Gov. Charlie Crist (R) “wasted no time refiling his petition for a statewide grand jury on corruption issues after the Florida Supreme Court” 11/30 “said his first request didn’t meet minimum legal requirements.”
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Crist’s petition “didn’t pass muster” in detailing the “general crimes or wrongs to be inquired into” and “how the crimes cross judicial circuits, according to the Supreme Court’s two-paragraph order nixing the grand jury request.” Justices “issued the 6-1 decision without prejudice,” meaning Crist “could try again. Crist submitting a reworded grand jury request” 11/30 p.m.
The episode “is an embarrassment” for Crist (Hafenbrack, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 11/30). Three of four justices appointed by Crist were in the majority (Bousquet, Miami Times, 11/30).
So We Dropped A Zero
Rep. Kendrick Meek’s (D-17) camp “made a big deal about his campaign’s unprecedented push to qualify for the ballot by gathering” 112K petitions — an “ambitious and potentially formidable vehicle for organizing.”
So “it’s a little surprising that the Division of Elections so far has verified fewer than” 11K signatures for Meek. The deadline is 3/29, and “falling short would be more than a bit embarrassing.”
Meek mgr Abe Dyk: “There has been a huge data entry back log in our campaign. We need to go through each petition and pull that information out and put it into a data base.”
Dyk “estimated that the campaign has gathered more than half of the required signatures, but has yet to turn them in to elections officials.” In the Panhandle 11/30, “one supporter in the crowd of 14 who showed up to see Meek reportedly presented him with” 2K petitions (Smith, “The Buzz,” St. Petersburg Times, 11/30).
So Does This Mean Miami Vice Is Cool Again?
Asked last week whether ex-state House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) “would like an endorsement” from ex-AK Gov. Sarah Palin (R), veteran GOP strategist/Rubio adviser Todd Harris said: “We’d love to have Sarah Palin’s endorsement.” Harris said Palin “would energize the party base and help Rubio raise money.”
But “over the summer,” Harris “wasn’t nearly so enthusiastic about Palin and her political appeal.” After Palin resigned as gov., Harris said she “was on the verge of becoming” the “Miami Vice of American politics: Something a lot of people once thought was cool and then 20 years later look back, shake their heads and just kind of laugh.”
So would Harris “welcome Palin’s endorsement now,” a few months after saying she “was becoming a punchline?” Harris: “Yeah. Feel free not to mention any of that” (Stratton, “Political Pulse,” Orlando Sentinel, 11/30).
Coincidences Are Funny Things
Ex-Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre (D) today “called for an investigation” into Crist’s campaign, claiming that accused Ponzi schemer/atty Scott Rothstein “had a habit of contributing money” to the FL GOP when Crist “approved judicial picks that Rothstein supported.” Rothstein “was appointed by Crist” to the Judicial Nominating Commission for Broward Co.
Crist, asked about the allegation and call for an investigation: “It’s absurd.”
Ferre, in a statement: “State campaign finance records show a troubling pattern of large contributions from Mr. Rothstein and immediate and subsequent appointments of Judges to the Fourth District Court of Appeals. Is this pattern a coincidence? Could it indicate real corruption in the Judicial nominating process and raise legitimate questions about a possibility of Crist’s integrity and his fitness to govern?”
Rothstein’s firm gave $52K to the state GOP in Jul. ‘08, on “the same day that Crist appointed” Jay Hurley to the Broward Co. court. A day later Rothstein’s firm donated another $25K to the party.
Crist “appointed Rothstein to the 4th DCA Judicial nominating” commis. “four days before Rothstein contributed” $140K to the FL GOP. Rothstein and his firm gave $100K to the FL GOP in Jan. ‘09. Crist “appointed Judges Carlos Rodriguez and Barbara McCarthy two days later.”
Ferre “also questioned Crist’s appointment of Spencer Levine to an appellate judgeship in the 4th circuit, saying Rothstein pushed his appointment despite lack of judicial experience.” Ferre: “Are all these incidents just coincidence?”
But in the case of Levine, “it’s not unexpected that Crist appointed him. Levine headed the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit” when Crist was AG (Caputo, “Naked Politics,” Miami Herald, 12/1).
What We're Following See More »
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"The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security. The bipartisan measure passed easily by a vote of 386-41, with nine Republicans and 32 Democrats voting in opposition. If the bill makes it through the Senate, it would be the first-ever reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." Among the provisions it contains is a mandate that the Senate confirm the Secret Service director. It also boosts funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative by $195 million per year.
In remarks scheduled to be delivered today at the American Federation of Teachers' summer conference, President Randi Weingarten "likens U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a climate-change denier" and "says the Trump administration's school choice plans are secretly intended to starve funding from public schools. She calls taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, tuition tax credits and the like 'only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.'" The pro-voucher Center for Education Reform said teachers should "consider inviting Weingarten’s resignation."
"President Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, despite his criticism of the Justice Department head's decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe, the White House said Thursday. 'Clearly he has confidence in him or he would not be the attorney general,' spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at an off-camera briefing."
"The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Trump administration for records on an executive order President Trump reportedly planned to release targeting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday, ACLU claimed the departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Labor, and Treasury violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to release the records it requested on the reported draft order."