Alex Leary, Times Washington Bureau Chief

Alex Leary

Alex Leary is the Washington bureau chief for the Tampa Bay Times. He previously worked in the Times' state capital bureau, and before that covered local politics, environmental issues and law enforcement.

Alex is a graduate of Ithaca College (journalism/anthropology) and began his career at the Valley News in New Hampshire. Alex was born in La Crosse, Wis., and raised in upstate New York along with six brothers and sisters. He lives in Washington.

Phone: (202) 306-4807


Blog: The Buzz

Twitter: @LearyReports

  1. Winner and losers of the week in Florida politics


    Winner of the week

    League of Women Voters. The League led a challenge to Florida's new congressional maps, resulting in a trial that exposed shady dealings surrounding the redistricting process. On Thursday, a judge tossed the maps, siding with the league and other advocates who back the voter-approved Fair Districts process to prevent gerrymandering.

    Losers of the week

    Don Gaetz and Will Weatherford. The redistricting decision is a blow to the Republican legislative leaders who oversaw the process and defended it as fair and transparent. Now they have to bank on an appeal. Other losers: U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden, whose districts were declared invalid and may have to be redrawn, making them more competitive....

  2. The Buzz: Gov. Scott vetoed money to fight health care fraud

    State Roundup

    In politics, optics matter.

    Gov. Rick Scott, who will spend the next few months fending off familiar criticism of the health care fraud at his former hospital company, had a chance to put more money into fighting health care fraud in Florida.

    But to the disappointment of a key Republican lawmaker, he said no. One of Scott's little-noticed line-item vetoes in the new $77 billion budget would have set aside more money to investigate fraud in the Medicaid program. Scott gave no reason for the veto at the time he signed the budget....

    Gov. Rick Scott flanked by senate president Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, left, and house speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, speaks at the end of session on Friday, May 2, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) FLSC127
  3. David Rivera bails on Congressional bid, says he'll seek state House seat


    By Patricia Mazzei, Miami Herald

    His reputation tainted by scandal, former Miami Congressman David Rivera vowed he would return to politics.

    He did — for 72 days. On Friday, just over two months after launching a new campaign for his old seat, Rivera has called it quits, at least for now.

    Rivera, who is under federal investigation in a campaign-finance scheme, said Friday he is suspending his congressional bid. But he said it had nothing to do with the FBI probe — which he refuses to discuss — and everything with a ruling Thursday from a judge in Tallahassee....

  4. Florida GOP calls LeBron James and Charlie Crist quitters


    While Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio were thanking LeBron James for his tenure in Miami, the Republican Party of Florida was using Heat star's departure as an attack on Charlie Crist.

    Florida GOP knocks Crist and LeBron
  5. Rivera abandons Congressional bid, citing redistricting ruling


    Miami Republican David Rivera said today that he's giving up his bid for Congress and will instead run for state House in 2016. He blames the court ruling in the redistricting case, though Rivera faced a steep climb in the seeking a return to Washington.

    "This decision has created great uncertainty as to the final composition of all of Florida's congressional districts, including CD 26 in South Florida, for which I am a candidate," Rivera said in a statement. "In essence, liberal activist judges are hijacking the reapportionment process and holding congressional candidates like myself hostage until the appeals process concludes at the liberal Democrat-dominated Florida Supreme Court (see Bush v. Gore 2000)....

  6. Corrine Brown calls redistricting decision 'seriously flawed'


    Rep. Corrine Brown issued a statement tonight blasting as "seriously flawed" Judge Terry Lewis' decision on the redistricting maps. First, here's a primer on how Brown many years ago partnered with Republicans to carve out her bizarrely shaped district.  Brown joined a lawsuit against Fair Districts, and lost. The Legislature wrote the maps that retained her advantage. Today she suffered a setback....

  7. Bill Nelson wants child-proof nicotine capsules for e-cigs


    Sen. Bill Nelson and four other Democrats today introduced legislation to require child-proof caps on liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes.

    “There’s enough nicotine in some of these bottles to kill small children, and even if a small amount spilled on a child’s skin it could make them extremely ill,” said Nelson, a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee.

    A release put out by Nelson and others cites numbers from the American Association of Poison Control Centers showing have been more than 1,500 calls regarding liquid nicotine exposure so far this year – "a pace that will double last year’s total. And the 1,351 cases reported last year represented a 300 percent increase from 2012....

  8. Ringer candidate in middle of fed probe of ex-Rep. David Rivera sentenced to 7 months


    By Jay Weaver, Miami Herald

    Justin Lamar Sternad, a hotel worker and father of five, just wanted to be somebody in the eyes of his family. So he set his sights on a seat in Congress.

    “I wanted my wife, children and family to be proud of me,” Sternad, 37, told a judge Thursday in Miami federal court.

    Despite his good intentions, Sternad admitted in so many words that he allowed GOP campaign consultant Ana Alliegro and her close friend, then-U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, to recruit him as a straw candidate to challenge Rivera’s political enemy, Joe Garcia, in the 2012 Democratic primary. Garcia went on to beat Rivera in the final election....

  9. Diaz-Balart: 'We are in effect abdicating our duty' by failing to take up immigration reform


    Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, met with House leaders today who confirmed what has been clear: Immigration reform is dead this year.

    "It is disappointing and highly unfortunate, because we have a unique opportunity to secure the borders, fix our broken immigration system, and strengthen our economy," Diaz-Balart said during a news conference. "This system is not going to fix itself, and delaying a commonsense solution is only going to make matters worse as is evident by what is going on today with the crisis on the southern border....

  10. RPOF releases third TV ad this week in Scott-Crist race


    Third TV ad this week from the Republican Party of Florida, this one saying Rick Scott is the "better governor" than Charlie ("nice tan") Crist. RPOF would not release details of the ad buy.

    The script is below. THE AD

    VOICE: Nice sunset. Nice tan. But what’s the real choice between Charlie Crist and Governor Scott?

    CHYRON: Rick Scott. Charlie Crist.

    VOICE: Charlie Crist slashed state education by nearly 1.4 billion dollars.

    CHYRON: Slashed state education funding by $1.39 billion. Charlie Crist. Florida Department of Education.

    VOICE: Under Rick Scott, education funding is at an all-time high.

    CHYRON: Rick Scott. Education funding at an all-time high. Tampa Bay Times, 6/2/14.


    Charlie Crist’s Last Budget Left K-12 Schools With Nearly $1.4 Billion Less In State Funding Than His First Budget. In the first budget Charlie Crist signed (FY 2007-2008), total K-12 funding was at $18,751,344,667. In the last budget Charlie Crist, signed (FY 2010-2011), total K-12 funding was at $17,353,385,926. The difference is $1,397,958,741. (“Ten Year History Of State and Local School Funding,” Florida Department of Education)

    Under Rick Scott’s Budget, “The Bottom Line-Number For K-12 Schools Of $20.7 Billion In The Largest In History …” (Steve Bousquet, “Florida Gov. Rick Scott Signs State Budget, Vetoes Just $69 Million In Spending,” The Tampa Bay Times, 6/2/14)

    THE AD

    VOICE: Governor Crist lost eight hundred thousand jobs.

    CHYRON: Lost 832,000 Jobs. Charlie Crist. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    VOICE: Scott helped create nearly six hundred thousand jobs.

    CHYRON: Rick Scott. Helped create 583,000 private-sector jobs. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


    Under Charlie Crist, From December 2006 To December 2010, Florida Lost 832,000 Jobs.” (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 7/10/14)

    Under Rick Scott, Since December 2010, Florida Has Created 583,000 Private-Sector Jobs.” (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 7/10/14)

    THE AD

    VOICE: Crist maxed out the state credit card.

    CHYRON: Ran up 5.2 billion in debt. Charlie Crist. Division of Bond Finance, December 2012.

    VOICE: Scott reduced state debt by 3 billion.

    CHYRON: Rick Scott. Reduced state debt by $3 billion.

    VOICE: Charlie Crist: he’s smooth. Rick Scott? He’s the better governor.

    CHYRON: Rick Scott: The Better Governor.


    Under Charlie Crist, Florida’s Debt Increased By $5.2 Billion. (State Of Florida 2012 Debt Affordability Report, Division Of Bond Finance, December 2012)

        $23.0 Billion: Florida's Debt During Fiscal Year 2006. (State Of Florida 2012 Debt Affordability Report, Division Of Bond Finance, December 2012)  

        $28.2 Billion: Florida's Debt During Fiscal Year 2010, An All Time High. (State Of Florida 2012 Debt Affordability Report, Division Of Bond Finance, December 2012)

    Under Rick Scott, Florida’s Debt Decreased By $3.6 Billion.  (Lloyd Dunkelberger, "State Debt Drops," The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 8/6/13)

        $28.2 Billion: Florida's Debt During Fiscal Year 2010, An All Time High. (State Of Florida 2012 Debt Affordability Report, Division Of Bond Finance, December 2012)  

        $24.6 Billion: Florida's Debt During Fiscal Year 2013. "The amount of money Florida has borrowed to pay for roads, schools and other programs declined to $24.6 billion as of June 30 and is $3.6 billion below the peak of $28.2 billion reached in 2010."  (Lloyd Dunkelberger, "State Debt Drops," The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 8/6/13)  ...

  11. Rubio and Nelson say children at border must be cared for but sent home


    Sen. Marco Rubio in an interview today said the children who have shown up at the U.S. border must be turned back.

    "We do have to treat people the way Americans always treat people, with the highest level of compassion and care," he said on the Michael Medved radio show. "But they will have to be returned because that is the law. If you don't apply that, as heart breaking as it may be, you are basically telling another 80,000 people to try to come."...

  12. Florida poll shows broad public support for immigration reform

    State Roundup

    WASHINGTON — Immigration reform has flatlined in Congress, but Florida voters overwhelmingly support changes and reject the Republican contention that a lack of enforcement of current law is reason not to act, a new poll released Wednesday shows.

    Sixty-seven percent of voters said they support a plan that secures the borders, mandates employee verification, expands work visas and provides a path to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the United States illegally by their parents while providing other undocumented residents legal status, according to the poll for the pro-reform Partnership for a New American Economy....

  13. Lenny Curry raising big money for Jax mayoral race


    From the Florida Times-Union:

    Lenny Curry, the former head of the Florida Republican Party challenging Mayor Alvin Brown’s re-election bid next year, raised more than $560,000 in the 27 days since filing last month, his campaign buoyed by significant financial support from well-known local Republicans as well as donations from leading statewide figures like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush....

  14. YOLO: Charlie Crist raising money today in Fort Lauderdale


    Charlie Crist will raise money tonight at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant called YOLO - You Only Live Once.

    Crist, of course, is trying to live twice as Florida's governor. The invite shows tickets range from $100 to $1,000. Hosts include David W. Singer; Michael Moskowitz; Mitchell Berger; Sharon Berger; Andrew Sossin; Bruce Udol;f Russel Lazega; Todd Stone; Peter Walsh; Phil Freiden; Stephen L. Malove; Creativ Management Company, Inc.; Frank Ortis; Robert Rubenstein; Martin Schwartz; Paul Galsterer; and Robert E. Gluck....

  15. GOP continues ad assault in Crist-Scott race


    Charlie Crist released his first TV ad this week ... but his opponents continued their assault. The Republican Party of Florida has two new ads this week, one attacking Crist's record and the other a pro-Rick Scott piece in Spanish.