The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Frankel joins in Democratic fundraising frenzy over Obama lawsuit/impeachment talk

Fundraising email

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Fundraising email

Democrats are feasting on dollars raised amid played up concerns over a lawsuit House Republicans are pushing against President Obama and talk of impeachment - talk Republicans accuse Democrats of stoking despite only scattered calls for impeachment.

South Florida Rep. Lois Frankel is happily joining the frenzy, which the DCCC claims raked in $1 million alone on Monday. The already active fundraiser Frankel has been sending out alarming sounding emails about the lawsuit, which accuses Obama of exceeding authority on health care.

The House is scheduled to vote on that today.

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Hillary Clinton: End the Cuban embargo

Hillary Clinton, in an interview with Fusion airing tonight, repeats her call to end the Cuban embargo.

"I think it has propped up the Castro's because they can blame everything on the embargo," she told host Jorge Ramos. "You don't have freedom of speech, you don't have freedom of expression, you know, you're still having political prisoners, everything is blamed on the embargo.

"I would like to see us move toward normalizing relations eventually and therefore more Americans back and forth. That's something president Obama did and I supported the first term. We do have our own political prisoner in Cuba, Alan Gross, a man who's been, you know, thrown into prison and not being given a chance to come home to his family so I'd like to see that resolved. And I would like to see us move toward ending the embargo and trying to, by our example, by commerce, by all kinds of visits, you know, help the Cuban people have a different future"

Ramos: "Are you interested in a Nixon moment going to Cuba?" Clinton: "You know, some day I'd like to go to Cuba. I would someday, yes"

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What do Rick Scott and Justin Bieber have in common? (Hint: Not the hair)

Here's the latest from the Democratic group American Bridge:

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Plaintiffs want expert to redraw congressional map before November election

Responding to a Tallahassee court judge's skepticism that he could craft a new congressional map in time for the November elections, the voters group is now asking the court to appoint a redistricting expert to do it.

The plaintiffs, a group of voters groups led by the League of Women Voters, successfully sued the state to throw out the congressional map. But Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis said at a hearing last week that he was unsure he could order a special election or revise the map.

In an amended response brief filed Tuesday, the plaintiffs now ask Lewis to appoint a special master and have both sides submit proposals so that the state does not conduct an election using an unconstitutional map. They have not indicated if they intend to appeal Lewis' ruling if he does not agree.

Click here to download the plaintiffs' latest brief.

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Crist touts 'fairness' plan

 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist today in St. Petersburg announced what he's calling his "First Day of Fairness'' plan,  listing what he would do on his very first day in office if elected governor. In addition to longer-term issues such as Medicaid expansion -- which would require the Legislature's approval, no sure thing in Florida as Gov. Rick Scott knows well -- Crist highlighted these points in an appearance at the Enoch Davis Center:

* Faster, more affordable access to public records from agencies run by the governor's office.

* Raising the minimum wage for contractors doing business with agencies reporting to the governor's office

* Issuing an executive order requiring equal pay for women employed by companies doing business with agencies reporting to the governor's office.

* Ordering executive agencies to grant contract work to in-state "whenever possible and legal.''

* Protecting the rights of LGBT workers through an executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity within agencies reporting to the governor's office and their contractors.

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Gov. Rick Scott agrees to 3 debates, but not Times'

Gov. Rick Scott's campaign announced today that he agreed to appear in three debates against the Democratic nominee, either former Gov. Charlie Crist or Nan Rich. The debates are all within four weeks of the Nov. 4 general election:

The governor declined to participate in a planned Oct. 7 debate sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, WTSP-10 News and the University of South Florida, which would have been the first of the season. Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said three is enough.

"Three statewide debates will give voters ample opportunity to hear from Gov. Scott and his challenger,' she wrote in an email. "He will be spending the rest of his time traveling the state and meeting with voters."

By signing on to dates later in the election season, many voters many have already made up their minds by the time the two gubernatorial nominees square off.

Absentee ballots will be mailed to voters Sept. 30 through Oct. 7. The early voting window is Oct. 25 through Nov. 1.

Meanwhile, Crist continues to take heat for refusing to debate Rich before the Aug. 26 primary. He lead her in polls and says his focus is on beating Scott in November. …

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Charlie Crist, Rick Scott may be USA's least popular gov candidates in 10 years

From our friends at 538.com:

....Iin Florida, home to one of the nation’s marquee gubernatorial races, Democrat Charlie Crist and Republican incumbent Rick Scott are teetering on becoming the least-liked pair of candidates for any governor’s race in the past 10 years....

...Both Crist and Scott hold negative net favorable ratings (the percentage of people with a favorable view minus the percentage with a negative view). No other gubernatorial campaign in the country currently features such bipartisan disdain. Thirteen races for governor have had at least one live interview poll that asked about candidate images since the beginning of May. Among the candidates in those races, the average net favorable rating is just over +10 percentage points, compared to the -4 points in Florida. (I limited my search to live interview polling because it is thought that favorable ratings are systematically lower across alternative polling technologies.)

More here

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Judge throws out challenge to blind trust law used by Gov. Scott

From the Associated Press:

 A Florida judge is upholding a law that allows elected officials to place their assets in a blind trust instead of reporting each investment publicly.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper on Monday ruled that politicians can use a blind trust and still comply with a 1976 constitutional amendment that requires officials to disclose their finances. The Florida Legislature passed a law last year authorizing the use of a blind trust.

Gov. Rick Scott is the only public official who has been using a blind trust, although this year he disclosed details about his finances when he qualified for re-election.

Jim Apthorp, a former top aide to the late Gov. Reubin Askew, said in a statement he would consult with his attorneys after whether to appeal Cooper's ruling.

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Tallahassee police release new details in murder of FSU professor

Florida State University law professor Dan Markel was shot in his car, police said Monday, after releasing notes from the Tallahassee Fire Department dispatch log.

According to the notes, a caller said he heard a "loud bang" inside Markel's home on July 18, and ran over to see what had happened. The caller found Markel in his car in the garage, bleeding. The driver's side window was "bashed open," according to the report.

Markel was moving, but not speaking, the caller said. 

The police have already said Markel, 41, was shot in the head. He died in the hospital the following day.

Investigators believe Markel was targeted by his shooter. They have not named a suspect in the case, but are searching for gray or silver Toyota Prius that was spotted leaving the neighborhood.

Earlier Monday, police asked to speak with anyone who had seen Markel on July 17 or 18. Detectives were particularly interested anyone who had seen Markel or his black Honda Accord at the FSU Law School, the Congregation Shomrei Torah Home, the shops on Thomasville Road near I-10, or in the area of Tharpe Street and Mission Road in Tallahassee. …

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Sheldon's line of attack on Bondi hits the airwaves -- quietly

George Sheldon's new radio campaign for Florida Attorney General was unveiled Monday to the sound of crickets.

That's not how the ad, attacking current Attorney General Pam Bondi, was received. That's actually the sound that begins the 60-second spot: crickets.

"This is what we hear when utility companies try to cut successful conservation programs and raise our rates.  Crickets from Pam Bondi's office. Pam Bondi repeatedly looks the other way when corporations and her big contributors try to rip off Floridians. If big companies want a favor from Bondi, she takes their money then cues the crickets."

It goes on to imply that Sheldon, when he was deputy Florida attorney general under Bob Butterworth from 1999 to 2002, power companies were held accountable. How does it imply this? Sirens blare in the ad as the announcer intones: "This is the sound you heard when George Sheldon was deputy attorney general, and power companies tried to cut service and raise rates." …

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Jeff Miller helps strike VA deal

Florida Rep. Jeff Miller today announced a $17 billion legislative package aimed at fixing problems at Veterans Affairs hospitals. Now he has to sell it to fellow House members, while Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., has that job in his chamber.

From the Associated Press: …

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Florida Medical Association members back Medicaid expansion

For the first time, members of the Florida Medical Association have approved a resolution endorsing Medicaid expansion, a politically contentious issue that the group's leaders have generally avoided over the last two legislative sessions.

By unanimous voice vote at the FMA's annual conference in Orlando on Sunday, several hundred members approved a resolution written by South Florida obstetrician/gynecologist Aaron Elkin calling for FMA to publicly support expanding Medicaid eligibility as long as the program "safeguarded patient access to care while increasing Medicaid payment rates to Medicare levels for all physicians."

The resolution, which had the support of several South Florida medical societies, had been recommended by an FMA committee on Saturday.

A statement from FMA's general counsel, Jeff Scott, focused on the part of the resolution calling for higher payment rates. The voting members are known as the House of Delegates and include representatives of county medical societies and specialty societies. …

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Physician groups slam "Docs vs. Glocks'' ruling

Friday's decision by a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Florida's law against physicians asking patients about guns prompted sharply worded statements Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.

An earlier injunction blocking enforcement of the "physician gag law,'' also known as "docs vs. Glocks'' remains in effect while the full court considers an appeal by the plaintiffs to rehear the case. The pediatrician's group said Monday it is urging its members to keep asking parents whether they have guns at home, and if so whether they are stored safely.

"We strongly disagree with the 11th Circuit's decision. It is an egregious violation of the First Amendment rights of pediatricians and threatens our ability to provide our patients and their families with scientific, unbiased information," said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, president of the Florida chapter of the AAP, the Florida Pediatric Society. "This dangerous decision gives state legislatures free license to restrict physicians from asking important questions about health and safety that are vital to providing the best medical care to patients." …

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Gwen Graham highlights father's 'workdays' in new ads

Gwen Graham has two new TV ads that feature her father and his famous "workdays."

"Workdays keep you in touch with the people most affected by what you do," Bob Graham, the former governor and U.S. senator, says in one of the ads.

The spots will run in Tallahassee and Panama City markets, her campaign said, and come as she and her father and other family members begin an eight-day, 14-county trip through the 2nd Congressional District.

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Widespread support for medical marijuana in Florida, poll shows

Eighty-eight percent of Florida voters support medical marijuana, a new Quinnipiac poll finds.

From a news release:

Florida voters support legalized marijuana for medical use 88 – 10 percent, with support ranging from 83 – 14 percent among voters over 65 years old to 95 – 5 percent among voters 18 to 29 years old, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

The lowest level of support is 80 – 19 percent among Republicans, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

Sunshine State voters also support 55 – 41 percent “allowing adults in Florida to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use,” or so-called “recreational marijuana.”

There is a wide gender gap and an even wider age gap: Men back recreational marijuana 61 – 36 percent while women back it by a narrow 49 – 45 percent. Voters 18 to 29 years old are ready to roll 72 – 25, while voters over 65 years old are opposed 59 – 36 percent.

Support is 64 – 32 percent among Democrats and 55 – 40 percent among independent voters, with Republicans opposed 56 – 41 percent. …

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