Alan Grayson Archives - Page 2 of 52 - Florida Politics

Alan Grayson: Florida Democrats need someone with a message

Imagine a populist Democrat who not only bucks the party but has to battle against it, funded only by small donations and passionate followers lured to a message about what’s in it for THEM.

Bernie Sanders? Alan Grayson? The party’s only hope in Florida if it wants to elect someone statewide, other than Bill Nelson? Or just another dreamer who mistakes popularity for electability, and goes down in flames in a party primary? Or Donald Trump, had he been a Democrat this time?

Grayson is wrapping up his third and, for now, final term as a Democratic congressman from Orlando, a never apologetic liberal lion with perhaps as much name recognition in California and New York as he does in Florida.

While looking ahead to his announced plans to run a legal or Florida constitutional amendment campaign to restore civil rights for felons, Grayson also  reflected on his own accomplishments, his collapsed campaign for the U.S. Senate, and his opinions for what it would take for the Florida Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee,and other Democratic establishments to win.

Grayson got crushed in the Aug. 30 primary, losing to U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy by more than 40 points,. That was just a few weeks after many polls had the race fairly tight and an occasional survey even found Grayson ahead.

A lot contributed to Grayson’s pummeling, including renewed, ugly reports about his personal life, and his stubborn refusal to ever acknowledge that either his personal or business controversies were anybody’s damned business, or that he ought to address them. But so, too, did a late advertising blitz by Murphy and by various Democratic groups in support of Murphy or nasty opposition of Grayson, which the small-donors-only Grayson campaign couldn’t dream of matching.

Yet the lesson Grayson seemed to take from it was the one he’d expressed all along, that the Democratic Party wanted to back a safe, moderate, mainstream and, if possible, self-funded, candidate; and that such a candidate would surely lose big in Florida’s general election, like almost all the similar safe, moderate, mainstream, self-funded candidates the party had backed for a couple of decades. And Murphy did.

And so once again Grayson is calling, really wishing, for a new approach.

“Unless there is substantial structural change, the Blue Dogs will continue to make the argument that a populist Democrat, or for that matter a progressive Democrat, which is not exactly the same thing, has no chance of winning – because that’s the way they continue to dominate the statewide machinery,” Grayson said. “Even though they’ve been proved wrong in every single race except for Alex Sink’s race for CFO, every single race for a quarter century.”

Grayson said the party needs to stop relying on identity coaltion-building politics – black, Hispanic, gay etc. – and focus clearly on basic issues people can believe will improve their lives, and which can be delivered. In the senate campaign, his was “seniors deserve a raise,” which referred to his plans to expand Social Security and Medicare. Trump and Gov. Rick Scott won populist campaigns on bringing back jobs.

“There are populist issues that would actually bring the whole state together and galvanize the groups that we did extremely poorly with in the national election, for instance high school dropouts, where the Democratic Party got wiped out,” Grayson said. “The polls showed Bernie did 40 points better than Clinton with high school dropouts. 40.”

A populist campaign, he argued, that focuses on those issues as Sanders did, while paying little attention to issues that have only regional support in Florida, could win.

“There are a number of issues that play just as well in the Panhandle as they would play in South Florida and the polls show it. For instance, increasing the minimum wage. There’s basically majority support all around the state except for Fort Myers,” Grayson said. “There are certain issues, actually, that you do see regional differences like for instance gun control, like abortion, and not the way you might think. Abortion is not that popular in South Florida.”

He also railed against what he called “the commentariate and the political industrial complex” for writing off attempts to appeal to certain segments of voters, like much of the working class, because they don’t vote. This year they voted, for Trump.

“I think if the Democratic party stopped ignoring them, they might vote,” he said.

With its Lego project, the Tampa Bay Times crushes my hopes and dreams

Last week, the digital geniuses at the Tampa Bay Times debuted a multimedia presentation that used animated Lego figures and constructions to tell a complicated story about a planned toll road on the Howard Frankland Bridge.

“How the plan to fix Tampa Bay’s most important bridge fell apart, told in Legos” from Eli Zhang, Caitlin Johnston, Anthony Cormier, and Martin Frobisher is an absolute must-click for its combination of shoe-leather reporting and “Everything Is Awesome” visualization.

It’s a great read.

It’s visually stunning.

It’s also — to me and only me — heartbreaking.

Please allow me to explain, without taking anything away from the great work of the Times reporters, while also knowing that many in the Times newsroom will take some pleasure in my agony.

Back in May, I wrote in a Facebook post: “it hit me what my next project will be. The next enterprise of Extensive Enterprises, so to speak. People won’t get it at first. They’ll think it’s silly. Then it will get the right people’s attention. And then everyone will say, ‘How much does it cost to do that for us?'”

My excitement originated from a video from Bloomberg: “The White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Legos.

The introduction was — “Curious how the White House Correspondents’ Dinner works? We explain … with Legos.”

It’s that simple.

As soon as I finished, I had a Eureka moment. Why not bring the Lego video concept to Florida politics? Isn’t that what I’ve done before — take a national idea and make it Sunshine State-sized?

My plan was straightforward. I would first produce a video about some storyline involving Florida politics. From there, I would partner with public relations firms who needed a new way to tell their side of a food fight happening in the Florida Legislature.

“Marion Hammer wants 18 year-olds to bring guns to college campuses … told in Legos.”

“The Workers Comp food fight … told in Legos.”

“Why you can’t get Uber in Miami … told in Legos.”

Whatever. You get the point.

A team of folks (much funnier than I) would help write the scripts. I’d build the Lego sets. Kevin Cate would shoot the videos.

It’s ratings gold, Jerry.

Except for one thing — Lego sets are not very easy to build. At least not the interesting ones.

And, like the Times, finding the right Lego Minifigures is next to impossible.

Kristen Hare of The Poynter Institute details the roadblock the Times team faced.

“We’ve found many Lego-people-packs online,” said (Adam) Playford, director of data and digital enterprise at the Times. “But they all have too many weirdos, like Lego Bananaman and Lego Grim Reaper. Regular Lego people are apparently no longer in vogue.”

Playford and Co. solved their Lego-people-problem by putting out an all-hands-on-deck request to the staff at the Times. I, of course, do not have that luxury.

So … and here’s where some of the agony begins to set in … I worked with a firm in London to create custom Lego Minifigures.

For the script of the first video, I would tell the story of Marco Rubio and the race for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat.

I ordered Minifigures resembling Rubio, Donald Trump, Patrick Murphy, Alan Grayson, Carlos Beruff (in a trademark black shirt), Ron DeSantis (pictured here in a Navy outfit, of course), and David Jolly.

As for the sets; well, let’s just say what the Times built for its very nice story about a bridge is, um, child’s play.

I started by building the small city building sets:

Soon, I became more ambitious, building bigger sets:

I assembled cars, planes, and trucks (including a replica of one the U.S. Senator drives) so we could shoot the pivotal scene from outside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando where Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera tells Rubio he should re-enter the race.

I even built The White House (which was very difficult because it’s from the “Architect” class of Lego sets, which is basically Lego’s way of saying “A lot of f*cking pieces are in this box.”

I’ve been building and collecting Lego sets for nearly seven months, thinking the entire time that no one else would bring an idea I first saw on Bloomberg to Florida politics.

And then my bitter rival, the Tampa Bay Times, unveils its pretty little story about a bridge.

When I read the first tweet about the story, I knew what it was about without clicking on the link. My heart sank to a depth deeper than those caissons that hold up the Howard Frankland.

Sure, as my wife and other friends have said, I could continue my Lego project — and I still might.

But that’s like making “Deep Impact” after you learn that “Armageddon” is in production.

“Deep Impact” is probably the better film, but everyone remembers “Armageddon.”

If I do a ” … as told by Legos” video now, critics will say, “but didn’t the Times do that first?”

And screaming “but Bloomberg did it before either of us” does nothing to solve the problem.

Now I am stuck with a whole lot of Legos — which is OK, since my daughter, Ella Joyce, loves building with them.

In fact, Legos are one of the things we’ve been able to do together.

Just yesterday, Ella became sick on our way to a Christmas event replicating a train ride to the North Pole (it’s awesome, and I recommend it to every parent.) We were forced to turn around, missing one of our favorite holiday traditions.

To make up for it, I finished building this — bringing the North Pole to Ella:

If this episode has taught me anything, it’s that, as an entrepreneur, when a light bulb goes off, move quickly. That’s what worked for Sunburn, Florida Politics, INFLUENCE Magazine and everything else I’ve done.

I moved too slowly on this project and, subsequently, I lost out.

That won’t happen again.

Speaking of which, I have an idea for a …

 

Mitch Perry Report for 12.19.16 – Florida electors feel the heat while the rest of the nation freezes

Florida’s 29 Republican presidential electors gather in Tallahassee today to vote for well, presumably for Donald Trump, who defeated Hillary Clinton by 1.2 percent in the Sunshine State on November 8.

While the world awaits to see if there’s any movement with the 290 nationwide Republican electors, our electors will be voting in perfect conditions, with the forecast set for 65 degrees today in the Capitol.

That’s a far cry from the weather conditions of electors from much of the country today, and should be noted.

More than three dozen record low temperatures were set in the Midwest and Plains this past weekend with actual air temperatures in the 20s and 30s below zero, while wind chills plunged into the minus 40s and even a few 50s at times in some cities. Subzero low temperatures were observed as far south as Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle Sunday morning. Huron, South Dakota and Marshall, Minnesota each set a record yesterday at 31 degrees below zero.

I’ve got the air-conditioning running in my home this morning, which, let’s face it, sort of kills the whole Christmas/holiday feeling. But I’ll refrain from complaining when I see the images of multi-car pileups and outright deaths around the nation due to icy road conditions.

Back when this presidential season really kicked into high gear – this past February in New Hampshire, I dealt with an inclement weather situation that, well, not to be dramatic, could have killed me.

On the Friday before the first primary in the nation, New Hampshire was rocked by a blizzard that, frankly, freaked me out. Considering I’ve only lived in San Francisco and Tampa, I haven’t dealt with a lot of snow conditions. Sheltered yes, but the fact is, I almost died driving down a turnpike from Manchester to Nashua, when I hit my brakes and went skidding over the road.

Yes, it’s annoying not to really get into the Christmas spirit when you have to turn your air conditioner on, but considering what it’s like in 80 percent of the rest of the country, those of us waking up today in Florida are damned fortunate folks.

As far as Florida’s electors? Yes, their feeling some intense pressure to reconsider voting for Trump. But none of them say they’re going to flip, so while there will be a lot of press coverage on this today, is it really that big of an event?

In other news..

The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission is closer to extinction after a vote by the local state delegation.

South Florida Democrat Tim Canova says he may run again against Debbie Wasserman Schultz in 2018.

Hillsborough Clerk of the Circuit Courts Pat Frank got in the local delegation’s face on Friday calling for more funding for her office.

And Alan Grayson is not completely done in Washington. On Friday he announced two bills trying to hold Donald Trump accountable.

Alan Grayson files bill to force Donald Trump to pick up the tab for security costs at his properties

Although Alan Grayson will no longer be a sitting member of Congress in a few weeks, he’s given his congressional colleagues a road map to try to keep Donald Trump accountable with the filing of two new bills.

The Orlando firebrand announced Friday that he had filed legislation that would require the IRS to release Trump’s presidential tax returns, and ensure that taxpayers will not have to pay for added security costs to protect the President’s business properties.

During the recently concluded campaign, Trump became the first presidential candidate from a major party since 1976 not to have released his tax returns. When asked why not, he claimed to be under an IRS audit that precluded a release.

The IRS countered that individual could share their tax information at any time, even under an audit. Political pundits predicted that Trump would ultimately have to succumb to the political pressure to release his returns, but he never did, and didn’t appear to be harmed by not doing so.

That includes surviving a New York Times report that suggested that he might not have paid any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, after declaring a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns.

Grayson’s second Trump accountability bill, H.R. 6506, mandates that the “President shall be financially responsible for any additional security measures imposed on property in which the President holds an ownership interest, and for other purposes.”

Grayson says that bill would be the first legislation of its kind to require a sitting president to reimburse the taxpayers for the cost of the security detail for his business property and investments.

“It’s bad enough that Donald Trump refuses to honor a long Presidential tradition of transparency by keeping his tax returns secret.  But it’s even more grotesque that, as my friend Congressman (Jose) Serrano has pointed out, New York City taxpayers already are paying $500,000 a day in security costs for Trump properties there alone,” Grayson said in a statement.

“It’s just a matter of time before President-elect Trump forces the taxpayers to pick up the tab for the added security costs at his personal and business properties around the world. That’s an insult, coming from a businessman who brags that he’s ‘smart’ not to pay taxes,” Grayson said. “My bills would solve both these problems.”

The President-elect currently owns over 30 properties in the U.S., and Grayson cites Forbes magazine with listing more than two dozen other projects under development. Grayson says that with so many personal and business properties around the world, the presidential security detail could be a costly measure.

“American taxpayers shouldn’t have to bear the burden of paying the security costs of profitable Presidential investments, especially when that President is someone who allegedly owns billion dollars in property and private investments around the world and refuses to tell us if he even pays any taxes on them,” says Grayson. “Trump is poised to cut taxes on billionaires and multinational corporations and cut middle-class earned benefits like Social Security and Medicare, while claiming that his own tax rates are ‘none of your business.’ Well, it’s my business to make sure Trump isn’t using the highest office in the United States to fund his own personal get-rich-quick scheme.”

“Trump is poised to cut taxes on billionaires and multinational corporations and cut middle-class earned benefits like Social Security and Medicare, while claiming that his own tax rates are ‘none of your business.’ Well, it’s my business to make sure Trump isn’t using the highest office in the United States to fund his own personal get-rich-quick scheme.”

Whether any lawmaker will pick up Grayson’s bill is uncertain, as he won’t be there to advance it. Grayson stepped down from his seat in Florida’s 9th Congressional District last year to run for the U.S. Senate. He lost in the Democratic Senate primary in August to Representative Patrick Murphy.

Earlier this week, Grayson filed to run in Florida’s 11th Congressional District, centered in Lake County, in 2018, but told FloridaPolitics.com reporter Scott Powers that he’s not certain yet if he will actually pursue another run at this time.

Alan Grayson files to run again but says it’s just paperwork, for now

Democrat U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson is downplaying prospects that his filing to run again for Congress means he’s going to run again for Congress — but he’s not ruling it out.

The Democrat from Orlando — who leaves office Jan. 3 because he did not seek re-election in Florida’s 9th Congressional District — has filed paperwork to run in 2018. And this time he filed to run in Florida’s 11th Congressional District, centered in Lake County.

Yet Grayson insisted Tuesday that the paperwork is simply a legal requirement because his campaign committee continued to raise money since the Nov. 8 election.

Federal law requires a candidate to actually be running for something if his campaign is raising money.

“The campaign raises money all the time. When the campaign raises a certain amount of money after an election, the campaign is legally required under the Federal Election Campaign Act to file a candidate’s statement of candidacy,” Grayson said in an interview with FloridaPolitics.com.

“The statement of candidacy form requires some kind of designation of an actual district, and the reason for that is the FEC keeps its records in terms of congressional districts,” he added. “Legally, I can run anywhere in Florida.”

Grayson said that is why he filed a statement of candidacy on Nov. 14.

Still, he said he’s leaving open the prospect of another congressional run, whether in CD 11 or elsewhere.

“That decision actually gets made not in November or December of 2016. That decision gets made in May of 2018,” Grayson said.

Rather than seek re-election this year, Grayson ran for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. He lost in the August 30 primary to U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who then lost to Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in the general election.

Florida’s 9th Congressional District, Grayson’s current district, soon will be represented by another Democrat, Congressman-elect Darren Soto of Orlando. Soto defeated Grayson’s wife Dena Grayson in a primary election in August.

The other two Orlando districts, CD 10 and Florida’s 7th Congressional District, also are soon to be represented by freshmen Democrats, Congresswomen-elect Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy respectively. Another area district with potential appeal to Grayson, Florida’s 8th Congressional District, which reaches into far-east Orange County, is represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey.

Dena Grayson is from that district and owned a home there before marrying Alan Grayson last spring.

A CD 11 run likely could appeal to Grayson, because it would be a rematch with U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, the Republican from Clermont who defeated Grayson in a bitter 2010 election in yet another district, Florida’s 10th. Grayson, never one to mince words, has never liked Webster and might savor even the threat of a rematch.

As he said, Grayson could legally run anywhere in Florida. The U.S. Constitution does not specify that a member of Congress actually live in his district, and no federal or state law can change that.

Meanwhile, Grayson said he would turn his attention toward advocacy for the restoration of civil rights for people convicted of felonies in Florida. It’s an issue he has pursued in Congress and which he made a high priority in his failed U.S. Senate campaign.

Florida’s law says a convicted felon cannot vote, serve on a jury, or hold public office until civil rights have been restored, which critics of the law say is an overly difficult process. An estimated 1.6 million Floridians have lost such rights, with a disproportionate amount of them being black.

“I was really moved to see the plight of African Americans all around the state as I was campaigning,” Grayson said. “I think one of the underlying causes of that comes from lack of political power, which comes from the fact that 23 percent of African Americans aren’t allowed to vote, the highest percentage in the country. I think that’s wrong on many levels.”

He said he hopes to see a measure placed on the Florida ballot to address the law, and said there’s also the possibility he could help raise a legal challenge in the courts.

Mitch Perry Report for 12.12.16 – Heroes

Bob Dylan opted to blow off the Nobel Prize for Literature awards ceremony in Sweden this weekend, instead opting to have Azita Raji, the U.S. Ambassador in Sweden, read a speech that he composed (And no, I had never heard of our ambassador to Sweden until I looked it up this weekend).

Among those who care about this prestigious award, there has been some criticism about awarding a songwriter, and not a novelist or poet.

The Swedish Academy defended its decision to extend the award to a genre such as folk music. Speaking at the dinner, Professor Horace Engdahl of the Swedish Academy, a literary critic, said the choice “seemed daring only beforehand and already seems obvious.”

There are those who thought if the Swedes were going to award an American literary hero who is still around to accept the honor, it should have been Philip Roth or Don DeLillo, who are 83 and 80, respectively.

DeLillo is still at it, by the way, and while his latter day works may never have the impact of 1997’s “Underworld,” he still provokes in “Zero K,” which was published this spring.

Somebody who did actually attend an awards ceremony this weekend was Madonna, was gave a fiercely emotional speech at the Billboard Women in Music 2016 event that touched on feminism, sexism and ageism.

“I think the most controversial thing I have ever done is to stick around,” she explained. “Michael is gone. Tupac is gone. Prince is gone. Whitney is gone. Amy Winehouse is gone. David Bowie is gone. But I’m still standing. I’m one of the lucky ones and every day I count my blessings.”

Speaking of Prince, if you were a fan of His Royal Badness, please do read this piece in the new GQ, which features some of some of his closest friends sharing their favorite personal anecdotes about the man.

Sticking with Arts & Culture events from this weekend, some of Hollywood’s best films of the year are now coming out steadily as we approach Christmas, and two Oscar friendly releases hit theaters in Tampa Bay this weekend: “Noctural Animals and “Manchester by the Sea.”

The latter will undoubtedly reap multiple nominations, as it depicts how a man deals with an unbelievable human tragedy.

The film is getting much love everywhere, but not from Samuel L. Jackson.

“The politics of what happens during this time of year is very interesting in Hollywood,” he in Dubai last weekend,according to the Wrap“The movies they choose to say are amazing and great, you know — ‘Manchester by the Sea,’ oh my god, you must see it, it’s an amazing film!’ But, ehh, I guess it is — to somebody.”

“It’s not an inclusive film, you know what I mean?” Jackson continued. “And I’m sure that ‘Moonlight’ will be thought of the same way. They’ll say, ‘Well, that’s a black movie. Where are the white people?’ We’ll say the same thing about ‘Manchester by the Sea.’”

For the record, I saw the much acclaimed “Moonlight” a few weeks ago, and observed some young back teens leave the theater when there was just a hint of some man-on-man action.

“Nocturnal Animals” is fashion designer Tom Ford’s second feature, and it is mesmerizing (though extremely violent at times in a “Straw Dogs” sort of way ). But the first two minutes of the film – I guess a commentary on what we beautiful – is going to challenge most audiences with his slow motion shots of corpulent nude women dancing. It is something, for better or worse, you’ll never forget.

In other news..

The Pinellas County Republican and Democratic Executive Committees vote in the local party elections tonight, but all the candidates (up to now) are running unopposed.

In perhaps his last act in Congress, Alan Grayson filed a bill on Friday in the name of the late Andrew Joseph III, the 14-year-old black youth who was killed crossing I-4 after Hillsborough County sheriff deputies released him after detaining him and other students from the Florida State Fair in February of 2014.

And we take one last look at what happened in the Tampa City Council District 7 race that saw Luis Viera beat Jim Davison by one point last week.

Alan Grayson files bill named after Tampa youth to promote civil rights compliance

In perhaps his last act as a member of Congress, Orlando-area Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson announced on Friday that he was filing the “Andrew Joseph III Act,” a bill which requires any jurisdiction seeking a specific federal grant to have an independent civilian review board in place.

In February of 2014, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies ejected 99 students from the Florida State Fair, including Andrew Joseph III, a 14-year-old African American, for rowdy behavior during the annual Student Day – a day off from Hillsborough County Schools with free admission to the fair. After interrogating him, stripping him to the waist and arresting him without notifying his parents, deputies dropped Andrew two miles from the fair. He was killed trying to cross I-4 to return to the fairgrounds.

In February, the family of Joseph filed a lawsuit naming Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee and several deputies, the Florida State Fair Authority, the Hillsborough County School Board and the school district. The suit alleged the “unjustified arrest and detention of a nonviolent and non-resistant juvenile.”

In 2015, Student Day’s rules were changed. Deputies would have to contact the parents or guardians of any juveniles who were ejected. Students must also be with an adult after 6 p.m.

“This is not just one person’s tragedy. It is not just the tragedy of these parents standing at his grave site. It is the tragedy of America,” Grayson said from the House Floor earlier this year. “We persist in being a country of sometimes casual racism, racism that sometimes goes unnoticed.”

Grayson first took interest in the case publicly in the fall of 2015, where he held a press conference with the parents of Andrew Joseph in Tampa. Two months later, he sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, calling on her to have the FBI investigate the case.

“Andrew was forced to take off some his clothes, for the stated purpose of allowing the police to check for gang-related tattoos,” Grayson wrote. “He was photographed, and information about him was entered into a database. With no evidence of wrongdoing, or even suspicion of wrongdoing, the police nevertheless removed Andrew (a 14-year-old without adult supervision) from the Fair, by patrol car. The police released Andrew well away from the Fair, by patrol car. The police released Andrew well away from the Fair, near four busy thoroughfares, two of them Interstate highways. At no time did the Sheriff’s Office attempt to contact Andrew’s parents, or direct him to do so.”

In March of 2016, Grayson returned to Tampa near the scene of Andrew Joseph III’s death to announce that the Justice Department would not be investigating the case. In a letter to Grayson that he made public that day, Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik wrote that “accident, mistake, fear, negligence or bad judgement are not sufficient to establish a willful federal criminal civil rights violation.”

“It’s been two years!  And I don’t have a police report. Not one sentence,”  Joseph’s father, Andrew Joseph Jr. said at that news conference (The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says that the Florida Highway Patrol did write up a report).

“I absolutely do not know how I can ever show my appreciation and gratitude to Congressman Grayson,” said Deanna Joseph, Andrew’s mother, in a statement on Friday. “This has given us hope that the world will never allow another tragic death of a child in the manner in which Andrew Joseph III’s life ended.”

The Andrew Joseph III Act, H.R. 6505, calls for building a stronger system of law enforcement accountability, and instill a greater confidence in community policing.

Grayson will be leaving Washington when the new Congress is sworn in next month. He gave up his congressional seat earlier this year to run for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, where he fell a distant second to Jupiter Representative Patrick Murphy.

Alan Grayson adds amendment to get U.N. to hire Americans

Talk about stopping the export of jobs: U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson has added an amendment to a likely to pass bill that seeks to get the United Nations to hire more Americans.

Citing U.N. data, Grayson’s office argued that the United States pays 22 percent of the international organization’s budget; yet only 6 percent of New York-based organization’s employees are Americans.

Grayson’s amendment was included in the Department of State Authorities Act for Fiscal Year 2017, Senate Bill 1635, which was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives by a 374-16 vote on Monday might.

According to a press release from Grayon’s congressional office, the amendment calls on the U.S. Secretary of State to issue an annual report on whether the United Nations Secretariat and its supported agencies are “taking good faith steps to increase the staffing of United States citizens,” as well as assessing what “additional steps the organization could be taking to increase such staffing.”

The bill would apply to United Nations agencies, not just its headquarters. Grayson’s office stated that if the U.N. hired a proportional share of Americans based on funding, 12,000 more jobs would go to Americans.

Senate Bill 1635 was approved by the U.S. Senate in April. But that version did not have Grayson’s amendment nor other amendments added by the house Monday. So the amended bill must go back to the senate for approval before heading to the White House.

“The United Nations building is the only place within the U.S. border where you might find an implicit sign saying: ‘Americans not welcome,’” Grayson said. “Given the massive amount of funding we provide, the UN should hire more U.S. workers. This amendment will accomplish that goal.”

His office touted it as the 121st amendment he had successfully passed, and it will be one of his last. Grayson, a three-term Democrat from Orlando, leaves office Jan. 3.

Alan Grayson says goodbye to Orange County Democrats, for now

Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando made what’s likely to be his swan song appearance for now before Orange County Democrats Saturday, thanking them for backing him so he could “do so much good for so many people.”

Grayson sought the state Democratic nomination to run for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat but lost, and so he did not seek re-election this year to a fourth term. That opened the door to Darren Soto, who won in Florida’s 9th Congressional District. Restricting gave Florida’s 10th Congressional District a strong Democratic voter base, and Val Demings won there. And Stephanie Murphy upset Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

Those three districts split Orlando.

“It’s hard to believe I stand before you as the only Orange County Democrat to represent downtown Orlando in the last 42 years. But that changes a month from today when we have three, count them, three, Orange County Democrats in Congress,” Grayson said. “And I want to give credit where credit is due, and that is you all. We have gone through a very difficult time, wandering for 40 years through the desert here. But now we’ve reached the point with organization, teamwork, registrations, absentee ballot requests, and the legwork we all do … have led to the point where we finally are fully represented in the House of Representatives by Democrats.”

“But now we’ve reached the point with organization, teamwork, registrations, absentee ballot requests, and the legwork we all do … have led to the point where we finally are fully represented in the House of Representatives by Democrats.”

Despite his loss – and his wife Dena Grayson‘s loss to Soto in the CD 9 Democratic primary, he has not ruled out a return to politics, and his appearance Saturday included no suggestion that he was going away.

Grayson took a moment to highlight his career, notably that he passed 120 amendments or bills in his six years in Congress, 2008-10 and 2012-16. That was capped Friday with the passages of two more amendments, getting health-care-quality and substance-abuse counseling measures for veterans and service members into the $611.2 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which the House approved Friday.

Grayson noted that most of his successes came when Republicans controlled Congress.

“It turns out you can shame them into any good idea you want when you have might and right on your side,” he said.

Pam Keith to lead Florida group of Democrats to campaign for Louisiana Senate hopeful

Since Hillary Clinton lost the election to Donald Trump three weeks ago, many Democrats have been disconsolate, still stunned to deal with the reality of a Trump presidency.

Pam Keith says she understands the sentiment, but says it’s time for Democrats to get active and start fighting back. The way she’s doing that is to travel late next week to help out the U.S. Senate candidacy of Foster Campbell in Louisiana. And she’s calling other Florida Democrats to join her.

“I think a lot of us Dems are heartsick and trying to channel all of that emotion into something constructive,” Keith said in an email to FloridaPolitics. “For the time being, there really isn’t anything we can do about Trump, other than gnash our teeth and pray that the Electoral college sees the light.  But with respect to the Senate, there is something we can do.  The runoff in Louisiana would’t be a run-off unless it was close, so adding whatever we can to the mix might actually get something positive done.”

With no senate candidate getting fifty percent of the vote in Louisiana on Nov. 8, Campbell made the runoff against Republican John N. Kennedy, the state treasurer. Campbell is a 69-year-old cattle farmer and public service commissioner. A survey taken last week by a GOP polling firm shows Campbell trailing Kennedy by double-digits.

When Keith announced on her Facebook page that she was intending to spend two days in Louisiana campaigning for Campbell, she asked if other Democrats would be willing to join her.

“We have gotten LOTS of positive feedback for folks who want to help, many of whom can’t travel but are eager to do phone banking. I think we will reach our 20 people goal based on what I’m seeing so far,” Keith says.

Keith is a former Naval Officer JAG and attorney who finished third in the Democratic race for U.S. Senator this summer. Though she didn’t come to defeating winner Patrick Murphy, but came close to knocking off congressman Alan Grayson for second place.

Keith says that she thought such a GOTV effort would be promoted by the Democratic National Committee or the various state parties. But that didn’t happen.

“Seeing no action on the part of either group, I just decided to see what I could do on my own. Bret Berlin has been immensely helpful and is now working with me to get this done. The Campbell team in Louisiana is very positive about getting our help.”

Democrats nationwide are looking at the race, with the Campbell campaign taking in more than  $2.5 million in contributions in the weeks surrounding the Nov. 8 election, according to his latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.

Between Oct. 20 and Nov. 20, he raised $2,490,939 from individuals and another $29,600 from political action committees, according to the report his campaign released on Tuesday.

Keith and her friends will be in Louisiana on December 9 and 10. The election takes place on December 10.

 

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