Hillary Clinton – Page 6 – Florida Politics

Hillary Clinton lost, but Republicans still want to investigate her

Democrat Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to President Donald Trump, but some Republicans in Congress are intensifying their calls to investigate her and other Obama administration officials.

As investigations into Russian meddling and possible links to Trump’s campaign have escalated on both sides of the Capitol, some Republicans argue that the investigations should have a greater focus on Democrats.

Democrats who have pushed the election probes “have started a war of investigative attrition,” said GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Several officials from former President Barack Obama’s administration and Clinton’s campaign have appeared before or been interviewed by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as part of the Russia investigation, along with Trump campaign officials. The GOP-led committees are investigating whether Trump’s campaign had any links to Russian interference in last year’s election.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has continued a separate investigation into whether Obama administration officials inappropriately made requests to “unmask” identities of Trump campaign officials in intelligence reports.

The House Judiciary Committee, which has declined to investigate the Russian meddling, approved a resolution this past week to request documents related to the FBI’s now-closed investigation of Clinton’s emails. In addition, Republican on that committee wrote the Justice Department on Thursday and asked for a second special counsel, in addition to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, to investigate “unaddressed matters, some connected to the 2016 election and others, including many actions taken by Obama administration.”

“The American public has a right to know the facts — all of them — surrounding the election and its aftermath,” the lawmakers wrote.

Republicans want to investigate the unmasking issue and also Clinton’s email scandal that figured prominently in the campaign. They also frequently bring up former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony that she told him to call the Clinton email investigation a “matter” instead of an investigation during the campaign.

Nunes wrote his own letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats last week, saying that his committee has learned that one Obama administration official had made “hundreds” of the unmasking requests.

Even though he remains committee chairman, Nunes stepped back from the Russia investigation earlier this year after he was criticized for being too close to the White House. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, took over the leading role.

The committee has conducted bipartisan interviews of witnesses; Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner appeared on Tuesday, a day after talking to Senate staff. But partisan tensions have been evident.

GOP Rep. Pete King of New York, who’s on the House Intelligence Committee, said after the Kushner interview that the committee investigation into Russian meddling is a “sham.”

“To me there is nothing to this from the beginning,” he said of his committee’s own probe. “There is no collusion … it’s the phoniest investigation ever.”

Both the Senate and House committees have interviewed or expressed interest in interviewing a series of Democratic witnesses, including Obama’s former national security adviser, Susan Rice, and former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power — both of whom Republicans have said may be linked to the unmasking. Rice met with staff on the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month, and Power met with the panel Friday.

“Ambassador Power strongly supports any bipartisan effort to address the serious threat to our national security posed by Russia’s interference in our electoral process, and is eager to engage with the Senate and House committees on the timeline they have requested,” Power’s lawyer, David Pressman, said in a statement.

Hillary Clinton calling new book ‘What Happened’

Hillary Clinton is calling her new book “What Happened” and promising unprecedented candor as she remembers her stunning defeat last year to Donald Trump.

“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net,” Clinton writes in the introduction, according to publisher Simon & Schuster. “Now I’m letting my guard down.”

Simon & Schuster told The Associated Press on Thursday that Clinton’s book will be a highly personal work that also is a “cautionary tale” about Russian interference in last year’s election and its threat to democracy. In public remarks since last fall, the Democrat has cited Russia as a factor in her defeat to her Republican opponent, along with a letter sent by then-FBI Director James Comey less than two weeks before the election.

Comey’s letter, sent to Congress on Oct. 28, said the FBI “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” into the private email server that Clinton used as secretary of state. Days later, Comey wrote that the FBI did not find anything new.

“Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules,” according to Simon & Schuster. “In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterwards.”

“What Happened” is scheduled to come out Sept. 12 and has evolved since first announced, in February. It was originally billed as a book of essays that would “tell stories from her life, up to and including her experiences in the 2016 presidential campaign,” as opposed to a memoir centered on the race. Clinton’s loss has already been the subject of the best-selling “Shattered,” a highly critical book by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, and a more sympathetic account, Susan Bordo’s “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton.”

Within hours of Thursday’s announcement, “What Happened” had jumped from No. 3,350 to No. 17 on Amazon.com.

Clinton’s previous works include the 2003 memoir “Living History,” published while she was a U.S. senator from New York, and a book about her years as secretary of state, “Hard Choices,” which came out in 2014 as she prepared to launch her presidential candidacy. She also wrote “It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us” when she was first lady.

Her upcoming memoir isn’t the first political book to be called “What Happened.” Scott McClellan, a former White House press secretary during the George W. Bush administration, released a book with the same title in 2008. McClellan’s memoir was an unexpectedly critical take on his former boss that became a best-seller.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Steve Schale: SD 40 — an interesting test for Dems, GOP

This piece is more designed for my readers who don’t live and breathe Florida politics: there is a state Senate election on Sept. 26 you should be paying attention to, a race that could be an interesting test of how the GOP’s institutional advantages measure up to Donald Trump‘s policies, favorability, Democratic enthusiasm and demographic trend lines.

Honestly, it is a race providing a real opportunity for both parties.

First, it is important to remember State Senate seats in Florida are not much smaller than congressional districts, and this one, when fully engaged in the state’s most expensive media market, will see the spending tab run well into the millions. In a typical election cycle, spending in Florida’s top state Senate races will outpace most Congressional races down here.

So, a little about the district — this is Senate District 40.

Located in Dade County, SD 40 is almost 75 percent Hispanic by census, and depending on the election, typically falls in the mid-60s Hispanic among actual voters. There is also a significant Black population, which in Dade is both African-American and Caribbean American. On its surface to an outsider, it looks like a Democratic lay-up. But keep in mind, a substantial proportion of Hispanics in Dade are Cuban, which means one key thing: a much more Republican orientation than Hispanic-dominated urban districts outside of Florida (or frankly, outside of SE Florida).

Hillary Clinton easily dispatched Donald Trump in this district, carrying it by 16 points (56-40). Like a lot of Dade County districts, some of my Democratic friends look at those Clinton numbers and say, “well that is our seat.” But the Clinton number is highly deceptive and doesn’t tell the full story. For example, Marco Rubio carried the district by 4 points (51-47), and among the precincts, this district shares with the highly competitive Congressional District 26 – roughly two-thirds of registered voters in SD 40 are also in CD 26 — Carlos Curbelo carried the district by 13 points. To show just how volatile this district can be — in those same CD 26 precincts, Clinton beat Trump by 18 points, a marginal swing of 31 points.

In the fall, Republicans carried this seat by 10 points, as then state Rep. Frank Artiles defeated then-state Sen. Dwight Bullard in an entirely new seat created by the court-mandated redistricting in 2015-16.

If you talk to Florida observers, you will get a lot of reasons why Bullard lost by this margin, but one interesting point in the data, the percentages that Bullard received are almost identical to the percentages that CD 26 Democratic nominee Joe Garcia received in the precincts that they shared. In fact, in 75 or the 92 identical precincts between the seats, the two Democrats saw their share deviate by less than 3 percent. In other words, it is fair to say that the Bullard/Garcia numbers are the Democratic floor in SD 40.

Along the same lines, the Rubio race might be a better view of the GOP ceiling in the race than either of the races above. Rubio/Patrick Murphy was more of a truly “contested” race — particularly when compared to the aforementioned state Senate and congressional campaigns. And in all honesty, Murphy still wasn’t running at the same levels as Rubio, who by and large, ran as a Miami hometown hero. The fact Rubio only won by four in this seat truly shows how much has changed in Miami-Dade County over the last decade.

This seat was destined to be a battleground seat in 2018, but the incumbent Artiles was forced to resign this spring (like most Florida political messes, it is quite a story — you can Google the details if you wish), setting up this 2017 showdown.

Tuesday’s primary left us with a general election between Republican state Rep. Jose Felix ‘Pepi’ Diaz, and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo. Both have interesting Trump-era stories — Diaz was on The Apprentice, and Taddeo, a 2016 Congressional candidate, was a victim of the Russian hacking.

In full disclosure, both are friends: Taddeo was Charlie Crist‘s LG nominee (I was an adviser to Crist), and Diaz and I are both active in a nonpartisan international political exchange organization.

In their primary, Republicans chose right. Diaz is a well-liked and earnest legislator, who is generally considered to be a moderate in his party. For example, he took on many in his own party to lead the fight in Tallahassee to remove a Florida statue of a Confederate General from the U.S. Capitol, and he led an effort to expand children’s health care for immigrants. Diaz fits the mold of the type of Republican who can (and do) succeed in districts like this in South Florida.

The Democrats also chose the stronger of their two candidates. Taddeo, is an energetic and engaging candidate, who has truly lived the American Dream immigrant story — coming to America in her teens, learning English, putting herself in college, and building a very successful small business. She’s been on the ballot several times, running for Congress as a Hispanic Democrat in Dade long before that was the politically smart thing to do, but in doing so, has built a strong network among Democratic donors and activists.

In my humble view, this race comes down to basically two competing factors/questions:

Money and Organization.

Can the Democrats compete with the GOP’s financial and organizational advantages? As longtime readers know, I have been frustrated by my party’s lack of work to build a sustaining bench in Dade. One of the reasons why the GOP has been able to stem the tide down ballot in Miami-Dade is the literal talent pipeline and turnout operation that they’ve built. To this point, 3,000 more Republicans than Democrats voted in Tuesday’s primary. This is essentially a home game for the GOP, and there is a reason why the oddsmakers give home teams an edge. Along the same lines, I don’t think Taddeo can survive being outspent 2 or 3 to 1 — so whether grassroots and institutional Democrats step up to help close the money gap will go a long way to determining if the party can overcome the other factors.

Trump … Trump … Trump.

The counter balance to point one is the question of Trump, and that question itself has many layers. Does Trump drive base Democratic grassroots money and vote? Does Trump’s immigration decisions drive non-Cubans out to send a message — and/or, does Trump’s decision to stop Americans from recreationally traveling to Cuba drive enthusiasm with exile-era Cubans. NPA voters in this district tend to be more Democratic than in the rest of Florida — do they show up, and if they do, does Trump drive their vote? How Trump impacts the race isn’t a clear-cut question.

Sure, there are others — Can the Dems pick apart Diaz voting record effectively enough to disqualify him as a moderate? Is there Taddeo fatigue from her previous runs? How does the national Trumpcare debate impact the macro-level politics, or more specifically, the micropolitics of a district with high enrollment in the exchanges? And the big intangible: What crazy thing will happen in DC between now and late September, and what if anything will it mean? We all know something will happen, as surely it is the only thing we can bank on!

This is going to be a fun race to watch. Like all these special elections, it can be hard to draw too many conclusions from the outcome. That said, Dems have to prove they can win seats like this if there is a hope of winning a majority in the Senate anytime in the near future. Moreover, should the Dems win, they would have reason to be optimistic that more and more of these traditionally Miami Republican Hispanic districts both in the legislature and in Congress; and on the flipside if the GOP holds on, there is reason to believe there is still a very clear road map for moderate Republicans to carve out the necessary coalition to win these trending Democratic districts.

This is why you will see both sides go all-out.

Florida Senate District 40. Sept. 26, 2017. Put it on your radar.

Mary Barzee Flores enters race to succeed Illeana Ros-Lehtinen

Former state judge Mary Barzee Flores is the latest Democrat to run for the Congressional District 27 seat being vacated by Illeana Ros-Lehtinen next year.

“I’m running for Congress because I believe our politics and our politicians have gotten too small and the challenges we face are too big,” Barzee Flores said in a statement issued Wednesday. “I refuse to sit back and watch as tens of millions of Americans lose their health care, our public schools fall into ruin, our environment is ravaged, our heroes are neglected and disrespected, and our children’s futures are squandered away by stupidity and greed.”

A lifelong Miami resident, Barzee Flores spent 12 years working as a Federal Public Defender in the U.S. Southern District of Florida. In 2002, Mary left the Public Defenders office when she was elected, without opposition, to a seat on the Miami Circuit Court. After retiring from the bench in 2011, she was nominated by President Obama for a federal judgeship.

She never became a judge though after fellow Miami resident Marco Rubio blocked her nomination in the U.S. Senate. In her press release announcing her candidacy, Barzee Flores cites her past support for the ACLU and EMILY’s List, a group that elects pro-choice, women Democrats as reasons why.

Rubio said Barzee Flores wasn’t candid about her involvement in a case involving claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and that she wasn’t forthcoming enough about prior support for groups such as EMILY’s List. POLITICO reported last year that Rubio staffers said Barzee Flores gave conflicting answers about the groups to the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee and to the Judicial Nominating Commission, which recommends attorneys for the bench in Florida.

Other Republicans disagreed. Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Al Cardenas told POLITICO that Barzee Flores was “not a partisan pick.”

She enters an extremely crowded Democratic field in a seat that has been occupied by a Republican for the past 29 years. But CD 27 is a decidedly Democratic seat, with Hillary Clinton winning there by more than 20 points over Donald Trump in 2016.

State Representative David Richardson, state Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, Miami DEC member Michael Hepburn.

Dr. Maria Peiro is the only Republican to enter the contest.

The 27th includes all or portions of Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Key Biscayne, Miami, Miami Beach, Pinecrest, South Miami and Westchester.

Congressional hopeful Michael Hepburn boasts of already receiving more than 1,700 contributions

Illeana Ros-Lehtinen’s decision to not seek another term representing Florida’s 27th Congressional District has spurred six Democrats to enter the 2018 contest.

Among those Democrats is Michael A. Hepburn, a senior academic adviser for the School of Business at the University of Miami. He lost a 2014 primary election against Daphne Campbell for the state House.

Hepburn announced Monday that he has already received 1,780 contributions from more than 1,580 donors, though he did not announce his fundraising numbers.

“More people have contributed to our campaign in less than two months, than both of my opponents last political campaigns combined,” Hepburn said in reference to two of his opponents in the race, Miami Dade state Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez and Miami Beach commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez.

Rosen Gonzalez and Miami City commissioner Ken Russell both have raised more than $100,000 in the relatively nascent campaign, set in motion when Ros-Lehtinen announced in late April that after 29 years in office, she will not run for ree-lection in 2018.

Russell has not formally filed to run in the race. He tells the Miami Herald that he filed an exploratory committee to gauge interest. He began fundraising about four weeks ago.

State Rep. David Richardson and Mark Anthony Person fill out the Democratic field.

“I agree with the voters that I have met,” says Hepburn.”We simply do not need more millionaires or career politicians running to represent us. We also do not need more elected officials running for Congress, who choose not to honor their current commitments to the voters that have elected them.”

Republicans in the race include Miami-Dade County commissioner Bruno Barreiro, former Miami-Dade mayoral candidate and school board member Raquel Regalado and Maria Peiro.

Big get: Scott Fuhrman backing David Richardson in CD 27

Scott Furhman, the South Florida Democrat who ran in 2016 against Illena Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 27th Congressional District and considered running again this cycle, is endorsing state Representative David Richardson in next year’s contest.

“David is the kind of Democratic standard-bearer we need in this race right now,” Furhman said Thursday in a statement issued out by the Richardson campaign. “I know that we can count on him to fight for progressive and responsible solutions to the problems we face as a nation, as well as to stand up to the Trump administration’s harmful policies and alarming rhetoric. In Tallahassee, David has been on the right side of everything from equal rights to prison reform to gun safety to the environment. I’m excited to see him take a courageous stand for single-payer health care on day one. David gets thing done.”

Richardson, who has been representing Miami Beach and downtown Miami in the Florida House since 2012, recently announced a bid for the congressional seat that has been held by Ros-Lehtinen since 1988. She announced earlier this year she would not run for re-election next year.

The district tilts heavily Democratic, as Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump by more than 20 points last November.

“Scott’s belief in my ability to continue carrying that flag means the world to me and I am honored to have his support,” said Richardson.

Other Democrats who have entered the race include Miami state Senator José Javier Rodríguez; Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez; University of Miami academic adviser Michael Hepburn and Mark Anthony Person.

Maria Peiro is the lone Republican to enter the race.

Ben Albritton rolls out Charlotte County endorsements for SD 26 bid

Republican Rep. Ben Albritton announced endorsements from several Charlotte County officials for his campaign to take over for Senate District 26 Republican Denise Grimsley, who is running for Ag Commissioner in 2018.

Among the endorsements was a nod from Florida House colleague Mike Grant, and former Rep. Ken Roberson, whose time in the Legislature overlapped with Albritton’s for three 2-year terms.

“I have worked with Ben and know his integrity and commitment to doing public service the right way,” Grant said. “With Ben in the Florida Senate, his constituents can be confident they have someone in Tallahassee who will always put their best interest first.”

Roberson added that he was “convinced we can count on him in the Florida Senate.”

The HD 56 Republican also picked up support from Charlotte County Commissioners Ken Doherty, Joe Tiseo and Bill Truex, as well as Punta Gorda Mayor Rachel Keesling.

“Ben Albritton’s proven track record of thoughtful, conservative leadership makes him the clear choice for District 26 in the Florida Senate,” Truex said in a statement. “We know we can count on him to continue to treat his constituents with respect and make decisions that will benefit the people of Charlotte County.”

Albritton, a Wauchula resident, doesn’t currently represent Charlotte County, which is one of the more populous tracts in SD 26. His current seat covers DeSoto and Hardee counties as well as part of Polk, while SD 26 includes those areas, plus all of Highlands, Okeechobee and Glades counties as well as the Charlotte east of Interstate 75.

Albritton is currently the only candidate in the race and has been able to raise $46,700 for his campaign since filing for the seat in February. He has about $25,000 of that money on hand.

SD 26 is reliably Republican and would have voted 60-40 in favor of Mitt Romney back in 2012. President Donald Trump bested Hillary Clinton in the district by a 2-to-1 margin last year, while Grimsley went unopposed.

Analysis: Donald Trump remains unpredictable force among U.S. allies

On President Donald Trump’s second trip abroad, there were fewer of the bull-in-a-diplomatic-china-shop moments that had solidified European leaders’ skepticism during his maiden overseas tour. Less public berating of allies, no pushing to the front of photo opportunities.

But Trump still departed Europe on Saturday in the same position as he started: an unpredictable force on the world stage and an outlier among longtime American partners.

For the president’s backers, his posture is the fulfillment of his campaign promise to bring more opaqueness to American foreign policy and challenge long-standing global agreements, even with the nation’s closest allies. But his detractors say he keeps sending the world dangerously mixed messages.

“Our partners and our allies are all looking for meaning and intention in those words and will read into it what they want to, which may or may not be what Trump meant,” said Laura Rosenberger, a former foreign policy adviser to Hillary Clinton and a senior fellow with the German Marshall Fund.

Trump’s message on Russia remains the most convoluted, despite his advisers’ efforts to put to rest questions about his views on Moscow’s election meddling. The president refused to publicly give the kind of condemnation that his staff said he delivered to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a private meeting Friday. He let a challenge from Putin, who said Trump accepted his denial of Russian involvement in the 2016 election, go largely unanswered, tweeting Sunday morning that he’d “already given my opinion” on the matter.

Trump’s posture toward Putin has left allies both baffled and anxious, particularly against the backdrop of the investigations into whether his campaign coordinated with Russia during last year’s election. But increasingly, it’s Trump’s positions on climate and trade that have catapulted to the top of their list of concerns.

The divide over climate was particularly glaring as the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, drew to a close. The U.S. was the only member country that did not sign a statement reaffirming the alliance’s support for international efforts to fight global warming. The statement called the Paris climate accord, which Trump withdrew from last month, an “irreversible” global agreement.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Trump’s refusal to sign on to the statement was “regrettable.” French President Emmanuel Macron, who will host Trump on a quick trip to Paris this week declared: “There are major differences, growing differences between major powers. There is the emergence of authoritarian regimes and even within the Western world there are major divisions, uncertainties, instabilities, that didn’t exist just a few short years ago.”

But Trump and his allies appear to relish his volatility and isolation. Nile Gardiner, a foreign-policy analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation, which has close ties to the Trump White House, praised the president as “the most outspoken and unconventional U.S. president of modern time” and said he is still managing to articulate a “coherent doctrine and vision.”

Conservatives in the U.S. were indeed buoyed by Trump’s speech in Warsaw, Poland, which marked perhaps his most comprehensive articulation of how he views America’s role in the world. He praised Polish resilience and called upon Western nations to jointly combat forces that threaten “to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.”

The conservative editorial page at The Wall Street Journal called the address “Trump’s defining speech.”

Yet even as his Warsaw speech portrayed the world in stark terms, he offered an uneven message on Russia. In a news conference in Poland, the president acknowledged that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election, but he repeated his assertion that “other countries” may have done the same, a reference that appeared to let Putin off the hook.

Hours before his meeting with Putin, he tweeted that “everyone” at the G-20 was talking about why John Podesta, a top adviser to Clinton, had “refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!” Intelligence agencies concluded that both the Democratic National Committee and Podesta’s emails were hacked by Russians last year.

Trump has argued that Democrats are hyping Russia’s involvement in order to create an excuse for Clinton’s loss. His tweet about Podesta prompted the former top White House aide, who was driving with his wife on a cross-country trip, to respond that the president was a “whack job.”

“Dude, get your head in the game. You’re representing the US at the G-20,” Podesta wrote on Twitter.

Trump’s advisers hoped to turn the page on the matter following the president’s first meeting with Putin. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the only U.S. official who joined Trump in the meeting, said the president opened the discussion by “raising the concerns of the American people” on Russian interference in the election, describing it as a “very robust and lengthy exchange.”

Putin’s takeaway was different. He told reporters Saturday that he believed Trump accepted his denials of Russian meddling, but said it was best to ask the American president himself.

White House aides didn’t dispute the account. And the Sunday morning flurry of tweets from Trump did little to clarify.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine to hold re-election fundraiser in Sarasota July 23

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine visits Florida this month for a fundraiser in support his 2018 re-election bid.

Kaine will hold a cocktail reception beginning 5 p.m. Sunday, July 23, at The Francis, a special event venue in downtown Sarasota. Tickets for the cocktail reception start at a suggested contribution of $250, going up to $5,400 for a spot as event chair.

The former Democratic National Committee chair was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016 on a ticket that won Virginia by a larger margin than Barack Obama did in 2012. After Clinton’s loss, Kaine has remained a popular figure in state politics, previously serving as governor and mayor of Richmond. Since 2012, he has represented Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

Kaine serves on the Armed Services; Budget; Foreign Relations and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees.

Since the election, Kaine has been outspoken figure against Donald Trump, particularly on issues of education, climate change, and LGBTQ rights. He has referred to some of Trump’s antagonistic relationships with U.S. allies as “amateur hour stuff,” and decrying the president’s proposed Muslim travel ban as ineffective in easing America’s tensions with Iran and Iraq.

Last month, Kaine accused Trump of being “jealous” of former President Obama’s accomplishments, citing that as the reason he pulled out of the Paris climate accord.

“Why did Trump really walk away from #ParisAgreement? He’s surrounded by science deniers and fossil fuel junkies,” Kaine tweeted. “POTUS jealous of Obama accomplishments. But in the end, American innovative spirit is stronger than his insecurities.”

On Thursday, the Virginia Democrat was one of nearly 30 senators signing a letter to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, urging him to reinstate resources that protect LGBTQ people from housing discrimination. Those resources, which the Trump administration recently cut, help ensure enforcement of HUD nondiscrimination policies.

While Kaine’s popularity in his home state is holding firm — with a comfortable lead in most polling — he could face any one of several possible Republican contenders, including local and national figures such as former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, conservative commentator Laura Ingraham, former Gov. Jim Gilmore and former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Last weekend, state’s divided Republican Party narrowly voted to select Kaine’s Senate challenger through a primary process, which is friendlier to centrist voters, instead of what the Richmond Times-Dispatch called “a rowdier convention driven by conservative activists.”

RSVPs for the Sarasota event are with Renzo Werner at rwerner@cornerstone-strategic.com or (305) 308-8878. The Francis is at 1269 N Palm in Sarasota.

Florida will hand over some voting information to commission

The administration of Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday that it would hand over some voter information being sought by President Donald Trump‘s commission investigating allegations of voter fraud in the 2016 election.

But Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who was appointed by the Republican governor, wrote a letter to the vice chair of the commission saying that the state will only hand over information that is already considered a public record. This would include the names of voters, as well as information on whether they had voted in recent elections.

Detzner said in his letter that Florida law prohibits the state from turning over driver license information or Social Security numbers. He also said they would not turn over the names of voters whose information is currently confidential, such as judges, prosecutors or police officers.

“We are glad to continue following Florida’s public records law by providing the requested information to you that is publicly available,” Detzner wrote to Kris Kobach, the current Secretary of State from Kansas who is on the commission.

Detzner did add, however, that “the responsibility for the accuracy and fairness of our election process in Florida lies on us, not with the federal government in Washington.”

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity asked election officials across the country last week for voter information, including names, political party affiliation and voter history. The request included asking for the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers and any information on voters convicted of felony crimes.

The effort has triggered pushback across the country, including lawsuits, by critics who contend that the commission was created based on false claims of fraud. Trump, who created the commission through executive order in May, lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton but has alleged without evidence that up to 5 million people voted illegally.

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia are refusing to comply, while many others plan to provide the limited information that is public under their laws.

Democratic politicians in Florida had called on Scott – who has been a strong supporter of fellow Republican Trump – to reject the request from the commission.

Sen. Oscar Braynon, the leader of the Senate Democrats, said in a letter to Scott that turning over the voter information was a “blatant invasion of privacy and federal overreach.”

“It also begs the question of why this data is being sought in the first place, and whether voter suppression may be the ultimate goal,” wrote Braynon, whose letter was signed by other Senate Democrats.

Florida maintains a statewide voter database where a good deal of information is already public such as the names and addresses of most voters and their voter history, which shows when they voted, but not who they voted for. News organizations, political consultants and political parties routinely make public records requests for the information.

Detzner said in his letter to Kobach that the public portion of the database does not capture information on felonies.

But the state does routinely search to see if someone who is registered to vote has been convicted of a crime. That information is sent to local election officials, who have the ultimate decision on whether to remove someone from the voter rolls. Florida is one of a handful of states that does not allow former convicts to vote unless their rights have been restored by the state.

During his first term as governor, Scott came under fire for his push to trim the voter rolls of non-U.S. citizens. An initial voter purge initiated ahead of the 2012 elections found some ineligible voters, but it also wrongly identified U.S. citizens.

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