Ryan Nicol, Author at Florida Politics - Page 6 of 46

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.
Ashley Moody

Florida Chamber endorses Ashley Moody for Attorney General

The Florida Chamber of Commerce announced Friday it was endorsing Republican candidate Ashley Moody for Attorney General.

The group made the announcement during a live stream on the Florida Chamber’s Facebook page and followed up with a post on Twitter.

“I believe that I am meant to do this, and can do this, and will make you proud of your support,” Moody said in a speech accepting the endorsement.

Bob Grammig, chair of the Florida Chamber Board of Directors and a partner at Holland & Knight law firm, introduced Moody before she spoke at the event.

Moody spent three years as an associate at Holland & Knight’s Tampa office before her time as a judge.

Chamber board member and former House Speaker Will Weatherford of Weatherford Capital was on hand as well, along with Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson.

Moody also made comments about the importance of Florida’s criminal justice system, with words that could have applied to the ongoing debate over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The strength of the system hinges on its fairness and balance. And the credibility of opinions issued is only as strong as people give them viability because they know the system is fair.”

The former judge and prosecutor also issued a jab at her opponents in the race, Democratic opponent and state Rep. Sean Shaw and non-party affiliated candidate Jeffrey Marc Siskind.

“This is not the time in Florida to have someone at the helm as chief legal officer, top prosecutor, who has never prosecuted a case.”

Recent polling shows Moody with a slight lead in the race. A survey in late August had her leading Shaw by three points, while a poll earlier this month pegged Moody’s lead at just two.

Shaw recently made multiple announcements on the team surrounding him, naming members to his “General Election Finance Committee,” as well as adding former Gwen Graham and Alex Sink staffers to his campaign.

Potential debate dates cause consternation among CD 27 candidates

With fewer than six weeks until Election Day, the candidates in Florida’s 27th Congressional District have still not nailed down a firm date for a single debate.

That’s despite Democratic nominee Donna Shalala and Republican candidate Maria Elvira Salazar expressing weeks ago the desire to join together for a discussion of the issues.

Both candidates maintain their desire to sit down together in comments made to Florida Politics.

“I look forward to debating my opponent,” Shalala said. “I’m not dodging debates or forums. I stand up for what I believe. If Maria Elvira Salazar will not stand up to me, how can voters count on her to stand up to Trump?”

To that, the Shalala campaign listed more than half a dozen debates and forums to be held in the coming weeks which Shalala has committed to attending.

But representatives from the Salazar campaign call allegations she’s “dodging” debates “absolutely false.”

Jose Luis Castillo, a spokesperson for Salazar, pointed to three debates the former Telemundo and CNN en Español anchor has agreed to. One would be aired on Univision, the second on Telemundo, and the third on WPLG’s This Week in South Florida.

Mike Hernandez, a Shalala spokesperson, confirmed discussions have been held with both Univision and Telemundo. But thus far, the candidates appear unable to agree on a suitable date and time.

Florida Politics contacted Univision and Telemundo for information on where those negotiations stand, and is awaiting a reply.

Regarding the potential meeting on WPLG, the Salazar campaign says they have agreed to sit down on Oct. 28, just a week and a half before Election Day after after early voting has begun. But it appears they backed off an agreement for an earlier appearance.

Shalala already sat down with This Week in South Florida hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg on last Sunday’s program.

During that discussion, Putney said, “We invited Maria Elvira to come and be part of this conversation. And her campaign considered it and said we’ll do one debate on Channel 10, on This Week in South Florida. We would rather do it Oct. 7. So she was invited, chose not to be here.”

But again, according to the Salazar campaign, that Oct. 7 date is also now a no-go, with the campaign requesting a sit-down on the Oct. 28.

Constituents in CD 27 are likely hungry for a debate, given that both women are first-time congressional candidates.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a familiar face who has served the district for decades, chose not to run for re-election, making this an open race.

And this is not some district where one party or the other has the race in the bag and stands to gain nothing from a debate.

While FiveThirtyEight is bullish on Shalala’s chances, other analysts are far more skeptical this race is a runaway for either candidate.

And though the district has long been represented by a Republican in Ros-Lehtinen, voters handed the district to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.

New ad dings Jeremy Ring over past lobbying work

A new digital ad is out hitting Jeremy Ring, the Democratic candidate for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, over his past work at a lobbying firm while holding his role as a state Senator.

The ad, titled “Lobbyist,” was released by Treasure Florida, the political committee of his Republican opponent in the CFO race, Jimmy Patronis. A request for comment from the Ring campaign is pending.

“Jeremy Ring: sometimes a politician, sometimes a lobbyist,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“At times, both, like when Senator Ring used his position to lobby for state contracts for his own client. Jeremy Ring: sometimes a politician, sometimes a lobbyist, always looking out for himself.”

The Florida Commission on Ethics did approve that arrangement back in 2013, while Ring was chair of the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee.

Ring sought to work for the venture capital firm Sterling Partners as a consultant while the Senate was not in session.

To be clear, the commission did not allow him to serve as a lobbyist per se before the Legislature.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Ring was permitted to advise the firm over whether or not to approach the Legislature regarding certain issues.

“However, once such a decision is made, the Senator’s consulting should not include any activities related to accomplishing the goals of the firm or its subsidiaries before the Legislature,” the commission concluded.

The commission did allow Ring to “approach community colleges, school districts and local governments,” as reported by the Tampa Bay Times.

New Rick Scott ad touts ‘leadership’ during Hurricane Irma

Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s latest ad reflects on his response to Hurricane Irma as it struck Florida last year.

Scott is currently challenging Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson for his U.S. Senate seat.

The 30-second spot, “Leadership,” is replete with clips of new anchors highlighting the danger of the storm, along with Scott’s warnings issued to residents as the storm closed in.

Indeed, Scott was consistent in ringing the alarm bell pre-Irma, calling the Hurricane “the most catastrophic storm the state has ever seen.”

The Scott campaign also highlighted comments from sheriffs across the state praising Scott for his response to the storm.

“I know I’ll never forget the amazing response from Governor Scott before, during, and after Hurricane Irma,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

“That was a tough storm for us and Governor Scott was with us, in the trenches, and leading from the front. That’s the kind of leadership and compassion we expect from our elected officials. Gov. Scott is the real deal.”

“During last year‘s active hurricane season, [Gov. Scott] stayed in constant communication with all sheriffs on the treasure coast and was here in our emergency operation center to make sure we had all the assets that we needed,” added Martin County Sheriff William Snyder.

“I have no doubt that when Gov. Scott gets to Washington, he will continue to make the safety of Florida families and visitors his first priority.”

However, Scott also earned some criticism over decisions he made regarding debris removal in the Florida Keys.

An investigation by CBS4 News in Miami found Scott cost the state between $28 and $20 million dollars by issuing emergency contracts for debris removal after the storm.

More than $43 million in invoices were submitted for that work, according to CBS4 News. Meanwhile, Scott ignored contracts already in place for debris removal. Those companies could have performed the same work for as little as $13 million, according to the investigation.

Monroe County Mayor George Nugent, a Republican, called Scott’s actions “price gouging.”

Don’t ‘worry,’ be healthy: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell drops new ad

When it comes to your health, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell doesn’t want you to “worry.”

The Democratic congressional candidate is out with a new ad in her race against Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

The 30-second spot, titled “Worry,” features Mucarsel-Powell spelling out her goals for America’s health care system while jabbing at past Republican proposals.

“No one should have to worry whether they can afford to see a doctor, buy a prescription or recover from an illness,” Mucarsel-Powell says.

“We Democrats are fighting to stop insurance companies from charging people with pre-existing conditions more, stop them from charging people over 50 an age tax, and take on the drug companies to bring costs down.”

The fight over health care will likely be a recurring issue throughout this campaign.

Earlier this month, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a series of ads criticizing Curbelo for his vote last year to repeal Obamcare.

I know what it’s like to have an insurance company slam the door in your face when a loved one becomes sick,” said Judith Casale, a health care advocate in Miami.

“When insurance companies found out my husband had melanoma, they refused to cover us. My congressman, Carlos Curbelo, and his party are trying to take us back to a system where profits are more important than the lives of those we love.

“… I’m supporting Debbie because she’s spent her career helping people in our community and expanding access to affordable care. I know she’ll do the same for us in Congress.”

Mucarsel-Powell’s new ad comes on the heels of a poll showing her with a one-point lead over Curbelo. Election analysts peg this as a close contest, rating it as either a “toss up” or with a slight edge toward Curbelo.

David Shapiro fails to list Colorado condo on financial disclosure forms

David Shapiro, the Democratic candidate in Florida’s 16th Congressional District, violated reporting rules again by failing to disclose his ownership of a Colorado rental condo.

That’s according to the financial disclosure report Shapiro filed with the U.S. House.

It’s the second such reporting violation found during Shapiro’s run for the seat currently held by Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan.

Earlier this month, Shapiro’s campaign admitted an omission in reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission, after failing to list certain in-kind contributions to his campaign. The campaign said those reports would be updated during the next filing.

At issue here is a condominium in Grand County, Colorado. That condo is owned by “Drazmar Colorado, LLC” according to the Grand County Assessor database. Florida Politics confirmed Shapiro has an ownership stake in Drazmar Colorado, LLC.

The property is listed by The Winter Park Lodging Company, a vacation rental management service. A scanning of the “reviews” tab appears to show the property was rented out multiple times per year, from 2014 through 2018.

That’s a problem, according to the “Instruction Guide” put out by the U.S. House Committee on Ethics. Pages 22 and 23 of the guide layout that disclosure in privately held companies, such as LLC’s, is required if it has “generated more than $200 in income during the reporting period.” Shapiro’s most recent report covers the calendar year of 2017.

Neither the LLC nor the condo is listed in Shapiro’s most recent financial disclosure report, according to a review by Florida Politics.

Alex Vuskovic, Shapiro’s campaign manager, issued a statement regarding the omissions.

“We are instructing the accounting firm who filed David’s personal financial disclosure to file an updated disclosure, based on their oversight.” Vuskovic said.”

Page 10 of the ethics guide lays out the potential punishment for filing false disclosure statements. Citing the “False Statements Accountability Act of 1996,” the guide notes that law “provides for a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to five years for knowingly and willfully” making a false statement in a filing.

However, it’s unclear whether Shapiro’s actions rise to the level of “knowing and willful.”

Page 8 of the committee’s guide says, “Generally, unless there is some evidence that errors or omissions are knowing or willful, or appear to be significantly related to other potential violations, the Committee notifies the filer of the error and requires that he or she submit an amendment or provide an explanation or other information explaining why the filer believes an amendment is not necessary. Once an amendment is properly submitted, the Committee takes no further action.”

A 2012 report by the Ethics Committee on errors in financial disclosure forms found “between 30 percent and 50 percent” of submitted statements contain errors or require a correction. More than 95 percent of the time, the filers appear unaware of the errors.

Ironically, that 2012 report was made in response to allegations that Buchanan, Shapiro’s opponent in CD 16, “did not report, in complete and accurate detail, all of the positions or ownership interests he held with several entities” in financial disclosure statements from 2007 to 2010

The committee also found Buchanan “did not accurately report certain income received from those same entities in the same years.” However, the committee deemed those omissions mere “errors.” Buchanan eventually amended the reports and no further action was taken.

Rick Scott and Bill Nelson

Bill Nelson ‘asleep at the wheel,’ says new Rick Scott ad

Republican Gov. Rick Scott, running for the U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, is out with a new ad replete with news coverage clips critical of Nelson’s efforts during the campaign.

The ad’s title, “Asleep at the Wheel,” comes from a clip of Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson using that term to describe Nelson’s re-election campaign.

That clip is played twice in the ad, along with analysis from POLITICO’s Marc Caputo, MSNBC’s Katy Tur, and other media figures regarding Nelson’s at-time lagging campaign.

A request for comment from the Nelson team regarding Scott’s new ad is pending.

Multiple reports have chronicled Democrats’ worries that Nelson could lose the seat to Gov. Scott, even in the event of a solid year for Democrats in the midterms overall.

However, there have been some recent signs of good news for the incumbent Nelson. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed him leading Scott by a whopping seven points. While that poll is an outlier, an NBC News/Marist survey released the same day showed Nelson up by three points.

Nelson now leads in an analysis of the race by both RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight, though his margin remains slim. So while Scott continues to push the narrative that Nelson is asleep at the wheel, the incumbent may be in the process of shifting his campaign into a higher gear.

Joe Biden backs Lauren Baer in CD 18

Former Vice President Joe Biden announced Wednesday he’s endorsing Democratic nominee Lauren Baer in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

Baer is competing against Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast. Biden becomes the second former high-level official in the Barack Obama administration to endorse Baer this week after former Secretary of State John Kerry announced his support Monday.

Baer also served in the Obama administration as an adviser in the State Department. Biden referenced her experience there in his statement announcing the endorsement.

“Lauren Baer is exactly the kind of leader we need in Washington,” Biden said.

“Having served six years as a senior adviser in the State Department during the Obama-Biden Administration, she knows what it takes to get things done. I know that Lauren will fight every day for all the residents of Florida’s 18th district.”

Biden has earned buzz recently over a possible 2020 presidential run. He’s also entered the fray elsewhere in South Florida, backing Debbie Mucarsel-Powell as she competes with Carlos Curbelo in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

Biden closed his pitch for Baer with a bipartisan appeal to voters.

“No matter your race, religion, or age, no matter who you are, or who you love, Lauren will have your back,” Biden added.

“It’s time we elect leaders who put the people first, not special interests.”

Baer has attempted to go after Mast recently over his environmental record and tax policies.

A survey last week from Public Policy Polling showed Baer within just three points of Mast. However, election analysts still see Mast as the favorite in November, rating the seat as “likely Republican.”

New Florida GOP ad promotes Ron DeSantis’ environmental plan

After gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis rolled out his environmental plan earlier this month, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) is out with a new ad promoting the plan in a pitch to voters.

DeSantis is competing against Democrat Andrew Gillum in the race for Governor. The RPOF’s new 30-second ad, titled “Way of Life,” is part of a $3 million ad buy supporting DeSantis’ campaign.

“Florida’s water crisis isn’t just an ecological disaster, it’s a threat to our way of life,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“That’s why Ron DeSantis stood up to special interest polluters and has a bold plan to clean up our waterways, restore the Everglades, fight the red tide and build a southern reservoir on Lake Okeechobee to stop toxic algae.”

The ad then switches over to DeSantis, who addresses voters directly. “As Governor, I’ll stand up to the special interests to clean up our waters and stop the spread of toxic algae.”

DeSantis’ full policy agenda on the environment is available on his website. DeSantis’ says he opposes offshore drilling and will work to install a ban on fracking, among other policy proposals.

The Republican’s promises were met with skepticism earlier this month from Democrats and some environmental groups.

You can watch the ad from the RPOF below.

Jeremy Ring returns fire with list of dodgy Jimmy Patronis donors

State Sen. Jeremy Ring, the Democratic nominee for Florida Chief Financial Officer, is hitting back hard against a website that highlights his supporters with criminal pasts.

Behind the site is the re-election campaign of Ring’s Republican opponent, incumbent CFO Jimmy Patronis. Now, Ring is playing the same trick with Patronis’ donors, some of whom have faced their own criminal charges.

Jeffrey Bragg: In 2003, Bragg settled a case after facing allegations that he harmed investors by signing misleading flood insurance documents. He was serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Insurance Management Solutions Group Inc. at the time. Bragg appears to have made a pair of $500 contributions to Patronis’ campaign, along with another $500 donation to Patronis’ political committee, Treasure Florida.

Bragg was also once offered up for a post as the state’s insurance commissioner but after questions regarding those allegations were raised, he was eventually appointed to the Department of Elder Affairs under the Secretary of State.

Mike Horner: A former state representative who resigned his post in 2012 after an investigation pegged him as a client at an Orange County brothel.

Horner was likely to win re-election to his Kissimmee seat. He was not charged with a crime. So far, Horner has donated $250 to Patronis’ re-election bid.

Jay Odom: A GOP donor who was previously indicted over federal campaign finance allegations. He has put forward a whopping $5,000 to Treasure Florida.

Odom was accused of laundering more than $10,000 to reimburse donations to a 2008 presidential candidate, believed to be Mike Huckabee. He was also charged with making false statements.

Thorsten Pfeffer: Co-owner of a club in Panama City Beach who faced charges he used to club to distribute drugs. Pfeffer went to trial and was found not guilty on both counts he faced. He has offered up $500 to Patronis’ campaign, according to records filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

Ring’s campaign promises “more to come” regarding Patronis’ donor base.

The offensive was launched after the Patronis campaign set up RingsCriminalRing.com, which offered similar details over contributors to Ring’s effort to oust Patronis from the CFO position.

“Does this make Jimmy Patronis a hypocrite or just incompetent?,” asked the Ring campaign in a statement. “Either way, this is just further proof that he is unqualified to be Florida’s Chief Financial Officer.”

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