Saturday, September 22, 2018


Steve Contorno

Steve Contorno

Steve Contorno is a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times covering Hillsborough County. He previously worked for PolitiFact in the Times Washington, D.C. bureau. Prior to joining the Times, he covered Congress and Virginia politics for the Washington Examiner as well as state and local governments in Wisconsin for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. A native of the Chicago suburbs, Steve graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor's degree in news-editorial journalism and a minor in political science, and holds a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield, where he covered the Illinois legislature for the Chicago Sun-Times.

National Rifle Association Marion Hammer exchanged hundreds of emails from 2014 to 2017 with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Brusque and demanding, the messages suggest Hammer is rarely told “no.”

NRA sway: For Florida officials, itís always Hammer time

On the Fourth of July 2016, National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer fired off an email to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services."This crap needs to stop," begins Hammer in the first of seven emails she...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Clay Hollis, left shown here with Adam Putnam during a campaign stop was named director of external affairs in Adam Putnam's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services last year. Hollis is the son of a former vice president of Publix, M. Clayton Hollis Jr. one of the largest donors to Putnam's campaign for governor. [Facebook]

Adam Putnam hired a donorís 27-year-old son to a $91,000 job. Thereís a Publix connection.

Clay Hollis won a plum assignment when he was named director of external affairs in Adam Putnam's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services last year.When he was hired for the $91,000-a-year job, Hollis was 27 and working as a...
Published: 09/18/18
In this Sept. 6, 2018 photo, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh reacts as he testifies after questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Official Washington is scrambling Monday to assess and manage Kavanaugh’s prospects after his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, revealed her identity to The Washington Post and described an encounter she believes was attempted rape. Kavanaugh reported to the White House amid the upheaval, but there was no immediate word on why or whether he had been summoned.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) WX103

Nelson calls for investigation into allegations against Kavanaugh; no response yet from Rubio, Scott

Sen. Bill Nelson said Monday he supports an investigation into allegations from a California woman that Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school.Nelson, a Democrat, tweeted that...
Published: 09/17/18
Rick Scott says Democrats should forego pay while campaigning

Rick Scott says Democrats should forego pay while campaigning

CLEARWATER — Gov. Rick Scott said Friday that Democrats running for statewide office should follow the lead of Ron DeSantis and forgo their taxpayer salaries while campaigning.DeSantis
Published: 09/14/18
ORG XMIT: WX304 FILE - In this May 2, 2003 file photo, President George W. Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast. George W. Bush knows that history will shape his legacy more than anything he can say. But that's not gonna stop a guy from trying. After two years of near silence, Bush is back. With his new memoir and a promotion tour, the president who in cockier times could not think of a single mistake he had made, lists many.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Was the Iraq War a mistake? With George Bush in town, it took Rick Scott 75 words to not answer.

Former President George W. Bush will hold two fundraisers today for Gov. Rick Scott's Senate campaign, including a...
Published: 09/14/18
President Donald Trump President Donald Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd as he hands out supplies at Calvary Chapel, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Trump is in Puerto Rico to survey hurricane damage. (Associated Press)

Florida officials respond to Trumpís claim, without evidence, that Puerto Rico deaths are made up

President Donald Trump on Thursday claimed, without evidence, that Democrats made up a new report estimating that nearly 3,000 Americans living in Puerto Rico died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Published: 09/13/18

Morning Joe mocks Ron DeSantis for ducking tough questions on Florida issues

Hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe took Republican Ron DeSantis to task Thursday morning for avoiding Florida reporters and not yet having a full-formed platform for his gubernatorial campaign."Too early. Too...
Published: 09/13/18
TP_265993_FOUN_PRESIDENT_8CAPTION:   (05/01/2007Tampa) President George W. Bush works the line on the tarmac of MacDill Air Force Base shortly before departing from the base aboard Air Force One. Bush visited US Central Command (CENTCOM) at MacDill on May 1, 2007.  EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times SUMMARY: Photographs of President George W. Bush visiting CENTCOM/US Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base south of Tampa on May 1, 2007. EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

George W. Bush to headline Rick Scott fundraiser in Palm Beach

A Republican president is coming to Florida to help Gov. Rick Scott's Senate campaign, but it's not Donald Trump.Former President George W. Bush is holding a fundraiser for Scott in Palm Beach on Friday, according to an invitation...
Published: 09/12/18
RAI Services violated campaign laws in Montana. The company has donated $200,000 to political committees aligned with Rick Scott since 2016. (The Associated Press)

Tobacco company and major contributor to Rick Scott violated campaign laws in Montana

One of the country's biggest tobacco companies and a backer of Republican Gov. Rick Scott's Senate bid was caught violating campaign laws in another state.RAI Services Company, the makers of Newport and Camel cigarettes, didn't disclose...
Published: 09/12/18
Florida Gubernatorial Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum gives a campaign speech in front of his supporters with Bill Nelson in the back. [OCTAVIOR JONES | Tampa Bay Times]

Bill Nelson not on board with Andrew Gillumís progressive proposals

ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is excited about the energy that Andrew Gillum brings to the Democratic ticket as the party's nominee for governor.He is less enthusiastic about some of the ideas Gillum ran on to win his...
Published: 09/11/18