Across Florida
What's happening on other political blogs?

Bill McCollum’

Weatherford adds Mears, Duffy to House speaker’s office

Thursday, June 7th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has begun staffing up in anticipation of taking over the state House reins following the November elections.

Weatherford on Thursday announced he has hired veteran Capitol aide Kathy Mears as his chief-of-staff. Mears began her Tallahassee career as spokeswoman for then-House Speaker Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden, who in 1996 became the first Republican to lead the Florida House in 122 years.

Mears has since been a deputy chief-of-staff and legislative director under Gov. Charlie Crist, a deputy chief and communications director for Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, and spokeswoman for Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon.

Weatherford also named Ryan Duffy as his communications director. Duffy recently worked as spokesman for the Republican leadership team in the House, and formerly was a speechwriter for Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Mel Martinez. He was also a deputy communications director for former Attorney General Bill McCollum’s gubernatorial campaign in 2010.

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.

Tale of two Ricks: Scott says Perry likely running, but doesn’t expect to endorse

Monday, August 1st, 2011 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott is a huge fan of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

He also envies the Lone Star State’s low unemployment rate and overall economy.

But as Perry mulls whether to jump into the Republican presidential field — a likelihood, Scott says — his Florida counterpart doesn’t plan  to offer an endorsement.

“I think he’s going to run,” Scott said, adding, “I can’t imagine he’s not going to run. It’s sort of lined up for him to run, right now, because there’s not that many nationally known governors running. And governors have historically won these. He’s in a nice position.”

But if Perry gets in, Scott said he doesn’t plan to endorse him, or probably any of those in the GOP hunt for the White House.

“I went through this last year,” Scott said, recalling his own upstart challenge of party favorite Bill McCollum. “I like primaries.

“I think everybody had already endorsed someone else by the time I got in the race. So I’m OK with real primaries.”

 

 

AIF pushes back, slowly, on Glades study

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 by John Kennedy

One of Florida’s biggest business lobbies fired back Wednesday at the Everglades Foundation — disputing a four-month-old report by the environmental group which touted the economic benefits of restoring its namesake, fabled swamp.

“This report is nothing more than wishful thinking with no credible basis for the claims made by the foundation,” said Barney Bishop, president and CEO of AIF. “It is impossible to support the foundation’s assertion that the state will see $4 for every $1 invested in Everglades restoration. Further, it is impossible to even prove the economic benefits will ever cover the costs of the federal Everglades Restoration Plan.”

The foundation in October released a report by Mather Economics which said construction, hydrology and other environmental work tied to the Everglades project was creating jobs and would continue to add value to the South Florida region for years to come.

The foundation aired a similar theme Monday when it released results of a statewide poll showing most Floridians want Everglades restoration to continue, despite Gov. Rick Scott’s recommendation to reduce this year’s funding form $50 million to $17 million.

(more…)

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.

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.”

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.

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.

(more…)

Crist, clemency board give ‘Lizard King’ redemption

Thursday, December 9th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Whether or not the “Lizard King” unzipped his pants and exposed himself to a crowd of thousands more than 40 years ago remains a mystery.

Jim Morrison’s alleged antics will remain forever a part of the late rocker’s legacy.

But the charges against him for indecent exposure and public intoxication won’t.

Gov. Charlie Crist, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum, acting as the state Clemency Board, granted Morrison, the lead singer of “The Doors,” a pardon Thursday afternoon as one of their final acts as a panel before leaving office.

Should Jim Morrison have been pardoned?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

(more…)

McCollum, Bondi solicit GOP support for federal health care lawsuit

Thursday, November 18th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Attorney General Bill McCollum and his successor Pam Bondi are urging fellow Republicans throughout the country to join his lawsuit against the federal government over the new federal health care law.

McCollum and Bondi, who will take over on Jan. 4., sent a letter to 13 Republicans who won election this month as attorneys general or governor hoping to shore up support for the lawsuit now working its way through the federal courts.

“Having a majority of the states litigating our constitutional rights is a powerful message,” they wrote.

Oral argument on the case is set for Dec. 16 in Pensacola.

McCollum endorses Scott for governor…finally

Friday, October 22nd, 2010 by Dara Kam

After more than two months since GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott defeated him in a brutal primary election, Attorney General Bill McCollum finally came out in support of his one-time foe.

“Florida is facing a critical time. Our state needs conservative leaders who will grow our economy and create jobs. We need merit pay and an end to teacher tenure in our public schools, major litigation reform, smaller government, low taxes and a repeal of Obamacare. With this in mind, I will cast my vote for Rick Scott for Governor. It’s the better choice for Florida,” McCollum’s less-than-enthusiastic statement, released by the Republican Party of Sarasota, read.

McCollum, at one point a shoe-in for the nomination, lost the GOP primary after Scott spent $50 million of his own fortune on campaign ads attacking the former Congressman for being a Washington insider.

McCollum said recently he would not endorse Scott’s Democratic opponent Alex Sink, in part because she supports the federal health care law over which McCollum has sued the federal government.

A federal judge recently allowed McCollum’s lawsuit to proceed.

McCollum was the final holdout among state GOP leaders who at one point pilloried Scott, who was forced out of the hospital chain he founded shortly before Columbia/HCA was forced to pay $1.7 billion in fines to the federal government for Medicare fraud.

Speaker-to-be tells Crist to back off on federal health care reforms

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 by Dara Kam

House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon essentially gave Gov. Charlie Crist a cease and desist order telling the governor to quit enabling the federal government regarding health care reforms.

Cannon, R-Orlando, accused Crist of “commandeering of state insurance regulatory resources” by allowing executive agencies to begin implementing the federal health care reforms even as the state is suing White House agencies over them.

Read Cannon’s letter to Crist here.

Cannon’s demands could set up a possible showdown between the executive and legislative branches of government over the health care reforms, which Crist, the independent candidate in the U.S. Senate race, says he supports in part.

Cannon gave Crist until Nov. 15 to tell him how much the state is spending on workers and other resources to comply with the reforms and told him that Crist will need the legislature’s approval before taking any further action.

Cannon complains in the letter to Crist that the Office of Insurance Regulation is jumpstarting new insurance regulations by developing data systems. But that office is overseen by not just Crist. He and the Florida Cabinet – including Attorney General Bill McCollum, who filed the lawsuit over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act – make up the Financial Services Commission that’s in charge of OIR.

McCollum likely to vote for Scott, still no endorsement

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Attorney General Bill McCollum said he is likely to vote for GOP governor candidate Rick Scott but still won’t endorse him.

Scott, who had never run for office before, defeated McCollum after a brutal primary in which Scott spent $50 million of his own money, much of it on negative campaign ads targeting McCollum, who spent decades in Congress and as a lobbyist, as a career politician.

McCollum said he has “big differences” with Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat gubernatorial candidate, primarily about her opposition to his lawsuit against the federal government over health care reforms.

“I cannot vote for her for governor,” McCollum told reporters after a Cabinet meeting this morning.

Although McCollum has refused to endorse Scott, McCollum said he will “probably” vote in the governor’s race.

“And if I do I’m leaning towards voting for Scott. But I haven’t made that decision formally yet. Haven’t decided. I’m weighing it right now,” he said.

He said he hasn’t decided either whether he will formally endorse his former opponent but that he’s offered to meet with Scott “more than once and no meetings occurred to this point.”

BP claims czar backs off proximity to oil spill in paying claims

Monday, October 4th, 2010 by Dara Kam

How close a business is to where oil actually washed up on the beach won’t be a factor in determining whether it is eligible to be paid for lost revenues, BP claims czar Ken Feinberg has decided.

Feinberg revamped the claims process after being pressured by a bipartisan coalition of Florida officials, including Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Today, Kenneth Feinberg, Administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, announced that geographic proximity to the BP oil spill would not prevent a legitimate individual or business claim from being processed.

“I have heard from elected officials in Florida, including Governor Crist, Attorney General McCollum, CFO Sink and others, about their concerns regarding Floridians’ proximity to the spill and how, regardless of distance, there has been economic impact beyond the areas closest to the spill. After listening to these concerns, I have concluded that a geographic test to determine eligibility regarding economic harm due to the oil spill is unwarranted,” Feinberg said in the statement.

Claimants must “rove damages resulting from the spill itself and not other causes, but “physical proximity from the spill will not, in and of itself, bar the processing of legitimate claims,” he said.

His reversal on proximity is a victory for Florida hotel and restaurant owners, who hired a legal dream team to fight Feinberg and help businesses get their claims paid.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and state elected officials objected to Feinberg’s inclusion of proximity as a factor in paying claims. They said tourists stayed away from the Sunshine State because they had the perception that oil had contaminated areas of Florida even where it hadn’t.

Scott and Romney at the Villages tomorrow

Thursday, September 30th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will join GOP governor hopeful Rick Scott on a campaign stop in the Villages tomorrow.

Romney, who lost a presidential bid in the GOP primary two years ago, and Scott, who defeated Attorney General Bill McCollum in a brutal primary last month, will attend a rally and a meet-and-greet in the afternoon. Scott beat McCollum by about two percentage points in Lake County, where the Villages is located.

Romney is purportedly gathering steam for another presidential run in 2012.

The two businessmen have at least one thing in common. Romney spent about $45 million of his own money on his losing presidential campaign; Scott spent slightly more – $50 million – of his own fortune on his winning bid.

UPDATE: McCollum helps debunk Scott ads blasting Sink and pension fund

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: GOP officials appear to be linking Attorney General Bill McCollum to billions of dollars in losses – on paper – to the state pension fund during the 2008 financial meltdown.

McCollum has steadfastly refused to join other GOP elected officials in their support for Rick Scott, who defeated the attorney general in the August GOP governor’s race primary.

The Republican Party of Florida paid for a series of ads attacking Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat nominee for governor, for her role in the pension fund losses.

“Under current oversight, the fund has lost billions upon billions – and now Alex Sink is actually running ads on her questionable record overseeing SBA,” RPOF spokesman Dan Conston said in an e-mail in response to a reaction to McCollum’s pointed questioning yesterday to refute recent reports that the State Board of Administration made risky investments that endangered the pension fund.


Attorney General Bill McCollum may have finally put to rest speculation that he may eventually endorse Rick Scott in the governor’s race in the spirit of party unity.

Instead, he helped Scott’s opponent Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat candidate for governor, debunk ads bashing Sink for her role in the state pension fund’s loss of billions of dollars in value during the financial meltdown in 2008.

McCollum, who lost the GOP primary bid in a brutal battle against Scott last month, sits with Sink and Gov. Charlie Crist on the board of trustees that governs the State Board of Administration, which handles the pension fund and other investments.

In a public meeting yesterday, McCollum repeatedly asked SBA chief Ash Williams about reports that the pension fund is troubled and that the SBA made risky investments.

Williams assured the trustees the $119 billion fund is sound.

“The SBA is stronger and different then it was only two years ago,” Williams said.

He also refuted allegations that the investments were risky.

“The truth is they are performing,” McCollum said. “They are assets that pay back.”

AG candidate Gelber joins chorus pushing for broader BP claims payments

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Add state Sen. Dan Gelber, the Democrat candidate for attorney general, to the list of pols criticizing BP claims czar Ken Feinberg for his handling of payments to Floridians harmed by the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Gelber, a former federal prosecutor from Miami Beach, sent a letter to Feinberg asking him to include the costs of preparing claims to payments to individuals and businesses. Feinberg said he won’t pay for legal or accounting fees associated with the filings.

“Citizens of our state are rightfully frustrated. They see promises from BP actors in commercials suggesting the company is prepared to do the right thing. Yet on the ground, they see obfuscation, and a process that is filled with more chutes than ladders,” Gelber wrote.

Gelber also joined Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat candidate for governor; Gov. Charlie Crist, the independent candidate for U.S. Senate; and Attorney General Bill McCollum, the Republican who lost the primary bid for governor, in demanding that Feinberg pay damages to those located where oil never reached the shore. Feinberg’s consideration of proximity to the oil spill in paying claims has been a major issue of contention since he took over BP’s botched claims process on Aug. 23.

Sink and the Florida Cabinet slammed Feinberg yesterday and Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon, a member of a statewide task force looking into the economic damages caused by the disaster, gave Feinberg just a few weeks to speed up payments to businesses on the brink of bankruptcy in Northwest Florida.

Sink, Florida Cabinet fed up with BP claims czar Feinberg

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink used an update this morning on Florida’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster to blast BP claims czar Ken Feinberg for paying too little, too late to Panhandle businesses and causing at least one company to close its doors.

“I’m kind of of the mind set that enough is enough,” Sink, the Democrat candidate for governor, said at this morning’s Cabinet meeting. “I don’t know about you all but I’m sick and tired of this. These desperate people through no fault of their own having to shut their business down? That’s horrendous!”

Sink said the owners of Harmony Beach Vacations in Destin sent her an e-mail yesterday telling her they were going out of business because their claim for lost revenues has languished under both BP and Feinberg, who took over the oil giant’s maligned claims process for individuals and businesses on Aug. 23.

(more…)

Scott slams Sink with new ads

Monday, September 27th, 2010 by Dara Kam

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott’s campaign released two new ads attacking his Democrat opponent Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink accusing her of steering no-bid contracts to her former employer and slamming her for poor oversight of the state’s pension fund.

Sink spent more than two decades as a banker and ended her career as the head of Bank of America’s Florida operations.

One of the ads accuses Sink of steering at least $770,000 to Bank of America and its subsidiaries in her role as a member of the board of trustees that oversees the State Board of Administration. Sink sits on the board with fellow Cabinet members Attorney General Bill McCollum and Gov. Charlie Crist.

Sink has said she did not declare a conflict of interest in voting on matters affecting her former employer because her investments are in a blind trust.

(more…)

Florida political tweeters
Video: Politics stories
Categories
Archives