Jeb Bush Archives - Page 3 of 148 - Florida Politics

Will Weatherford’s decision enhances, not removes, future options

I think Will Weatherford’s just-announced decision not to run for governor in 2018 merely delays the inevitable. I believe he will be Florida’s governor eventually, and that will be a good thing.

Weatherford, the Land O’Lakes Republican, is a smart, articulate, center-right conservative in the Jeb Bush tradition. He has a strong legislative resume, including a turn as House Speaker. At age 37, he also is young enough that he can afford to wait eight years, which is another way of saying “Merry Christmas, Adam Putnam.”

The sea certainly does seem to be parting among Republicans for Putnam to make his move on the governor’s mansion. Florida CFO Jeff Atwater has shown no appetite for the job. Attorney General Pam Bondi is more likely targeted for a job in Washington.

Weatherford would have been a formidable challenger, but says his top concern right now is family.

He has four children – the oldest is 8, the youngest is 2. Last year he and his brothers Drew and Sam launched Weatherford Partners, a venture capital group, and serves as managing partner. Tellingly, he did not fall into the Republican conga line in the presidential race. He said he did not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

His decision to sit out the governor’s race this time removes a lot of drama, for sure. Weatherford and Putnam are pals, but so were Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and we saw how that went.

If Weatherford had gotten into the race, it could have gotten bloody for Republicans. Having two candidates as strong and well-known as Putnam and Weatherford could have split the party, but what this does is increase the likelihood of a Putnam coronation for the nomination.

It allows Putnam to stay low-key for the next year or so, stockpiling cash and support while waiting for the Democrat slugfest between Gwen Graham (assuming her husband’s prostate cancer doesn’t worsen) and possibly Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Weatherford can campaign now for Putnam, and wouldn’t a photo of the two of them together on a platform make for a mighty fine poster for Republicans?

Weatherford will need to find a way to stay in the public eye. As he saw with Jeb Bush, sitting on the sidelines for too long in politics means someone else is getting all the headlines. A cabinet job or gubernatorial appointment to a public post could both keep him in the news and allow him to tend to family matters.

Deciding for now to wait doesn’t remove Weatherford’s options. If anything, it enhances them. If his aim is to one day sit in the governor’s chair – and, really, why wouldn’t it be – then stepping back now doesn’t hurt his chances one bit.

Erin Gaetz launches her own digital content firm

Erin Gaetz is paving her own way, but don’t expect her to veer too far from the family business.

Gaetz, the 31-year-old daughter of former Senate President Don Gaetz and sister of Congressman-elect Matt Gaetz, recently launched her own digital content firm, Southpaw Content. The firm specializes in producing faster, more engaging and less expensive social media and digital content.

Or, as she puts it: No dopey ads of candidates standing around a factory and pointing.

“After the experience on the Jeb campaign, I thought a lot about video,” she said. “It’s great if you’re in a big presidential campaign or (statewide) race, and you have a ton of money and can hire (a team) for a shoot. But I started to think about the scalability of video. Can you make something just as professional without 20 sound guys and the consultant (costs)?”

That’s exactly what she’s trying to do.

As the director of digital content for Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential bid, she wrote, produced and created digital content for the campaign. That included those quirky “#JebNoFilter” videos and a 2-minute documentary-style video highlighting the former governor’s connection to a Charlotte County community devastated by Hurricane Charley.

When her brother ran in Florida’s 1st Congressional District earlier this year, she grabbed her camera and MacBook and started producing videos for his campaign. While there were more traditional political ads, she also produced several untraditional digital segments, like the “Open Gaetz” feature.

“I think you need hooks and you need more fun,” she said.

One of the benefits Southpaw Content can offer clients is the quick turnaround time, she said. Since she’s handling every step of the process, the firm can help clients quickly turn over a new ad, react to a hot issue, or send a message to supporters.

As for those clients, she’s already lining them up. She’s already doing work for Republican Reps. Neal Dunn and Dan Webster.

“I’m working with everyone from current governors to just elected members of the House to universities that really want to build out digital projects and do it in a way that’s cost effective and fun,” she said.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering where the name came from: She’s a lefty.

Joe Henderson to the Palm Beach Post: Are you freaking crazy?

In 2003, then-Gov. Jeb Bush punished reporters from the Tallahassee bureau of the Palm Beach Post by canceling their invitation to his year-end interview session.

His staff cited the “unprofessional behavior” while dealing with some of Bush’s officials, but the paper suspected it was in retaliation for critical reporting on Bush’s pet school vouchers program. I’m betting on the latter.

As a career newspaper guy until my own paper, The Tampa Tribune, folded in May, I always admired the Post. At its peak, this award-winning newspaper was top-to-bottom one of the best in the land.

That is why I ask this question now to the owners and operators of the Post:

Are you freaking crazy?

That’s a rhetorical question, I know. But it seems apropos after last week’s announcement that the Post will close its Tallahassee bureau. We found out about that from the Facebook page of the Post’s Tally reporter, John Kennedy. He was announcing his own layoff.

“The paper’s future is local and digital, and coverage of the goings-on in the state Capitol don’t meld as well with this direction,” he wrote.

Those words could be on the tombstone of many newspapers that abandoned their own strengths in search of click-bait. Papers throughout the state have decided that all that complicated stuff coming out of Tallahassee is boring to the younger generation and doesn’t bring the digital bang for the buck that newspapers chase in the hope it will bring in enough cash to keep them going.

They’re screwing over readers they do have but declining circulation and readership numbers show they aren’t attracting new ones. Why do you think that is?

They keep trying to reinvent the wheel when what they ought to do is realize that nothing generates clicks like real news. We used to see it all the time at the Tribune on our digital site, TBO.com. If there was a big breaking news story, site traffic would spike and readers became engaged.

Whoever ultimately decides at papers like the Post to go without that news is chasing fool’s gold. They either don’t understand or don’t care that real stories happen because of dedicated and plugged-in reporters who find out stuff that governors and presidents would prefer they didn’t know.

Instead of engaging the public with hard news, publishers push in their chips on dubious strategies like page redesigns and marketing slogans. To cut costs, they lay off reporters and decide, as Kennedy so aptly penned, “coverage of the goings-on in the state Capitol don’t meld” with the modern newspaper.

Then they call a staff meeting or send out a memo and moan about the “tough decisions” they had to make. What they should do is apologize to readers for shirking their responsibility to inform the public what the top elected officials in Florida are doing.

There are a few papers that still do it right. The Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald have combined forces in Tallahassee for several years. The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville has been aggressive.

I was at the Tribune when bosses decided coverage in the state capital was a luxury (while maintaining two full-time reporters on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – although, I can promise you that wasn’t the feeling in the newsroom. Top editors fought to regain our presence in Tallahassee by hiring Jim Rosica and, later, Jeff Schweers. But the overall trend isn’t good.

Besides the Post, FloridaPolitics.com reported Gatehouse Media, which owns the Sarasota Herald-Tribune among its nine daily newspapers in the state, closed its Tally bureau recently.

Reporters at that level are the firewall between citizens and politicians who don’t have the public’s best interests in mind. They are the one who make sure the pet projects from top leaders aren’t another effort to line someone’s pocket with public cash.

When newspapers decide that’s no longer important enough to have someone on the scene every day, the public isn’t the only loser. When you take the “news” out newspapers, all that’s left is a bird-cage liner.

Mitch Perry Report for 12.8.16 – Al Gore gets punk’d

For the #NeverTrumper Republicans out there, this Trump presidency might work out pretty well, after all.

Jeb Bush was seen doing cartwheels after Trump selected Betty DeVos to become his Secretary of Education.

“I’m so excited,” Bush said last week at the National Summit on Education Reform, sponsored by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which Bush founded and chairs and on which DeVos serves as a board member.

“President-elect Trump made an extraordinary choice with Betsy DeVos,” he added.

Similar hosannas are being thrown out today from the business community and Jim Inhofe’s of the world regarding The Donald’s choice of noted climate change denialist Scott Pruitt to serve as his EPA secretary.

Pruitt, the Attorney General of Oklahoma, wrote in National Review in May that “the debate is far from settled” over whether human activity has contributed to the warming of the earth.
I’m wondering how Al Gore is feeling today about that?

On Monday, the former Vice President traveled to Trump Tower to discuss climate change with Ivanka Trump, but instead got face time with the soon to be most powerful man in the world.

“I had a lengthy and very productive session with the president-elect,” he told reporters afterward, describing the meeting as “a sincere search for areas of common ground.

“I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued. And I’m just going to leave it at that,” he added.

He didn’t quite leave it at that, going on MSNBC later today that Ivanka “is very committed to having a climate policy that makes sense for our country and for our world, and that was certainly evident in the conversation that I had with her.”

There have been other clues that Trump’s team will lean closer towards Pruitt’s view of the world that Ivanka’s.

The head of his EPA transition team is Myron Ebell, who has never believed in the idea of global warming.

Democrats like Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders are talking tough about Pruitt when it comes to his confirmation pick.

As Gore would say, to be continued.

In other news…

The blowback has been intense in some quarters regarding Monday night’s Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee meeting. Hillsborough County School Board head April Griffin now says that DEC Chair Ione Townsend blocked her path to challenging her for the chair position a year ago. Townsend says she was just following the rules.

Following the Florida House of Representatives vote last month, Hillsborough County Commissioners may pass their own version of a no texting while lobbying bill.

And that idea that Les Miller had last month to rotate who gets to serve as the chairman of the Board of County Commissioners? Forget all that, please.

Jeb Bush to align with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney law firm as strategic consultant

Jeb Bush is bringing his star power to the law firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney in a strategic affiliation through his firm Jeb Bush & Associates.

The two-term Florida governor and former presidential candidate will be providing expertise as a consultant to the firm and its clients, according to a statement by the firm first shared with FloridaPolitics.com.

“This move adds to our firm’s distinguished reputation as a leader in providing strategic advice on government, regulatory and business matters,” said Buchanan CEO Joseph Dougherty. “There are very few people that have the breadth of experience that Governor Bush has both in the public and private sector. We believe his insight will be a tremendous asset to our attorneys and clients.”

“Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is an outstanding adviser to its clients, and I look forward to collaborating with them,” Bush said. “We live in a complex business and political environment, and I believe that putting my knowledge and experience together with Buchanan’s professional acumen will help Buchanan’s clients grow and prosper.”

In his new role, Bush — who will not be lobbying — will focus primarily on guidance for issues concerning Florida, the state he led as governor from 1999 to 2007.

“Those of us who have had the pleasure of working with the Governor in the past now have the opportunity to do so again, and those who haven’t can look forward to a truly rewarding experience. This is an exciting development for the firm and for our clients,” said longtime Bush friend and adviser John “Mac” Stipanovich, who chairs Buchanan’s Florida Government Relations practice.

In a way, the new partnership is somewhat of a homecoming for Bush.

Bush was a key surrogate when Stipanovich served as Florida’s executive director for the Reagan-Bush 1984 campaign. He was also Secretary of Commerce when Stipanovich was working as chief of staff. In a friendship that spans more than 30 years, Stipanovich served as a senior adviser during Bush’s unsuccessful 1994 gubernatorial bid.

Buchanan principal Mike Harrell was Bush’s golf partner on Sundays for the eight years while governor and was behind the initiative to bring the two firms together. Kim McGlynn is another Bush alum; she was on staff in the campaign headquarters for both 1990 and 1994. Jim Magill also was on staff for two sessions in Bush’s second term, after having done advance work on all three campaigns.

Bush brings to the firm a long, successful record both in the public and private sectors.

Beginning his career with various roles at the Texas Commerce Bank, Bush moved to Florida and served as the state’s Secretary of Commerce from 1987 to 1988. After a successful run as Florida’s 43rd Governor, Bush returned to private consulting with Jeb Bush & Associates. During his presidential campaign this summer, Bush touted his strong economic record, where Florida added more than 1.3 million jobs and reduced taxes by $19 billion during his watch. When he left office in 2007, the state’s economy had grown by 7.2 percent and its unemployment rate was only 3.4 percent.

In 2015, Bush launched a bid for The White House. Although he raised an impressive war chest, he dropped out of the Republican presidential primary after the South Carolina primary in February.

Earlier this year, Bush announced he would teach a 10-day elective course on governmental leadership at Texas A&M.

Bush is the founder of the Foundation for Florida’s Future, a nonprofit public policy organization, as well as the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a nonprofit charitable think tank to develop solutions for improving education in the U.S. He also chaired the Board for the National Constitution Center, a Philadelphia-based institution for research and education on the U.S. Constitution.

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC employs nearly 500 attorneys and government relations professionals in 17 offices nationwide. The firm provides advice and guidance in a broad range of areas: health care, financial services and banking, litigation, intellectual property, labor and employment, real estate, corporate and business law, tax, energy and government relations.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Martin Dyckman: On Jeb Bush’s relevance

Aiming to regain some relevance in the Republican Party, Jeb Bush argues that it should show voters that it stands “for a few a big ideas” rather than only for things to vote against.

Regrettably, four specific ideas that he proposed in a Nov. 24 Wall Street Journal op-ed are not simply big but bad.

“Republicans should support convening a constitutional convention to pass term limits, a balanced budget amendment and restraints on the Commerce Clause, which has given the federal government far more regulatory powers than the Founders intended,” he wrote.

By far the worst is the notion of calling a constitutional convention to pass anything. The Constitution obliges the Congress to call one upon the request of 34 states, but it says nothing about how delegates would be chosen or whether the agenda could be limited to any one issue or set of issues. The uncertainties are so potentially dangerous that this method of amendment has never gone far.

A convention could call for scrapping the entire Constitution, replacing it with we know not what.

The Constitution itself is the product of a convention that was called to revise, not replace, the feeble Articles of Confederation.

That was progress. In the current sour national mood, would a convention respect what’s good about the Constitution — the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary? Or would it reward the authoritarian instincts of an incoming president who has no respect for any of that?

Just this week, our budding dictator called for revoking the citizenship of people who burn the flag. Never mind that it’s the approved method for disposing of one that’s tattered or soiled.

Could a convention abolish the Electoral College? No, because there are not 38 states that would ratify such an amendment.

Would convention delegates be elected or appointed by the state legislatures, which are so badly gerrymandered as to be essentially unrepresentative? If delegates were to be elected, would the Koch Brothers and their big-money allies effectively buy themselves a convenient Constitution?

Bush’s suggestion of a convention as a means to term limits looks like a deep knee-bend to Donald Trump. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has already told Trump to forget about that one.

“We have term limits now. They’re called elections,” says McConnell. For once, I agree with him.

Senate elections can be brutally competitive—we’ve just seen some—except in the most extremely red or blue states. Everywhere, party primaries can and do dispose of seemingly entrenched senators. Indiana’s Richard Lugar comes to mind. As The Washington Post has noted, 64 of the 100 senators have been there less than 10 years, and slightly more than half the 435-member House are new since 2008.

House elections are not nearly as competitive as they should be, but that’s because of gerrymandering. The federal courts are finally showing signs of doing something about that.

The term limits initiative that Bush’s buddy Phil Handy foisted on Florida in 1992 ranks as the second worst mistake — behind secession — the state ever made. It did little to promote more turnover. It made the Legislature worse, dumbing it down and leaving it weaker against the lobbyists, its leadership and the executive branch.

If it weren’t for term limits, Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd—widely disliked but still powerful—could not have said, as he did in 2004, that his members were “like sheep, waiting for someone to tell them what to do.”

The damage works this way: Having only eight years to make their marks in the House or Senate, new members must follow the leaders or their bills won’t be heard and they will never become committee chairs.

In older, better days, legislators could dare to be independent in the knowledge that they could outlast unfriendly leaders. That was true of some who went on to become speakers and Senate presidents themselves. But now, in the House, a future speakership can be nailed down by a freshman who has not yet shown any good judgment or any other leadership quality.

“If you’ve sided with the wrong people, you’re in the doghouse or in the mid-tier, you are more likely to get attracted to any open county commission seat,” departing Sen. Daniel Webster told the Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas in 2008.

Klas calculated that only 31 legislators remained from the 83 who had been elected when term limits disposed of their predecessors eight years earlier. But only five of the 83 had been voted out of office before their time ran out.

Although term limits have increased competition for open seats, they seem to be discouraging opposition to incumbents. Potential challengers wonder, reasonably, why they should invest time and money against an incumbent rather than wait for his or her enforced departure. The result: some incumbents could not care less what the voters might think of their deeds in Tallahassee.

What’s most wrong there, as in other state capitals, is the redistricting that leaves too many seats safe for one party or the other, giving the voters no effective choice. Of the 120 Florida legislators voting on new districts during a special session in October 2015, nearly a third—50—were elected without any primary or general election challenge.

As for Jeb’s other dubious reforms, I know of not nation that hogties itself the way a balanced budget amendment likely would, giving extreme power to minority voices in event of an emergency. History suggests an alternative: elect Democrats. Bill Clinton and a Democratic Congress balanced the budget and generated a surplus.

As for the Commerce Clause, it was perhaps the single most important provision the Founders established to knit together the 13 independent states into a functioning economy. There is already a check on the Commerce Clause: It’s the Supreme Court, as the court implied in rejecting the clause as a justification for Obamacare, which it upheld only under a different provision, the power to tax.

The future of our country is already uncertain enough in the hands of an unqualified and irrational president-elect. We hardly need a constitutional convention, or any of Jeb Bush’s other bad ideas, to make things worse.

___

Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the newspaper now known as the Tampa Bay Times.

Supreme Court candidates are all about conservatism

The first three candidates to be interviewed for state Supreme Court justice burnished their conservative credentials Monday afternoon.

The Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission began interviewing the 11 applicants to replace retiring Justice James E.C. Perry, who departs the bench Dec. 30.

The nominating panel will forward six names by Dec. 13 to Gov. Rick Scott, who will then name Perry’s replacement.

This is Scott’s first chance to pick a state Supreme Court justice, and thus the first opportunity to expand the high court’s reliably conservative voting bloc, now only two justices: Charles Canady and Ricky Polston.

“I generally care about two things,” Scott has said about judicial appointees. “Are they going to be humble in the process, and are they going to uphold the law?” The governor, like the conservative GOP House majority, is a believer in judicial restraint.

First up on Monday were Wendy W. Berger, a judge on the 5th District Court of Appeal; Alice L. Blackwell, a circuit judge in Orange County; and Roberta J. Bodnar, an assistant U.S. attorney in Ocala.

The judiciary’s job is to “apply the law, to interpret the law, but not to make it,” Berger told the panel.

She may have the most experience in death penalty cases, which now makes up roughly half of the Supreme Court’s caseload.

As an assistant general counsel, Berger was Gov. Jeb Bush’s point person on death sentences, helping him determine which cases were ripe for death warrants.

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, based on a Florida case, requires unanimous jury recommendations before a judge can impose a death sentence.

But Berger told commissioners she doesn’t believe the Hurst ruling should be retroactive: “That would open a large amount of floodgates we don’t need to see.”

Asked about professionalism, she said dissenting from a majority opinion should mean “you can disagree without being disagreeable.”

She quickly added, “You can be open minded to other points of view, but if they’re outside the law, I’m not going to agree for the sake of collegiality.”

Berger also played up her trial court experience as a circuit judge, saying “if you want to call balls and strikes, you need to have played the game.”

Blackwell, a judicial appointee of Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, played defense early and often, mentioning her “conservative judicial philosophy” and saying she was “not an activist judge.”

The judge played up her rural South Carolina upbringing – “You can probably hear it in my voice” – and said she worked her way through school as a church organist.

She was 34 when she first applied to be a judge, and said she was the second youngest person to become a judge when appointed in 1991. Blackwell followed the footsteps of her “Uncle Joe,” a judge who held the Bible at her swearing-in.

Blackwell said she follows the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s concept of ‘originalism’: “What do the words mean that are in the law?”

She distinguished herself from activists who say what the law “ought to be.”

“That’s not a judge’s job,” Blackwell told the panel. “I don’t legislate from the bench.”

But, she was asked, what about when courts, even the Supreme Court, have misinterpreted a law? 

“I hope I would have the intellectual and moral fortitude to say we got it wrong and we need to change it,” she said.

Bodnar, unlike Berger and Blackwell, sat for her interview with no notes. She too espoused restraint in interpreting the law, saying judges should “apply the law” and not “invent it.”

“The law belongs the people,” she said, a theme she revisited later in her interview. “Start with the law, never start with instinct.”

Bodnar, however, bristled at a question on her lack of judicial experience, referring to her analytical skill in a brief she submitted as a writing sample.

“I wrote that brief, and it’s good,” she told commissioners. “I don’t need to have put on a black robe.”

She also was asked about her long-standing “BV” Martindale-Hubbell peer rating, which she’s had for 23 years. “BV” is similar to a silver medal; “AV” is considered the gold standard.

Bodnar smiled, saying the only reason she sought a rating in the first place was to ensure a pay bump from her then-boss, state Attorney General Bob Butterworth. Getting rated or getting published was the only way he’d give a raise, she said.

Finally, when asked about a right to bear arms, Bodnar said she “believe(s) in a personal right to bear arms,” adding that she has a concealed carry permit.

The interviews, which are taking place in Orlando, continue through the afternoon and are being livestreamed by The Florida Channel.

Florida school choice advocates praise selection of Betsy DeVos as education secretary

Florida leaders praised Donald Trump’s choice of education secretary, calling Betsy DeVos an excellent pick.

The president-elect announced Wednesday he tapped DeVos, 58, to lead the federal agency. The choice reinforces his pledge to make school choice an education priority. In September, he pledged to funnel $20 billion in existing federal dollars into scholarships for low-income students, an idea that would require congressional approval.

“Students, parents, and education reformers across the United States should be thrilled by the selection of Betsy DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education.  Betsy is a tireless, fearless, and intelligent national leader in high quality education,” said House Speaker Richard Corcoran in a statement. “I can think of no one better to break down bureaucratic barriers, eliminate the institutional intransigence on school choice, and reduce federal costs and interference in the state and local decision-making process.”

A supporter of school choice, Corcoran railed against the state’s largest teacher’s union in his fist remarks as Florida House Speaker. The Land O’Lakes Republican said the Florida Education was “fixated on halting innovation and competition,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Corcoran pointed to the ongoing fight over the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program as an example. The program helps low-income children attend private schools. The teacher’s union has been fighting the program in the courts for years, saying it diverts money from traditional public education.

The Associated Press reported that DeVos’ support of school choice goes back more than 20 years. She was politically involved in the passage of Michigan’s charter school bill in 1993 and worked on an unsuccessful effort to change Michigan’s state constitution to allow tax-credit scholarships or vouchers. She has described that loss as her biggest setback.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush also praised Trump’s decision, saying she “is an outstanding pick for Secretary of Education.”

“She has a long and distinguished history championing the right of all parents to choose schools that best ensure their children’s success. Her allegiance is to families, particularly those struggling at the bottom of the economic ladder, not to an outdated public education model that has failed them from one generation to the next,” he said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “I cannot think of more effective and passionate change agent to press for a new education vision, one in which students, rather than adults and bureaucracies, become the priority in our nation’s classrooms.”

 DeVos’ appointment is subject to confirmation by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. According to the Associated Press, Sen. Lamar Alexander said the Senate’s education committee would move swiftly on the nomination in January.

The new education secretary will oversee implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal law passed last year to replace No Child Left Behind. The Higher Education Act is up for reauthorization.

The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.

Personnel note: Dave Murzin joins Liberty Partners of Tallahassee as NW Florida director

Former state Rep. Dave Murzin has joined Liberty Partners of Tallahassee as the firm’s Northwest Florida Director.

“We are honored to have Dave join forces with the Liberty Partners team.” said firm owner and President Jennifer Green in a statement. “This strategic partnership gives us the opportunity to continue to work with a longtime friend and colleague in a region of the state where we all have a strong connection.”

A former state legislator and longtime legislative staffer, Murzin has experience in both the public and private sector. Murzin served in the Florida House from 2002 until 2010.

While in the House, Murzin was appointed by former House Speaker Larry Cretul to the Florida Council on Military Base and Mission Support.

He also served on the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council, was appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush to both the Joint Select Committee on Hurricane Insurance and the Property Tax Reform Committee, was appointed by former House Speaker and current U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to the Joint Property Tax Reform Committee, and served on the Escambia County Utilities Authority Administrative Advisory Committee.

Before serving in the Florida House, he served as a top staffer to Jeff Miller, a former congressman and member of the Florida House, and former House Majority Leader Jerry Maygarden.

“I appreciate the opportunity to join the Liberty Partners team,” said Murzin in a statement. “This team and their clients represent the conservative philosophies and policies that I have supported my entire legislative career. I look forward to working on issues important to the Northwest Florida area and especially my hometown of Pensacola.”

Murzin and his son, Benjamin, live in Pensacola.

In remembrance: Janet Reno

Newspapers were rolling in dough in the late 20th century. Reporters had expense accounts and plenty of public officials were happy to let them pick up the check.

Not Janet Reno. She paid her own way, spoke for herself, and did not require those around her to bow, scrape, or screen calls to her home phone, which was in the book and accessible to the folks who paid her salary.

The former Dade County state attorney and United States attorney general under Bill Clinton needed no help to “craft the message.” She did not lard the public payroll with puppet masters to put words in her mouth about the “Hot Topics” of the day.

Harry Truman had done all the “message development” Reno would ever need.

Time after time after time, Reno faced hostile citizens, taxpayers, Congressional committees, and reporters. Her talking point never varied. “The buck stops here. With me.”

Reno was the state attorney in 1980, when riots broke out in Miami after her office failed to convict four white police officers accused of beating an unarmed black man to death. A dozen people died, and hundreds more were injured before the National Guard could restore order. Reno walked through the wreckage —alone, unarmed and unguarded — to take accountability with angry, distraught survivors.

Reno came from a storied Miami family that knew the difference between real friends and transactional friends. She was a star in a generation of lawyers that knew you can’t win if you’re afraid to lose. All of that would serve her well in jobs where making life-and-death decisions was just a normal day at the office.

Reno had hoped to continue in public life as her party’s standard bearer against Jeb Bush in the 2002 governor’s race. But the denizens of the Democrats backed the more malleable Bill McBride, leaving history to wonder if Bush could have crushed Reno as easily as he demolished McBride.

The memory of Reno standing in front of a bank of microphones, answering hostile questions truthfully until her interrogators gave up in exhaustion, is a source of pride to Florida, and an enduring example of what real accountability looks like.

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