Across Florida
What's happening on other political blogs?

Americans for Prosperity’

Scott incentive cash draws rebuke from tea party group

Saturday, April 20th, 2013 by John Kennedy

House and Senate budget negotiators were slapped Saturday by a leading tea party group for beefing up the pool of money given Gov. Rick Scott for luring companies to Florida.

Lawmakers are working through the weekend on settling differences in $74-billion-plus spending plans.

Late Friday, House and Senate conferees agreed to set aside $79.2 million as economic incentive cash controlled largely by the Republican governor — who is actually seeking $173.7 million for the fund.

The Senate had earlier low-balled the House on the issue — proposing a mere $20 million while the House recommended $73 million in its budget proposal.

But the Senate’s sudden turnaround brought a swift response from Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group founded by the conservative Koch brothers. AFP also warred with Scott last year over his support for legislation advancing alternative energy.

“Hopefully, the Senate will rethink their decision to increase funding for these handouts, a program that amounts to little more than corporate welfare,” said AFP’s Florida director, Slade O’Brien. “Giving out taxpayer funded incentives to companies that are coming to Florida or expanding their existing business is not a proven way to encourage jobs.”

Lawmakers have been citing concerns about such giveways, especially since the recent collapse of the Treasure Coast’s Digital Domain Media Group.

Digital Domain drew $20 million in state incentives — part of $130 million it received in overall government aid. Among the losers was the city of West Palm Beach, which gave the company $2 million to begin a program locally with the Florida State University film school.

The company defaulted on loans and investments last fall, and closed its main operation in Port St. Lucie.

  

Nelson, Mack both tout $2 million-plus fundraising marks heading to homestretch

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican rival Connie Mack IV both topped the $2 million mark in fund-raising in the last full quarter before the Nov. 6 election, with both contenders saying Wednesday that they are in good shape for the campaign’s homestretch.

Mack said he raised $2.7 million while Nelson collected $2.3 million from July 1-Sept. 30. Mack has been a big beneficiary of third-party spending and said he and committees supporting him will spend as much as $30 million on the race.

Nelson said Wednesday that he has $6.5 million in the bank, more than double Mack’s cash-on-hand.

“When all the fundraising and polling are done, the voters of Florida will make a choice,” said Ryan Brown, a Nelson campaign spokesman.  “And in this election they have a clear choice: a common-sense senator who has a record of honesty and integrity versus a congressman beholding to special interests.”

Nelson has been helped by Democratic-allied spending groups, although at a level far less than Mack.

Still close to half of the TV spots aired in the race last month between Mack and Nelson were paid for by independent political committees, an analysis last week by the Wesleyan Media Project shows.

Mack has drawn the most outside help, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Freedom PAC and the Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads committee airing millions of dollars of ads backing him. Mack, a four-term congressman from Fort Myers, is running his first statewide race — while Nelson is a former legislator, U.S. House member, Cabinet officer and candidate for governor.

Mack’s third-quarter fund-raising, though, was his best of the campaign.

“We could not be in a better position for the final stretch of this race,” said Jeff Cohen, Mack’s campaign manager.

“Our outstanding fundraising results reflect the fact that this race is far closer than the media and their public polls indicate,” he added. “Our own internal polling continues to show this race is a dead heat, and Floridians are now just weeks away from retiring Bill Nelson and his lockstep liberal agenda.”

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, is scheduled to appear Thursday at a Mack fund-raiser in Sarasota.

Polls show Mack trailing Nelson by an average 5.6 percent. But there’s been no survey of Florida voters since Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney’s recent surge in the polls — a move that may also be helping the chances of many GOP contenders, including Mack.

Romney’s once tattered coattails don’t look so bad at the moment.

“If Mitt Romney wins, I win. If I win, Mitt Romney wins,” Mack has said. “So we are certainly going to be tied together.”

While Romney’s recent debate performance helped boost his prospects against President Obama, Mack has his own chance to shine under the TV lights. Mack and Nelson are scheduled to meet next Wednesday for their only statewide television debate at Davie’s Nova Southeastern University.

In its report last week, Wesleyan found that from Sept. 9-30, $4.5 million was spent on TV spots in the Mack-Nelson race. Outside groups financed 48 percent of the ads, the fourth-highest percentage in 15 Senate races reviewed nationwide by the school.

Mack’s biggest backers include organizations founded by Rove, President George W. Bush’s former strategist; Freedom PAC, a committee financed heavily by Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson; and the Chamber.

Nelson has been helped by more modest ad buys from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic-allied American Bridge PAC, Majority PAC, and Saving Florida’s Future PAC.

Also in Mack’s corner is Americans For Prosperity, the grassroots organization founded by the billionaire Koch brothers. AFP, which claims 109,000 activists in Florida, aired $1 million in TV advertising this summer for Mack.

The brothers, who run Koch Industries, an oil services company, back a host of conservative causes. AFP has run TV ads against President Obama and are providing phone banks and get-out-the-vote efforts this fall nationwide.

 

Supreme Court justices draw more heat, and some praise

Monday, October 1st, 2012 by John Kennedy

The group pushing to oust three Florida Supreme Court justices this fall has a new video ad on its site blasting them for taking part in a 2003 ruling ordering a new trial for a Death Row inmate.

The 5-2 decision, which included Justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince and Fred Lewis in the majority, was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Florida justices had ruled the defendant’s lawyer had wrongfully conceded his client’s guilt without his approval.

But the federal justices said such explicit approval is not always needed.

Jesse Phillips, president of Restore Justice 2012, which has posted the web spot, said, “The court invented a way to give a confessed murderer the second chance at life…Pariente, Quince and Lewis should not defend this decision. They should apologize for it.”

The web ad, which runs more than two minutes, is not likely to appear on television in its current form. So far, only Americans For Prosperity, a tea party-allied organization founded by the billionaire Koch brothers has run a single TV spot condemning the three justices, the last appointed by a Florida Democratic governor.

But the Florida Republican Party has said it will work to unseat the justices. On Monday, the Florida Fraternal Order of Police and Florida Professional Fire Fighters weighed-in supporting the three justices.

“The very foundation of Florida’s independent judiciary is threatened,” said Jim Preston, FOP president. “Partisan politics simply destroys the integrity of the court system.”

While decrying partisan politics, the unions sided with Democrat Alex Sink over Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the last governor’s race. The unions are also awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on a challenge to whether Scott and the GOP-led Legislature violated the state constitution by ordering 3 percent payroll contributions from government workers enrolled in the Florida Retirement System.

Jeff McAdams, legislative chairman for the police union, said Scott is behind the effort to unseat the justices.

Scott has denied any involvement, and McAdams said his view is “my opinion.” But McAdams said Scott would welcome a chance to appoint three new justices to the court.

In merit retention, in place in Florida since 1976, voters get to decide “yes” or “no” whether a justice should receive another six-year term. No justice has been voted off the court since it was introduced.

 

TV spots blasting Florida Supreme Court to air today

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Television spots blasting the Florida Supreme Court over the federal Affordable Care Act are scheduled to begin running today in West Palm Beach and other markets, paid for by Americans for Prosperity, the conservative grassroots group founded by the Koch brothers.

Slade O’Brien, Florida state director of the organization, said the ads don’t directly call for voters to oust Justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince or Fred Lewis, who are up for merit retention on Nov. 6. Instead, O’Brien said the “intent is to call attention to judicial activism and legislating from the bench.”

The Florida Republican Party said last week that its leaders have agreed to oppose the three justices seeking new six-year terms. Another organization, Restore Justice 2012, has been active most of the year to unseat the three justices, the last appointments of late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, although Quince was named jointly with incoming Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.

The AFP spots are the first TV ads aired in the campaign. The three justices have raised just over $1 million, combined, to defend themselves.

In its ad, AFP targets the Florida Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling that upheld a lower court which stripped from the ballot a measure intended to block the federal health care overhaul from taking effect in the state.

The court ruled the proposed constitutional amendment was flawed because it promised guaranteed access to health care services without waiting lists, would protect doctor-patient relationships, and prohibit mandates that don’t work.

Opponents said the ballot summary deceived the public since the amendment did not directly address those issues, but was written solely to draw voter support against the federal law advanced by President Obama.

An effort to place the full text of the amendment before voters that year also was rejected. The Leon County Circuit judge who made the initial ruling, James Shelfer, said that to do so would amount to “legislating from the bench.”

A rewritten version of the proposal is now set to go before voters in November as Amendment 1.

Americans for Prosperity is a grass-roots activist organization founded by Charles Koch and part-time Palm Beacher David Koch.

The brothers, who run Koch Industries, an oil services company, back a host of conservative causes. Each has a net worth of $31 billion, which last week placed them fourth on Forbes magazine’s list of wealthiest Americans.

AFP on the national stage has run TV ads against Obama and provided phone banks, rallies and get-out-the-vote efforts central to the Republican Party’s takeover of the U.S. House in the 2010 elections.

The organization has fought climate change legislation and the Affordable Care Act, and push for limite

Will Scott veto energy bill? Read the tea (party) leaves

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Conservative activists called Tuesday for Gov. Rick Scott to veto an energy bill pushed by fellow Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, with critics saying it picks winners and losers by providing tax incentives to wind-, solar- and biofuel companies.

Americans for Prosperity and the Heartland Institute have been spearheading an effort that’s flooded Scott with emails and phone calls opposing HB 7117, which would provide $16 million in renewable energy tax credits next year.

The organizations’ condemn the approach as “crony energy” that builds on millions of dollars in incentives already provided for alternate energy production by the Obama administration, which they also oppose.

“There’s no reason to set us down this path,” said Slade O’Brien, state director for Americans for Prosperity. “I don’t think there are going to be economic benefits. You’re basically going to cost the Florida taxpayer more money for energy….if you’re passing this bill, increasing the energy costs of being in Florida as opposed to being in Georgia, as opposed to being in Alabama…that’s not good business. That’s not smart.”

Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots activist organization, was founded by David and Charles Koch, whose Koch Industries includes oil refineries, energy development and commodities trading. AFP also is a mainstay of the tea party movement, which was a big Scott supporter in his 2010 election.

AFP and the Heartland Institute’s opposition creates some tricky crosswinds for Scott.

Putnam, a former congressman, is seen as a future Republican candidate for governor — maybe even a 2014 primary opponent for Scott.  Putnam has been a strong proponent of energy diversity, which draws support from the state’s agricultural industry, already invested in biofuel production.

In another twist, the energy bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, had been AFP’s ‘legislator of the year’ last year.

O’Brien offered no apologies.

“We’re equal opportunity complainers when things aren’t right,” O’Brien said.

 

Negron gets ‘A’ from group associated with ‘T’, as in Tea Party

Thursday, September 8th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Sen. Joe Negron, the Stuart Republican whose district includes parts of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, was named “legislator of  the year,” by the Florida branch of Americans for Prosperty, the conservative advocacy organization.

Negron shared the title with Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, both of whom were feted for their efforts to tilt the state Legislature further to the right. AFP, which has emerged as a guide and financial backer of the tea party movement, was founded by conservative billionaire energy titans, David and Charles Koch.

Seventy-nine legislators — all Republicans – received A+ scores from the group. Every Democrat drew a failing grade — except Rep. Leonard Bembry, D-Greenville, who was given a D by AFP.

Slade O’Brien, AFP’s Palm Beach County-based state director, said Negron was pivotal in the Legislature’s efforts to revamp Medicaid, while also steering the state toward reducing the size of government and cutting taxes.

Democrats drawing lousy marks, “show hostility towards the free market and protecting the individual liberties on which our country was founded,” O’Brien said.

Koch-founded group extends TV ad buy ripping Obama on debt ceiling

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 by George Bennett

The debt ceiling showdown has ended, but the conservative group Americans For Prosperity sees no reason to stop running ads blasting President Obama for “reckless” spending and borrowing.

The group, founded by the Koch Brothers, is adding another week to its ad buys in Florida and Ohio. AFP Florida Director Slade O’Brien says the group is spending about $600,000 to $700,000 in the Sunshine State.

Obama and Congress this week wrapped up a debt deal that left some angry Democrats branding tea partyers as “terrorists” and “Satan sandwich” makers. But O’Brien said federal borrowing will continue to be an issue as a 12-member bipartisan committee tries to identify additional deficit reduction before the end of the year.

“This is not a done deal,” O’Brien said. “The volume really needs to be increased and the country needs to focus on the fact that we have a runaway spending problem.”

While pushing back critics, FSU gains a couple more GOP insiders

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Even as Florida State University administrators work to stiff-arm critics over the school’s $1.5 million donation from conservative titan Charles Koch, Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday added a couple prominent Republican leaders to its board of trustees.

Scott named former House Speaker Allan Bense of Panama City and Joe Gruters, chairman of the Sarasota Republican Party, and a recent candidate for state GOP boss, to the school’s board. Bense served as the state party’s finance chairman last year.

Both also are Noles.

But FSU President Eric Barron has been pushing back hard against criticism that the school has compromising its values — and strayed into the world of right-wing politics — with the contribution from Koch. The part-time Palm Beach resident’s cash will help pay for positions in the university’s economics department.

Koch, a part-owner of Koch Industries, is a prominent libertarian who has helped finance such organizations as Americans for Prosperity which, in turn, have served as a touchstone for the tea party movement.

Senate turns out the lights on electric rate hike

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Legislation that would have given Florida Power & Light and other investor-owned utilities authority to raise customer rates to finance alternate energy projects appears dead for this session.

The Senate Budget Committee, on its final day of hearings, rewrote portions of the measure (CS/SB 2078), before delaying a vote.  But when the committee adjourned without a final vote, budget chief J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, said that was the last lawmakers should expect to see of the proposal.

“We are disappointed, but we remain committed to working with the governor and Legislature to address Florida’s future energy needs,” said FPL spokeswoman Jackie Anderson.

Florida utilities, heavy contributors to both political parties, would have been allowed to tack on an additional charge – without prior approval by state regulators – to cover their costs of building solar and biomass energy plants or buying renewable energy from producers.

For FPL’s 4 million customers, mostly in South Florida, the Juno Beach-based utility’s $206.1 million share could mean an extra $2.40-a-month on average, or $28.80 annually, to encourage the use of alternate sources to oil-, gas-, coal-, or nuclear power.

Supporters said the move, sponsored by first-year Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Wellington, chair of the Senate’s Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee,  would create jobs in the burgeoning renewable industry. Critics said the extra charge is a giveaway, especially to FPL which last year was denied most of a $1.25 billion rate hike by the Florida Public Service Commission.

While utilities are potent political forces, Benacquisto’s bill ran into tea party opposition. Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy group founded by Palm Beach oil billionaire David Koch and a force in conservative politics, ran a full-page newspaper advertisement in the Tallahassee Democrat critical of the legislation.

Gov. Rick Scott also said he was wary of giving utilities the go-ahead to raise rates without regulatory oversight.

Removing the possibility of the rate increase would shield consumers from one of several measures certain to take money out of Floridians’ pockets. Scott and legislative leaders insist they are crafting a no-new-taxes budget, although higher out-of-pocket costs look certain for many Floridians.

Florida political tweeters
Video: Politics stories
Categories
Archives