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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. Fundraising in California, Jeb Bush issues softer backing of Indiana's 'religious freedom' law


    Jeb Bush has been fully drawn into the debate over Indiana’s “religious freedom” law, and he softened his endorsement while fundraising in California on Wednesday.

    Stressing he wasn’t criticizing Gov. Mike Pence, Bush nonetheless said a “consensus-oriented approach” would have been better. The change in tone, as detected in transcripts below, was first reported by the New York Times. The Bush team provided us with a transcript of the fundraiser....

  2. Sen. Robert Menendez indicted on charges related to Florida benefactor


    The following is from the New York Times:

    WASHINGTON — Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey was indicted on bribery charges on Wednesday in what prosecutors said was a scheme to trade political favors for luxury vacations, golf outings, campaign donations and expensive flights.

    The indictment, the first federal bribery charges against a sitting senator in a generation, puts Mr. Menendez’s political future in jeopardy. He faces a possible sentence of 15 years in prison for each of the eight bribery counts....

  3. Jacksonville University in hunt to host presidential debate


    Jacksonville University could host one of the presidential debates in fall 2016, the school announced today.

    The Commission on Presidential Debates annouced the school was among more than a dozen sites across the country being considered.

    “We are humbled and honored to be considered as a host site and believe we are an ideal location, not only because Florida is a key state in national elections, but also because of our emerging role as a leader in public policy and discourse,” said JU President Tim Cost. “We’ve made an outstanding competitive bid highlighting our excellent facilities and resources, and are grateful to have very broad public, private and civic support.”...

  4. To keep money flowing, Rubio still acts like Senate candidate


    Sen. Marco Rubio is preparing to enter the presidential race, but that hasn’t stopped him from raising money under the appearance he’s got a Senate race to run.

    As late as last Friday, Rubio held fundraisers in Palm Beach that would benefit “Rubio Victory,” a joint committee that includes Rubio for Senate and Reclaim America PAC.

    That committee is nothing new but one wonders whether donors — especially those in Florida, where allegiance to Jeb Bush runs strong — realize their money would be transferred to a presidential run, as the law allows. (Those donors could not contribute a second time.)...

    Fundraising notice for Marco Rubio
  5. Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, others facing FEC complaints


    A group of campaign finance watchdogs today filed complaints with the FEC against Jeb Bush, Martin O’Malley, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker that contend they have broken campaign finance law by acting as if they are not candidates.

    “These 2016 presidential contenders must take the American people for fools—flying repeatedly to Iowa and New Hampshire to meet with party leaders and voters, hiring campaign staff, and raising millions of dollars from deep-pocketed mega donors, all the while denying that they are even ‘testing the waters’ of a presidential campaign,” said Paul S. Ryan, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel.  “But federal campaign finance law is no joke and the candidate contribution limits kick in as soon as a person begins raising and spending money to determine whether they’re going to run for office. Bush, O’Malley, Santorum and Walker appear to be violating federal law.”...

  6. Meet Marco Rubio's campaign team


    By Alex Leary and Adam C. Smith

    Marco Rubio is waiting until April 13 to announce his presidential campaign, but his core team is in place, mostly employed by Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC.


    Heath Thompson: An architect of George W. Bush's critical South Carolina primary win in 2000, Thompson is Rubio's big-picture strategist. Thompson is a trusted voice who helps shape Rubio's longer-term trajectory. A former business partner with Terry Sullivan, he now works at Something Else Strategies along with wife Malorie Thompson and Todd Harris....

  7. A decade later, Jeb Bush calls Terri Schiavo case 'one of the most difficult times in my life'


    She died ten years ago today, at 9:05 a.m. Age 41.

    The anniversary of Terri Schiavo’s death takes on added meaning today as, once again, the former St. Petersburg resident is part of the national political conversation — forever linked to the man who tried to keep her alive and is now trying to become president.

    "This woman was being starved to death,” Jeb Bush said Monday afternoon on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show. “It was one of the most difficult times in my life."...

    Demonstrators, pleading for Gov. Jeb Bush to intervene in Terri Schiavo’s case in 2003, regularly sat vigil outside Hospice House Woodside in Pinellas Park in the years leading up to her death. Bush defied court orders that her feeding tube should be removed.
  8. Marco Rubio confirms April 13 announcement in Miami

    State Roundup

    WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio will announce his presidential intentions April 13 in Miami, using an appearance Monday afternoon on Fox News to build suspense for a decision that he has been working toward for quite a while.

    Rubio, 43, would not say he is running for president, though that seems blatantly obvious, or name the location. "We haven't reserved a specific site yet … but I will announce on April 13 what I am going to do next in terms of running for president or the U.S. Senate."...

  9. Rubio confirms April 13 announcement


    Sen. Marco Rubio announced just now on Fox News that he will announce his presidential decision on April 13.

    Rubio would not say he is running for president -- clearly, he is -- or name the exact location. "We haven't reserved a specific site yet ... but I will announce on April 13 what I am going to do next in terms of running for president or the U.S. Senate."

    As the Tampa Bay Times reported Friday, Rubio is looking at the Freedom Tower in Miami. He also pointed viewers to his website, which teased a "big announcement" and asked them to signup for tickets....

    A screenshot of Marco Rubio's website
  10. Americans for Prosperity goes after Gardiner on Medicaid expansion


    The Florida branch of Americans for Prosperity is targeting Senate President Andy Gardiner over his openness to exploring Medicaid expansion in Florida.

    The group, backed by the Koch brothers, said it is "launching a major grassroots and mail effort to educate Floridians about which state senators are supporting Medicaid expansion."...

    Mailer from AFP
  11. Jeb Bush leads national poll


    Jeb Bush is the top choice among Republicans nationally, according to a new CBS News poll.

    Fifty-one percent of Republicans said they would consider voting for Bush, followed by Mike Huckabee with 42 percent and Rand Paul and Marco Rubio each with 39 percent. Ted Cruz got 37 percent, a big jump from the 23 percent in February.

    Scott Walker, considered the top competitor to Bush at the moment, came in at 35 percent but his support has been growing....

    CBS News poll
  12. DC official: Rubio using gun bill to tout 'ultra conservative' cred


    The District of Columbia's voice in Congress continued Monday to press back against a bill Sen. Marco Rubio filed last week to ease gun laws in the capital city.

    Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton "challenged" Rubio and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to "travel in their own lane" and introduce legislation that would allow guns in post offices, Social Security offices and other federal buildings in their home states....

  13. What Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are up to the week of March 30


    What Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are up to the week of March 30:

    Rubio is in New York today for fundraising and he’s also going to appear on Fox News at 5 p.m. He and his staff are also finalizing plans for his campaign announcement, which could happen April 13 in Miami.

    Bush will be fundraising most of the week in California, with stops in Newport Beach, Bel-Air and San Francisco.

    Note: This is the seventh installment of the "What Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are up to" listing. Last week here....

  14. Martin O'Malley: Presidency 'not some crown' to be passed to Clinton or Bush


    Former Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a probable 2016 presidential candidate, made news on Sunday for taking a shot at Hillary Clinton and, by extension, Jeb Bush.

    "The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families. It is an awesome and sacred trust to be earned and exercised on behalf of the American people," O Malley told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week."...

  15. Jeb Bush wants small dollar donations, too


    Jeb Bush will be in California this coming week for another round of big-time fundraising, beginning with a $25,000 per couple event Monday in Newport Beach.

    But Bush, who has already taken in tens of millions since becoming an unofficial candidate in late December, is making a play for smaller dollars, too.

    On Sunday, his Right to Rise PAC sent out a solicitation, signed by Bush's mother, that sought donations as small as $25 before the March 30 end of quarter. "This deadline is the first major signal we’ll be sending to the Democrats and Hillary that we’re going to put up a fight in 2016," the email reads....

    A fundraising appeal from Jeb Bush's Right to Rise PAC.