Ryan Nicol, Author at Florida Politics - Page 2 of 56

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.
Caruso Bonfiglio

Jim Bonfiglio recount lawsuit ‘removed’ to federal court

A lawsuit filed by Democratic House District 89 candidate Jim Bonfiglio demanding an immediate recount in his race has now been transferred to federal court.

Bonfiglio first filed the lawsuit Monday in the state’s 2nd Judicial Circuit, based in Tallahassee.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the Palm Beach County canvassing board, and Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher were listed as defendants.

Detzner now argues the lawsuit belongs in federal court, filing what’s known as a “notice of removal.”

The Secretary of State noted Bonfiglio’s concerns that the Palm Beach County may not complete a recount of the HD 89 race prior to the deadline under Florida law.

Bonfiglio’s arguments come down to claims that his rights under due process and equal protection provisions in the U.S. Constitution are being violated. Thus, Detzner argues, a federal court is the proper venue for the case.

In his lawsuit, Bonfiglio highlighted comments by Bucher that Palm Beach may not be able to complete all of its recounts by the deadline of Thursday at 3 p.m. The Democrat demanded that deadline be extended.

In addition to Bonfiglio’s HD 89 contest, the races for Governor, U.S. Senate and Agriculture Commissioner also are going through a recount.

Bonfiglio currently sits just 37 votes behind Republican candidate Mike Caruso.

Bonfiglio’s suit notes that the Palm Beach County canvassing board is recounting the races “in the order they appear on the ballot, placing the HD 89 recount last, making it the least likely to be recounted” by Thursday’s deadline.

Bonfiglio also asked that his recount begin immediately, so as to ensure it is completed in time.

“We always knew this race would be close,” Bonfiglio said. “What we’re fighting for now is the right of HD 89 voters’ to have their voices heard.”

From recount to retirement? Brenda Snipes hints she may not run for re-election

Controversial Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes is hinting she may step aside instead of run for re-election in 2020.

Snipes has held the position leading the county Supervisor of Elections office since 2003, when she was appointed by Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.

She has gone on to win re-election several times since, running as a Democrat. But speaking to reporters Tuesday, Snipes hinted that it may be “time to move on.”

Asked whether she would seek re-election in 2020, Snipes said, “I’ll just check with my family.”

While she didn’t say one way or the other what she would decide, Snipes’ tenure has often been the focus of controversy, including in the aftermath of this year’s midterm elections.

The county has faced heavy criticism for its placement of the U.S. Senate race on the ballot.

The contest was located underneath the ballot instructions, prompting worry that many voters may have skipped the race, thinking it was part of those instructions. Analyses have shown this may have cost U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson thousands of votes in a race he’s currently losing by less than 13,000. That race is currently undergoing a recount.

Snipes’ office has also been ripped for its delays in counting votes. It also was ordered by a judge to turn over vote counts to the Rick Scott campaign in compliance with Florida law.

That’s not the first time Snipes’ office has been reprimanded by a judge. Earlier this year, a judge ordered the Department of State to send election monitors down to Broward County to watch this year’s elections.

That ruling came after Snipes office was found to have preemptively destroyed ballots from the 2016 contest in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District.

Broward County began its recounts of eligible races on Tuesday morning. The deadline to complete those recounts is Thursday at 3 p.m.

Snipes expressed confidence Tuesday the county would meet that deadline.

Brian Mast defends Rick Scott, rips Bay Co. elections supervisor

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast had harsh words for missteps by various counties’ Supervisors of Election in a call to reporters Monday afternoon, including reports that Republican-leaning Bay County accepted votes by email and fax in opposition to Florida law.

Mast was speaking in defense of Gov. Rick Scott, and began by backing assertions that Scott would emerge the victor in his U.S. Senate race.

“No question this was a close race,” Mast said. “But it has been decisive as well.”

The latest tallies put Scott ahead of incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by less than 13,000 votes.

A recount is currently being conducted in that race, as well as statewide contests for Governor and Agriculture Commissioner.

Scott attorney Tim Cerio of the GrayRobinson firm, who was also on the call, said nine counties have finished their machine recount, while 14 counties have not started. The remaining recounts are in progress.

Mast said he’s already helping with the Scott transition team, as well as the transition of Florida’s tentative Governor-elect, Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis leads Democrat Andrew Gillum by more than 33,000 votes at last count.

Mast also was outspoken about the process in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Both counties have earned heavy criticism for the way they have handled last week’s vote.

“One of the most frustrating things to me, personally, is when I see the law simply not being adhered to, court orders not being adhered to,” Mast said.

“We have laws in place for all elections at all levels so that we can try to ensure that people in our voting population can rely upon those laws and have confidence in that their vote matters.”

Mast is referring to Scott’s assessment that Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher was flouting a court order last week. Bucher said she would not be able to meet a court deadline to submit “overvoted” and “undervoted” absentee ballots to the county’s canvassing board.

Republicans have openly criticized those two South Florida counties, even veering into conspiracy talk at times.

But Mast says criticism should be equally applied to Republican-leaning Bay County. Reports emerged Monday that the county ignored Florida law and accepted ballots by email and fax in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

“It has to go either way, no matter whether it’s a Republican county or a Democrat county or a middle-of-the-road county,” Mast said of the criticism.

“For us to have that trust in the system, we have to be able to show that everybody is accountable to this and we’re not going to try to adjudicate elections based upon our party and how we can try to ignore some of these laws. That cannot be the perception for anybody on either side of the aisle.”

Mast, whose congressional district covers Palm Beach County, also ripped Bucher further over comments she would not be able to complete machine recounts by Thursday’s deadline, as the county’s equipment cannot conduct multiple recounts at once.

“When you have failures like this, and these failures have ripples that go across the entire state and the entire nation and diminish people’s faith in this system, that is one of the worst things that we can see happen,” Mast said, again emphasizing public faith in elections.

“That is, unfortunately, entirely preventable by good preparation. And this is where I think we’re seeing a failure to prepare for all of these possible contingencies when, in fact, that was their job to prepare for things like this. And that’s sad to see.”

Jim Bonfiglio

Jim Bonfiglio sues to extend vote reporting deadline, begin recount in HD 89

Jim Bonfiglio, the Democratic candidate in House District 89, on Monday filed a lawsuit demanding the extension of the vote reporting deadline in his race against Republican Mike Caruso.

In sum, Bonfiglio is concerned that with all the other ongoing recounts, namely statewide offices, elections officials won’t have time to do his race.

The race is one of several in the state within recount range. The most recent vote tally puts Caruso ahead by just 37 votes, giving him a lead of 50.02 percent to 49.98 percent over Bonfiglio.

Bonfiglio’s suit is filed against Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the Palm Beach County canvassing board, and the Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.

In the lawsuit, Bonfiglio’s lawyers seek to “compel Defendants to take such steps as are necessary to allow Florida Electors within Palm Beach County, and more specifically, HD 89, a meaningful opportunity to have their votes properly counted.”

Bucher has previously said she is unable to complete the necessary machine recounts by this Thursday’s deadline.

Bonfiglio’s team notes the canvassing board “decided to recount the races in the order they appear on the ballot, placing the HD 89 recount last, making it the least likely to be recounted by the deadlines set forth” by Florida law.

He argues without a recount, Caruso’s slim lead would not be reviewed, depriving Bonfilgio and the voters of “a full and fair election.”

To that end, his lawyers asked both that the recount in his race be initiated now and that Thursday’s deadline be extended for as long as needed to complete it.

“We always knew this race would be close,” Bonfiglio said, in a statement obtained by Florida Politics.

“What we’re fighting for now is the right of HD 89 voters’ to have their voices heard.”

House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee also released a statement backing Bonfiglio’s calls for a review of the process.

“Let me be clear: counting ballots should not be a partisan issue,” McGhee said.

“It should concern every Floridian that this deadline would overlook legal ballots. We are committed to ensuring that voting rights are protected and respected during this recount process.”

Palm Beach County is also forced to handle recounts in three statewide races in addition to the HD 89 contest. Two other races in the state legislature were in recount territory following Tuesday’s election.

Bonfiglio is represented by Fort Lauderdale attorney Jason Blank. who has some experience in litigating this year’s election.

Earlier this year, Blank filed a complaint over a Florida non-profit making a late push for Democratic Senate District 8 candidate Olysha Magruder.

He sought clarification on whether non-profit corporations can advocate for or against individual candidates without following the reporting guidelines of a political committee. The answer? No.

Judge denies Rick Scott request for injunction against Broward County amid recount

A Broward County judge has denied a request from the Rick Scott team for an injunction to impound certain Broward County voting machines as the recount in the U.S. Senate race continues.

The term-limited Republican governor Scott is currently ahead, but in mandatory machine recount range, over incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

According to Alex Seitz-Wald, an NBC News political reporter, Scott’s legal team said they were not attempting to interfere with the recount.

Instead, they asked that the ballots and voting machines remain impounded only when not being reviewed or used as part of the recount process.

Chief Circuit Judge Jack Tuter denied that injunction request, saying, “I don’t think I have any evidence to enter a mandatory injunction right now.”

However, Tuter did agree with Scott’s attorneys that additional protections be added to restore the public’s confidence in the recount process.

To that end, Tuter recommended adding three more deputies from the Broward Sheriff’s Office to oversee the work being done by the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office.

Brenda Snipes, who heads that office, has taken on heat since last Tuesday’s vote. Many have criticized the county’s slow process, while some Republicans, including Scott, have openly accused Snipes’ office of attempting to manufacture votes in a conspiracy to “steal” the elections for Democrats.

President Donald Trump has jumped on that bandwagon, saying on Twitter, “An honest vote count is no longer possible — ballots massively infected” — though he did not offer evidence to underpin that claim.

He also alleged “large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere,” but didn’t explicitly say that fake ballots had, for example, been made.

Court proceedings under Tuter were set to reconvene at 1 p.m. Monday. Tuter also asked lawyers on both sides to “tamp down the rhetoric” regarding the recount.

“We have to be careful about what we say,” Tuter argued.

Miami Beach Medical Group to sponsor city’s Veterans Day parade

The city of Miami Beach is partnering with Miami Beach Medical Group to honor America’s soldiers with its upcoming Veterans Day parade.

The event is scheduled for this Sunday, Nov. 11 at 11:11 a.m. The route will move along Ocean Drive from Fifth to 14th streets.

After that, closing ceremonies will begin at noon at Lummus Park. On the agenda is a family picnic, wreath laying ceremony and a performance by an all-veterans parachute team.

“Miami Beach Medical Group is proud to be the official sponsor for a fourth straight year to such an important event for our community,” said the group’s Chief Operating Officer Jose Sanchez.

“As leading health care providers in Miami-Dade County and as one of the largest independent medical groups in Miami Beach, we give our thanks to the service provided by each of our veterans and the sacrifices that not only they have made, but those made by their families as well.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with Miami Beach and the veteran community for many years to come.”

Those participating in the parade include school marching bands, pageant queens, and public officials, among the many veterans. Officials from Southern Command and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will also be on hand to address the crowds.

What recount? Nikki Fried declares victory in Ag. Commissioner race

With a recount looking, Democratic candidate Nikki Fried declared victory Saturday in her race to be Florida’s next Agriculture Commissioner.

Fried also named former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy as chair of her transition team. U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Florida’s 9th congressional District will serve as a co-chair, as will Fred Guttenberg. Guttenberg has become active in the political scene since his daughter, Jaime, was killed in February’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.

At this stage, Fried leads her Republican opponent, Matt Caldwell, by just over 5,000 votes according to the latest numbers.

But with the first count in the race completed, Fried says voters have made their choice.

“The process has worked,” Fried said, speaking in front of supporters in Plantation.

“The will of the voters was heard, and the people’s choice is clear. I’m humbled and honored to be elected Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as the first woman to have ever been elected to this position.”

The election is not over, however. Fried’s margin gives her a 0.06 percentage point lead over Caldwell. Florida law requires any race within a 0.5 percentage point margin to go to a machine recount.

Fried’s tally climbed in recent days as ballots continued to be counted in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Caldwell’s team has lashed out against the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office. They accused Supervisor Brenda Snipes of failing to accurately count the area’s votes.

That was followed by a lawsuit filed Friday against Snipes. His lawyers allege that Broward County accepted absentee ballots after the polls had close.

Though the race remains incredibly tight, the Florida Democratic Party has also congratulated Fried on her “win.”

Murphy also released a statement on his new role chairing Fried’s transition team, should she formally be declared the winner.

“Over the course of this race I’ve gotten to know Nikki Fried and she’s impressed me as a knowledgeable, hard-working, independent leader—she puts common-sense above politics and will do the right things as Commissioner,” Murphy said.

“I’m looking forward to working with her and Commissioner [Adam] Putnam on a seamless transition and helping her put together an office which will accomplish her priorities of protecting our waterways, being a fighter for farmers in Tallahassee and Washington, ensuring complete background checks, and expanding access to medical marijuana.”

Of her transition chairs, Fried said, “They bring a diversity of experience, expertise, and leadership in the important issues facing our state.”

She closed with a note reflecting back on what turned out to be a wild 2018 midterm cycle in the state.

“This election is unusual, and even historic,” Fried said.

“I plan to work my hardest, so I’m ready to tackle the issues as your next Commissioner of Agriculture.”

Caruso Bonfiglio

HD 89 contest headed to a recount

The open race for House District 89 is headed for a recount, as just over 100 votes separate the two candidates in the final tally with more than 77,000 votes cast.

Republican Mike Caruso finished with 50.08 percent of the vote. Democrat Jim Bonfiglio received 49.92 percent.

Florida law triggers a recount if the result of a race is within 0.5 percentage points.

Tuesday night was the culmination of what was, at times, an incredibly heated contest between the two.

Combative mailers were sent out by both sides during the general election. And Bonfiglio even went so far as to file an ethics complaint against Caruso over alleged campaign finance violations.

Caruso also faced questions over a pair of endorsements he listed in an email to supporters which were in dispute.

And Caruso earned a suspension from his HOA and tennis club for allegedly using the premises to conduct his campaign.

Still, Caruso fought hard in the fundraising race after getting through a tough primary battle with fellow Republican Matt Spritz. But Bonfiglio wasn’t afraid to spend his own money in the form of self-loans into his campaign.

Some signs pointed to Bonfiglio having a shot of flipping this seat for the Democrats.

An internal poll from early October had Bonfiglio ahead by 10 percentage points. And a September analysis of the contest showed a path by which Bonfiglio could come out on top.

HD 89 runs up the coast of Palm Beach County. This was a race for an open seat; outgoing GOP state Rep. Bill Hager is term-limited.

Recount chaos: Rick Scott says Palm Beach official flouting court order

The Rick Scott for U.S. Senate campaign is accusing Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher of refusing to comply with a court order issued earlier Friday.

But Bucher says she just won’t be able to meet that deadline, according to WPBF’s Terri Parker. The ballots were to be provided to the county canvassing board.

Circuit Judge Krista Marx issued an order requiring Bucher to submit “overvoted” and “undervoted” absentee ballots for public review prior to the votes being counted.

Scott’s race against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson appears to be headed to a recount, highlighting the importance of county officials’ oversight of the process.

Those ballots were to be provided to the county canvassing board. Now, Bucher says she won’t be able to meet that deadline, according to WPBF’s Terri Parker.

The Scott campaign issued a scathing statement in response.

“Tonight, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher announced that she is refusing to comply with a court order to submit overvotes and undervotes to the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board for review under the court-ordered deadline,” said Chris Hartline, a Scott spokesperson.

“Susan Bucher has consistently refused to follow state law and comply with legally required deadlines and regulations. Whether it’s gross incompetence or intentional disregard for the rule of law is irrelevant at this point. Either way, it is embarrassing and unacceptable.”

The news comes the same night Broward County complied with a separate order from another judge, requiring Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes to submit to the Scott campaign the county’s tally of ballots received and counted.

Scott’s team said they have received documents from Snipes’ office, and are reviewing them to ensure they are complete.

Recount revving up? Broward releases vote info to Rick Scott campaign

The Rick Scott for Senate campaign Friday night said it has received documents requested from the office of Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes. Scott’s team said they’ll first be reviewing them to make sure they’re complete.

Snipes was ordered to release information regarding the county’s vote totals earlier Friday evening by Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips.

The ruling was part of a lawsuit initiated against Snipes by the Scott campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Snipes was ordered to release the total number of ballots cast in the county. Phillips also mandated that the county list how many of those ballots had been counted and how many still remain uncounted.

Phillips cited violations by Snipes of both the Florida Constitution and the state’s public records law in issuing her ruling.

Scott has accused county officials of conspiring to steal the election from him. The outgoing and term-limited Republican Governor appears to be headed for a recount in his election bid to oust Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

The contest is one of several throughout the state which look to be in recount range.

The latest numbers gives Scott a lead of just under 15,000 votes among more than 8 million cast. He currently leads Nelson by just 0.18 percentage points.

Elections where the margin of victory is at or below 0.5 percent must undergo a machine recount under Florida law.

The Scott campaign issued a statement earlier, praising Phillips’ decision to order the vote counts released.

“We are glad that the Broward Supervisor of Elections is being held accountable for this unethical failure,” spokesman Chris Hartline said.

“Bill Nelson and his ragtag group of liberal lawyers from D.C. keep trying to steal this election, but they won’t get away with it. Floridians deserve transparency, and we are going to keep fighting to protect the choice the voters made in this election.”

Hartline is referring to Marc Elias of Perkins Coie, a high-powered law firm based in D.C. Elias is representing Nelson’s campaign in the legal quagmire surrounding the election.

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