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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Ethics complaint filed against Alan Grayson over his hedge funds

A watchdog group called the  Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust (FACT), has filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, over hedge funds he formed that bear his name. From the complaint:

...This is not simply a technical violation, but rather is a violation that implicates fundamental goals of the ethics rules—to ensure that Members fulfill the public trust inherent in the office by prohibiting Members from profiting by virtue of their office and being improperly influenced. 

Pursuant to the ethics rules, Members are prohibited from engaging in certain outside activities and employment.  These prohibitions are enforced in part because of the citizen perception that Members are able to “cash in” on their position of influence and the appearance of impropriety, but also because of the actual serious conflict of interest and impropriety that may arise. House Ethics Manual, at 213, 215.  Specifically, “Members are prohibited from engaging in professions that provide services involving a fiduciary relationship,” which includes financial services.... …

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Scott sidesteps questions on 2018 Senate run

Florida Gov. Rick Scott was offering no hints on Monday about whether he is considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2018. Asked about that prospect, in light of him spending almost $300,000 on political consultants since April, Scott wouldn’t bite.

“I’m continuing to work at my job as governor,” Scott said following a ceremony inducting five new members into Florida’s Veterans Hall of Fame. “I just went through an election last year and I’ve got three and a half more years as governor and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this is a place this a where you want to raise your family.”

Besides spending money on consultants, Scott, a Republican, has also been airing television ads statewide through his Let’s Get To Work fundraising committee and has tried to elevate his national profile by hosting 7 GOP presidential candidates at an economic summit he hosted in Orlando in June.

 

Scott’s current term as governor runs through 2018, when U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, would be finishing his third term in the Senate. Some high dollar donors have said Scott privately has told them he has interest in running for the seat, though he has not said so publicly.

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Pro-Marco Rubio group says it has raised $15.8M

Conservative Solutions Project, a political nonprofit backing 2016 Republican candidate Marco Rubio, said Monday it has collected $15.8 million since it was established last year.

The haul will allow the tax-exempt group to nationally air a television ad criticizing President Barack Obama's nuclear talks with Iran, the nonprofit said in a statement Monday. The spot had so far only been broadcast on more limited cable networks. The group says it has spent more than $3.3 million in ad buys.

"We're also pleased to announce that, with more than $15.8 million raised already, Conservative Solutions Project is nearly two-thirds of the way to our overall fundraising goal," nonprofit President Pat Shortridge said in the statement. "These funds will allow us to continue the fight to restore our military and our nation's role in the world, and given the recent news about the nation's stagnant economy, advocate for conservative solutions to an inefficient tax code and education reform so all Americans have a chance to pursue their dreams." …

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Rep. David Richardson officially pulls out of race for South Florida Senate seat

Fighting within the Democratic Party over a Miami seat in the state Senate seems to have subsided.

Last week, Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, officially pulled out of the race to replace Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Coconut Grove.

He had entered that election in January but said he would back out if Margolis decided to run again. Now, he says, it’s becoming clear that Margolis wants to stay in her seat.

“I’ve long said that I was not going to run against Sen. Gwen Margolis should she elect to run for reelection,” Richardson told the Times/Herald on Monday. “I believed that she probably would not run for reelection, but it has become clear to me that it’s more likely she will.”

Last week, Richardson filed paperwork with the state indicating that he won’t run for Senate until 2020.

That said, it’s a long time until November 2016. And Richardson said he will run whenever Margolis decides to step down.

If the venerable Senator — the longest-serving member of Florida’s Legislature and a former Senate president — decides to step down, Richardson plans to take the seat. …

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What Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are up to the week of July 6

Rubio has a policy speech Tuesday in Chicago, then heads to Iowa for three days. He will be in New Orleans on Friday for the National Right to Life convention then goes to Las Vegas.

Bush will be in Hudson, N.H, on Wednesday for a town hall at a VFW.

Previous week here.

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Marco Rubio on NYT Cuba story: 'Nice try'

Sen. Marco Rubio is unhappy with another New York Times story.

A month after stories from the newspaper about the senator's driving indiscretions and financial background drew Rubio's online ire, Rubio voiced his displeasure with the Times again Monday, this time over a story about his lack of popularity in Cuba.

"NYT follows up traffic tix & 'luxury speedboat' stories with expose of Castro regime's propaganda on me. #nicetry," the Cuban-American Rubio tweeted.

The Times story, titled "Marco Rubio Is Hardly a Hero in Cuba. He Likes That," details the Cuban people's unhappiness with Rubio's staunch stance against reopening trade with Cuba. The communist-controlled island country has been the subject of an economically-damaging American trade embargo for half a century.

In the story, Rubio claims the Cuban people dislike him because they only consume state-sponsored news outlets. 

"For the record, I'm proud that the Castro regime feels threatened by us," he added on Twitter. "They fear freedom and democracy."

Read the New York Times story here

 

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State sends election fraud complaint to Jacksonville prosecutor

After a three-month review, Gov. Rick Scott's administration has referred an allegation of voter fraud to Jacksonville-area State Attorney Angela Corey for possible criminal prosecution. The complaint alleges that a Jacksonville man, Zakee Fur'qan, voted after his civil rights had been revoked because of a past felony conviction.

Fur'qan, according to the complaint, changed his name from Leon Edward Nelson, who was convicted of second-degree murder in Duval County in 1991 and changed his name nine years later. FloridaPolitics.com and the Florida Times-Union reported in April on the name change and that former Mayor Alvin Brown removed Fur'qan's name from a list of campaign supporters after learning about his past identity. Florida's voter registration form asks every applicant to swear that "I am not a convicted felon, or if I am, my right to vote has been restored."

"I'm pleased that the evidence points to taking it to the next level," said the complainant, Mark Glaeser, a self-appointed civic watchdog. …

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Governor Scott touts legislation to help build new MLB spring training complex

Florida Gov. Rick Scott starts his day with a little baseball celebration.

The Republican Governor will hold a ceremonial bill signing for legislation this morning that allows a land swap between Palm Beach County and the city of West Palm Beach to remove a final hurdle for the construction of a $135 million stadium that will be home to two major league baseball teams’ spring training teams.

The Washington Nationals and Houston Astros would co-operate the stadium that is scheduled to open in 2017.

The deal assures the Astros and Nationals will remain among the 15 spring training teams in Florida for the next 30 years. A year ago, the Astros were considered a potential threat to move to Arizona. They are the only team in either the American League West or National League West that continues spring training in Florida rather than Arizona.  …

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Donald Trump: Jeb will never be able to secure borders, negotiate deals well, care for vets

Jeb Bush denouncing Donald Trump's comments about illegal immigrants from Mexico, per the NY Times: “To make these extraordinarily ugly kind of comments is not reflective of the Republican Party....“He’s doing this — he’s not a stupid guy, so I don’t assume he thinks that every Mexican crossing the border is a rapist. He’s doing this to inflame and incite and to draw attention, which seems to be the organizing principle of his campaign,” Mr. Bush said.

Trump's response in a statement:

    I am very proud to be fighting for a strong and secure border. This is a very important issue, which all the other candidates would have ignored had I not started this important discussion. I will fix the border — no one else knows where to begin.

    Today, Jeb Bush once again proves that he is out of touch with the American people. Just like the simple question asked of Jeb on Iraq, where it took him five days and multiple answers to get it right, he doesn’t understand anything about the border or border security. In fact, Jeb believes illegal immigrants who break our laws when they cross our border come “out of love.” …

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Winner and loser of the week in Fla politics

A leader in the polls

AP

A leader in the polls

Winner of the week

Donald Trump an honorary Floridian because he spends so much time here — is now either leading the GOP field nationally or narrowly trailing Jeb Bush in second place nationally and in Iowa and New Hampshire. What a country!

Loser of the week

Donald Trump Calling Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers will cost The Donald millions of dollars from businesses eager to distance themselves, from Macy's to Serta. (Who are these people who bought Trump mattresses?!)

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Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio hit July 4 parades in New Hampshire

Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are working today, of course, each doing parades in New Hampshire.

Rubio walked with supporters in the Wolfeboro parade. Bush mingleg with crowds at the Amherst and Merrimack parades. Here are some of the images they shared on Twitter:

Enjoying a wonderful day in New Hampshire. I hope you're having a great 4th! pic.twitter.com/wY82AWrdaS

#July4th Parade in Amherst, NH pic.twitter.com/DO4hl1QD5A

Not even a broken leg stopped her from coming to the #July4th Parade in Amherst, NH! pic.twitter.com/2ml7DttXgb

 

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John Romano column: Gay couples at home in The Villages

Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano with an unexpected story from the Republican stronghold in central Florida. An excerpt of the column:

The community has a soundtrack, and it is Fox News. Take a walk through one of the bustling town squares, and you can hear it descending from the speakers — or is it the heavens? — somewhere above.

This is the place Republican presidential candidates come to boost campaigns. The place conservative authors are rock stars, and Gov. Rick Scott comes to feel the love.

It is also the place where hundreds of lesbians have taken over a country club's breezeway and are dancing the night away to Pink songs.

Welcome to the Villages of diversity?

"You can tell just about anyone around here that you're gay, and you won't have a problem,'' said Villages resident Linda Bernat. "Just don't tell them you're a Democrat.''

Call it inexplicable, or call it encouraging, the folks of the Rainbow Family & Friends club call it home.

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Eyeing Senate bid, Lopez-Cantera faces decision: Stay or go?

After 18 months in Gov. Rick Scott's shadow, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera faces his first big decision -- and it might also be his last.

Should he stay as Scott's No. 2 or make a declaration of independence and go? The story is here.

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Florida Democrats plot a path to relevance

The rallying cry was familiar at Democrat Eric Lynn's congressional campaign kickoff last month in St. Petersburg. Florida Democrats don't win elections with their wallets, said Pinellas party chair Susan McGrath. "We win elections on the ground."

When Democrats have succeeded in Florida, they have relied on grassroots organizing. It was a cornerstone of the twice-successful Barack Obama election machine, and party officials see it as the best way to counter deep-pocketed Republican opponents.

But grassroots organizers need a cause to champion and a solid candidate to back. And for most of the past two decades, the Democrats have had neither, the losing campaign trail littered with unfocused messages and uninspiring candidates.

In November 2014, despite holding a voter registration advantage of 400,000 over Republicans, Democrats sank to new lows. They lost six seats in the Florida House and failed to unseat Republican incumbent Rick Scott, one of the nation's most unpopular governors.

In June, state Democrats released a task force report to try to account for the shellacking, doubling down on the importance of grassroots efforts. …

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Rubios and Christies join the Romneys for a slumber party in N.H.

Jeanette Rubio and her husband, Sen. Marco Rubio, are expected to be in Wolfeboro, N.H., over the holiday weekend.

Getty Images

Jeanette Rubio and her husband, Sen. Marco Rubio, are expected to be in Wolfeboro, N.H., over the holiday weekend.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and his wife, Jeanette, will join New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Christie's wife, Mary Pat, tonight at the Romney estate on New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee, the Washington Post reports. 

The two couples will be overnight guests of Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at his 11-acre estate in Wolfeboro, N.H., the Post said. 

The newspaper quoted an unnamed Romney aide as saying the former GOP presidential candidate heard the Rubios and the Christies would be in Wolfeboro for the holiday weekend, so he invited them to spend the evening with him and his wife, Ann. 

 

IN WOLFEBORO - Jeanette + @marcorubio w/ gracious weekend host @MittRomney, and @AnnDRomney close by. #nhpolitics pic.twitter.com/9RznkOBjNA

The Post also said, "The Christies and Rubios will also be marching  in Wolfeboro's celebrated Fourth of July parade. One of the state's more colorful parades, Wolfeboro's includes such quirks as a lawn chair brigade. The Romneys are known to be annual presences along the parade route.''

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