Pam bondi Archives - Page 4 of 61 - Florida Politics

Blake Dowling: Discrimination, bad behavior in 2018

There are certainly lots of hot topics of bad behavior lately.

Maxine Waters certainly got the nation’s attention with a recent statement: “If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out, and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

I think columnist Joe Henderson summarized that statement very accurately: “That’s ignorant on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start.”

Our Attorney General Pam Bondi was also harassed at a movie; Joe weighed in on that too. He is doing the fair and balanced thing too, as he is not a fan of the president or Pam but calls out bad behavior where he sees it.

You can check out his column here.

Everyone really needs to grow up, behave like adults and drop the bullying tactics.

I just wrote about this for the Tallahassee Democrat, and there are some stories there on Anthony Bourdain (and Ratt too), so check it out as well.

It may be the president, governor, CIA director, a Sony plant employee, or the lead singer of Ratt, but someone is going to do something you disagree with, and we as a nation need to handle the bad and good together when we can.

It’s embarrassing how we behave online and in person.

I have met Bondi, and (in my opinion) she was and is first class. I was shocked by that crazy video of her at the movies.

Anyway, speaking of bad behavior, there was another massive data breach this week. In fact, it was beyond massive, and it was right here in our state.

According to Wired Magazine, Exactis, a Palm Coast-based marketing and data-aggregation firm, had potentially exposed a database containing nearly 340 million individual records, on some type of public server.

According to security expert Vinny Toja: “It seems like this is a database with pretty much every U.S. citizen in it.”

Toja, who discovered the breach earlier this month, told Wired: “I don’t know where the data is coming from, but it’s one of the most comprehensive collections I’ve ever seen.”

It does not appear we are talking about Social Security numbers or credit card info, but it still looks to be sensitive information. Possibly including birthday, gender, likes, number of children, etc.

If you want to check to see if your info is on the dark web, you can check this site out for free.

Remember the breach by Equifax last year? This is bigger than that.

What makes that story worse, an employee of that company, Sudhaker Bonthu, immediately bet against the firm with some shady investing; he was charged with insider trading this week.

“Bonthu, who was entrusted with confidential information by his employer, misused that information to conclude that his company had suffered a massive data breach and then sought to illegally profit,” said Richard Best, director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Atlanta regional office.

“Corporate insiders simply cannot abuse their access to sensitive information and illegally enrich themselves,” according to The Hill.

So am I sounding like Joel Osteen, preaching free advice to behave?

That is not my intention and (for the record) there is about 1,000 miles of desert between me and sainthood. But, come on, let’s work on upping our game: citizens, corporate America and elected officials.

The idea of children separated from their parents at the border is horrible; I get it. People get upset about health care; I really get that.

(I just found out mine went up again, double digits, that’s like four years in a row of increases.)

But I am not looking for someone to spit over it, or refusing them service at my company.

Like Bob Barker on the Price is Right, I say “come on down” to Republicans, Democrats, Independents — all are welcome at my office with respect.

Hopefully, protesters won’t show up in my parking lot cursing my stance on reminding people to have manners and respect one another even when in disagreement. Pretty radical view isn’t it? Thanks to Joe, Andy and Nancy Pelosi, as well as everyone else who calls out bad behavior.

Have a good one and … is it just me or was Al Gore right or what? It’s third-level-of-Hades hot in our state’s Capital.

BD signing off. #globalHOT


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and enjoys Gator sports and IPA’s. He can be reached at

Ashley Moody stresses her passion for rule of law

In a Republican Party of Florida Sunshine Summit full of red-meat conservative discussions, attorney general candidate Ashley Moody kept it basic Friday, repeatedly stressing her passion for rule of law.

“I was raised to believe in the in the importance of our family, my faith, and to respect the rule of law,” said the former federal prosecutor and judge, and daughter and granddaughter of judges.”

“I was raised understanding that our government and our court system should be a sanctuary for life, property and the rule of law; that its resilience comes from the unwavering commitment to the rule of law, and unbiased prosecution of that law,” she continued. “And let me say that one more time: ‘unbiased prosecution of that law.'”

The declaration could be read as a commitment to constitutional protections, but also could be read as defining her positions in instances even when they are not politically popular in the party.

“Respect for the rule of law is not just a campaign slogan for me, it is a way of life,” she said, after noting her husband is a police officer.

Moody’s August 28 Republican primary opponent state Rep. Frank White speaks this afternoon

Moody briefly touched on a couple of the red-meat issues that have dominated most discussions, including Thursday night’s gubernatorial debate, at the Sunshine Summit at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee.

She spoke of her belief in the conservative approach to government, new dangers for law enforcement, a fleeting reference to President Donald Trump, and a hint of anger toward illegal immigration, and also chided political distractions from the rule of law.

“When my own husband’s life was put on the line during an arrest by someone who should not have been in this country, my resolution and my belief that we must stand up for what is true and what is right, despite distractions, became even stronger,” she said.

She also touched briefly on practical issues facing Florida: the opioid epidemic, elder abuse, and challenges of mental health intersecting with the justice system.

“We must have an attorney general that can see through the commotion and the distractions and remember what is best for the long term stability of our democracy,” Moody said. “We have a tremendous attorney general in Pam Bondi. And like her I will stand firm in defense of the rule of law.”

Florida Democrats call on Rick Scott to stand up to Donald Trump

Gov. Rick Scott is in Washington raising money for his U.S. Senate campaign, and the Florida Democratic Party says now is as good a time as any to confront Donald Trump for his attacks on health care protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“According to recent estimates, 7,810,300 Floridians have pre-existing conditions. Those are 7,810,300 of your constituents that could lose their health care if Donald Trump (and your own Attorney General, Pam Bondi) have their way. Yet, despite the potential grave consequences of Trump and Bondi’s lawsuit, you haven’t uttered a word explicitly condemning their actions,” the letter says regarding a multistate lawsuit aimed at removing Affordable Care Act rules guaranteeing health care access for people with pre-existing conditions.

The Trump Administration said earlier this month it will not defend the lawsuit in court.

Scott, in a statement from his Senate campaign last week, said that while “Obamacare is a disaster and costs way too much,” he supports the requirement that health insurers not discriminate against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

He’s yet to back up those words with any action, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Florida Democratic Party.

In an email announcing the letter, the FDP said Scott’s behavior was to be expected, considering he “bragged about crafting the GOP’s recent health care bill that would slash coverage for people with pre-existing conditions (while giving himself a tax break).”

The letter continues:

“Simply put, although we Floridians are tired of your empty rhetoric, we’re also used to it. We know that you have a tendency to say and do anything to get elected. However, in a matter as serious as health care, we hope that you can put aside politics and understand that for many, having access to affordable and quality health care is the difference between life and death.

“On Thursday, while you spend the day hobnobbing with donors in Washington, D.C., we request that you stop by to see your ‘close friend’ Donald Trump and tell him to stop his attacks on health care protections for pre-existing conditions. Or better yet, tell him that Florida is withdrawing as a party to the lawsuit that would make protections for pre-existing conditions unconstitutional.”

The letter is FDP’s latest attempt to turn Trump into an anchor around Scott’s neck. The second-term Republican Governor is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in the fall.

Rick Scott, Cabinet delay decision on hiring new OFR head

Despite interviewing five “quality candidates” on Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet held off on appointing a new head of the state’s Office of Financial Regulation (OFR).

Instead, they decided to keep the application period open through mid-July. Thirty-four people already had applied.

Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam held a conference call and interviewed their top five applicants to replace outgoing OFR Commissioner Drew Breakspear.

Meantime, Pam Epting will become interim commissioner at the post’s $135,000 salary. Breakspear’s official last day is June 30.

He recently announced he was stepping down after Patronis pressured him to leave the position. Patronis’ office had said he received numerous calls for a new top regulator from mortgage and security industry leaders who had clashed with the agency.

Any permanent replacement will face a new governor and Cabinet in 2019, as all four positions are up for election in November.

After interviewing the five – including state GOP state Rep. Jay Fant of Jacksonville – Scott balked, saying he wanted more time to make a decision. Scott and the others also agreed to accept more applications and decide at the next Cabinet meeting on Aug. 14.

Fant, who ran his family’s Jacksonville bank before it was shut down, dropped out of the race for attorney general to apply for OFR Commissioner.

Fant had been on Scott’s side last year, when he voted against a bill backed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran that sought to abolish Scott’s favored Enterprise Florida economic development organization.

But during his interview Patronis raised the issue of the failure of Fant’s family-run bank amid the recession.

Fant said “community banks” like his family’s were hurt by the federal government’s bailout, which he said benefited only the big banks and left smaller banks in the dust: “Capital wasn’t available to the small companies.”

They were “terrible times for us as Floridians, as Americans,” Fant said, but added he would apply lessons from that experience “to the future.”

Two additional applicants with years of regulatory experience, William Jannace and Kevin Rosen, had been advanced for consideration by Bondi.

Also applying were banking lobbyist Scott Jenkins and Linda Charity, a former OFR official who served as interim commissioner twice.

The OFR reports to the Financial Services Commission, which is made up of the Governor and Cabinet. State law says they can hire or fire the OFR’s head “by a majority vote consisting of at least three affirmative votes, with both the Governor and the Chief Financial Officer on the prevailing side.”


Ed. Note — A live-reporting Twitter thread with details from the interviews during Wednesday’s meeting is here.

Florida Politics Jacksonville correspondent A.G. Gancarski, Gainesville correspondent Drew Wilson, and The News Service of Florida (content republished with permission) contributed to this post.

Justices to take up ‘stand your ground’ split

With lower courts split on the issue, the Florida Supreme Court said Tuesday it will take up a question about whether a 2017 change to the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law should apply to older cases.

The controversial 2017 change shifted a key burden of proof in “stand your ground” cases — a shift that can play a role in determining whether people claiming self-defense should be shielded from prosecution. But two appellate courts have split about whether the change should apply to defendants who were arrested before the 2017 law took effect but whose cases were pending.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear the case of Tashara Love, who sought to use the self-defense law to be shielded from prosecution in a November 2015 shooting incident outside a Miami-Dade County nightclub. The 3rd District Court of Appeal last month ruled that the 2017 burden-of-proof change should not apply retroactively to Love’s case.

In asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, Love’s attorneys pointed to potentially broad implications.

“This case presents an issue of statewide importance impacting countless criminal prosecutions: whether the 2017 amendment to the Stand Your Ground law applies to all pending cases or only those arising after its enactment,” the attorneys wrote in a brief.

As is common, the Supreme Court’s order Tuesday accepting the case dealt only with procedural issues. But all five justices involved in deciding whether to take up the case — Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, Charles Canady and Ricky Polston — agreed on hearing it.

The “stand your ground” law says people are justified in using deadly force and do not have a “duty to retreat” if they believe it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm. When the defense is successfully raised in pretrial hearings, defendants are granted immunity from prosecution.

Before the 2017 change, the Supreme Court had ruled that defendants had the burden of proof in pretrial hearings to show they should be shielded from prosecution. But with backing from groups such as the National Rifle Association, lawmakers shifted the burden from defendants to prosecutors to prove whether self-defense claims are justified. By placing the burden on prosecutors, the new version of the law could help at least some defendants in “stand your ground” cases.

While the 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled that the change should not be applied retroactively, the 2nd District Court of Appeal this spring took the opposite position in a Hillsborough County case.

A panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal said the burden-of-proof change should apply retroactively to Tymothy Ray Martin, who was convicted of felony battery in a 2016 altercation involving his girlfriend. Martin appealed his conviction, and the appeal was pending when the 2017 burden-of-proof change took effect.

Martin’s case also is at the Supreme Court. Amid the conflicting rulings, Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office agreed that the Supreme Court should resolve the retroactivity issue — though it suggested justices hear the Martin case instead of the Love case.

“(Courts) of the Third District are forbidden from applying Florida’s Stand Your Ground amendment retroactively, while courts of the Second District must apply it retroactively to all pending cases,” attorneys in Bondi’s office wrote in a brief this month. “This constitutes the requisite ‘express and direct conflict’ that the (Supreme) Court’s conflict jurisdiction is designed to resolve.”

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Joe Henderson: It’s getting harder to identify the good guys

Attorney General Pam Bondi was harassed by protestors last Friday when she was at a movie theater in Tampa for a screening of the Mr. Rogers’ movie “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

Video of the incident went viral. Interestingly, it was captured by a member of Organize Florida who happened to be on the scene.

That group describes itself as “a community-based, nonprofit member organization of low and moderate-income people dedicated to the principles of social, racial, and economic justice and the promotion of an equal and fair Florida for all.”

Very good.

We need more of that.

What we don’t need are the guerilla tactics the video showed against Bondi.

They were inappropriate and juvenile.

Wait a minute, Pam.

Don’t think I’m defending your decision to have Florida join a lawsuit that could end protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

That’s what triggered the protest, and Bondi should be ashamed to be a party to that. It is cold, heartless, cruel and an unworthy partisan example of how she puts her Republican Party ideals over what is best for all the people.

And I did have to suppress a laugh when I saw her quote in the Tampa Bay Times about the incident.

“We were in a movie about anti-bullying and practicing peace and love and tolerance and accepting of people for their differences,” Bondi told The Times. “That’s what Mister Rogers is all about. We all believe in free speech, but there’s a big difference there.”

A good way to put anti-bullying, peace, love and tolerance into practice might be to stop trying to destroy people’s insurance lifeline without replacing it with something that can provide the coverage they need and can afford.

It’s despicable.

Can you say that, Pam? Sure, you can.

Actually, I doubt she could.

This kind of stuff has been building since Donald Trump started his campaign for president. Progressives and Democrats, in general, despise him and the members of his administration — and, by extension, people like Bondi.

They believe Republican policies are designed to make the rich become richer and to screw the little guy. Often, they aren’t wrong.

They believe Trump is a feckless bully whose fallback position is to lie about pretty much everything. Some of the people who support him believe they have a license to intimidate, mock, berate and stomp on people who have different ideas.

Democrats are fed up. The anti-Trumpies have had enough.

But there is no excuse — none, zero — for some of the things we’ve seen lately.

Take Democratic U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of California, for instance. She is acting just like the person she despises.

Saturday in Los Angeles, she said in a speech, “If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

That’s ignorant on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start.

It’s basically what Trump called for his supporters to do during the campaign. It’s how he excused racists in Charlottesville for inciting violence. It’s his fallback position whenever he feels the heat.

His opponents aren’t as good at that game as Trump has been, and right now they are too filled with fury to grasp that their best weapon isn’t a rock or screaming insults, it’s a ballot on Election Day.

But even that won’t work if the anti-Trump crowd keeps up this garbage. They shouldn’t try to justify this junk with a “yeah, but …” because they would be wrong.

Non-aligned voters already say they can’t tell the difference between the two parties, and these actions reinforce that belief. And they tend to believe that while conservatives can be hardhearted, liberals can be clueless.

Democrats need to ask themselves a serious question. Florida has elected a Republican Governor in five consecutive elections. The vast majority of top officials in Tallahassee are Republicans.

Yes, gerrymandering can explain the GOP lockjaw on the Legislature, but that doesn’t explain why Dems keep losing statewide races.

It’s just possible that Republicans have done a better job of articulating a vision enough Floridians agree with.

Hard to swallow, eh?

If they want to change that narrative, it’s time for leaders of the so-called “resistance” to show they can be something besides mad.

Recent events aren’t promising.

State says appeals court can take up NRA ‘Jane Doe’ issue

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office has acknowledged that legal precedents would allow a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court to decide a dispute about whether the identity of a 19-year-old Alachua County woman should be kept secret in a challenge to a Florida law that raised the age to purchase rifles and other long guns.

But in a filing Friday at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Bondi’s office also raised the possibility of later taking the “jurisdiction” issue to the full appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

The issue stems from a ruling last month by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker that the woman, identified as “Jane Doe,” could not remain anonymous as a plaintiff in a National Rifle Association challenge to the gun law. The NRA then went to the Atlanta-based appeals court seeking to allow the woman to remain anonymous. The appeals court, on June 8 raised the question about whether it should consider the anonymity matter and said that if “it is determined that this court is without jurisdiction, this appeal will be dismissed.”

In a filing last Tuesday, NRA attorneys wrote that while the appeals court’s jurisdiction involves final orders of district courts, it also can extend to certain “collateral orders” and that the court can take up the anonymity issue.

Bondi’s office acknowledged in the Friday filing that the issue is “immediately appealable” to a three-judge panel.

“However, they (state officials) reserve the right to contend in future proceedings, before either the en banc (full) 11th Circuit or the Supreme Court of the United States, that such precedent should be overruled and that the order at issue here is not immediately appealable,” Bondi’s office said in the filing.

The NRA filed the underlying lawsuit March 9 after Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a sweeping school-safety measure that included new gun-related restrictions. The legislation was a response to the Feb. 14 shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 students and faculty members dead. In part, the law raised from 18 to 21 the minimum age to purchase rifles and other long guns.

In late April, the NRA filed a motion to add “Jane Doe” as a plaintiff to the lawsuit and asked Walker to allow the woman to remain anonymous due to fear that public exposure could result in “harassment, intimidation, and potentially even physical violence.” Bondi’s office objected to the anonymity request.

Pam Bondi confronted at Mr. Rogers movie

Protesters confronted Attorney General Pam Bondi at a showing of a documentary about children’s TV host Fred Rogers, and they questioned the Republican’s stands on immigration and health care.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Bondi received a police escort Friday when several members of Organize Florida confronted her as she left a Tampa theater after seeing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” about Mr. Rogers. The demonstrators questioned Florida joining a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act and Bondi’s general support of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

This is at least the third time a Republican official has been confronted at a public place in recent days over the president’s immigration policy that separated parents entering the country illegally at the Mexican border from their children. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders left restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area after facing friction there.

Bondi protester Maria Jose Chapa said was an impromptu demonstration after someone spotted the attorney general, who has a national following as a contributor on Fox News and as a friend of Trump. As Bondi and her companion left the theater surrounded by officers, the video shows Chapa followed her yelling.

“What would Mr. Rogers think about you and your legacy in Florida? Taking away health insurance from people with pre-existing conditions, Pam Bondi!” Chapa hollered. Another person shouted at Bondi, “You’re a horrible person!” Onlookers stared agape as the procession moved past.

Bondi told the paper in a phone interview Saturday that the demonstrators’ actions didn’t comport with the lessons taught by Mr. Rogers.

“We were in a movie about anti-bullying and practicing peace and love and tolerance and accepting of people for their differences,” Bondi said in an interview. “That’s what Mr. Rogers is all about. We all believe in free speech, but there’s a big difference there.”

When the Times asked Chapa if the documentary’s star would have handled the situation the same, she replied, “I’m not Mr. Rogers. I don’t have the poise or temperament of Mr. Rogers.”


Material from The Associated Press was used in this post.

Court urged to reject state rights restoration process

With arguments at a federal appeals court little more than a month away, attorneys for nine felons filed a 72-page brief Thursday urging the judges to find that Florida’s system of restoring felons’ voting rights is unconstitutional.

The brief asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a ruling by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker that struck down the system.

Arguments are scheduled July 25 at the appeals court in Atlanta.

The restoration of felon rights has long been a controversial legal and political issue in Florida, and Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi changed the system after they took office in 2011 to effectively make restoration harder.

Scott, Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis serve as the state’s clemency board and make decisions about restoration.

Under the current process, felons must wait five or seven years after their sentences are complete to apply to have rights restored. After applications are filed, the process can take years to complete.

In the brief filed Thursday, attorneys for the felons said the case is primarily a First Amendment challenge to an “arbitrary process” for restoring the right to vote.

“Florida’s laws have long subjected felons to an arbitrary scheme in which government officials exercise limitless power to decide if and when individual felons may vote,” the brief said. “These laws violate the Constitution by arbitrarily licensing or allocating First Amendment-protected rights and leaving restoration applicants in limbo for years. Plaintiffs challenge the lack of any rules, standards, criteria, or reasonable time limits for this voting rights restoration scheme.”

But in a brief last month, attorneys for the state urged the appeals court to overturn Walker’s ruling.

The brief said case law gives the clemency board discretion in restoring rights.

“Florida’s 150-year-old system for offering executive clemency to convicted felons is not facially unconstitutional insofar as it gives the Executive Clemency Board discretion to make clemency decisions implicating restoration of voting rights without resort to specific standards,” the state brief said.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Ten candidates qualify for Cabinet races

With a noon Friday deadline to qualify for this year’s elections, 10 candidates for state Cabinet seats had qualified as of Thursday morning, according to the Florida Division of Elections website.

Republicans Ashley Moody and Frank White and Democrat Sean Shaw had qualified to run for Attorney General, while Democrat Ryan Torrens was expected to appear Thursday afternoon in Tallahassee to submit his paperwork. The candidates are seeking to succeed term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi.

In the race to replace term-limited Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Republicans Matt Caldwell and Mike McCalister and Democrats Nikki Fried and David Walker had qualified as of Thursday morning.

Also, incumbent Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis had qualified to defend his seat. Democrat Jeremy Ring and write-in candidate Richard Dembinsky had qualified to try to topple Patronis.

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