Donald Trump Archives - Page 7 of 270 - Florida Politics

Shad Khan gave $1M to Donald Trump inaugural

Jacksonville Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan, a pragmatist, often invests in incumbent politicians. And when it came to the inauguration of Donald Trump, Khan invested bigly: $1,000,000, as the Daily Beast reported Wednesday.

NFL owners, in total, donated $7.25M — 1/15 of what the Trump Inaugural Committee brought in total.

Every NFL owner who donated gave a million dollars, except for the co-owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Ed Glazer gave a relative pittance: $250,000.

The individual contributions of any of the NFL owners pale compared to the $5M donated by another Florida favorite, GOP heavy hitter Sheldon Adelson.

Rick Scott, Donald Trump to be together on Wednesday

So much for not having a “partner” in the White House.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who bemoaned the lack of effective White House partnership for the first six years of his tenure, closes out his time in Tallahassee with close political ally Donald Trump heading the Executive Branch.

Scott will be at the White House at 11:30 a.m. for a bill signing: the Veterans Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act.

“My father served in WWII and I proudly served in the United States Navy, and I appreciate President Trump’s commitment to our military and our veterans. I look forward to joining him today as he signs this important bill for our veterans,” Scott said in a statement.

The ultimate importance of this bill is in question. The bill will be a stopgap measure, asserts Trump’s own Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

“We need to make sure the Choice program not only continues, but it works better for veterans,” he said. “And we know it hasn’t worked the way we wanted it to work. It’s too complex; it’s too hard to use. So we are working hard now with Congress to redesign a better, improved way of accessing care in the community,” asserted VA Secretary David Shulkin.

Another issue that needs a fix: a backlog in internal disability claims, related to a shortage of staff to process them.

Don’t expect the bill signing ceremony to get too deep into those issues.

Of course, Frank Artiles should resign. Does the Senate have the steel to make that happen?

My father-in-law being a U.S. Marine, I’ve learned not to use the past tense to describe his service. Even at 67 years old, my father-in-law is a Marine, not was a Marine.

Republican state Senate Frank Artiles is a Marine, not was a Marine.

Volunteering to serve our country shows Artiles has far more courage than I’ve ever had in my life; for that, Artiles — no matter what he says or does — deserves respect.

But now, Artiles must find a level of courage and self-sacrifice beyond wearing the uniform.

He must resign from the Florida Senate.

As was first reported by the Miami Herald’s Patricia Mazzei (during her first day of platooning in Tallahassee to cover the final weeks of the 2017 Legislative Session), Artiles dropped the N-word to a pair of African-American colleagues in private conversation Monday night — after calling one of them a “f—— a——,” a “b—-” and a “girl,” the two senators said.

Over drinks, after 10 p.m. at the members-only Governors Club just steps from the state Capitol, Artiles told Sens. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale that Senate President Joe Negron of Stuart rose to his powerful GOP leadership role because “six n——-” in the Republican caucus had elected him.

No matter what your stomach feels about political correctness, especially in this era of Donald Trump, what Artiles said is abhorrent.

Actually, that’s not the right word for what Artiles said because there isn’t the right word to describe what he did other than to say it crossed a line in a way that cannot be forgiven.

He must resign.

Otherwise, every black lawmaker who serves in the Legislature while Artiles is a member will see his square jaw and say to themselves, ‘That man called us all niggers. And his white Republican colleagues let him get away with it.’

That’s right, Sens. Negron and Wilton Simpson and Bill Galvano. If Artiles is allowed to continue to serve in the Florida Senate, it’s because you permitted it. Contra, if the three of turned your back on him now, he’d have no choice but to resign.

Instead, he may survive behind the cloaks of your indifference.

Harsh statements — Galvano’s was the strongest of the three, while Negron should face questions about why it took him so long to fully condemn Artiles — are not enough.

He must resign.

Of the forty members of the most elite club in the state of Florida, is it any surprise that it is Artiles who dropped the nuclear n-bomb? Not to anyone who tracks Capitol politics.

Artiles is the lawmaker who once sponsored a bill limiting transgender people from using restrooms of their choice.

He made headlines in 2015 when he punched a college student in the face at Clyde’s & Costello’s, a bar just a block away from the Capitol.

Late Tuesday night, The Miami Herald reported it received a copy of a 2014 recording of Artiles in which the former Marine used the term “hajjis” — an anti-Muslim slur used by many U.S. soldiers.

And those are just three of the stories which have made it to the media.

The reality is, as countless individuals who work in The Process could attest, there are dozens of stories of Artiles, fueled by far too much alcohol, intimidating (or in some cases, physically threatening) people.

In fact, that’s not the only epithet tossed out that evening.

A lobbyist, who shall remain unnamed, said it was reported to him after he left the Governors Club that same night that Artiles called him and another person who works in the Capitol “faggots.”

That’s according to two friends of the lobbyist, who told him of the exchange later in the evening. The lobbyist then told me.

Everybody is something in Frank Artiles’ book. His colleagues who supported Negron for Senate President are “niggas” while Negron himself is a “pussy.”

(By the way, someone should ask Artiles what he means when he said Negron won the Senate presidency because “six niggas” in the Republican caucus had elected him. Sens. Aaron Bean and Jeff Brandes were two of the key votes for Negron; does that make them “niggas?”)

Being a drunk asshole is not reason enough for Artiles to resign. Were that the case, there’d rarely be a quorum in the Florida Senate.

It’s doubtful Negron and Co. will have the steel to force Artiles from the Senate. There are disappointing whispers that they don’t want to give up the Democratic-leaning district Artiles represents.

Perhaps the black members of the Florida Senate can make this enough of an issue so that Artiles has to resign. They should threaten to boycott the rest of Session if he doesn’t.

Or, if Artiles doesn’t resign, maybe Negron can send Artiles home without his supper. The Senate President could instruct Artiles to not participate in the rest of the 2017 Session as a punishment for his hate. It’s not a full-blown resignation, but it’s better than a tersely-worded news release.

Of course, Artiles himself should find the courage to resign after realizing that he doesn’t deserve the privilege of serving in the Florida Senate.

At this point, Artiles has made too many mistakes to continue to serve.

I say this as someone who himself once made so many mistakes I had to take myself out of the political game, so I could deconstruct all that was wrong with me.

Self-sacrifice for an institution you respect is not a bad thing.

A Marine like Frank Artiles knows this.

Ballard Partners latest federal signing: The ruling party of Albania

Brian Ballard‘s lobbying shop now has been retained by the Socialist Party of Albania to “provide consulting and advocacy services in a bid to improve U.S.-Albanian bilateral relations” at a rate of $20,000 a month, according to a news release.

Ballard’s star continues to shine as he snags another international client: He was an early supporter and fundraiser for President Donald Trump.

The Socialist Party of Albania rose to power following its majority win in Albania’s 2013 parliamentary elections. The left-leaning political party is led by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who’s up for re-election in Albania’s upcoming June elections.

But Rama has been accused by Albania’s main opposition party, the conservative Democratic Party, of attempting to rig the voting process, which has led to protests and threats of a parliamentary boycott.

Ballard’s work for the Socialist Party of Albania will include advising, counseling and assisting the party in its communications with the U.S. government, according to Foreign Agents Registration Act documents filed in April.

The yearlong deal continues until the end of March 2018 and fetches the agency $20,000 per month. Ballard, who maintains a second outpost in Washington, D.C., in April signed a similar yearlong contract to strengthen ties between the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.

The European Union’s European Parliament has told government leaders that the 2017 elections must be “free and fair” if negotiations are to proceed for that country to gain membership into the EU, a designation which Albania has attempted to achieve since 2003.

Albania’s upcoming parliamentary elections have resulted in several big lobbying contracts in Washington.

The Democratic Party of Albania last year hired Podesta Group in a similar bid to advance U.S. relations. That political group, which was formerly Albania’s leading political party, hired Podesta for counsel on relevant U.S. policies and Congressional activities, as well as to arrange meetings with U.S. executive branch officials and members of Congress.

In January, a third Albanian political group fighting for seats in the June elections, the Socialist Movement for Integration, retained The McKeon Group to facilitate a dialogue between members of that party and the Trump Administration.

The social-democratic LSI was formed in 2004 by former Socialist Party of Albania member Ilir Meta, also a former Albanian Prime Minister. LSI’s six-month pact earned the McKeon Group $90,000.

— via Jon Gingerich of O’Dwyers.

Donald Trump inaugural attracts record $107 million in donations

President Donald Trump raised $107 million for his inaugural festivities, nearly double the previous record set by President Barack Obama eight years ago.

Trump’s inaugural committee is due to file information about those donors with the Federal Election Commission and said it would do so Tuesday. The committee doesn’t need to publicly disclose how the money was spent.

Trump placed no restrictions on the amount of money donors could give. Obama limited contributions to $50,000 in 2009 but lifted that cap four years later.

After raising about $55 million in 2009, Obama used excess funds to help pay for the White House Easter egg roll and other events, his former inaugural committee chief executive officer said.

Trump promised to give any extra money to charity, but didn’t specify which ones.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

House Speaker: Push for tougher ethics laws dead

State House Speaker Richard Corcoran says a push to give Florida some of the toughest ethics laws in the nation is dead for this year’s session, and he’s blaming Senate Republicans for showing “zero interest.”

The Land O’Lakes Republican pushed to enact several far-reaching proposals, including one that would ban legislators and elected officials from lobbying state government for six years after leaving office. The House overwhelmingly passed them, but the legislation has not moved in the state Senate. The annual session ends in less than three weeks.

“The Senate has shown us they have expressed zero interest in holding elected officials accountable and draining the swamp,” said Corcoran, echoing a line used by President Donald Trump on the campaign trail last year.

Corcoran said this week he’s not giving up and will seek other ways to place his proposals into law, including asking the state Constitution Revision Commission to put them before voters in 2018 or launching a petition drive to get them on the ballot. The commission is formed once every 20 years to propose additions, deletions or revisions in the state’s constitution.

When he came into his leadership post, Corcoran vowed to aggressively change what he called a broken system that let special interests and lobbyists wield too much influence. The House adopted rules limiting contacts between lobbyists and legislators and Corcoran pushed to shed more light on projects added to the annual budget.

Currently, legislators and statewide elected officials are subjected to a two-year lobbying ban after leaving office. The House proposed a constitutional amendment and a new state law to extend that ban to six years. The measure would also expand lobbying restrictions so that a legislator or statewide elected official could not lobby any state agency during that period.

The House has also passed a bill that would require city officials to file more detailed financial disclosure forms. The House is also scheduled this week to consider another measure that would clamp down on public officials using their posts to seek jobs or going into business with lobbyists.

When asked earlier this month Senate President Joe Negron said he was “open for ways to make the process more transparent, more accountable.” But he also said he was “content” with the current ethics laws in place including the two-year ban on lobbying.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Rick Scott optimistic about partnership with White House on Zika

Zika season is all but upon us, and to that end Gov. Rick Scott visited Jacksonville Tuesday to discuss Florida’s ongoing struggles with Zika.

Scott found himself messaging heavily around Zika in 2016, frustrated with President Barack Obama not doing as much as he could to fund Zika-related costs.

In 2017, Scott has an ally in the White House — which, combined with a dry season so far and ample lead time, is helping Florida to get ahead of the virus early in the season.

In the gaggle Tuesday, Gov. Scott confirmed the expectation that D.C. would be a better partner for him in the Zika fight with the current President on the job.

“The positive is I’ve known [HHS] Secretary Price a long time. We were asking for support last year. Sometimes we felt it was hard to get support. We’ve gotten more support so far,” Scott said.

“I’ve talked to Sec. Price about Zika, and the importance of staying ahead of this,” Scott added, “and I believe like we’re going to have a good partner in the White House.”

“Specifically, the things that were important to us last year — as you know, we fought for federal funding, the $1.1B. What’s going to be important long-term is a vaccine,” Scott said.

“I believe that HHS is going to be a good partner. I think we’re going to have somebody who’s going to be responsive to the extent they can.


Scott also discussed the state’s response to Zika — but not before lauding the “wonderful” job that Duval County’s Department of Health and the city are doing in that regard.

“You should have a slogan — Northeast Florida works, and Jacksonville works together,” Scott said. “The city has been an unbelievable partnet,” Scott added, citing the city’s mosquito control efforts.

“Right now, we’ve got the issue of fires,” Scott said, “but at some point we’re going to get some rain. And that’s when we’re going to get mosquitoes.”

Hence, the importance of a collaborative response.

“We don’t have active zones this year … actually, we’re seeing less Zika cases because it’s dry. But it’s still early,” Scott noted.

The local Department of Health is testing pregnant women currently, despite the earliness in the season. And the technology is in state now, cutting a long wait time that has now been resolved.

Florence Snyder: Florida’s opioid crisis, Part 5 – Hey Florida, talk to the hand!

One hour isn’t much time for a Senate subcommittee “confirmation hearing” on the heads of the agencies as important to “health and human services” as the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration.

But that’s what Health and Human Services Subcommittee Chair Anitere Flores allotted, and not one second longer. So, you’d think that AHCA’s acting secretary Justin Senior and DOH’s Interim Surgeon General Celeste Philip would each get a half-hour of the committee’s time … but you would be wrong.

Senior’s “hearing” was a tongue-bath and tummy rub that consumed most of the hour. To be fair, the feds had just dropped 1.5 billion into the AHCA’s coffers. Maybe Flores & Friends think that cash came Florida’s way due to Senior’s executive brilliance, as opposed to President Donald Trump‘s synergistic bromance with Gov. Rick Scott.

Or maybe they were running out the clock to get Philip safely to the border of Munchkinland and out of Oz altogether before she stumbled over that pesky poppy field.

Delray Beach Democratic Sen. Kevin Rader and large numbers of Floridians want to know why we don’t acknowledge the state’s opioid epidemic and get on with the business of dealing with it. In the minuscule amount of time available for Rader to ask and Philip to bob, weave and weasel her way through an “answer,” viewers got a pretty clear preview of coming attractions on the Opioid Listening Tour, announced last week by Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, who are not expected to attend.

Instead, Philip and others with titles, but no actual power, will deploy to four cities in three days for 90-minute “community conversations.”  It will be like watching a Lifetime Cable movie, but with less depth and sincerity.

With federal block grants in question, Lenny Curry admin watches and waits

The press releases promoting Jacksonville’s celebration of National Community Development Week are similar between 2015 and 2017.

Both the 2015 and 2017 versions discuss how much money Duval County has derived from federal Community Development Block Grants.

This year’s model says that the city has derived $393M from CDBGs since 1975; the 2015 iteration said it was just $388M.

Both versions also promise a week of events.

However, there’s one key difference between 2015 and 2017: the principals involved, and the political context of CDBGs.

In 2015, Democratic President Barack Obama was cruising toward the end of his second term, and Democratic Mayor Alvin Brown didn’t have to worry about Obama eliminating these grants.

Business as usual.

In 2017, Republican President Donald Trump eliminated CDBGs in his “skinny budget.” And Republican Mayor Lenny Curry, who has bet chunks of his political capital on building a relationship with the Trump White House, signaled his first meaningful break from the Trump Administration by participating in National Community Development Week.

In that Trumpian context, block grants are more of a political hot potato.

And thus this event, anodyne in other years, proved to have a more compelling 2017 narrative.

City employees on hand were surprised when this outlet mentioned that no one from the mayor’s office planned to be in attendance. Others were surprised when the expected proclamation from the mayor’s office wasn’t delivered.

“We do have a proclamation,” a speaker said, “but we don’t have anyone from the mayor’s office.”

[In a phone conversation later on Monday, Curry’s spokeswoman Marsha Oliver noted that other city employees were on hand and that the proclamation could have been delivered.]

LaCree Carswell, the manager of the Housing and Community Development Division, said it bluntly when she said “these funds are on the chopping block.”

Carswell said that the $17M in CDBG money the city gets yearly is “used wisely,” with the annual event in a building on a HBCU that was constructed with CDBG money being an example.

Among the allocations funded with block grants at the so-called “Community of Hope” center: an elder-health literacy program … something essential for those in one of Jacksonville’s most economically-challenged communities.

Politicians were on hand — but they were all Democrats.

Former State Sen. Tony Hill, speaking on behalf of Rep. Al Lawson, noted that Lawson told HUD Secretary Ben Carson not to cut this program.

“We need to have it and we need more of it,” Hill said.

Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis emphasized the importance of the center, as it fulfills three goals of CDBGs: benefiting low and moderate income people; mitigating blight; and promoting health and welfare.

“Whatever I need to do,” was Dennis’ commitment to those on hand.

The City Council “will do what we can to advocate for more funds,” Dennis added.

Dennis, when asked after the event about the absence of representation from the Mayor’s Office, said “maybe it missed someone’s calendar … I’m not sure.”

However, Dennis added, “I plan on following up.”

“Him not being here doesn’t signal good or bad for this project. Why wouldn’t he want federal money coming to Jacksonville,” Dennis continued.

That said, “anytime the mayor uses the bully pulpit on an issue, it helps. Whether it’s pension, CDBG funding, homeless, whenever the mayor comes out, it really makes a statement. In no way do I think he’s avoiding CDBG or is scared to challenge Trump,” Dennis added.

We asked the mayor’s office for a statement. It was brief.

“As long as the program exists and funds are available, we will utilize them,” Oliver said.

Oliver stressed that the mayor was not taking a position on whether the program should or shouldn’t be in existence; however, as budget discussions loom, Curry’s financial team likely will have to factor in the current uncertainty from the White House.

Charles Moreland of the Mayor’s Office is expected to be at a Wednesday afternoon event, which runs opposite the Jacksonville City Council discussing his pension reform legislation.

Pro-Trump group airing ads backing Brian Mast advocating repeal, replace Obamacare

An advocacy group formed by six of President Donald Trump‘s top campaign aides launched a $3 million advertising campaign to praise Congress members working to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The list of 12 select members from America First Policies includes Republican Brian Mast of Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

“Obamacare is collapsing and bringing our health care system down with it, harming millions of American families,” said Nick Ayers, Chairman of the Board of America First Policies. “The time is now to repeal and replace this terrible law, but we need citizens to engage.”

The issue advocacy campaign will be on broadcast or cable, the internet and through phone calls in twelve districts, including CD 18, which stretches from Ft. Pierce to Palm Beach in Southeast Florida.

“We are also utilizing Trump voter data in partnership with the Data Trust to reach the same grassroots supporters that supported America First issues over the last two years,” said Brad Parscale, Senior Digital Advisor for America First Policies. “We will be utilizing Google and Facebook to connect with millions of targeted followers across twelve districts to ask them to contact their representative and encourage them to keep working to repeal Obamacare.”

Mast was lobbied personally by Trump to support the GOP’s health care bill that never came up for a vote last month, and he reportedly called on his colleagues to unite behind the bill in an emotionally charged address, according to The Washington Post.

Mast flipped the seat from blue to red last November when he defeated Democrat Randy Perkins. The seat had been held for the previous four years by Patrick Murphy, who opted to run for U.S. Senate last year.

Announcing their creation in January, America First Policies officials said they would conduct research into public policies and promote Trump’s favored causes, such as changing immigration policies and dismantling and replacing the Affordable Health Care law.

In their news release, America First Policies enclosed the ad specifically praising Alabama Republican Gary Palmer.



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