1. Florida Politics

In U.S. House race, Jolly and Sink ads play fast and loose with facts

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor chided the House speaker.
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor chided the House speaker.
Published Jan. 29, 2014

Attacks in the Pinellas County U.S. House race are coming fast and furious, thanks to a shortened campaign schedule for the March 11 special election. As Democrats look to retake the House from Republicans, the seat is a prime target for both parties. That means national campaign organizations are spending big bucks to reach voters.

On Jan. 21, Democrats targeted former lobbyist David Jolly's resume with a commercial that charged that his former firm lobbied "for hundreds of millions (of dollars) for a dictator in Pakistan." Besides implying Jolly was somehow involved — which he was not — the ad also made it seem his employer had been doing something wrong by lobbying for a U.S. ally in the war on terror. PolitiFact Florida rated the claim Half True.

The next day, the GOP attacked former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, saying she had supported "more taxes on water and TV." PolitiFact Florida looked up her statements from decades past and found that subject came up while she was on an advisory panel in 1997 for education policies. It was a minor moment that had no binding legislative authority, but it still happened, so the claim was rated Mostly True.

For more fact-checking from the District 13 race, go to

Judge's side business

The state panel charged with investigating alleged misconduct by Florida judges has recommended suspension without pay, a fine and publicly reprimanding the Leon County judge accused of operating a for-profit religious business from her office. Judge Judith W. Hawkins was charged in December 2012 with misconduct after she was accused of selling Bible study books and other products to people who regularly appear in her courtroom.

The nature of Hawkins' business was not specified in the report from the Judicial Qualifications Commission outlining its recommendations to the Florida Supreme Court. The report says those details are "irrelevant" and her business is identified only as "ABC."

Testing Florida's clout

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor has sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner about his comment that the House will not take up the Senate's flood insurance bill. The AP's initial story, based on a passing comment Boehner made, was updated with a more measured response. Still, the House is an obstacle.

The flood insurance issue, which has bipartisan backing in Florida, is one of the biggest tests of the state's political power in recent memory.

Castor wrote in part: "The unreasonable flood insurance increases are harmful particularly to middle class families across the Tampa Bay area, however this is a national issue. One hundred and eighty bipartisan members have cosponsored the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013 and thereby have demonstrated the broad-based support for moving forward now."

Count Hasner out of race

From the Palm Beach Post:

Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner confirmed over the weekend what was becoming increasingly obvious: He won't be entering the nationally watched 2014 race to unseat freshman Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy in a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast swing district.

Hasner was courted by the National Republican Congressional Committee and others last year to run for Murphy's District 18 seat. He and his wife, Jillian, had even put their Boca Raton home on the market in anticipation of a potential move north.

Times staff writers Tia Mitchell and Alex Leary contributed to this Buzz.