The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The ABCs of RPOF's new Spanish-language Scott ad

The Republican Party of Florida's newest ad is straight out of public-opinion polling heaven, featuring Spanish-speaking female teachers who laud Gov. Rick Scott's education record and the teacher raises he secured.

“Florida students are better off due to Scott,” says one of the women in the ad, identified only as a teacher named “Betty.”

The GOP announced the $300,000 ad buy, which includes online and TV spots, just days after Crist tapped the Spanish-speaking head of Miami-Dade’s Democratic Party, Annette Taddeo. 

Though polls indicate Scott is competitive with Crist in courting the Hispanic vote, the Democrat bests him in support from women, who comprise a bigger segment of the likely-voter electorate.

 Scott's lieutenant governor and running mate, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, is also Hispanic and hails from Miami-Dade. And the governor invested early in Spanish-language ads, running about $1 million worth, mostly in Miami’s media market. RPOF has announced three Spanish-language and two English-language ads and has spent at least $1 million.

Gender and ethnicity aside, both campaigns are focusing heavily on education. …

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$1-mil in matching money coming to Charlie Crist

Democrat Charlie Crist says he can't raise nearly as much money as Republican Gov. Rick Scott, but he can close the gap thanks to a big subsidy from Florida taxpayers.

Crist soon will get his first infusion of millions in campaign cash under the state's public campaign financing program, created to help low-budget candidates counter big-money opponents as long as they abide by a self-imposed spending cap of about $25 million.

Candidates for governor and three Cabinet offices who agree to limit spending by their own campaigns are eligible for matching money. The state matches contributions of $250 or less from Florida residents, and Crist has far more small donors than Scott.

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Dem video: Even under oath Rick Scott dodges questions

This new web ad from the Florida Democratic party might inflict real damage on Rick Scott's re-election campaign if the party had enough money to air it on actual TV.

From the Democrats: "Scott’s failure to answer questions is shameful and disrespectful to voters trying to understand where their governor stands on the issues facing Florida. This is exactly why Floridians have never trusted Rick Scott, and why they will fire him in November.

"We’re launching a new web ad today, featuring footage of Rick Scott’s infamous 1995 deposition. The ad is backed by paid digital advertising, including on Facebook and YouTube."

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Court ruling on Obamacare could lead to higher premiums for Floridians

By Times Staff Writer Jodie Tillman

An estimated 931,000 Floridians could lose $4.8 billion in subsidies to buy health insurance after a federal appeals court Tuesday struck down a major part of the 2010 health care law.The ruling is not final and could end up at the U.S. Supreme Court. But if upheld, the decision could mean premium increases for more than half of the 8 million Americans who purchased taxpayer-subsidized insurance under the law.

It affects consumers who purchased their coverage through the federal insurance marketplace — or exchange— that serves 36 states, including Florida. These are states whose leaders refused to set up their own health insurance exchanges, as envisioned in the Affordable Care Act.

Without subsidies, Floridians in the federal exchange would see their premiums rise by an average 80 to 95 percent, according to a new report from consulting firm Avalere Health. …

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Marco Rubio calls Hillary Clinton 'a 20th century candidate'

Marco Rubio, 43, found a way to call Hillary Clinton, 66, old without calling her old.

"I just think she's a 20th century candidate," Rubio said in an NPR interview that aired this morning. "I think she does not offer an agenda for moving America forward in the 21st century, at least not up till now."

Rubio has talked a lot about a 21st century agenda, so the anti-Clinton line isn’t a direct knock at her age rather that she’s from another era. (Clinton has said she’ll form a specific agenda if she decides to run for president).

In a way, the Florida Republican is looking forward by studying the past: His message is increasingly geared to the middle class and struggling Americans. The GOP understands it needs to talk more to those people.

Rubio also discussed immigration during the interview. He has said the thousands of children showing up at the border should be mostly returned home and called on other countries to do their part. "This nation — no nation — is capable of sustaining or absorbing mass migrations,” he said.

He said of his involvement in the immigration debate: “I never did it for politics. I don't see a political upside, in the immediate term, for sure." …

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Scott fundraiser instant comedy classic on HBO's John Oliver

Gov. Rick Scott tempted the comedy gods with his latest choice of fundraisers.

And, as Sunday night’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” proved, the comedy gods show no mercy.

Not with the material Scott gave them Monday night.


Scott attended a $10,000 per person fundraiser at the home of George Zoley, the president of Geo Group of Boca Raton. Geo is the the second-largest private prison company in the U.S. with $1.5 billion in annual revenue.

Geo has been the subject of much unflattering attention lately. There was the Mother Jones story on Friday detailing all sorts of problems at Geo facilities, like the hunger strike at the immigration detention center in Broward County that was protesting overcrowding and high costs, and the students and faculty at Florida Atlantic University who successfully protested against the stadium getting named after the GEO Group.

Zoley, who was netting between $22 million from the GEO Group between 2008 and 2012, has become a big supporter of Scott’s. Let’s Get to Work, Scott’s reelection campaign, has accepted $415,000 from Geo Group and its affiliate, Geo Care. …

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U.S. Rep. Jolly: It's "fully appropriate" for states to recognize gay marriage

U.S. Rep. David Jolly has said it's "fully appropriate" for state's to recognize same-sex marriages as well as traditional marriages.

"As a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage,"  Jolly said on Monday to the Washington Post. "But as a matter of Constitutional principle I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state. Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage, and therefore I support the recent decision by a Monroe County Circuit Judge.” 

He was alluding to a judge's decision last week to overturn Florida's ban on gay marriages. The decision is now on appeal.

Jolly, a Republican from Indian Shores elected in a special election last March, did comment on the issue of gay marriage during the campaign last year.

In a Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 televised debate, he was asked about the issue and said flatly, "I believe God saw Adam was lonely and he made Eve."  …

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Governor's race election complaints thrown out

From our friends at the Associated Press:

Election year complaints contending that Charlie Crist and former Gov. Rick Scott broke campaign finance laws are getting thrown out. 

Public records at the Florida Elections Commission show that the commission rejected two complaints filed this spring by Republican Party of Florida executive director Justin Johnson. Both were deemed legally insufficient by commission officials. 

The complaints centered on billboards and television ads paid by the Morgan & Morgan law firm that included Crist. The former governor is running as a Democrat. 

Complaints filed by Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Allison Tant against Scott and his political committee Let's Get to Work were also thrown out. Records on that one, however, show that lawyers for both the party and Scott argued over whether there was grounds to reject it. 

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The FPL-Rick Scott investment connection

From Dan Christensen of the Broward Bulldog:

Upon his election in 2010, Gov. Rick Scott’s transition team included a Florida Power & Light executive who pitched his company’s plan to build a major natural gas pipeline in North Florida to fuel a new generation of gas-fired power plants in places like Port Everglades.

“The proposed project will need state regulatory and governmental agencies to understand and support this project,” said the proposal submitted by FPL vice president Sam Forrest.

Gov. Scott understood. In May and June 2013, he signed into law two bills designed to speed up permitting for what came to be known as the Sabal Trail Transmission — a controversial, 474-mile natural gas pipeline that’s to run from Alabama and Georgia to a hub in Central Florida, south of Orlando.

Five months later, the Florida Public Service Commission, whose five members were appointed by Gov. Scott, unanimously approved construction of Sabal Trail as the state’s third major natural gas pipeline. More approvals are needed from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which the governor oversees. …

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Americans for Prosperity a growing force in Florida

As part of a look at the $200 million in outside money that has flooded Florida elections since 2010, we caught up with Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-backed group that has emerged as one of the biggest players.

Americans for Prosperity stands apart from many outside spending groups that simply unleash TV, radio and online ads.

The conservative organization has built a political machine in Florida, with 10 field offices, more than 40 paid employees and hundreds of volunteers who do regular phone banking and monthly door-to-door canvassing on a wide array of issues.

The operational budget this year is $6 million, a significant increase over the $4.2 million spent from 2010-13. And that does not include millions in TV ads the group has done in Florida.

The precise figure is not clear because the group's spending on "issue" ads does not have to be reported to the Federal Election Commission. AFP is organized as a nonprofit and does not disclose its donors, though billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch are the founders and a major funding source. …

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Gov. Rick Scott makes new jobs promises at campaign event

Another week, another policy tour for Gov. Rick Scott with a focus on ... you guessed it ... jobs.

Scott’s campaign brought his “Jobs for the Next Generation” tour to Pompano Beach this morning at Hoerbiger Corp., which manufactures parts for compressors. The company is headquartered in Switzerland and employs about 350 people at the Pompano Beach site.

Scott chatted up workers as he toured the facility (without the safety goggles that reporters and other visitors had to wear) and then gave a short speech in which he talked up the growth in manufacturing jobs.

Scott also used the event to bash his expected opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, for jobs lost during his tenure. Scott didn’t name Crist, but said that FLorida “lost 832,000 jobs in four years” before he became governor while under his watch the state has added “over 620,000 jobs.”

Both statements ignore this context: Crist governed during a national recession while Scott led during a national recovery.

This particular jobs plan focused on manufacturing and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) jobs and included the following promises should he win a second four-year term: …

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Kathy Castor rallies for bill overriding court's contraception ruling

TAMPA -- U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor joined about a dozen women's rights advocates Monday in downtown Tampa to rally support for a bill overriding the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last month allowing some companies to opt out of providing insurance for contraception on the basis of religious freedom.

Dressed in bright pink T-shirts and carrying signs that read, "I'm the boss of my body," members of Planned Parenthood of Southwest & Central Florida lined up behind Castor as she spoke in favor of legislation she co-sponsored that's dubbed "Not My Boss's Business Act."

The bill would "return the legal guarantee to women and allow them to control their own lives," said Castor, D-Tampa, at the rally in Lykes Gaslight Square Park.

Senate Republicans have blocked the bill from being taken up.

Becky Killick, regional field director for Planned Parenthood in the area, told supporters to reach out to their Congressional representatives and encourage them to back the bill if it's reintroduced. "I can't believe in 2014 we're still fighting for something as basic as birth control," Killick said.

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CFO Jeff Atwater blasts N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo as 'huckster' over ad campaign

Florida's top finance official, CFO Jeff Atwater, is accusing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of running a deceptive TV ad campaign designed to lure businesses to the Empire State.

“We know a huckster when we see one,” Atwater, who dashed off a letter about his concerns, told the New York Post about the Cuomo Administration's $113 million TV and radio "START-UP NY" ads in Florida and other states that promote New York's business climate and tourism.

In his letter, Atwater says the ads contain "glaring errors and misstatements" about New York as a place to work. And Atwater needles the number of New Yorkers who have moved to low-tax Florida, a job-creation leader.

"These advertisements portray an image of New York that simply cannot be supported by facts, particularly in comparison with Florida,” Atwater writes.

"The reality is that New York boasts the highest taxes in America, the highest costs of living in the country, and one of the worst business climates in the nation. Conversely, by every objective measure, Florida continues to be one of the best states in which to start a business and raise a family." …

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Annette Taddeo --Crist's 'class act' of a running-mate pick

The Miami-Dade County Republican Party leader quickly summed up the opposition’s greatest strength.

“The best asset that the Miami-Dade Democratic Party has is Annette Taddeo,” Nelson Diaz, chair of the local GOP, said during a spring good-government seminar arranged by the Miami Dade College faculty union.

“As the Democrat chair, she’s very involved,” he said. “She worked hard to organize and mobilize the left wing of her party — which is now the party’s base — making them more of a presence. She made us work harder.”

Now, Taddeo has a much bigger role in state politics: running mate for Democrat Charlie Crist, who tapped her on Thursday to become the first female Hispanic lieutenant governor if the ticket can knock off Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Unlike Lopez-Cantera, Diaz says, he doesn’t believe Taddeo, a Miami businesswoman who runs a translation company, is ready to become governor because she has never held elected office or run a large company.

But when it comes to the mechanics of fundraising and generating buzz, Republicans should not — and will not — take her lightly, Diaz said. …

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Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

Winner of the week

Miami-Dade County. Both likely nominees for governor now have running mates from the state's most populous county, enhancing its role in the race. Democrat Charlie Crist chose Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, who, like Gov. Rick Scott's No. 2, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, is Hispanic. Muy bien for Miami.

Loser of the week

Pam Bondi. The attorney general, who immediately appealed a South Florida court ruling overturning Florida's same-sex marriage ban, is becoming the face of opposition to marriage equality. All signs point to the tide of history rolling over Bondi, who is up for re-election in November.

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