State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s (R) campaigning schedule has been cut short likely because “as a Cabinet member, Putnam needs to focus on his day job while the state deals with the aftershocks of Hurricane Irma ripping through the state.” While Putnam has to skip a meet-and-greet at a Baptist Church, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) and former Rep. Gwen Graham (D-02) campaigned in Tampa over the weekend. (Florida Politics)
BLAME FOR IRMA. Graham told “a big, cheering crowd at a Democratic Party gathering Saturday” that “Florida wasn’t prepared for Hurricane Irma, and much of the blame goes to Republicans who have controlled state government for 20 years. … Graham faulted Gov. Rick Scott (R) and GOP-dominated Legislatures past and present for defeating regulations that could have prevented the deaths of eight patients in a Hollywood nursing home following the storm; for failing to act on climate change; for weakening building codes, and for failing to keep up with infrastructure and transportation needs.”
HOUSING SENIORS. “Democratic candidates for governor are hitting Gov. Rick Scott and others hard in the wake of eight deaths in a South Florida nursing home that lost its air conditioning as Hurricane Irma hit the state. … A criminal investigation by Broward County law enforcement is underway into the deaths at Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, including whether they were heat-related or from carbon monoxide poisoning from generators.” Gillum “called for an independent investigation, slamming Scott for giving out ‘a special priority phone line – then fail(ing) to act when they received distress calls.’” Graham “also issued a statement that she had filed a public records request ‘for all call logs, text messages, and voicemails to a private emergency phone number Rick Scott distributed to healthcare providers.’” (SaintPetersBlog/release)
Housing investor Chris King (D) “said Friday it’s past time to talk about what to do long term. King’s Winter Park-based Elevation Financial Group owns or operates numerous senior affordable housing centers in five states including Florida. He has made affordable housing and senior care programs focal points of his campaign since he entered the race for the Democratic nomination in early March.”
King: “For two decades we have had no commitment to housing, to housing excellence, to housing access, to housing affordability. So the only time we really address is when we have a crisis.” (Florida Politics)
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The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump has ties to the Italian and Russian Mafia. "We also had sort of more broadly learned that Mr. Trump had long time associations with Italian organized crime figures," he told the Committee, "And we pieced together...[that he] gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."
The bipartisan legislation, known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, means taxpayers will "no longer foot the bill" for sexual harassment settlements involving members of Congress." The legislation "would require members to pay such settlements themselves." It also reforms the "cumbersome and degrading" complaint process by giving victims "more rights and resources," and by simplifying and clarifying the complaint process. The legislation is the first major transformation of the sexual harassment complaint system since it was created in 1995.
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.