Richard Corcoran Archives - Page 3 of 57 - Florida Politics

Richard Corcoran: House is ‘right’ in office complex suit

Speaker Richard Corcoran says “we are right” about the House of Representatives’ demand for a jury trial in a dispute between the owners of a Tallahassee office complex and several state agencies who bolted on the master lease.

As detailed in Wednesday night’s “Last Call,” the House intervened in the pending lawsuit by Northwood Associates, owners of Tallahassee’s Northwood Centre, against the state. The former shopping mall-turned-office complex had been home to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and others.

“The House is confident we are right and we will always move swiftly and forcefully to protect the health of state employees,” Corcoran said in a statement Thursday. “In addition, we will protect taxpayers from corporations that feel entitled to taxpayer money even when they don’t do what was promised.”

Critics called the complex a “biological hot zone” after inspectors found 10 pounds of bat feces in the ceiling above the desk of then-DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson. Mold and more animal droppings were also discovered.

The company has denied the allegations, saying it “performed air quality testing” and contracted with “two expert consulting firms to address all issues.”

But Gov. Rick Scott approved stopping rent payments in the 2016-17 state budget, and the state relocated some 1,500 workers. Northwood Associates filed suit. The court allowed the House into the case to defend the budget proviso language nixing the lease payments.

In a filing by general counsel Adam Tanenbaum, the House wants a jury to decide if there was a “constructive eviction,” meaning that a landlord did or failed to do something, making a property “unsafe, unfit, and unsuitable for occupancy.”

 

Special House panel will investigate Daisy Baez residency

Whether Democratic state Rep. Daisy Baez actually lives in South Florida’s House District 114 will be investigated by a select House subcommittee on member conduct.

A Thursday memo from Speaker Richard Corcoran agreed there is “probable cause” for an inquiry, in response to an earlier memo earlier from Rep. Larry Metz, chair of the Public Integrity and Ethics Committee.

The Miami Herald reported in May that Baez “did not appear to live in District 114, which she has represented since being elected (in) November, but rather in neighboring District 112 [represented by Democrat Nicholas Duran], where she owns a house … and has a property-tax homestead exemption.”

Baez later told the Herald she has another “residence,” an rental apartment, within District 114’s boundaries. Both districts are within Miami-Dade County.

The state constitution says “(e)ach legislator shall be at least twenty-one years of age, an elector and resident of the district from which elected and shall have resided in the state for a period of two years prior to election.” The constitution also reserves to each legislative chamber the right to be the “sole judge” of its members’ qualifications.

What “residency” really means has long vexed legislators and others. Specific factors the panel might consider include:

— Where Baez gets her mail.

— The address where she claims a homestead exemption.

— Proof of payment and the amount of electricity she uses, along with other utilities.

— The address she listed on her federal income tax returns.

— The address on her voter information card and motor vehicle registration.

Rep. Tom Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican, will chair the five-person panel, which also includes Reps. Cord Byrd, a Neptune Beach Republican; Jason Brodeur, a Sanford Republican; Tracie Davis, a Jacksonville Democrat; and Emily Slosberg, a Boca Raton Democrat.

Metz received information earlier this month from the Florida Commission on Ethics that questioned Baez’s residency.

“Substantive allegations” in the original complaint contend that Baez has not lived in HD 114 for “most or all of her tenure in the House.” That complaint was filed in June by Coral Gables voter Christian Rodriguez.

“Baez is ineligible to represent the district in the Florida House of Representatives and should be removed immediately upon a finding that she either never established her permanent residency within House District 114 or she relinquished her permanent residency,” the complaint read.

The subcommittee will report to Metz upon concluding its investigation.

Déjà vu: Richard Corcoran seeks repeal of public campaign financing

House Speaker and presumptive Republican candidate for governor Richard Corcoran, who declared war on “corporate welfare” last Legislative Session, now wants to end “welfare for politicians.”

On Wednesday, he asked the Constitution Revision Commission—of which he appointed nine of its 37 members—to consider an proposal to repeal a section of the state Constitution that provides for public financing of statewide political campaigns.

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

“Commissioners have received the letter and will consider it along with all other comments and proposals submitted to the commission,” CRC spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice told Florida Politics.

The money, which comes with provisos, comes out of the state’s general revenue, said Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell.

“This is a gross waste of taxpayer money and is nothing more than welfare for politicians,” Corcoran said in a statement. “All it does is protect the insider political class.

“You really have to be clueless or just plain selfish to accept money from our state coffers that could go to our schoolchildren, first responders, or be put back in the pockets of our taxpayers,” he added. “This proposal is simply about doing the right thing.”

Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, is widely expected to run for governor. He opened a new political committee, Watchdog PAC, though he publicly has said he will remain Speaker through 2018 and will decide on his future plans after the next session. He’s term-limited in the House next year.

Corcoran’s office also provided links to information on past statewide candidates that have taken public financing, including Agriculture Commissioner and Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam, who took $587,000 for his 2010 election and another $459,000 during his 2014 re-election.

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

Though the original intent of public financing was to “level the playing field,” as Corcoran and House Commerce Committee chair Jim Boyd, a Bradenton Republican, wrote in a letter to commissioners, instead it has been used “to subsidize statewide candidates, mostly incumbents, when they are facing weak opposition.

“Simply put: politicians benefit, voters do not,” they wrote. “Pollsters, media buyers, mail houses, and campaign consultants benefit while the people of Florida are left holding the bill.”

Pete Antonacci takes cues from Rick Scott, Enterprise Florida board

Expect little change in direction of the state’s business-recruitment agency under its new management.

Pete Antonacci, a former general counsel for Gov. Rick Scott who was appointed last month as president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, said Monday he intends to maintain the goals of the agency’s board, which is chaired by the governor.

“My agenda tends to be the board’s agenda and the governor’s agenda, and that is to do what you all do, which is to make your communities in Florida a better place to live, work and raise a family,” Antonacci said.

Antonacci was appearing at a meeting of the Stakeholders Council, which kicked off two days of Enterprise Florida committee and board meetings at The Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. The board will meet Tuesday.

Antonacci was formally named president and CEO on July 24 after two years at the helm of the South Florida Water Management District.

Antonacci’s first day with the public-private Enterprise Florida was Aug. 2, but he noted Monday’s meetings were essentially his first day “on the ground” with the agency.

“I don’t come with any particular agenda except a desire to learn,” Antonacci said. “As you know, this is my first day in the economic development world. So you have much to teach me, and I have a great deal to learn.”

Antonacci, who has been offered a salary of $165,000 a year, said he’s been working with staff to get up to speed on the inner workings of the agency.

In making the hire, Enterprise Florida Vice Chairman Stan Connally, who is also chairman, president and CEO of Pensacola-based Gulf Power, noted in July that Antonacci may not be experienced in business recruitment but that the water-management district executive director has proved to be a “quick study.”

Enterprise Florida had been working under interim director Mike Grissom since March, following the abrupt departure of Chris Hart from the top position.

Hart, the former leader of CareerSource Florida, was hired in November as president and CEO of Enterprise Florida but left the position in March.

Hart pointed to a difference of opinions with Scott on the future of the agency at a time when House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, was pushing to eliminate Enterprise Florida.

Rather than meet Scott’s request for $85 million for incentive money that could be offered to individual companies, the Legislature created the “Florida Jobs Growth Grant Fund,” which set up a similar-sized pool of money for infrastructure and job-training programs to help entice businesses to Florida.

Antonacci comes in with a long history with Scott.

In March 2012, Scott appointed Antonacci to complete the term of Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe, who had left for a job in the private sector. After Dave Aronberg was elected to the state-attorney job later that year, Antonacci became Scott’s general counsel.

Antonacci served as Scott’s general counsel until early 2015.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Bobby Olszewski HD 44 fundraiser packed with Republican leaders

The Republican primary for House District 44 may have deeply split support from top Republicans but now that Bobby Olszewski has won he’s bringing much of that together behind his special election campaign.

Olszewski’s campaign announced a fundraiser set for the evening of Aug. 30 that will feature the current speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, the next three most-likley speakers, several past speakers, plus scores of other Republican leaders, including quite a few who had supported Olszewski’s opponents in last week’s primary.

The fundraiser is set for the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, with contributions of up to $1,000 per person.

Olszewski won the Aug. 15 Republican primary and now faces Democrat Paul Chandler in an Oct. 10 special election to fill the vacant seat representing southwest Orange County.

Among those set to attend the fundraiser are Florida Speaker Richard Corcoran and speaker designates Jose Oliva, Chris Sprowls, and Paul Renner, along with special guest U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, a longtime Olszewski supporter who also is a former speaker of the Florida House. Other past Florida House speakers Steve Crisafulli, Tom Feeney, Mike Haridopolos, and Will Weatherford also are among the named guests.

The supporters listed for the fundraiser also include Bruno Portigliatti and Usha Jain, two of the Republican candidates whom Olszewski defeated in the Aug. 15 primary. The fourth in that primary, John Newstreet, is not included, but a number of his former backers are, including state Reps. Jason Brodeur, Bob Cortes, Mike La Rosa, Mike Miller, and Rene Plasencia.

 

Clock ticks toward deadline to resolve Lottery lawsuit

An Aug. 31 deadline looms for the House of Representatives and Florida Lottery to turn in a “status report” on their efforts to settle a lawsuit over a $700 million contract for new equipment.

House spokesman Fred Piccolo on Friday said there had been no resolution, and that “negotiations continue.” Barry Richard, outside counsel for the Lottery, only said the case was still on hold.

The 1st District Court of Appeal last month agreed to suspend the case while the sides work out their differences. “If the case has not been dismissed” by then, the parties have to report by the end of the month whether they see a “need for any further proceedings,” a docket order says.

In March, Tallahassee-based Circuit Judge Karen Gievers invalidated the Lottery’s 15-year deal with IGT (International Game Technology) for new equipment for draw and scratch-off tickets. It also provides for in-store signage, self-service ticket checkers and upgraded security in the communications network.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran had sued, essentially saying the agency went on an illegal spending spree when it inked the contract last year.

Gievers agreed with House general counsel Adam Tanenbaum, who had said the agreement broke state law by going “beyond (the Lottery’s) existing budget limitations.”

Because then-Lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie “lacked the legal authority to enter into the IGT contract, (it) must, therefore, be found to be void and unenforceable,” Gievers wrote.

Delacenserie later left to head the Kentucky Lottery, and the department is now led by former Department of Economic Opportunity chief of staff Jim Poppell. Meantime, the Lottery appealed.

Gievers had faulted the agency for, among other things, not first seeking the Legislature’s permission to enter into a deal that committed the state to as much as two decades’ worth of funding.

Rick Scott: I will do ‘everything I can’ to ensure Jimmy Patronis stays CFO in 2018

A day after state Sen. Tom Lee indicated he would enter the race for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Gov. Rick Scott committed to helping current CFO Jimmy Patronis stay in the position.

“I’ve known Jimmy for a long time. I appointed Jimmy because I think he’s going to do a really good job as the CFO,” Scott told reporters after holding a press conference touting July jobs number at a Honda dealership in Brandon.

“He’ll have about a year and a half to be in office,” Scott added. “I know he’s considering whether he’s going to run or not. If he runs, I’m going to be a big supporter.”

Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican and former Senate President, indicated this week he will announce his candidacy for CFO this fall. When asked if he would endorse Patronis over Lee, Scott replied, “I’ll do everything I can to make sure he wins.”

Officially, Patronis has not announced whether he’ll run next year.

“I’m putting a lot of thoughts and prayers into it, but it’s a possibility,” Patronis said after the news conference, in which Scott gave him (and House Speaker Richard Corcoran) the opportunity to advocate for a proposed constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority vote before future the Legislature can raise any taxes or fees.

Over the years, Scott has rewarded Patronis for his loyalty. The Panama City Republican, restaurateur and former state representative was an early supporter of Scott when, as a largely unknown political quantity, he ran for governor in 2010.

In 2014, Scott appointed Patronis to the Florida Public Service Commission, and in March he named him to the state’s Constitution Revision Commission.

He was named CFO by Scott in June, to finish out the term of previous CFO Jeff Atwater, who left early to become CFO of Florida Atlantic University. Patronis then stepped down from the PSC and CRC.

Lee also was at Friday’s press conference. He told Florida Politics earlier this week: “It’s my intention to run for the Republican nomination (for CFO) in 2018 and it is my intention to announce my candidacy this fall.”

Scott also is likely to be on the 2018 ballot, considered an eventual challenger to Bill Nelson for his U.S. Senate seat.

On Friday, Scott criticized Nelson for his support of the Affordable Care Act. The governor trashed the bill as “a disaster,” saying that Nelson has done nothing to try to reform its various problems.

Other Tampa Bay Republican House members who attended the event included Chris Sprowls, Jamie Grant, Jackie Toledo, Ross Spano and Amber Mariano. 

Richard Corcoran releases new committee assignments

House Speaker Richard Corcoran released his committee assignments for the 2018 Legislative Session Thursday with just a few changes from 2017, notably some freshmen getting vice chairmanships and new chairs for the Ways and Means and Commerce Committees.

Corcoran’s changes in committees look more like mid-term adjustments for the two-year term, rather than the wholesale reshuffling that Senate President Joe Negron announced earlier this week for that chamber’s committees.

“Your preference requests were accommodated to the extent possible, including the recommendations of (Democratic) Leader (Janet) Cruz,” the Land O’ Lakes Republican wrote in a memo to members.

“One notable change addresses the status of the Public Integrity & Ethics Committee, which because of workload and the nature of the work, will be treated as a procedural committee, much like Rules & Policy,” he added. “In order to ensure all members have at least one substantive committee, we increased the size of the Education, Judiciary, Health & Human Services, and Ways & Means committees to accommodate freshmen members from Public Integrity & Ethics.”

With the departure of former Commerce Committee chairman Jose Felix Diaz, who is running in a special election for the Senate, state Rep. Jim Boyd of Bradenton will slide over from chairing the House Ways and Means Committee to chair Commerce, with Paul Renner of Palm Coast taking the chair of Ways and Means.

Otherwise, the committee assignments reward a handful of freshmen with new vice chairmanships of committees and subcommittees, and give Rep. James Grant of Tampa with a chairmanship, that of the Health Quality Subcommittee of the House Health & Human Services Committee.

Among freshmen getting vice chairs:

Randy Fine of Brevard County, Careers & Competition Subcommittee of the Commerce Committee.

Jason Fischer of Jacksonville, PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee of the Education Committee.

Erin Grall of Vero Beach, Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee.

Michael Grant of Port Charlotte, Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee.

Twenty-one of the 27 freshmen lawmakers now have vice chairs.

Corcoran also opened bill filing for House members: “The bill request submission deadline for all bills (substantive and Appropriations Project bills) is now on the same day, Nov. 14. The filing deadline for your first two bills is Nov. 21.

“The filing deadline for remaining bills is the first day of Session, Jan. 9,” he said.

For the full list, go here.

Jack Latvala vows more mental health, substance abuse money, rips Richard Corcoran

Speaking before a crowd of mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Latvala promised more money for their causes and lashed out at Speaker Richard Corcoran and House Republicans for neglecting them.

Latvala, the Republican state Senator from Clearwater who chairs the Appropriations Committee, said Florida has neglected mental health and substance abuse funding because the House is too interested in cutting taxes to consider funding necessary services.

Speaking to the Florida Behavioral Health Conference at Walt Disney World, Latvala vowed he’d do a better job of getting money for those programs.

“Since 2000 we’ve cut $2.7 billion in recurring taxes. That’s $2.7 billion more each year that could be spent on mental health, substance abuse, education, environment, all of the things that we have to provide as a state for our citizens,” Latvala said.

“This area that you work in has not been properly death with, has been actually neglected,” he added.

At one point Latvala recognized Republican state Rep. Jason Brodeur of Sanford, the chairman of the House Health Care Appropriations Committee, and said the lack of funding for mental health and substance abuse programs was not Brodeur’s fault, but his boss’s. And then he ripped into Corcoran, who may announce a campaign to run for governor himself.

For now, Latvala’s rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“Richard Corcoran, what he knows about real-life problems like you deal with every day, he reads in a book. He also reads in that same book, the Koch brothers’ manifesto, about how you first cut taxes, and how people should help themselves, and the government should not people,” Latvala said.

Latvala accepted some of the blame for limited funding for mental health and substance abuse programs, confessing he was new at appropriations and “maybe we dropped the ball a little” in dealing with the House budget proposals this year. But he said it would not happen again.

“I will guarantee you Senate support for any budget amendment that calls for increases in substance abuse funding,” he said, drawing thunderous applause.

He then spoke of the heroin and opioid epidemic and said “This is not satisfactory to have 20 or so Floridians dying every day from opioid overdoses.”

Jack Latvala says he’ll capture more Trump voters than GOP opponents

While President Trump is being disparaged this week even by some Republicans following his controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them, Jack Latvala showed no qualms about the commander in chief when he said Wednesday that Trump voters in Florida may look more favorably upon his candidacy for governor than his opponents.

“I’m looking at a field that’s made up of people who have been in government their entire lives—either in elective office or as a staff member—and don’t have any business experience and have never really had those challenges that those of us that have businesses have, and I just think that the party who nominated Donald Trump (is) not going to be comfortable with nominating somebody like that,” Latvala told Tampa 820 AM host Dan Maduri on Wednesday.

Trump easily defeated Marco Rubio in the Florida Republican presidential primary more than a year ago, before capturing the Sunshine State narrowly over Hillary Clinton in last fall’s presidential election.

The 63-year-old Clearwater state senator was referring to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and House Speaker Richard Corcoran when he said that, unlike his opponents, he has no desire to run for higher office than governor, saying that leading Florida would be his ultimate destination.

“It’s a never ending ladder and I’m at the end of the ladder,” he said. “I’m old enough that this is my last race for anything, and I just want to get in and do what’s got to be done to solve some of these problems and straighten things out.”

Putnam declared his candidacy back in March, and remains the presumptive favorite in the race, thanks in part to his prodigious fundraising and simply the fact that he’s so well known after serving in politics for nearly half of his 43-year-old life. Corcoran has not declared for office, though he is expected to early in 2018.

Latvala announced last month that he would pledge to raise $50,000 over the next six months for the Republican Party of Florida. He told Maduri that someone has to do it, since Rick Scott and other high profile Republicans are raising money for their own political committees.

“The governor doesn’t participate with the party, the Cabinet members haven’t done that, and the leadership of the party is all out raising money for themselves, for their own PACS and own campaigns, and it’s taking it’s toll on the party,” he said. “We’ve got to remember the party.”

Latvala spoke to him the Tampa radio station en route to the Panhandle, where he was scheduled to make his third and final appearance around the state as he officially kicked off his run for governor on Wednesday.

(Photo credit: Kim DeFalco)

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