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UPDATE: Scott ‘welcomes’ Obama to Miami by blasting feds for skipping out on ports funding

Thursday, March 28th, 2013 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: President Obama reacted to Gov. Rick Scott’s demands that the federal government reimburse Florida more than $100 million for two port projects.

“The President believes that the Port of Miami can enhance the competitiveness of workers and businesses throughout the region and in the nation as a whole. That’s why the Administration has taken a number of steps to fund and facilitate improvements at the Port, including a $340 million TIFIA loan to help finance the Port of Miami tunnel project and a $23 million TIGER grant to restore freight rail service between the Port and the Florida East Coast Railway, as well as completing the permitting for the Port’s dredging project on an expedited timeline last August as part of the Administration’s push to cut red tape around infrastructure construction,” White House spokeswoman Joanna Rosholm said in an e-mail.

Gov. Rick Scott used President Obama’s visit Friday to the Port of Miami to tout his own jobs record and demand that president “step up to the plate” and pledge to reimburse the feds’ share of ports funding.

“We’re certainly glad President Obama’s coming to the Port of Miami tomorrow but he’s late to the party on Florida port investments,” Scott said in a conference call with reporters this morning.

Florida’s spent $425 million on ports since Scott took office, including fronting the federal share of $75 million for the Port of Miami and $36 million for the Port of Jacksonville, according to Scott.

“We could not wait for the federal government to come to the table with their share of the project,” Scott, who is running for reelection, said.

Obama is visiting the Miami port and will speak about the economy, according to a White House press release.

Sounding like someone on the campaign trail, Scott repeated his recent mantra of comparing Florida’s current economic and jobs state of affairs compared to “the four years before I became governor” without naming his predecessor Charlie Crist. Crist, who switched parties and is now a Democrat, is mulling another run for governor next year.

And he took a swipe at Obama and Congress while saying he “welcomed” the president.

“The federal government, they keep raising regulations. Permitting time takes longer, raising taxes, spending all these things. We’ve done way better than they have,” Scott said. Obama expedited federal infrastructure reviews last year for both the Miami and Jacksonville ports. Right now, they ought to reimburse us the money we’re spending on our ports…so we can create more jobs.”

Florida Congressional Democrats seek federal probe of voting law

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Florida’s Democratic U.S. House members, including Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, have asked the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to hold a hearing regarding Florida’s voting law that shrunk the number of early voting days, required more voters to cast provisional ballots and was intended to curb voter registration by outside groups.

The Democratic delegation asked for the hearing based on a report in The Palm Beach Post on Sunday that detailed how Republican Party of Florida consultants and staff sought to alter Florida’s early voting laws in the aftermath of the 2008 election to curb Democratic turnout.

“In light of these allegations, we are extremely concerned over the integrity of this law and the justification for its implementation,” U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings, Corrine Brown, Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch, Frederica Wilson and Wasserman Schultz wrote to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Chairman Martin Castro in a letter sent today. “As you know, trust in our democracy is what holds our country together. Voters must be able to trust that their elected officials are acting in their best interest.”

The commission held hearings in Florida in the aftermath of the protracted 2000 election and made numerous recommendations based on its findings, many of which were included in the Help America Vote Act passed by Congress in 2002.

Rubio on his speech, immigration, Charlie Crist and the joy of being a home state boy

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 by Dara Kam

After a brief sound check onstage at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio was crushed by a media scrum anxious to hear the GOP rising star wax on about everything from Charlie Crist’s endorsement of President Barack Obama to how to address immigration.

Rubio, Florida’s Republican U.S. senator who grew up in Miami, will introduce Mitt Romney tomorrow night at the Republican National Convention, a primo spot second only to the presidential candidate’s acceptance speech itself.

Rubio said his job is to make clear to the millions of television viewers during his prime-time speech the choices between the two candidates and the role of government in people’s lives.

“This election is about the choice the country has about the role government should play in our country. And really that is what this choice is going to be about. It’s not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican simply. It’s a choice about much more than that. So tomorrow, my job is to introduce the next president of the united states and to do so in a way that makes It clear to people what their choice is.
It’s a great honor,” Rubio said.

Rubio will also talk about his experience as the son of Cuban immigrants, something he does with an earnestness that has made him one of the most popular Republican politicians in the country. Rubio was on Romney’s short-list for veep before the former Massachusetts governor settled on U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.

When asked what’s different about his tomorrow-night speech, Rubio laughed.

“I don’t know. Thirty-nine million people, probably. Look, it’s a tremendous honor to be able to give this speech in my home state in front of a lot of family and friends,” he said, mentioning his mother and late father.
“It will be affirmation that their lives matter. That all the sacrifices and hard work they went through was worth something…It’s just an honor to be able to introduce the next president of the U.S. and to do so in a way that I hope will make clear the choice that we have and the difference between the two men.”

Rubio blamed complaints that the Romney campaign hadn’t done enough to reach out to Hispanic voters on the campaign’s limited resources and said the pace would pick up in the general election cycle .

Read what Rubio said about immigration, Charlie Crist and Paul Ryan after the jump.
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Compromise gives governors ability to fire majority of JNCs but saves Crist picks

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Governors could fire most of the panelists who help pick judges — a watered-down version of a Gov. Rick Scott priority — under a bill up for a vote as early as Wednesday in the Florida Senate.

The new language is a compromise between Scott and Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, the bill’s sponsor, who said the system is fine as it is but agreed to make a concession to Scott.

Scott wanted to be able to fire all nine members of the state’s Judicial Nominating Commissions, but lawmakers balked, calling it a power grab by the governor that could tip the courts and overly-politicize judicial selection.

The panels send the governor a list of three candidates to replace retiring or resigning judges. Governors appoint five of the nine members of the JNCs; the Florida Bar appoints the other four.

Under the original version of the measure (SB 1570), Scott would have been able to fire all of Gov. Charlie Crist’s appointees to the panels. Current law only allows the JNC members to be removed from their staggered, four-year terms if they have done something wrong.

The compromise would only apply to JNC members appointed after Jan. 4, 2011, the day Scott took office, meaning Crist’s picks are safe until their terms run out.

But the new proposal gives Scott the ability to keep the panels from essentially forcing him to go with their selection by including two unqualified candidates on the list, Simmons, a lawyer, said.

Down in other polls, Connie Mack-bashing George LeMieux wins over FFRW

Monday, February 20th, 2012 by Dara Kam


After trashing front-runner Connie Mack at a GOP women’s forum Sunday afternoon, George LeMieux emerged as the winner of the group’s straw poll in the Republican U.S. Senate primary.

LeMieux, who served for about 16 months alongside incumbent (and target) U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, is trailing Mack by 30 points in some polls.

But the GOP ladies apparently liked him enough to give him a considerable lead over retired Army Col. Mike McCalister and Mack, who came in last.

The results were interesting, FFRW VP Kim Carroll said in an e-mail, because a poll on the organization’s website prior to Sunday’s event resulted in a virtual three-way tie.

The candidates did not appear together during the two-hour forum, and were only in the same room together briefly, although the trio was scheduled to be on stage at the event’s conclusion.

Mack, who was up first, left the Hotel Duval shortly after fielding prepared questions from the women. McCalister followed, and LeMieux went last, hanging around after the meeting and working the crowd that included some of the state’s most influential Republican women, including RNC Co-Chairwoman Sharon Day. The straw poll of 117 members of the FFRW’s executive committee was held shortly after the forum.

One of the questions specific to LeMieux dealt with an explanation for his ties to former Gov. Charlie Crist, a once-loved politico now anathema to party loyalists after he jumped the GOP to run as an independent in a losing fight for the U.S. Senate against Marco Rubio.

“I’m my own man. And I proved it when I was in the US Senate,” LeMieux said. “I governed based upon my conservative values, your conservative values. A lot of us in this room supported the former governor at one time or another. And he disappointed all of us.”

LeMieux handled his response well, some of those present said.

Each of the candidates appeared separately onstage and were asked questions posed by members and selected and edited by FFRW chairwoman Cindy Graves.

Each candidate was supposed to be hit with a somewhat critical question. LeMieux was asked about his former employer Crist, McCalister was asked about whether he has exaggerated his military career and Mack was asked…nothing.

The Congressman was supposed to be questioned about criticism that he does not spend enough time in his Ft. Myers-area district but instead divides his time between Washington and California, where his wife and fellow congressional colleague U.S. Rep. Mary Bono Mack resides.

“Whoever was given the question to ask didn’t ask it,” Graves said.

State House candidate once victim of keg tossing incident by Gators football player

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 by Andrew Abramson

Eagle

Dane Eagle, a former travel aide to Gov. Charlie Crist and 2012 candidate for the vacant State House District 74 seat, was once the victim of an unusual crime that received national attention: A half-full keg of beer was tossed at Eagle’s head by University of Florida football player Taurean Charles during a fraternity brawl.

Eagle, a 28-year-old Republican, announced earlier this month that he would seek the seat vacated by Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral.

Charles

The incident occurred in 2004 when Eagle was 21. Eagle told The Tampa Tribune at the time that he asked a group of Gators football player standing near a beer keg to quit throwing ice at people so the 200 guests at the house party could enjoy a Jell-O wrestling match.

Eagle said he was sucker-punched in the face, and later jumped into the ensuing brawl to help defend his friend, a tenant of the house.

Then came the flying keg, which could have done even more damage had someone not deflected it before it hit Eagle in the face. Eagle, who was already lying on the ground when the keg hit him, was knocked unconscious and suffered a concussion, broken nose and required multiple stitches.

“We thought he had died,” a friend of Eagle’s told The Tampa Tribune in 2004. “He was already laid out on the floor.”

At the time, he said he would need reconstructive surgery so he could breathe out of his right nostril. But on Tuesday, Eagle told The Palm Beach Post he never had the surgery.

“I’ve still got a crooked nose I’d love to get fixed one day,” Eagle said. “It builds character. I’m still not breathing out of one nostril too well. But it never really bothers me.”

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Carole Crist’s ex accuses her of abandoning kids

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The New York Post is reporting that former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s wife Carole is being sued by her ex-husband for not paying child support – even though it’s not required in their divorce agreement – and ignoring their two daughters.

From The Post:
Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s sassy wife, Carole, is being sued by her wealthy ex-husband, Blue Star Jets honcho Todd Rome, for allegedly failing to pay child support — even though their divorce settlement doesn’t require it — or even stay in contact with their daughters Jessica, 15, and Skylar, 13. Carole and Todd were Hamptons fixtures until Carole left him in 2007, when Page Six reported the private-jet service owner put his foot down on her lavish spending. Carole remarried in 2008 to the Florida Republican governor. Todd, now wed to Vanessa Brahms and represented by pit-bull attorney Mark Heller, filed papers this month against Carole, claiming she’s failed to pay support or be part of the lives of their children who live with Todd in New York. While their settlement doesn’t require her to pay child support, “Carole has cut off communication with the girls,” a source told us. “She refused to attend her daughter’s graduation, visit them at summer camp or attend their birthdays. It’s not about the money.”

Read The Post story here.

Miss. guv Haley Barbour backs George LeMieux U.S. Senate race

Monday, August 8th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is backing George LeMieux in a heated GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who briefly considered running in the 2012 presidential race, called LeMieux a “solid conservative” in a statement released this morning by LeMieux’s campaign.

“I am honored to earn the support of a principled conservative like Haley Barbour. When Governor Barbour was RNC Chairman, he helped orchestrate the Republican Revolution in 1994 that built the type of conservative majorities we need to turn our country around,” LeMieux said in the release. “More importantly, from his leadership during hurricane Katrina to his work passing key pro-life legislation, Governor Barbour is a case study in effective conservative governance.”

LeMieux is struggling to shake off his ties to Gov. Charlie Crist, who appointed LeMieux to replace former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez when he resigned mid-term. LeMieux, a one-time close ally to Crist whom the former governor called “The Maestro,” did not seek reelection to the seat, which now-U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio won after Crist quit the GOP and ran against him as an independent.

LeMieux will face off in the primary against Delray Beach’s Adam Hasner, a former state House member who also served as the chamber’s majority leader.

Wealthy Delray Beacher Nick Loeb is toying with entrée into the race but is waiting until gal pal Sofia Vergara, star of Modern Family, gets past the Emmy Awards next month. Chris Ruddy, another Palm Beacher and CEO of the influential West Palm Beach-based conservative publication NewsMax, has ruled out getting into the candidate fray.

A Quinnipiac University poll last week showed that 53 percent of Republican voters remain undecided in the Senate primary but found Plant City tree farmer and retired Army Reserve Col. Mike McCalister leading the current four-candidate field with a meager 15 percent.

Behind McCalister in the poll were both LeMieux, with 12 percent, and Hasner, with 6 percent. Former Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse CEO Craig Miller weighed in with 8 percent support.

Nancy Argenziano to run as Democrat against incumbent Southerland

Monday, August 1st, 2011 by Dara Kam

Nancy Argenziano, a former chairwoman of the Public Service Commission and lifelong Republican, is running against incumbent freshman U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland – as a Democrat. Southerland, a Panama City Republican, ousted Congressional veteran Allen Boyd, a Democrat, from his North Florida District 2 seat in November.

Argenziano, who earned a reputation as a maverick during her tenure in both the state House and Senate, will formally enter the race for the North Florida Congressional seat within two weeks, Argenziano said.

Argenziano sent a letter to supporters declaring her intention to run as a Democrat, saying she needs at least $200,000 to be taken seriously as a candidate and to get the Democratic National Congressional Committee to throw some money her way.

Argenziano has been an outspoken critic of GOP leaders as a legislator and as a utility regulator, appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist, and unleashed her sharp tongue in her message to supporters, explaining why she is switching parties. Crist also abandoned the GOP in a failing bid as an independent against now-U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

“Current Republican leaders have neither patience with nor allowance for honest elected officials, and they demand that members of the various legislatures – who, after all, have sworn to uphold the Constitution – instead just follow the hijacked party line and shut up,” Argenziano wrote. “While I am of the opinion that Americans are not ready to vote in a third party, greater parity of the two parties in state legislatures would allow for far better public policy. When one party – or one intransigent, ideological arm of a party – controls governmental and political policy, as in Florida, it breeds a dangerous hubris and promotes the worst kind of extremism and acceptance of those whose public service is merely a well paid hobby.”

Watch Scott whack the budget live

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott‘s got the $69.7 billion budget to sign today, but the state’s spending plan will likely be considerably leaner after the first-year governor is done.

Scott is expected to make history by red-lining in excess of Gov. Charlie Crist‘s record-setting $459.2 million in vetoes in 2007, also the governor’s first year as state CEO.

Scott’s turned the budget signing ceremony into a public spectacle in The Villages, a favorite stumping ground for the conservative Republican, where he’ll be surrounded by tea party supporters. Previous governors have held more subdued signing events inside the Capitol.

Those who can’t make it to Central Florida can watch Scott wield his veto pen via the internet.

Log onto http://www.rickscottforflorida.com/livestream/ shortly before 1 p.m. to join in.

After scolding, second anti-abortion bill headed to governor

Thursday, May 5th, 2011 by Dara Kam

After being scolded by two Republicans, the Florida Senate sent to Gov. Rick Scott a second abortion bill this morning that would require women to have an ultrasound before they get an abortion.

Sen. Evelyn Lynn harshly rebuked her colleagues for wasting time with emotional issues and failing to do enough to create jobs and boost the economy.

“I didn’t come up here to come and tell you what you must do with your bodies,” Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, said. “I don’t want to have to continually talk about these issues on this floor when I have people pleading with me to help me please find money to keep my lights on…I will vote for every one of those bills. That’s not why I came up here. And I will vote no not only on this bill but every other bill we have on abortion. It is the wrong thing for us to be discussing and taking endless amounts of time on.”

Sen. Nancy Detert, a Venice Republican, said she resented having to vote on the issue.

“I personally resent writing legislation that acts like I’m too stupid to confer with my own doctor on what I should do. This is not what we were sent up here to do. I have no intention of telling you my faith, my personal problems, and I frankly don’t want to hear yours either,” Detert said.

The ultrasound bill (HB 1127) is one of four measures making it harder for women to get abortions lawmakers have passed during the legislative session making it more difficult for women to get abortions. Last year, Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a measure similar to the ultrasound bill the Senate approved by a 24-15 vote, with three other Republicans joining Lynn in opposition. Gov. Rick Scott has said he would have signed the measure into law.
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Florida on brink of nation’s strictest parental notification abortion bill

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Florida lawmakers are poised to make the state’s parental notification of abortion laws stricter, making it more difficult for a minor to get a judges’ approval for the procedure.

By a 20-19 vote today, the Florida Senate rejected an amendment that would have kept the current law allowing minors to get a waiver from a judge anywhere in the appellate circuit in which she lives. The bill (SB 1770, HB 1247) instead would limit girls seeking the waiver to the circuit court.

That’s problematic for minors who live in rural communities or small counties whose family members are likely neighbors of or on close terms with courthouse workers or observers, argued Democrats and some Republicans, putting her confidentiality at risk. Many of the young women seeking the judicial permission for the abortions are victims of rape or incest, they said.

“I’m sorry that some people in here don’t understand that there are families where if a young woman goes to them she could be beaten or even killed because of…incest or rape,” said Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston. “We should not be doing anything to place further barriers in front of these young women…There is no need to change this.”

But Sen. Alan Hays, who sponsored the bill, said that young women have plenty of opportunity to see a judge in their own community and should not be allowed to judge-shop.

“I find it preposterous that a young lady…might be put in a vehicle and transported all the way from Escambia County to Duval County just so she can get an abortion without her parents knowing about it,” Hays, R-Umatilla, said.

Abortion rights advocates contend that the measure, already approved by the House and expected to be passed by the Senate tomorrow, would make Florida’s parental notification laws the strictest in the nation.

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GOP leaders send warning to GOP Gov

Monday, March 14th, 2011 by John Kennedy

House Speaker Dean Cannon  and Senate President Mike Haridopolos sent memos Monday to  lawmakers, noting they could still consider a number of overrides to vetoes made last spring by former Gov. Charlie Crist.

But is the real target here new Gov. Rick Scott?

The memos warning that the Republican-led Legislature is ready to exert its muscle, follows Scott’s decision Friday to freeze at least until July $235 million in contracts for SunRail, the Central Florida commuter rail hailed by Cannon, Haridopolos and most other Orlando-area lawmakers.

 The delay threatens the $1.2 billion rail project. And it comes just weeks after the Republican governor antagonized many lawmakers — and was unsuccessfully sued by two of them — after refusing the federal government’s offer of $2.4 billion for high-speed rail linking Tampa to Orlando.

The two leaders’ notes are worded cautiously. But the intent is clear: Scott can mess with lawmakers, but they can mess right back.

” I am directing the committee chairs to evaluate potential veto overrides in their area and, should they find a candidate for an override, to conduct a public hearing on the bill,” Cannon wrote. ” The House will take up any override formally recommended by a committee.”

Haridopolos wrote, “Over the past few weeks, several members of the Senate have also expressed an interest in considering some of the remaining vetoed bills, and it is my desire to be open and inclusive in considering these requests.”

 Budget vetoes and slightly more than a dozen bills are eligible for override, the leaders wrote. Included are one measure that would shift the state’s Department of Management Services away from sole oversight by Scott and put it under the authority of the governor and the three independently elected Cabinet officers.

Another would create so-called leadership funds. These accounts would give legislative leaders total control of what typically is millions of dollars in campaign cash they raise but must deposit within the state’s political parties.

Crist, Sink rally in Tally against offshore drilling

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Former Gov. Charlie Crist and former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink will lead a bipartisan rally today to support a constitutional ban on offshore drilling today.

Crist, a Republican-turned-independent, and Sink, a Democrat, will appear with lawmakers and others at an event at 12:30 on the steps of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee.

Crist called lawmakers in for a special session last year to pass a similar amendment to put on the November 2010 ballot, but they snubbed him. The legislature met briefly and adjourned without doing anything after Crist abandoned the GOP and became an independent to avoid a Republican primary in the U.S. Senate race, which he eventually lost to Marco Rubio.

Before leaving office in January, Sink struggled to get BP claims czar Ken Feinberg to improve his claims process after tens of thousands of Panhandle residents, and hundreds of Floridians throughout the state, complained about problems with his Gulf Coast Claims Facility.

That system remains troubled as Feinberg is set to begin making final payments to more than 500,000 applicants for damages caused by the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Yesterday, senators discussed creating a state system for victims of BP’s massive oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to expedite the claims system.

Next Friday, Feinberg will appear before a House committee at the behest of House Speaker Dean Cannon. Hundreds of Panhandle officials and residents are expected to show up. Complaints about Feinberg’s payments from the $20 billion fund set up by BP include delays, an inability to find out where claims are in the process, and inconsistencies in who gets paid and how much.

A federal judge recently ruled that Feinberg is not independent of BP, as he contends, and ordered him to quit saying that he is.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is so fed up with Feinberg’s erratic claims system that on Monday he asked a federal judge to take it over “to facilitate the timely and just processing of claims.”

Scott won’t change utility regulatory panel

Friday, February 4th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott today reappointed all four Public Service Commission members put on the panel by his predecessor Charlie Crist.

PSC commissioners Eduardo Balbis, Ronald Brisé, Julie Brown and Arthur Graham were among the hundreds of Crist’s appointees Scott yanked from Senate consideration earlier this week.

The Senate still must confirm the four appointees to the five-member panel, but Scott’s actions puts to rest concerns about possible instability on the panel that oversees utility rates.

Groups file suit against governor over halt to redistricting changes

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

Supporters of two voter-approved constitutional amendments changing the way Florida lawmakers draw Congressional and legislative districts filed a lawsuit today demanding that Gov. Rick Scott move forward with the federal approval needed to implement the changes.

Shortly after taking office, Scott put the brakes on predecessor Charlie Crist’s request to the U.S. Department of Justice for the “pre-clearance” required whenever Florida makes changes to its elections laws affecting voters’ rights.

Scott reappointed Kurt Browning as Florida’s secretary of state. Browning, originally appointed by Crist, left his post last year to lead the fight against the “Fair Districts” amendments approved by voters in November that now bar lawmakers from drawing districts that favor political parties or incumbents.

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UPDATE: Dems outraged over Scott secret withdrawal of redistricting amendments

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: A spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott responded to his withdrawal of redistricting amendments for federal approval.

“Consistent with Governor Scott’s effort to assess the rules, regulations and contracts of the previous administration, he has withdrawn the letter requesting a DOJ review of Amendments 5 and 6. Census data has not been transmitted to the state yet and the Legislature will not undertake redistricting for months, so this withdrawal in no way impedes the process of redrawing Florida’s legislative and congressional districts,” Scott spokesman Brian Hughes said in an e-mail.

In his first few days on the job, Gov.Rick Scott quietly withdrew the state’s request for a federal go-ahead to move forward with two redistricting amendments overwhelmingly approved by voters in November.

Scott sent the request to the U.S. Department of Justice, which has to sign off on any changes to Florida elections laws affecting voters’ rights, on Jan. 7, just two days after he announced the reappointment of Department of State Secretary Kurt Browning. After Browning left Gov. Charlie Crist’s administration last year, he headed up a political committee that fought Amendments 5 and 6, aka the “Fair Districts” amendments. Crist’s temporary secretary of the state department submitted the application for “preclearance” to DOJ officials on Dec. 10

Scott’s move, offered with no explanation to the feds and no public announcement, left Democrats and supporters of the amendments hopping mad, and the state’s top Democrat is demanding Scott resubmit the preclearance application.

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Scott filling out inner circle with Crist holdover, axed Sink employee

Friday, January 14th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott added five more high-level workers to his staff – including one fired by his former gubernatorial opponent Alex Sink – as the new governor continues to put together an administration at the end of his second official week on the job.

Scott hired Melinda Miguel to come back to her old post as inspector general, which she also held under Gov. Charlie Crist.

And Scott tapped Doug Darling as his third deputy chief of staff (Darling will be in charge of Cabinet affairs). Then-Chief Financial Officer Sink axed Darling, who was her chief of the Division of Accounting and Auditing, for failing to discover a scheme to defraud the state of millions of dollars. The plan was revealed by an auditing firm. Darling, a former Marine, later went to work as chief of staff and, until now, inspector general for the Department of Environmental Protection.

Jesse Panuccio, an associate at Cooper & Kirk, and C.B Upton, general counsel for the Department of State, will join Scott’s legal team.

And Brian Hughes will go to work for Scott’s spokesman Brian Burgess. Hughes recently served as spokesman for Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater’s winning campaign. Hughes also served in the military and is a decorated Air Force vet, according to a press release on Scott’s Facebook page.

Senate prez officially launches bid for U.S. Senate

Friday, January 14th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Senate President Mike Haridopolos started organizing his U.S. Senate bid with a campaign committee to raise money for the 2012 race.

Haridopolos’ committee – “Friends of Mike H” – launched a Website to accept contributions for the Merritt Island Republican.

Haridopolos is inviting big Republican donors to a “private strategy meeting” in Orlando next month and asking them to bring $10,000 checks, according to an e-mail a GOP fundraiser sent out yesterday.

Haridopolos and what is expected to be a host of others have targeted U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the state’s statewide-elected Democratic holdout. Others who’ve expressed an interest in running against Nelson include former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, an attorney with the West Palm Beach-based Gunster law firm and former aide to Gov. Charlie Crist.

Republicans swept the governor’s seat and the Florida Cabinet and nailed down veto-proof majorities in the state House and Senate in the November elections.

Crist gets to work at Morgan & Morgan

Friday, January 7th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Former Gov. Charlie Crist has joined the Morgan & Morgan law firm as expected.

Crist was in talks with longtime political supporter and friend John Morgan before officially leaving office this week.

Crist also said he may take a part-time job as a visiting professor at Stetson Law School in his St. Petersburg hometown.

Crist passed the Florida Bar exam on his third attempt after receiving his law degree from Cumberland School of Law in Alabama.

It’s been 18 years since Crist punched the clock at a private job.

He was first elected to the state Senate in 1992 and has been a public servant ever since.

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