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THE BUZZ: FLORIDA POLITICS

Adam Hasner, the ACORN prophet, suggests state investigation

Not everyone listened last year when state Rep. Adam Hasner sounded the alarm about ACORN. But the pimp-prostitute scandal (our story here) (http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/mickey-mouse-could-not-bring-down-acorn-but-a-prostitute-and-her-pimp-may/1036871) has filled him with a sense of vindication.

"It's justified to say, 'I told you so,' the Delray Beach Republican said."They are at the heart of every controversy. They should have never been receiving tax dollars. This is a radical organization. It's totally secret and they are bad actors."

Hasner suggested that maybe the Legislature should follow Congress and call for an investigation.

He scoffed when told of the group's efforts to control the damage by firing the workers who appear in hidden video to blatantly endorse prostitution. He scoffed: "When the walls are closing in on you, it's good strategy to make it appear you are cleaning house. It's too little, too late. The jig is up for ACORN."

Posted by Alex Leary at 01:11:46 AM

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Marco Rubio presses Charlie Crist on ACORN

Dear Governor Crist:

As you are no doubt aware, the community organizing group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is now under intense scrutiny for recent reports of its involvement in questionable behavior and potentially illegal activity in several states.

In addition to the damning video reports of ACORN employees now familiar to most Floridians, just last week the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office announced that arrest warrants were issued for 11 former ACORN employees accused of faking voter registration cards. While it is commendable that ACORN assisted in the investigations that led to the arrests, it begs the question: why were so many people capable of these crimes working for ACORN in the first place?

Last Friday, the Census Bureau severed ties with ACORN. On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and George LeMieux joined 81 other Senators in an overwhelming and bipartisan vote to strip federal funding from ACORN. Just yesterday, Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger in California and Tim Pawlenty in Minnesota took similar action, asking officials to investigate ACORN's behavior in their respective states and prevent state taxpayer funding of the group.

Based on the mounting evidence against ACORN and the serious questions surrounding this organization, I respectfully ask that you follow the lead of the other elected officials I mentioned above and take immediate steps to initiate a thorough investigation into ACORN's activities in Florida, including a detailed accounting of what state funds, if any, ACORN may be receiving. If it is discovered that they are receiving state funds, I believe further steps should be taken to cut off any taxpayer funding of ACORN.

The St. Petersburg Times also reported yesterday that your office may have partnered with ACORN in the past on several initiatives, including your 2007 effort to restore voting rights to convicted felons in Florida. If you partnered with ACORN, I have no reason to doubt you did so unaware of ACORN's propensity for questionable activity, and with what you believed at the time to be the best interests of Floridians at heart. However, given the recent revelations about ACORN, I believe it is now in the best interest of all Floridians for your office to provide a thorough accounting of its relationship with ACORN and what, if any, influence ACORN may have had in any actions you have taken on behalf of the people of Florida.

Lastly, during last year's presidential election, despite what now seems to be a prescient chorus of concerned parties asking for an investigation into ACORN's election-related activities, you insisted that you were unconcerned with ACORN's activities. In light of the recent allegations against ACORN, I suggest you reconsider your position, demand a full investigation of ACORN's election-related activities, and take whatever steps available to you to prevent ACORN from engaging in voter registration and other election-related activities until the questions surrounding this organization are resolved.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Marco Rubio

Posted by Adam Smith at 09:58:55 AM

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PSC Skop, FPL and the Kentucky Derby flight

What's up with Florida Power & Light and the Kentucky Derby? First, we hear that Public Service Commissioner lobbyist Ryder Rudd attended a Kentucky Derby party at the home of an exec. Rudd resigned. (http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2009/09/ryder-rudd-resigns-amid-controversy-at-psc.html)

Then, last night, thanks to the obsessive studiousness of PSC Commissioner Nathan Skop, we learn that in the first week of the 2006 Kentucky Derby, FPL Group's top honchos (Chairman/CEO Lewis Hay, Prez/COO James Robo) and their wives flew to Louisville. It was listed as a business expense.

Also a few pols (Connie Mack, Mel Martinez, Mary Bono, John Boehner). Story here (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/5min/story/1237438.html) on yesterday's events. Skop this morning called for an internal FPL audit to ensure rate payers aren't subsidizing non-business travel. Skop said there was a "shadow" over the flight logs. Indeed. Some of them are blacked out (for competitive reasons FPL says).

Posted by Times Editor at 10:14:18 AM

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Jeb Bush hits Christie fundraiser in N.J.

Not sure Jeb Bush would headline a fundraiser for a Crist, but the Newark Star-Ledger reports (http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/09/former_florida_gov_jeb_bush_wa.html) he was happy to do it for a Christie: WEST WINDSOR -- Jeb Bush, a brother of former President George W. Bush and past Florida governor, was a surprise guest at a fundraiser tonight for Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie....

Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine has hammered Christie for his personal and policy ties to George W. Bush, who appointed Christie as U.S. attorney in 2001 but later saw his approval ratings plummet in New Jersey. Christie was a fundraiser and campaign lawyer for Bush during his 2000 presidential campaign.

Christie, however, said the visit from the ex-president's brother "doesn't cause a problem for me" politically.

"This is Jeb Bush. I like Governor Bush. I think he did a great job in Florida," Christie said in an interview at the event, after he delivered a speech to the crowd of GOP faithful. "He decided to come and be supportive tonight. He wasn't somebody who was on the invitation or anything else. He was just somebody who was brought in."

Posted by Adam Smith at 10:20:12 AM

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Kendrick Meek professes respect for Marco Rubio, not Charlie Crist

From a fundraising solicitation from Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek: Former state House Speaker Marco Rubio has struck a chord with some Floridians by articulating an ultra conservative vision for our state. Though I disagree with my potential opponent's positions, I appreciate his conviction.

The governor, in contrast, belongs to the Charlie Crist Party where public policy decisions are poll driven and focus group tested. To call Governor Crist a moderate is unfair to true moderates who are guided by political philosophy rooted in principle, not political calculation....

...As I traveled the state this August in a rental car talking to Floridians who are undergoing real life challenges, the governor was jetting across the state in a plane paid for by our tax dollars interviewing would be replacements for the Senate who didn't stand a chance of receiving the appointment - making a mockery of the high responsibility he was afforded. The Tampa Tribune editorialized, "Gov. Charlie Crist did what he usually does: what's best for Charlie."

Republicans engaged in a heated primary are getting to know the true Charlie Crist. Similarly, the rest of us are learning the smiling Charlie Crist we see on our television sets a little too often continues to put his agenda before the state's needs.

Florida doesn't need a perpetual candidate representing us who is more concerned with climbing the next rung of the political ladder than leading during trying times. They need someone who fights for all of us.

Posted by Adam Smith at 10:33:28 AM

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Wanted (by RPOF): Alex Sink to take a stance

RPOF gets a nod for a clever poster pointing out that state CFO is running scared from answering questions about ObamaCare. We sent an e-mail last week to the Sink campaign asking where she stood and, still, now answer. No wonder loads o' Dems worry that the cautious former banker might be a little too cautious.

But where Alex Sink is saying too little, RPOF chair Jim Greer is saying a little too much (though CNN eats it up). Greer's statements that President Obama wanted to "indoctrinate" students by speaking to them looks ridiculous, considering Gov. Crist just did the same thing and gave essentially the same message. (http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2009/09/crist-indoctrinates-schoolchildren-with-socialist-propaganda.html) Also, Greer's attempt to turn the health care debate into a referendum on "taxpayer funded abortions" was pretty close to deceptive. He stood by the statement Aug. 12, but five days before Politifact (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2009/aug/07/abortion-and-health-care-reform-bill/) noted "we found an amendment in a key version of the House plan that specifically seeks to ensure that federal funds are not used to subsidize abortion coverage. And so we ruled that claim False."

But why read the bill or Politifact when you can make cool Wanted posters and appear on TeeVee?

Posted by Times Editor at 11:14:19 AM

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Gelber proposes bill to make PSC more accountable

Sen. Dan Gelber is proposing legislation aimed at improving accountability of the Public Service Commission.

The proposal, still in bill drafting, would change the appointment process of PSC commissioners and the Public Counsel, and clarify rules for communication between staff and individuals with regulated industries. Instead of the governor appointing all the PSC members, the governor would appoint two individuals and each Cabinet officer appoint one. Rather than the Public Counsel being appointed by a legislative committee, the governor and Cabinet would select and appoint the Public Counsel.

The bill also would make it clear that any communication by mail, e-mail or similar electronic means between staff and a person legally interested in a proceeding must be preserved and easily retrievable.

"Floridians are facing hard economic times and it is especially important they have confidence that they are paying no more than they need to on their utility bills," said Gelber, D-Miami Beach. "Enhancing accountability by opening up electronic records should help. Also, engaging the entire Cabinet in the appointment process should bring greater attention and oversight to this critical process."

Posted by Times Editor at 02:45:36 PM

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Ginny Brown-Waite endorses Marco Rubio over Charlie Crist

U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite today endorsed Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate, snubbing Gov. Charlie Crist, her fellow Tampa Bay area Republican and former colleague in the state Senate.

"Originally, I had not planned to endorse in this race, but as the challenges facing our nation and Florida grow more severe, times demand someone willing to make hard choices,'' the Brooksville Republican said. "Washington needs leaders with solid conservative beliefs and the courage to do the right thing. Marco Rubio does not try to be all things to all people. Like me, what you see is what you get. Marco Rubio is the consistent, principled conservative we need to provide a check and balance on the Obama-Reid agenda."

Crist has the support of most of the Republican establishment, though Brown-Waite is the third member of Congress to endorse the heavy underdog in the race. U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Chumuckla, also has endorsed Rubio, as has Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

Posted by Adam Smith at 02:48:16 PM

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House follows Senate with anti-ACORN vote

The U.S. House this afternoon overwhelmingly approved an amendment to ban all federal funding for ACORN, the latest salvo against the embattled community organizing group. It passed 375-75, (http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll718.xml) with Democrats making up the objections.

Florida Democrats voting no included Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, Rep. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville and Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton.

Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, said he voted yes because of lingering problems with ACORN. "The accountability from the top down has not been in place," he said. "We're the stewards of the taxpayer dollars and we're going to have to turn the spigot off until they get their act together. We have to act when there's hard evidence to show there's layers of mismanagement and that taxpayer dollars are involved."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, also voted for the amendment, tacked onto a college loan bill, but said there was no money in the bill for ACORN. "It's quite possible that this is a very large grassroots organization that has people who are not conducting business in the appropriate way. But I don't think that a couple of people getting sabotaged by right wing conservatives with cameras means that type of conduct is pervasive through the whole organization. The organization overall has done a lot of good. It has used community activism to register a lot of voters and reach people who would not have been reached with the programs they are involved with."

Posted by Alex Leary at 03:18:17 PM

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Sansom trial pushed back to Oct. 26

Ex-House Speaker Ray Sansom's trial has been moved to Oct. 26, from Sept. 29, apparently because a defense attorney has a conflict. More info to come.

Judge Terry Lewis still has to rule on several motions to dismiss the case.

Posted by Alex Leary at 03:25:53 PM

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LeMieux puts hold on federal drilling bill

U.S. Sen. George LeMieux has called for a hold on legislation that would end the federal ban on gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, a move that follows through on a pledge he made immediately after being sworn in last week.

"Given the important of this issue to Florida, I would like to be consulted before any efforts or agreements are reached to advance legislation dealing with drilling in the Gulf of Mexico," LeMieux wrote in a letter (http://blogs.tampabay.com/files/document.pdf) to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

The procedural move speaks to the "unanimous consent" rules that govern the Senate agenda.

Posted by Alex Leary at 07:12:42 PM

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Marco Rubio crushes Charlie Crist in another REC straw poll

Tonight it was in Hernando County, Charlie Crist's back yard and Bill McCollum's native county. The tally was 46 for Marco Rubio, zero for Charlie Crist.

"I'm surprised but I'm not surprised,'' said party chairman Blaise Ingoglia, stressing the motion for the straw vote came from the floor, not the leadership. "They believe in Marco Rubio's message and his values. The people in Hernando County tend to be a little more conservative."

Buzz neglected to post earlier this week that rural Gilchrist County also held a straw poll, in which Rubio got 11 votes, Crist 1. REC Chairman Tommy Langford told us a little sheepishly that turnout was low because a cattlemen's meeting and high school volley ball match were going on that night. As for the result, Langford noted that Crist promised property taxes would drop like a rock, and people arte getting TRIM notices that show otherwise.

Posted by Adam Smith at 09:50:56 PM

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