Richard Corcoran Archives - Page 5 of 69 - Florida Politics

You should read The Capitolist this morning

See, this is the way it’s suppose to be done!

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that Fred Piccolo, the communications director for House Speaker Richard Corcoran, had been working until recently for the company that owns this website. Although I was very unhappy with how this news got out, it’s a relevant story. Because of it, we admittedly have some egg on our faces.

That’s why you should read the latest edition of The Capitolist’s Monday Mailbag, which pokes (a lot) of fun at the “Piccolo Payola” scandal and Florida Politics.

That’s right, I am asking you to read a post that takes a direct shot at me and our website. Why? Because it’s funny. Because it’s both insider-y and snarky. And because it was (we hope) written in good spirits.

That’s what this blogging, new media thing should be about.

It should be about bustin’ chops, but not in so harsh of a way that it ruins friendships.

It should make you laugh the same way you would at a roast, because the joke is so close to the truth that even the person being roasted has to smile.

It should be about agreeing to disagree.

Somewhere along the way, the conflict between old and new media (which was occurring at a time when traditional media was suffering tremendous economic losses) turned into a bloodsport. This is especially true here in the Florida media.

Instead of traditional reporters and new media mavens grudgingly respecting each other, the legacy reporters all but ignore the good work of bloggers and other newcomers, which, in turn, forces the new media operators to set their hair on fire to get attention.

I admit I’ve been a big part of this vicious cycle. And I probably won’t be doing anything any time soon to break it.

But if I had to do it all over again, I’d welcome more of what Brian Burgess wrote this morning on his website. Because if you can’t stand the heat, you shouldn’t be in the kitchen.

Now, I just have to cook up something to get back at him 🙂

Richard Corcoran steps into sanctuary city ‘dust up’

House Speaker Richard Corcoran elbowed into a social media “spat” between Adam Putnam and Andrew Gillum about immigration, saying they’re both on the wrong side of the amnesty debate.

“Ironic to see a dust up between these two on immigration, since they’ve both supported #amnesty for illegal immigrants. Call it amnesty or sanctuary cities, both defy our rule of law and make the nation (and Florida) less safe. #TwoSidesOfTheSameCoin,” Corcoran tweeted Thursday.

Corcoran is widely expected to jump into the governor’s race after the 2018 Legislative Session.

Earlier this week, Putnam – the term-limited Agriculture Commissioner and Republican candidate for governor – tweeted, “Thanks for the Half True, @PolitiFactFL. @AndrewGillum wants to make Florida a sanctuary state. That WILL NOT happen on my watch. #FloridaFirst.”

Gillum – the mayor of Tallahassee and Democratic candidate for governor – shot back in a tweet, “Half true & all racist is nothing to be proud of, Commissioner. I’m proud to stand up for all people – precisely what Floridians expect of their leaders.”

(Putnam since responded, also on Twitter, “It’s really unfortunate that we can’t have a public dialogue about policy without insults. Sanctuary cities are dangerous and have no place in the state of Florida. That’s a fact.”)

The issue has roiled conservatives most recently because of the case of 32-year-old Kate Steinle, who was shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco two years ago. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was acquitted last week on state murder and manslaughter charges, but was soon charged on other counts in federal court.

On Friday, Corcoran followed up his tweet with a web ad across his social platforms.

Jack Latvala’s fundraising slows to a halt in November

Gubernatorial candidate and Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala has been fighting back against sexual harassment allegations for more than a month, and the press reports haven’t helped in pull in money for his campaign.

Latvala entered the GOP Primary for governor back in August and after a hot start, his contributions slowed to halt in November after six women told POLITICO the longtime lawmaker had sexually harassed them during his time in office.

Latvala denies the allegations and vowed to clear his name, calling the report ‘fake news.’

Latvala’s fundraising arm, Florida Leadership Committee, finished October with $234,000 in contributions and more than $4.1 million in the bank, much of it left over from his battle to become Senate President.

In November, however, FLC took in just one check for $5,000 from the Florida Association of Health Plans PAC, with another $347 coming by way of interest, but that didn’t keep the committee from spending some of its reserves.

FLC spent nearly $160,000 last month, and had spent another $36,000 through the first week of December.

According to documents on the committee website, $50,000 of that money went to the Republican Party of Florida, more than $37,000 was spent on printing and mailers, $10,000 went to Champion Digital Media for advertising alongside several research, strategy, fundraising and political consulting contracts clocking in at a few thousand a piece.

Latvala is currently one of two major Republicans running for Florida governor. If his campaign weathers the storm, he faces termed-out Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam and likely a couple more contenders, such as House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

House projects might get chilly reception

Heading into the 2018 legislative session, Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley says the House and Senate are not as far apart as casual observers, lobbyists and the media might believe.

“We agree on so much more than we disagree on,” the Fleming Island Republican told reporters after an Appropriations Committee meeting Wednesday that featured an overview of Gov. Rick Scott‘s proposed $87.4 billion budget. “We’re all committed to having a fiscally conservative budget. We’re all committed to tax cuts. We’re all committed to the environment being pristine and education world class.”

But that “we’re all” doesn’t apparently extend to a plethora of budget projects proposed by House members. In the House, unlike the Senate, members are required to file individual bills for their spending proposals.

“I did notice that there is a high amount, the House members want to spend a lot on local member projects,” Bradley said. “I think we need to be very careful in this budget year to … be very judicious in these House requests for local projects, because they have requested a bunch.”

As of Thursday morning, House members had filed 1,099 different proposals – collectively worth just under $1.8 billion – since Sept. 29.

Included in those totals are 90 projects, worth $161.1 million, that were posted on Wednesday, including $450,000 for the Clermont South Lake Wi-Fi Trail (HB 4099), $1 million for the Land O’ Lakes Boulevard Beautification plan (HB 4033) and $50 million for the Data Science and Information Technology program at the University of Florida (HB 4063).

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, has said priority for funding projects will go to proposals related to hurricane relief.

The House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness also has received 141 recommendations to deal with storm-related issues, included extending north the Suncoast Parkway toll road as a new evacuation route, leasing a cruise ship to carry evacuees from the lower Keys or requiring utility lines to be placed underground.

The member budget proposals are separate from most of the recommendations before the select committee.

Asked during an appearance Wednesday on C-SPAN about how much Hurricane Irma will cost the state, Corcoran made the big-ticket items seem possible as he touted the state’s fiscal health.

“The simple answer to that is we have the reserves. We’ve been fiscally prudent. We’ve been great protectors of the taxpayer money,” Corcoran said. “And so, because we have those reserves, what’s more important is the lives of our citizens are protected.”

“The underground hardening of our infrastructure for power lines, that could cost some money,” he continued. “Extending our Suncoast Parkway all the way to Georgia and having that fourth arterial road, that will cost money but we have a transportation trust fund. It will just be more of a redirect, potentially.

“Obviously, putting the (proposed generator) regulations on the nursing homes and having them come into compliance, that will cost some money. But all of these things, including, we’re even talking of having a gas reserve. There were issues of getting gas during the hurricane, so if we had a huge gas reserve that we could keep in the middle of the state in a protected area, that could cost some money.

“But all of these things will make it so the next storm we have we’ll be better prepared, and our citizens will be able to get back to their lives as quickly as possible.”

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Lawmakers question increased tourism funding

Gov. Rick Scott‘s request for lawmakers to boost tourism marketing by $24 million next year might be a tough sell in the House.

Members of the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee said Wednesday that Visit Florida would have to justify the proposed increase by showing how many of the 112.3 million visitors last year, and 88.2 million so far this year, came to Florida because of the agency’s marketing efforts.

“Throwing out $75 million and 112 million visitors is just not compelling,” Rep. Randy Fine, a Palm Bay Republican, said after the meeting. “If you can show the incrementality (of marketing to tourism growth), it’s easier to justify the money.”

Other members of the panel questioned if the state has the money available to spend. Lawmakers provided $76 million to Visit Florida during the current fiscal year, and Scott has requested $100 million for the fiscal year that will start July 1.

“The pie is only so big, and we may actually have a budget shortfall,” Naples Republican Rep. Bob Rommel said. “So if you’d like an additional 32 percent of the money, I don’t know where we’re going to get it.”

Visit Florida President and CEO Ken Lawson told the panel the money should be viewed as an investment, saying state economists have projected that spending by tourists accounted for $11.3 billion in state tax revenues the past fiscal year.

“By increasing the investment in us, we’re able to reach out more to show the diversity of Florida, which brings more tourists here, who spend money,” Lawson said.

Lawson said Florida competes against states such as California, which has $120 million for marketing. Also, while Visit Florida’s spending plan for 2018 is still begin drawn, the additional money would help Florida expand its digital media reach west of the Mississippi River and further into international markets, Lawson said after the meeting.

The agency has seen it annual visitor counts grow from 87.3 million in 2011 to more than 112 million last year, an increase that Lawson attributed to lawmakers boosting Visit Florida’s funding from $35 million in 2011 to $76 million.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, has argued in the past that people are driven to travel more by their personal finances than by state marketing.

But in seeking the increase for next year, Scott has pointed to the effects of Hurricane Irma. Lawmakers will consider the funding request during the Legislative Session that starts Jan. 9.

“You’ve got to let people know our beaches are open, our restaurants are open, our hotels are open, our amusement parks are open, so we keep our tourists coming because 1.4 million jobs are tied to tourism,” Scott said last month.

Visit Florida put together $5 million for a post-storm marketing campaign, which the agency has credited for helping the state draw a record 27.9 million tourists between July 1 through Sept. 30, even with Irma closing the Florida Keys for most of September.

In C-SPAN interview, Richard Corcoran says Jack Latvala is ‘heading toward expulsion’

In a brief interview with C-SPAN Wednesday morning, House Speaker Richard Corcoran said Sen. Jack Latvala is “heading toward expulsion” and that he likely has not resigned amid the sex scandal because of an “entitlement mentality.”

During the 12-minute interview, Corcoran was asked about the month-long Senate sexual harassment investigation against the Clearwater Republican. One that has intensified in the past week as his defense team tries to build a defense in the public eye.

“I think there’s clearly probably cause, and honestly, it looks at this point that they’re heading toward expulsion,” Corcoran told a national audience.

Corcoran, who will likely announce his bid for governor after the 2018 Session, was one of the first Republicans to call on Latvala to resign when the sexual misconduct allegations were first raised in a POLITICO Florida report.

In the interview, conducted inside a big C-SPAN bus in the Capitol Courtyard, Corcoran said elected officials should be held to a “higher standard” and stripped from titles when accused of sexual harassment, rather than remain fighting in office.

“We have elected officials that you would think would be held to a higher standard,” Corcoran said.

“There’s an entitlement mentality.”

House Speaker backs stricter texting-while-driving proposal

The push to make texting while driving a primary offense under state law has gained a powerful advocate: House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

“The data is overwhelming and the need to act is equally compelling,” Corcoran said in a statement.

State Rep. Jackie Toledo on Wednesday filed legislation that would strengthen the ban on texting and emailing while driving by bolstering citation fees. Under the proposal, a first violation would carry a fine plus court fees that cost up to $108. If a second offense is committed within five years, a driver would face a $60 fine plus court expenses that could total up to $158.

Toledo, a Tampa Republican who works as an engineer, backs the tougher penalties with “crystal clear data” that she says show thousands of people were injured and hundreds were killed on the road in 2015 because of distracted driving.

“As the mother of five children these numbers are frightening as they are compelling,” Toledo said.

State Rep. Emily Slosberg, a Boca Raton Democrat cosponsoring the bill, said the effort would save lives.

Under the bill, law enforcement officers who stop a driver on suspicion of texting and driving would have to have a warrant to access a driver’s phone. They would also be required to inform the driver of their rights to decline a search of the phone.

“This bill establishes a proper balance between safety and law enforcement and our cherished liberties,” Corcoran said.

Florida is a minority when it comes to making texting while driving a secondary offense. Under current law, officers need to have another reason before they can pull a driver over.

Hmmm … poll shows Rick Scott with 10-point lead over Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate seat

A new poll from St. Leo University found Gov. Rick Scott has surpassed U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup in for Nelson’s seat in 2018.

The poll, conducted online between Nov. 19 and Nov. 24, showed Scott with a double-digit lead over Nelson in the matchup, 42-32, with 8 percent preferring another candidate and 18 percent undecided.

Eight months ago Nelson held a 5-point lead over Scott, 39-34, and in September the Scott took a slim 35-33 lead.

Scott, a Republican, has not formally entered the race for U.S. Senate, but he is termed-out as governor and is almost sure to challenge Nelson, a Democrat, in his campaign for a fourth term next year.

“We’re still almost a year out from the 2018 elections, but Rick Scott is in the best position he’s been in yet against incumbent Bill Nelson,” said polling institute director Frank Orlando. “It will be interesting to see if he can maintain this support while his party is hurting electorally throughout the country.”

Scott has also made considerable strides over the last two months when it comes to voters’ perception of his job performance.

Back in March, about 56 percent of Florida voters said they had a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” view of the second-term governor, while about 39 percent said they viewed Scott, a Republican, in a “somewhat unfavorable” or “not at all favorable” light.

Last month, the positive view climbed to about 61 percent while the negatives had dwindled to about 31 percent. The other 8 percent said they were unsure how they felt about Scott.

The poll also touched on the leading candidates to replace Scott in the governor’s mansion, though the bulk of the survey was conducted when Orlando attorney John Morgan was still considering a run in the Democratic Primary.

Morgan, who said the day after Thanksgiving he would not run for governor as a Democrat, had the most support among Dems at about 13 percent, followed by former congresswoman Gwen Graham at 9.4 percent.

Among all voters lumped together — Republicans, Democrats and independents — Morgan again came out on top with 24 percent support, followed by Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam at just under 19 percent.

About 53 percent of Democratic voters said they were unsure, leaving the race wide open for fellow Democratic candidates Andrew Gillum (6 percent), Orlando-area businessman Chris King (3 percent) and Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine (2 percent).

“No one has been able to rally establishment support and win the invisible primary. With some uncertainty removed as Morgan took himself out of contention, the process of winnowing the field might finally begin in earnest,” Orlando said.

Putnam, who has gone gangbusters on the fundraising trail, leads the Republican field with 15 percent support, though nearly 63 percent of GOP respondents were unsure.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, not yet a candidate, was second-place among named options at 4.8 percent, followed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran and embroiled Clearwater Sen. Jack Latvala, both with under 3 percent support.

“Adam Putnam isn’t in an insurmountable position, but he’s at least the leader in the clubhouse,” Orlando said. “Other prominent GOPers are busy fulfilling the duties of their office or in the news for the wrong reasons. It’s difficult to compare Putnam against Morgan at this point, as our results show that voters would still prefer someone else in the governor’s mansion.”

The poll took in responses from 500 Florida voters — including 181 Democrats and 166 Republicans — and has a 4.5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level. More detailed information on the poll’s methodology and findings can be found on the St. Leo University polling website.

Pam Bondi calls for legislation to protect sexual harassment victims

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Friday said her “heart breaks” for the Senate staffer who in a sworn statement said Sen. Jack Latvala groped her private body parts and sexually harassed her for years, and called for legislation to protect sexual harassment victims.

“I was astonished to learn that one of the victims of the recent allegations in Tallahassee is a woman who I’ve known and respected for years,” Bondi said in a statement.

Rachel Perrin Rogers, a legislative aide to Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson, went public with her accusations against Latvala this week saying she was tired of him lying about her intentions and those of her husband, Brian Hughes, a political consultant.

“My heart breaks for her. We must respect the investigation by the Florida Senate and the privacy of all parties involved,” Bondi said.

Bondi encouraged women who have experienced sexual harassment to come forward, and while she did not give specifics, she said she reached out to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who is handling the complaint against Latvala, to preserve a spot for legislation that would “provide protections to victims of sexual harassment complaints.”

Corcoran, who is mulling a run for governor, has called for Latvala to resign. Bondi said he was supportive of a law that would protect all women working in state government.

“It is remarkable what women can do when we all stand together,” she added.

The sex scandal rocking the Republican gubernatorial candidate intensified this week after Perrin Rogers went public and Latvala’s legal team released dozens of text message exchanges in counter defense that showed a cordial working relationship between the two. The complaint detailing the sexual harassment allegations was also made public this week.

Soon after that happened, Gov. Rick Scott said the powerful senator — who is running to succeed him –was a “distraction” in the Legislature.

Latvala slammed Scott for his comment hours later, taking to Twitter to say Scott’s “theft of billions in taxpayers” was also a distraction, referring to his defense in a Medicare fraud case against Scott’s former hospital company.

“I’m sure HCA stockholders thought your efforts to defend yourself in theft of billions from taxpayers was a distraction but you had a right to defend yourself! I have that same right!” he tweeted.

The Senate continues to investigate the allegations of six women, one of them being Perrin Rogers, brought to light by a POLITICO Florida report. There is a separate Senate probe sparked by the complaint Perrin Rogers filed with the Senate Rules Committee.

Latvala’s defense team said there is a sense of “urgency” to wrap up the investigation and that it could be resolved as soon as next week.

Rick Scott looks to replenish ‘job growth’ fund

Gov. Rick Scott has yet to dip into the $85 million lawmakers set aside this year to attract new businesses to Florida, but he’s already seeking to replenish the pool of money.

Scott told the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors, meeting this week in Jacksonville, of the need to ensure lawmakers maintain the new “Florida Job Growth Grant Fund,” which has attracted 209 applications from governments and other groups across the state since opening in July.

However, Scott and his office haven’t indicated when money could be awarded to the first regional or workforce project.

“I have no interest in doing any deals unless we get a very good return on investment,” Scott said. “When I was in business, I had a fiduciary to my employees, to the shareholders. In this, I have an absolute fiduciary to the taxpayers of the state to make sure all those dollars we get a very good return on investment.”

Scott’s request to replenish the fund with another $85 million is part of his $87.4 billion budget proposal for the 2018 Legislative Session.

The various applicants this year have collectively requested $713.4 million to help with projects with an estimated cost of $1.5 billion. Most offer local matches.

The proposals range from $2,580 sought on Oct. 4 by Film Florida — for an industry training event that occurred Oct 21 — to $25 million requested by Pasco County for a $62.1 million Interstate 75 and Overpass Road interchange project.

The fund was created during a June special Session as a compromise between Scott and House leaders. The House had earlier sought to eliminate the business-recruitment agency Enterprise Florida and other economic-development programs.

After the fund was created, several Democrats derided the money as a “slush fund” that needed more oversight. Enterprise Florida and the state Department of Economic Opportunity are reviewing the proposals.

House leaders were heavily focused on ending programs that awarded economic incentives to single companies in return for relocating to Florida or expanding in the state. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, repeatedly called such incentives “corporate welfare.”

Money in the new fund is prohibited from going to projects that provide exclusive benefits to single businesses.

In 2016 and earlier this year, Scott was unable to get lawmakers to approve his requests to continue funding economic incentives through Enterprise Florida.

That cut off money Scott had offered in prior years to attract, maintain or help expand companies, such as Hertz, United Technologies and Harris Corp.

On Wednesday, Mike Grissom, Enterprise Florida executive vice president, said Scott — who has only a year left in the Governor’s office — has been adamant that any money awarded is guaranteed to have a positive return on investment.

“I think we’ve found a place where everybody is happy when it comes to this program,” Grissom said. “I think we’ve seen that it’s useful and valuable to our state and that the Legislature is OK with it. So, we want to make sure that we can continue to use it.”

Among the largest requests:

— Hillsborough County, Apollo Beach Boulevard extension. A $33.6 million project along the “I-75 Job Corridor” linking U.S. 41 and U.S. 301 over the interstate. Request: $23 million.

— State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota STEM campus. The proposal seeks money to help secure land and make other improvements needed to support a campus. Request: $22.44 million.

— Marion County, Crossroads Commerce Park. The $272 million project, encompassing more than 900 acres, is envisioned as having distribution, warehouse and manufacturing facilities. Request: $22.24 million.

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