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Will GOP leaders shun Crist at sine die?

Thursday, April 29th, 2010 by Dara Kam

It’s a tradition for most governors – including Charlie Crist – to join lawmakers on the fourth floor rotunda after the ceremonial sine die hankie drop marking the end of the legislative session.

But some important GOP leaders might be missing this year, if newly-non-party U.S. Senate candidate Crist drops by.

“I will not be seen anywhere in public with the governor. I will not be participating in anything with the governor,” said House budget chief David Rivera, a Marco Rubio supporter and Miami Congressional candidate.

“I don’t think there’s any real serious discussion” of Republican House leaders boycotting the sine die ceremonies, House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala said.

“He is still the duly-elected governor of the state. He just happens to be a candidate with no party affiliation running for the U.S. Senate. We still have to respect that and if the presiding officers decide that we want to go out there and do the sine die, I’ll be there,” Cretul said.

House budget chief and Rubio pal Rivera: Crist a ‘Benedict Arnold’

Thursday, April 29th, 2010 by Dara Kam

House budget chief David Rivera, who’s also a close pal of former House Speaker Marco Rubio, blasted Gov. Charlie Crist for abandoning the Republican Party and avoiding a GOP U.S. Senate primary against Rubio in favor of running as an independent.

“In the annals of political history in America, the biggest betrayal since bendict Arnold,” Rivera, R-Miami, said this morning, hours before Crist’s anticipated announcement that he will run with no party affiliation. It “just adds to the disillusionment that many voters find in the political process,” he said.

Rivera, who is running for Congress, said that “an overwhelming defeat and an overwhelming victory for Marco Rubio” is the way for state Republicans to heal.

“That’s the best message we can send that politicians need to keep their word. And the ones that don’t need to be rejected in overwhelming fashion,” he said.

Demand for balanced federal budget – demagoguery or good for democracy?

Thursday, April 15th, 2010 by Dara Kam

A proposed statewide referendum that wouldn’t really do anything to balance any budget but would send a statement to Congress generated a lot of heat in the House Rules committee this morning.

“Basically House memorials are meaningless. They’re like toilet paper,” House Democratic leader Ron Saunders said of the proposal.

The “nonbinding statewide advisory referendum,” pushed by GOP leaders including Senate President Jeff Atwater and already passed by the Senate, would ask voters the following question:

In order to stop the uncontrolled growth of our national debt and prevent excessive borrowing by the Federal Government, which threatens jobs, robs America and our children of their opportunity for success, and threatens our national security, should the United States Constitution be amended to require a balanced federal budget without raising taxes?

“This sends a message today that federal spending is out of control and we need to have a balance,” House budget chief David Rivera, R-Miami, told the Rules Committee this morning.

But Saunders and other Dems objected to the strongly-worded proposal as election-year “propaganda,” “incendiary” and “hypocritical” because lawmakers raised millions of dollars in drivers “fees” and cigarette taxes to balance the budget last year.

“The language here is unnecessary and just an opportunity to demagogue,” said Saunders, D-Key West, who offered an amendment changing the language to “Should the U.S. Constitution be amended to require a balanced federal budget?”

His amendment failed, and the referendum passed along partisan lines.

House budget chief trying to stake out “most conservative” in Congressional race

Monday, March 8th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Like many GOP candidates across the nation, including his pal former House Speaker Marco Rubio, House budget chief David Rivera is working the conservative angle in his Congressional run to replace U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

Rivera was in Palm Beach County on Friday at a Club For Growth meeting at The Breakers.

He met with U.S. Rep. Tom Price, Chairman of the “Republican Study Committee,” the self-proclaimed “Caucus of House Conservatives.” Rivera said Price, a Georgia doctor who’s in charge of recruiting Congressional candidates in the South, promised to give his campaign a hand and gave him tips on how to woo other conservatives.

Rivera’s expected opponent, Senate Republican Leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla, hasn’t officially entered the race yet. Diaz-Balart is jumping from his district to his brother Lincoln’s, a safer GOP seat. U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart isn’t seeking re-election this year.

“We discussed several policy issues, including health care reform as well as the overall political landscape and outlook for Republicans in the upcoming election,” Rivera, R-Miami, said.

Rivera in race for Congress, DLP wait-and-see

Thursday, February 25th, 2010 by Dara Kam

House budget chief David Rivera is abandoning his state Senate run and jumping into the race for Congress to replace U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who’s switching seats.

Rivera, a Miami Republican close to former House Speaker Marco Rubio, made the announcement this morning.

Senate Majority Leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla is expected to get into the race but took an uncharacteristically subtle approach to Rivera’s decision with the following statement, entitled “First Things First.”

With the beginning of the 2010 legislative session just days away and unemployment in the double-digits and a $3 billion budget gap to close, DLP says he’s going to focus on the issues at hand.

The Majority Leader’s primary job is to ensure that Republicans have the votes they need to pass leaders’ priority bills.

“As Senate Majority Leader, these issues weigh heavily on my shoulders each and every day because I know how they impact families and small businesses across our state. It would be unfair to Floridians for me to take my focus off finding real solutions to the problems we are facing and instead turn my attention to my next campaign or career opportunity. As I continue the process of deciding whether to seek higher office, I will not make my decision based on the artificial pressures of time or the actions of others. Instead, I am humbled by the grassroots supports and will continue to receive input from my friends, family and supporters and I will announce my decision when the time is right,” Diaz de la Portilla wrote.

Both of the GOP Cuban-American lawmakers from Miami are term-limited out of office this year.

House panel to Crist budget chief: Get real. Soon.

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 by Dara Kam

A bipartisan House panel rejected Gov. Charlie Crist’s budget proposals, telling his budget chief the governor’s plan was as sketchy as building a household budget on winning the Lottery.

“There’s nothing here that I can use,” House health care budget chief Denise Grimsley, R-Lake Placid, told Jerry McDaniel, Crist’s budget guru.

Democrats and Republicans alike peppered McDaniel about the assumptions built into Crist’s $69.2 billion budget, including $1.1 billion in Medicaid funding that Congress has not yet approved, $443 million for education spending in a gambling compact that the legislature last year rejected, $300 million in local property taxes that 24 counties have not yet levied, and the absence of $350 million to comply with constitutional class size requirements based on a measure that has not even gone on the ballot yet.

“The validity of any decision-making process is always based on the assumptions you make,” said Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, chairman of the House transportation committee.

Crist’s assumptions are too iffy, Glorioso said.

“I can’t live with that. If I was doing this budget for myself with these assumptions I would be making a vast mistake. We need a better product soon. What if these things don’t come in? You always plan on a worst scenario…It’s always easier to add back into a budget than it is to come back six months out and do another cut. I’d like to see another proposal without all these basic assumptions in here,” he said.

McDaniel said the governor might offer a revised budget a week or two before the end of session if there was no chance a compact was going to pass. But that didn’t placate House budget chief David Rivera.

“I will tell you that as far as this committee is concerned, we need a budget. We have to work on a budget. I’m disappointed that we can’t start on that budget process together because our assumptions are so far apart,” Rivera, R-Miami, told McDaniel. “I hope that we will have other recommendations before the end of session thinking that it’s always better late than never. But this committee in the House of Representatives doesn’t have the luxury of waiting.”

ACORN workers busted for fraud

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 by Dara Kam

At least five ACORN workers are behind bars and law enforcement officials are seeking six others for forging signatures on voter registration applications last year.

The workers were turned in by ACORN, Association of Community Organizations for Refom Now, supervisors in June 2008.

The arrests today in Miami-Dade County include a mother, her son and her daughter, according to Ed Griffith, spokesman for Miami-Dade State Attorney Katharine Fernandez Rundle.

The FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Rundle’s office scoured hundreds of suspicious voter registration applications provided by ACORN. The accused apparently created fake voters who did not exist, signed the forms and handed them in.

Conservatives have attacked ACORN, which targets low-income and minority populations in voter registration drives, publicly and in court for violating elections laws.

“Today’s actions vindicate our quality control systems and show that we took the preservation of the integrity of the voting process with the utmost seriousness,” said ACORN Florida spokesman Brian Kettenring.

“In addition, it also shows that ACORN has consistently been telling the truth about our voter registration work and it challenges the conservative lies that have been spread for years now about our good work,” he said.

The arrests served to confirm some conservatives beliefs about the organization, however.

“Today’s arrests of ACORN Field workers for voter registration fraud in nearly 900 applications further demonstrates how these community organizations with ties to the Democratic Party are corrupting the political process in Miami-Dade County while advocating for President Obama’s radical policies,” state Rep. David Rivera, who also chairs the Miami-Dade County GOP, said in a press release.

Bush Pioneer hosts DC fundraiser for Rivera state senate campaign

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 by Dara Kam

riveraK Street powerhouse Juan Carlos Benitez is hosting a fundraiser for state Rep. David Rivera’s state senate campaign at the D.C. lobbyist’s home Friday evening.

Benitez was one of President George W. Bush’s “pioneers,” fundraisers who raked in at least $100,000 for Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign.

Rivera, a Miami Republican who’s facing off in a GOP primary against fellow Miami Rep. Anitere Flores, has raised nearly $400,000 in campaign cash already, not including soft money or money in other campaign-related accounts.

Flores has less than half that amount, with about $170,000 so far.

The two are vying to replace Sen. Alex Villalobos, term-limited out of his Senate District 38 seat next year.

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