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Paul Manafort, he's a Florida man, too

He was a powerful Washington insider brought on to steady Donald Trump's campaign and now is a key figure in the escalating Russia controversy. But for all the attention Paul Manafort has attracted, one detail is little known:

He's a Florida resident.

Manafort has called Palm Beach Gardens his full-time home since at least April 2011, when he registered to vote. He has regularly cast ballots, including voting early in the November election between Trump and Hillary Clinton, records show.

Manafort and his wife, Kathleen, bought the waterfront home in 2007 for $1.5 million, more than twice what it sold for in 2000, and paid more than $15,000 in taxes in 2016. He also has several LLCs registered in the state.

As a Florida resident, Manafort does not have to pay state income taxes, a perk that has beckoned wealthy people from all over, including prominent Republicans such as Mike Huckabee and Rush Limbaugh.

Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, lived for a while in Miami and was considering buying a home in Sarasota before joining the campaign, the Tampa Bay Times reported in March.

Of course, Trump owns Mar-a-Lago, not far from Manafort's home.

Manafort owns property in other states, including New York, where some of his real estate transactions have drawn scrutiny in recent weeks. He left the campaign last August amid growing tension with Trump and questions about work for pro-Russian figures in Ukraine. Those and other ties have earned Manafort an invitation to testify before House and Senate panels investigating Russian interference in the election.

Your update on the governor's race

Republican Adam Putnam continued his orchestrated show of force Wednesday, announcing his campaign for governor had raised a combined $2.1 million from his political committee in May alone, and collected $13.4 million to date. The campaign, which has been on wind-up for the past two years, was officially launched May 10.

Democratic contender Andrew Gillum is getting personal. "I don't have a famous last name and I cannot stroke my own check to become the next governor of the state of Florida," he said at Tallahassee Tiger Bay Club on Thursday.

It was a not-so-veiled shot at Democratic rival Gwen Graham, the daughter of a popular former governor and senator, Bob Graham, and at mega-rich potential Democratic rivals John Morgan and Philip Levine. Gillum and his campaign allies and advisers have sneered at famous last names over and over again.

In fact, the Tallahassee mayor has emerged as the most combative Democrat in the primary, with fellow Tallahassee resident Graham being his main target.

Not much comment from Republicans

Florida Republicans were fairly mute Thursday after President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord. Sen. Marco Rubio, who had once called the agreement "ridiculous" and an "unfunny joke," said nothing, though no doubt supported Trump's move. Does it mean anything?

Climate change has become a higher-profile issue in Florida with experts pointing to serious long-term implications. "We're already seeing the effects of salt water intrusion into the Everglades, which threatens our drinking water supply. We're also seeing coastal properties under threat, real estate, billions and billions of dollars," U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami, one of the few Republicans in Washington to criticize Trump's decision, said on CNN.

Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has signed on to causes such as objecting to the halt of the Keystone Oil pipeline expansion and Clean Water Act regulations, was not among a group of GOP attorneys general who wrote a letter to Trump urging him to walk away from the Paris deal.

Corcoran shrugs off climate change

Of Florida's top three Republican leaders, only one of them — Senate President Joe Negron — is willing to say, grudgingly, that human activity contributes to climate change.

Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran won't go there.

Asked repeatedly Friday if man-made climate change is real, as a broad consensus of scientists have long concluded, Corcoran refused to answer.

"We should do all we can to protect the environment," he said.

That doesn't answer the question, he was told.

"Whatever," responded Corcoran, of Land O'Lakes. "I'm not going down that path."

Scott has long avoided giving his opinion on climate change, infamously declaring while he was running for re-election in 2014, "I'm not a scientist."

Adam C. Smith, Michael Van Sickler, Patricia Mazzei, Steve Bousquet and Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this week's Buzz.

Winner of the week

Rick Scott. The governor struck a budget deal that will allow him to boast of an increase in school funding and to restore funding for Visit Florida to its current level of $76 million. The likely 2018 U.S. Senate candidate also prepared to slash hundreds of millions in funding on the way to surpassing former Gov. Jeb Bush's status as "Veto Corleone."

Loser of the week

Carlos Beruff. The Scott-appointed chairman of the Constitution Revision Commission sees himself embroiled in controversy following a power struggle in which he tried to change rules that would have given him authority to control which proposals made it to the ballot. Other commissioners aren't having it and the distraction is starting to show.

Paul Manafort, he's a Florida man, too 06/03/17 [Last modified: Saturday, June 3, 2017 7:06pm]
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