Thursday, April 19, 2018
Politics

Rick Scott proposes business ban on groups that support Venezuela

Gov. Rick Scott wants to pass a law prohibiting Florida from doing business with any organization that supports the Venezuelan government even though a similar measure related to Cuba and Syria was declared unconstitutional.

This week, making reference to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Scott wrote in a prepared statement:

"On Venezuela Independence Day, we stand in solidarity with the opposition to the brutal Maduro regime, whose crimes against his own people continue daily. … This is unacceptable behavior that Florida will not tolerate."

The trustees of the State Board of Administration, a panel that includes Scott as well as Attorney General Pam Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, will consider the plan in August. The trustees oversee the Florida Retirement System, the state-run pension plan worth roughly $150 billion.

The proposal could force the state to stop doing business with Goldman Sachs. The bank earlier this year bought $2.8 billion in bonds from Venezuela's state-run oil company at a steeply discounted price. Goldman Sachs manages some of Florida's investments, and the state owns stock in the bank.

But that assumes Scott's proposal passes legal muster. In 2012 the state passed what was referred to as the "Cuba Amendment" that banned contractors with business ties to Cuba or Syria from bidding on public contracts.

Coral Gables-based Odebrecht Construction took that amendment to federal court.

Its Brazilian parent company Odebrecht SA had foreign subsidiaries involved in a Cuban construction project. Under the Cuba amendment, the company would have been blocked from bidding on Florida Department of Transportation contracts worth up to $1.8 billion.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta found the measure unconstitutional in 2013 because it usurped federal powers. The Florida Department of Transportation agreed to enter a permanent injunction against enforcing provisions of the amendment, but the unenforceable amendment is still listed as a law.

Scott did succeed this year in preventing Florida ports from entering into memorandums of understanding with Cuba by threatening to pull state funds.

Scott said he will provide more details of his Venezuela proposal before the August 16 Cabinet meeting.

One thing is for sure — Venezuela is in chaos.

The economy is on the brink of collapse. Protesters are being beaten and killed by Venezuelan law enforcement and military. And on July 30, Venezuela will elect 500 members to a national Constituent Assembly tasked with rewriting the country's 1999 Constitution.

Those opposed to Venezuela's socialist system fear a new constitution will be reworked to keep the ruling party in power despite Maduro's approval rating of around 20 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected]

Comments
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18
Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

HOUSTON — Former first lady Barbara Bush is in "failing health" and won’t seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesman said Sunday. "Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump attacked James Comey in a fusillade of tweets Sunday morning, calling for the former FBI director to be imprisoned as Trump served up a number of his favorite theories and alleged misdeeds without evidence.Trump’s ...
Published: 04/15/18
President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at 40 percent in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, slightly more than his 36 percent approval rating when last measured in January. It’s also the highest he’s enjoyed in Post-ABC polling since his fi...
Published: 04/15/18
Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

DOVER, Del. — Gun rights supporters — many carrying rifles and ammunition — gathered at state capitols across the U.S. on Saturday to push back against efforts to pass stricter gun-control laws that they fear threaten their constitutional right to be...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

President Donald Trump will welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Mar-a-Lago this week in an effort to shore up their relationship amid strains in the U.S.-Japan alliance ahead of Trump’s potential summit with the leader of North Korea.Abe is...
Published: 04/14/18
Haley warns that US forces ‘locked and loaded’ if Syria stages another chemical attack

Haley warns that US forces ‘locked and loaded’ if Syria stages another chemical attack

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations told the Security Council on Saturday that the United States is "locked and loaded," ready to launch another military strike if the Syrian government ever uses chemical weapons again."I spoke to the president...
Published: 04/14/18
Trump uses phrase that haunted Bush: ‘Mission Accomplished!’

Trump uses phrase that haunted Bush: ‘Mission Accomplished!’

WASHINGTON — As he declares the U.S.-led airstrikes against Syria a success, President Donald Trump is adopting a phrase that a previous president came to regret — "mission accomplished." On Saturday, Trump tweeted: "A perfectly executed strike last ...
Published: 04/14/18