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Trump sends Junior to stump for DeSantis, Gaetz

SCOTT KEELER | Times Florida gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham, turns in a personal check for $1,200 to the Office of Open Government. The fee paid to fulfill her public records request for all correspondence relating to Florida Governor Rick Scott's office and the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. 14 people died at the facility as a result of Hurricane Irma.
Friday 25 May 2018 11.06

Donald Trump is coming to Florida to campaign for two of his biggest cable news cheerleaders, Gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Unfortunately for them, it’s not the big guy. It’s Donald Trump Jr.

In late June, possibly the 27th, the president’s son will rally for DeSantis in The Villages, with Gaetz appearing as well. DJTJ, as we like to call him, also is expected to appear in Gaetz’s Panhandle district on Aug. 2, and with DeSantis expected to join them.

"I know Ron and I are very grateful to have the support of the Trump family," Gaetz said in an interview last week. "Don Jr. and other members of the Trump family draw great crowds."

President Trump called Attorney General Pam Bondi’s cell phone during a Hillsborough GOP fundraising dinner last weekend and said he’d be making a visit to Tampa soon.

Florida’s primary is Aug. 28.

Gaetz and Ron DeSantis last week joined a group of Republicans in demanding a second special counsel to investigate what they say are widespread abuses of power at the Justice Department and FBI in probing the Trump campaign and Russia.

Medals

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In the midst of a U.S. Senate race in which both he and his opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, are emphasizing their military service, Gov. Rick Scott did something last week he’s done more than 60 times, roughly once a month, since August, 2013 — he handed out medals on red, white and blue ribbons to veterans.

In Wednesday’s event, at the C.W. Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center in Pinellas Park, 84 veterans filed slowly past Scott at the podium to have him drape the medals around their necks.

Scott spent 29 months in the Navy during the Vietnam War on the frigate U.S.S. Glover, which was stationed in Boston much of that time.

Scott wasn’t wearing the U.S. Navy ball cap he often wears at campaign events, but one of the veterans who received the award, David Pooser, 61, did. Pooser said he took a bus and bike from St. Petersburg, where he lives at the St. Vincent de Paul Center of Hope transitional housing facility for the homeless.

"How about that — three months ago life was s—, and now I’m getting an award from the governor," said Pooser, noting that he has been sober for about three years.

Scott, who has a political committee called "Let’s Get to Work", has given about 14,500 of the medals since he started the program in 2013.

Oil ads

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Floridians who check their social media accounts this Memorial Day weekend may see an ad warning against offshore oil drilling.

The Natural Resources Defense Council says the "six figure" ad buy is aimed at Florida and other states that could be affected by the Trump administration’s plan to expand drilling.

Florida is "off the table," according to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke but critics are skeptical of that promise.

"It’s a reminder that unless the Trump Administration relegates its already embattled proposal to expand drilling from Alaska to Florida, we’ll see more devastating oil spills along our coasts, and more extreme weather from flooding in Colorado to massive hurricanes in Florida and Puerto Rico," said Franz A. Matzner, the NRDC’s director of federal affairs.

A bipartisan Florida effort to permanently ban oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico last week was blocked from consideration in Congress.

"House Republicans blocked my bipartisan amendment to ban oil drilling off the coast of Florida late (Wednesday) — meaning they will not allow a vote at all," said Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, who teamed up with Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Naples.

Bully pulpit

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Nelson is using the Senate floor to fight political battles with his rival, Scott.

One day last week it was Scott’s decision not to expand Medicaid. The next day election security, and news the state had not sought $19 million in federal funding despite widespread concern about cyber-tampering.

"While at least a dozen of other states have taken advantage by applying for and receiving the funding to help them protect their systems from Russian intrusion, my state of Florida hasn’t even applied for one single dollar of the $19 million. Not one," Nelson said.

"Why in the world would the state of Florida not apply … ?"

Nelson had seized on a Tampa Bay Times report from earlier Wednesday in which Florida’s chief elections official, Ken Detzner, said the money wouldn’t come in time for this election.

Scott quickly worked to reverse that.

William March contributed to this week’s Buzz.


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