Jack Latvala Archives - Florida Politics

Jack Latvala has added $225,000 of committee cash so far in July

Possible gubernatorial candidate and Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala has brought in plenty of cash this month, according to a ledger of contributions available on his committee’s website.

The Senate Appropriations Chair has raised $225,000 so far in July through his political committee, “Florida Leadership Committee,” with the single largest contribution clocking in at $50,000 from Destin-based Sterling Diversified, LLC.

Donors at the $25,000 level included The Vestcor Companies and the FTBA Transportation PAC, while another seven groups chipped in $10,000 a piece.

The unofficial tally, which runs through July 20, also shows just shy of $60,000 in expenditures this month.

The top costs for FLC were a $10,000 payment to the Whitson Group for research, $8,300 to Champion Consultants for strategy consulting and $6,400 for event tickets through Orlando Event Center Enterprises.

FLC finished June with about $3.55 million on hand according to its most recent finance report, and through the first three weeks of July that total has grown to about $3.7 million.

The next deadline for finance reports, covering all of July, is Aug. 10.

Latvala said earlier this month that he would formally announce whether he is running for governor on Aug. 16.

If he put his hat in the ring, one of his Republican Primary opponents would be Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who has more than $10 million socked away in his own committee, “Florida Grown.”

Richard Corcoran proud of Trump’s efforts to crack down on undocumented immigrants

House Speaker Richard Corcoran is proud to hear the Trump administration is escalating crack down on undocumented immigrants is only going to crank up in the coming months, and he says the Legislature will attempt to do their part in 2018.

The Pasco County Republican, still very much contemplating a run for governor next year, issued a statement on Friday in response to comments made earlier this week by Thomas Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who said that illegal border crossings have dropped by almost 70 percent this year, allowing ICE agents to now target the more than 300-plus sanctuary cities and counties that have ignored ICE requests that they detail criminal undocumented immigrants for ICE arrest and deportation proceedings.

“The idea that a city decides what laws it will follow and what laws it will ignore should offend every American,” Corcoran said. “Politicians who believe they are above the law by adopting ‘sanctuary’ policies are violating their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.”

Corcoran notes that the Florida House passed Groveland Republican Larry Metz‘ “Rule of Law Adherence Act in the past legislative session. That bill would have required state and local governments and law enforcement agencies to assist and cooperate in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. It died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Testifying before Congress last month, Homan said that no illegal immigrant is safe from deportation, though the administration is prioritizing criminals, fugitives, threats to national security and those who illegally re-entered the U.S.

He went on to say that arresting any undocumented person is a good thing: “Most of the criminal aliens we find in the interior United States, they entered as a noncriminal. If we wait for them to violate yet another law against the citizens of this country, it’s late. We shouldn’t wait.”

Standing up against illegal immigration is popular among Republicans, especially those who vote in primary elections. If he were to enter the GOP gubernatorial primary for governor next year, it’s clear that Corcoran would take a tougher stance on the issue that either Adam Putnam or Jack Latvala, who was one of 21 co-sponsors of a sponsored a measure several years ago to offer in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants.

Florida Democrats slam Adam Putnam for Facebook comment about anti-NRA protest in Tampa

The Florida Democratic Party is taking Adam Putnam to task a day after the Agricultural Commissioner and gubernatorial nominee mocked an anti-National Rifle Association protest held in Tampa.

“Classic progressive move,” Putnam wrote on his Facebook page on Monday. “Desperate attempt to limit our 2nd Amendment rights.”

Listed below his comment was a link to a story that Florida Politics reported about Sunday, when more than 80 citizens marched in downtown Tampa against a provocative NRA television ad featuring conservative commentator Dana Loesch which progressive activists claim is a call for violence.

“The NRA’s recruitment video with Dana Loesch was meant to provoke fear and stoke the flames of division,” said Florida Democratic Party spokeswoman Johanna Cervone in a statement. “The activists in Tampa Bay were right to denounce this video for what it is–a dangerous incitement of violence. If Adam Putnam is endorsing this video, he’s encouraging violence against fellow Americans.

Not satisfied with accusing Putnam of only that charge, Cervone then asserted that perhaps the comment was meant to curry favor with conservatives in the Republican Party of Florida who are still evaluating his candidacy.

“Could Putnam be more transparent in his pandering to the far right?” Cervone asks. “It’s clear Putnam is more than a little insecure about his credentials as a conservative.”

Also chiming in to ding Putnam was Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor.

“Their ad was despicable and we know what its true intentions are – to tear us apart and divide us,” Gillum said.”But in a year after the Pulse Nightclub tragedy, and losing law enforcement officers in the line of duty in Orlando, we’ve stood together and become stronger. It’s a shameful day when someone who wants to lead our state stands behind such violent, divisive rhetoric, and against commonsense gun protections for Floridians.”

The protest on Sunday in Tampa was similar to other demonstrations which took place over the weekend in Washington D.C. and other U.S. cities that were organized by gun control groups.

As of noon on Tuesday, Putnam’s comment had generated 159 other comments on his Facebook page.

“It is well within these individuals rights to protest, regardless if we agree with them or not,” wrote Taylor Dupree Brewington. “I am a staunch 2nd amendment supporter—but Adam Putnam, remember that if you really want to be governor, these “progressives” are your constituents too, and it is your civic duty to represent them.”

But there were plenty of other people who cheered his comment.

“All these guys have left; is Classic Moves,” writes Victor Salichs. “It’s a constant barrage of the same obvious tactics; in order to make common sense into something meaningless. They are constantly feeding this to their followers; so that they will have a covey of people, who will simply do what they tell them, without question.”

Putnam is the only major Republican candidate currently running for governor at the moment, but the field could get more crowded in the coming months.

Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala said over the weekend he would make an announcement regarding his potential candidacy on August 16, while House Speaker Richard Corcoran continues to raise funds for a potential run as well.

Ed Hooper endorsed by Florida Professional Firefighters

Ed Hooper has received the endorsement of Florida’s Professional Firefighters.

The organization announced during its 73rd annual convention in Sarasota this week it was backing Hooper, a Clearwater Republican, in his Senate District 16 race in 2018. In a statement, Jim Tolley, the organization’s president and CEO, said it was honored to have worked with Hooper during his time in the Florida House and looked forward to the “same relationship in the Florida Senate.”

“We are excited to have a firefighter in the Florida Senate. Your 24-year career in the fire service, as well as your service on the Clearwater City Council, gives you unique insight into the needs of today’s fire service,” said Tolley. “We believe that you will continue to faithfully serve the citizens of Florida as a Florida Senator. Likewise, your leadership will serve the interests of the Fire and Emergency Medical Services and the men and women who have made the protection of life and property their life’s work.”

Hooper is vying to replace Sen. Jack Latvala in the Florida Senate in 2018. Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, can’t run for re-election because of term limits.

Jack Latvala pledges to raise $50K over next six months to Florida GOP

Sen. Jack Latvala is stepping up to help the Republican Party of Florida, and he’s calling on others to follow his lead.

The Clearwater Republican took to Twitter on Wednesday to say he plans to raise $25,000 to the Florida GOP in both the third and fourth quarter, for a total of $50,000 in the final six months of 2017. Latvala, a prolific fundraiser, then challenged others to match it.

The pledge, and subsequent challenge, comes on the heels of dismal second quarter fundraising numbers for the state party.

State records show the Republican Party of Florida raised $338,942 between April 1 and June 30. The three-month fundraising period pales in comparison to previous fundraising periods by the Republican Party of Florida. The Florida GOP raised more than $4.1 million in the second quarter of 2016; one year earlier it raised more than $1.9 million in the same three-month fundraising period.

State campaign finance records dating back to 1996 show this year’s quarterly numbers are the the lowest in more than two decades. Records show the next lowest fundraising period was Nov. 1, 1996 and Dec. 31, 1996, when the party reported raising $572,531. There were three fundraising periods, state records show, where the state party reported raising no money.

POLITICO Florida reported that after the numbers were released, some party members took aim at Blaise Ingoglia, the party chairman and a Spring Hill state representative. According to the report, party officials encouraged state committee members not to lash out publicly and instead discuss “things like a family.”

On Wednesday, Latvala, who is mulling a 2018 gubernatorial bid, tweeted that Ingoglia called him to ask for money for the state party. After he read the party raised the lowest amount in decades, Latvala wrote that he decided to do his part.

“I’m stepping up,” he tweeted. “$25K this quarter. $25K next quarter. Challenge others to match.”

Latvala’s political committee, Florida Leadership Committee, raised $458,303 between April 1 and June 30. Records show his committee raised $410,649 between June 1 and June 30.


Bob White wants to give GOP voters an alternative in governor’s race

For Florida Republicans unsure who to support for governor in 2018, Bob White wants to give them a staunchly conservative alternative.

One might add ‘libertarian’ as well: White chairs the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida, which is “dedicated to working within the Republican Party to advance the principles of individual rights, limited government and free markets,” its website says.

The Florida GOP has occupied the Governor’s Mansion for nearly two decades. Several candidates — both officially and unofficially — hope to keep it that way:

— Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has more than $11 million cash-on-hand for his run and is the acknowledged front-runner.

— State Sen. Jack Latvala is all but in the race, crisscrossing the state to accept awards and gather contributions.

— There’s also talk of U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis joining the field, while House Speaker Richard Corcoran says he won’t announce his 2018 ambitions until next year, but he continues to dominate the headlines and raise beaucoup bucks for his political committee.

So where does White fit into all of this?

The 60-year-old Suntree resident (that’s in Brevard County) has become another official candidate in the 2018 sweepstakes.

White says that, in a divided field, many Republican primary voters don’t want the “same old.” That, he believes, makes him a serious player.

“I’m predicting that somebody’s going to win the Republican primary with less than 30 percent of the vote,” he said Friday in Tampa. “And that means anything can happen. So we just gotta find a way to organize the grassroots to get them motivated to get out there and help us.”

Yes, White is optimistic. But he’s also angry about some injustices. And as anyone who runs such a quixotic campaign must be, he’s also an optimist.

Rock-solid conservative on issues like abortion, Medicaid expansion, and the escalating national debt, his platform is enacting serious campaign finance reform. That’s not something you’re likely to hear from political insiders Putnam, Latvala or Corcoran.

“I’m not going to be one of the big money candidates in this race, and that’s intentional,” he said. White is focusing on running against dark money and special interest contributions that he believes are fundamentally destroying the voice of the people in Florida’s legislative process.

“We’ve got to find a way to make that message, to get that message out because it resonates everywhere we go, every person we talk to about that issue agrees with us 100 percent and they become very fast supporters of ours,” he said.

White was speaking in a small studio at WMNF radio in Tampa, part of a local media blitz that included interviews with other radio and TV stations in the region as he begins the slog of a statewide campaign with virtually no name recognition (outside of the confines of the Liberty Caucus, which has about 1,500 members statewide).

While Putnam remains the big dog in the race, White said the Lakeland native is extremely vulnerable as the living definition of a “career politician” (the soon-to-turn 43-year-old Putnam has served in politics literally half his life).

Putnam is also vulnerable on some key votes during his tenure in Congress that he says will be fresh meat for attack from all other potential candidates. “It is going to be very difficult for him,” White predicts.

White admires Corcoran (who has accepted an invitation to speak at a Liberty Caucus’ Constitution Day Dinner event in September), but slams the Speaker as being somewhat hypocritical in declaring victory over Gov. Rick Scott in the Session-long battle to defund Enterprise Florida, the public-private state agency that the governor said was crucial to retain to recruit companies to come to Florida.

After it was all said and done, the Florida Legislature ended up funding $85 million this year to create what is known as the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund within the Department of Economic Opportunity.

The fund will finance projects that fit broad criteria to help targeted industries: rural infrastructure, transportation projects for local governments and individual training programs at state colleges and technical schools. There are no restrictions on how to disperse grant money, except that it “shall not be used for the exclusive benefit of any single company, corporation, or business entity.”

Nothing in the legislation requires an audit. There are no application requirements, no job metrics and no mandate that the project show it is developing jobs.

“Richard Corcoran was actually against corporate welfare until he was for corporate welfare,” quipped White in evaluating what went down with Enterprise Florida this year. He said the new law essentially creates a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) for the entire state of Florida, “with an $85 million budget, and a board of directors of one.”

White supported Rand Paul for president last year, but said Donald Trump had done a good job in his first six months in office, notwithstanding his present coverage.

“I would prefer it if he would just lighten up on the tweets if would stop personalizing it as much as he is. He needs to be I think to a certain extent, he needs … to raise the level of the debate on a lot of these issues  and not take the bait that’s being put out there, but he’s got his own personality, he’s got his own way of doing business, he’s going to have to continue to do his own thing.”

Jeff Brandes, Dana Young endorse Ed Hooper

Republican state Sens. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg and Dana Young of Tampa on Friday endorsed former state Rep. Ed Hooper in his quest to replace Clearwater Sen. Jack Latvala, who is term-limited in 2018.

Brandes called Hooper “a true advocate for his community … thoughtful, collaborative, and trusted.”

“These are some of the best qualities in a Senator and I’m happy to endorse him in his campaign for the State Senate,” he said. “He will help make Florida a more prosperous state for generations to come.”

Added Young, who left the House for the Senate last year: “As a former colleague of Ed’s, I can tell you from firsthand experience that he is a true leader and highly respected. I know he will make an excellent Senator and represent the people of Pinellas and Pasco counties with dignity and honor.”

Hooper said he was “honored” by the endorsements. Senate District 16 includes northern Pinellas and part of southwestern Pasco.

“They’ve set an example of how to work together to seek common sense and innovative solutions to Florida’s challenges,” he said. “Their continued leadership will make Florida a better place to live, work, visit, and retire.”

Hooper, a retired fire Lieutenant, served on the Clearwater City Council before spending eight years in the Florida House. He was term-limited in 2014. His only declared opposition is Democrat Bernie Fensterwald.

Carol Dover: Thank you, Florida leaders, for your hospitality

This Legislative Session was a tumultuous one, with several lawmakers holding to their convictions, refusing to negotiate, but in the end, compromise prevailed.

Thankfully, in the final hours of the Special Session, legislative leaders realized the unparalleled value of tourism to our state’s overall economy. By allocating $76 million of funding for VISIT FLORIDA, Florida will continue to elevate itself as the leading destination for travelers.

The state’s critical investment will continue Florida’s momentum as the world’s leading travel destination and promote growth that will create employment opportunities across a variety of sectors.

Tourism is the lifeblood of Florida’s economy and this significant support from our state leaders goes a long way to keeping our economy strong.

Gov. Rick Scott was relentless and steadfast in his support of our industry’s 1.4 million employees. Leaders in the Florida House and Florida Senate heard the voices of the constituents in their districts and came together to fund VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing efforts.

Sen. Jack Latvala ensured matching fund calculations were defined and protected local tourist development tax funds from being used as matching funds.

I’m proud of our 10,000 members who served as unyielding advocates for issues impacting the hospitality industry. This challenge presented an opportunity to engage our passionate ambassadors of the tourism and now it’s time to celebrate a victory well earned.

While extremely grateful, it is important to remain cautious.

Our industry’s work is far from finished and we must continue to educate our local, state and federal elected leaders. Tourism is the economic engine of the Sunshine State, with visitors in 2015 spending $108.8 billion, averaging $300 million per day. And with 113 million visitors in 2016, Florida is well on its way to becoming the No.1 travel destination in the world.

VISIT FLORIDA has been given the opportunity to hit the reset button on the way it operates. Now that we’ve been through the trenches, it’s time for our industry partners to get to work! VISIT FLORIDA’s has set an ambitious goal of 120 million visitors to our state in 2017. To get there, we must all work together to welcome tourists to our incredible state.


Carol Dover is President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) and serves on the board of directors for VISIT FLORIDA.


Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri backs Ed Hooper in SD 16

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is throwing his support behind Ed Hooper.

Gualtieri announced Thursday he was endorsing Hooper in the race to replace Sen. Jack Latvala in Senate District 16. Gualtieri said Hooper’s “real-world, first-hand insight” will serve him — and Florida voters — well in the Florida Senate.

“For as long as I’ve known Ed Hooper he has been a staunch supporter of our law enforcement and first responder community,” he said. “His background as a firefighter gives him a unique perspective on the daily sacrifices of our men and women in uniform who protect and serve our neighbors.”

Hooper, a former state representative and former member of the Clearwater City Council, said he was pleased to have “one of the most proactive, engaged Sheriffs in the country” on his campaign team.

“Sheriff Gualtieri’s passion for protecting citizens is on display each and every day. He is constantly in our neighborhoods and communities getting feedback from residents and engaging with his deputies to keep our streets safe and morale high,” said Hooper. “I’m grateful for Bob’s generous support, and I look forward to working with him here in Pinellas County and in Tallahassee.”

Latvala can’t run for re-election in 2018 because of term limits.

Jack Latvala: ‘It is very possible I end up announcing something in the near future’

Sen. Jack Latvala didn’t use an appearance at the Tiger Bay Club of Southwest Florida to announce a 2018 gubernatorial bid.

Then again, he didn’t use it to quash any rumors about his plans for the future.

“We have several members of the press here today, so if I was to specifically make an announcement, then there wouldn’t be a reason for them to come to an announcement if I had one,” said the Clearwater Republican when asked what was in his future.

“I will say this: I have been involved in government in Tallahassee for a long time. I think I know the good and the bad, how many things happen and how to solve problems,” he said. “As I look at being term limited in the Senate, I obviously think about giving it a go and seeing what I can do. It is very possible I end up announcing something in the near future.”

Latvala, the chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, is believed to be considering a run for governor in 2018. If he decides to run, he’ll join Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the GOP race to replace Gov. Rick Scott. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and House Speaker Richard Corcoran are also believed to be considering a run.

 “If I do it, it’s going to be based on the same principles that I’ve conducted myself. There might be some yelling, but mostly how I conduct myself is straight talk,” he said. “If people ask me a question, I give an answer. If I give somebody my word, I keep it. I work hard, and I think that’s what we need to have in our public officials at every level. I’m not going to be the best looking candidate, I’m not gonna be the slimmest candidate, but I think there’s not many jobs in government that I couldn’t do.”

When asked was going into making his final decision, Latvala said it wasn’t as much about making the final decision, but having enough time to make sure he could tell everyone he’s worked with over the years what his decision will be.

“There’s a lot of preparation that goes into it,” he said. “I want to do it right.”

While Latvala’s political future was on many people’s mind Wednesday, it wasn’t the only reason Latvala attended the Tiger Bay Club of Southwest Florida’s meeting. He was also on hand to discuss the 2017 Legislative Session, as well as the special session that followed.

Latvala called the 2017 Session “the worst one” in his years in the Legislature.

“We had, without a doubt, a tough session this year. By far, it was the worst one in my opinion. It was the least fun,” he said. “I think people are letting egos get in the way of their good judgement. They’re worried about their owned advancement, they’re worried about their own philosophy.”

Still, Latvala pointed to some achievements during the 2017 Session, including a legislation backed by Senate President Joe Negron to build additional water storage south of Lake Okeechobee, which will help alleviate discharges into the Calooshatchee River. He also touted money for beach renourishment projects and pay raises for state workers, both of which were personal priorities during the 2017 Legislative Session.

And Latvala said he was among those members who were concerned with the way the Session ended, with several big bills being negotiated behind the scenes.

“I hope we learned our lesson,” he said. “I think the Senate is not doing thing that way next year, people expect us to debate things on merit.”


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