Gwen Graham Archives - Page 4 of 42 - Florida Politics

Andrew Gillum campaign spends $25,000 on legal fees, mostly for email investigation

Tallahassee’s Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum has spent almost $25,000 so far on attorneys during his gubernatorial campaign, mostly due to his use of state-owned email software for campaign-related messages.

Law firm Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler got about $2,100 of that money from the Gillum campaign, with the remaining money being paid out through his political committee, “Florida Forward.”

The most recent payment was a $1,015 check from Florida Forward on July 28.

Gillum’s spending on legal fees was first written about by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida.

Campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan said the high legal fees were linked to Gillum’s use of state software purchased through the Tallahassee mayor’s office to send political emails. Since the improper use was outed earlier this year, Gillum has apologized and paid back the city for the software.

State Attorney Jack Campbell has not yet decided whether he will criminally charge Gillum for the software malfeasance.

Burgan also made clear that none of the fees paid out by Gillum’s campaign account or political committee were linked to an ongoing public corruption investigation the FBI is conducting on several Tallahassee business and political leaders.

The FBI is looking into several big-name developers and consultants connected to a Community Redevelopment Agency. In June, the Bureau subpoenaed several individuals, but Gillum’s name was not on the list.

Gillum’s attorney fees come in much higher than either of his Democratic rivals, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham and Winter Park Businessman Chris King, each of whom spent roughly $15,000 on attorney fees since entering the race.

Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam, the lone major Republican candidate in the race, has spent about $9,000 on attorney fees this campaign cycle.

Gwen Graham grabs four Democratic women leaders’ endorsements

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham announced Thursday she is being backed by four more women leaders from the party in Florida.

She picked up the endorsements of former state Reps. Karen Castor Dentel and Kelly Skidmore, Democratic National Committee member Alma Gonzalez, and former Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, Graham’s campaign announced in a news release Thursday.

“These women are leaders in our state fighting to restore public education, defend our health care, protect our environment and build an economy that works for every Floridian,” Graham said in the release. “I’m proud to have their support and look forward to working with them to take back our state and finally put Florida on a brighter path forward.”

Graham, a former congresswoman from Tallahassee, faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park developer Chris King seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor in 2018.

“After decades with governors undermining our public schools, blaming hardworking teachers, and over testing our kids, voters are eager for a leader who makes education a priority,” Castor Dentel, a Maitland teacher, said in the release. “As a mother, Gwen Graham understands the challenges we face and has the experience and knowledge to fight back against for-profit schools that divert public school dollars. She knows that increasing teacher pay will be a first step in addressing the teacher shortage. And Gwen will fight to fully implement the class size amendment as the voters demanded. It’s time to put our students first, and that’s why I’m proud to support Gwen Graham for governor.”

Gonzalez also is a former treasurer of the Florida Democratic Party.

“Gwen Graham understands building an economy that works for every Floridian starts in our public schools and colleges,” she stated. “Gwen will fight to increase public school funding by ending the lottery shell game, expand technical education starting in our middle schools, and expand access to our colleges and universities. To move forward, we must build a 21st-century economy and ensure our children and grandchildren have the skills they need to fill those new jobs. We will tackle this great challenge with Gwen Graham as our next Governor.”

Hanrahan, of Boca Raton, said: “Gwen Graham understands building an economy that works for every Floridian starts in our public schools and colleges. Gwen will fight to increase public school funding by ending the lottery shell game, expand technical education starting in our middle schools, and expand access to our colleges and universities. To move forward, we must build a 21st-century economy and ensure our children and grandchildren have the skills they need to fill those new jobs. We will tackle this great challenge with Gwen Graham as our next Governor.”

Skidmore added: “It’s time to send a qualified leader to the governor’s office. Gwen Graham has fought for equal pay and defending our right to choose. As governor, she’ll defend our health care, fight for paid sick time and build an economy that works for every Floridian.”

Phil Levine talks Florida places, characters in ‘non-political’ SiriusXM ‘real Florida’ show

Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, a potential Democratic challenger for governor in the 2018 election, premiered his “real Florida” show “A Day in the Sun” on a SiriusXM satellite radio channel Tuesday night with interviews of innovative and offbeat Floridians.

The question arises, was anybody listening to the internationally-broadcast show that’s on a high-up channel; and might Levine milk any name recognition or other advantage from a show that had him travel, by bus, interviewing Floridians, from Miami to Pensacola last month?

Levine insists the show is not about politics.

Well, maybe a little bit of politics.

In Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop and Cafe in Miami’s Midtown, Levine’s interview with owner Derek Kaplan, a former fireman who pursued his dream of baking key lime pie for a living, leads to a little talk about challenges facing a small business owner, and the importance of an entrepreneur offering benefits to his employees.

In the Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana, Levine and owner Felipe Valls and his daughter Nicole Valls chat Cuba politics, changing Cuban-American politics, and Cuban-American impact on Florida, and food, as Levine shows off his Spanish and love of Cuban cuisine.

As Levine talks with exotic plant grower and python hunter Dusty “Wildman” Crum, and later with Miccosukee Tribe member and airboat operator Betty Osceola in the Everglades, the conversations roam conservation and pollution, water issues, invasive species, tribal rights, and even sea level rise.

But, mostly, the show is about characters and places that make up Florida’s tapestry. Levine not only conducts the interviews, but narrates the intros and wrap-ups of the episodes, and of each interview segment within it, raising his own curiosities, and lavishing love on Florida.

Wealthy from his businesses and investments that include support companies for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Levine’s non-candidacy has nonetheless raised more than $4 million in his political committee, All About Florida, including $2.3 million of his own money.

The Democrats already in the race, Winter Park developer Chris King, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and probably also the Republicans starting with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, may be keeping their ears on him.

A Day in the Sun’s second episode will cover Tampa Bay and the lower Gulf Coast, at 6 p.m. next Tuesday on SiriusXM Channel 121, called Sirius Insight.

Adam Putnam calls on Air Force to bring F-35 squadron to Jacksonville

Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam said Thursday that he wrote a letter in support of the Florida National Guard’s efforts to bring the F-35 Lightning II to Jacksonville.

“For 70 years, the 125th Fighter Wing has served Florida and our country well. With Jacksonville’s unparalleled airspace and infrastructure, no other place in the nation is better suited for a new squadron of F-35 fighters,” Putnam wrote in the letter to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

“As you continue to evaluate bases for the F-35, I am confident that Jacksonville will continue to rise above the rest and if the past is prologue, then the F-35 will prove to be a success in the hands of the 125th,” he added.

Jacksonville is one of a handful of finalists to house the squadron alongside bases in Idaho, Wisconsin, Alabama in Michigan, and Florida politicians have been lobbying hard to bring the fifth generation fighter to the Sunshine State.

Putnam’s plea joins the entire Florida Congressional Delegation, who banded together in May to ask Wilson to base the new jets out of Jax. During her tenure as a congresswoman, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham also urged officials to pick Jacksonville.

State senators, spearheaded by Jacksonville Democratic Sen. Audrey Gibson, also passed a resolution in March supporting the Florida Air National Guard’s mission to bring the squadron to Jacksonville.

The economic impact of bringing the Lockheed Martin jet to the First Coast is estimated to be at least $100 million, and if Jacksonville is picked it could help stave off job losses when the military eventually phases out the F-15 Eagles currently based out of Jacksonville International Airport.

Jacksonville currently has about 1,000 full-time active air members and officials say adding the F-35 would bring around 200 more jobs to the area.

Steny Hoyer endorses Gwen Graham

Democratic candidate for governor Gwen Graham now has snagged the endorsement of the U.S. House of Representatives’ second-highest ranking figure.

Graham’s campaign Tuesday announced House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer‘s endorsement. Graham, of Tallahassee, was Florida’s 2nd Congressional District’s congresswoman in 2015-17. 

“After raising three children as a working mom, PTA president and public school official, Gwen Graham ran for office to get things done for hardworking families,” Hoyer said in a statement.

“Just like Washington, Tallahassee badly needs Gwen’s voice of reason, and I’m proud to enthusiastically support her campaign for governor,” he added. “Gwen is smart, disciplined, tough, caring and compassionate. She is the best candidate to win this race and the best qualified to serve the people of Florida as their next governor.”

Hoyer, 78, has been in Congress since 1981 and represents Maryland’s 5th Congressional District. He also was House Majority Leader in 2007-11.

“Whip Hoyer’s friendship and support were an incredible help in my first race and throughout my service in the House,” Graham said. “I’m honored to have his support again as we fight to repair the damage from the last twenty years of neglect and failed leadership coming out of Tallahassee.”

Gwen Graham vows to help more Floridians receive care after free clinic ‘workday’

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Congresswoman Gwen Graham did one of her campaign “work days” at a Seminole County free clinic Wednesday and came away pledging to “help more Floridians receive care” if elected.

Graham volunteered as a health care navigator for at Shepherd’s Hope and spent her shift helping patients determine if they were eligible for clinic services. She also shadowed a patient from through the entire clinic experience, from intake to discharge.

“Working at Shepherd’s Hope was an eye-opening experience. I am heartbroken by how many Floridians depend on the clinic as a safety net for care, but inspired by the doctors and volunteers who give their time to help those in need. They provide care to people from all walks of life, from veterans to working families, and provide an invaluable service to our state,” Graham said in a news release.

After the work day — a campaign staple for both her and her father, Bob Graham — she also condemned Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for not expanding Medicaid, which she said: “literally cost Floridians their lives.”

“I don’t know how you could visit a clinic like Shepherd’s Hope and not want to expand coverage,” Graham said. “As governor, I will help more Floridians receive care.”

Shepherd’s Hope serves uninsured patients with an income at or below 200% of the poverty level. In 2016, the clinic saw more than 17,000 patients.

After thanking Graham for her visit, Shepherd’s Hope CEO Marni F. Stahlman also blamed Florida’s lack of Medicaid expansion for many “preventable and predictable” deaths and extended an invitation to all Florida elected officials to visit the clinic.

Chris King issues bold, forward-thinking statement on climate change

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King declared Thursday that Florida can fight climate change and spur the economy, while he recounted forecasters’ worst fears for Florida if sea levels and temperatures rise as scientists project.

In a lengthy statement placed as a blog post on his campaign website, King outlined his concerns for weather, sea level rise, and economic impacts to Florida under projections for the next couple of generations, declaring, “fighting climate change could be the smartest investment Florida makes this century.”

The Winter Park developer of affordable housing touted his business successes and decried that Republicans always accuse Democrats of not understanding business or the economy.

King first must win a Democratic primary in which he is facing Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee. The leading Republican is Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, with other prominent Republicans mulling the race. Also considering a run is Democratic Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, whose city is literally Ground Zero for climate change risk.

“As someone who has built a business from the ground up during the biggest economic recession of our lifetime, I will tell any Republican opponent that I know how to grow Florida’s economy — and it’s not by ignoring climate change. In fact, fighting climate change could be the smartest investment Florida makes this century,” King stated in a news release.

In his post, King laid out foreboding projections, declaring, “Florida has the most property vulnerable to climate change-related flooding, with $69 billion of it at risk. Many of Florida’s coastal communities, including portions of Miami Beach and the Keys, will become chronically inundated with rising sea levels, flooding every other week on average.

“Climate change is also making storms more frequent and destructive, a trend that will only get worse. Storm-related losses will increase by an average of $1.3 billion every year until 2030, a cost which will rise to $4 billion by 2050,” King continued.

The secondary economic impacts would be statewide, affecting Florida’s agriculture, manufacturing, and energy, as average temperatures rise, he added.

King then attacked policies and positions of Florida Gov Rick Scott, particularly for reportedly banning mention of climate change or global warming in the state’s environmental agencies. He also criticized the Florida Legislature for doing too little to address changes.

“Florida needs a Governor who will tackle climate change and the threat it poses to our economy head on — not one who ignores it,” King stated.

He also attacked President Donald Trump for pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords, and accused Scott of “standing idly by.”

“If Florida were to invest in renewable energy for all energy needs, we would create more than 300,000 long-term jobs in those industries,” he continued. “By 2050, our state would save $41 billion per year in health costs resulting from air pollution, the equivalent of 1.8 percent of our GDP. Energy costs would decrease, energy efficiency would increase, and lives would even be saved.”

Among proposals he outlines in his statement, many of which he had previously announced:

– Banning fracking and off-shore drilling [though the drilling issue is in federal hands.]

– Investing in renewable energy solutions.

– Supporting hurricane research and disaster-relief funding.

– Conserving and protecting valuable lands and coasts, including through the land-purchase fund set up by constitutional amendment.

– Commit Florida to the national U.S. Climate Alliance and uphold the spirit of the Paris Agreement in Florida.



Gwen Graham turns free clinic ‘workday’ into push for a budget that cares

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham described a private meeting a patient asked to have with her while she was performing one of her “workday” events at an Orlando free clinic Wednesday night, and said it reminded her that state budget priorities need to be reworked to be more caring.

The patient had been struggling to get medications he needed. In his private meeting Wednesday night with the Democratic former congresswoman who wants to be Florida’s next governor, he began to cry. She responded with tears of her own, she said.

He got what he needed at the Shepherd’s Hope clinic in Longwood, one of five Shepherd’s Hopes in the Orlando area that serves people who do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford medical insurance. The clinics serve thousands of patients, but still, on some days, must turn people away.

“These are good people who are facing real challenges all the time. But for places like Shepherd’s Hope, which is really their last hope, what would they do?” Graham said.

“We need to have people who want to make a difference in people’s lives, who really care,” she concluded. “We need to look at our state budget in ways that get our priorities back in place, caring for people… for the right reasons.”

Graham faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park affordable housing developer Chris King in pursuing the Democratic nomination to run for governor. She has spent much of her early campaign months pursuing the activity coined by her father, former governor and former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who spent “workdays” working other people’s jobs.

While the younger Graham has worked an occasional hard-labor workday such as installing solar panels on roofs, her focus so far has been on more social services, from education to health care. It’s a distinction working into her campaign them, which she described as offering someone the voters will get to trust to care about them.

It’s a theme both Gillum and King would insist they share, though Gillum is presenting himself more as the Democrat who has the courage to push Democratic values, and King as the Democrat who has succeeded in business while pushing Democratic values.

The leading Republican thus far is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who’s defining himself with strong conservative values.

On Wednesday night she spent four hours working at Shepherd’s Hope with the organization’s president, Marni Stahlman, and with Dr. Jamaal McLeod, normally an emergency room physician in Volusia County, and the rest of the all-volunteer staff.

Graham used the moment, as she did with her workday at a Jacksonville clinic earlier this month, to condemn Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Florida Legislature for refusing to accept the federal Medicaid expansion deal offered in the Affordable Care Act, a deal that would have provided health care to at least 800,000 uninsured Floridians, and billions of dollars to Florida, but also a longterm financial commitment to Florida.

She also pushed Wednesday night for other health care reforms, such as modernizing the state’s laws so that clinics such as Shepherd’s Hope, and ordinary doctors’ offices, could turn to telemedicine and other advances to offer specialist care.


Andrew Gillum tells Orange Democrats its time for leaders to take on difficult conversations

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum told Orange County Democrats Monday night that the party needs a Democrat with courage to espouse Democratic values if it wants a chance to win the governor’s office next year.

Gillum, speaking before perhaps 200 people gathered at the Orange County Democratic executive committee meeting, charged that Democrats have not been able to win the governor’s office because they have run candidates who show fear, who were not unapologetic advocates for the party’s values.

It is time, he said for leaders to have difficult conversations.

Gillum faces former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee and Winter Park developer Chris King for the Democratic nomination. The leading Republican at this stage is Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“We need to go out there and tell people, tell people who it is we are, what believe in. that we believe in a strong public education system, that we believe in second changes, that if people make a mistake in their lives they should be able to come back, get a job and make a living for themselves and their families. We shouldn’t be afraid to tell people that we believe in science.

That drew applause.

“And that shouldn’t even be an applause line,” Gillum continued. He went on to describe the need for Democrats to lead the way in Florida on confronting global climate change, and encouraging solar energy, and to build 21st-century transportation infrastructure, and support for the LGBTQ community.

He also spoke of his battle, as Tallahassee mayor, to defend a city ordinance forbidding people from shooting guns in a city park. So far, Tallahassee has won court battles in the district and appeals level, against what he said was the gun lobby “that has run roughshod over public policy.”

“I said, we’ll see you in the Supreme Court, if that’s where you want to take us,” Gillum said. “You all, we have to stop rolling over and being afraid. The Second Amendment, the Second Amendment, the Second Amendment can sit side by side with common sense gun law reform.

“It will require us to stop being silent. What are we afraid of? Are our lives not important enough for us to stand up and say I deserve to be recognized to advocate laws to protect me and my children?” he said.

“We should be able to look into our children’s eyes to speak words of affirmation and hope and encouragement to them. And then to be able to rest at night that we’ve done the difficult work to make the hopes and aspirations of those children come true,” he added.

A governor, he said, should be measured by the answer to the question, “How are the children doing?”

Gwen Graham lights up Legislature over MMJ, grabs Jax endorsements

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham was in Jacksonville Monday, and while she was in town she snagged a couple of pivotal endorsements.

One of those endorsements: from the most powerful Democrat on the Jacksonville City Council, Finance Chair Garrett Dennis.

And the second endorsement: from the most popular Democratic Mayor in Jacksonville history, Jake Godbold.

Dennis, on hand for an endorsement event on Jacksonville’s Eastside, lauded Graham for her commitment to rights restoration for reformed felons.

“Gwen Graham believes every Floridian deserves a seat at the table throughout our state government and institutions. That’s why she’s fighting to make sure every child has a great public education, no matter where they live or where they come from. She’s fought to protect the vote and supports rights restoration,” Dennis asserted.

Godbold, who was not able to attend the event, said via statement that Graham would “invest in infrastructure to build on our city’s success and help Jacksonville grow in the 21st Century.”


Though the endorsement event did not go as planned, Graham made up for it with a freewheeling q&a with local media.

The greatest pyrotechnics came when she discussed medical marijuana, and the State Legislature’s lack of fidelity to the Constitutional Amendment passed in 2016.

“I am so sick and tired of the Florida Legislature not doing what the people of Florida have overwhelmingly said they want done,” Graham said regarding the smoking prohibition, putting MMJ in the same bucket with lottery money and Amendment 1 funds, which did not go to Forever Florida this year.

Graham noted the palliative effects of cannabis, and said that it is a “good replacement for opioids.”


Graham was also blunt in her appraisal of the “horrific” health care bill in the United States Senate, saying that “block granting was particularly bad for Florida.”

Graham did shy away from specific criticism of one of her primary opponents, scandal-plagued Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

When asked if he should get out of the race, Graham said simply that “Andrew is a friend and will make those decisions.”

Her answer did not vary appreciably on the followup.

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