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Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel call for investigations into Donald Trump-Pam Bondi matter

Florida Democratic U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel called Tuesday for someone to investigate the Donald TrumpPam Bondi matter that Deutch said “looked like a bribe.”

In a telephone press conference with Florida media organized by the Democratic National Committee, Deutch and Frankel insisted more needs to be revealed about the $25,000 donation Trump’s Trump Foundation made to Bondi’s 2014 attorney general re-election campaign just as her office was looking into alleged fraud complaints about his Trump University.

Trump has insisted there was no quid-pro-quo. And Bondi insisted her office’s decision to not investigate the complaints did not reach her desk, and had nothing to do with Trump’s donation — a contribution later determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be improperly made.

In a development unrelated to the Deutch-Frankel press conference, the matter now has been referred to the U.S. Department of Justice. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington announced Tuesday it has filed a complaint against Bondi, Trump and the Trump Foundation, and called for an investigation into whether the Trump Foundation broke federal criminal law by making false reports to the IRS.

In the complaint, CREW asked Raymond Hulser, chief of the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section to investigate whether Bondi solicited a bribe and whether Trump paid one.

It’s a matter that Deutch and Frankel echoed later Tuesday.

“The appearance of this is very clearly a pay-for-play,” Deutch said. “It looks like there was a bribe made to get the attorney general to drop the case.”

“Donald Trump has bragged that he can buy politicians …. He calls it a broken system. Honest people would call the transaction between Pam Bondi and Donald Trump corruption,” Frankel said.

Deutch referred to reporting by Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell in which Bondi acknowledged in 2013 that the office was reviewing complaints from people who thought they were defrauded by Trump University. Then, four days later, the Trump Foundation donation arrived for Bondi’s campaign. He also noted that Maxwell also reported the AG’s office responded to an open-records request with email showing the agency advised people who thought they were scammed to go on the internet and look for lawsuits to join.

Deutch said he did not want to call for a specific investigation by a specific agency because he did not want to limit the scope. He said if there is a potential violation of law, then the U.S. Department of Justice ought to look into it. If there is a potential violation of ethics, then The Florida Bar ought to look into it.

[Afterward, The Florida Bar advised it has no jurisdiction over the state attorney general.]

Neither he nor Frankel seemed to think Bondi should be a priority in any investigation. Both hammered Trump. Both argued that similar events occurred in Texas and Florida, suggesting Trump has a pattern of trying to dissuade attorney general investigations into his businesses by using campaign contributions to reward or punish attorneys general.

When asked if there was anything in Bondi’s past record to suggest she would have launched a formal investigation into Trump University based on the complaints, Frankel responded, “The point of this conversation is not necessarily whether or not Pam Bondi has a history of being derelict in her duties. I want to bring you back to Donald Trump, who is running for president of the United States of America. In his business, he paid people, he paid politicians, to get what he wanted. We believe that is what happened here.”

College students avoid voting booths like the library on a Saturday night

College students demonstrated it again in last week’s primary election: they don’t vote, at least not in primary elections.

As first reported by Orlando Sentinel columnist Beth Kassab over the weekend, University of Central Florida’s on-campus students gave a dismal turnout, 4.3 percent, the worst in Orange County.

Kassab noted even worse turnouts were seen among students at the University of Florida and Florida State University. Her conclusion was clear: it’s a statewide phenomenon.

It’s not just that the UCF on-campus Precinct 538 was the worst in Orange County. Nearby precincts 506, 537, and 435 also were among the worst, salted among a few other low-turnout areas scattered around Orange County including the Deseret Ranches area in far southeast Orange, pockets in Orlando’s west side, and the tourist areas of Lake Bryan and Millenia, each with fewer than 10 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

By contrast, the precincts in and around Winter Park and Maitland, as well as the area of south Downtown Orlando, College Park, and the city of Belle Isles, all saw voter turnouts in excess of 30 percent. All of those areas are predominantly high-income, professional, and white.

In Orlando, the UCF area factors big into the plans for Democrats set in tight races and hoping to flip seats now held by Republicans. Those Democrats are counting on appealing to the young voters there, who offer a large number of the registered Democrats in their districts.

Democrat Stephanie Murphy needs a big push there if she is to seriously challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica in Florida’s 7th Congressional District. Former state Rep. Linda Stewart needs the Democratic-rich student votes in her bid to win Florida Senate District 13, now held by Republicans, by defeating Dean Asher. Carlos Guillermo Smith needs less of a turnout, since he has no Republican opponent in House District 49. He does face independent candidate Shea Silverman, a UCF data systems engineer.

Wendy Davis and Stephanie Murphy: women’s issues call for woman leadership

Texas Democratic icon Wendy Davis and Florida congressional candidate Stephanie Murphy argued Friday that the November election offers picks between women who understand issues such as child care, women’s choice, and equal pay — and men who do not.

Davis, the former Texas state senator who made national headlines by filibustering an anti-abortion bill there and then ran a failed bid for the state’s governorship, spoke before a gathering of 60 or 70 University of Central Florida students and others while campaigning in Orlando for Hillary Clinton.

She was joined by Murphy, who’s running against Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, which covers Seminole and northern Orange counties, and includes UCF.

The pair spoke on numerous issues, but always with the same theme: that Clinton and Murphy offer more personal, more compassionate perspectives that would naturally forward interests for women and families, while Donald Trump and Mica could not.

“This election is going to define our identity, literally our very identity as a country,” Davis declared. “Whether we are a country that is inclusive, that dares to stand for the idea that we need to love one another, and that should be extended through the policies and programs that our government supports, or whether we are a country of intolerance and bigotry and walls. What we say to ourselves in this election, with that choice, is going to dictate how our youngest grow up feeling about who they are.”

In brief, introductory remarks and then in a question-and-answer session with the mostly young, mostly female gathering at UCF, Davis and Murphy recited a litany of issues such as affordable child care, equal pay for women, family leave, abortion rights, birth control, violence against women, discrimination against women, and wage increases. Each time, their message was that Clinton and Murphy took such issues personally and intend to make them top domestic priorities, while Trump and occasionally Mica were either uninterested or overtly opposed.

But it was an unexpected issue that perhaps drew the most personal and passionate of their responses.

In one of the few questions that had any kind of challenge to their Democratic positions, a young woman asked them about Syrian refugees. The young woman pointed out that, as Republicans, particularly Trump, have argued, she’s worried about whether they could be properly vetted before being admitted to America. She added that was a particular concern in Orlando, which suffered a terrorist attack by an ISIS sympathizer, at the Pulse nightclub on June 12.

Davis and Murphy argued for compassion.

Murphy pointed out that her family were refugees, having fled communist Vietnam in the late 1970s on a boat when she was an infant, seeking an uncertain future with no family, no social support systems, and in someplace unknown, where likely no one spoke their language.

“I will assure [you] that nobody is a refugee by choice,” Murphy said. “To get on a boat with a six-month-old and an eight-year-old and not know what lies ahead for you, in the South China Sea, is a risk that you take and a sacrifice you make because you seek a better life for your children.

“And having worked in national security, I will tell you there is no way to lock down our borders and make us safer,” she added, referring to her former career as a U.S. Defense Department analyst. “That is not why we are strong and smart when it comes to national security. Those are ideas thrown out there irresponsibly. And all they do is stoke division within our society and derision from overseas.”

Davis recalled seeing a recent picture of a young girl in Aleppo, the epicenter of the refugee crisis in Syria.

“It was absolutely compelling,” Davis said. “She was bleeding. She had a look of shock in her face. And I couldn’t help but think about Anne Frank …. I remember as a young person, reading that story and thinking to myself: ‘We can never do that again.’ For a long time we as a country turned a blind eye to what was happening during that regime. We cannot afford to turn that blind eye. We are human beings.”

DCCC, House Majority PAC make massive TV buys in Stephanie Murphy-John Mica contest

Central Floridians will soon be getting to know Stephanie Murphy and presumably John Mica very, very well — at least from the perspective of Democrats who are pushing her in the now intensely competitive contest for Florida’s Congressional District 7.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which helped find and promote Murphy to run against Mica this year, is planning a $3 million onslaught of television commercials in the Orlando market during the last five weeks of the campaign season.

In addition, the House Majority PAC, another committee seeking to elect Democratic members of the House of Representatives, has its own push in the works. No full numbers are available for what that committee is planning, but a review of records shows the PAC has already purchased nearly $400,000 worth of TV commercials to run in late September.

The outside buys are unprecedented for a congressional campaign in Central Florida. They signal that the Democrats are putting their money behind what they’ve been saying since last year’s congressional redistricting in Florida. And that is that Democrats believe Mica, a 12-term congressman who hasn’t had a serious Democratic challenger in over a decade, may be vulnerable this year.

None of the contracts specify that commercials are for Murphy or against Mica. But there are six congressional races in the Orlando TV market; and the CD 7 race is the only one likely to be close. It’s also the one the DCCC already has made a big deal about trying to win. In the others, incumbent Republican U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis, Bill Posey, and Dan Webster are heavily favored in Districts 6, 8 and 11 respectively; while newly minted Democratic nominees Darren Soto and Val Demings will be strong favorites in Districts 9 and 10.

So just about everyone figures these ads all will be about praising Murphy and attacking Mica.

“The DCCC is trying to buy this election to make Nancy Pelosi speaker once again and that will be rejected by the voters of Central Florida,” said Mica’s campaign spokesman Alan Byrd. “In addition to the Washington money, anyone can look at the opposition’s financial report and see that 90 percent of those funds to take this seat are coming from outside the district. In contrast, Congressman Mica has thousands of local contributors and — because of his strong record of accomplishments in our community — has significant support throughout Central Florida.”

Murphy’s campaign declined to comment, referring inquiries to the DCCC. That committee also declined to comment. The House Majority PAC did not respond to an inquiry.

The newly drawn CD 7  area loses heavily Republican regions in southwest Volusia County and picks up more-Democratic areas in Sanford and north-central Orange County. That makes the voter base almost even between Republicans and Democrats. The DCCC also is counting on Murphy’s youth to push for a younger generation in the relatively young district. She’s 37. He’s 73, and has been in Congress since 1992.

Neither Mica nor Murphy have, at this stage, anywhere close to the kind of campaign money needed to match what the DCCC is doing. Mica has spent as much as $2.4 million on a re-election campaign, but that was in 2012 when the previous redistricting forced him to run in a primary against another incumbent Republican, U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams. This year, on Aug. 10 his campaign had $788,000 on hand. Murphy’s campaign had $154,000. And as Byrd said, much of her early money came from a national fundraising drive organized by the Democrats.

A FloridaPolitics.com review of Orlando TV stations’ public files found that the DCCC already has reserved more than $1.2 million in TV time, for hundreds of ad spots starting Oct. 4, on four broadcast stations, WFTV-9, WESH-2, WKCF-CW 18, and Me TV. Orlando’s CBS station, WKMG-6, and Fox station, WOFL-35, have not yet posted any contracts from DCCC. And the review does not include commercials the committee has placed on cable networks in Orlando.

The review found $384,000 worth of TV ads already reserved by the House Majority Political Action Committee. They start airing Sept. 20.

Scarce targets curb Dem hopes for House gains, despite Donald Trump

In a taste of ads to come, House Democrats have run national TV spots in which actors recount Donald Trump‘s derogatory remarks about immigrants, women and veterans and one asks, “How can Republican members of Congress support that?”

The commercials, by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, underscore the party’s hopes for an Election Day bumper crop of new House seats, fueled by the GOP presidential candidate’s disparaging verbal assaults and poor showing in most polls.

Outnumbered by Republicans 247-188 – and with two vacancies in districts they’re certain to win – Democrats seem likely to bolster their ranks in November. Yet gaining the 30 seats needed to capture a House majority appears elusive.

DAUNTING FIGURES

Of the House’s 435 seats, only around 40 from California to Maine seem clearly up for grabs, though that could change.

Redistricting, along with Democrats’ tendency to be concentrated in urban and coastal areas, has given both parties’ incumbents such sturdy protection that on Election Day 2014, just 13 of 388 lawmakers seeking re-election lost. Of the 435 House members elected, 377 won by a decisive 10 percentage points or more or were unopposed.

Democrats would have to sweep 35 of the 40 competitive contests and lose only five for a 30-seat pickup, a significant challenge. In the 17 presidential election years since World War II, a party has gained 30 House seats just three times, most recently in 1980.

Democrats’ predictions have been tempered. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., who heads House Democrats’ campaign committee, says, “Democrats are on offense and we’ll pick up seats.”

OTHER HURDLES

Democrats failed to recruit strong candidates in districts where they might have competed.

The Democratic challenger against well-financed freshman Rep. Tom MacArthur in central New Jersey, Frederick LaVergne, has reported $600 cash on hand. The party has had problems fielding candidates in the Philadelphia suburbs, eastern Ohio, central Illinois and west of Detroit.

“They haven’t put seats in play they needed to put in play,” said Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, a top member of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Democrats want to pry Republicans out of suburban districts where TV advertising is often expensive, especially with a competitive presidential or Senate race in the state. A week of commercials can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in Denver; Orlando, Florida; and Las Vegas, and can be prohibitively expensive for House candidates in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

In addition, Democrats seem certain to lose a newly redrawn district in north Florida and face challenges keeping seats around Omaha, Nebraska; Sacramento and California’s central coast; and Florida’s Palm Beach.

GOP DANGER SIGNS

Republicans hold about three in four battleground House seats, leaving them more at risk. Nevada, Maine and Minnesota are places where the GOP faces tough defensive fights.

Thanks to strong off-year elections in 2010 and 2014, the GOP’s 247 seats are its high-water mark since Herbert Hoover’s presidency 86 years ago. The party holds districts in New York, New Hampshire and Iowa that it will struggle to retain this presidential election year, when Democratic turnout should increase.

While 26 House Republicans were elected in 2014 in districts that backed President Barack Obama in 2012, just five Democrats serve in districts carried by 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

That means more Republicans are at a disadvantage. Among them, Rep. Robert Dold is clinging to a Chicago-area district that gave Obama 58 percent of its vote, more than in any other Republican-held seat.

TRUMP FACTOR

Trump is unpopular among women, minorities and college-educated voters. This spells trouble for Republicans representing suburbs and districts with many Hispanic voters, and many candidates have criticized his remarks, though few have abandoned him outright.

Freshman GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo is fighting to survive in a South Florida district that is two-thirds Hispanic. He’s said he won’t support Trump and has run a Spanish-language radio ad in which former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says, “I know Carlos and I know he will continue representing us with integrity in Washington.”

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, whose suburban Denver district is one-fifth Hispanic, says of Trump in one spot, “Honestly, I don’t care for him much.”

Trump’s problems with crucial voters and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton‘s modest but distinct advantage in most polls have emboldened Democrats to hunt for additional GOP seats.

They’ve already spent against conservative Rep. Scott Garrett in New Jersey suburbs of New York City and have hopes of grabbing seats around Minneapolis, Orlando and central New York. They envision benefiting from diminished voter turnout by Republican moderates appalled at Trump and conservatives who distrust him.

“Our biggest concern is turnout,” but it’s also a problem for Democrats, said Mike Shields, top aide for the Congressional Leadership Fund and the American Action Network, which back House GOP candidates.

COUNTER-CURRENTS

Republicans argue that Clinton poses problems, too. Polls find much dislike for her, too, and Republicans are hoping for lower turnout by young liberals who preferred Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s Democratic presidential rival, and by blacks no longer drawn to vote by Obama.

Should Trump’s defeat appear inevitable, House Republicans could cast themselves as a brake on a Clinton administration. So far they’ve used that sparingly.

One GOP fundraising email signed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says, “I worry about what will happen if Hillary Clinton is elected president.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Alan and Dena Grayson blame losses on ‘sewer money,’ don’t rule out political comebacks

Don’t expect U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson to offer any support to fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in what is likely to be a brutal U.S. Senate contest with Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

“Absolutely not,” Grayson told FloridaPolitics.com Wednesday, before accusing Murphy of running “possibly the dirtiest campaign that Florida has ever seen” and bringing up his previous allegations that Murphy is no Democrat.

Murphy, of Palm Beach Gardens, thrashed Grayson, of Orlando, on Tuesday in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary. Murphy took 59 percent of the vote to Grayson’s 18 percent, with Miami lawyer Pam Keith grabbing 15 percent.

The overwhelming victory puts Murphy up against Rubio, who won his own overwhelming victory Tuesday. This fall’s campaign is likely to be bloody and close. Grayson, a progressive-wing icon in the Democratic Party, might be able to inspire a few progressive voters to support Murphy. But he won’t.

Grayson blamed his fall in the Democratic primary — he once was running pretty close to Murphy in statewide polls — on what he called “sewer money”: advertising blitzes this summer by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee’s Senate Majority PAC, funded by Murphy’s father; and on the $4 million Grayson said Murphy collected from Wall Street interests and spent.

The same is true for Grayson’s wife, Dena Grayson, who lost her bid for the Democratic primary nomination to run for his seat in CD 9. In a separate interview with FloridaPolitics.com, she too blamed her loss on “sewer money,” PAC money that supported winner state Sen. Darren Soto in the closing weeks.

Soto got 36 percent, and Grayson and Susannah Randolph each got 28 percent.

Murphy’s campaign declined to comment on Alan Grayson’s statements. Soto’s did not respond to a request for comment on Dena Grayson’s statements.

Neither of the Graysons believe they are finished with politics.

First, they’re planning a honeymoon. The couple were married May 29 and a couple of days later hit the campaign trails. They’re not providing details of their honeymoon plans.

She called the honeymoon “first and foremost,” saying, “So much for marrying for political reasons; I married for love.”

After that, Alan Grayson said he plans to finish his term as representative to Florida’s 9th Congressional District by trying to get a few more amendments passed to support his causes and after that he is undecided what he will do next.

He left the door open for another possible statewide campaign in Florida in the future. He noted he carried Orange and Osceola counties and five Florida Panhandle counties — areas where his campaign ran big, late TV blitzes — and said there may be prospects from that.

He said he has no immediate plans to return to his practice as a lawyer pursuing federal whistle-blower cases.

He also said he envisions pursuing some of his political goals, such as restoring voting rights for convicted felons, as a government outsider pushing such reforms in federal, state and local venues.

And he’s not walking away from Tuesday’s primary loss with any gracious congratulations for Murphy. Grayson’s campaign centered on the message that he was a progressive Democratic warrior while Murphy was a Republican who changed parties — but not political philosophies.

“He’s denying Florida voters a true choice. He’s a Republican. We have a Republican running against a Republican,” Alan Grayson said.

He blamed his free fall among voters and ultimate 40-point loss as “very simply the $5 million of sewer money” the DSCC and Murphy’s campaign and PAC spent on advertising in July and August.

The DSCC advertising, he said, was paid for by the $1 million contribution the elder Murphy made on July 13.

Alan Grayson said his drop in the polls had nothing to do with the reports that resurfaced in late July about domestic violence reports his ex-wife Lolita Grayson had filed against him during their marriage. He called the reports a “regurgitation of the false allegations made two years ago” which he has always denied. He said they were pushed by the DSCC and Murphy’s campaign. But ultimately, he said, he doesn’t believe voters were affected by them.

Dena Grayson said the super PAC money coming to support Soto and Randolph, principally from Common Sense Leadership for America, funded by Houston hedge fund billionaire John Arnold, totaled nearly $600,000 and made the difference in the election.

“The sewer money came in. It clearly had a big effect. That’s what ended up happening. Dirty money wins, and Democracy loses,” Dena Grayson said.

She, too, would not rule out a political future. But she is a biomedical researcher and said she could be happy doing that as well.

Kamia Brown captures HD 45 seat

Kamia Brown has won easy election to the Florida House, beating four Democratic rivals in a House District 45 election that became the final contest when no one but Democrats qualified for the ballot.

Brown, a former legislative aide to state Rep. Victor Torres, drew 35 percent of the vote; compared with 20 for Gregory Jackson; 19 for Kelvin Cobaris; 13 percent for Peter Pham; and 12 for William Jusme.

In what had looked like a wide-open race created by the domino effect of political ambition, Brown worked her way to the top of the pack. She drew more endorsements and more campaign contributions than any two of her opponents combined. Jackson is a civil rights attorney, Cobaris a preacher, Jusme a businessman and Navy veteran.

The seat became open because incumbent state Rep. Randolph Bracy ran for the state Senate when state Sen. Geraldine Thompson ran for Congress.

The district covers much of west Orange County including Pine Hills, Apopka and Ocoee, with a large African-American population and an overwhelming Democratic base.

Linda Stewart walks over Mike Clelland’s bankroll to win primary in SD 13

Former state Rep. Mike Clelland’s sizable campaign bankroll proved no match for former state Rep. Linda Stewart‘s indomitable ground game in east Orange County, as Stewart captured the Senate District 11 Democratic primary.

“I walked myself so silly, I bet you we covered 6,000 doors,” Stewart said Tuesday night. “I know we called through 10,000 phone calls, twice. And all mine was behind the scenes. I don’t have all those big commercials on TV. But we went directly, directly, into the voters’ households.”

That’s been Stewart’s patented campaign plan in past elections, as she’s twice won Orange County commission races and a state representative race, though she has lost some elections too, including the 2014 race to keep her House seat.

Stewart drew 43 percent of the vote Tuesday night, with Clelland — whose campaign and independent political action committee combined to raise about $700,000 and spent much of it on television — drew 34 percent. Former Orange County School Board Member Rick Roach drew 23 percent.

That puts Stewart into a match with Republican nominee Dean Asher for a Senate seat the Democrats are targeting to flip this year. The seat had long been a safe Republican hold, and is currently occupied by retiring Senate President Andy Gardiner. But redistricting has given Democrats a sizable advantage.

Asher, a Realtor, also has a formidable campaign war chest, which he has barely opened, awaiting the general election.

Stewart, always optimistic, insisted she is not worried, and said she’ll continue campaigning on the issues that she’s always used, including environmental protection, women’s rights, and health care.

“Seven hundred fifty thousand dollars? If you think that bothers me, it doesn’t,” Stewart said.

Actually, Asher’s most recent totals are closer to $550,000. Still, Stewart raised just $30,000 going into the primary.

“I got my own plan,” she said.

Aramis Ayala unseats Jeff Ashton to win JC9 state attorney

Aramis Ayala stunned incumbent State Attorney Jeff Ashton Tuesday night in the Democratic primary to all but win election to the post in Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit, covering Orange and Osceola counties.

Ayala pummeled Ashton 57 percent to 43 percent in a race in which just a month ago she still was a relative unknown former assistant state attorney trying to unseat the nationally famous prosecutor.

That was before Democratic super PAC financier George Soros got involved, bankrolling a million-dollar independent advertising campaign to slam Ashton and offer Ayala as an answer.

Using several political action committees with the name “Safety & Justice,” Soros has set about to get black candidates elected all over the country. His “Florida Safety & Justice” PAC pushed Ayala and accused Ashton of discrimination in the way he ran prosecutions, something Ashton vehemently denied.

She must still win the general election but the only opponent left is a write-in candidate, William Voss, who qualified for the ballot because he, too, wanted Ashton out of office. Even if he does not withdraw, he will be only a road-bump in Ayala’s eventually victory.

That victory makes Ayala the first African-American ever elected to a state attorney office in the history of Florida. It’s a matter she has expressed pride about but not really pushed in her campaign.

Her campaign advocated instead for a reorganization of the State Attorney’s Office in Orlando to pay more attention to crimes such as domestic violence, and to bridge communication gaps between prosecutors and the broader Central Florida community.

She said she had never had any contact with Soros.

Ashton gained national fame five years ago as the prosecutor of Casey Anthony, an assignment that led to a movie depicting him and helped lead to his election in 2012. He was bitter about Tuesday’s defeat, blaming it what he called a false campaign by the New York billionaire who’d never met either candidate.

“The voters decided today that the price of the state attorney’s race is $1.4 million in lies. I’m deeply disappointed in this result but I stand by the good work of my office and the folks who work here,” Ashton said.

Ironically, Ashton could have expected a bitter campaign fight, but not about the issue of discrimination, which no one else has ever publicly leveled. Instead, he must have been preparing for Ayala to bring up an embarrassing episode in 2015 when his name appeared on the leaked list of people who had applied for membership to the Ashley Madison dating site for married men. Ashton publicly apologized then, saying he had never actually used the site to meet anyone and had entered it only out of curiosity.

Ayala had mentioned the incident when she first announced her candidacy last winter and said she intended to push integrity as one of her issues. But she never actually campaigned about it, and “Florida Safety & Justice” never mentioned it either.

Henry Lim calls Elizabeth Tuura mailer ‘false’ in gun charge claim

Democratic House District 47 candidate Henry Lim is crying foul over a mailer primary opponent Beth Tuura sent out this weekend declaring that Lim was arrested on a gun charge.

Lim was arrested Nov. 5, 2015, when security found a loaded handgun in his bag while he attempted to enter a federal building in Miami, but he was never formally charged.

The arrest occurred because Miami police alleged he had committed an offense under a gun charge. But the state attorney never filed a formal charge and the case went away in December. Lim once had a concealed weapons permit, but it had expired at that time. He has since reapplied for such a permit.

Lim faces Tuura and Clint Curtis in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. The winner would face Republican incumbent state Rep. Mike Miller of Orlando in the November election.

“In reality, Lim has never been charged with a crime in his life. He has no criminal record,” read a statement from Lim’s campaign. “The mailer appears timed to frighten and mislead voters just before Election Day on Tuesday.

“Tuura’s mailer is based on a November 2015 incident at a Miami immigration services building, where Lim was stopped with a handgun in his briefcase,” the statement continues. “Contrary to the mailer’s claim, no charges were filed and Lim was able to apply for a renewal of his concealed carry permit.”

Tuura’s mailer also includes the words “HENRY LIM brought a loaded gun into a federal building,” which Lim has never denied. It also notes that the safety was off and a bullet was in the chamber, which was noted in the arrest report.

“We stated the fact about Henry Lim’s gun arrest,” Tuura replied. “It’s important that the voters of House District 47 know Henry Lim’s record as a careless gun owner.”

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