Charlie Crist Archives - Page 7 of 77 - Florida Politics

Ted Deutch is the latest Florida Democrat to call for bipartisan investigation into Trump-Russia relationship

Boca Raton based Congressman Ted Deutch is the latest Democrat from the Florida delegation to call for a deeper look into the alleged ties between President Trump and government officials in Russia.

During Thursday’s House Foreign Affairs Committee, Deutch, who is the ranking member of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, urged for an independent, bipartisan investigation into President Trump’s ties to Russia, including his administration, his campaign, and his family’s business ties. That’s despite the fact that the committee’s meeting was titled,”Undermining Democratic Institutions and Splintering NATO: Russian Disinformation Aims.”

“Today’s hearing is on an important topic, and our panelists have an important view,” he began his prepared remarks. “But this hearing will not give the American people the investigation that they deserve. Seventeen American intelligence agencies concluded that Russia executed a cyber-attack against the United States. They concluded that the attack was designed to influence the outcome of the election. They concluded that the attack was intended to benefit Donald Trump’s campaign. How can we proceed with a hearing on Russia’s involvement in Europe while ignoring the unresolved questions around this attack? What credibility do we have?”

Deutch said the only way to answer these questions is with an independent commission and a special prosecutor to “do the job that the Attorney General is unable to do,” referring to the fact that Jeff Sessions has recused himself from that task, after it was reported last week that he twice met with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., but failed to disclose that information during his Senate confirmation hearing in January.

Tampa area Democratic Representative Kathy Castor has called for an independent prosecutor to examine Trump’s ties to Russia, while St. Petersburg Representative Charlie Crist has called for a “9-11” style commission. Dutch is asking for both.

 

 

Bob Buckhorn says after Donald Trump, voters may not be interested in a ‘guy like him’

On Thursday, Bob Buckhorn explained why he chose not to pursue the Democratic nomination for Florida governor in 2018.

The Tampa mayor’s decision was mainly predicated on two factors: He did not want to be away as his 15-year-old daughter spends her last few years at home, and he loves being Mayor of Tampa more than he could imagine running for statewide office for the next 18 months.

But lurking below that was a realization; if he ran, Florida voters may not be interested in buying what he would be selling next year.

“I would have been running on the fact that I was qualified, that I had managed large institutions, that we had a track record of accomplishments, that we were not particularly partisan, but I don’t know if that really matters anymore,” the mayor told reporters gathered at City Hall Thursday morning.

“I don’t know what the American public is looking for in their elected leadership. It is a disconcerting time in our country, and for those of us who aspire to lead, it’s the most unusual time that I’ve seen in 30 years.”

Of course, Buckhorn was referring to the electoral earthquake leading to Donald Trump winning the presidency last fall over Hillary Clinton, the woman he campaigned hard for both in and outside Florida.

Although the mayor’s decision was expected, over the past few years, his trajectory about being a candidate had evolved.

Based on his successful leadership leading Tampa out of the Great Recession in the last decade — as well as his outsized personality — Buckhorn was a prominent part of the Democratic bench of candidates for statewide office, and had been for several years.

That speculation went into overdrive after he created his own political action committee (One Florida) in December 2014.

And while he won a huge re-election victory in 2015, the rest of the year was troubled, partly due to a negative newspaper report about the Tampa Police Department, which triggered the progressive activist community, demanding the city create a citizen’s review board. It was a proposal Buckhorn initially resisted.

As funding for his PAC began to dry up in 2016, Buckhorn’s gubernatorial aspirations resurfaced locally after he gave a fiery speech this summer to the Florida delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Buckhorn admitted Thursday his thinking about a run for governor “ebbed and flowed” over the past couple of years, something he said was probably the case with all the rumored candidates, except for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, “who has obviously been committed to this from day one.”

“For me this was not an easy choice,” Buckhorn said. “It was not a straight path. There were a lot of things that I have to deal with that a lot of the other candidates don’t.” He specifically mentioned his two teenage daughters and a full-time job as mayor in the Florida’s biggest media market.

“But at the end of the day, family being first, I just didn’t want the job as bad as I wanted to be the mayor,” he said. “And even though I recognize that two years from now I won’t be the mayor, I’m going to finish strong.”

Buckhorn has more than two years left on the job, which is why he was hardly in the mood to get too retrospective about his legacy. While he championed his role in leading what he called “the Tampa Renaissance,” he drew a blank when asked to acknowledge his greatest failing to date, saying only that whatever mistakes he’s made along the way were “not done with malice or ill intent.”

Buckhorn certainly has the ambition to be governor, and he believes it’s vital for a “regime change” in Tallahassee after two decades of Republican rule in both the Governor’s mansion and the state Legislature.

Speculation has been that while a run for governor wasn’t in the cards, Buckhorn could run for chief financial officer, a job with duties that would allow him more time to return to Tampa on a weekly basis. But he said that decision was always about whether to commit for a run for the top spot in state government, not another Cabinet position. That said, he won’t pursue a run for that office.

A disciple of the 1980s Democratic Leadership Council — the same one that spawned Bill Clinton — Buckhorn’s centrism was always an issue for progressives in Tampa and the state.

With other centrist Democrats like Alex Sink, Patrick Murphy and Charlie Crist losing statewide elections in recent years, there is a part of the party that wants to go further left in 2018.

Buckhorn acknowledges that is a fervent part of the base right now, but he insists that’s not the way to go.

“If we continue to run campaigns based on identity politics or cobbling together interest groups, we’re going to lose,” he said flatly. “We’re a Purple state, and my sense is, and I could be wrong, and certainly the party seems to be heading in a different direction than my governing style, is that if we can’t appeal to the middle, we’re never going to be successful in this state.”

The mayor’s most interested in seeing how other Democrats in the race will fare over the course of the next year and a half. He said that the success of Trump does pave a possible path for attorney and Democratic fundraiser John Morgan as a viable wild card in 2018.

“He could potentially be the Democrats Donald Trump in terms of style and his willingness to shake up political and conventional wisdom, ” Buckhorn mused. “I just don’t know what the voters are looking for. I always thought that experience matters, and that credibility matters, and competence matters and a proven track record matters, but I just don’t know anymore.

“Time will tell, as the country rights itself, if a style of a Donald Trump is what Americans are looking for. If that’s the case, a guy like me, you know, they’re not going to be interested.”

 

Did Charlie Crist pull an oopsie naming his PAC after himself?

We’re not campaign finance experts, but we think Charlie Crist pulled an oopsie when he named his new Political Action Committee after himself. Simple reason: Federal law doesn’t allow it.

Former Republican Gov. and now Democratic Congressman Crist opened “Charlie Crist PAC” Monday, calling it “a Leadership PAC.”

In doing so, Crist – or his money people – forgot the distinction in federal campaign finance law between “authorized” and “unauthorized” committees.

“No unauthorized committee shall include the name of any candidate in its name,” the law says, and unauthorized committees are PACs which raise funds primarily to make contributions to other candidates.

That’s typically the purpose of so-called “leadership” PACs.

So watch for the letter from the Federal Election Commission telling Crist to change the name.

Charlie Crist PAC has also captured the attention of nonpartisan watchdog group Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a nonprofit organization promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic life.

Matthew Whitaker, FACT’s Executive Director, says: “Congressman Crist is no stranger to ethical problems, and this blatant campaign finance violation further demonstrates that he thinks he operates by one set of rules while asking his constituents to abide by another. We are calling on Representative Crist to immediately fix this violation, and failure to do so in a timely fashion will result in a FACT complaint to the FEC.  Campaign finance laws exist to ensure that our elected officials are serving the people’s interests, not using politics to promote their own self-interests.”

Charlie Crist opens political action committee

First-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist opened a political action committee Monday that he can use for his own re-election and help other candidates.

The former Florida governor is listed as the chair of Charlie Crist PAC, with Peggy Gagnon serving as custodian of records and Joseph Saunders taking the treasurer job.

The FEC filing reads that the “committee supports/opposes more than one Federal candidate and is NOT a separate segregated fund or a party committee.”

“In addition, this committee is a Leadership PAC,” the filing concludes.

Saunders is hosting a fundraiser for Crist at his and his wife Kathy’s home in St. Petersburg on March 26. The event is from 4:30 -6 p.m. at 4916 62nd Ave S.

Crist beat former Republican Rep. David Jolly in the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional district, which covers southern Pinellas County, last year.

Since his swearing-in January 3, Crist has been regularly fundraising for his 2018 re-election bid.

Charlie Crist gives a thumbs down to GOP health care replacement for the ACA

In recent weeks, Charlie Crist has heard loud and clear from constituents that he should stand behind the Affordable Care Act.

On Tuesday, the St. Petersburg Republican registered his strong opposition to the Republican House replacement for the ACA that Democrats say will result in over 10 million Americans to lose their health care coverage.

“The plan Republicans have put forward falls far short of current law — driving up health care costs, stripping away important protections, and leaving millions without coverage,” Crist said. “Even more troubling, it slashes Medicaid, a program that 70 million Americans depend on, hurting those most in need of coverage — seniors and long-term care recipients.

The GOP House bill would replace federal insurance subsidies with a new form of individual tax credits and phase out most of the ACA’s taxes. It would ultimately phase out current Medicaid funding, instead distribute a per-person allotment to the states, but not until 2020.

While Democratic opposition isn’t surprising, criticism from some conservatives exposes the fissures within the Republican Party on how best to replace President Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

“In many ways, the House Republican proposal released last night not only accepts the flawed progressive premises of Obamacare but expands upon them,” said Michael Needham with Heritage Action.” Ronald Reagan once said, ‘Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.’ The AHCA does all three.”

“Keep Medicaid in place until 2020?” said Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus. “We didn’t have Medicaid expansion in the bill we sent to President Obama, but we have it in the one we send to President Trump? That makes no sense to me.”

Crist said that Congress should work in a bipartisan fashion to improve the Academic, “so it works better for all Americans.”

“This proposal would just make things worse for the middle class, cutting taxes for the rich at the expense of seniors and working families,” he said.

Gwen Graham denounces new travel ban

Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham condemned President Donald Trump’s second attempt at a travel ban in a Monday afternoon Facebook post.

“Everyone who cares about America’s safety and security should oppose this latest Trump attempt at a travel ban,” she said. “And everyone who cares about America’s safety and security should call on Donald Trump to finally start listening to intelligence and military experts like the the ones who briefed me when I served on the House Armed Services Committee.”

Graham added that the revised executive order, issued Monday, “won’t make America safer or more secure, but a better-informed president sure would.”

The new travel ban is largely the same as the original ban issued about a month ago, though immigrants from Iraq are no longer barred from entering the country in the new ban, cutting the number of countries down to six, all predominantly Muslim. The new order also removed a provision that explicitly protected religious minorities.

Graham’s opinion echoes a statement put out earlier in the day by U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist as well as the opinion of Florida voters, who disapprove of the ban by a 51-44 margin.

Graham held Florida’s 2nd Congressional District from 2015 until the beginning of this year, but opted not to run for re-election after the district was redrawn to favor Republicans.

The former lawmaker announced last year that she was thinking about running for governor in 2018, a position her father, former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, held for two terms.

Charlie Crist calls new Trump travel ban ‘deeply troubling’

While calling it a slight improvement, Charlie Crist says that President Donald Trump’s newly revised version of his executive order that will bar migrants from predominantly Muslim nations from entering the U.S. remains “deeply troubling.”

The Trump administration released its new executive order travel ban on Monday, more than a month after federal judges blocked the initial ban on residents from seven Middle Eastern and African countries that created legal challenges and spontaneous demonstrations in airports across the country. The new executive order removes citizens of Iraq from the original travel embargo and deletes a provision that explicitly protected religious minorities.

“While it’s an improvement that Iraq was taken off the list of countries under the travel ban, this executive order is still deeply troubling, and we can’t take our eye off the ball,” Crist said in a statement.

“By cutting the number of refugees able to seek freedom and safety in the U.S. by over 50 percent annually, we are condemning the lives of up to 60,000 people – a population the size of Fort Myers, Florida – who fear persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, or political views,” said the Pinellas County Representative. “It’s unconscionable, flying in the face of our American values as the beacon of hope and light to the rest of the world.”

Like some foreign policy observers, Crist says the new executive order makes America less safe, “damaging the alliances we need to stop terrorism at home and against our allies and interests abroad.”

The release of the statement shortly after it was announced is another example of how Crist appears to be more focused in his job as a Congressman. When the original travel ban was announced late in the afternoon of Friday, January 27, citizens converged the next night to airports around the country to protest the decision (though in Tampa, citizens who initially were rebuffed by Tampa International Airport officials relocated in front of Marco Rubio’s then Tampa office).

Crist did not issue a statement out that entire weekend, however, finally sending out a statement via his spokeswoman on January 30.

Not this time, however. Tampa Representative Kathy Castor, Crist’s Democratic colleague from across the Bay, has not weighed in with a statement as of yet on Monday afternoon.

Blake Dowling: The road, fast food and Session — all aboard!

Session is here in the Capital City, beginning with a Monday bash at Associated Industries to welcome those from all over the state.

The Legislative Session kickoff has been on my calendar for a decade now; it is a great event and a nice chance to reflect on the past year and the one coming just ahead.

Mayor Andrew Gillum wants to run for governor, legal pot is everywhere, POTUS can give a good speech. What else? Charlie Christ switched back to the GOP, got a divorce or something like that. It’s hard to keep tabs on Chuckles.

For those traveling from out of town make sure to stay away from fast food. It is hard on the system, makes you fat and decreases your life span.

Wendy’s is making it hard to avoid fast food, as they are leading the pack with devious innovative ways to get a double cheeseburger in your hand (where are they square, by the way).

What are they doing? Self-service kiosks for one thing. I wrote in an earlier column that the model Amazon’s new cashier less smart self-serve store would be appealing to big business looking to save money from a higher minimum wage. The head burger honchos came to the same conclusion. How do they stay highly profitable? Get rid of employees.

So, those are elected officials that always want to raise taxes and the minimum wage.

Stop. I was talking to John Londot from Greenberg Traurig about a minute ago about AI (we are collaborating on something for Leon County next week), and it’s not just minimum wage workers that should be on alert.

We must all be mindful of what sort of impact AI could have on the world. We could have an autonomous utopia on our hands or a scorched wasteland.

I prefer to think positive on the subject and I know John does too. We must not fear innovation but that is not to say we should not walk carefully.

“Technology can play a great role in creating a better customer experience, unlocking productivity, driving throughput and ultimately saving some labor to help us to continue to have a strong economic model,” said Todd Penegor, Wendy’s CEO.

Wendy’s has created a lab — called 90 Degrees — with a team of developers and engineers to work on self-serving kiosks, its website and mobile app.

They want you using smart pay, and who do you think they are targeting? Youth. Millennials. They want to make the Clown and the King as irrelevant as the compact disc.

They are well on their way, plus they are rolling out a standardized POS (point of sale, not the other acronym you were thinking of) to all stores. They are making a massive investment in innovation and expect them to crush the competition, except Chick-fil-A. Can’t touch the master.

Wendy’s want you ordering from the app, from kiosks and have an agile and nimble digital experience with their brand. And they are half way there.

Da da da da da … I’m McLoving it.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached here: dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Charlie Crist fields questions for nearly four hours at his first town hall meeting

In the weeks since Donald Trump and the Republican Party have taken complete control control of Washington D.C., congressional town hall meetings around the nation have been marked by vitriol, confrontation and anger.

Those elements were decidedly not present at Charlie Crist’s town hall meeting held on Saturday at the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus. Instead, it was a veritable love fest, with the mostly liberal crowd calling on Crist to hold the new regime accountable, as well as asking him to help guide them on what they could do to slow down the Trump administration.

“It’s not Democrats, Republicans or independents,” the freshman U.S. Representative said when asked who could bring the greatest pressure on Trump and the GOP agenda. “It’s Americans on Americans, encouraging these people in Washington to get to the truth. The more you do it, the more it’s going to happen.”

The St. Petersburg Democrat showed Springsteenian stamina in his first town hall, taking questions for nearly four hours before a crowd that started out over 500 people strong.

As he said last weekend in a community in South St. Petersburg, Crist wants an independent, 9/11-style commission to investigate the ties between the Trump administration and Russian officials. He said former Secretary of State Colin Powell would be an ideal personality to lead that panel.

He received a standing ovation when he said that he has called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign after it was reported that he met with Russian officials after saying he had not done so during his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing. But Crist said it was important “not to take the eye off the ball” on what was really important.

“The real issue to me in this whole Russian imbroglio, if you will, is what did they do? What did they hack? What did they cyberattack? And why did they do it? And who did they do it for? And who did they talk to about it before it was done?” he asked.

Crist said he was angered by the reports because he “loves democracy,” and what happened in this case “has the opportunity to shatter the very foundation of American democracy.”

Crist also announced that his first major piece of legislation he soon will be filing involves a measure to protect Social Security. He said his legislation would in part raise the cap on earnings that are taxed. Currently, earnings up to $118,500 are taxed for this purpose. Crist’s 13th Congressional District it should be noted,  has always been considered to contain one of the highest concentration of senior voters in the nation.

The other component of his bill would be to eliminate taxation on citizens beginning to cash in on Social Security benefits.

“The hard part is getting these things because we’re putting them in the same bill,” he said.

Members of the audience filled out question forms beforehand, and were given a number that was then announced in no particular order by a Crist staffer during the meeting.

That seemed to be working well enough, but nearly two hours into the town hall, Dr. David McKalip said he’d had enough. The Tea Party activist and St. Petersburg neurosurgeon interrupted the proceedings to say that it was time to interrupt the one-sided nature of the questions being asked,d before asking Crist to please “repeal Obamacare.”

As he continued speaking, the crowd began jeering loudly, yelling at him to “ask your question!”

McKalip said insurance rates had skyrocketed since the ACA officially went into effect in 2014, mentioning the deleterious affect it has on his patients.

Crist never directly responded, instead passing the microphone to the next woman scheduled to ask a question. She began by giving an impassioned defense of the ACA.

Always lauded for his skills as a retail politician, Crist was at his zenith in terms of people pleasing throughout the meeting, though sometimes in an over the top fashion. When a Clearwater resident introduced herself by saying she had just recently relocated from northern Illinois, Crist responded by saying, “Welcome to Heaven.”

When St. Petersburg resident named Cuthbert Hutton asked a question about Trump stripping down the EPA, Crist got a bit corny.

“Mr Hutton is it? So when you speak, people listen,” he quipped, invoking the not-so-recent television ad tagline. He then assured Hutton that he would do “everything in my power to make sure that budget, that has to be approved by the House and the Senate, before it goes to the president’s desk, is one that reflects your wishes. Because you’re my boss. Literally.”

When Seminole resident Randy Wright began his comment about preserving the Affordable Care Act by mentioning that Crist used to be Insurance Commissioner in Florida, Crist interrupted him.

“Education Commissioner, ” he said.

“Not Insurance Commissioner?” Wright responded.

“Hell no,” Crist fired back, eliciting a wave of laughter.

And at one point he gave Pinellas resident Tracy Crabtree his card with his personal cell phone numbers, which he then had her read aloud.

Another citizen who left a bit disgruntled was Beverly Young, the widow of the late C.W. Bill Young, the Republican who held the CD 13 seat for over forty years before his death in the fall of 2013. Young said that she was disappointed with Crist’s dealings with veterans in Pinellas County.

Kathy Castor says Jeff Sessions should resign

Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor joins the chorus of Democrats who are calling for the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions following published reports surfacing that he met twice with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. during the presidential campaign last year.

The former Alabama senator had said as recently as last month that he had not done so.

“Lying to a congressional committee while you are under sworn oath is illegal,” Castor said Thursday morning. “Attorney General Jeff Sessions should resign and at the very least must recuse himself from the investigation into illegal collusion between Vladimir Putin, the Russian government and the Trump Campaign. President Trump’s failure to release his tax returns (unlike any other presidential candidate or President) continues to be a cloud over his Administration.”

“An open and transparent review of his tax returns could answer questions related to whether or not he or his company have ties to Russia,” she added.

Shortly before Castor released her statement, her fellow Democratic colleague across Tampa Bay, Charlie Crist, was also calling on Sessions to resign.

“As the former Attorney General of Florida, I find Attorney General Sessions’ actions inexcusable, and call for his immediate resignation,” Crist said. “How can we have faith that the duties of the office of the Attorney General will be carried out when the chief legal officer of the country doesn’t tell the truth under oath to the United States Congress.”

At his Senate confirmation hearing last month, Sessions denied ever having met with Sergey Kislyak, the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, during the presidential campaign. However, a report in The Washington Post said that Sessions had met with him twice during the presidential campaign.

Sessions said Thursday that he would consider recusing himself from any investigation that the Justice Department could be conducting related to any ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

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