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THE BUZZ: FLORIDA POLITICS

John Thrasher rips Rick Scott

State Republican party chairman John Thrasher is officially neutral in Florida's GOP gubernatorial primary, but he's none too happy that Rick Scott is criticizing Bill McCollum for his role in the Jim Greer scandal. McCollum, like other Republican legislative leaders, long brushed off criticism of Greer's management and pleas that he help oust Greer and initially downplayed the significance of Greer's entering into a little-known fundraising contract. Thrasher suggests otherwise in a statement today that is sure to draw some eye-rolling of those who tried to get McCollum to do someone far sooner:

"Attorney General McCollum, Speaker-Designate Cannon, Senate President -Designate Haridopolos and I stood up to Governor Crist and worked to remove Jim Greer as Chairman because of his mismanagement of the Party. When evidence of the wrongdoing Jim Greer has now been indicted for was presented to us, Attorney General McCollum acted swiftly to refer our findings to the proper authorities.

"Mr. Scott's repeated attacks on Attorney General McCollum, Dean Cannon and Mike Haridopolos are not based in truth and come straight from Jim Greer's talking points. I'm hopeful Rick Scott will begin to lay out a positive message for why he is running for the Republican nomination to be our next Governor, instead of continuing to release false statements regarding fellow Republicans."

Posted by Adam Smith at 10:32:28 PM on July 6, 2010

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Bill McCollum critical of Obama lawsuit against Arizona immigration law

Florida's Attorney General Bill McCollum asserts that by challenging Arizona's new immigration law, President Obama "wrongly chose to subvert the will of the people."

"Instead of challenging the Arizona law, the Obama Administration's time would be better spent by providing more resources and securing our Southern border," McCollum said in a statement. "If the federal government were to do more to enforce existing immigration laws, states like Arizona and Florida would not have to compensate for its shortcomings."

In late May, Obama ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to the border. As a candidate for governor, McCollum initially sent mixed signals on the controversial Arizona law but now says he supports the crackdown -- a position his GOP rival, Rick Scott, has gained on.

Rep. Kendrick Meek, running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, said he supports the lawsuit. "As a former trooper in the Florida Highway Patrol, I know laws like these will also hamper law enforcement efforts and make it harder to find people who will speak out as witnesses to crimes. This law is impractical and will not make any of our communities or any of our families safer."

Posted by Alex Leary at 04:07:16 PM on July 6, 2010

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After Rick Scott calls for e-Verify, Bill McCollum does too

Rick Scott, trying to beef up his anti-illegal immigration cred in the Republican primary for governor, called Thursday for all employers in Florida to use e-verify, a program that checks the legal status of employees.

Not to be outdone, primary rival Bill McCollum today released a letter to Gov. Charlie Crist asking him to have all state agencies use the program. "As one of Florida's largest employers, state government should lead by example."

Some businesses have pointed out that the system has a 4 percent error rate and could lead to a number of "false positives," where otherwise legal workers are flagged as illegal because of a record error.

Posted by Lee Logan at 03:53:54 PM on July 6, 2010

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Broward commissioner Wasserman-Rubin resigns as criminal charges arrive

AP: A Broward County commissioner has resigned amid charges of improper involvement in county grants handled by her husband.

Diana Wasserman-Rubin, a Democrat, notified officials Tuesday in a letter that she was stepping down immediately. Later Tuesday, Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz's office said she was being charged with seven counts of unlawful compensation. Prosecutors say she pushed for her husband's grants and benefitted from them.

A Satz spokesman said Wasserman-Rubin, a Democrat, will turn herself in. Her attorney didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Several other Broward politicians have faced criminal charges in recent months, including another county commissioner and a school board member.

Posted by Alex Leary at 03:12:21 PM on July 6, 2010

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George LeMieux's 'palace'

From the Sun-Sentinel: U.S. Sen. George LeMieux is planting himself in Lighthouse Point, with the purchase a couple weeks ago of an $895,000 home. It's assessed for taxes at only $525,540 -- that number would be approximately 80 percent of the market value based on sales in that neighborhood -- which means the LeMieuxs paid more than the established market value for this palace. It is relatively new; the five-bedroom, 4,321-square-foot home was built in 2008.

LeMieux and his wife, Meike, have three sons and a newborn daughter. Gov. Charlie Crist appointed LeMieux, who grew up in Coral Springs in Broward, to the Senate seat vacated by Mel Martinez. What will his next career move be? He hasn't said.

Posted by Adam Smith at 02:00:32 PM on July 6, 2010

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Rick Scott: Bill McCollum tainted by Jim Greer scandal

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott reacts to news that Bill McCollum could be called as a witness in the Jim Greer trial: "The situation in Tallahassee is as sad as it is appalling. That is why we need a conservative outsider, like me, who can clean up this mess and force true transparency. As more comes to light about Bill McCollum's knowledge and involvement in the Greer scandal, it is clear that no matter how far removed McCollum says he is from the investigation being conducted by his employees, it cannot be truly independent so long as McCollum is their boss. These latest revelations coupled with what already had been public knowledge raises serious questions about what McCollum knew, when he knew it and why did he fail to act earlier."

Posted by Adam Smith at 01:29:26 PM on July 6, 2010

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The Bill McCollum Jobs Tour, minus a few details

Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican candidate for governor, used a plant tour in Tallahassee on Tuesday morning to highlight plans to improve Florida's jobs climate. He spent about 90 minutes at Danfoss Turbocor, which makes energy efficient oil-free compressors for air conditioners. Located in Innovation Park, the company employs about 180 people and has tried, without success, to snag lucrative state contracts.

He promised, if elected, to abolish OTTED, the governor's economic development agency, and replace it with something he says would be better: separate offices to promote economic development and obtain federal grants.

"States like Texas and Mississippi clean our clocks in competition to bring business there right now, and we have to turn that around," McCollum said as he returned to a familiar refrain: the need for lawsuit reform to reduce costs on businesses. "Right now we're not the lean, mean fighting machine when it comes to marketing our state."

The candidate acknowledged that the state's budget shortfall, now pegged at $3 billion to $6 billion next year, may actually worsen in the short term under his economic plans, which include cutting the state corporate income tax rate and creating a new sales tax break for high-tech equipment purchases.

But McCollum on three separate occasions waved off questions when reporters pressed him for details (his GOP rival, Rick Scott, has yet to put forth any specific job-creating plans, but Scott is the neophyte and McCollum is packaging himself as more prepared).

McCollum said he's "not prepared" to say where he might save money to close the shortfall. He said he will improve public education, but he said, "I'm not ready to go into all that today." And when he was asked to cite a single example of government over-regulation, he dusted off an old idea: Jeb Bush's "One-stop shopping" for business permitting. "But I'm not going to go into the details," McCollum said.

McCollum also said he's willing to testify as a witness in the Jim Greer case, in response to Monday's statement by Greer's lawyer that he will depose McCollum, Gov. Charlie Crist, and three prominent Republican legislators.

Posted by Steve Bousquet at 11:51:18 AM on July 6, 2010

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Jeff Kottkamp, first AG candidate on air, aims at cop vote

Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp became the first of Florida's 97 (okay, not that many) candidates for Florida attorney general to announce an ad buy. His campaign says it's a targeted cable buy. Translation: It's small. Featuring loads o' guns, it's heavy on the law-and-order stuff and doesn't seem misleading at first gander. C'mon, Jeff, step it up and start spinning. Seems nearly everyone else is.

Posted by Marc Caputo at 11:38:10 AM on July 6, 2010

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Troxler: 'The Florida Legislature doesn't care what anybody thinks'

Howard Troxler: The purge is complete. Four of the five members of our state Public Service Commission who voted against raising electric rates in January have now been canned by the Legislature.

Such a housecleaning is unprecedented in the three decades since the PSC switched from an elected body. It is proof of two things:

(1) The Florida Legislature absolutely does not care or fear what anybody thinks.

(2) The electric industry, and in particular Florida Power & Light of Miami, is able to take out any commissioner that it chooses.

To quote Michael Corleone in Godfather II: "If history has taught us anything, it's that you can kill anybody." I even admit a certain admiration for FP&L and its alter-ego henchman, Associated Industries of Florida.

Posted by Adam Smith at 07:59:34 AM on July 6, 2010

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