Pam bondi Archives - Page 7 of 41 - Florida Politics

Florence Snyder: Is your mug shot in FACES virtual lineup?

Now that Attorney General and former Tampa Bay-area prosecutor Pam Bondi is among President-elect Donald Trump’s Legal Influencers, this is an excellent time to talk about FACES.

That’s the Department of Acronyms name for the Face Analysis Comparison Examination System, a statewide “facial recognition database” created over a decade ago by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Let’s hope our state’s top lawyer has heard of it. Most people working in Florida’s criminal justice system hadn’t until Sunday’s front page story in The Florida Times-Union by enterprise reporter Benjamin Conarck.

It’s a riveting account of an accused crack cocaine addict and dealer by the name of Willie Allen Lynch. Representing himself, Lynch discovered he and 33 million other folks are shaked and baked into a database that looks a lot like the ones on those police procedurals aimed at old people who still watch network television.

FACES golly-wow technology warp-speeds its way through millions of pictures of law-abiding people with drivers licenses along with less savory characters with mug shots —and spits out someone to arrest.

It’s a neat trick when viewed on a Jumbotron at Hawaii 5-0 headquarters.

In real life, the technology comes with questions that deserve a closer look.

“One of every two Americans is in a facial recognition database, according to a report released last month by Georgetown University. Florida’s face-matching system is the country’s largest and most active,” Conarck reports.

“Using the technology, police can insert people with no criminal histories into virtual lineups without their knowledge and identify faces on social media or in protest crowds. The software has expanded swiftly to police departments around the country, and has been left virtually unregulated.”

That won’t trouble those who think that people who have done nothing wrong have nothing about which to worry. But judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers have obligations to the Constitution which require that cards be laid on the table when a citizen’s life and liberty is at stake.

FACES software “is not designed to say ‘no’,” Conarck writes. “Instead, it returns multiple potential matches. That means police and prosecutors could be learning of alternate suspects from searching the database without notifying defense attorneys, who would be legally entitled to that information.”

This entitlement is grounded in a U.S. Supreme Court decision dating back to 1963, when judges were still writing opinions in longhand.

With the best of intentions, it’s close to impossible for law to keep up with technology. We’re just going to have to pick up the pace, and FACES is as good a place as any to start.

Not surprisingly, police and prosecutors hid behind spokesmen offering vague platitudes as Conarck went about his reporting. Bondi could take a big step in a more transparent direction by giving him some FACES time.

Pam Bondi to join Donald Trump transition team executive committee

There will be Florida input on the Donald Trump transition team, with Attorney General Pam Bondi named as a member of the transition team’s executive committee.

The team will be chaired by VP-elect Mike Pence, with campaign surrogates Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieNewt Gingrich, Gen. Michael FlynnRudy Giuliani, and Sen. Jeff Sessions as vice-chairs.

“I’m honored to serve President-elect Donald J. Trump in making this historic transition and assisting in finding the best individuals to bring change to Washington on Day 1, grow our economy, protect our children and families, and be unafraid to stand up for Americans,” said Bondi in a statement.

Along with Bondi, other members of the executive committee include:

Congressman Lou Barletta
Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn
Congressman Chris Collins
Jared Kushner
Congressman Tom Marino
Rebekah Mercer
Steven Mnuchin
Congressman Devin Nunes
Anthony Scaramucci
Peter Thiel
Donald Trump Jr.
Eric Trump
Ivanka Trump
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
Trump Campaign CEO Stephen K. Bannon

Bondi joins a cadre of loyalists and family members, as Trump’s transition team seems to eschew people connected with the D.C. power structure.

“Together this outstanding group of advisors, led by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, will build on the initial work done under the leadership of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to help prepare a transformative government ready to lead from Day 1,” Trump said. “The mission of our team will be clear: put together the most highly qualified group of successful leaders who will be able to implement our change agenda in Washington. Together, we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding this nation — specifically jobs, security, and opportunity. This team is going to get to work immediately to Make America Great Again.”

Mitch Perry Report for 11.7.16 — Closing arguments

In this space on Friday, we reminisced about October surprises in previous election cycles before referring to the dual bombshells that have rocked this year’s presidential election: First, the release of that 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape in which Donald Trump spoke lewdly about women, followed 10 days ago with the announcement of the discovery of hundreds of thousands of emails that could be related to the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton‘s potential violation of national security documents.

We surmised the surprises were over, but then FBI Director James Comey did what a week ago both sides said he SHOULD do — reveal more information about the nature of the emails.

Comey said during the fourth quarter of the 1 p.m. NFL games yesterday that the newly reviewed emails do not incriminate Clinton — and suddenly all of those who were praising Comey were are now condemning him.

“You can’t review 650,000 emails in eight days. You can’t do it, folks,” Trump told an audience in Michigan yesterday. “Right now she is being protected by a rigged system. It’s a totally rigged system,” he said.

“This confirms everything Donald Trump’s been saying about the system,” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi added. “The system is dysfunctional. The system is broken. And Hillary Clinton is the system.”

Some analysts now say this latest news could benefit Trump, as it becomes further proof the system is “rigged.”

Then again, some Democrats have insisted Comey’s announcement on Oct. 28 actually reenergized THEIR base.

“We’ve seen it add to the energy on our side,” Tim Kaine told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. “People on our side view this campaign as so important, the ‘Stronger Together’ message as so important and people don’t want it to be distracted. So there has been a great uptick in energy on our side in the early vote.”

Then again, what else are running mates supposed to say?

On Fox News Sunday, Mike Pence insisted the huge numbers of Latinos flocking to the polls is really a good thing for the GOP ticket, telling host Chris Wallace he wasn’t worried that Trump’s incendiary comments about Mexicans were going to haunt the campaign now.

“I’m really not,” Pence said. “The truth is that Hispanic-Americans have the same concerns that every other American does. And we want to get this economy moving again. We want our country to be safe. I was just down in Miami this last weekend, saw overwhelming support for Donald Trump, strong stand for freedom in this hemisphere, standing strongly against what the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton want to continue to do.  “

Wallace interjected: “So, you think all those Hispanics, sir, are coming out to vote for Trump and not for Clinton?  Really?”

“No, I’m saying …. I’m saying that the American people want change,” Pence said, pivoting to his own personal anecdote to confirm his beliefs. “That’s Americans coming from every category. I literally saw it. I stopped by and had some Cuban coffee at a classic stop in Miami. Karen and I had a hard time getting through the place with people that were enthusiastic about Donald Trump’s stand for a stronger America at home and abroad, getting this economy moving, and repealing Obamacare.  “

There you have it!

In other news …

At Sunday’s “Souls to the Polls” event in East Tampa, Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober  in the race of his career — met up with a man he once defended in court on murder charges.

Donald Trump was in Tampa Saturday morning,

Lisa Montelione wants Shawn Harrison to stop airing an ad that uses footage from her own ad to depict her as being missing in action.

The Senate District 18 race between Bob Buesing, Dana Young, and Joe Redner is mercifully almost over, but there was time on Friday for all three of them to get upset with each other.

Gwen Graham is only in elected office for a few more months, but she’s determined to stay vigilant (or at least in the news) with her calls for more public information regarding that Mosaic sinkhole incident.

Northeast Florida pols stump for Donald Trump, urge ‘draining the swamp’

While there might be some areas in which supporting Donald Trump is a liability for Republican politicians, Northeast Florida is not one of them.

With that in mind, a variety of area candidates and elected officials turned out for the Trump rally in Jacksonville on Thursday.

Among them: State Sen. Aaron Bean and State Rep. Jay Fant, Congressman-in-waiting John Rutherford, and former Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.

Making the trip from Tallahassee: Attorney General Pam Bondi

Warming up the crowd for the GOP standard bearer, they projected the kind of positivity one might expect in the “safe space” of a Trump rally on the deep red Westside of Jacksonville.

Bean, in his usual style, said “welcome to Trump/Pence country,” before talking about what is “really deplorable,” describing Hillary Clinton‘s botched Benghazi response.

Bean then channeled Jeff Foxworthy, saying “you might be a conservative if you wished you voted for Ronald Reagan … if you believe in traditional family values no matter what Hollywood said … if you think of somebody’s name when you hear the word crooked … and if you think it’s time to drain the swamp.”

A chant broke out. And Bean said “we’re draining it baby. We’re draining the swamp.”

Bean then named the enemy. The media. Mark ZuckerbergGeorge Soros, and Wall Street.

“You can have Wall Street,” Bean said. “I’ll take Main Street.”

Fant spoke next, asking rhetorical questions along the line of “do you want the federal government to expand into every area of your life?”

After a few of those questions, a spirited “lock her up” chant filled the Jacksonville Equestrian Center.

“The last eight years have been rough. I don’t know about you, but I watch the television and see what’s happened to our civil rights, and that really bothers me,” Fant said.

“Yes, we have Bibles and we take them to church every Sunday. And we sure know how to defend ourselves,” Fant said, adding that “the time for action is now.”

John Rutherford spoke up next.

“Is this Trump Country or what? That’s why I’m proud to be standing here and supporting our Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump,” Rutherford said.

A “spiraling decline,” “hopelessness in our inner cities,” “corruption in the highest offices in our land,” an influx of refugees, and the “national disaster that is Obamacare” are all characteristic of the problems created by the current administration, said Rutherford, which has set up a command system requiring Americans to “pay and obey.”

The chant rose up again from the assembled.

“Lock her up, OK,” Rutherford said. “Mrs. Clinton has a history of corruption going back 30 years to Whitewater … as a sheriff, I’ve locked up a whole lot of people for doing less than she has done.”

Jennifer Carroll had a hard act to follow. She maligned the Clinton machine for having “lied to Bernie Sanders and his supporters … and she’s doing that to black folks as well.”

She urged those who once felt the Bern to “come over on the Trump train,” before disparaging Clinton for everything from supporting Anthony Weiner to the various global nefariousness of the Clinton Foundation.

“This is how she supports women,” Carroll said.

Attorney General Bondi likewise was enthusiastic, saying “we’re going to turn a purple Florida red,” and “in five days, we’re going to see an America led by Donald J. Trump.”

Bondi advised that Trump would put “jurists on the Supreme Court who would follow the rule of law.”

Jobs lost overseas? Horrible trade policies?

“Eight years is enough,” said Bondi. “ISIS and tyrants abroad, they have our world on edge. Who’s not going to be scared of them? Donald Trump.”

Regarding “pill mills, cocaine, and heroin,” said Bondi, Trump will “protect our borders.”

“With him on the job,” Bondi added, “the job’s going to be done.”

“Hillary Clinton is the system. And Donald Trump is going to fix it,” Bondi continued.

Pam Bondi wants court to clarify death penalty ruling

Attorney General Pam Bondi, warning that murder trials across the state could be placed in limbo, has asked the Florida Supreme Court to clarify a sweeping death penalty ruling it handed down last week.

In two linked cases, the court first concluded that death sentences must require a unanimous jury and then struck down a newly enacted law that allowed a defendant to be sentenced to death as long as 10 of 12 jurors recommended it.

In the rulings, the court made clear that it was not declaring the death penalty unconstitutional. But in the decision that struck down the new law, the court also stated that “the law could not be applied to pending prosecutions.”

One of Bondi’s senior attorneys, Carol Dittmar, filed a motion Thursday on behalf of the attorney general asking that the court revisit its decision, saying that the way the ruling was written “unnecessarily invites continued litigation.”

“The language leaves open the possibility that defense attorneys will assert that no valid death penalty law exists in Florida,” Dittmar wrote in the court filing, adding later that the court needed to clarify its ruling to “avoid any potential miscarriage of justice.”

The motion by Bondi asserts that death penalty cases could proceed in Florida as long as juries were told they must reach a unanimous decision on whether to recommend capital punishment.

But Marty McClain, a long-standing death penalty attorney who filed a legal brief in one of the cases, said last week that it would be a risky move for prosecutors to proceed until the Florida Legislature rewrites the state’s death sentencing law.

“I think at the moment that there’s no statute in place for governing how to proceed,” McClain said.

That means, however, it could be months before the issue is resolved. State legislators are scheduled to return to the Capitol next month for a one-day organizational session, but the next regular session isn’t until March.

Florida’s death penalty law was upended as a result of a case involving Timothy Lee Hurst, who was convicted using a box-cutter to kill a co-worker at a Pensacola Popeye’s restaurant in 1998. A jury had divided 7-5 over whether Hurst deserved the death penalty, but a judge imposed the sentence. The state Supreme Court initially upheld his sentence, but the U.S. Supreme Court this past January declared the state’s death penalty sentencing law unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges to make the ultimate decision.

That ruling led the state to halt two pending executions, and state legislators rushed to overhaul the law. They gave more sway to juries, including prohibiting a judge from imposing the death penalty if the jury recommended life in prison.

The Republican-controlled Legislature, however, rejected calls to require a unanimous decision from a jury, settling instead for a supermajority of 10 jurors. Prosecutors were strongly opposed to requiring a unanimous jury decision, pointing out that some of the state’s most notorious criminals including serial killer Ted Bundy did not receive a unanimous jury recommendation. An analysis prepared for the Legislature showed that only 21 percent of death penalty sentences handed down over the past 15 years were recommended unanimously.

The Florida Supreme Court, however, last week vacated Hurst’s death sentence and ordered a new sentencing hearing. In that decision, justices ruled that a unanimous jury decision was needed to keep the death penalty “constitutionally sound.” The court struck down the state’s new sentencing law in a case brought by Larry Darnell Perry, a St. Cloud man accused of killing his 3-month-old son in 2013.

Pam Bondi calls Donald Trump lewd video comments ‘disgusting,’ but still supports him

After an extended silence on the issue, Attorney General Pam Bondi finally weighed in on a recording of Donald Trump making vulgar remarks about a married woman he was trying to seduce.

“I believe the statements that, that Donald Trump says were disgusting … um, disgusting. Period,” Bondi said in a speech to the Florida Federation of Republican Women in Pasco County, reported by WFTS-TV/ABC Action News. It was the first time she mentioned the 2005 video from “Access Hollywood.”

As one of Trump’s staunchest supporters in Florida, Bondi made no mention of new revelations by several women claiming to have had been victims of Trump’s unwanted sexual advances.

Bondi admitted to speaking with Trump “multiple times” since The Washington Post first released the video. “He believes what he said was disgusting,” she said. “He is horrified, apologetic.”

Despite that, Bondi says she still supports the Republican presidential nominee.

“I believe what Donald Trump said was disgusting,” Bondi told the audience. “I also believe in the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Trump has apologized for his lewd comments, repeatedly dismissing it as “locker room talk.”

When asked by Anderson Cooper at Sunday night’s debate, Trump insisted he had never actually groped women. Soon afterward, several women have publicly alleged Trump had once touched them inappropriately. As of this week, as many as eight women have now accused the New York billionaire of a variety of sexual assaults.

Trump defiantly repudiates all the charges, calling the women “liars” and suggesting they are not attractive enough for him.

The growing controversy is threatening to consume the final weeks of the presidential campaign; POLITICO Florida says it could turn the election into “a referendum on whether people believe the Republican nominee is a sexual predator.”

Bondi has recently come under fire about the timing of a $25,000 contribution in 2013 by a foundation run by Donald Trump to a committee linked to Bondi.  At the time, Bondi was considering joining New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a fraud case against Trump University.

Video courtesy of WFTS:


Court orders new trial for lawyer convicted in gambling ring

An attorney convicted of leading a $300 million gambling ring that used a veterans charity as a front and led to the resignation of Florida’s lieutenant governor is getting a new trial.

Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled that Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis deserves a new day in court after deciding that the trial judge should have allowed Mathis’ legal team to call certain witnesses to bolster its defense.

“Appellant argues, and we agree, that the trial court abused its discretion by excluding evidence supporting his theory of the defense,” the appeals court panel wrote.

Mathis was convicted of 103 counts of racketeering, possessing slot machines and other charges and sentenced to six years in prison. He was accused of operating dozens of illegal internet cafes, and was one of the 57 initially arrested in the Allied Veterans of the World case. He was the only one to receive prison time.

The case led to the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll and caused the Florida Legislature to ban internet cafes earlier in 2013. Carroll eventually settled her case with the state ethics commission, admitting she violated state ethics law and paying a $1,000 fine.

Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s office, which prosecuted the case, is reviewing the court’s opinion and determining its response, said spokesman Whitney Ray.

Mathis’ defense team wanted to make the case at trial that, in his capacity as Allied’s attorney, Mathis actually thought the cafes were legal under Florida law. He didn’t game the system, the defense theory goes, but advised his clients in his belief that the cafes were legal at the time.

The trial judge said Mathis was not being charged as a lawyer, however, but as a member of the organization, and barred the jury from hearing that line of defense.

“We put our defense on in the courtroom. The problem was, 90 percent of the jury didn’t hear because the judge prohibited it,” said Mitchell Stone, Mathis’ lawyer. “If we can present all of that information to the jury, we will prevail.”

Reprinted with the permission of the Associated Press.

Bob Buckhorn: Florida Republicans, ‘put your country first’ and vote for Hillary Clinton

Bob Buckhorn has a simple question for the four members of the Florida Cabinet regarding Donald Trump.

“Where ya hidin’?” the Tampa mayor asked Wednesday at a news conference held outside City Hall. He was referring to how some of Florida’s leading Republicans have cut a very low profile when it comes to discussing Trump in the aftermath of the lewd sexual comments the Manhattan real estate magnate made in a 2005 video leaked to The Washington Post last Friday.

“You’ve got to make a fundamental choice: Pam Bondi, Adam Putnam, Jeff Atwater, Gov. Scott — do you stand with Donald Trump or not?” the mayor asked provocatively. “If you don’t, then you need to stand up and say so. But if Donald Trump’s politics represent what you think is what the Republican Party stands for, then I’m sorry, that is not the Republican Party that this country has known. That is not the candidate deserves to be president of the United States.”

Buckhorn of course, is hardly an objective observer. Hizzoner is all in with Hillary Clinton in this campaign, to the extent that some have speculated he may be offered a job in her administration if she’s elected next month. Historically he hasn’t been a huge partisan in his time in office, which contributed to his winning more than 95 percent of his re-election vote in 2015. In fact, more than a few Democrats were unhappy the mayor pledged his neutrality when Scott was running for re-election against Charlie Crist in the 2014 gubernatorial election.

That was then, however.

The mayor is the father of two young daughters, and he said that it was a “painful moment” in his life to have to discuss the contents of Trump’s comments that went national last week. It should be noted Republicans made similar comments back in 1998, when the report by special prosecutor Ken Starr on Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky was laid bare for the world to observe.

“Last week was the most embarrassing, shameful episode that I have ever seen in 25 years of doing politics,” Buckhorn said of the Trump tape. “It showed me in no uncertain terms that Donald Trump is absolutely temperamentally unfit to be the president of the United States, and I have no problem standing up here and saying that.”

He also called on “all of our Republicans friends” to realize it’s time to hop off the Trump train: “It is time to abandon ship. It’s time to put your country first, and put your party second, and come over and do the right thing for America in voting for Hillary Clinton.”

Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee Chair Deborah Tamargo was not impressed by Buckhorn’s comments.

“I didn’t think that the mayor was elected to be God and a moral judge. I thought he was elected to carry out the law,” she said, adding, “I don’t remember him running on a moral platform, and I don’t believe he’s a pastor, priest or rabbi. And I don’t think he’s in a position to make moral judgements. I think that’s a personal thing.”

Like many Republicans, Tamargo says she believes Clinton broke the law when she was found to have used a private email server when she served as secretary of state and sent out classified material. In July, FBI Director James Comey announced that despite evidence Clinton was “extremely careless” in her handling of classified emails on a private server, the bureau would not recommend to the Department of Justice that criminal charges be brought her.

“I’m really perplexed that he would be trying to extort people into not exercising their free will in voting and endorsing and supporting, and I’m rather shocked he would be supporting someone who has broken the law,” Tamargo said of Buckhorn’s comments.

The press conference, called by the Florida Democratic Party, was held to mark the decision earlier Wednesday by federal judge Mark E. Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida to extend voting registration in the state until Oct. 18 because of the impact of Hurricane Matthew.

“There is no more fundamental right than the right to vote,” said House District 61 Democrat Ed Narain, who joined Buckhorn at the press conference. “While people are trying to make this out into being a political issue, it’s far from political. It’s a fundamental constitutionally protected right that all citizens have the right to vote.”

The decision is considered a victory for the Florida Democratic Party. Last week, Gov. Scott told reporters he didn’t “intend to make changes,” saying “people have had time to register.”

Pam Bondi won’t opine on firefighter open carry question

Attorney General Pam Bondi has declined to weigh in on whether local police chiefs can “direct or permit firefighters in emergency situations to openly carry firearms.”

Crestview Police Chief Tony R. Taylor had asked for a legal opinion from Bondi’s office.

In an Aug. 9 informal opinion, a copy of which was released Tuesday, Senior Assistant Attorney General Gerry Hammond told Taylor “it does not appear that this is a matter upon which this office will comment.”

“As it is unclear that a municipal police chief has any statutory authority to direct firefighters in the performance of their duties, no comment will be expressed on this matter,” the letter said.

“(Y)ou may wish to consider whether a mutual aid agreement between law enforcement agencies may better meet your needs in planning to respond to emergency situations,” it added.

“I regret that this office could not be of more direct assistance to you in this matter, but trust you will understand that our inability to comment is the result of statutory limitations, not a lack of concern,” the letter said.

Taylor couldn’t be reached Tuesday afternoon.

Open carry has been in the news this year.

The House passed a bill this legislative session that generally would have allowed those with a concealed weapon permit to carry openly, but the Senate did not take up the measure.

Separately, the Florida Supreme Court has not yet ruled in a case that could uphold or overturn Florida’s ban on openly carrying a firearm.

Gun-rights activist Eric Friday says the ban should be stricken because it “infringe(s) on the fundamental individual rights of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, and the state.”

Rick Scott’s goal for final years in office: ‘Jobs, and then jobs, and then jobs’

For Gov. Rick Scott, Florida’s future priorities are the same as they are today — jobs, jobs, jobs.

The Naples Republican was one of the keynote speakers at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Future of Florida Forum in Orlando on Thursday. The governor used his speech to not only pump up his proposal to set aside $85 million for economic incentives, but also to talk about the need to create a business-friendly environment and grow jobs.

“My goal for the last 830 days is jobs, and jobs, and then jobs, and then jobs,” he said. “It’s the most important thing for a family.”

The governor ran on a jobs platform in 2010, and has remained laser-focused on job creation during his time in office. The state created nearly 1.2 million private sector jobs since December 2010, and Scott said those job gains are due in part to cuts in taxes and business regulations.

But Scott said a focus on education and public safety also has helped boost job creation.

“When I get out of office, I want people to say ‘my business has to be in Florida, because I know I can serve my customer better if I’m in Florida. I have to be in Florida because I can get a good-paying job. I have to be in Florida because my children have a better chance of living the dream of this country,’” he said. “If we’re going to continue the successes we have, we have to be more aggressive.”

Scott was one of several speakers during the 2016 Future of Florida Forum. Attorney General Pam Bondi and CFO Jeff Atwater also spoke Thursday, while Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was the keynote speaker on Wednesday.

The annual event is meant to give elected officials and business leaders a chance to discuss plans for Florida’s future.

While the event focuses more on policy than politics, Scott did encourage attendees to stay politically active.

“When you think about your time every day, you’re busy with your business life, you’re busy with your jobs, but you have to be politically active,” he said. “You have to say ‘we’ve got to get the right people elected,’ because if you don’t, what we’ve accomplished in the last six years will end.”

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