Pam bondi Archives - Page 7 of 65 - Florida Politics

State urges dismissal of challenge to gun law

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office this week urged a circuit judge to dismiss a challenge to a law that imposes strict penalties on local governments and officials who violate a restriction on regulating guns and ammunition.

Numerous local governments and officials are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed in April in Leon County circuit court. The case is rooted in a decades-old law that gives the state power to regulate firearms and ammunition and “preempts” the ability of local governments to approve such regulations.

In 2011, the Legislature approved stiff penalties for local governments and officials who violate the state preemption law, including potential removal from office and fines. The municipalities allege in the lawsuit that the penalties are unconstitutional. But Bondi’s office this week filed a motion to dismiss the case on a number of grounds, including that the local governments’ arguments are “speculative” because the state has not threatened to enforce the law against the plaintiffs.

“Plaintiffs do not allege that any of the defendants named in these actions (or any other state official) has ‘actually threatened’ them (or anyone else) with enforcement of the challenged provisions,” the motion said. “Instead, plaintiffs allege only that, because they wish to enact and enforce ordinances that may be preempted … they are concerned that they may, at some indeterminate point in the future, be threatened with enforcement by some entity or individual they do not identify. Accordingly, these actions should be dismissed for a lack of judiciable case or controversy.”

The case has been assigned to Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson.

Frank White now leads Ashley Moody in AG race, poll says

A new poll of the Republican primary for Attorney General finds Pensacola state Rep. Frank White with an outside-the-margin-of-error lead over former circuit court judge Ashley Moody.

The St. Pete Polls survey, commissioned by Florida Politics, showed White with 26 percent support among active Republican primary voters compared to 19 percent support for Moody.

The results represent a major shift over last month, when the same pollster found Moody in the lead with 15 percent support with White one point behind. That poll was taken when Jacksonville Rep. Jay Fant was still a contender in the race to replace Pam Bondi. He has since bowed out to apply to be commissioner of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation (OFR).

The new poll also found that White has measurable advantages in favorability and name recognition.

Nearly two-fifths of GOP voters knew enough to give an opinion on White, who was seen favorably by 32 percent of GOP compared to 7 percent who said they found him unfavorable. Moody registered 10 percentage points behind in name recognition, though her favorability score was still very positive at plus-17.

Part of the shift in the Cabinet race is likely attributable to White’s TV ads. Last month, White’s campaign announced a $1 million ad buy and an “80 day strategy” that would keep his ads running through the primary election.

The first ad claims “liberal judges and elites threaten the constitution and mock our values.” The second touts his support from the National Rifle Association and “100 percent pro-life” views.

White has put more than $2.7 million of his own money behind his campaign. As of June 22, White had about $2.4 million banked, while Moody had about $2.2 million.

The winner of the Aug. 28 Republican primary will likely face Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw in the Nov. 6 general election. Two recent polls show Shaw leading both Moody and White among likely general election voters.

The St. Pete Polls survey was conducted through an automated phone call polling system. It took responses from 1,387 registered Republicans which were then weighted to account for proportional differences between the respondents’ demographics and the demographics of the active Republican primary voter population.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

Frank White releases ad touting Florida Right to Life endorsement

Republican Attorney General candidate Frank White announced an endorsement from Florida Right to Life Tuesday by rolling out a new campaign ad.

The hardline pro-life group, which opposes all abortion even in cases of rape or incest, sent the Pensacola Republican a letter saying that their endorsement “indicates that you are the best pro-life candidate in the race and is a recommendation that our members and supporters vote for you.”

White, who works as general counsel and chief financial officer for his father-in-law’s auto dealership chain, included that endorsement letter in an announcement touting his credentials as a pro-life candidate.

“I am 100 percent pro-life. Our Constitution’s primary purpose is to protect our God given rights, including the right to life. As Attorney General, I’ll ensure defending the rights of the unborn is a priority just as I have throughout my career,” White said. “My wife Stephanie is an adoption attorney and has dedicated her life to finding forever homes for children. For our family, we don’t just talk about being conservative. It’s our way of life.”

The announcement also included a new video ad featuring Stephanie White talking about her career and her husband’s pro-life stance.

“Soon after Frank and I got married, life threw us a surprise and blessed us with twin boys. I decided to pursue a career as an adoption attorney and child advocate,” she says in the ad. “Like me, Frank believes that all life is precious. That’s why he’s spent his career fighting for the unborn and those who can’t defend themselves.”

The ad then turns over to Frank White, who says he believes “that life begins at conception” and that “the most vulnerable people in our society are unborn children.”

Stephanie White continues, “For us, our conservative values aren’t just words. They are a way of life.”

White is one of two Republicans running to succeed term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi in the fall. He faces former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody, who has Bondi’s support, in the primary.

White has put more than $2.7 million of his own money behind his campaign. As of June 22, White had about $2.4 banked, while Moody had about $2.2 million.

The winner of the Aug. 28 Republican primary will likely face Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw in the Nov. 6 general election. Two recent polls show Shaw leading both Moody and White among likely general election voters.

White’s ad is below.

Money flows in GOP Attorney General race

Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody continues to post six-figure contribution totals, while her opponent in the Republican primary for attorney general, state Rep. Frank White, has started to dig into his campaign treasury to pay for ads, new finance reports show.

On the Democratic side of the race to replace term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi, Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa maintains a big lead in the fundraising contest over Ryan Torrens, a lawyer from Hillsborough County.

White, a Pensacola Republican, spent more than $1 million, mostly on advertising, from June 1 to June 22, while raising $84,200, according to campaign finance reports posted on the state Division of Elections website.

White released a pair of commercials last month that are part of a statewide TV ad buy that is expected to run up to the Aug. 28 primary.

The first criticizes politicians, liberal judges and elites that “threaten the Constitution and mock our values.” The second ad highlights White’s pro-life stance and support for the National Rifle Association and President Donald Trump.

White, who serves as general counsel and chief financial officer for the chain of Sandy Sansing auto dealerships, has put $2.77 million of his own money into the race.

White had about $2.4 million on hand as of June 22.

Of the $84,200 raised between June 1 and June 22, $39,000 came from other auto dealerships and real estate companies tied to those dealerships.

Braman auto dealerships and real estate companies in South Florida accounted for $24,000.

Moody, meanwhile, posted $285,655 in contributions during the same time frame to her campaign account and the political committee Friends of Ashley Moody.

With $19,150 from attorneys and law firms, and $45,085 from bankers, insurers and real estate interests during the time frame, Moody was sitting on a combined total of more than $2.2 million as of June 22.

Moody, who continues to receive in-kind support from the Republican Party of Florida, also claimed $23,000 from auto dealers in the three-week span.

The Republican Party, through expenditures for research, staffing and consulting, has provided Moody with $382,057 in-kind assistance, including $48,995 in the first three weeks of June.

Moody and her political committee spent $143,647 during the same time, with the largest expenditure being a $100,000 contribution to the state GOP.

She also spent $19,142 on advertising and printing.

Shaw, a Tampa attorney who released his first campaign biographical video on Monday, posted $60,468 in contributions to his campaign account and the political committee Sean Shaw for Florida between June 1 and June 22.

Shaw also benefited from $40,187 worth of in-kind assistance from the Florida Democratic Party.

Shaw put $3,810 of his own money into the contest, and lawyers and claims adjusters accounted for $22,352 of Shaw’s three-week total.

Shaw, a former state insurance consumer advocate, had $388,111 available in the two accounts as of June 22, $16,858 less than when the month began.

Torrens, who is counting on increasing his finances through state’s public matching-funds program, posted $11,696 in the three-week span, including $5,450 in loans. He had $2,901 on hand as of June 22.

Jeff Siskind, an attorney from Wellington who opened a campaign account on June 20, posted a $5,250 loan to himself the same day. Almost all of the money, $5,210,92, was used to pay his filing fee to run without party affiliation.

Pam Bondi up, Carlos Lopez-Cantera down in new wealth report

With much of her wealth in her home and a condominium, Attorney General Pam Bondi reported a net worth of $1.84 million as of the end of 2017, according to a financial-disclosure report filed last week.

Bondi’s net worth was up from about $1.7 million at the end of 2016. Bondi reported a nearly $1.16 million personal residence as of December 2017, and her one-third interest in a condominium was valued at $375,000 — with the value of the home and the condominium both increasing over the previous year.

Bondi also reported $549,000 in household goods and personal effects. Her only reported income was $128,871 from the state. State officials are required to file financial-disclosure forms by July 1 of each year, though they receive a grace period until Sept. 1. The reports typically reflect finances in the previous calendar year.

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.

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