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New Benghazi probe? Dem Murphy ‘respects the work his colleagues have done already’

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 by George Bennett

Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter.


With House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announcing he’ll create a House select committee to investigate the deadly 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, the Obama administration and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., haven’t been clear on whether Democrats will participate.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday the administration cooperates with “legitimate” congressional oversight, but wouldn’t say if he considers the Benghazi committee legitimate. Pelosi today called for the panel to be split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Evenly divided committees are rare on Capitol Hill and Pelosi’s demand could be seen as laying the groundwork for Democrats to boycott the panel if Republicans don’t agree.

Erin Moffet Hale, a spokeswoman for freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, gave this answer when asked via e-mail if Murphy believes Democrats should participate:

“The Congressman respects the work his colleagues have done already investigating this matter in the Oversight and several other House Committees. He believes that Congress’ main concern needs to be focused on improving safety so that an attack like this doesn’t happen again.”

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, characterized the investigation as being aimed at potential 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the attack.

The offices of the three other members of Palm Beach County’s House delegation — Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings — did not immediately respond to e-mailed questions about the Benghazi panel.

Republican calls for a Benghazi probe have intensified since the recent release of an e-mail by Ben Rhodes, at the time a deputy national security adviser, coaching then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice before a series of Sunday talk show appearances to “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

Rep. Ted Deutch gets a Democratic primary challenge

Thursday, May 1st, 2014 by George Bennett

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, drew a Democratic primary challenge today when Emmanuel Morel of Wellington qualified for the ballot in Palm Beach-Broward congressional District 21.

“I’m not running against Ted Deutch. I’m running for something. I’m running for workers,” said Morel, 54, who said he recently retired as an investigator with the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour division. According to the county elections office, Morel switched his registration from no party to Democrat in January. UPDATE: The elections office said Friday Morel has been a Democrat since registering in the county in 1994 and records showing a January party switch appear to be based on incorrect information from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Morel wants to end H1B and H2B visas that he says allow foreign workers to displace Americans. At the same time, he’s calling for “immediate, complete and total amnesty for all undocumented individuals in the country.”

The positions aren’t contradictory, Morel said, because American workers “are not being displaced by people that are here already. They are being displaced by new people coming here.”

Would-be Deutch GOP challenger tweets to Rubio, Jeb, Romney, Cruz, Limbaugh, Palin for fundraising help

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 by George Bennett

Lake Worth Republican Henry Colon is appealing to GOP stars via Twitter to try to scrape up the cash to challenge U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, in Deutch’s heavily Democratic Palm Beach-Broward district.

Colon says his campaign only has about $2,300 as Friday’s noon deadline approaches for congressional candidates to pay a $10,440 fee to qualify for the ballot. He used his Twitter account last week to send a series of tweets aimed at prominent Republicans in hopes of raising the cash he needs.

“I’m a Hispanic Conservative Republican Candidate running for Congress in FL CD21-Need help with Qualifying Fee by 4/30,” Colon said in tweets that mention the Twitter handles of Sen. Marco Rubio, former Gov. Jeb Bush, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, House Speaker John Boehner, talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and others.

Asked what kind of response he’s received, Colon said, “I’d love to comment further on that after Friday.”

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

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 by George Bennett

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…

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Rep. Ted Deutch: Crist-Rich Democratic primary debate would be ‘worthwhile’

Friday, April 18th, 2014 by George Bennett

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, at a town hall meeting west of Boynton Beach on Thursday night.


U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, isn’t taking sides in the Democratic primary for governor between Charlie Crist and Nan Rich.

But Deutch sounds sympathetic to calls from underdog Rich — and Republican Gov. Rick Scott — for Crist to debate his Democratic primary rival.

After conducting a town hall meeting with more than 100 people west of Boynton Beach, Deutch was asked by a reporter Thursday night if Crist and Rich should debate.

“I think it would worthwhile for the people of Florida to be reminded of the issues that most people in the state care about, which would be the issues that are debated that night, instead of being forced to watch millions of dollars in commercials funded by outside groups that support the governor,” Deutch said.

Scott also thinks Republican-turned-Democrat Crist should debate former state Sen. Rich. Scott made the suggestion after Crist, in West Palm Beach this week, declared “Give me Scott.”

Democratic dudgeon: Nelson, House members blast Supreme Court’s campaign finance ruling

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 by George Bennett

In this photo provided by Rep. Ted Deutch's office, the congressman criticizes the McCutcheon ruling while People For the American Way field director Diallo Brooks holds the electronic bullhorn outside the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down limits on the total amount of federal campaign contributions a donor can give, prompting criticism from Democrats.

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and three Democratic members of Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation slammed the McCutcheon vs. FEC ruling. Donors still cannot give more than $5,200 to a federal candidate ($2,600 for a primary and $2,600 for a general election), but today’s ruling eliminates a federal law that capped overall donations to candidates at $48,600 and limited aggregate donations to political parties and committees at $74,600.

The Democratic dudgeon begins after the jump…

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Obama to Democratic donors in Miami: ‘America is on our side…but in midterms we get clobbered’

Friday, March 21st, 2014 by George Bennett

President Barack Obama greets Sen. Bill Nelson in Orlando Thursday before heading to Miami for a pair of fundraisers. Grace Nelson and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer look on. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

With Democrats facing a tough political climate as the 2014 midterm elections approach, President Barack Obama offered some reassurance and warning Thursday to donors who paid $16,200 apiece to join him for dinner at former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning‘s house.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and other Democratic House members were among the crowd of about 75 at the event in the village of Pinecrest near Miami.

“Now, the good news is on every individual issue, America is on our side,” Obama said, according to a White House transcript released late Thursday night.

Obama mentioned the minimum wage, immigration reform and “whether or not it’s a good thing to invest in early childhood education” as examples of issues where the public agrees with Democrats, but didn’t cite his signature health care law and its double-digit negative ratings in many polls.

While arguing Democrats have an issue advantage, Obama acknowledged his party faces a challenging year.

“So the problem is not that the American people disagree with us on the issues,” Obama said. “The challenge is, is that our politics in Washington have become so toxic that people just lose faith and finally they just say, you know what, I’m not interested, I’m not going to bother, I’m not going to vote.”

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Obama to speak on economy in Orlando, raise money at Alonzo Mourning’s house in Miami

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 by George Bennett

President Barack Obama will speak about the economy on Thursday afternoon at Valencia College in Orlando, then head to Miami for fundraisers that include a $16,200-a-head Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee event at the home of former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, helped organize the DCCC fundraiser, which will also feature House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, D-N.Y.

The event’s $16,200 price tag includes a cocktail reception, photo opportunity and dinner.

Obama also visited Mourning’s house for a 2010 fundraiser for the DCCC and former Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton.

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, plans to attend the Thursday fundraiser but Reps. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, and Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, do not.

Frankel breaks with other local House members and votes against budget deal

Friday, December 13th, 2013 by George Bennett

Concerns about Medicare, military pensions and unemployment insurance led Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, to vote no on budget deal.,

A bipartisan budget deal passed the House by a lopsided 332-to-94 margin on Thursday with three members of Palm Beach County’s delegation — Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar; and Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter — joining the majority. Former Palm Beach County delegation member Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, also supported the deal.

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, voted no, joining a coalition of liberals (including Democratic Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Jan Schakowsky of Illiniois) and tea party conservatives (including Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Raul Labrador of Idaho) in opposition.

Said Frankel: “This budget deal is better than the status quo and it’s good to see bipartisan cooperation. With that said, because of the cuts to Medicare, reduction to military retirement payments and leaving millions of Americans desperate without any source of income because of failure to renew unemployment insurance, I voted no.”

On House ‘Keep Your Health Plan Act,’ Murphy one of 39 Democratic defectors

Friday, November 15th, 2013 by George Bennett

Rep. Patrick Murphy, who represents a GOP-leaning district, was one of 39 Democrats to vote for Republican 'Keep Your Health Plan Act.'

Bucking President Barack Obama‘s veto threat and his party’s House leadership, swing-district freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, was one of 39 Democrats to vote today for a Republican a bill to allow insurers to continue offering health insurance plans that don’t meet the standards of the new federal Affordable Care Act.

Murphy was one of only five Democrats to co-sponsor the “Keep Your Health Plan Act,” which passed on a 261-157 vote. Four Republicans voted against the bill, which some conservatives derided as a lifeline for Obamacare.

Palm Beach County’s three other House members — Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach and Alcee Hastings of Miramar — all voted against the measure.

Challenger out-raises Hastings in individual contributions, but PACs boost incumbent

Monday, October 21st, 2013 by George Bennett

PAC checks pad the re-election account of U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings and other incumbents.


The latest batch of Federal Election Commission reports confirms one of the many advantages of incumbency — the tendency of PACs to shower money on sitting members of Congress.

Enright

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, raised only $7,425 from individual donors during the quarter that ended Sept. 30. His Democratic primary challenger, Port of Palm Beach Commissioner Jean Enright, snagged $19,065. But Hastings enjoys a big fundraising edge thanks to PAC contributions.

Freshman Reps. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, and Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, have seen a big boost in PAC money since winning their seats last year. And Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, has received nearly one-third of his 2014 contributions from PACs.

Subscribers can read more about it in this week’s Politics column. One-day passes to MyPalmBeachPost.com are available as well.

Also in this week’s Politics column:

– Former state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff sets a timeline for deciding on whether she’ll seek a rematch against Democratic Sen. Maria Sachs.

– Former U.S. Rep. Allen West is launching a new website, but he doesn’t own the allenwest.com domain name. Find out who does and what the owner says about giving it up.

– Find out which local official incorporated a Standard & Poors statistic into the opening prayer at last week’s Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting.

Palm Beach County’s House members all back deal to end government shutdown, raise debt ceiling

Thursday, October 17th, 2013 by George Bennett

Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel with Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor earlier this month in Boynton Beach.


The four Democrats who represent Palm Beach County in the U.S. House of Representatives all voted for the deal to end the government shutdown and increase the federal debt ceiling on Wednesday night.

After the Senate approved the deal earlier in the day on an 81-18 vote — with Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in favor and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio opposed — the House gave its OK with a 285-144 vote.

Reactions from Palm Beach County’s congressional delegation after the jump…

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Frankel, Deutch say Boehner allowing ‘reckless’ minority of GOP to drive shutdown

Monday, October 7th, 2013 by George Bennett

U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, talk with Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor outside a Head Start facility in Boynton Beach before a news conference about the federal government shutdown today.

BOYNTON BEACH — On the seventh day of a partial shutdown of the federal government, U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, stood outside a Head Start center this morning to urge House Speaker John Boehner to call a vote on a no-strings-attached spending bill to keep the government running.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor joined Deutch and Frankel to highlight Head Start, which gets $16.4 million a year in federal money. The commision last week approved $1.2 million in county money to replace the federal share for three weeks in hopes of getting reimbursed when a federal spending bill is approved.

The elected officials were accompanied at a news conference by representatives of Florida Atlantic University’s medical school, a food bank, a government employees union and a foundation that supports Everglades preservation. All said a prolonged shutdown will hurt their programs and the people they serve.

The Republican-controlled House has insisted that bills to continue funding the government include provisions gutting or delaying the federal health care law. The Democrat-controlled Senate and President Barack Obama have insisted on a “clean” funding bill. The impasse led to a shutdown of many government functions when the new fiscal year began last Tuesday.

“This shutdown is irresponsible, infuriating and reckless. Congress has been hijacked by 30 or 40 radical members who oppose a reasonable solution……Because of a tea party tantrum, the whole country’s been paralyzed,” said Frankel.

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Political unknown pledges $100,000 start-up money for Palm Beach County commission race

Monday, September 23rd, 2013 by George Bennett

O'Brien

Real estate investor Andy O’Brien says he has put $100,000 of his own money into his 2014 campaign for the Palm Beach County commission seat of Steven Abrams.

O’Brien, a member of the county Democratic Executive Committee, opened his campaign last week.

Abrams

Republican Abrams was appointed to the District 4 seat in 2009 by former Gov. Charlie Crist and won the seat without a challenge in 2010.

Subscribers to MyPalmBeachPost.com can read more about it in this week’s Politics column.

Also in this week’s Politics column:

– the word that eliminated U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, from a once-in-a-century spelling bee at the National Press Club.

– U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings‘ assessment of Port of Palm Beach Commissioner Jean Enright, who is challenging him in a 2014 Democratic primary.

– the candidate whose fundraiser last week was visited by County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor and former commissioner Burt Aaronson.

Obama makes his case for military strikes in Syria, but asks Congress to delay vote; Florida reactions

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 by George Bennett

In a 15-minute address to a skeptical nation, President Barack Obama tonight acknowledged criticism of his plan for military strikes in Syria but said the U.S. has both a moral and national security interest in responding to Bashar Assad‘s use of chemical weapons.

After more than a week of pressing Congress with apparently little success to approve the use of military force in Syria, Obama tonight asked the House and Senate to delay a vote on authorizing force while the U.S. pursues a diplomatic solution brokered by Russia that emerged Monday.

Two of Florida’s strongest supporters of military strikes — Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton — responded soon after Obama’s speech by urging Congress to approve military action in case negotiations fail.

But U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, said the president’s address didn’t shake his opposition to military force in Syria.

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Saying ‘America’s credibility is on the line,’ Rep. Ted Deutch argues for military strike in Syria

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013 by George Bennett

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, argued in support of President Barack Obama‘s request for authorization to use military force in Syria during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing this afternoon.

“Congress is either going to uphold its duty to protect our national security or we’re going to retreat from our moral and strategic obligations,” Deutch said.

“Inaction here, I believe, will dramatically harm our national security by emboldening the vile Syrian regime, its terrorist proxies and its Iranian patron,” Deutch said.

Deutch said “America’s credibility is on the line” not only in Syria but in Iran. If the resolution is voted down, America’s opposition to Iran’s development of nuclear weapons will be “meaningless,” Deutch said.

Frankel hosts ‘telephone town hall’ Wednesday; constituents can assure spot through 5 p.m. today

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 by George Bennett

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, will conduct a “telephone town hall” with constituents in her Palm Beach-Broward District 22 on Wednesday night from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

People who live in District 22 can sign up for the teleconference by clicking here and registering before 5 p.m. today.

Shortly before the teleconference begins on Wednesday, automated calls will be placed to about 50,000 constituents inviting them to participate. A similar teleconference in April drew about 6,600 participants.

Before the teleconference, Frankel and Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, will participate in a town hall meeting sponsored by immigration reform advocates at the Lake Worth campus of Palm Beach State College. That event begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Duncan Theatre on campus.

After the immigration event, Deutch will hold an in-person town hall with constituents at 7 p.m. Wednesday at John I. Leonard High School.

Vote on blocking NSA phone data collection produces strange alliances, splits Palm Beach County Dems

Thursday, July 25th, 2013 by George Bennett

An effort to block the National Security Agency from collecting hundreds of millions of phone records narrowly failed in the House of Representatives Wednesday in a vote that saw some libertarian and conservative Republicans join with liberal Democrats against the Obama administration.

Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, voted for the amendment by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., a tea party favorite who’s been likened to libertarian icon Ron Paul. The Amash amendment failed on a 217-205 vote.

Reps. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, and Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, voted with the majority to defeat the amendment, as did Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee. Republican and Democratic House leaders — including Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — sided with the Obama administration and voted against the amendment.

In all, 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats voted for the amendment, with 134 Republicans and 83 Democrats opposed.

Deutch: Voting Rights fix should consider ‘institutional racism’ of state stand-your-ground, drug laws

Thursday, July 18th, 2013 by George Bennett

States that perpetuate “institutionalized racism” through stand-your-ground laws and unequal enforcement of drug laws should receive heightened election scrutiny from the federal government under a revamped Voting Rights Act, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, said today.

Deutch spoke as the House Judiciary Committee considered changes to the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court struck down the portion of the law that required the Department of Justice to give advance approval, or “preclearance,” to election-related changes in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination.

Deutch said an updated Voting Rights Act should empower the Justice Department to consider a broader range of factors in evaluating whether discrimination exists.

“As this Congress works on a new preclearance formula, I humbly suggest that we look beyond the scope of laws passed by states that directly impact minorities at the polls and begin looking at the racially biased application of state laws more generally,” Deutch said.

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Rep. Ted Deutch dons 18th century garb for Declaration of Independence reading

Thursday, July 4th, 2013 by George Bennett

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, at this morning's Declaration of Independence reading west of Delray Beach.

The tea party movement doesn’t have a monopoly on wearing 18th century garb at public events.

Deutch with 100-year-old Catherine Hughes.

For a community reading of the Declaration of Independence this morning west of Delray Beach, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, got into Founding Fathers character by wearing 1776 get-up, including a wig and breeches.

The event at the Lawton Chiles Pavilion outside the South County Civic Center drew attendees ranging from infants to 100-year-old Catherine Hughes, according to Deutch’s Facebook page.

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