Pam bondi – Page 6 – Florida Politics

Feds chip in $1M for Parkland first responders

The loss of life is priceless, but it seems the federal government is looking to mitigate other, tangible costs of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 dead.

On Monday afternoon the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance, or BJA, announced it would award a $1 million grant to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to help cover expenses incurred by area first responders following the shooting.

Specifically, the award will help the state, City of Parkland and Broward County pay salary and overtime expenses created by the shooting. A news release from the Justice Department said the money would help “defray costs” for personnel of the 18 agencies recruited for help.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who heads the Justice Department, spoke fondly of law enforcement and saw the grant as a follow-through on a promise made shortly after the Valentine’s Day massacre.

“As I told our state and local partners back in February, the Department of Justice stands ready to help them in any way we can,” Sessions said in a prepared statement. “Today we offer $1 million to support the police who have been working overtime in the aftermath of this tragedy. They can be sure about this: we have their backs.”

In a media appearance following the shooting, Time magazine reported Sessions also promised to reverse mass shooting trends and increase gun prosecutions.

The money will be funded through the Byrne JAG Program. Administered by BJA, the program is authorized by law to cover “precipitous or extraordinary increases” in crimes such as mass violence, according to the Justice Department’s news release.

Immediately after the shooting Attorney General Pam Bondi announced the state would cover funeral costs for each victim and counseling for survivors. The Florida Legislature passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a $400 million school safety package to harden schools and address mental health issues to prevent other school shootings in the state.

Hillsborough GOP event to feature both Rick Scott, Colt handgun raffle

With the Republican Party of Hillsborough, $20,000 goes a long way.

First, it buys a spot at next month’s Lincoln Day Dinner, seated at a table with Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott is headlining the event — themed “Let Freedom Ring” — along with Attorney General Pam Bondi (as Master of Ceremonies) and U.S. Reps. Dennis Ross, Gus Bilirakis and Vern Buchanan.

Twenty large also gets “Platinum Sponsor” status, an exclusive mention at the dinner and six passes to the VIP reception, joining Scott and “visiting dignitaries.”

Despite the potential ethics violation of buying access to Scott — as a newly minted U.S. Senate candidate — those cutting the big checks also get a special prize: 20 chances to win a Colt 1911 A1 G.I. 45 ACP (valued at $949).

Friday is the last day of the event’s “early bird pricing.” It’s also the same day thousands of students across the country walked out of classrooms to protest for gun reform on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.

And there is no small irony in an event that features Scott and a raffle of a handgun (particularly a Colt), considering the Florida Governor’s history of mingling guns and jobs, two issues that served as cornerstones of his political career.

In 2011, Scott pledged more than a million dollars to Colt Manufacturing to open an Osceola County plant to manufacture AR-15’s — similar to the weapon used by Nikolas Cruz to kill 17 students and teachers in February’s deadly Parkland high school shooting.

“Since Scott’s first year in office, the governor has sought to bring gun makers to Florida,” Florida Bulldog reporter Dan Christiansen wrote Feb. 20. “In 2011, for example, he promised $1.6 million in incentives to Colt Manufacturing Co. to open a plant and add 63 jobs in Osceola County to build AR-15 rifles, like the one police say was used in last week’s slaughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.”

With the Colt incentive deal in hand, Scott wanted show Florida was both open for business (especially the gun business) and welcoming to gun rights supporters — key factors in Florida’s much-derided reputation as the “Gunshine State.”

“‘As a supporter of new job creation and the Second Amendment, this announcement sends a clear message that Florida is both open for business and a defender of our right to bear arms,’ said Scott, adding that he was personally involved in bringing Colt to Florida,” the Bulldog piece noted.

Unfortunately for Scott, the boast was short-lived. The Colt deal later fell through because the gun manufacturer did not live up to the promised jobs.

The Hillsborough GOP Lincoln Day dinner is May 19 at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre in Tampa, beginning promptly at 6 p.m.

According to the invite, the event starts with a reception and silent auction of “significant local and historical items of interest” — which presumably includes the Colt giveaway. Dinner begins at 7 p.m.

Greyhound owners plan legal challenge of dog racing ban

The group that represents the state’s racing-greyhound breeders and owners will challenge a proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw dog racing, its spokesman and lobbyist told Florida Politics Tuesday.

Jack Cory, who represents the Florida Greyhound Association (FGA), said former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and former appellate judge Paul Hawkes, who also now represent the group, are working on a brief to the Florida Supreme CourtA request for comment sent to Kottkamp on the details of that challenge is pending.

On Monday, the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) approved the proposal (P6012) on a 27-10 vote; it needed at least 22 votes. Barring court action, it will go directly on November’s statewide ballot, where it needs at least 60 percent approval to be added to the constitution.

“We’re obviously very disappointed,” Cory said. “We don’t feel the proposal meets the requirements for ballot placement. We appreciate those who voted against it, but as we’ve seen, you only need a few lies to poison the well.”

In debate on the amendment, Attorney General Pam Bondi inveighed against dog racing; the Tampa Republican is known for regularly bringing shelter dogs to state Cabinet meetings to get them adopted.

“The entire country is watching us,” she said Monday, reciting a litany of alleged abuses of racing dogs. She told fellow commissioners that dog racing “is cruel and inhumane (and) horrible … This is not who we are as a state.”

Cory responded that Bondi, term-limited this year, was “wrong, and a modicum of research would have shown that.”

But “she read from the script given to her by an out of state so-called animal rights group,” he added, referring to GREY2K USA Worldwide, which opposes greyhound racing. 

Moreover, as the state’s chief legal officer, “she has full access to any kennel in the state,” Cory said. “She could see any abuse firsthand, but she won’t, because there is none … Respectfully, she did not know what she was talking about.”

Carey M. TheilGREY2K’s executive director, called the association’s members “sore losers” and said there was no basis for a challenge.

“This is a desperate attempt to prevent voters from having a say because they know they will lose at the ballot box,” he said.

Between Bondi and greyhound interests, “voters can look and decide who they want to believe,” Theil added.

He said a public relations campaign, including “grassroots volunteers” and paid advertising, is already being planned for the amendment’s passage in November.

The main vehicle for that campaign will be the Committee to Protect Dogs, a Florida political committee. State records show the panel has not yet raised any funds.

“We’re going to ask voters one simple question: ‘Would you treat your dog this way?’ ” Theil said.

Cory said the stakes are high to knock down the amendment: If it passes, “you’re putting people out of work, some who have been in the business for over 50 years. That’s not right.”

Greyhound racing ban heads to voters

Florida voters will decide whether to outlaw greyhound racing under a proposed constitutional amendment approved Monday.

The proposal (P6012) was passed by the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) on a 27-10 vote; it needed at least 22 votes.

It will go directly to November’s statewide ballot, where it needs at least 60 percent approval to be added to the constitution.

Commissioner Tom Lee, the amendment’s sponsor, tweeted: “My proposal to end dog racing just passed the @FloridaCRC! The amendment will now appear on the November ballot and voters will decide whether our state ends this archaic tradition.”

The measure goes into effect Dec. 31, 2020, if passed, and bans dog racing itself and betting on dog races. It doesn’t, however, affect any other gambling now going on at dog tracks, such as card games.

Lee, a Republican state Senator from Thonotosassa and possible candidate for state CFO this year, left the fiery rhetoric to Attorney General Pam Bondi, an ex officio member of the CRC.

Bondi, a Tampa Republican, regularly brings shelter dogs to state Cabinet meetings to get them adopted.

“This is a black eye on our state,” Bondi said in an often emotional speech on the floor of the Senate, where the commission meets.

She recited a litany of alleged incidents of abused racing dogs, showing photos. Bondi said 419 greyhounds have tested positive for illegal drugs, including cocaine, over the last decade. 

“The entire country is watching us,” she said. Dog racing “is cruel and inhumane (and) horrible … This is not who we are as a state.”

Commissioner Chris Smith, a former Senate Democratic leader, asked whether banning racing would be an unconstitutional ‘taking’ of private property. 

Former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and former appellate judge Paul Hawkes, who represent the Florida Greyhound Association (FGA), have said the amendment’s passage would subject the state to lawsuits worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“It is not a taking,” Bondi answered bluntly. As to to the hundreds of dogs that could be out of work, she added: “These dogs will be spoken for … if I have to take 1,000 of them, I will.” 

Smith later brought up a much-maligned ‘pregnant pigs’ amendment, as another example of what not to put in the state constitution: “This is why we have a Legislature,” he said. “Let’s not ‘one up’ the pigs by adding dogs.”

He was backed up by Commissioner Arthenia Joyner, another former Senate Democratic leader, who said dog racing “is how people make their living.” As one person told her, “Close this down and you close me down.”

“We’re seeking to take away an opportunity from hard working people,” Joyner added, saying the Legislature should provide a solution. 

But Commissioner Don Gaetz, a Republican and former Senate President, countered the Legislature could deal with it, but hasn’t and won’t. The issue is too fraught with peril because it implicates the state’s gambling laws, he said. Gaetz co-sponsored the proposal. 

“The industry won’t reform itself,” he added, mentioning “reasonable” past attempts to regulate dog racing. “Let the people of Florida decide whether to continue this as part of our culture.”

Updated 7 p.m. — Carey M. Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA Worldwide, emailed the following statement:

“… This is a major victory for everyone in the state who cares about dogs. Commercial greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane. Every three days, a greyhound dies at a Florida dog track. Greyhounds endure lives of confinement, and many suffer serious injuries. Over the past decade, there have been more than 400 greyhound drug positives in Florida including dogs that tested positive for cocaine, opiates, and other serious drugs.

“The animal protection community is united in its support for this humane proposal. We are prepared to run a formidable campaign, and are confident Floridians will vote ‘yes’ for the dogs this November.”

vaping or vaporizing

Drilling, vaping bans headed to ballot

Voters will get a chance to decide this fall whether to ban nearshore oil and gas drilling and prevent people from vaping or using electronic cigarettes in many public places, under a proposed constitutional amendment approved Monday.

Without debate, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission on Monday voted 33-3 to back a single proposed amendment (Proposal 6004) that includes the drilling and vaping issues.

The 37-member commission approved a series of proposed amendments Monday, amid repeated questions about linking multiple issues in single proposals.

Commissioner Brecht Heuchan, chairman of the commission’s Style and Drafting Committee, said the drilling and vaping issues were linked because sponsors worked together with a moniker of “clean air, clean water.”

“If anything went together, it was those two,” Heuchan said.

The proposed ban on vaping and electronic cigarettes in workplaces was sponsored by Commissioner Lisa Carlton, a former state senator from Sarasota County. Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, a former mayor of Sewall’s Point, sponsored the proposed drilling ban. She handed out seashells to fellow commissioners after the vote.

In a committee meeting last month, Thurlow-Lippisch called her proposal a needed “statement” to help the economy, wildlife and quality of life for Floridians.

“It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, or black or white or an alien from outer space, if you get to come here, you can walk the beaches and enjoy what they are,” Thurlow-Lippisch said.

Florida law currently prohibits the state from granting leases to drill for oil or natural gas in state coastal waters. But putting into the Constitution a ban on exploration and extraction of oil and natural gas in coastal waters would be more permanent.

The anti-drilling proposal comes amid debate about plans by President Donald Trump’s administration to allow oil and gas drilling in federal waters off various parts of the country.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appeared in January in Tallahassee and said drilling would not occur off Florida’s coasts, but the administration’s stance has continued to draw questions. The federal issue involves waters beyond the nation’s outer continental shelf — a jurisdictional term describing submerged lands 10.36 statutory miles off Florida’s West Coast and three nautical miles off the East Coast.

Carlton’s vaping measure, meanwhile, would expand a 2002 voter-approved constitutional amendment that banned smoking tobacco in workplaces, including gathering spots such as restaurants. The proposal would expand that prohibition to apply to “vapor generating electronic devices.”

Carlton, in a committee meeting last month, recalled watching her gymnast daughter work out at a gym and sitting behind someone who was vaping.

“I think it’s time to clean up our restaurants, our malls, our movie theaters, so we can all breathe clean air again, which is what the 2002 constitutional amendment intended,” Carlton said.

The Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years to evaluate possible changes to the Constitution, is taking final votes on 12 proposed constitutional amendments. Measures that go on the Nov. 6 ballot will need approval from 60 percent of voters to pass.

Ashley Moody

Two more sheriffs endorse Ashley Moody for AG

Former circuit court judge and Republican candidate for Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Thursday that two more county sheriffs have endorsed her bid to succeed Pam Bondi in the fall.

The endorsements came from Taylor County Sheriff Wayne Padgett and Martin County Sheriff William Snyder, both Republicans.

“Ensuring safety and security for every Floridian is one of the most important obligations of any elected official. Ashley Moody has spent her life in service to the safety of our state, both as a federal prosecutor and a judge,” Padgett said.

“Ashley is a proven leader for our criminal justice system and I’m proud to endorse her and her vision for keeping our state safe and protecting Floridians from the evolving criminal threats that law enforcement confronts on a daily basis.”

Snyder, who is also a former member of the Florida House, added: “As Sheriff, my top priority is the safety and security of the people I serve and there is no one more qualified to help assist law enforcement in their mission than Judge Ashley Moody.

“A tough on crime former federal prosecutor who has the knowledge and track record of keeping our state safe, Ashley will make an outstanding Attorney General. I’m proud to support her.”

With the new endorsements, Moody has now earned the backing of 37 – nearly 80 percent, the campaign says – of Florida’s Republican sheriffs. Moody’s other backers include 11 state attorneys as well as Bondi, who is a lifelong friend.

Moody is running in the Republican Primary against state Reps. Jay Fant of Jacksonville, Ross Spano of Dover and Frank White of Pensacola.

Through March, White led the money race with more than $2 million on hand, though his total includes $1.5 million in candidate contributions. Moody is in second with $1.5 million on hand without the help of loans, followed by Fant with $1 million raised including a $750,000 loan and Spano with $71,000 banked.

Also running for the Cabinet post are Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw and Odessa attorney Ryan Torrens.

A recent poll showed Moody with a one point lead with a third of voters undecided if she and Shaw were the candidates on the November ballot.

ashley moody

Ashley Moody reels in the money for Attorney General bid

Former Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court Judge and Attorney General candidate Ashley Moody finished March with more than $1.5 million on hand between her campaign account and political committee.

“This unprecedented support of Floridians, both in personal endorsements and financial contributions, is a testament to the hard work of our campaign team and volunteers,” said Moody. “We have crisscrossed the state sharing our conservative message of enforcing the rule of law for a stronger, safer Florida and it is truly resonating with voters.”

Moody added $102,025 last month — $79,525 through her campaign and $22,500 through her committee, Friends of Ashley Moody. Spending came in at about $42,000, leaving her with more than $1.54 million in the bank at the end of the month.

The committee report included four $5,000 checks, one each from Integrated Employer Resources, Belleair retiree Pamela Muma, Coral Gables attorney Gonzalo Dorta and Floridian’s United for Our Children’s Future, a political committee chaired by Ryan Tyson.

The campaign haul came in through 155 contributions, including eight for the statewide campaign maximum of $3,000.

The campaign also received $31,338 worth of “in-kind” contributions, all but $1,475 of which came from the Republican Party of Florida. Services included consulting and staffing.

Moody, a Plant City native, is one of four Republicans running to replace termed-out Attorney General Pam Bondi in the fall. She faces Jacksonville Rep. Jay Fant, Dover Rep. Ross Spano and Pensacola Rep. Frank White in the primary.

Since entering the race, she’s locked in support from more than half of Florida’s sheriffs and 11 state attorneys as well as Bondi, who is a lifelong friend of Moody.

Though she trails White in cash on hand, her campaign routinely points out that Moody is the fundraising leader in the Cabinet race due to the majority of White’s money coming from a $1.5 million self-contribution. Fant also pushed his campaign past the $1 million mark by way of a $750,000 loan.

Tampa Rep. Sean Shaw and Odessa attorney Ryan Torrens are running in the Democratic Primary.

The primary election will be held Aug. 28. The general election will be held Nov. 6.

Sean Shaw

Sean Shaw raises $211K for AG bid in March

Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw brought in more than $211,000 last month for his bid to replace termed-out Attorney General Pam Bondi in the fall.

“The support our campaign has received over the last month is a clear sign of the enthusiasm Floridians have for returning the office of the Attorney General back to the people, where it belongs,” Shaw said in a press release.

“When I announced, I vowed to be an independent watchdog on behalf of the people of our state and to crack down on all those who violate our laws. As I continue to speak with my fellow Floridians, I am more and more convinced that our message is resonating and our citizens are hungry for a real leader willing to stand up on their behalf in Tallahassee.”

The campaign said $168,000 of the March haul came in through Shaw’s campaign account, while another $43,000-plus was raised through his supporting PAC, Sean Shaw for Florida.

The campaign report is not yet accessible through the Florida Division of Elections, though the committee report is.

It shows eight contributions, with a $15,000 check from Tampa law firm Swope, Rodante P.A. topping the list. Florida Voter’s Fund chipped in $10,000, while real estate developer Peter H. Leach & Associates and the Florida Alliance for Better Government gave $5,000 apiece.

After $1,150 in spending, the committee had $41,884 on March 31.

Shaw, who was the state’s Insurance Consumer Advocate from 2008 to 2010, filed for the Cabinet post in January. Due to fundraising restrictions for sitting lawmakers, he wasn’t able to raise money for his campaign until the 2018 Legislative Session ended on March 11.

His 20-day total more than doubles that of Democratic Primary challenger Ryan Torrens, who had raised $90,281 as of Feb. 28, with about $13,000 of that sum in the bank.

Still, Shaw’s total is dwarfed by the war chests of candidates across the aisle.

Republicans Ashley Moody, Jay Fant and Frank White have each brought in more than $1 million since declaring for the race.

White led the pack as of Feb. 28, with just under $2 million on hand between his campaign account and political committee, United Conservatives. His total includes a $1.5 million self-contribution.

Moody is in second place with about $1.5 million on hand between her campaign and committee, while Fant’s campaign has brought in $1 million, including a $750,000 loan, and has $778,000 on hand.

Dover Republican Rep. Ross Spano is in the same boat as Shaw. He filed just before the 2018 Legislative Session, bringing about $68,000 from his House re-election campaign.

Pam Bondi says Florida will file opioid lawsuit

Attorney General Pam Bondi said this week Florida plans to file a lawsuit against drug companies because of the opioid epidemic that has led to overdose deaths across the state.

Bondi, who contends the pharmaceutical industry shares some of the blame for the problems, said her office is interviewing outside lawyers to assist in the litigation. While other lawsuits have been filed against the industry, Bondi said it is important that Florida file its own case to try to stop what she calls “bad behavior” by drug companies.

“Florida, as the third-largest state in the country, we will be filing our own lawsuit just as we did in the BP oil spill,” Bondi said, referring to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. “Florida deserves the maximum compensation for all of the deaths that have happened in our state.”

Bondi did not give a timetable for filing the suit and said Florida is working with cities, counties and states that have already filed cases against drug companies.

Pam Bondi vows to go to ‘highest court’ in clemency fight

Attorney General Pam Bondi reiterated Thursday that the state will not back away in a legal battle about whether Florida’s process for restoring ex-felons’ voting rights is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker last month gave Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet until April 26 to revamp the process, which Walker ruled violates First Amendment and equal-protection rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Bondi’s office on Wednesday filed a notice of appeal at the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and asked for a stay of the order requiring a new process by April 26. But Walker, in a sharply worded decision, quickly rejected the request for a stay, though he said the state can also take that issue to the appeals court.

On Thursday, Bondi criticized Walker’s rulings and defended the state’s authority to decide how to handle restoration of rights.

“We have been following the law,” she said. “We firmly believe that it is the law in the state of Florida. We plan on enforcing the laws. That’s what I do as the chief legal officer of the state of Florida. So, yes, we are appealing it. We will appeal it to the highest court.”

In the earlier rulings, Judge Walker said the current process is unconstitutional, in part, because it gives Scott and Cabinet members, serving as the state Board of Executive Clemency, “unfettered discretion” in deciding whether former felons should have their rights restored after completing sentences. Under the current process, ex-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.

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