Gov. Rick Scott Archives - Page 2 of 109 - Florida Politics

Money still flooding into Florida’s U.S. Senate race from outside groups, especially from Democrats

As if an outside spending figure of $53 million through last Tuesday was not impressive enough, national groups have flooded Florida with another $13 million in campaign advertising just in the three days since trying to sway voters in the U.S. Senate contest between Bill Nelson and Rick Scott.

As has been the case throughout 2018, the latest money is mostly in support of the re-election of Democratic U.S. Sen. Nelson, though the political action committee that Republican Gov. Scott set up to support his campaign also spent big this week.

Through Friday, reports of independent expenditures posted by the Federal Election Commission shows outside groups have spent $66.3 million on Florida’s Senate contest this year. That amount now has sunk the old record of $54 million spent in the 2016 U.S. Senate election in Florida, with seven filing days yet to go.

That’s why televisions throughout Florida are now drowning with attack ads, which are the specialty of outside groups, against Scott and Nelson.

About $10 million of the new money since Tuesday is to support Nelson or oppose Scott. Only about $3 million of it is to support Scott or oppose Nelson.

That accelerates a trend that has been ongoing all year. It means overall Democratic outside groups led by the Senate Majority Political Action Committee have spent twice as much money to get Nelson re-elected as Republican groups such as New Republican Political Action Committee have spent to get Scott elected. The score through Friday: pro-Nelson, $44.3 million; pro-Scott, $22 million.

Just this week, and only since Tuesday, SMP Action has spent $4.6 million, while New Republican has spent $2.9 million.

Almost all of the pro-Scott or anti-Nelson campaigning has been done by New Republican, which Scott set up for that purpose and then left independent. It has spent $19.8 million in total through Friday, the most of any outside group weighing in on Florida’s race.

Leading the Democrats’ effort to date is SMP Action, which has spent $16.6 million in Florida. The difference is: SMP Action has plenty of help. The Democratic committee Priorities USA Action has spent $9.4 million in Florida’s U.S. Senate race this year; Majority Forward, $4.5 million; VoteVets, $3.9 million, For Our Future, $1.9 million and LCV Victory Fund (the political arm of the League of Conservation voters), $1.5 million. Several other Democratic committees have spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece.

By contrast, the only Republican help for Scott, outside New Republican PAC, has come from Americans for Prosperity Action and several related PACs, which have combined to spend about $1.4 million on the race this year; and the Susan B. Anthony List, $105,000.

The only state where more national money is being spent is Missouri, where outside groups have now spent $67 million the U.S. Senate race there.

Flags at half-staff for Skip Campbell

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday ordered flags at half-staff for Democratic former state Sen. Walter “Skip” Campbell of Broward County.

Campbell, a 69-year-old lawyer, died Tuesday.

Scott directed the U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale; City Hall in Coral Springs; and at the Capitol in Tallahassee from sunrise to sunset on Saturday.

Campbell

Campbell represented Senate District 32, which covered the northwest part of Broward County, 1996-2006.

He later was elected mayor of Coral Springs in 2014 and served until his death.

Campbell also ran as the Democratic nominee for Florida attorney general in 2006 but lost to former Republican Bill McCollum.

Campbell’s political career was marked by his support of consumer protections, increased civil liberties and support for stricter gun control measures.

In a statement this week, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of South Florida called Campbell a “giant” of justice and public service. They served together in the Legislature.

“He was my seatmate in the Florida Senate and was quick-witted, fun-loving, and always ready to reach across the aisle or bridge a divide to solve problems,” she said.

Democrats’ ad seeks to tie Rick Scott to Donald Trump’s Puerto Rico response

A Democratic political action committee has released a new Spanish-language TV commercial reminding Puerto Ricans of many of their disappointments in President Donald Trump‘s response to Hurricane Maria and pointing out that Florida Gov. Rick Scott has refused to criticize the federal response.

“The Trump administration’s lack of response to Hurricane Maria was woefully inadequate, and Rick Scott’s inability to acknowledge the government’s failures is proof that he does not care about the people of Puerto Rico,” Hannah Hurley, spokesperson for the Senate Majority Political Action Committee, stated in a news release about the new commercial.

Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign already has countered, with a TV commercial of its own, “Fight for You” that specifically rebuts the claims in the Senate Majority PAC ad, and which details some of Scott’s efforts, including his eight trips to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island in September, 2017.

So what’s on the air on Spanish television now are dueling commercials about Scott’s role to help Puerto Rico, both launched Monday.

The Senate Majority PAC, which is supporting the re-election of Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson,with more than $11 million in outside advertising, focuses not on Scott’s efforts, but on Trump’s response, which was widely disparaged by Puerto Ricans, a situation Trump exacerbated in September when he declared in a tweet that the estimated death toll of nearly 3,000 people was fake news promulgated by his political enemies.

The 30-second SMP commercial “Differente” features sorrowful music and black-and-white images of the growing storm, of homeless Puerto Ricans (with text declaring 70,000 families were made homeless), of grieving people (with text declaring 2,975 deaths), and of Trump throwing a roll of paper towels into a crowd during his visit to the island. It then runs footage of Scott saying, “I don’t know what I would do differently.”

The commercial ends with a picture of Nelson, and the message, “Vote for Bill Nelson.”

Scott’s counter, besides citing some of his own efforts, is the statement that “Rick Scott has confronted President Trump when he disagrees with him,” which Scott did following the president’s tweet on the death toll.

Scott’s ad also blames Nelson for the SMP ad, though legally Nelson and the Senate Majority PAC must remain completely independent.

After hurricane, Ken Detzner sends reminder on early voting

Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Florida’s chief elections officer, sent out a reminder Monday on early voting options for the Nov. 6 general election.

Voters have three ways to exercise their right to vote, he said: Voting-by-mail, early in-person voting and voting at the polls on Election Day.

Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order that gives Supervisors of Elections in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty and Washington counties the authority to extend the amount of days for early voting and designate additional early voting locations.

“Early voting offers registered Florida voters another convenient way to cast their ballot and reduces the potential for waiting in line on Election Day,” Detzner said.

“All 67 counties will offer early voting from Oct. 27-Nov. 3 at designated early voting sites. Some counties may offer additional days of early voting and counties severely impacted by Hurricane Michael have more flexibility in providing early voting and vote-by-mail options to their voters.”

The Division of Elections posts early voting dates, times and locations for all counties on its website. Also, go to the Hurricane Michael Election Resources webpage for information on early voting or contact your local Supervisor of Elections office.

Plus, the Division posts daily online statistics on early voting and vote-by-mail based on county-specific reports. For other information, please visit the Division of Elections’ website at dos.myflorida.com/elections.

Lobby Up: Hurricane cleanup firm AshBritt Environmental hires Ballard Partners

AshBritt Environmental, a “rapid-response disaster recovery and special environmental services contractor” in Deerfield Beach, has hired Ballard Partners‘ namesake Brian Ballard and its Christina Daly Brodeur.

Veteran influencer Ron Book also remains the company’s lobbyist, according to lobbying registration records accessed Wednesday.

Daly Brodeur, formerly Secretary of Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice under Gov. Rick Scott, joined Ballard’s firm last month.

The new registration comes as the Gulf coast cleans up and starts rebuilding after category 4 Hurricane Michael ravaged it and a swath of north Florida last week.

AshBritt rose to prominence in the disaster mitigation industry after Hurricane Andrew passed through South Florida in August 1992.

At the time, founder Randy Perkins and his wife were running a small landscaping company which borrowed two wood chippers to help with Andrew as a local hurricane cleanup contractor.

Since then, AshBritt has become one of the nation’s leading disaster-recovery and debris cleanup firms, assisting after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, 2012’s “Superstorm” Sandy and last year’s Hurricane Irma. 

The firm’s history is not without controversy. “With the company’s success came accusations that Perkins overcharged the federal government, stiffed a consultant and subcontractors and used campaign donations to influence politicians to give him no-bid government contracts,” TCPalm has reported.

And the Miami Herald last month reported that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general now “is conducting an audit of debris-removal contracts in the Florida Keys approved right after Hurricane Irma ransacked the island chain.” Contracts were with six companies, including AshBritt, the paper reported.

Perkins self-funded an unsuccessful bid for Florida’s 18th Congressional District as a Democrat in 2016. He reportedly was worth about $200 million as of last year. 

Former Congressman Patrick Murphy vacated the Treasure Coast seat to mount a run for U.S. Senate. Murphy lost to incumbent Republican Marco Rubio; Perkins later lost to Republican Brian Mast.

State Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat, is AshBritt’s general counsel and director of government relations, according to his member page

The company was named after two of Perkins’ daughters, Ashley and Brittany, who is now its CEO.

In 2016, Perkins stepped down as CEO “to focus on the AshBritt Foundation, his work with mental health, and other business and philanthropic endeavors,” his website says. “The AshBritt Foundation supports communities impacted by disaster or crisis and internal and external workforce development and job training programs, with a focus on working with veterans.”

Perkins also sits on the board of directors of Lauren’s Kids, the child sexual abuse prevention organization founded by Ron Book’s daughter, Democratic state Sen. Lauren Book of Plantation.

Supreme Court rules Rick Scott can’t name 3 new justices

The state’s Supreme Court ruled Monday that outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Scott cannot appoint replacements for the court’s three upcoming vacancies.

“The governor who is elected in the November 2018 general election (most likely Democrat Andrew Gillum or Republican Ron DeSantis) has the sole authority to fill the vacancies that will be created by the mandatory retirement of Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince,” the court’s one-page unsigned order said.

Two progressive groups, the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause, had filed suit against Scott. They sought to block his nominations; he’s said he would have picked conservative jurists.

Scott

The next justices will likely determine the ideological balance of the state’s highest court: Pariente, Lewis, and Quince are regarded as the liberal-leaning contingent; Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson are the conservatives. Justice Jorge Labarga is often a swing vote.

The court’s ruling suggested they bought into the group’s argument that Scott shouldn’t be able to replace the outgoing justices because their terms don’t end till the last minute of Jan. 7, his last day in office, but the new governor will be sworn in earlier that morning.

Its order was contingent on the fact that the three justices “do not leave prior to the expiration of their terms at midnight between Jan. 7 and Jan. 8, 2019, and provided that the (next) governor takes office immediately upon the beginning of his term.”

“The people will have a very important say in this matter, especially because both candidates have staked out very different positions on the kinds of people they are looking to appoint to the court,” said John Mills, attorney for the plaintiffs, in a statement.

“Andrew Gillum has said he will ‘appoint diverse, qualified judges who represent the breadth and depth of people in this state,’ ” he added. “Ron DeSantis has said he will ‘appoint constitutional conservatives’ who will be very different from the retiring justices, who he characterizes as ‘liberal’ and accuses of ‘legislating from the bench for the past 20 years.’ Voters now have the opportunity to factor these positions into their choice for governor.”

Further, the court found that Scott “exceeded his authority by directing the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (‘the JNC’) to submit its nominations to fill these vacancies” by Nov. 10.

That panel was planning on interviewing all 59 applicants for the three vacancies on Nov. 3 and 4 in Miami, and Nov. 8 and 9 in Tampa. (One of those applicants, Jeff Burns, later on Monday sued to disqualify Pariente, Lewis and Quince from the case for an “objective economic conflict of interest.”)

The 60-day period “after nominations have been certified within which the governor is required to make appointments, as set forth in … the Florida Constitution begins to run only when the governor with the authority to appoint has taken office,” the court said. “As the JNC is an independent body, it is not bound by Gov. Scott’s deadlines.”

The court also set oral argument for Nov. 8 on “the issue of when the JNC can certify its nominations.”

In recent weeks, Scott tried to defuse the litigation by offering to confer with his successor on candidates, taking a page from the late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, who reached a similar accord with incoming Republican Jeb Bush in 1998. Quince is the last justice appointed through such consultations.

Geoff Burgan, then the campaign communications director for Gillum, spurned the offer, saying: “In our understanding of the Constitution, the next Governor will appoint the next three Supreme Court justices.”

In a statement later Monday, Gillum said he was “pleased the … Court has brought closure to this important issue, finding — as we have consistently stated — that the next Governor of Florida will appoint the next three Supreme Court justices.

“It is a duty I take extremely seriously and, as Governor, one of my top priorities will be to restore integrity to the judicial nominating process,” he added.

DeSantis tweeted: “If (Gillum) is elected, out-of-state, radical groups would pressure him to appoint activist judges who would legislate from the bench to fit their own ideology. The consequences would be dangerous and felt for generations.

“I promise to only appoint judges who will uphold the Constitution and follow the law as it is written. We must secure Florida’s future.”

Scott, a Naples Republican who is term-limited as Governor, now is running to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, first elected in 2000.

The present suit had been first filed last year but the court said it couldn’t step into the controversy then because the Governor hadn’t taken any action yet.

In that decision, Labarga joined with the court’s conservatives. Pariente and Quince concurred, but Lewis dissented and called Scott’s proposed actions “blatantly unconstitutional.”

The court’s Monday decision also means the court could be short on justices for a while: The nominating and appointment process can take as long as four months, including background screening and reviews of The Florida Bar’s disciplinary records.

And the court itself tweaked its own rules last year regarding how and when retired justices can serve as “senior justices.”

A controversy erupted when then-Chief Justice Labarga allowed retired Justice James E.C. Perry to finish work on opinions, following decades of court practice. This was after Lawson, a Scott appointee, replaced Perry.

Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran prepared a legal challenge to Perry’s continued work, saying among other things that Perry was an unconstitutional “eighth justice” on the seven-member court.

Interviews scheduled for state Supreme Court vacancies

A review panel announced Friday it had decided to interview all 59 applicants for three upcoming Florida Supreme Court vacancies.

The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) will meet Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 in Miami, and again Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 in Tampa.

“This schedule will position the Florida Supreme Court JNC to certify nominations at the earliest on Nov. 10 or sometime thereafter to give the Governor and Governor-elect ample time to do their vetting and minimize the time that these three judicial vacancies remain unfilled,” a press release said. 

The South Florida interviews will take place at the Miami International Airport Hotel; the Tampa interviews will be held at the Airport Executive Center. 

Each interview will last about a half hour. The schedule for individual candidates is here

Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince face mandatory retirement on the same day that term-limited Gov. Rick Scott, a Naples Republican, leaves office. He is now running against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate.

The next justices will likely determine the ideological balance of the state’s highest court: Pariente, Lewis, and Quince are regarded as the liberal-leaning contingent; Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson are the conservatives. Justice Jorge Labarga is often a swing vote.

Progressive groups have renewed a lawsuit against Scott, however, saying the outgoing governor doesn’t have the authority to appoint three new justices.

Scott has said he would agree to confer with the next governor-elect on the three justices. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is the Democratic nominee; Ponte Vedra Beach congressman Ron DeSantis is the GOP nominee.

Quince was the last justice to be appointed that way in 1998, and was the consensus candidate of then Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat, and Gov.-elect Jeb Bush, a Republican.

A Gillum spokesman has all but spurned the idea, saying that “in our understanding of the constitution, the next Governor will appoint the next three Supreme Court justices.”

Scott said he will announce the new justices on Jan. 7, his last day in office, which coincides with the outgoing justices’ retirement date.

FEMA, federal agencies prepare as ports close, National Guard readies

Sea ports and airports in the path of Hurricane Michael have closed, volitile facilities like chemical plants are being monitored, Naitonal Guard troops military equipment are mobilizing, and federal authorities are calling on people in affected areas to stay off the roads.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long Wednesday morning urged people in the path of Hurricane Michael to now stay indoors until advised by local officials that it is safe to be outside, and to, by all means, stay off the roads, beaches and waterways, clearing those for first responders.

And he didn’t mince words for people in Michael’s path who ignored evacuation orders, as the category 4 storm moves toward the area of Panama City on Florida’s Panhandle.

“If you’ve stayed behind or didn’t prepare for this event you’re not only putting your own life in danger, but you may be putting other lives in danger,” Long stated in a FEMA briefing Wednesday morning. “This is not only going to be a massive hit to the Florida Panhandle and the coast, but is going to maintain hurricane force winds through the state of Georgia, as well as dump additional rainfall though the Carolinas.”

According to a news advisoiry from FEMA Wednesday morning:

– Tallahassee International Airport, Pensacola International Airport, and Destin Walton Beach Airport are closed. The sea ports of Panama City, Cedar Key and Pensacola are closed. The Port of Mobile, Ala., is open with restrictions.

– The U.S. Department of Defense’s Northern Command is posturing forces, after Gov. Rick Scott activated 2,500 Florida National Guard troops.

– The Department of Defense also is preparing ground transportation and up to 240 high-water capable vehicles to move people and cargo in affected areas, and preparing to provide a minimum of 21 helicopters, swift water boats and rescue personnel for flooded areas.

Federal health agencies are deploying a variety of public health professionals and resources.

– Florida has 54 shelters open with a current population of more than 3,500 people.

– Florida has released U.S. Department of Agriculture food supplies in 35 affected counties for use at shelters, canteens, and mobile kitchens.

– The Salvation Army mobilized 20 mobile feeding units, capable of providing 30,000 meals per day.

– Florida Baptist has four kitchens activated with total capacity of 170,000 meals per day and six additional kitchens on standby in Tallahassee.

– The American Red Cross is ready to serve 30,000 meals per day beginning on Oct. 13.

– The Army Corps of Engineers is deploying its Temporary Power Planning and Response Team and members from the 249th Engineer Battalion to provide temporary emergency power in Florida. Additional teams have been placed on alert.

– A FEMA Mobile Emergency Response Support unit is deploying with secure and non-secure voice, video and information services to support emergency response communications needs. Additional FEMA mobile communications vehicles are deploying to support potentially affected areas as needed and requested.

– The Agrico Chemical Company and American Creosote Works Superfund sites in Pensacola are located in storm track and susceptible to flooding; subsequent groundwater monitoring ongoing.

– The Joseph M. Farley Nuclear in Columbia, Ala., has advised federal officials that power generation will be shut down two hours prior to hurricane force winds impact.

Among other advice Long offered people affected by the storm:

– Consider the private sector as the first source for goods in affected areas.

– Text, don’t call. During an emergency, phones lines may be overwhelmed. To let your loved ones know you are safe, send a text instead.

– Check in with the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well site to check in and find missing individuals. Shelters are open throughout Florida. The American Red Cross has asked residents to bring their food and water supplies with them to the shelters.

President Trump signs emergency declaration for 35 Florida counties

President Donald Trump has signed a declaration of a pre-landfall emergency for Florida, setting the stage for federal agencies to mobilize into the Panhandle and north Florida and assure federal funding for preparations and recovery before Hurricane Michael arrives.

Trump’s action, requested by Florida Gov. Rick Scott and supported by Florida’s U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to identify, mobilize, and provide, at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.

The order also authorizes federal support for debris removal and emergency protective measures in 14 counties, and emergency protective measures to another 21 counties, according to an announcement released Tuesday by the White House.

Debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding in the counties of Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, and Wakulla, according to the release.

Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance will be provided at 75 percent funding in the counties of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Escambia, Gilchrist, Hernando, Hillsborough, Holmes, Lafayette, Levy, Manatee, Okaloosa, Pasco, Pinellas, Santa Rosa, Union, Walton, and Washington, according to the release.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long, Administrator named Thomas J. McCool as the federal coordinating officer for affected areas.

Scott’s office expressed the importance of those federal resources to help Florida prepare for anticipated impacts from Hurricane Michael, including the threat posed by the forecasted 12 feet of storm surge.

On Sunday Scott declared a state of emergency in 26 Florida counties and expanded it to include 35 counties total Monday.

Florida congressional delegation seeks state of emergency

Florida’s U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio and 13 members of Florida’s congressional delegation have formally asked the White House to declare a pre-landfall state of emergency for Florida as Hurricane Michael looms.

The letter to President Donald Trump declares their “full support” for the emergency declaration sought by Gov. Rick Scott, stressing the need for early preparations. Such a declaration would authorize mobilization of federal resources immediately.

“We write in full support of Florida’s request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration in anticipation of Hurricane Michael. Based on the current forecast, this hurricane has the potential to severely impact communities across northern Florida and down the coast. We urge you to immediately approve this request to ensure that all federal resources are made available,” the letter declares.

In addition to Democrat Nelson and Republican Rubio the letter was signed by Republican U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, Carlos Curbelo, Neal Dunn, Matt GaetzIleana Ros-Lehtinen, and Dennis Ross, and by Democratic U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, and Darren Soto.

“Since 2016, Florida has been hit by Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew, Irma, and Nate. While Floridians are still in the process of recovering from previous storms, federal resources are crucial to ensuring a successful response to Hurricane Michael,” the letter states. “Preparation has been shown to be key in reducing the potential for loss of life and destruction of property. As such, we strongly urge you to consider all of the circumstances referenced in our Governor’s request, and approve this pre-landfall emergency declaration that will provide the assistance necessary to ensure the safety of Floridians.”

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