Jeb Bush Archives - Page 5 of 147 - Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: Pam Bondi is no ‘victim’ in Trump U scandal

Let’s get this straight: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says “Hillary Clinton will not bully me” over the legitimate scrutiny being paid to the timing of a campaign donation Bondi received in 2014 from Donald Trump.

Bullying is a pretty stern accusation, so let’s explore this further. What did Clinton do to rise to that level of schoolyard terror?

Start with the fact that Bondi admitted hitting Trump up for a campaign contribution, right around the time a lot of people in her position would have instead asked for a deposition.

“Of course I asked Donald Trump for a contribution; that’s not what this is about,” Bondi told Fox Business News. “She was saying he was under investigation by my office at the time, and I knew about it, none of which is true.”

Proving she is adept at doing the Tallahassee Two-Step, Bondi is absolutely telling the truth. Trump was not under investigation by her office for allegations that his Trump University bilked Florida consumers.

But, um … why not? That’s the real story, and it makes the contribution look downright slimy, coming as it did just days after Bondi decided she saw nothing wrong with Trump’s for-profit venture.

This doesn’t count the fine Trump just paid to the IRS because the check to Bondi came from his charitable foundation. Tax laws prohibit charities from giving political donations.

So Clinton is “bullying” Bondi by bringing this up? Either that was an unfortunate choice of words on live TV, or she is delusional — place your bets. Bondi, no stranger to big league politics, should know better. At this point, she is lucky this is only a campaign issue and not a legal one for her.

She is not the victim here.

Then again, Bondi’s record suggests she is a supreme opportunist who will shape-shift to whatever platform or alliance seems to work best. Remember, she originally endorsed Jeb Bush for president. She even declared, “This is the most important election of our lifetime, and he is the hands-on man we need to run our country.”

Then, after Trump mocked and tried to humiliate Bush during the campaign, Bondi shifted her allegiance to the man Bush probably loathes most of anyone today in politics.

Bondi has made the flimsy explanation that she elected not to join an investigation by New York state into Trump U because it was unnecessary. That’s ridiculous, of course, given Bondi’s enthusiasm for joining the legal actions of other states in the past.

In 2014, she even joined in an attempt to stop a large-scale cleanup of Chesapeake Bay. For the geographically challenged, that’s in Maryland.

This issue has the potential to dog Bondi in much the same way the email scandal has been impossible for Clinton to shake. Since Bondi is term-limited as attorney general and will have to find another gig in 2018, it could be a problem.

I just keep wondering what Bondi’s approach would have been if that was a Florida Democrat caught in a web like this. There would be investigations piled up on top of each other, and she would VOW to GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS immediately!!!

Instead, she calls one her accusers a bully, hoping this classic bob-and-weave makes everyone forget this isn’t Hillary Clinton bringing up an uncomfortable item from Bondi’s recent past. It calls her whole performance as attorney general into question.

That’s not bullying. It’s just reality.

Mitch Perry Report 9.6.16 — Enough nonsense about how ‘now’ the presidential election campaign season is beginning

My biggest fear of an approaching major storm living here in Tampa is losing electricity, with Florida still in full summer mode here in early September. That’s exactly what happened beginning last Friday in Tallahassee, and there were still some residential homes in North Florida as of yesterday still without power.

Back here in Tampa, Hillary Clinton will give a speech on national security this afternoon, where we’re officially nine weeks away from the General Election, and the first day of our lives post-Labor Day 2016, better known as when political reporters tell us is when the “election campaign really starts.”

Which is nonsense.

Perhaps Labor Day of 2015 was more like when the campaign began.

Seriously, Hillary Clinton officially announced her candidacy on Roosevelt Island in New York City in June of 2015. Donald Trump officially followed suit with his infamous escalator ride at Trump Towers a few weeks later, though both had “unofficially” been running for months.

Over 24 million people watched the first GOP debate 13 months ago. With Trump’s emergence, is there anyone you know in your sphere of friends who aren’t following this presidential race, to whatever extent?

No, the fact about Labor Day is that, just perhaps, we have a sense that this thing will be over in just a few more months, after having begun nearly two years ago (Jeb Bush announced he was “exploring” a run — which allowed him to start up his Right to Rise Super PAC, in December of 2015).

In other national political news, the spit take of the weekend goes to Mike Pence, Trump’s VP, who, with a straight face, told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday that Donald Trump’s position on what to do with the roughly 11 million undocumented nonviolent immigrants in this country has been “consistent.”

Todd said he observed Trump’s position on what to do with nonviolent immigrants isn’t clear.

“I think Donald Trump’s been completely consistent,” Pence countered. “And I think he did answer the question.” PolitiFact rated this false.

Oh, by the way, another reason why the public loathes Congress: Clinton chose Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine to be her running mate July 23.

Today, Congress returns to work. Although Kaine won’t be there, he officially hasn’t missed a day of work in the job he was elected to serve.


Super PAC, dark money spending on pace to obliterate record

Combined spending by super PACS and so-called “dark money” organizations that can hide financial sources is heading toward shattering all records set for outside spending for an election cycle in 2016, according to a new report.

And the groups set up to support Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are the most active of all the super PACs and dark money groups in the country this year, according to the report today by The Center for Responsive Politics, better known as its internet portal

The Washington-based, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that tracks campaign finances, is reporting today the total of outside money spent on campaigns has reached $660 million so far this year. That compares with $289 million such groups spent on electioneering by the end of August in the 2012 campaign.

“Super PACs have led the charge, breaking the half-a-billion dollar mark in spending and making up about 80 percent of total outside spending,” writes by Soo Rin Kim, author of the report, which is a joint effort of the Weslyan Media Project and the Center for Responsive Politics.

This year’s spending includes $529 million from so-called “super” political action committees, allowed to advocate or oppose candidates since the 2010 Citizens United decision; as well as millions of dollars from scores of dark money organizations. various 501(c) committees, parties, corporations, and others.

By this time in 2012, super PACs had spent just $177 million, according to

That means America can expect a lot, lot more during the fall campaign, the report advises.

“And by the end of the 2012 contest, that $177 million had skyrocketed to $609 million, so expect the groups to burn through much more cash by the time voters cast their ballots this November,” Kim writes.

In 2012, outside spending reached $945 million by election day, according to In 2014, it reached $507 million.

Bush’s “Right To Rise USA” has spent $86.8 million. Rubio’s “Conservative Solutions” PAC has spent $55.4 million, reports. The next few big super PACS are the Democratic-aiming “Priorities USA” ($51 million;) the Republican-aiming “Get Our Jobs Back” ($50 million;) the “Democratic Senate Majority” PAC ($23.5 million;) and the Republican-aiming “Freedom Partners Action Fund” ($22.4 million.)

The leading dark money organizations are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent $20.4 million, and the AFSCME PAC ($9.5 million,) according to

Perhaps ironically, “End Citizens United” PAC (not a Super PAC, but a standard committee required to report donations) has spent $4.7 million opposing four Republicans. In an email to, representatives of the group say its goal is to overturn Citizens United and end Super PACs and the use of dark money. As a regular PAC “End Citizens United” operates under the rules on contribution limits, and reports an average donation of about $13.

Almost $400 million has been spent on the presidential race, but tens of millions of dollars have been spent in individual U.S. Senate and congressional campaigns.

Florida’s U.S. Senate races, which just concluded their primaries Tuesday, was only the nation’s sixth-most attractive race to super PACs and dark money this year, with just over $6 million in outside money. That’s well behind what was spent on Senate races in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. But that’s likely to change now that Republican Rubio and Democratic state Rep. Patrick Murphy are heading for an epic November showdown over Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat, seen as critical to both parties’ desires to control the Senate. reported two other Florida races, Florida’s Congressional Districts 2 and 18, where outside money has topped $1 million in this cycle.

Will Scott Fuhrman become the ‘accidental congressman?’

Could Scott Fuhrman, challenging Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, be this year’s Tim Mahoney? And is there a path for Fuhrman to become 2016’s “accidental” member of Congress that doesn’t involve Ros-Lehtinen having a Mark Foley-like implosion?

Increasingly, the answer to both questions keeps inching toward “yes.” The Cook Political Report recently included CD 27 in its list of 45 seats that moved from the “safe Republican” column to “likely Republican.”

POLITICO likewise featured Fuhrman in an Aug. 19 story about Florida House Republicans’ anxieties over the political risk they face having failed to fund Zika research and response before adjourning for summer recess. Today’s Miami Herald also mentioned the Ros-Lehtinen/Fuhrman race in the context of Zika.

While his personal connection to the Zika crisis — in the form of his six-months-pregnant wife, Lindsay — may be getting Fuhrman’s name in print recently, Zika alone is not taking down a much beloved, 25-year incumbent like Ros-Lehtinen. Mosquitoes aren’t going to force Ileana into an early retirement, but a troll could.

Ros-Lehtinen probably entered the 2016 cycle feeling — in the words of Larry David — pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good. Obama, the only Democrat in generations to win a majority of Florida Cubans, was no longer eligible to run; her longtime ally, Jeb Bush, had amassed an insane war chest and looked like a lock for the nomination. Little Marco was going to fizzle early in his quixotic crusade against his old mentor, Jeb, and eventually run for re-election, helping with election-critical Cuban turnout in Miami-Dade County.

Only the last of those three things came to pass the way Ros-Lehtinen had hoped.

Instead, she finds herself on the ballot alongside a man who she’s been forced to say she’ll “never” vote for; a man whose bigoted rhetoric is driving Hispanic voters to Hillary Clinton in outrageous margins. A Public Religion Research Institute poll of Hispanic voters nationally, released today, showed Trump getting a mere 18 percent of that vote, 10 points less than Romney in 2012.

A May poll of CD 27 showed Clinton winning Ros-Lehtinen’s district by a whopping 23 points. Four years ago, Obama won it in the low 50s, and she won with 60 percent, spending over $1 million against two candidates who spent a combined $0.

Maybe a combination of her longevity and respect in Miami, her #NeverTrump status, and #LittleMarco making ticket splitting fashionable among Cuban Republicans, will save Ileana this November.

Maybe she can defy demography and partisanship and a 20-plus-point Hillary Clinton victory in the 27th.

Maybe the NRCC will have money to spend bailing out an incumbent who they never calculated in a million years would be vulnerable.


And maybe Scott Fuhrman becomes the accidental congressman from Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

The cliché that, “stranger things have happened,” is perhaps more true in this election cycle, in this state, than it has ever been before.

Mitch Perry Report for 8.25.16 — Is Donald Trump reversing himself on his signature issue of immigration?

Donald Trump was in Tampa yesterday, in case you didn’t hear about it — and he continued to “reach out” to minority communities in his speech. Of course, saying, “I say to the African-American parent, you have a right to walk down the street in the inner city, without having your child or yourself shot” may not be the elixir that persuades anyone to switch sides.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow describes the way Trump is going about it as “urinating on you and telling you to dance in the rain.” Blow says the only people even taking Trump’s outreach seriously are white people.

So does he really think he can get more black voters to his side? The Washington Post reported yesterday Trump has been motivated by a private poll of black voters conducted by campaign adviser Tony Fabrizio.

“The survey found that blacks have a lesser affinity for Hillary Clinton than they did for her husband and that their support dips once they learn about her advocacy for a 1994 crime bill signed by Bill Clinton, according to two people briefed on the poll’s findings,” the paper wrote.

Meanwhile, is Trump “softening” on immigration? Who knows? He did mention he was going to build a wall in his speech in Tampa yesterday, which hardly sounds like he’s backing off. Then again, in the second part of an interview he taped with Sean Hannity on Tuesday that aired last night, Trump’s position seemed to echo that of Jeb Bush‘s — you know, the guy’s whose position on immigration was deemed out of sorts with the majority of the Republican primary electorate last year.

“When I look at the rooms, and I have this all over, now everybody agrees we get the bad ones out,” Trump said. “But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject … they’ve said, ‘Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person that has been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and the family out, it’s so tough, Mr. Trump.'”

Trump received a large round of applause from the studio audience when he said he would make sure those immigrants who could stick around would have to pay “back taxes.” However, that requirement was something that everybody who talks about comprehensive immigration reform says — pay a fine, back taxes, learn English, etc.

Does it matter? It could affect some of his supporters, despite the contention nothing will deter them from supporting him in the fall. Immigration was perhaps the major issue that allowed Trump to break out of the pack of 17 Republicans last summer. The idea that he would attempt to deport 11 million people has always been considered impractical and unfeasible. But to admit it before the election?

In other news …

Among those on the opening bill before The Donald spoke was his good friend and ally, Attorney General Pam Bondi. To commemorate the occasion, the activist group Progress Florida sent out a petition for people to write to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to investigate Bondi’s refusal to go after Trump University in 2013 after her campaign received a financial contribution from a Trump charity.

A group of immigration activists held court in front of the Fairgrounds before Trump’s speech in Tampa.

Jim Norman became a bit hot when asked about the situation that led to his political exile some six years ago at a candidate forum Tuesday night.

At a forum Tuesday night, the Senate District 19 candidates talked about how they’d be able to get Republicans in Tallahassee to go along with proposals to increase early childhood education.

Marco Rubio to campaign with Mike Pence, while keeping distance from Donald Trump

Marco Rubio is agreeing to appear with Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence, even as the Florida senator and former presidential candidate keeps his distance from Donald Trump.

ABC News reports that, after several phone conversations, Pence and Rubio could begin campaigning in Florida within the next few weeks. After ending his presidential bid, Rubio is currently seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate.

A statement from the Rubio campaign says that although “Marco has tremendous respect and admiration for Gov. Pence,” no joint events are “scheduled at this time.”

Rubio’s agreement with Pence is seen as the latest move by Republicans to attempt to improve relations with the party’s presidential nominee. Pence recently met with both John McCain and Jeb Bush privately, and had contacted former presidential candidates John Kasich and Ted Cruz.

During the Republican primary, Trump and Rubio clashed on several occasions, most notably when Trump called the senator “Little Marco” and Rubio responding by mocking the New York billionaire’s “small hands.”

However, after solidly losing the Florida primary to Trump, Rubio said he would continue to back the Republican nominee, but later saying he doubted Trump could be trusted with the nuclear codes. Rubio refused to back down from his earlier comments, saying Trump was a “con man.”

“I’ve stood by everything I ever said in my campaign,” Rubio told the Miami Herald.

If re-elected to the Senate, Rubio said he could help keep Trump in check.

Rubio also told reporters he would not be making personal appearances with Trump.

“Not that I’m looking to undermine him,” Rubio said in an interview with CNN in June. “But I think the differences between us on key issues are so significant that I don’t plan …. I’ve got to run my own race.”

According to the latest NBC/WSJ/Marist poll, Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Trump in Florida 44 to 39 percent.

Adam Putnam endorses David Jolly in CD 13

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is throwing his support behind Rep. David Jolly.

Putnam has endorsed Jolly in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. The endorsement comes just two weeks ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

“David Jolly has a proven record of putting people before politics and his community’s interests before Washington’s,” said Putnam in a statement.

Putnam knows a thing or two about serving in Congress. He spent 10 years representing Florida’s 12th Congressional District, stepping down in 2010 to run for agriculture commissioner. A lifelong Floridian, Putnam is widely believed to be gearing up for a 2018 gubernatorial bid.

“It’s an honor to have Commissioner Putnam’s support,” said Jolly in a statement. “He’s one of Florida’s greatest leaders, committed always to economic growth and individual liberty — a free market constitutionalist whose support is a true honor.”

While most of the focus has been on the likely match-up between Jolly and Democrat Charlie Crist in November, Jolly does have a primary challenger.

Jolly faces Mark Bircher in the Aug. 30 primary. The race marks the second time Bircher and Jolly will face off in a Republican primary. Bircher finished third behind Jolly and Kathleen Peters in special Republican primary in January 2014.

But Bircher faces an uphill battle in his quest to unseat Jolly. The Indian Shores Republican has received the backing of establishment Republicans, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and Rep. Vern Buchanan, the chairman of the Florida congressional delegation.

“David has demonstrated he has the capability to break through the dysfunction in Washington,” said Putnam. “He is without a doubt the right man for the job.”

Report: Mike Pence, Jeb Bush met in South Florida this week

Mike Pence — middleman?

Reports say the GOP vice-presidential candidate met with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in Coral Gables Friday, as part of a series of meetings intended to salvage party unity among those maligned by Trump on the road to the nomination.

The meeting, at Bush’s office at the Biltmore Hotel, was intended to mend fences between Bush, who was excoriated by Donald Trump throughout the Republican primaries.

When Pence was selected as Trump’s running mate in June, Bush described Pence as a “good man” who would “add value to the ticket.”

Beyond the Pence pick, Bush has been less than rousingly supportive of the Republican ticket, floating the idea of voting for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson earlier this summer.

Resistance runs through Bush’s inner circle as well: Sally Bradshaw, a senior adviser to Bush during his presidential campaign, left the GOP in despair over the presidential nominee, calling Trump a “total narcissist — a misogynist — a bigot.”

During his presidential run, Bush’s slogan was “Jeb can fix it.” In light of his role, the GOP slogan for the VP candidate may need to be “Can Mike fix this?”

Mitch Perry Report for 8.8.16 — Will Rubio’s stance on abortion be fodder in U.S. Senate race?

When he was running for president, Marco Rubio‘s stance on abortion was an issue noted not just by Democrats as being too extreme, but some Republicans as well. Rubio is opposed to abortion in all cases except to save the life of the mother.

“I’m pro-life. The most tragic thing in the world is for a woman to be raped, a child, a pregnancy caused by rape. I’m very pro-life, (but) I can’t go there, I can’t tell that woman you gotta carry that child,” said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. “I’m very pro-life, that’s a sensitive issue, but I think in a general election that will be a hard sell.”

“Politically, it’s a tough sell to tell a pro-life mother — had her daughter been raped — that she would just have to accept that as a sad fact,” said Jeb Bush. “This is not an easy decision, but Marco will have to explain that position.”

On Saturday, Rubio’s stance again became a story when he said in Miami that he doesn’t believe a pregnant woman infected with the Zika virus should have the right to an abortion — even if she had reason to believe the child would be born with severe microcephaly.

“I understand a lot of people disagree with my view — but I believe that all human life is worthy of protection of our laws,” the senator and former 2016 hopeful said in an interview with POLITICO. “And when you present it in the context of Zika or any prenatal condition, it’s a difficult question and a hard one. But if I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life.”

“This is shocking,” responded South Florida Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy in a statement to supporters Sunday. “Zika is most dangerous for women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, yet Marco Rubio still opposes a woman’s right to make her own health decisions.”

Murphy is likely to advance later this month in the race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. If it becomes a Murphy-Rubio matchup, look for abortion rights to be an issue Murphy will press on. Whether the race should focus on a specific issue like that, the politics work for Murphy, considering he can use the quotes of Republicans like Bush and Graham in ads to indicate that Rubio is out of the mainstream of Florida voters on this issue.

In other news…

Hillary Clinton returns to the Tampa Bay area this afternoon, giving a speech on the economy at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg. Her visit comes just two-and-a-half weeks after she spoke in Tampa, hours before she named Tim Kaine to be her running mate.

The three Democrats vying to succeed Ed Narain as the representative in Florida’s House District 61 seat debated on Friday at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club.

And apologies to those who received an unusual email from me on Friday afternoon — I opened an an attachment in my own email account, which not only closed out my gmail account for two days (I finally got back online yesterday afternoon), but sent this email with a deadly virus to everyone in my inbox. The internet is a dangerous place, sometimes.

Florida Republicans disagree with Donald Trump, but still back him

Top Florida Republicans are distancing themselves from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump‘s comments about an American Muslim family whose son was killed in Iraq.

But so far, none of the top elected Republicans in the state have dropped their support of Trump, or even criticized him as sharply as some other Republicans have in the last few days.

Still, there are signs of growing discomfort even among some of his most ardent supporters.

Right now it’s not clear if any prominent Florida Republicans plan to join him when Trump does a campaign swing through Florida on Wednesday. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who spoke at the Republican National Convention, is hosting events in the Panhandle, including a meeting to discuss battling the Zika virus.

“It’s hard,” said Jeff Atwater, the state’s chief financial officer and one of three statewide elected officials on the Florida Cabinet. “Because I don’t appreciate this kind of tone, rhetoric and commentary that he’s offering.”

Trump has been feuding for days with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a Muslim family whose son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004. At last week’s Democratic National Convention, Khizr Khan criticized Trump’s call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States and accused Trump of sacrificing “nothing and no one.”

In response, Trump said he was “viciously attacked” by Khizr Khan and implied that Ghazala Khan, the soldier’s mother, stood silently alongside her husband during the speech because, as a Muslim, she was restricted her from speaking. The comments have drawn rebukes from both Democrats and Republicans such as U.S. Sen. John McCain, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization called them “out of bounds.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi, who endorsed Trump before the March presidential primary, called Capt. Khan an “American hero” and added: “Would I have ever said anything about his mother standing up their silent, not saying anything? Absolutely not.”

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam echoed Bondi’s comments about Khan and said “any comments to the contrary are dishonorable and abhorrent.”

The cautious reaction by some of Florida’s top GOP elected officials is a contrast to people such as former Gov. Jeb Bush, who has refused to endorse Trump. Sally Bradshaw, a north Florida resident and one of Bush’s top political advisers, recently changed parties and said this week that she may vote for Hillary Clinton if the election is close.

Scott, who recently agreed to become chairman of a super PAC backing Trump, as well as all three Cabinet members said they still intend to vote for Trump. Atwater, citing the investigation into Clinton’s emails, said Trump was the “better candidate.”

Scott, who served in the U.S. Navy, would not comment directly on Trump’s comments and instead said Tuesday that “I’m never going to agree with every candidate on what they are going to say.” He praised Trump as someone “who believes in our military.”

When asked if Trump should apologize, as Scott said: “You can talk to Donald Trump. I just can tell you from my standpoint I’m [appreciative] of everybody that served.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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