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Loranne Ausley’

Ausley debuts new ad

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 by John Lantigua

Democratic candidate for chief financial officer Loranne Ausley introduced a new television ad Tuesday that rips her opponent, Republican Jeff Atwater, for what it calls “pay to play contracts” issued under his watch as Senate president.

The ad depicts an actor playing Atwater in the office of the Senate president welcoming a series of visitors who each hand him an envelope and shake hands enthusiastically. A voice over enumerates instances of what the Ausley campaign considers questionable spending decisions in which Atwater participated.

Those instances include $48 million spent on a new 1st District Court of Appeals courthouse in Tallahassee, which has been attacked for its luxurious details and is derisively called “the Taj Mahal.”

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CFO debate debacle

Friday, October 8th, 2010 by Dara Kam

There either will or won’t be a debate between chief financial officer candidates Jeff Atwater and his Democrat opponent Loranne Ausley.

Ausley, a former state representative from Tallahassee, has made much of Atwater, the outgoing Senate president, avoiding a debate in the statewide race.

She held a press conference in Tallahassee this morning Florida demanding that Atwater agree to a debate before the Nov. 2 election.

“I’m running to clean up the mess in Tallahassee, not to hide from problems, duck debates, and refuse to be held accountable,” she said.

Hold on, Atwater’s campaign insists. The North Palm Beach banker’s campaign spokesman Brian Hughes said they had agreed to an Oct. 21 debate at Univision but Ausley backed out.

“As for the issue of a debate, the facts are as I laid them out to you. She needs to tell you guys why she said no the the 21st. We accepted one date Oct 21) that they’ve said no to because of schedule. (Univision) They accepted one that we couldn’t do because of schedule (Leadership FL/UofF). Now, they’ve accepted an alternate date at Univision and we’re seeing if it will work,” Hughes said in an e-mail.

The upshot is that the duo may take part in a verbal duel on Oct. 28 sponsored by Univision.

Atwater airs first ad in CFO race

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Senate President Jeff Atwater, the GOP chief financial officer candidate, released his first statewide television ad less than a month before the Nov. 2 election.

Atwater, in a polo shirt, stands before a chalkboard in the “Chalk Talk” ad, instructing viewers about how he supports lower taxes, smaller government and less red tape to help grow Florida’s economy.

Atwater’s positive ad makes no mention of his opponent, former state Rep. Loranne Ausley. The Tallahassee Democrat has attacked the North Palm Beach banker for his role in the legislature’s spending on a $110 million private prison that cost at least 70 prison workers their jobs and a $38 million luxury appeals court. And she hammered him for not hiring an auditing firm to scrutinize lobbyist expenditure and compensation reports.

Atwater hit back with a reminder that Ausley sponsored a bill that would have watered-down the gift ban that prohibits lawmakers from accepting gifts from lobbyists. Her bill would have allowed lawmakers to wine and dine at official functions as long as the value of the food or drinks was less than $20.

UPDATE: Atwater punches back in CFO wars

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: It took just minutes for Loranne Ausley’s campaign to respond to opponent Jeff Atwater’s latest lob.

“It’s nice to welcome Jeff Atwater to the campaign, if only to defend his refusal to follow the law and audit lobbyists. Now if only he had a platform, or a defense of his $2 billion in tax hikes, or his vote for the $48 million Taj Mahal, or the $110 million private prison to nowhere, or his RPOF AmEx card. I’m sure this will all be explained in detail at the debate that he refuses to have with the real fiscal watchdog in the campaign, Loranne Ausley,” Ausley’s campaign spokesman Kevin Cate wrote in an e-mail.

After weeks of getting hammered by Democrat Loranne Ausley, Senate President Jeff Atwater has gone on the offensive in the chief financial officer battle.

Atwater’s campaign issued a press release reminding voters that his opponent Ausley sponsored a measure two years ago that would have weakened (slightly) the state’s lobbying ban prohibiting lawmakers from accepting gifts from lobbyists.

Ausley, a former state representative from Tallahassee, sponsored a bill that would have allowed lawmakers to take food or drinks worth $20 or less at government-related functions and some other affairs.

“Whether a demonstration of unrivaled hypocrisy or a severe case of amnesia, Loranne Ausley’s record is clear: she wants free lunch and she wants big-money lobbyists to pick up the check,” Atwater’s campaign spokesman Brian Hughes said in an e-mail.

Ausley’s latest shot at Atwater blamed him for failing to hire a firm to audit the lobbyist reports as state law requires.

She’s gone after Atwater for a variety of big-ticket spending items during his tenure as senate president, including a controversial appeals court, dubbed the “Taj Mahal,” that is now the subject of a grand jury investigation.

CFO candidate Ausley slams opponent Atwater for failure to audit lobbyists

Monday, September 27th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The Senate President is a powerful man, but who knew he had control over items as far-reaching as lobbyists’ earnings and courthouse buildings?

Former state Rep. Loranne Ausley, apparently.

In her continuing strategy to defeat outgoing Senate President Jeff Atwater, Ausley, a Democrat, has accused him of failing to rein in spending on a controversial appeal court nicknamed the “Taj Mahal” nearing completion in Tallahassee and a private prison that cost dozens of corrections workers their jobs.

In her latest attack, Ausley bashes Atwater for failing to audit lobbyists’ compensation reports, something that lawmakers have been required to do for years but have failed to follow through on.

The lobbyist gift ban law, passed in 2005, 2005 law, requires lobbyists to file quarterly reports telling how much they earn.
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GOP candidates’ refusal to participate leads to cancelation of Cabinet debates

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 by Dara Kam

With two of the three GOP Florida Cabinet candidates refusing to participate in a debate next month, organizers had no choice but to cancel the event.

Attorney general candidate Pam Bondi and Senate President Jeff Atwater, the Republican nominee for chief financial officer, would not agree to debate their Democratic opponents, Florida Press Association president Dean Ridings said today. The press association and Leadership Florida had planned to host the Oct. 5 event at the University of Florida.

GOP agriculture commissioner candidate Adam Putnam was the only Republican who signed up for the debate, Ridings said.

“Pam Bondi and Jeff Atwater would not confirm. We are pretty much at the deadline. And every indication was that they would not participate,” Ridings said. “It didn’t make sense just to do the one” debate, Ridings said.

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In CFO race, Dem Ausley hits Atwater over teacher merit pay bill

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 by George Bennett

UPDATED with Atwater campaign response. In the web video above and on the campaign trail, Democratic chief financial officer candidate Loranne Ausley is blasting her GOP rival, state Senate President Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach, over his support for a teacher merit-pay bill that was approved by the legislature this year but vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist.

Get used to seeing Ausley in Palm Beach County over the next two months. Although the area is Atwater’s back yard, it’s also a Democratic stronghold that Ausley believes is key to winning the statewide race.

Read the Atwater campaign’s response after the jump….

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Monday, August 16th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Former Rep. Loranne Ausley, isn’t waiting until the primaries are over to bash her GOP opponent – Senate prison-to-nowherePresident Jeff Atwater – in the race for state CFO.

Ausley’s blasting Atwater’s voting record on spending issues in an attempt to paint the North Palm Beach banker as a Tallahassee insider (Ausley spent eight years in the Florida House and whose family has ties to the late Gov. Lawton Chiles) out of touch with Floridians.

Ausley’s latest attack slammed Atwater for a program that did away with 71 prison work squad jobs and created a controversial new private prison in the Panhandle.

Ausley dubbed the Blackwater River Correctional Institution, run by Boca Raton-based Geo Group, the “Prison to Nowhere” that cost taxpayers $110 million during this year’s budget-slashing session. According to the Florida Department of Corrections, which fiercely opposed opening the prison this early, the prison work squads saved taxpayers $35.7 million.

“Senate President Jeff Atwater’s ‘prison to nowhere’ is yet another product of the broken system in Tallahassee, and once again Florida taxpayers are stuck with the bill,” said Ausley. “Floridians are fed up with politicians who play by their own rules with our money. Whether it’s the ‘Tallahassee Taj Mahal,’ the ‘Prison to Nowhere’ or an airport hanger for a political contributor, politicians in Tallahassee need to be held accountable.”

Ausley last week slammed Atwater for supporting a new District Court of Appeals courthouse building in Tallahassee, which she called the ‘Taj Mahal.’

Jeb! backs Atwater

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Former Gov. Jeb Bush is supporting Senate President Jeff Atwater in his statewide run for chief financial officer, even though Atwater has a Republican opponent in the primary.

Atwater’s campaign released the announcement Wednesday, along with a link to a YouTube video in which Bush, still influential in GOP politics in Florida, says of Atwater, “It’s his life experience of being a committed family person, of being a successful businessman and also having served in positions of increasing responsibility in the Florida Legislature that have made Jeff uniquely qualified to handle this job.”

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UPDATE: Democrat Butterworth endorses Republican Atwater for CFO…in the primary

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Bob Butterworth, a Florida Democratic icon who served as attorney general, is backing Senate President Jeff Atwater’s statewide campaign for chief financial officer.

Atwater’s campaign sent out a press release about Butterworth and other Democratic supporters today, the same day Democrat Loranne Ausley, a former state representative, announced her candidacy.

Butterworth said there may have been some confusion about his endorsement of Atwater. When he wrote a $500 check to the campaign three months ago, Butterworth said, there wasn’t a Democrat in the race and he didn’t specify that it was for the primary.

“I probably should have been clearer with the aide. I don’t blame the campaign,” Butterworth said.

Back in 2002, Atwater, a relative unknown at the time, trounced Butterworth, then on the Cabinet as attorney general, in the election for Senate District 25.

Atwater, a North Palm Beach Republican, also nailed down endorsements from three other Democrats today – James Harold Thompson, Lee Moffitt and Hyatt Brown, all former House Speakers. Moffitt and Thompson are now lobbyists.

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, also a Democrat, is also supporting Atwater.

Butterworth’s latest endeavor places him as the fix-it man for Florida Power & Light Co. The Juno Beach-based utility hired Butterworth to try to repair its image in the wake of reports that company executives, their wives and guests flew on the customer dime on corporate jets. The revelations about the flights and other corporate spending came out as FPL seeks a $1.2 billion rate hike that will be decided on tomorrow.

Atwater’s campaign issued a press release about the Democratic supporters the same day former state Rep. Loranne Ausley, a Tallahassee Democrat, announced she is jumping in the race.

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