automatic restoration of rights for felons even as civil rights groups are seeking an expansion of it.

In Florida, certain felons automatically get their rights restored upon completion of their sentences and restitution.

But Bondi, a Republican and former prosecutor, says the current system goes too easy on criminals.

“I don’t believe any felony should have an automatic restoration of rights. I believe you should have to ask and there should be an appropriate waiting period,” Bondi told reporters after a clemency meeting this morning.

Bondi said she wants a three-to-five year waiting period before convicted felons can appeal to have their rights restored.

The years-long waiting period will help clear up a backlog of more than 100,000 convicted felons trying to get their rights back.

Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet, acting as the board of clemency, approved new rules nearly four years ago making it easier for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes to have their civil rights restored.

Bondi’s predecessor Bill McCollum cast the lone dissenting vote on the rule change.

Now, felons convicted of nonviolent crimes who have fulfilled their sentences will be allowed to vote, hold public office, apply for occupational licenses and sit on juries without applying for clemency, a cumbersome process that can take years. The 2007 change also expedited the process for felons convicted of some violent crimes.

Florida first banned voting by felons in 1845, and the ban was put into the state constitution in 1868.

Voting rights for felons was one of the issues in the disputed 2000 presidential election, when many people, mostly black, were wrongly purged from voter rolls because of an error-riddled state voter database that misidentified them as felons.

Former statewide prosecutor Shepherd joins Holland & Knight in West Palm Beach

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 by George Bennett


Former statewide prosecutor William Shepherd, who headed the investigation that led to last year’s indictment of former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer, is joining the West Palm Beach office of Holland & Knight as a partner in the megafirm’s national white-collar defense team.


Shepherd worked seven years in the Florida attorney general’s office, the last four as statewide prosecutor, where he oversaw a team of about 40 attorneys. The attorney general appoints the statewide prosecutor to a four-year term from a list of nominees selected by the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Committee. Shepherd was tapped by former AG Bill McCollum.

In addition to the Greer case, Shepherd handled high-profile prosecution of gang members and mortgage fraud cases. He also helped former state Sen. (now Chief Financial Officer) Jeff Atwater and state Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, craft anti-gang legislation.

Scott calls halt to federal health care law implementation

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott, who’s fought against federal health care reform since its inception, said today Florida won’t begin implementation of the federal health care law ruled unconstitutional by a judge yesterday.

“We are not going to spend a lot of time and money with regard to trying to get ready to implement that until we know exactly what is going to happen,” Scott told reporters this morning. “I hope and I believe that either it will be declared unconstitutional or it will be repealed.”

U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson ruled yesterday that critical components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional. The Department of Justice indicated it would file an appeal and ask the judge to issue a stay on his order.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, who picked up the challenge after her predecessor Bill McCollum initiated the lawsuit, said she and the 25 other states who’ve joined Florida’s lawsuit are trying to decide whether to by-pass the appellate court and seek resolution directly from the Supreme Court, which both sides agree will ultimately rule on the law.

Scott said he is not concerned about whether a delay in implementing the law in Florida could create problems if the Supreme Court upholds it.

Scott said state officials “will have enough time” to implement the measure before the 2014 deadline.

“The state won’t be caught flat footed,” Scott said. “We’ll be ready.”

Cue the Supremes: Judge rules health care law unconstitutional in Florida-initiated suit

Monday, January 31st, 2011 by George Bennett

Former AG McCollum filed suit in 2010

A federal judge in Pensacola has ruled the federal health care law unconstitutional in a lawsuit filed by former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum last year and joined by 25 other states.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson said a provision requiring people to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties violates the Constitution. A judge in Virginia made a similar ruling last year, but Vinson went further and said the provision can’t be severed from the rest of the legislation and therefore the entire law must be struck down.

Two other federal judges have upheld the insurance requirement in the health care law, so the next step is likely to be the U.S. Supreme Court.

Click here for a story on Vinson’s ruling.

Reactions are pouring in — read some of them after the jump…


Six more states join FL health care lawsuit against feds

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Six more states have joined Florida’s legal challenge to the federal health care law now awaiting a Pensacola federal judge’s preliminary ruling.

Iowa, Ohio, Kansas, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Maine are now among the 26 states, including Florida, challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care law. Virginia has filed a separate lawsuit and Oklahoma is considering its own as well.

Attorney General Pam Bondi filed the papers in Pensacola to add the six states to the lawsuit initiated by her predecessor Bill McCollum.

Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives are debating a bill that would repeal the law. That measure is expected to go nowhere in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats still have the upper hand.

Statewide grand jury calls on lawmakers to beef up ethics laws

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The statewide grand jury looking into public corruption issued its preliminary report today and called on the legislature to beef up Florida’s ethics laws.

The 127-page preliminary report suggests that lawmakers take a page from Palm Beach County’s anti-corruption measures enacted after three county commissioners wound up behind bars for misusing their office.

The statewide grand jury, at work for nearly a year and set to expire in February, report recommended requiring employees at private businesses that have government contracts to be subject to the same ethics laws as public employees.

Other recommendations include:
- Tougher sentences for officials who use their public office to commit crimes;
- Creating an independent Inspector General to oversee agency inspectors general;
- Expanding bid-tampering laws to include bid-rigging schemes;
- Giving the Ethics Commission the power to initiate investigations.

Fla tea partiers push VA-style anti-health insurance law

Monday, December 20th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The Florida Liberty Alliance – a coalition of tea party activists – is pushing Senate President Mike Haridopolos to pass a law similar to Virginia’s that would exempt Floridians from the federal health care law requiring individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a fine.

The group wants Haridopolos and the Florida Legislature to pass something similar to Virginia’s “Health Care Freedom Act” and make it one of the first things they do when they convene in March.

Haridopolos has already sponsored a constitutional amendment by the same name that would allow Florida to opt out of the health care law, now under scrutiny by a federal judge in Pensacola.

But the alliance doesn’t want to wait until the 2012 election when the proposal would go on the ballot.

“We respectfully ask that all expeditious measure be taken to introduce legislation to create Florida law, as was crafted so well in Virginia, to secure these protections by statute for Floridians as one of the very first legislative initiatives in the new session,” wrote a group of tea party activists in a letter to Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, released today.

“We believe that if Governor Scott, as one of his first acts on taking office, were to sign such legislation into law, the citizens of Florida would see that our elected Representatives not only take their oath of office to protect the Constitution seriously, but it would send a very strong message to Washington and the entire nation,” the letter goes on.

A federal judge in Virginia last week overturned the “individual mandate” portion of the law requiring that individuals and families have health insurance coverage or pay a fine. That case is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola this week heard oral arguments in a challenge filed by Attorney General Bill McCollum and 19 other states. The Florida case also contends that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and that the federal government overreached its authority with sweeping changes to the federal-state Medicaid program included in the law.

Health insurance mandate like broccoli? Judge wants to know

Thursday, December 16th, 2010 by Dara Kam

A federal judge in Pensacola hearing oral arguments in a key lawsuit over the federal health care law this morning repeatedly questioned lawyers about whether the federal government was overreaching its authority by forcing individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a fine.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson wanted to know if the health care law set a precedent allowing Congress to pass laws about anything that has an economic impact.

Congress could decide that “everybody needs to eat broccoli” because that would make them healthier and thereby reduce health care costs, Vinson proposed.

“If they decided that everybody needs to eat broccoli because broccoli is healthy they could mandate that everybody has to buy a certain amount of broccoli each week,” he asked David Rivkin, a lawyer for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and the 19 other states suing the federal government over the law.


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