Gwen Graham Archives - Page 7 of 46 - Florida Politics

Andrew Gillum touring college campuses

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum announced he’s heading back to campus, with an 12-school “back to school” tour of college campuses and one high school, starting Tuesday.

Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee, is starting his tour at his alma mater, Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, on Tuesday. From there he intends to visit the University of South Florida in Tampa on Wednesday and Stetson University in DeLand and the University of Central Florida on Thursday. Next week he’ll continue his tour in Miami and Jacksonville, and later in September in Gainesville, Tampa, Panama City and elsewhere.

“Our young people are the brightest lights of our future — they speak into existence things they haven’t yet built, and create community with other people they’ve never encountered,” Gillum stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “They have a powerful role to play in our state, and that’s why I’m thrilled to see them on the campaign trail over the coming weeks.

Gillum faces Democrats Chris King of Winter Park and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee in seeking the Republican nomination to run for governor next year. The leading Republicans seeking that office are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam of Bartow and state Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater.

“I did some of my first organized work in politics when I was an undergraduate at Florida A&M University, and from my earliest days I’ve seen young people take on the biggest issues facing them,” Gillum stated. “That’s why we’ll be talking about higher education accessibility and affordability, infusing our public education with SHOP 2.0 vocational training, creating an economy that puts people first, protecting and expanding access to quality and affordable healthcare, and confronting our climate change crisis.

“We’ll talk about the need for healing and unity across our country and especially on college campuses, and the need to be civically engaged in your community,” Gillum added. “I’m thrilled to be going ‘Back to School’ this fall!”

Congressional aide probe includes workers in six Florida Democrats’ offices

Arrested Democratic congressional staffer Imran Awan or his relatives — all reportedly under federal criminal investigation — also worked for five other Democratic Florida members of Congress besides U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is on the hot seat.

U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Darren Soto of Orlando, Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens, and Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, now a gubernatorial candidate, also employed Awan or one of his family members, wife Hina Alvi, and brothers Jamal Awan and Abid Awan, as part-time, shared, information technology employees in their offices.

However, unlike Wasserman Schultz, of Weston, who kept Imran Awan on her payroll through months of publicly-reported federal investigations into potential theft and misuse of congressional equipment and data, the other five members of Florida’s delegation all cut their ties with the Awan family member employees early.

The FBI and U.S. Capitol Police arrested Imran Awan at Washington’s Dulles International Airport on July 24, as he reportedly was trying to leave the country. He was charged with bank fraud, and other charges may be pending. Last week he and Alvi were indicted on bank fraud and other charges.

Neither of Imran Awan’s brothers have been arrested or accused of anything, though media reports dating to early February indicated that the FBI was investigating all four members of the Awan family.

They all worked for numerous Democratic members of the U.S. House, some for more than a decade, as IT specialists. House members chose independently to hire or fire them, and they were paid from office staff payroll budgets.

In early February, U.S. House of Representatives leaders informed members of Congress that the Awans were under investigation. News of that broke in Washington a couple of days later. Murphy, Soto, Frankel, and Wilson all terminated the Awans in their offices on Feb. 2 or Feb. 3, according to House of Representatives office budget disbursement documents. Graham already had terminated Jamal Awan on Jan. 2.

Still, some published reports, notably in The Daily Caller, which has broken much of the Awan story, have suggested the Awans had legal and financial troubles long before February, dating to 2009, which some have argued should have sent up red flags to Democratic members employing them.

Wasserman Schultz, who fired Imran Awan on July 25, has said she had serious questions about how and why the investigation was being pursued, and did not want to dismiss him unless she saw evidence of wrongdoing.

Other Democratic members took a different approach. Response from Soto’s spokesman was typical:

“Abid Awan served as an IT system administrator in Congressman Darren Soto’s office for one month. He was immediately fired upon learning he was under investigation, lost access to the House system and could no longer perform his job duties,” Oriana Pina said in a statement to FloridaPolitics.com. “Abid was hired based on the recommendation of several other House offices for whom he worked.”

Records show Soto paid the least amount to Abid Awan, $103 this year.

“Mr. Abid Awan was hired by a number of other offices and at the suggestion of other offices,” Murphy’s spokesman Javier Hernandez said. “He was terminated as soon as we were informed of the allegations.”

Murphy had paid Abid Awan $1,033 this year.

“We were one of 20-plus member offices that were using the services of Abid Awan to provide technical support for our computing technology,” Frankel’s spokeswoman Rachel Huxley-Cohen said in a statement. “Our contract with him has been terminated.”

Frankel paid Abid Awan $1,833 in 2017.

“Imran Awan, our former IT administrator, was a shared employee who began working for the congresswoman at the start of her first term. He was terminated as soon as we learned about the allegations of wrongdoing,” Wilson’s spokeswoman Joyce Jones said in a statement. “His official termination date was February 2, 2017. We cannot discuss the details of an ongoing investigation.”

Wilson paid Imran Awan $1,778 this year.

Graham’s spokesman, Matt Harringer, said Jamal Awan’s services were used only to close out Graham’s congressional computer accounts in the first two days of January as she prepared to leave Congress at the end of her tenure. The Awan investigation was not revealed until about a month later.

Graham paid Jamal Awan $111 this year.

Wasserman Schultz has remained defensive of Imran Awan. House records only are available through March 31. Through then, Wasserman Schultz had paid Imran Awan $1,605 this year. She also had employed Nina Alvi, but only through March 7, according to the first quarter House disbursement records. Alvi was paid $3,394.

Wasserman Schultz first employed Imran Awan in her office in 2005. Last week she issued a lengthy statement defending her decision to keep him on until the arrest:

“As a mother, a Jew, and a member of Congress, if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s this: my commitment to doing what’s right and just — even if it isn’t what’s easy and simple — is unyielding.

“Whether that meant standing in opposition to the Terri Schiavo bill, combating prejudice by encouraging my colleagues to bring Muslim-American constituents to the State of the Union, or questioning whether an employee has been afforded due process before terminating him, I have never been afraid to stand alone when justice demands it.

“Undoubtedly, the easier path would have been to terminate Mr. Awan, despite the fact that I had not received any evidence of his alleged wrongdoing; but that is not the woman my constituents elected, and that is not the mother my children know me to be.

“Over time, the investigation raised troubling concerns for me about fair treatment, due process, and potential ethnic and religious profiling. As the representative of Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, one of the most vibrant and diverse districts in the nation, I may not always be the darling of the conservative media, but I will always protect the democratic and pluralistic values that we South Floridians hold so dear, and I will always live up to the oath I took when my constituents first sent me to Washington: to support and defend the Constitution.

“At the end of the day, there are times in our lives when we must do what may be hard but right, even when there is a cost. This was one of those times for me, and I would make the same decision again.”

CNN reports political favors led to 13K kids losing coverage; Chris King calls for probe

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King is calling for an independent investigation after CNN report Friday alleging the Florida Department of Health used faulty processes and political motives to kick 13,000 chronically sick children out of the state’s Children’s Medical Services program.

“I’m calling for an independent investigation into the Florida Department of Health and the administrative actions that led to this systematic decision to rip CMS health coverage away from more than 13,000 sick children and what influenced this decision,” King said in a news release issued by his campaign.

The Florida Department of Health responded Friday by contending the cable news network used misunderstanding and outdated information to inaccurately characterize the program, and that the claims that politics  played any role “is 100 percent false.”

“CNN’s reporting demonstrates a misunderstanding of Florida’s Medicaid system, the health insurance industry and the ethical standards of the State of Florida,” the DoH statement said.

Yet the department’s response largely defends what has happened since 2015, not responding much to what happened in 2015. What appears to not be at issue is that in 2015 Florida removed more than 13,000 children from the Children’s Medical Services program, a state-run Medicaid program set up for chronically-sick children, and referred them to other, private, Medicaid insurers.

The CNN report contends that the CMS program was nationally respected and designed to handle the sickest of kids, but claims those transferred off included many children with serious health problems including birth defects, heart disease, diabetes and blindness. It network reports that many of them were unable to find services under the new insurance plans which did not specialize in severe and chronically-sick children, which and which were not accepted by certain pediatric specialists.

CNN then cited experts and researchers in children’s health programs who said the data analysis, screening tools, and processes the Florida Department of Health used to decide which children would be dropped from CMS were deeply flawed, “completely invalid” and “a perversion of science,” in two comments.

The report then cites experts, including Dr. Louis St. Petery, former executive vice president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who allege the children were switched to the private Medicaid insurers to reward Republican contributors. CNN also breaks down campaign contributions from the private insurance carriers to the Republican Party of Florida and other Republican political committees.

“Local and national experts in the medical field have expressed concern that this may have been done for political reasons, which, if true, would be deeply troubling,” King stated, first on Facebook, and then in a news release from his campaign. “The bottom line is that these children went without critical and oftentimes life-saving medical treatments and services because the state of Florida dropped them from CMS.”

King, a Winter Park developer, faces former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahasse and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum for the Democratic nomination to run for governor in 2018. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam of Bartow and state Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater are running for the Republicans.

The Department of Health addressed CNN’s allegations one-by-one, dismissing them all. Yet the DoH’s overriding concern is the argument that the processes and tools used in 2015 were discarded and in 2016 new and better tools were used. The department said all of the families of children removed from the program in 2015 were sent letters encouraging them to re-screen their kids for possible re-enrollment in CMS.

The department argued there would be no benefit to the private insurers to pick up the chronically sick children, so it clearly was no reward for anything.

“According to the state’s Medicaid agency [Agency for Health Care Administration,] it is not true that health insurers benefit from having higher risk patients on their plans,” the DoH statement said. “This is a claim CNN makes and then contradicts with the fact that sick children are costlier for insurance companies because of the care they need. There was no financial impact or plan profit from any change. Plans do not receive an individual rate for each enrollee, but rather one overall rate for the entire plan.”

At least since early 2016, the screening tools CNN reported on, which were used for about two years, were no longer in use, the department stated.

“Beginning on January 11, 2016, the department resumed clinical eligibility screening using the process defined by Rule 64C-2.002, Florida Administrative Code. The process includes a two-part approach to clinical eligibility screening – a physician-based, auto-eligibility process using diagnostic codes for chronic and serious conditions and a parent-based survey to ensure that all financially eligible children with special health care needs are given the option to enroll in the CMS Plan,” the DoH reported. “At any time, a parent or physician can request that a child be screened or rescreened for the CMS plan – a fact CNN omits from their story.”

And finally, the department contended, “Since the time CNN is speaking of, more than two years ago, there have been multiple changes in department and CMS Plan leadership.”

Firefighters in Orlando, Miami back Jack Latvala for governor

Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala has picked up endorsements of two major firefighters unions in his quest for the Republican nomination to run for governor next year, his campaign announced Thursday.

The endorsements come less than 24 hours after Latvala formally kicked off his campaign Wednesday in Hialeah, Clearwater and Panama City.

Latvala received the endorsements of the Miami Association of Firefighters, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 589; and of the Orlando Professional Firefighters, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1365.

“Local 1365 is grateful for the support that you have given to firefighters and other first responders during your time in the Florida Legislature,” Orlando Professional Firefighters President Ron Glass stated in a letter to Latvala quoted in a news release from Latvala’s campaign. “Your ability to reach consensus with members of both parties was instrumental in providing firefighters from across the state of Florida with stable careers, better working conditions and a pension that allows them to retire with dignity.”

Latvala faces Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam for the Republican nomination. Democrats running include former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Winter Park developer Chris King, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

“The firefighters of this state have forged a very strong bond with you and you have proven capable of making the difficult decisions to ensure that your firefighters are afforded equitable safety condition and benefit levels,” Miami Association of Firefighters President Freddy Delgado stated in a separate letter quoted by the campaign. “Some of those decisions have included protection of our current defined benefit retirement and fighting for firefighter cancer presumption in the State of Florida.”

Latvala kicked off his campaign outside Fire Station #7 in Hialeah.

“I stood with more than 100 first responders when I kicked off my campaign outside Fire Station #7 in Hialeah yesterday to show my continued support for the men and women who work so tirelessly to protect all Floridians,” Latvala stated in the release. “I am humbled and honored to have their support and thank the Miami Association of Firefighters Local 587 of the International Association of Fire Fighters and Orlando Professional Firefighters Local 1365 for joining me in my campaign to be the state’s next governor.”

Gwen Graham calls on Rick Scott to ‘immediately denounce’ Donald Trump’s Charlottesville comments

Rick Scott is set to sit down to lunch with President Trump this afternoon at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Gwen Graham says there’s no better time for him to do what he has declined to do all week — criticize the president for his remarks last weekend equating white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Public officials from coast to coast — both Democrats, and even some Republicans — have condemned Donald Trump’s outrageous remarks on the violence in Charlottesville, but there’s at least one glaring exception: Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has remained deafeningly silent,” the Democratic gubernatorial candidate said in a statement Thursday. “Silence is unacceptable in the face of a president who called white supremacists and neo-Nazis ‘very fine people’ and claimed ‘all sides’ were responsible for the violence that left three people dead.”

Scott and Trump are friends, and the governor had notably declined to address Trump’s controversial comments this week when he defended the white nationalists who demonstrated in Virginia and said they included “some very fine people.”

Trump laid some of the blame for the violence that broke out at the feet of “alt-left” counter-protesters; he also equated the Confederate General Robert E. Lee with America’s Founding Fathers. Florida Republicans like Marco Rubio, Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have called out the president directly for the comments, but Scott has remained notably silent.

“You can ask President Trump what he said,” Scott told reporters Wednesday when asked his thoughts about the president’s latest comments.

The governor went on to say that there was “no moral equivalency between the two sides,” and that as a Navy veteran, he didn’t go into the military to defend neo-Nazi’s.

“I urge all political leaders at the state, local and federal level – including the president- to focus on unity,” he continued, adding, “how do we come together, how do we create more love and less hate? We’ve got to eliminate this divisiveness in this country.”

Graham says it’s time for Scott to specifically call out Trump’s comments.

“I am calling on Governor Scott to immediately denounce President Trump’s remarks and confirm that white supremacists are not welcome in Florida,” she said.

Chris King gets backing of Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King has picked up the endorsement of the mayor of Eatonville, Florida’s oldest town incorporated as an African-American city.

Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole‘s endorsement is a double triumph for King, one of his first from elected officials, and a leader in the Orlando-area’s black community.

Eatonville, incorporated in 1887, is just a couple miles from King’s business offices in Winter Park.

“For some folks, Chris may be a new face, but I’ve known and felt the impact of his work in Central Florida for quite some time. From his work in affordable housing to his philanthropies in public schools, I know Chris to be a man of character, hard work, and inclusion,” Cole stated in a news release issued by King’s campaign.

“Florida is failing to meet the basic needs of its citizens – most acutely where jobs, housing, and health care are concerned. As the mayor of Eatonville, I’ve seen how far our community has come and how far we have to go,” Cole continued. “I’ve also seen how for too long communities of color have been forgotten, while elected officials pay lip service to both the unique and common challenges we face. I know with Chris we’ll have more than just a seat at the table: a real partner in bringing about economic change here in Eatonville and across the state.”

King faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor next year. Republican candidates include Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Sen. Jack Latvala, who formally kicked off his campaign Wednesday.

“Eddie Cole’s support means a lot to me,” King said. “Mayor Cole has spent his life in service to others and his community. I am committed to partnering with him and all of our leaders across the state as we remake the Florida economy into one that lifts up all communities, not just those with access to the powerful.”

Sometime surly senator enters Florida’s governor’s race

Jack Latvala — a powerful, sometimes surly state senator seen as a moderate Republican voice — entered the race for Florida Governor Wednesday, taking on a better-known, more conservative and better-funded primary opponent Adam Putnam for the GOP nomination to replace Gov. Rick Scott.

Latvala publicly announced his candidacy at a fire station in a Hialeah, a Hispanic-majority city that borders Miami. In the crowd were groups of senior citizens, police officers and state employee union members. He also was joined by his son Chris, who is a state representative. He later planned to stop at a Tampa Bay-area aquarium in his hometown of Clearwater before ending the tour at a Panama City marina.

Latvala is considered a moderate Republican and told the group he is proud to have friends on both sides of the political aisle.

Republican challenger Putnam is the incumbent agriculture commissioner. Democrats seeking the seat Scott must leave due to term limits include former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Orlando-area businessman Chris King and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Leading up to his announcement, Latvala has spent time talking about the need to make sure rural Florida is also benefiting from the state’s economic rebound, and he’s spoken out about the need to treat opioid abuse as a crisis.

Latvala, 65, has served two stints in the Florida Senate, the first from 1994 to 2002, when he left because of term limits. He returned to the Senate in 2010 and will again be term-limited next year. He is the current Senate budget chairman and has previously led the chamber’s efforts to tighten ethics in state government and require political candidates to be more transparent about fundraising and campaign spending.

“He fights very hard for the issues he cares about, and sometimes that puts him at odds with some fellow party members, but he cares passionately,” said Evan Power, chairman of the Leon County GOP.

He’s not afraid to buck his party’s leadership and has taken more moderate views on issues such as immigration. He helped fight back an effort to change the state’s pension system that was supported by top Republicans and opposed by state workers, and helped kill a bill that would have opened Florida to fracking, an effort that was supported by many in the GOP.

But he will be entering the race as an underdog to Putnam, 43, who first ran for office 22 years ago and has seemingly spent his entire adult life building toward a run for governor.

“Commissioner Putnam has positioned himself well for this race and he’s been working for it, and I think he has the infrastructure at the early end to have that place as the front-runner,” said Power, whose group hosted Putnam Tuesday night.

Putnam was asked Tuesday night about Latvala’s entry into the race, and he chose not to discuss the new challenger.

“I’m focused on the race that I’m running. If you ain’t the lead dog in the fight, the view never changes,” Putnam said. “I’m just going to be working grass roots, pig-pullings and fish fries from Key West to Chumukla.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who is also considering running for governor, wouldn’t say a word when asked about Latvala getting in the race, simply shaking his head “no” as the Leon County GOP barbecue wrapped up

Latvala, however, hasn’t been shy about poking Putnam, using Twitter to jab him even before submitting paperwork to get in the race last week.

After Putnam attended a Possum Festival, an annual event in a small Panhandle town that’s popular with politicians, Latvala tweeted, “While there will be a time to pose with possums, I am more focused on jobs in NW FL.”

And when Putnam said he was a proud “sellout” to the National Rifle Association, Latvala tweeted a political cartoon mocking Putnam, adding his own message, “I will never sell out to anyone, anytime.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Aerospace workers’ union endorses Gwen Graham

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers announced it is endorsing Democrat Gwen Graham for governor, her campaign announced Tuesday.

“With 39 lodges across the state of Florida, you’ll find our union members working in manufacturing and aerospace from Pensacola to Miami,” Frank Ortis, president of the Florida State Council of Machinists, stated in a news release. “We are excited to endorse Gwen Graham and ready to elect her Florida’s next governor. Gwen has the experience and leadership Florida needs to create jobs, raise wages and lift up working families.”

The Machinists and Aerospace Workers is the second major union to endorse in the race for governor, joining the United Steelworkers, which endorsed Graham in June.

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

In Congress, Graham co-sponsored legislation to raise the minimum wage and opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and authored the bipartisan Middle STEP Act to expand technical education.

“For almost twenty years the politicians in Tallahassee have had the wrong priorities for the wrong people. They’ve sold out to special interests and forgot the working men and women who built our state and drive our economy.” Graham stated in the news release. “We must do the common sense things other states have already done, like raise the minimum wage and pass paid sick leave — but those proposals alone aren’t enough. As governor, I will fight to protect Florida’s aerospace industry, create new manufacturing jobs and expand technical education in our schools.”

Frederica Wilson endorses Andrew Gillum for governor

Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson has endorsed Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum to be the next governor of Florida.

Wilson, from Miami Gardens, joins U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings as Democratic members of Congress who have endorsed Gillum over two Democratic rivals, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee and developer Chris King of Winter Park.

“I am very excited to endorse Mayor Andrew Gillum for Governor of Florida. Mayor Gillum is one of Florida’s brightest young political minds and most energetic public servant,” Wilson said in a written statement issued by Gillum’s campaign. “He has the courage to confront Florida’s biggest challenges: protecting access to affordable healthcare, building a more inclusive economy, revitalizing public education, and addressing climate change and rising sea level crisis. Florida needs a leader like Mayor Gillum whom we can trust to rebuild our state into one that works for everyone,” said Congresswoman Frederica Wilson.

“I’m humbled and honored to receive Congresswoman Wilson’s endorsement,” Gillum stated. “She has long been a “Voice for the Voiceless” and stands out as one of Florida’s most respected leaders. She’s a role model and I look forward to working with her to rebuild the Sunshine State into one that works better for all Floridians.”

Chris King calls for removal of all Confederate monuments

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King called Tuesday for the removal of all Confederate memorials in Florida.

Taking to Facebook, King posted, “It’s time to remove all the Confederate monuments in Florida. These monuments should be removed because we should not celebrate literal anti-American ideology or any ideology based on the oppression of any group of people.

“And to those who say these monuments are needed to preserve our history, I say we don’t need memorials celebrating this dark time in our history. As we’ve seen in Charlottesville this weekend, we live with the legacy of this history every day,” he added.

King faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee in seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor in 2018. The Republican field has Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam of Bartow and state Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater who’ve filed, with Latvala planning to make an official announcement Wednesday. Others, including Democratic Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran are raising money but have made no commitments.

Gillum also called for action on the monuments, but first called for conversation on them. Last week he also informed Walton County he would not be visiting their community until they took down the Confederate flag in front of the courthouse.

“Like many people, I want local governments to take action to remove these monuments. But more than just the necessary step of removing them, we need a real conversation in Florida about inclusion and building community,” Gillum said in a statement. “I created the Longest Table initiative in Tallahassee so neighbors could sit at a table together and discuss the most pressing issues facing them and their communities. Tough but honest conversations will help heal this state and country.”

King was more succinct.

“It’s time for Florida to put its fealty and energy not toward monuments to a divided past, but toward a vision of the future that provides for common growth. Florida values diversity, but simply saying so understates the case,” King continued. “Florida’s economic engine is built on diversity. We are a state of many races, faiths and languages, each making our state a great place to live in, and each underpinning our economy. But our economic engine has been held back for far too long by the ghosts of the past.”

Confederate memorials have been sources of racial tension for generations, but recently their presence has evoked public demonstrations and demands for their removal, notably in Orlando, Gainesville, Tampa, and now in Jacksonville, while supporters of the monuments contend they are part of the state’s history. Last weekend efforts seeking removal of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Va., led to a protest march of white supremacists and the killing of an opposition protester, setting the heat even higher.

On Monday Gov. Rick Scott said the time will come for conversations on Confederate monuments. King said in his Facebook post the time is now.

“Removing Confederate monuments is not just the right thing to do for Florida values and its citizens, but the smart thing to do for Florida’s economy,” King continued. “In order to unleash Florida’s economic potential, and attract the jobs and investment we need to grow into the national leader we should be, it’s time to position Florida as a state with eyes set on the future.”

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