Friday, July 20, 2018
Politics

Candidate in non-partisan Tampa council race returns $1,000 GOP donation

A Florida Elections Commission complaint has been filed over a county Republican Party campaign contribution to Tampa City Council candidate Jim Davison.

The complaint was filed by Hillsborough County Democratic Party Chairman Ione Townsend.

But county GOP Chairman Deborah Tamargo said the contribution, which appeared to violate city Charter rules for non-partisan council elections, was "an innocent mistake" and that Davison has already refunded it.

The party gave Davison $1,000 Oct. 12.

The Charter says council candidates can't "campaign as a member of any political party … publicly represent or advertise as a member of any political party… (or) solicit or accept political party funds or endorsements."

"It was an innocent mistake on our part," Tamargo said. "He did not solicit a donation from us. He didn't have any knowledge of it."

She said Davison refunded the money last week, so it should show up on his next campaign finance report.

Davison is the only registered Republican among six candidates in the special election for the City Council District 7 seat being vacated by Lisa Montelione, and has received backing from fellow Republicans.

All seven current council members and Mayor Bob Buckhorn are Democrats.

Ethics complaint against Jones dismissed

The Florida Commission on Ethics has dismissed a complaint against Republican property appraiser candidate Todd Jones over his initially incomplete financial disclosure form.

Local Democratic Party activist Elizabeth Belcher filed a complaint after Jones left blank those sections of the June report describing his assets and business affiliations.

In August, Jones filed an addition listing his assets but still didn't describe his businesses and listed no income from them.

The commission ruled that the complaint was legally insufficient for investigation because Jones filed the amended form before a September deadline and there was no evidence that he had any income from his business as a property appraiser.

Good news and bad news for Montelione

Lisa Montelione, the Democratic Tampa City Council member who is challenging Republican District 63 state House member Shawn Harrison, got some good news and some bad news.

The good news: endorsements by a raft of labor groups.

Last week she announced backing from unions representing firefighters of both Tampa and Hillsborough County, plumbers and pipefitters, engineers, electrical workers, painters, ironworkers, sheet metal workers, laborers and transit workers, plus the Teamsters local union, the Florida AFL-CIO and the Florida Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council.

The bad news: She didn't get endorsed by the Hillsborough County Democratic Party black caucus, which is distributing a slate card with no recommendation in the race.

Caucus chairman Robin Lockett said the decision reflected Montelione's past backing of Republicans — both Attorney General Pam Bondi and former City Council candidate Jackie Toledo, now running for the state House — plus her council stances on a police review board and her failure to back the only black council member, Frank Reddick, for council chairman. Reddick has endorsed Harrison.

"If we go along with everybody that does not speak to our issues, just because they're a Democrat, we might as well not be a caucus," Lockett said.

Some Democrats are grumbling about the caucus's action, noting that one member, local political activist Michelle Patty, is on the payroll of Harrison's political committee. The committee had paid her $3,100 for advertising and $9,000 for consulting as of Nov. 2.

But Lockett said, "Our decision was not dependent on Michelle Patty."

Foreign reporters swarm Hillsborough

Hillsborough County is being seen not just nationwide, but worldwide, as the epicenter of the Clinton-Trump battle.

It didn't even start with the Oct. 25 USA Today front page proclaiming this the "crucial county" in the race, the county "in the heart of the key swing region of the nation's most important swing state" and the one that has picked the winner in 19 of the past 20 presidential elections.

Local Democratic Party Chairwoman Ione Townsend says she's been swarmed for weeks by European, Asian and Latin American news teams looking for local contacts.

Late this week, she said, there were French and Dutch teams in town, with another French team and BBC teams on the way.

"People from all over the world are calling us, wanting to know what our take is, wanting to see canvassing and phone banking in action," Townsend said.

She said the overseas reporters have indicated Trump's international reputation isn't good.

"The Danish team said outright he's viewed as a joke," Townsend said.

Comments
Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

TAMPA — Tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and other countries are beginning to push up prices and depress demand in spots around the Tampa Bay area and Florida, business executives say."We’ve definitely seen that the tariffs have increased ...
Published: 07/20/18
March column: Is Congressional District 16 more flippable? What about District 15?

March column: Is Congressional District 16 more flippable? What about District 15?

In the wake of good fundraising news for Democrat David Shapiro, who is running against Rep. Vern Buchanan in Congressional District 16, political analysts are upping their odds of Shapiro’s winning. But what about Congressional District 15, where Re...
Published: 07/20/18
Trump says he’d have no problem beating former VP Biden in 2020

Trump says he’d have no problem beating former VP Biden in 2020

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump said in an interview broadcast Thursday that running against Joe Biden in 2020 would be "a dream," claiming that Barack Obama "took him out of the garbage heap" to make him his running mate in 2008.Trump was asked ...
Published: 07/19/18
At St. Pete rally, protesters call Trump’s remarks on Russia ‘treason’

At St. Pete rally, protesters call Trump’s remarks on Russia ‘treason’

ST. PETERSBURG — Linda and Jack Miller braved the humidity at Demens Landing on Wednesday night for a simple reason: "Treason," said Linda Miller, 66. The St. Petersburg couple joined more than 100 protesters toting signs, pins and megaphones...
Published: 07/18/18
Updated: 07/19/18
Meet the man who might have brought on the age of ‘downloadable guns’

Meet the man who might have brought on the age of ‘downloadable guns’

During the summer of 2012, Cody Wilson hung around J&J, a car-repair shop run by two "goofy" guys in their late 20s. The Austin warehouse was crowded with engine blocks, car parts and Pelican boxes that never seemed to have been opened, but the 24-ye...
Published: 07/18/18
‘She was like a novelty’: How alleged Russian agent Maria Butina gained access to elite conservative circles

‘She was like a novelty’: How alleged Russian agent Maria Butina gained access to elite conservative circles

WASHINGTON - For nearly five years, the young Russian political-science student was an unusual fixture at the most important events of the U.S. conservative movement.Maria Butina, who was indicted this week on charges of being a covert Russian agent,...
Published: 07/18/18
PolitiFact: Fact-checking the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit

PolitiFact: Fact-checking the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit

President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin made inaccurate statements to the media following their one-on-one talks in Helsinki about election meddling, global terrorism and nuclear nonproliferation.Here’s a rundown of our fact-checks.Trump:...
Published: 07/17/18
Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values

Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values

JOHANNESBURG — Former U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday took aim at "strongman politics" in his highest-profile speech since leaving office, urging people around the world to respect human rights and other values now under threat in an imp...
Published: 07/17/18
Romano: Excuse me Gov. Scott, but you’re a hypocrite

Romano: Excuse me Gov. Scott, but you’re a hypocrite

Hypocrisy, thy name is Rick Scott.And, yes, I owe Shakespeare an apology.But I think Florida’s governor owes all of us an apology.This isn’t about one man’s opinion, and it isn’t about philosophical differences. This is about a politician who is publ...
Published: 07/17/18
Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

HELSINKI — Standing next to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump openly questioned his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Moscow was to blame for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election to Trump’s benefit and seemed to accept Putin’s i...
Published: 07/16/18