Bill Nelson – Page 3 – Florida Politics

Outside organization attacks Bill Nelson’s budget history in new TV ad

Floridians will soon see yet another television ad attacking their Democratic U.S. Senator, Bill Nelson, as he vies to keep his seat in November against challenger Rick Scott.

In the ad, Nelson, a longtime federal lawmaker, is criticized for failing to pass federal budgets, which has happened eight times during his tenure in Congress, according to the ad. It also attacks the Senator for not preventing six separate government shutdowns and for voting for “trillions in spending and billions in higher taxes.” 

“Most Americans know how important it is that Washington stay within its budget. After all, our families have one,” the voice-over says in the ad. “But Washington has its own way and seems to ignore their responsibility to pass a budget.”

The 30-second spot ends by prompting Floridians to call Nelson and “tell him it’s time for him to finally do his job and pass a responsible budget.”

The ad follows a barrage of negativity flowing from the Scott campaign, the latest instance depicting Nelson as “toeing the party line” over judicial nominations.

The latest affront, however, isn’t funded by the Republican governor, or any committee attached to his Senate campaign. It’s backed by America Next, a conservative organization that claims to be uninterested in winning elections, instead focused on “winning the war of ideas,” according to the organization’s mission statement.

Still, the Scott campaign likely doesn’t mind the outside intervention; the Governor’s depicted himself as a Washington outsider who’s ready to change things up. And just last month he unveiled a campaign promise to push a proposal that would stem paychecks to members of Congress when they fail to pass a budget, a platform point complemented by America Next’s latest ad.

Scott has also promised to fight for term limits, supermajority approval for tax and fee increases, and a presidential line-item veto.

Watch the ad here or below:

Ka-ching: Rick Scott touts ‘record breaking’ fundraising number

Rick Scott‘s campaign for U.S. Senate says it broke a record: It raised $10.7 million in the second quarter of 2018.

That more than triples the best effort of any quarter by his opponent, incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

The $10.7 million figure — “a historic amount that surpasses any other national Senate campaign” — also does not reflect any of Scott’s own personal money spent on the campaign.

The final tally included more than 11,000 contributors, 80 percent of whom live in Florida; 75 percent of all contributors gave less than $500.

Only 3.2 percent of the contributions came from political action committees (though one would expect those contributions to be higher than that $500 threshold, when the official Federal Elections Commission report drops later this month).

Scott, the state’s two-term governor, asserts in the release that the $10.7 million haul is “sending a message to Washington that the time of career politicians is over – and our momentum is not slowing down.”

Florida Finance Chairwoman Darlene Jordan had a similar take: “This historic more than $10.7 million fundraising quarter shows that the opportunity to elect Governor Rick Scott and send a career politician back home has Floridians more excited than ever before.”

National Finance Chairman Thomas O. Hicks was likewise on the same page, asserting that “Americans across the country have made it clear that they are ready to have a real leader in Washington, and every single dollar raised puts us one step closer to electing Governor Rick Scott to the U.S. Senate.”

Scott has been a well-traveled fundraiser, with events from coast to coast. What’s clear is that he has buy in from a large swath of the nation’s elite in addition to the grassroots support touted.

Thus far, asserts the release, Scott has not had to contribute to his own campaign — a change from his 2010 and 2014 races, where he spent $75 million to get elected and another $12.8 million in the re-election bid.

Nelson, according to the March FEC filing, had $10,524,453 on hand. It will be interesting to see how the fundraising quarter affected his numbers.

Dike repair money coming amid algae woes

As calls grow for state action to deal with toxic algae blooms in Southeast and Southwest Florida, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced funding is in place to speed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee.

The Army Corps’ Jacksonville office said Thursday that $514.2 million is heading toward repairs of the dike, which is basically a 30-foot-high earthen structure that surrounds the lake. An overall $17.4 billion in funding for the Corps includes additional money for beach restoration and coastal flood control in Florida.

Gov. Rick Scott and other state and federal officials from Florida have been clamoring for increased funding for the dike project, which had been scheduled for completion in 2025. The state approved $50 million in each of the past two years to speed up the federal project, which, with the newly announced money, is now expected to be done in 2022.

The dike money has become a political issue as Scott challenges Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in November.

Through his campaign, Scott took the opportunity of the Army Corps’ announcement to criticize Nelson.

“In April 2017, I announced my goal of fixing the Herbert Hoover Dike by 2022,” Scott said in a statement from his campaign. “I’m glad to see that Bill Nelson finally supports my plan.”

Nelson, who in May 2017 was among Florida lawmakers pushing legislation to speed Everglades-restoration projects, spent Thursday in Fort Myers and Stuart talking about the algae issue and in a tweet called the Army Corps’ new dike timeline “huge news.”

The repairs are considered an essential step in allowing the lake to hold more water, which would reduce the need for discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee river estuaries to the east and west. Residents on both coasts blame polluted water releases from the lake for what has become an annual summer outbreak of toxic algae blooms in the rivers.

Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney tweeted that fast-tracking the dike repairs is “great news for FL waterways.” U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, another Florida Republican, said the funding “clears the deck” for officials to focus on other efforts to improve South Florida waters, including a planned reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area that is also aimed at helping prevent harmful discharges into the waterways.

On Thursday, state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, a Fort Myers Republican, wrote a letter to Scott requesting a state of emergency in the Lee County area due to red tide and blue-green algae blooms in the Caloosahatchee River and along the Southwest Florida coast.

“We must warn our residents and unsuspecting tourists of the potential risks of swimming, fishing, consuming fish caught from the Caloosahatchee or the Gulf waters and of any other recreational water sports during this outbreak,” Fitzenhagen wrote.

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, on Friday urged Scott to issue an executive order hiring companies to remove algae on the lake’s surface.

The dike repair money is part of $3.348 billion in federal disaster recovery funds the Jacksonville office is getting to reduce flooding risks in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Florida is expected to see about $815 million of the federal money, with the bulk — more than $2.5 million — headed to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Florida is also getting money for coastal flood risk management in various areas, including Miami-Dade County, $158 million; St. Johns County, $36.8 million; Palm Beach County, $25 million; St. Lucie County, $20.3 million; Flagler County, $17.5 million; and Manatee County, $14.3 million.

Also, federal beach-hardening projects in Brevard, Broward, Duval, Lee, Nassau and Sarasota counties will each get $2 million.

Rick Scott lambastes Bill Nelson for ‘toeing the party line’ on judicial nominations

Gov. Rick Scott‘s Senate campaign rarely goes more than a couple of days without a new ad, and the latest spots have excoriated incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson for voting with the Democratic Party on judicial nominations.

The timing of these spots: no accident, as President Donald Trump has vowed to identify his next Supreme Court nominee Monday.

Following on the “Rubber Stamp” ad rolled out earlier this week, “Toe the Line” hammers home the likelihood that Nelson won’t support that nomination, linking it to a career record of voting with former Sen. Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, heeding “party bosses” in the bargain.

The spot also notes that Nelson did not oppose any of the 700+ judges nominated by Democratic presidents.

Lauren Schenone, the Scott campaign’s press secretary, asserts that Nelson’s position on Trump’s second high court nomination shows that the three-term senator “cares more about Democratic Party bosses than the Floridians he serves.”

“He toed the party line with Hillary Clinton, President Obama and hundreds of judicial nominations under democratic presidents — and just last week, Nelson admitted that he expects to vote against the Supreme Court nominee, before even knowing their name,” Schenone lamented.

This spot, which will air on TV and digital formats, is another indication of divergent strategies between the Scott and Nelson campaigns.

Scott has been more active with ad buys than has Nelson, who is holding his resources until later in the campaign season.

Rick Scott charges Bill Nelson with being Democratic ‘rubber stamp’ on judicial votes

Gov. Rick Scott is in Kuwait, visiting American troops, but his campaign operation continues to slam Sen. Bill Nelson for being a party-line voter in the Senate.

A new ad, “Rubber Stamp,” levies the charges related to judicial votes, asserting that “President Obama nominated more than 300 judges … Nelson did not vote against a single one.”

The ad deems Nelson to be “a complete party line politician … a rubber stamp for party leaders [who] voted against Supreme Court Justice [Neil] Gorsuch.”

Nelson did oppose Gorsuch, in a move some Democrats saw as a hedge against a primary challenge. Now it’s a talking point for his general election challenger.

“Bill Nelson’s voting history shows that he puts partisan politics before Floridians, even when it comes to something as important as judicial nominations,” said Lauren Schenone, Press Secretary for Scott for Florida.

“Bill Nelson didn’t vote against a single one of Obama’s judicial nominees, but he obeyed party leaders in voting against Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch and decided to vote against a Florida judicial appointee he personally recommended once Chuck Schumer told him to. That’s because Bill Nelson isn’t in Washington to be a leader for Florida — he’s in Washington to be a rubber stamp for Democrats,” Schenone charges.

Judge keeps housing aid in place for Puerto Rican hurricane survivors facing eviction

With federal housing aid for Puerto Rican survivors of Hurricane Maria set to expire Saturday, more than 1,700 people face eviction from their temporary residences. Now, a federal judge has put those evictions on hold.

A lawsuit filed in Massachusetts by LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a national advocacy group, resulted in U.S. District Judge Leo T. Sorokin blocking the federal government from ending their aid to storm survivors.

Many who lost their home during Hurricane Maria qualified for Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA), which is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The TSA pays for temporary housing, such as hotels.

But the aid was set to expire Saturday after FEMA declined to extend it. That decision was blocked by Judge Sorokin until Tuesday at midnight.

That decision prompted FEMA to extend the program through Thursday July 5 so as to comply with the court order.

The issue was highlighted Saturday by Sen. Bill Nelson and other lawmakers, who sought to push for Gov. Rick Scott to allocate funding to make up for the gap left by the federal government’s decision to rescind aid.

The Scott campaign responded to those barbs from Nelson by saying, “Bill Nelson needs to stop pointing fingers. He has been a fixture of the federal government for decades yet he only seems to turn up during an election year. Governor Scott will continue to consistently fight for Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican families in Florida.”

Many of the survivors displaced by the storm are located in Florida. Massachusetts also has a sizable share, which triggered the lawsuit there.

“The irreparable harm to the plaintiffs is obvious and overwhelming – tomorrow morning they will be evicted and homeless since by definition each plaintiff’s home was rendered uninhabitable by the hurricane in Puerto Rico,” read the Saturday night ruling by Sorokin.

A hearing on the issue has been scheduled for Monday.

In the event the FEMA decision stands, a list of resources is available here for those who need assistance.

Bill Nelson calls on Rick Scott to help Puerto Rican hurricane survivors avoid eviction

Bill Nelson condemned Gov. Rick Scott as more than a thousand Puerto Rican survivors of Hurricane Maria could end up homeless in the coming days.

Many survivors of the storm are living in the U.S., including here in Florida, after their homes were destroyed.

Those who lost their homes were able to qualify for Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA), a program operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The TSA program pays for temporary lodgings, such as hotels, and attempts to find permanent homes for those affected by the storm. The agency has spent $432 million on lodging, according to an article by Newsweek.

However, the program helping Puerto Ricans is set to expire Saturday after a previous 60-day extension was granted. Nelson and other Democrats signed on to a request to FEMA for a new 60-day extension. However, those efforts seem to have failed.

Nelson noted senators also asked FEMA to activate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP). Similar efforts were made for victims of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.

“All FEMA has to do is activate the existing law, just like they did for Katrina victims in New Orleans,” Nelson said at a news conference Saturday. But according to Nelson, that request was also rejected.

Nelson said he also introduced measures in the Senate to extend aid to the survivors, but they were blocked by Republicans.

However, in a statement to Florida Politics, the Rick Scott campaign rebutted Nelson’s efforts, calling him “all talk and no action.”

Scott added, “Trying to earn political points on a piece of legislation that never left the ground is typical of a career politician like Bill Nelson. Bill Nelson has had nearly half a century to learn how to solve problems at the federal level, but instead, the only thing he has mastered is how to file a bill without putting in the work to secure its passage.”

Nevertheless, as it stands, families impacted by the storm must either figure out how to pay for their temporary housing on their own, find another way to stay here in the U.S., or return to an island that has still not fully recovered from Hurricane Maria.

Part of the issue is that Puerto Rico was facing problems long before the storm. “Puerto Rico’s current condition was not solely caused by Maria,” noted state Rep. Robert Asencio, who also spoke at Saturday’s news conference.

Asencio and state Sen. Victor Torres recounted a recent visit to the island, where they witnessed several areas still recovering from the storm more than nine months later.

The duo said they spoke to Puerto Rican mayors who warned they are not able to accommodate the influx of survivors returning to the island. “They said, ‘We cannot take on the families who return. We don’t have the housing,'” recalled Torres.

Criticism then turned toward the Rick Scott administration for failing to make up for the assistance shortfall created by the TSA expiration.

“They have not taken this issue seriously,” said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of the Scott administration.

“Governor Rick Scott has refused to take any action to support these evacuees and give them a long-term solution to housing.”

He called on Gov. Scott to allocate resources to help those Puerto Ricans who face the loss of shelter due to the expiration of TSA.

However, Scott put the blame squarely on the federal government. “We have continued to do all we can at the state level to find real solutions for Puerto Rican families.”

He also promised, “to continue to fight for Puerto Rican families both here in Florida and on the island.” His office issued a release directing those affected by TSA’s expiration to other resources available to them.

Nelson, who is being challenged by Scott in 2018 for his U.S. Senate seat, sees this as a winning political issue, however. He urged Puerto Rican voters to remember it come November.

“They know how they’ve been treated by President Trump. They remember the images of President Trump throwing paper towels into the crowd as his way of serving the people who were hurting at that time.”

He added, “At the end of the day, what we want to make sure is that our Puerto Rican friends understand that elections have consequences.”

Ad calls on Bill Nelson to confirm Donald Trump SCOTUS pick

President Donald Trump hasn’t put forward a nominee in the 24 hours since Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, but conservative group One Nation is already out with an ad urging U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to vote for the president’s pick.

The ad, titled “SCOTUS,” paints the Democratic Senator as “caving” when he cast a no-vote for Trump’s first SCOTUS pick, Justice Neil Gorsuch, and urges voters to tell him not to do the same thing this time around.

“A new vacancy on the Supreme Court and our freedom hangs in the balance, but the far left will stop at nothing to block President Trump’s choice. Senator Bill Nelson voted against Justice Neil Gorsuch the last time. Will he cave to the extreme left again? Tell Senator Bill Nelson: ‘Say no to the left and help put another great justice on the Supreme Court,’” the ad narrator says as the video displays a phone number for Nelson’s Washington office.

One Nation’s digital ad campaign is targeting 10 incumbent Democratic Senators up for re-election this year, and they say there’s more to follow.

“This is the merely first step in our full-fledged advocacy campaign for the nomination and confirmation of a constitutional conservative to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said One Nation President and CEO Steven Law.

In the wake of Kennedy’s announcement, many Democratic leaders have called on any new Supreme Court Justice to be confirmed after the 2018 midterm elections. The Republican Party employed a similar strategy when it delayed the vote to replace Justice Antonin Scalia for a year.

Though that strategy panned out for Republicans, imitating it puts Democratic Senators in a precarious position. Of the 33 Senators up for re-election in 2018, 10 are Democrats representing states that Trump won two years ago, Nelson is one of them.

The ad is below.

HHS Inspector General to investigate treatment of migrant children

After repeated questioning by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and others, the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General has announced an investigation of the agency’s handling of migrant children separated from parents at the border.

The investigation will focus on shelters run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, an office within HHS.

“We will review ORR’s efforts to ensure the safety and health of children placed at ORR facilities, especially when the program experiences a sudden increase in the number of children placed in its care,” read an announcement from the IG’s office on the investigation.

“Specifically, this review will focus on a variety of safety- and health-related issues such as employee background screening, employees’ clinical skills and training, identification and response to incidents of harm and facility security.”

The move comes after Nelson grilled HHS Secretary Alex Azar regarding the administration’s plans to reunite separated children from their families.

President Donald Trump‘s administration caught flak from members of both parties for its decision to ramp up zero-tolerance policies at the border, resulting in more and more children being separated from their families while the parents’ cases were handled.

Some of those children wound up here in Florida, including at a Homestead facility that Nelson was allowed to visit after originally being denied access. Some of the children housed there were not even able to contact their parents via phone. The agency admitted those children’s parents might have already been deported.

The episode prompted Nelson and 40 other senators to sign a letter demanding the HHS IG investigate the agency’s treatment of those children.

“We remain concerned about whether the Department is ensuring children receive the care they need and whether the services and treatments they receive are trauma-informed and evidence-based,” the senators wrote.

“While we are encouraged by the announcement of recent efforts to prioritize family reunification, we also have significant questions about how the Department is working to accomplish this goal.”

In response, the IG has promised to send investigators to sites nationwide to evaluate the facilities. It’s not yet clear whether Florida will be one of the places they will visit.

Florida Democrats call on Rick Scott to stand up to Donald Trump

Gov. Rick Scott is in Washington raising money for his U.S. Senate campaign, and the Florida Democratic Party says now is as good a time as any to confront Donald Trump for his attacks on health care protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“According to recent estimates, 7,810,300 Floridians have pre-existing conditions. Those are 7,810,300 of your constituents that could lose their health care if Donald Trump (and your own Attorney General, Pam Bondi) have their way. Yet, despite the potential grave consequences of Trump and Bondi’s lawsuit, you haven’t uttered a word explicitly condemning their actions,” the letter says regarding a multistate lawsuit aimed at removing Affordable Care Act rules guaranteeing health care access for people with pre-existing conditions.

The Trump Administration said earlier this month it will not defend the lawsuit in court.

Scott, in a statement from his Senate campaign last week, said that while “Obamacare is a disaster and costs way too much,” he supports the requirement that health insurers not discriminate against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

He’s yet to back up those words with any action, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Florida Democratic Party.

In an email announcing the letter, the FDP said Scott’s behavior was to be expected, considering he “bragged about crafting the GOP’s recent health care bill that would slash coverage for people with pre-existing conditions (while giving himself a tax break).”

The letter continues:

“Simply put, although we Floridians are tired of your empty rhetoric, we’re also used to it. We know that you have a tendency to say and do anything to get elected. However, in a matter as serious as health care, we hope that you can put aside politics and understand that for many, having access to affordable and quality health care is the difference between life and death.

“On Thursday, while you spend the day hobnobbing with donors in Washington, D.C., we request that you stop by to see your ‘close friend’ Donald Trump and tell him to stop his attacks on health care protections for pre-existing conditions. Or better yet, tell him that Florida is withdrawing as a party to the lawsuit that would make protections for pre-existing conditions unconstitutional.”

The letter is FDP’s latest attempt to turn Trump into an anchor around Scott’s neck. The second-term Republican Governor is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in the fall.

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