St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is scheduled to formally endorse state Rep. Perry Thurston in the Democratic primary for attorney general tomorrow. Kriseman served with Thurston in the legislature.The endorsement will take place at Democratic headquarters in St. Pete at 10 a.m., and the Thurston campaign said Kriseman is the first mayor representing a city of at least 200,000 to endorse in his primary against George Sheldon....
From the News Service of Florida:For most state lawmakers, 2013 was another good year financially, regardless of party.
Still, those with an "R" affixed to their names are doing better, in general, when it comes to the bottom line thanks mostly to stronger housing and stock markets.
Updated financial-disclosure reports for 2013 were due July 1. And from the reports posted online as of Thursday, the average net worth in the Senate is just under $3.77 million, while the average net-worth figure is a little more than $1.4 million in the House.
The totals run from a high of $26 million for outgoing Senate President Don Gaetz to a negative $127,138 for Rep. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat who remains underwater on a pair of home loans.
Gaetz, a Niceville Republican with two years remaining in the Senate, was a co-founder of VITAS Healthcare Corp. He actually saw his net worth slip slightly in 2013, by about $140,000, from the prior year.
"The decline in my net worth is forcing me to make economies," Gaetz quipped in an email response. "I'm afraid I will have to cancel some newspaper subscriptions."
Of the 156 lawmakers who served during both the 2012 and 2013 sessions and whose reports were available, 119 recorded increases in net worth, 35 went down and two posted no change.
The reports represent an individual's net worth on Dec. 31, 2013. While the reports were due July 1, lawmakers have until Sept. 2 to file them before facing fines.
As of Dec. 31, 2012, the average for all 40 senators stood at $3.34 million. The average for the 120 House members was $1.27 million.
A little more than $30,000 in income for each legislator comes from their state salaries.
Senate Republicans on average are worth $4.3 million per the latest reports, while their House GOP counterparts chime in at an average of $1.7 million. Democrats in the Senate averaged $2.77 million, while in the House the average stands at $865,224.
The averages are all up from a year earlier.
Dan Krassner, executive director of the watchdog group Integrity Florida, said lawmakers should be praised for major ethics reforms in 2013 that require the financial-disclosure reports to be posted online. However, the information still fails to provide a full picture of individual lawmakers' wealth, he said.
"Many lawmakers receive significant income from special interests who lobby the Legislature," Krassner said in an email. "The Legislature has created disclosure loopholes so conflicts of interest are easily hidden or just made legal."
Among the problems with the reports, according to Integrity Florida, are that the self-reported numbers are never audited, assets can be easily hidden under a spouse's name and lawmakers don't have to reveal if firms they own or work for have business before the Legislature or state government. Also, Integrity Florida contends that with the requirement that numbers be based on a single day rather than the full-year lawmakers can "secretly engage in major transactions throughout the year undetected."
Of the 40 Senators, 18 are millionaires, one more than during the prior year.
Tampa Democrat Arthenia Joyner, a longtime attorney, joined the seven-figure crowd, with her net worth growing from $908,422 to $1,009,588.
In the House, 35 of the 120 members are members of the millionaires club, the same number as the previous year though the list of millionaires does not include all the same representatives.
Not among those seven-figure lawmakers is outgoing House Speaker Will Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel Republican who reported his net worth declined from $288,075 to $285,259.
Weatherford, who reported his leadership post paid $39,585 last year, also drew $16,000 from the Dallas-based Breckenridge Enterprises and $102,785 from Red Eagle Group, a company that contracts with Simpson Environmental Services, which is headed by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby....
07/23/14 State Roundup
WASHINGTON — The increasingly delicate politics of gay marriage emerged Wednesday as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio defended "traditional" marriage while accommodating other views during a speech and U.S. Rep. David Jolly came under withering attack in Pinellas County for speaking out in support of same-sex couples' right to wed.
Jolly, a Republican like Rubio, said this week that while he personally believes marriage should be between a man and woman, he thinks Florida should allow same-sex marriage....
U.S. Rep. David Jolly's position on same sex marriage wasn't always entirely clear to people listening to him during his primary campaign against Kathleen Peters and general election campaign against Alex Sink, but some of his supporters say he could not have been clearer to them: He supported Florida's ban on same-sex marriage. Now that Jolly clarified his position to say he personally believes marriage should be between a man and woman but believes Florida should allow same-sex marriages, some of these supporters are "profoundly disappointed" and calling on the Indian Shores Republican to apologize....
This new web ad from the Florida Democratic party might inflict real damage on Rick Scott's re-election campaign if the party had enough money to air it on actual TV.
From the Democrats: "Scott’s failure to answer questions is shameful and disrespectful to voters trying to understand where their governor stands on the issues facing Florida. This is exactly why Floridians have never trusted Rick Scott, and why they will fire him in November....
The Democratic group American Bridge offers up the the latest example of a uniquely Florida phenomenon:
Gov. Rick Scott smiling as he avoids questions.
The red flag has been waved on Charlie Crist at the Daytona International Speedway.
A campaign gift of a NASCAR sponsorship for Saturday's nationally televised Coke Zero 400 is now off — not because the rival Republican Party of Florida complained, but because the registered owner of the race car in question, record producer Mike Curb, used to be a Republican lieutenant governor of California and asked the decals not appear....
Given how frugal Charlie Crist has tended to be with his campaign money, this surprised us, even knowing that adviser Steve Schale is a racing buff: His campaign is sponsoring a car in the Coke Zero 400. These sponsorships can cost as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"The campaign spent no money on this and the cost of wrapping the car was an in kind donation from a supporter who is a big NASCAR fan," said campaign spokesman Brendan Gilfillian....
Gravis Marketing has a new robo poll out that appears in line with most other public polls recently: Rick Scott leads Charlie Crist in the governor's race 41 percent to 39 percent, which is within the survey's plus of minus 3 percent margin of error. Libertarian nomineee Adrian Wylie draws 6 percent
Meanwhile, only 50 percent of voters support legal medical marrijuana as a general concept - significantly less than the 60 percent thresshold for passage - but 59 percent would vote for the ballot language....
From Tampa Bay Times Editor of Editorials Tim Nickens:
Rick Scott has done more damage to this state than any modern governor.
The Republican has starved public schools and higher education, disregarded voting rights and privacy rights, and dismantled environmental protections. He has little feel for Florida and sides with electric utilities, property insurers, developers and the National Rifle Association over the concerns of families struggling to pay bills, afford health insurance, find quality public schools for their kids and keep their neighborhoods safe....
For the first time in two decades, Florida Democrats are likely to field a gubernatorial candidate well known across the state. Charlie Crist is breaking Democratic fundraising records and taking on an incumbent who is among the most unpopular and vulnerable governors in the country.
But even as former President Bill Clinton fired up 1,600 party activists and donors Saturday night at a swank, ocean-front hotel in South Florida, Democrats in America's biggest battleground state faced a bleak reality: Election Day in four months could pull their already beleaguered party to a new low....
06/28/14 State Roundup
For the first time in two decades, Florida Democrats are likely to field a gubernatorial candidate well known across the state. Charlie Crist is breaking Democratic fundraising records and taking on an incumbent who is among the most unpopular and vulnerable governors in the country. But even as former President Bill Clinton fired up 1,600 party activists and donors Saturday night at a swank, oceanfront hotel in South Florida, Democrats in America's biggest battleground state faced a bleak reality: Election Day in four months could pull their already beleaguered party to a new low....
06/28/14 State Roundup
Charlie Crist's campaign in recent days has been in full outrage mode, suggesting that Gov. Rick Scott and his allies have hit "a new low" in sleazy, negative campaigning. Why?
Because Scott's Let's Get to Work Committee released an ad Wednesday that featured an image of former first lady Carole Crist and noting that the Crists are declining to release her tax returns. "What's he hiding?" the ad asks. Crist campaign adviser Kevin Cate contends that targeting a candidate's spouse in a TV ad is unprecedented in Florida and beyond the pale....
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich appears Sunday on Political Connections on Bay News 9, where she laments that the state and national Democratic parties are "putting their finger on the scale" in favor of Charlie Crist. In fact, the former Broward County state legislator argues, she would make a far stronger nominee to take on Gov. Rick Scott than Crist.
Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Bay News 9 in Tampa Bay. Here's a clip....
Charlie Crist's campaign in recent days has been in full outrage mode, suggesting that Rick Scott and his allies have hit "a new low" in sleazy, negative campaigning. Why? Because Scott's Let's Get to Work Committee released an ad yesterday that featured an image of former First Lady Carole Crist and noting that the Crists are declining to release her tax returnns. "What's he hiding?" the ad asks, while Crist campaign adviser Kevin Cate contends targeting a candidate's spouse in a TV ad is unprecedented in Florida and beyond the pale....