Adam Putnam – Page 7 – Florida Politics

Gwen Graham calls on Rick Scott to address reports of Russian interference

With fresh media reports that Russians hacked into and potentially compromised election systems in Florida and six other states in 2016, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham called Wednesday for Gov. Rick Scott to take immediate action to protect Florida’s election infrastructure.

“Dangerous Russian interference in the 2016 election is not only confirmed, but it happened right here in Florida. President [Donald] Trump has deliberately and outrageously refused to address these cyber threats and protect our American democracy, so our state must act — Governor Scott must act,” Graham said in a news release from her campaign.

“This is not a partisan issue. Faith in our government depends on confidence that our elections are not influenced by any foreign power.”

In addition to citing the NBC reports from Tuesday, Graham referred to testimony in the past month by U.S. Cyber Command Chief Admiral Mike Rogers and FBI Director Christopher Wray, stating that President Trump has not directed them to defend our country from future Russian cyber attacks on our voting systems.

The Florida Department of State said late Wednesday it was notified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that Florida was unsuccessfully targeted by hackers last year. This attempt was not in any way successful and Florida’s online elections databases and voting systems remained secure, the department noted.

Graham contended it must be addressed.

“Governor Rick Scott cannot sit idly by and continue passing the buck to Trump. We can not rely on this president to protect America and our next election from foreign interference,” Graham said. “Scott must immediately direct the Florida Department of State to protect our vote in 2018 to prevent the Russians from tampering with our state elections.”

Scott’s office and the Florida Department of State responded late Wednesday saying they already were addressing the concerns, dating from an earlier report from September about possible Russian interference.

Additionally, Scott’s recomended 2018-2019 budget includes nearly $2.5 million and five positions to enhance cyber security at the Department of State’s Division of Elections, the governor’s office noted.

Graham, a former member of Congress from Tallahassee, faces former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park businessman Chris King in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary for Governor. The leading Republicans are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Chris King decries loopholes in gun laws, urges special session

Declaring that Florida lawmakers are failing to respond to post-Parkland calls to address guns, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King said Wednesday that the people of Florida deserve a special session.

King, a Winter Park businessman, advocated for a ban on military-style assault weapons and comprehensive background checks on gun purchases, and contended that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and others responding to the Feb. 15 massacre deserve action on such measures, rather than the “too little, too late” they’re being offered.

He was discussing the scene Monday when a chaotic and emotional two-hour debate at the Senate Rules Committee resulted in dozens of gun control advocates leaving disappointed after senators voted down a ban on assault weapons.

Republicans are pursuing instead packages that would address increasing the purchase age for guns to 21, expanding background checks to all weapons, and, in Gov. Rick Scott‘s proposal, spending up to $500 million on programs ranging from mental health services to tightening school security. But King cited a report by the Tampa Bay Times that suggests even those measures leave loopholes open.

“If our lawmakers fail to pass comprehensive gun safety legislation, they will owe the Stoneman Douglas students and people of Florida a special session to enact real solutions to ban assault weapons and close the loopholes in our gun laws,” King said in a news release issued Wednesday. “The proposals offered by Gov.  Scott and Florida Republicans are too little, too late – their plans have gaping loopholes that would still allow dangerous people to get their hands on deadly weapons.

“Otherwise,” he added, “Florida Republicans will prove themselves as the party of ‘proud NRA sell-outs’ once and for all.”

King faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary in the governor’s contest. The leading Republicans are Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Graham released a similar statement last week, urging a special session.

Email insights: Gwen Graham slams Ron DeSantis for ‘sounds of silence’

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham sent out an email Tuesday attacking Republican foe Ron DeSantis for his silence in the post-Parkland policy debate.

While DeSantis was the target, Gov. Rick Scott and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is also running as a GOP candidate for governor, weren’t spared in the “Sound of Silence Alert.”

“Governor Rick Scott has proposed the very least our state can do to curb gun violence by raising the age and increasing the waiting period for assault weapon purchases — but it appears these minimal reforms are too much for Congressman Ron DeSantis to support. Even NRA sellout Adam Putnam has come out in support of these reforms, but DeSantis is silent,” Graham said.

“Ron DeSantis is the only candidate running to lead our state who refuses to support any sort of gun safety. If the Congressman can’t endorse his own Republican governor’s proposals after Parkland, he will never support common sense gun safety laws in our state — no matter how many children are killed.”

Scott’s $500 million plan includes raising the minimum age for buying any gun to 21, increasing funding for school security and mental health programs, and the “Violent Threat Restraining Order,” which would allow courts to prohibit an individual from purchasing or possessing a firearm if presented with evidence of violence or mental illness.

The age restriction in particular is a break from the NRA.

The back half Graham’s email repeated her calls for Putnam to return $10,000 of campaign contributions he’s received from the NRA and for Scott “to keep the legislature in session until they pass real reforms, including an assault weapons ban.”

“Governor Rick Scott must make it clear to the legislature that no issue is more important in these last two weeks of session than passing common sense gun safety,” she said. “All of Florida is calling on Tallahassee to act. Rick Scott and the Legislature must stand up to the NRA and get this done.”

Fla. Democrats hammer Adam Putnam, Ron DeSantis over gun proposal silence

A day after Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature unveiled their plans to back unprecedented new restrictions on guns in the state, the Florida Democratic Party started taking note of the Republican gubernatorial candidates who have stayed silent on the issue.

Citing their “significant backing from the gun lobby,” the state party is pointing its finger at two candidates: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who has dubbed himself an “NRA sellout,” and Congressman Ron DeSantis.

Over the span of their political careers, both have received more than $10,000 in NRA donations, according to a POLITICO report. And before the deadliest school shooting in the state took place last week, they touted that backing.

“The Tampa Bay Times recently called me a sellout to the NRA,” Putnam once said. “As someone who believed the Second Amendment is an inalienable right, I’ll wear that comment like a badge of honor. I’m a proud NRA Sellout.”

Now, facing massive protests, the candidates are keeping quiet on whether they support the plan rolled out by Gov. Scott and the Florida House and Senate, which includes raising the age limit to buy guns to 21 and banning bump stocks. Their proposals also include millions of dollars in funding to harden schools and mental health services.

“The two gov candidates’ silence seems to reflect a larger failure by the GOP to answer the demands of the #NeverAgain movement,” FDP spokesman Kevin Donohoe said in an email.

Donohoe then linked to a screenshot of an email sent by Florida GOP leadership telling members to not answer comments on the proposals.

“We understand the media is reaching out for comments on the plan; however, we ask you do not answer any questions because the RPOF does not take positions on legislation until all three branches of government agree,” Chairman Blaise Ingoglia wrote to members.

Activist groups announce plan to pre-register high school students in states represented by pro-NRA legislators

With teenagers directly impacted by last week’s massacre in Parkland calling for politicians to stop accepting support funds from the NRA, three activist groups announced this week that they will spend $1 million nationally on registering eligible high-school students to vote in the 2018 midterms, with an emphasis on Florida and California.

NextGen America, Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, and Everytown for Gun Safety will launch on March 25th, a day after the March for Our Lives demonstration in Washington, and will include a national voter registration drive, support fellowship programs for high school students, and provide trainings that will reinforce their activism.

NextGen America is led by environmentalist and progressive philanthropist Tom Steyer, who will kick in $1 million of his own money to jump start the program.

“If this Congress won’t act to protect our kids, we must elect one that will,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of the gun safety group Giffords. “If the politicians who have benefited from millions of dollars in NRA cash won’t pass laws to make our schools and communities safer, we will vote them out. Today, students from Parkland and across the country are inspiring the country to be better. Come November, many of those young Americans will be making the difference themselves as they cast their votes for the first time.”

“The passion and courage displayed by young people after the mass shooting in Parkland has compelled millions of Americans to act,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Teens are speaking out and demanding more of their elected leaders. Now they’re ready to channel their passion into the 2018 elections, when voters will throw out lawmakers who are beholden to the gun lobby and its dangerous agenda.”

According to a press release, the effort will focus on districts and states represented by legislators who are backed by the NRA and have consistently opposed common sense gun reform. It will include a large digital and mail voter registration program, as well as a pre-registration program for 17 years olds in states such as Florida and California.

Florida, coined “The Gunshine State,” by critics following the Trayvon Martin Stand Your Ground case in 2012, has long been considered one of the most pro-Second Amendment states in the union, at least when it comes to its conservative  Legislature.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, considered a leading candidate for governor,  tweeted last summer that he was a “proud sellout” to the NRA, and directed supporters to sign a petition declaring that they too, could become an NRA sellout. He has now removed any such reference on his campaign website.

Philip Levine launches campaign commercial citing Parkland massacre

Before all of the 17 funerals are even held for victims of last Wednesday’s school massacre in Parkland, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine has launched a new television commercial promising to pursue a ban of assault weapons and declaring the shooting at Stonewall Douglas High School “a wakeup call we can’t ignore.”

Levine’s political committee All About Florida announced Tuesday it is putting $725,000 behind airing the commercial “We Will” in 10 media markets across Florida, unabashedly calling the ad “a direct response to the Marjory Douglas Stoneman shooting, and an urgent appeal from Mayor Levine for common-sense gun reform in the state of Florida.”

The commercial begins with Levine standing next to a school bus, and stating, “When we send our children off to school, we want to know they’re safe. But here in Florida, despite 14 school shootings in 8 years, we still have some of the weakest gun laws in the nation. And the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High is a wakeup call we can’t ignore.

“We need reasonable gun regulations, better background checks, and a permanent ban on assault rifles,” he continues. “And if the legislature won’t do it, we will.”

Levine is battling with former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park businessman Chris King in seeking the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination to run for governor. All four have made strong statements about seeking to ban assault rifles and assure background checks on all gun purchases, before and since the Parkland tragedy.

Leading Republicans are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam of Bartow and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach.

Florida Democrats request emails between ‘NRA sellout’ Adam Putnam and gun lobby

The Florida Democratic Party is requesting copies of any communications between Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and the gun lobby.

The specific scope of the request, according to a FDP media release is for “any emails, text messages, faxes, and letters, between Putnam or his staff and the National Rifle Association, the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, Florida Carry, and Florida Gun Rights” since 2011.

The Democrats also want a copy of meeting records between Putnam and those parties. Additionally, the FDP seeks communications between “Commissioner Putnam, his staff, or the leadership of the division of licensing and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, or Attorney General’s office related to the Florida Department of Agriculture’s access to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”

“After another senseless and tragic mass shooting, Floridians aren’t just mourning —they are outraged by the power that the gun lobby has over our politicians,” said FDP spokesperson Kevin Donohoe. “Adam Putnam has proudly called himself an NRA sellout and Floridians deserve to know what promises he has made to the gun lobby — and whether Floridians’ safety has been compromised in the process.”

Putnam has championed a bill that would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue concealed weapon permits without complete criminal background checks; in the wake of the Parkland massacre, the bill’s consideration has been temporarily postponed.

Florida Carry, one of the groups named in the request, denied any role in crafting the legislation.

The language in question was in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ annual legislative package (HB 553SB 740) that’s now on hold after Wednesday’s mass shooting at Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the deadliest school shooting in Florida history.

Putnam asked lawmakers to delay the bill, the Senate version of which was set for hearing this week.

Material from James Rosica was used in this post.

Chris King releases post-Parkland proposal to address mental illness, ban guns

Declaring that Republican leadership in Tallahassee has “transformed Florida into a petri dish of experimentation for the NRA” and “utterly failed to address public health and mental health care,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King said Friday he would fight the gun lobby, veto their bills, and seek to expand coverage and ban assault weapons.

The pledges are not new to King or to Democrats in general, though King, a Winter Park businessman, offered them as his call to action following the horrific mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday. He also urged support for House Bill 219 and Senate Bill 196, two bills to ban assault weapons, sponsored by state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and state Sen. Linda Stewart, both Orlando Democrats.

“The next governor must have the courage to stand up and say that we will not allow weapons designed for the killing fields to be sold in our state,” King said in a statement that also was included in a video message posted to his campaign’s Facebook page.

Specifically, King vowed that he would oppose and veto bills he said make Florida “less safe,” such as a provision to Senate Bill  740 that would expand concealed weapons permits availability; expand mental health coverage availability by expanding Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act in Florida; and push to ban assault weapons.

“The shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School chose an AR-15 semi-automatic assault weapon. These types of weapons have been used again and again in mass shootings across the country: Aurora, Newtown, San Bernardino, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, and now Parkland,” King said “These shootings should be reason enough that weapons designed for war should not be in our neighborhoods. One individual with a weapon like this can do unspeakable damage in a matter of seconds and no cavalry of well-armed law enforcement or good samaritans can move quickly enough to stop it.”

King, who attended Thursday’s vigil in Parkland, specifically criticized Republican gubernatorial candidate and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam for supporting the concealed weapons provision in SB 740, and indirectly criticized him by declaring that “Florida’s leaders call themselves ‘proud NRA sellouts.'”

“We have seen how effective the NRA and the gun lobby are in moments like these,” King said. “The gun lobby muddies the waters and delays any discussion on guns until the news vans and camera crews have gone home and most Americans have moved on. But we are stronger. We owe it to the victims and to our children to draw a line in the sand. We can’t just talk about guns, we must put our best ideas forward. We must not stop until we achieve change that will make us all safer. This is how we honor the victims of such unspeakable tragedies — with action.”

Adam Putnam asks for delay on gun license-background check bill

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Thursday said he was asking lawmakers to postpone a measure including language that would allow his department to issue concealed weapon licenses without complete criminal background information.

But Putnam, also a Republican candidate for governor, did not say whether he asked for the provision to be withdrawn from the bills.

The announcement came the same day a 19-year-old man was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after he opened fire at his former high school in Broward County, according to law enforcement. Fourteen others were wounded Wednesday afternoon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

“I mourn, along with the rest of the country, for those who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and their loved ones, and out of respect for their families and those suffering as a result of this tragedy, I’m working with bill sponsors to postpone consideration of the legislative proposal related to the licensing process,” Putnam said in a statement.

The language (HB 553, SB 740) was tucked into the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ annual legislative package. Putnam’s department grants permission for concealed carry in the state.

The Senate bill, sponsored by Lakeland Republican Kelli Stargel, was scheduled to be heard in the Appropriations Committee Thursday; the House version, carried by Lithia Republican Jake Raburn, is cleared for the floor.

Under current law, if the Department’s Division of Licensing has to “issue or deny” a concealed-carry permit within 90 days of application, according to a bill analysis. If it does not have an applicant’s complete criminal background check, it can “suspend” the time limitation until it gets a full report.

The new language would “require” the division to issue a concealed weapon license within 90 days, even with incomplete background information, “in the absence of disqualifying information,” the analysis says. “However, such license must be immediately suspended and revoked upon receipt of disqualifying information.”

Putnam added that the “shooter would not have even been eligible for a concealed weapon license and clearly had a troubled past that indicated serious mental health issues.”

“The focus now should be on mental health and how we protect our children,” he said. “All of us have an obligation to notify authorities when we see the behavior that this killer exhibited online and in school.”

Senate President Joe Negron, in a Thursday press conference, said he was not sure whether the background check provision will be removed from the Senate bill.

“That will be a decision that will be made” by the sponsors, he told reporters.

Gwen Graham pushes gun law reform, vows to turn ‘anguish into action’

On Thursday, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Gwen Graham pitched what her campaign calls “common sense” gun law reforms in the wake of Wednesday’s massacre at a Parkland, Florida high school.

Primary among the reforms: Comprehensive universal background checks on gun sales, banning large-capacity feeding devices, seizing guns from abusers, investing in mental health and ensuring the mentally ill can’t keep or buy guns.

“Strengthening background checks, ban[ning] large capacity ammunition clips, removing guns from domestic abusers and ban[ning] assault weapons would save lives in our state,” Graham said. “As a mother, I will not be silent. As governor, I will turn our anguish into action.”

“I expect Republicans will attack me for talking about real proposals that would save lives today, but as a mother, I will not be silent. As a mother, I will speak out for the children who lost their lives, for the teachers who heroically acted to save lives, for the first responders who rush into dangerous situations every day, and for the families in unspeakable pain this morning,” Graham said.

Graham noted that Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam had “expanded the state’s concealed weapons license program to be the largest in the country — he’s expedited almost 100,000 permits. But more guns on Florida’s streets have not made our children safer. Not one of those guns permitted by Putnam prevented yesterday’s slaughter.”

Putnam, who declared himself an “NRA Sellout” earlier in the campaign, backs SB 740, which would require the granting of a concealed-weapons permit within 90 days of application, regardless of whether a background check was completed.

In the wake of the mass murder in Parkland, Putnam has urged a temporary postponement of consideration of the bill.

“Florida’s gun laws are a joke riddled with loopholes that let dangerous people get guns and inflict serious harm, like yesterday’s horrific mass shooting and on the streets of too many communities every single day,” Graham said. “Instead of taking real action to make our state safer, the politicians in Tallahassee want to allow open carry and to actually weaken penalties for those who violate the state’s already weak laws.”

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons