Scott Powers, Author at Florida Politics - Page 5 of 108

Scott Powers

Senate Rules Committee stands its ground on Stand Your Ground

A Florida Senate committee overwhelmingly approved the latest attempt to expand the state’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law.

On Thursday, the Senate Rules Committee passed the measure after advocates said it would stop unnecessary prosecutions.

Opponents alleged it would stop a lot of necessary prosecutions, as well.

Senate Bill 128 would allow gun defendants to demand pretrial hearings on their claims of self-defense, putting the burden of proof on prosecutors to prove the defendants used the guns not in self-defense.

After more than an hour of debate, SB 128 won committee approval with just a smattering of no votes, mostly from Democrats.

Sponsor Sen. Rob Bradley and others pushed the bill as a response to a 2015 Florida Supreme Court decision that established pretrial rules and procedure for stand-your-ground defenses, but placed the burden of proof on defendants. Bradley argued it was never the Florida Legislature’s intent to make stand-your-ground a burden for the accused to prove. The intent, Bradley said, always had been that the state — prosecutors — needed to prove that self-defense wasn’t the reason for the gun use, even if it results in the death of an alleged attacker.

The ramifications have partisan and racial overtones, as well as high emotions. Democrats and others who’ve advocated for restrictions on gun usages have argued that many stand your ground cases involve white defendants shooting or threatening black alleged attackers.

And the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford made Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, passed in 2005, a national debate.

Yet the ramifications also go the other way, as suggested by the case of Marissa Alexander, who is black, and who was denied a Stand Your Ground defense when she was prosecuted and convicted of firing a warning shot at her abusive husband in 2012.

SB 128 could have prevented either of those cases from ever going to trial if the prosecutors had not been able to disprove a self-defense claim, beyond a reasonable doubt, during a pretrial hearing.

Alexander, who was freed in January, testified Thursday for SB 128.

“I’m just going to give you three numbers. Number one. Number 12. And number 20. For me, one shot, a 12-minute verdict got me 20 years,” she said. “I did go through a Stand Your Ground hearing. And in that hearing, you could tell the court and the prosecution struggled with that because it was difficult. With that said, putting a defendant in the position where they have to bear the burden of proof, in my opinion, removes your Constitutional right, the 5th Amendment.”

Bradley argued that the bill is not an expansion but a fix, to the Supreme Court decision made in Bretherick v. Florida, which put the burden of proof squarely on the defendant to show, by a preponderance of evidence, that there is a self-defense case.

“Since our country’s finding, our criminal justice system has certain basic premises that are timeless. These are principals that every American intuitively understands. You are innocent until proven guilty. The government carries the burden of proof from the beginning of a case until the end,” Bradley said, arguing that the Bretherick decision goes against that.

Others, including state Sens. Perry Thurston Jr., Oscar Braynon rebutted that, saying there are many situations in which defendants pursuing “affirmative defenses” — which also include alleging entrapment — have the burden of proof in pretrial hearings. Braynon also pressed Bradley to name one other state that puts the burden of proof on prosecutors in Stand Your Ground hearings, and Bradley said he could not.

 

Charlie Crist, three others join Climate Solutions Caucus

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and three more members of Congress have joined the bipartisan, largely bi-coastal Climate Solutions Caucus, the group announced Thursday.

With the additions of Crist, a Florida Democrat; David Reichert, a Republican from Washington;  Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon; and Don Bacon, a Republican from Nebraska, the caucus formed and chaired by two other Florida congressmen now numbers 24 – 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans.

The caucus so far is largely drawn from East Coast and West Coast members of Congress, whose districts would be directly impacted by climate change. Bacon is just the fourth member not from a coastal state.

The caucus, formed last year, was established to “educate members  on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk and to explore bipartisan policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate,” according to a release issued Thursday by co-chairs Democrat Ted Deutch, and Carlos Curbelo, both of South Florida.

And that includes issues away from the coasts, according to Deutch.

“Across the country, Americans understand the urgency of climate change,” Deutch stated in the news release. “Whether they see rising tides in Fort Lauderdale, intensifying tornadoes along the Central Plains, or worsening droughts affecting farm production, Americans are starting to feel the impacts of climate change to their homes, their livelihoods, and their wallets. They want action from their elected officials, and I’m proud that this Caucus offers a space to develop bipartisan solutions.”

“We have a lot of work to do on this issue, and coastal communities like mine in South Florida are counting on us to come together and have productive discussions about what we can do to mitigate the effects of climate change and make our nation more resilient,” Curbelo stated. “The caucus has such a diverse group of members that each brings unique perspectives to the table. I’m confident that together we can work on bipartisan solutions that will unleash a new era of American innovation and protect our environment, infrastructure, homes, and livelihoods.”

With Crist, the caucus now has five Florida members, including Republicans Brian Mast and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. All five have coastal districts.

“In Pinellas County, there is no denying climate change is happening. As a peninsula on the peninsula of Florida, we are threatened more and more each year by rising sea levels,” Crist stated. “I am proud to join the Climate Solutions Caucus, highlighting Congress’ growing bipartisan commitment to tackling this urgent challenge. Together, we can and must protect our environment and economy from climate change.”

I-Drive plan to start fashioning ‘Downtown Orange County’

Orange County leaders long have talked about turning the International Drive region into a “downtown Orange County” essentially rivaling downtown Orlando though to different ends. On Tuesday the county board of commissioners will hear a plan that would fashion what such a district would look like.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners will hold a second public hearing and may consider adopting the I-Drive District Overlay, which row out of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs‘ Steering Review Group. It seeks to drive the I-Drive/Orange County Convention Center area into developing into a high-density, multi-purpose area where people live, work and visit.

The plan, in the works for two years, would build around the convention center, convention hotels, attractions and restaurants already there, with layers of commerce, retail, and housing. In addition to Jacobs’ steering review group, the county’s planning, public works and transportation planning divisions have been involved.

It calls for more complex street grid systems with alleys, access streets, back streets and scores more intersections, urban plazas, public squares, and other downtown features to make it a more walkable community. Public transit also is emphasized.

The proposal covers 5.5 square miles, 3,500 acres, stretching southward from Carrier Drive, following International Drive to Central Florida Parkway, and Universal Boulevard to State Road 528.

The district includes the Orland Eye attraction, the convention center and SeaWorld, but not parts of International Drive or Universal Boulevard north of Carrier, which are in the city of Orlando, nor south of Central Florida Parkway, which takes on a distinctly different character.

The area offers unique opportunities for Orange County planners and developers because while much of what now fronts International Drive may seem densely developed, there remain thousands of undeveloped acres in the region. the plan subdivides the district into eight areas that each get separate treatments: convention center; retail and hospitality, entertainment area; SeaWorld; Destination Parkway; Universal Boulevard; Rosen & Shingle Creek; and Universal.

NRA declares League of Women Voters as ‘gun ban organization’

Citing email obtained through open-records requests, NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer declared the League of Women Voters of Florida as “Florida’s newest gun ban organization,” working in secret.

“The League of Women Voters is not who you think they are. The Florida League of Women Voters is Florida’s newest gun ban organization,” Hammer wrote in a letter sent Friday to the members and friends of the National Rifle Association, over which she was once president, and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, over which she is current president.

“The League has been working with anti-gun Democrat legislators to write and file gun ban legislation,” Hammer wrote. “They work in secret to deny constitutional rights while pretending to be strong constitutionalists in order to solicit memberships and donations from people who have no idea what the League is really doing.”

Hammer’s open letter, posted on the NRA’s Institute For Legislative Action webpage, also charged the league’s first vice president, Patti Brigham as working as an unregistered lobbyist, pushing for the bills; and noted that email between Brigham, Florida Democrats and Kristen Rand, lobbyist for Violence Policy Center in Washington, show that the Florida bills were modeled after Connecticut’s law, and that Brigham was seeking Rand’s input.

“Yes, you read that right. Connecticut-style gun control in Florida,” Hammer concluded.

Guilty, the league and one Democratic lawmaker working with it declared Friday, at least on the first charge – of them working together to push for  gun control laws.

Not guilty to the other charges, they pled.

LOWV-Florida President Pamela Goodman and state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, scoffed at the notion that the league’s efforts were secret, noting they had put out joint press releases, and held a joint press conference last month when Smith and state Sen. Linda Stewart rolled out their proposals, House Bill 167 and Senate Bill 254, to ban future sales of assault weapons and high-caliber ammunition magazines.

Goodman said the bills were crafted through the The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. She said the league leads that organization and had a big hand crafting the legislation, but “can’t take all the credit.” The coalition’s web page lists more than 100 partner organizations, and lists the league first.

“This is not about taking guns away or taking away 2nd Amendment rights,” Goodman said. “The entire coalition, led by the League of Women Voters, is about entering discourse on sensible gun legislation, common-sense legislation.”

As for Brigham, Goodman said she is neither a paid staff member nor a paid lobbyist, but is rather a volunteer, unpaid, member of the league’s board of directors, and a private citizen. As such, she needn’t register as a lobbyist.

Smith and Stewart, both Orlando Democrats, each campaigned aggressively for election on the issue of seeking bans of future sales of assault weapons and high-caliber magazines. They both made it centerpieces of their campaigns after the Pulse massacre in Orlando last summer, in which Omar Mateen, an ISIS-pledging, gay-hating madman, used both to kill 49 people and wound 56 others in the popular gay nightclub.

Smith said he was pleased with the NRA description, saying he’d wear an NRA target as a badge of honor.

“Obviously I’m not going to be deterred by the gun lobby and the NRA. They’re horrible. I welcome their hatred,” Smith said. “It is absolutely my goal to be a thorn in their side all session long, every session. They have an extremist agenda and they need to be stopped.

 

Puerto Rico crisis panel brings it home to Florida

The social fallout from Puerto Rico’s multi-fasceted financial crisis must be dealt with in more immediate ways in Central Florida where so much of the diaspora is fleeing, a panel of scholars urged key Puerto Rican political leaders in Orlando Friday.

Their call for concern for recognizing, assisting, and empowering Puerto Ricans settling by the thousand in the Orlando-Kissimmee area was not lost on the area’s lawmakers, who, led by state Rep. Rene Plasencia, agreed that while they can do little to change the situation on the island, they can and should do more for people settling in Florida.

“I think our conversations have been on what has been happening on the island, and that’s not where our focus should be,” Plasencia said. “It should be on what we can do for Puerto Ricans here in Central Florida.”

He was joined on a bipartisan group of politicians Friday including state Sen. Victor Torres, state Reps. Bob Cortes and Carlos Guillermo Smith and Kissimmee Mayor Jose Alvarez, as all as representatives of state Rep. David Santiago, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. The group was evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

They gathered in the Orange County Commission chambers to hear demographic numbers, stories, concerns, and recommendations from three University of Central Florida professors and one Barry University School of Law professor, with specialties in Puerto Rico history, sociology, politics, and law, and in the diaspora in the United States that now outnumbers Puerto Ricans living on the island. They are Luis Martinez-Fernandez, Enrique Guerra, Fernando Rivera, and Anthony Suarez.

One primary message: help the people here. An estimated 230 people per day are moving from the island to Florida, seeking more stability and better lives, but they’re not necessarily finding it, the panelists said. Many with college degrees and professional or middle class backgrounds in Puerto Rico wind up in blue-collar jobs because they cannot find work to match their backgrounds. Others struggle in Central Florida’s low-wage tourism economy, he said.

In 2000, the U.S. Census found approximately 482,000 Puerto Ricans in Florida. Today that number is over 1 million, and soon the Sunshine State will surpass New York as having the most Puerto Ricans outside the island. And the migration is circular, with people freely moving back and forth between the island, the northeast U.S., and Florida.

“In my humble observation, with so many hundreds of families moving from the island to Puerto Rico every single month, there’s kind of a frustration from so many of the families when they arrive, because they believe they are moving so that they can create a better life for their family and have access to a better-paying job, better benefits,” Smith said. “And the reality is, when they get to Orlando in particular… they are living on starvation wages, they don’t have access to public health benefits, they don’t have access to public transportation, [and] affordable housing is horrific in Orange County.”

The vast majority of Puerto Ricans live in just 10 Florida counties: six in the I-4 corridor from Hillsborough County through Central Florida to Volusia County; the three big counties of South Florida; and Lee County, according to a presentation from Suarez.

The current migration, of about 80,000 people per year, is a “cluster migration” where families are attracting relatives and friends to join them, making areas such as the Orlando-Kissimmee market into huge magnets, Martinez-Fernandez said.

And they’re not voting, said Suarez, president of the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida. Thirty-four percent of Hispanics are not registered to vote. And 59 percent said they never vote, “which is a shocking number,” Suarez said. “We’ve got to register these people, and there’s a lot of work to be done in that area.”

Nor are they necessarily flexing the kind of power they might have, Martinez-Fernandez said, notwithstanding the fact that Plasencia, Torres, Cortes, Smith, Alvarez, Soto and Santiago all are at least part Puerto Rican. The UCF social scientist said they are underrepresented in Florida’s public boards, civic boards, corporate boardrooms and other leadership posts throughout Florida. He said there is a lack of recognition of the now robust and still growing community.

“How can you get away with spending so many resources, say on the arts venue, and in ten years not have anything devoted to Puerto Ricans or Hispanics?” he inquired. “It’s outrageous. Now if we have those voices, we can make those things happen. One voice is not enough. We need a critical mass. We have a critical mass in population, but we do not have a critical mass in places of power.”

Bob Cortes ‘exploring’ possible congressional run in CD 7

State Rep. Bob Cortes is “exploring” the possibility a run for Congress in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

On Friday morning, Cortes confirmed reports he was in Washington D.C. for a couple of days early this week talking to officials at the National Republican Congressional Committee and others about a possible run in CD 7 in 2018.

If he does run, Cortes would be seeking a seat Republicans held for generations before U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy won it in November.

“I’ve been asked,” to consider such a run, he told FloridaPolitics.com Friday morning.

“I have not made a decision, yes or no,” he added.

Cortes is a two-term state representative and a former Longwood city commissioner who won re-election in November over Democratic attorney Ryan Yadav.

CD 7 was held by Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica for 24 years. But evolving demographics and redistricting made it a younger, more diverse, more partisan-balanced district, now covering virtually all of Seminole County and a much bigger chunk of Orange County, including Maitland, Winter Park, north and central Orlando, and east Orlando including the University of Central Florida region. The young Murphy, who is Vietnamese-American, toppled Mica by appealing to the new mix of voters there.

Republicans vowed to take it back, and there has been talk of several candidates, including state Sen. Dave Simmons, emerging to challenge Murphy in 2018.

Cortes would be able to appeal to much of the coalition Murphy built. He is of Puerto Rican background, and the district now has 80,000 Hispanics, the vast majority of whom are Puerto Rican. He also has shown to be more of a moderate on social issues of interest to the district’s young base. After the Pulse nightclub shooting, Cortes was among the more passionate of Republicans in speaking out for the LGBT community hurting from that tragedy.

“The (CD 7) District itself is almost a spinoff of my district, as far as makeup,” Cortes said. “All of my constituents are in the district, and a huge part of the Hispanic population that I represent is in this district … I can say I am exploring it and we will give it a good hard look.”

Michelle Dennard in line for CareerSource Florida presidency

Current CareerSource Florida Vice President of Policy Michelle Dennard is in line to become the new president of the state’s workforce preparation and placement agency.

Dennard was the top-scoring candidate for CareerSource’s president and chief executive officer job following interviews of three finalists conducted Jan. 20 by the agency board’s search committee. She scored highest on all three interview scorecards forwarded to Gov. Rick Scott, and released by CareerSource Wednesday.

The CareerSource Florida board will officially select its new president at a Feb. 8 meeting.

Dennard is a lawyer with background in Scott’s executive office and at the Republican Party of Florida. She has been vice president of policy and senior policy director for CareerSource since 2014.

If the board concurs, she’ll replace Chris Hart, who moved over to become president and chief executive officer of Enterprise Florida in early January. Hart, who’d been at CareerSource for nine years, had commanded a salary of $260,000 at the end. Dennard, assuming she wins the board’s final approval, is not likely to come close to that anytime soon. The board advertised the job as paying between $100,000 and $120,000 a year.

The other two finalists were Mikkel Dixon, executive director of Florida Career College in Margate, and Kyla Gutierrez-Guyette, the project director of ResCare Workforce Services in Orlando.

CareerSource Florida is the statewide workforce policy and investment board charged with guiding workforce development for the state of Florida. CareerSource Florida provides oversight and policy direction for talent development programs administered by the Department of Economic Opportunity, Florida’s 24 local workforce development boards and their 100 career centers. Together, the CareerSource Florida network connects employers with qualified, skilled talent and Floridians with employment and career development opportunities to achieve economic prosperity.

Bill Nelson declares he’ll vote against Betsy DeVos; vote may come down to Mike Pence

Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson broke the suspense Wednesday afternoon when he announced he intends to vote against President Donald Trump‘s pick to be Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, whose family has strong ties in Nelson’s Orlando hometown.

With defections of two Republican U.S. senators who announced earlier that they would vote against DeVos, the Republican champion of school choice was down to slim hopes of winning the nomination, needing to hold all remaining Republicans or pick off a Democrat like Nelson.

Nelson, who had been silent until now on the nomination, seemed to imply with his announcement Wednesday that the Republican moderates leaving Trump’s pick provided cover in the middle.

“I will be joining my Republican colleagues Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski in voting ‘no’ against Betsy DeVos,” he declared in a statement issued by his office.

With two Republicans not supporting DeVos, there is now a potential for 51-50 vote in the Senate, leaving Vice President Pence to break the tie.

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who faces re-election in 2018, told The Hill Wednesday he would not support DeVos: Her “lack of exposure to public education is very concerning for me.”

A tiebreaker would be the first time a vice president has cast a deciding vote on a nomination, as well as the first time a vice president was called to break a tie in the Senate March 2008, when Dick Cheney cast the deciding vote on a congressional tax cut package.

Democrats blasted DeVos earlier this week after The Washington Post reported her committee-submitted questionnaire appeared to have used “several sentences and phrases from other sources without attribution — including from a top Obama administration civil rights official.”

Despite that, Republicans continue to remain confident they have enough backing to confirm DeVos, although they cannot afford to lose any more GOP votes since no Democrats will vote in her favor.

“I have 100 percent confidence she will be the next secretary of Education,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday.

The DeVos family officially resides in Grand Rapids, Mich., but has close ties in both Orlando and Naples. In Orlando, Nelson’s home, the family owns the Orlando Magic basketball team and is active in civic affairs.

The family, led by Betsy Devos’s parents, Rich and Helen DeVos, are major political campaign contributors, whose family total approaches $9 million in donations since 1999. Almost all of it has gone to Republicans and Republican causes, though the family has backed the occasional Democrat, such as U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Orlando. However, the family has never backed Nelson, and has contributed to his Republican opponents.

 

New Orlando chamber chief Tim Giuliani sees synergy ahead

A new era is starting for the Orlando’s chamber of commerce and Economic Development Commission – fully merged now and awaiting Tim Giuliani as the new leader who says the synergy of the merger should make it more holistic and nimble in promoting business.

The new commerce organization was created from the merger of the Orlando Economic Development Commission and the Central Florida Partnership, which includes the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce. It’ll get its new name about the same time Giuliani starts.

Giuliani, 35, will start in mid-March.

Giuliani said the merger creates the advantage of bringing the two missions – the interests of the existing business community, and the need to reach out to attract new business, together in one plan. He said it also brings more resources and capabilities to efforts to address emerging opportunities or issues.

It’s a similar model to what Giuliani has run in Raleigh, N.C., and Gainesville. The Saint Augustine native who received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State and MBA from the University of Florida became president and chief executive of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and Council for Economic Outreach, and then took on a similar role at the Greater Raleigh’s Chamber of Commerce, which includes Raleigh’s economic development program.

“You get alignment from the business leadership in the community. So everyone is focused on the same sheet of music. everyone is in the room together. That’s a huge advantage instead of having two different areas not looking at the full picture. This way the full economic picture is on the table,” Giuliani said. “And from a staff perspective and organizational perspective, you have your sales team talking to your product-development team.”

In Raleigh, Giuliani was the voice for business in one of the country’s most robust and dynamic high-tech corridors, the Research Triangle created through the shared efforts of North Carolina State in Raleigh, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and Duke University in Durham. Raleigh also is the state capital.

So he knows what it’s like to oversee high-tech commerce.

“One of the most important drivers if not the most important drivers of the decision-making process is talent. Can the company hire the talent they need to stay on the cutting edge, and stay ahead of the game, stay ahead of disruptive technologies. Do they [such employees] want to live in your community?” Giuliani said.

With Duke, NC State and North Carolina, the universities have been gearing their programs, research and commercialization toward the Research Triangle “for decades,” Giuliani said.

The anchor in Central Florida would be the University of Central Florida, which bills itself as America’s partnership university and has been digging deep to establish centers of excellence particularly in lasers and optics and simulation and modeling software, while partnering to try to develop emerging centers in medical research and sensors technologies. Giuliani said he likes what he knows about UCF, and notes UF and other schools also have investments in the region’s tech efforts.

On the other hand, UCF remains a relative modest player in research money, far below what the Research Triangle Universities do. In 2015 UCF conducted about $215 million worth of research, while Duke and North Carolina each did about $1 billion, and NC State did about a half-billion, according to the National Science Foundation. UF and the University of South Florida, which are part of the I-4 research consortium with UCF, did about $740 million and $485 million respectively.

“The thing that enthuses me the most is how much of a priority  this is for UCF, how much pride they take in the patents and commercialization of products,” Giuliani said. “It’s that drive that will continue to get them further and further up the list in research funding.”

“I think the business community can certainly be a champion and advocate for the research institutions so they don’t have to carry all of that water themselves,” he said.

Those high-tech businesses also put high value in quality of life issue, and the economic fundamentals, he said. Is housing affordable? Is there enough to do on the weekends? Are there other things for the employees to do if they chose to leave the company? Is there an eco-system to support growth?

Sure, Orlando has theme parks and beaches nearby, and a top, international airport with direct flights to almost everywhere. But he views the emerging performing arts through the Dr. Phillips Center, transit and other infrastructure, and other developments such as the rising Lake Nona and the planned Creative Village, as completing the picture for attracting 21st century business.

“I know everyone talks about quality of life. I think it’s coming into sharper forces as the economy is driven more and more by the workforce, he said.

Val Demings wants her committee in Congress to oversee ‘The Wall’

As President Donald Trump moves forward on his plans to build a massive, potentially $25 billion wall along the Mexico border, U.S. Rep. Val Demings wants assurance that Congress will have some oversight of the project.

It’s possible that Trump could build the wall through executive order and by cobbling together funds in existing programs without ever going to Congress.

So Wednesday Demings introduced an amendment to the oversight plan of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that could give that committee some control, regardless of how the president wants to do the wall.

Demings, an Orlando Democrat, is a member of that committee. She is also a ranking member on that committee’s Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs.

Her amendment would give the committee control to examine costs associated with construction, maintenance, increased surveillance, environmental effects, and compensation for affected property owners as well as look at the effectiveness and source of funding for the wall.

The amendment would also have given the committee control to examine the contracting and subcontracting process, total cost estimates and expenditures for the project, and the sources of any funding used or reprogrammed for these purposes to ensure that they comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

“The truth of the matter is that no one can tell us exactly how much it will cost taxpayers because we haven’t seen reliable cost estimates, which is why it is imperative that it be included in our Oversight Plan,” Demings stated in a news release issued by her office.

Demings contended that both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are uncomfortable at least with the uncertainties. She’s not a fan of the wall or Trump’s early relationship with Mexico.

“The order and the president’s recent proclamations have sent our foreign relations with Mexico, one of our largest trading partners, into a tailspin,” she stated. “Demanding that Mexico pay for a wall — when it appears ever more likely that the American taxpayer or consumer will pay — appears to be counterproductive and may spark a trade war that will only hurt American businesses and consumers.”

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