Pam bondi Archives - Page 3 of 52 - Florida Politics

Florida could grant legal immunity for reporting drug overdoses

A Senate panel on Tuesday advanced a bill that would grant people immunity for carrying small amounts of drugs if they seek medical help for an overdose.

The proposal applies to individuals who are found in possession of any drug, including fentanyl and illicit opioids, if they ask for medical assistance in “good faith” when they believe a user is experiencing an overdose.

“It’s really trying to make sure that if somebody is in the midst of seeing somebody struggling of an overdose they shouldn’t have to be worried about the state charging them,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Pinellas County Republican sponsoring the measure.

“They should immediately do the right thing — the focus here is to save lives.”

Under a law signed last year that created tougher drug trafficking statutes, fentanyl traffickers can face first-degree murder charges  if users die from an overdose.

The law was in response to the growing opioid epidemic gripping the state and upon passage was praised by Attorney Pam Bondi as life-saving legislation that “gives law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to combat the trafficking of fentanyl.”

The proposed measure (SB 970) would not toss or change that law. However, it would give arrest and prosecution immunity to people who seek medical assistance in “good faith” if they believe an individual is experiencing an alcohol or drug-related overdose even if they are found in possession of fentanyl and helped distribute the drug to the user.

Over 40 states have passed similar laws over the years. Brandes believes it can help lower the number of “preventable” alcohol- and drug-related overdose deaths in Florida, which amounted to 5,392 in the first six months of 2016, according to Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics.

The vote to move the bill ahead was unanimous. The measure now has two more committee stops before it can head to the full floor for consideration.

Hours before the vote Senate President Joe Negron kicked off the 2018 legislative session by urging lawmakers to address the opioid crisis and to make sure addicts have access to the resources they need to beat their drug habits.

Brandes, who has long championed criminal justice reform bills and is now the chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, said he is “excited” to see a shift in policy this year in the criminal justice arena.

Frank White crosses $2 million mark in 2017

New Year’s is a time for reflection, and when Pensacola state Rep. Frank White looked back on 2017, he liked what he saw.

The Republican attorney general candidate put out an infographic over the weekend touting his campaign’s 2017 successes in fundraising, endorsements and campaign stops.

Topping the year in review was a declaration that the campaign hit $2.05 million in total fundraising last year, including $100,025 in December, which it believes will allow White to comfortably hold the top spot in the money race.

While much of that money came from White’s own pockets, that’s a safe bet barring an unprecedented fundraising month from one of the four other candidates vying to replace termed-out AG Pam Bondi.

Former circuit judge Ashley Moody and state Rep. Jay Fant, both Republicans, have each broken the million dollar mark, but both are several hundred thousand dollars away from hitting $2 million.

The fourth Republican in the race, Tampa Rep. Ross Spano, has about $52,000 in his campaign account, but he hasn’t filed a full-month report since declaring he would run for Attorney General rather than re-election to the House, while Democrat Ryan Torrens hasn’t picked up much traction on the fundraising front and might not get a chance to if Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw decides to enter the race.

White’s infographic also showed off the 20 endorsements he’s pulled in since declaring in October, with top billing going to Okaloosa Sheriff Larry Ashley, Santa Rosa Sheriff Bob Johnson, Escambia Sheriff David Morgan, and U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, himself a former sheriff of Duval County.

The campaign also racked up some miles in 2017, with 17 campaign ranging from Miami and the I-4 corridor to the First Coast and, of course, his home turf on the Florida Panhandle.

The year in review closed out by dubbing the first-term House District 2 representative “the one true conservative for attorney general.”

The infographic is below:

Frank White Year in Review

Pam Bondi 9-6-2017

Pam Bondi says firefighter charity is a fraud

Attorney General Pam Bondi on Monday filed a complaint seeking to shut down a Florida charity falsely claiming to use charitable donations to provide financial support to families of firefighters lost in the line of duty, according to a press release.

Community Charity Advancement, Inc. (CCAI) also allegedly falsely claims to use donations to provide assistance to breast cancer research organizations and breast cancer patients, but in some instances uses donations for different purposes.  

A request for comment was left with a person answering the number listed for CCAI’s Pompano Beach office.

According to the complaint, CCAI’s deceptive acts and practices mislead generous donors into contributing to CCAI instead of the many legitimate charitable organizations operating bona fide programs that support breast cancer research, breast cancer and fire victims, as well as firefighters.

“It is absolutely abhorrent to exploit families of fallen firefighters and breast cancer patients to steal from generous Floridians,” Bondi said in a statement. 

“Charity scams prey on people’s goodwill and discourage people from giving,” she added. “Furthermore, every dollar given to a deceptive charity is a dollar that does not go to those in need. This is an outrageous ploy and those responsible will be held accountable.”

The complaint also alleges that CCAI falsely represents having a partnership with bona fide cancer research and support organizations to deceptively lend legitimacy to the company’s activities.

Some of these organizations who are not in partnership with CCAI, despite the company’s claims, include the University of Florida, Johns Hopkins and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

During the past four years, CCAI reported raising more than $40 million in donations through the fundraising efforts of various fictitious names.

In 2014, CCAI reported raising more than $10 million in donations, which CCAI provided just $49,000, or half of one penny, in cash contributions to breast cancer research organizations.

In that same year, CCAI diverted half a million dollars in donations meant to support breast cancer research or assist patients to pay fundraisers and other vendors for services connected to its firefighter-related activities. Despite CCAI’s representations, CCAI made no financial donations during the past three years to support families of firefighters who passed away in the line of duty.

The complaint, filed in the 17th Judicial Circuit in Broward County, alleges violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices ActTo view the complaint, click here.

Consumers who donated to CCAI can file a complaint with Bondi’s office by clicking here.

On Fox’s ‘Hannity,’ Pam Bondi suggests that Robert Mueller ‘corrupt’ probe ‘worse than Watergate’

Count Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi among the increasing number of Republicans who are blasting special counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russian probe for being rife with partisan bias.

Bondi appeared on Fox News “Hannity” program Wednesday night as part of a panel discussion with host Sean Hannity and Sebastian Gorka, a former Donald Trump deputy assistant hired by the network as a commentator.

It is time to get “all of these other people off the case,” Bondi said, referring to eight prosecutors on Mueller’s team who were identified as giving campaign contributions to Democrats.

For weeks, conservative media outlets have accused Mueller’s team of investigators of bias, citing because of the campaign contributions to Democrats. Panhandle U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz is charging that the former FBI director’s team was “infected with bias” against the president, claiming the investigation puts the country at risk of a “coup d’etat.”

Several more congressional Republicans are sharing similar sentiments, many of them grilling Rod J. Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, Wednesday and calling to appoint a prosecutor to investigate Mueller’s investigation.

Their campaign was given legs when the Justice Department released hundreds of text messages exchanged last year between FBI agent Peter Strzok and an FBI attorney, Lisa Page, describing a possible Trump presidential victory as “terrifying” and saying that Hillary Clinton “just had to win.”

“God(,) Trump is a loathsome human,” Page added in a text; Strzok replies: “Yet he may win.”

Mueller removed Strzok from the Russian investigation upon being informed of those texts.

“They need to be dissolved, and they need to be investigated,” Bondi charged. “This team needs to be wiped out.”

At Wednesday’s congressional hearing, Rosenstein pushed back against the criticism that members of Mueller’s team could not be impartial prosecutors because they’d donated to Democrats. And he beat back repeated calls to select a second special prosecutor to investigate Mueller, saying that there is currently an inspector general with a 500-member staff and a $100 million budget already in place to review investigation.

Later in the show, Bondi agreed with Hannity that the level of corruption inside Mueller’s team was “worse than Watergate.”

“This is worse than Watergate, on a million levels here,” Hannity said.

“I agree,” Bondi interjected.

“By the time we entangle this massive web of corruption, it will be worse than Watergate,” Hannity repeated. “Watergate on human growth hormone and steroids combined at massive levels.”

“And you’re the one who had to untangle it, Sean, not the federal government,” Bondi said. “That’s the shame of it.”

Gorka followed up by saying he doubted Wednesday’s congressional hearing would’ve happened without Hannity’s interest in the issue.

“I agree,” Bondi added.

 

 

Pam Bondi explains why she won’t endorse dog racing ban

Attorney General Pam Bondi finally explained why she won’t publicly support a proposed ban on greyhound racing in Florida or any other constitutional amendment.

Bondi sits on the 37-member Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which convenes every 20 years to review and propose changes to the state’s governing document.

But, as the state’s chief legal officer, she’s also “the one who has to review all of these (amendments) for constitutionality … before they go on the ballot,” Bondi told reporters after Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.

Any changes OK’d by the panel go on the 2018 statewide ballot, where they must get 60 percent approval from voters to be added to the constitution.

“So I’m trying not to comment on any of the CRC proposals,” she said. “I’m very careful commenting on anything until the appropriate time.”

Commissioner Tom Lee, a Republican state senator from Thonotosassa, had filed a proposed constitutional amendment to ban dog racing.

Bondi, a Tampa Republican who regularly brings shelter dogs to state Cabinet meetings to get them adopted, had declined to say whether she would support the amendment.

Lee’s original proposal would have phased out live racing over three years; it was since changed to take effect only one year after passage.

Jack Cory, spokesman for the Florida Greyhound Association, has said Lee’s proposal “is bad for Florida and it is bad for the greyhounds.”

“It would cost over 3,000 Florida jobs, put over 8,000 beautiful greyhounds at risk and create mini-casinos throughout Florida,” Cory said in a statement, referring to other gambling—such as cards—that would continue at pari-mutuel facilities.

Show ’em the money? Campaign financing repeal yanked by sponsor

A proposal to repeal Florida’s system of public financing for statewide campaigns won’t make it into the state constitution, at least for now.

Kruppenbacher

Frank Kruppenbacher, the proposed amendment’s sponsor, withdrew it from consideration at Wednesday’s meeting of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission’s Ethics and Election committee.

That was after representatives of progressive groups, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, uniformly opposed the idea (P 56).

But Kruppenbacher, a CRC appointee of Gov. Rick Scott, said he instead intends to press lawmakers to think about reforming the system this year. (See update below.) The state spent over $4.3 million in the 2014 election cycle financing campaigns, according to records.

“I see the election process as having been co-opted by money to the point where the public has been disinterested and not paying attention to campaigns,” said Kruppenbacher, an attorney with the statewide Morgan & Morgan law firm, in an interview.

“Look at Washington, look at Congress, and how broken it is,” Kruppenbacher added. “But everybody keeps getting re-elected. Nobody can campaign against (the incumbents).”

But the Legislature itself placed a similar amendment on the ballot for statewide approval in 2010. It flunked at the polls with 52 percent approval; amendments need 60 percent for adoption.

“I guess I just question strategically why to put this before voters” since they already rejected it, Integrity Florida’s Ben Wilcox told the panel.

House Speaker and presumptive Republican candidate for governor Richard Corcoran, however, has said he wants public campaign financing to end, calling it “welfare for politicians.”

Now, public dollars are available to candidates for governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner and chief financial officer, though the money comes with some provisos.

The funds come out of the state’s general revenue, but there had been a “Election Campaign Financing Trust Fund” that was shut down in 1996.

Past statewide candidates that have taken public financing include Agriculture Commissioner and Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam, who took $587,000 for his 2010 election and another $459,000 during his 2014 re-election.

Attorney General Pam Bondi took $432,000 in 2010 and $328,000 in 2014. Gov. Rick Scott took no public dollars to fund his 2010 or 2014 campaigns, records show.

During the meeting, Kruppenbacher told the panel, “We’re funding people who are already highly funded … I’d rather see (the money) go to school children.”

Update: GOP state Rep. Frank White of Pensacola, a candidate for attorney general, filed legislation later on Wednesday to repeal provisions in state law and the state constitution on “public financing of campaigns of candidates for elective statewide office.”

Jax City Council defends tree canopy against ‘sledgehammer gov’t’ in Tallahassee

The Jacksonville City Council approved legislation this week that opposes a state bill (HB 521/SB 574) that would cut the heart out of the city’s tree canopy protections.

The state bill, filed by Republican Greg Steube in the Senate and Democrat Katie Edwards in the House, would prohibit cities such as Jacksonville from stopping landowners from removing trees located on their own private property.

The Jacksonville City Council bill (2017-822) contends that the legislation is “harmful to the environment and contrary to the overwhelming wishes of Jacksonville citizens,” and the bills are an “assault on home rule.”

The city passed a referendum in 2000 to protect the city’s tree canopy, with an overwhelming majority (76 percent) voting for the measure.

“The [state] bill does what Tallahassee does best; preempt local government,” per John Crescimbeni, who introduced the Council bill, a salvo against Tallahassee’s “sledgehammer government.”

“I don’t know what happens to them when they get into the hall of government over there,” Crescimbeni said, “but they forget where they came from.”

The bill was moved as an emergency with multiple sponsors. The entire Council agreed to sponsor the bill, which passed unanimously.

Ashley Moody picks up endorsement from Gulf County sheriff

Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison announced Monday he would back Republican Ashley Moody in the race to replace termed-out Attorney General Pam Bondi next year.

Moody is a former prosecutor and circuit court judge and is running against state Reps. Jay Fant, Ross Spano and Frank White in the GOP primary for the Cabinet seat.

“Florida Sheriffs need an Attorney General who has prosecuted criminals, Ashley Moody has the experience in our criminal justice system that makes her uniquely qualified for this important job. As a prosecutor and judge, she earned the respect of the law enforcement community and has a proven track record of combating crime. I’m honored to endorse Ashley Moody and know that she will serve us well as Florida’s ‘top cop,’” Harrison said.

Harrison makes for nearly two dozen county sheriffs who have endorsed Moody, including the current sheriffs from Bay, Bradford, BrevardClay, Hernando, Indian River, Lake, PascoPinellas, Sarasota, Sumter, Walton, Washington and other counties.

“Our law enforcement community is filled with selfless and brave leaders who are passionate about public service and the safety of others. Sheriff Harrison’s commitment to those ideals and his leadership within the LEO community is admirable. He is tough on crime and relentless in his pursuit of justice, and I’m incredibly honored to have his support,” Moody said.

Moody and Jacksonville Rep. Jay Fant were the only two GOP candidates in the mix for a few months before Pensacola Rep. Frank White threw his name into the hat in October. A few weeks later, Hillsborough County Rep. Ross Spano made it a four-way primary.

Moody had been the far and away leader for much of the early part of the race but White, of Pensacola, made a splash in his first campaign finance report as an AG candidate after putting $1.5 million of his own money on the line. He also broke Moody’s monopoly on endorsements from sheriffs with a few lawmen in his corner.

Fant, who has also put a lot of his own money on the line, has stepped up his game in recent weeks. Last week, he announced major staffing changes across the board for his campaign.

At the end of October, White had $1.73 million on hand in his campaign account, putting him ahead of Moody, who through the same date had about $920,000 in her campaign account and another $207,000 in her committee, Friends of Ashley Moody.

Fant had about $910,000 on hand to start November, including $750,000 in loans, while Spano joined the race with about $44,000 on hand from his House re-election campaign.

Ryan Torrens, the lone Democrat in the race, has about $6,700 in his campaign account.

November reports for all candidates are due next week.

Pam Bondi seeks information over Uber data breach

Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s office issued a subpoena to Uber in search of information related to the ride-sharing company’s alleged cover-up of a 2016 data breach.

The San Francisco-based company recently acknowledged that drivers throughout the country might have had their personal information accessed as a result of the breach. At least 32,000 Uber drivers in Florida may have been affected, according to a news release issued Friday by Bondi’s office.

Uber should have reported the data breach to Bondi’s office within 30 days, according to Florida law.

Instead, the company “reportedly paid a ransom and then concealed the hack by entering into a nondisclosure agreement with the hackers,” the release said.

“Uber’s delay to provide timely notice to affected individuals is inexcusable,” Bondi said. “I have always been a strong advocate for Uber’s innovative technology, but if these revelations prove true, I am disgusted by this cover up and Uber will be held accountable.”

Bondi helped craft the Florida Information Protection Act, passed in 2014, that requires businesses and governmental entities to provide notice regarding data breaches to consumers and take certain measures to protect personal information.

Pam Bondi calls for legislation to protect sexual harassment victims

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Friday said her “heart breaks” for the Senate staffer who in a sworn statement said Sen. Jack Latvala groped her private body parts and sexually harassed her for years, and called for legislation to protect sexual harassment victims.

“I was astonished to learn that one of the victims of the recent allegations in Tallahassee is a woman who I’ve known and respected for years,” Bondi said in a statement.

Rachel Perrin Rogers, a legislative aide to Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson, went public with her accusations against Latvala this week saying she was tired of him lying about her intentions and those of her husband, Brian Hughes, a political consultant.

“My heart breaks for her. We must respect the investigation by the Florida Senate and the privacy of all parties involved,” Bondi said.

Bondi encouraged women who have experienced sexual harassment to come forward, and while she did not give specifics, she said she reached out to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who is handling the complaint against Latvala, to preserve a spot for legislation that would “provide protections to victims of sexual harassment complaints.”

Corcoran, who is mulling a run for governor, has called for Latvala to resign. Bondi said he was supportive of a law that would protect all women working in state government.

“It is remarkable what women can do when we all stand together,” she added.

The sex scandal rocking the Republican gubernatorial candidate intensified this week after Perrin Rogers went public and Latvala’s legal team released dozens of text message exchanges in counter defense that showed a cordial working relationship between the two. The complaint detailing the sexual harassment allegations was also made public this week.

Soon after that happened, Gov. Rick Scott said the powerful senator — who is running to succeed him –was a “distraction” in the Legislature.

Latvala slammed Scott for his comment hours later, taking to Twitter to say Scott’s “theft of billions in taxpayers” was also a distraction, referring to his defense in a Medicare fraud case against Scott’s former hospital company.

“I’m sure HCA stockholders thought your efforts to defend yourself in theft of billions from taxpayers was a distraction but you had a right to defend yourself! I have that same right!” he tweeted.

The Senate continues to investigate the allegations of six women, one of them being Perrin Rogers, brought to light by a POLITICO Florida report. There is a separate Senate probe sparked by the complaint Perrin Rogers filed with the Senate Rules Committee.

Latvala’s defense team said there is a sense of “urgency” to wrap up the investigation and that it could be resolved as soon as next week.

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