Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Politics

Romney's advisers rankle Rubio fans

The ghost of Charlie Crist still hangs over the Florida GOP, and it's part of the reason so many Florida Republicans are quietly but constantly fuming about Mitt Romney's senior campaign consultants Stu Stevens and Russ Schriefer.

They worked for Crist in 2010 when he was still a Republican trying to crush the primary challenge from Marco Rubio. Now, every real or perceived slight of Rubio gets blamed on Stevens and Schriefer.

An anonymous campaign official telling a reporter that Rubio was not being vetted as a potential running mate? Blame Stevens and Schriefer. Even after Romney publicly declared Rubio was being vetted, Rubio allies predicted Romney's consultants would torpedo his selection.

Then the campaign passed over Rubio for the keynote speech, giving it instead to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Schriefer client. Rubio was tapped to introduce Romney on Thursday night, but don't think for a second he would not have preferred a lofty keynote speech to spell out his vision, rather than an introduction speech to heap praise on the nominee.

On Friday, Rubio allies were again fuming about the consultants after the Romney campaign looked at shifting Rubio to a lower-profile slot so that Ann Romney could get network coverage introducing her husband. Their behind-the-scenes blowback was enough for the Romney folks to back off that idea.

Quote of the week

"We have put our faith in God that hurricanes will not be here."

— Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus in 2011, on the prospect of a hurricane disrupting the Republican National Convention.

Rubio missed VP call

Romney tried calling Rubio four times to let Rubio know he would not be the VP pick.

"Gov. Romney was gracious enough to call me on Friday evening that week," Rubio told a crowd of 825 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, according to the Palm Beach Post. "I was out on boat with my kids. I came back and I had four missed calls from Mitt Romney. I go, 'Uh-oh.' So I talked to him and he said we're going to be announcing our VP tomorrow, and you're going to be excited about the pick I've made.

"And I said, 'Well, that's really good news because I just bought a four-day cruise,' " Rubio said.

Nelson's 'Akin factor'

Bill Nelson is feeling the fallout from the implosion of Republican U.S. Senate nominee Todd Akin in Missouri. With Republicans pulling the plug on Akin after his comments amount "legitimate rape," the Nelson campaign sent a fundraising email noting that the Republican super PAC Karl Rove helped form, American Crossroads, bought $2.4 million in TV ads to blast Nelson.

"After GOP candidate Todd Akin's anti-woman implosion in Missouri, Rove and right-wing operatives are looking to other states to try to win back the Senate — and now Florida is at the top of their list," said the email.

Jim Greer legal fight

Former Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer will have to pay $104,500 to get records he wants from the party to defend himself against criminal charges.

Party officials say it will cost about $52,900 to search more than 100 email accounts and retrieve other documents relating to party fundraising and contracts. Then it will cost lawyers and paralegals $47,500 more to review the documents before they can be released.

The figures are included in a motion filed last week by Stephen S. Dobson, attorney for the GOP. He is asking Orlando Circuit Judge Marc Lubet to allow additional time for the search and production of documents. Dobson says he has been unable to get Greer defense attorney Damon Chase to respond to a request for costs. In ordering the party to produce the records, Lubet said Greer has to pay in advance for the search and copying costs.

Greer faces trial in mid November on charges of money laundering and fraud in connection with $200,000 the party paid to Victory Strategies, a corporation Greer created to handle a fundraising contract with the party.

Greer says party leaders including former Gov. Charlie Crist knew about the fundraising contract and approved of it. Greer has testified that he has been forced to depend on food stamps and has no health care coverage for his children since he was forced to resign in early 2010.

GOP attacks Fitzgerald

The Republican Party of Florida is stepping up its attacks on former state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, the Democrat who's trying to oust Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan from Congress.

A state party release says John Saputo, an appointee of former Gov. Charlie Crist and trustee of New College, where Fitzgerald is a professor, has asked Fitzgerald to "put students ahead of his political ambitions and take an unpaid leave to run for Congress."

The state party doesn't mention that Saputo has donated $3,250 to Buchanan since 2009 and several family members appear to have also donated, according to filings from the Federal Election Commission.

The release also accuses Fitzgerald of being "embroiled in an ethics scandal." As a former House member, Fitzgerald voted on state budgets that included money for New College without filing conflict-of-interest forms.

Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, hammered Fitzgerald over the conflict-of-interest forms last week, but we're still waiting for Thrasher to ask University of Florida lecturer and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, for his conflict-of-interest forms.

More Villages money

Companies controlled by the Villages developer Gary Morse gave the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future $250,000 in July, newly filed reports show. Morse has also given to, among other causes, the super PAC backing Connie Mack IV, Freedom PAC. Other Florida contributions to Restore Our Future in July include $350,000 from United Capital Holdings Corp. of Miami; $30,000 from Robert Boykin of Naples; and $25,000 from A. Duda & Sons of Oviedo. Daniel Gallo of tiny Macclenny in North Florida gave $25.

A July report for the super PAC supporting President Barack Obama, Priorities USA Action, was not yet online.

Alex Leary, Brittany Davis and Lucy Morgan contributed to this week's Buzz.

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