Ron DeSantis Archives - Page 2 of 39 - Florida Politics

Ron DeSantis seeks to ice Robert Mueller investigation of President Trump

Rep. Ron DeSantis, ahead of what many are expecting to be entry into the 2018 Florida Governor’s race, is looking to help out President Donald Trump — by putting a time limit onto Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller‘s investigation into the Trump campaign.

The DeSantis amendment: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to fund activities pursuant to Department of Justice order 3915-2017, dated May 17, 2017 and relating to the appointment of a special counsel, later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, or for the investigation under that order of matters occurring before June 2015.”

POLITICO notes this is one of hundreds of amendments to an omnibus spending bill to be taken up after recess, and there is no guarantee this makes it through committees into the bill at large.

As well, there is no guarantee that such a measure survives the Senate, where relationships have been frayed between President Trump and Republicans of various ideological stripes.

DeSantis, a Republican in his second term whose district runs from St. Johns County south to Volusia, has yet to file for re-election.

Paulson’s principles: Money, money, money!

It has been said that money is the lifeblood of politics. If so, many members of the Florida congressional delegation are very healthy, while others are on life support.

This is based on second quarter financial reports covering funds raised, funds spent and cash on hand. In contrast to the general assumption, money does not guarantee political success. Just ask Jeb Bush, who quickly raised over $100 million in his quest for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. The money produced no primary wins and only three delegates.

Candidates who raise large sums of money do so either to scare off political opponents, to prepare for a serious challenger, or to stockpile funds to run for higher office. The biggest war chests among the Florida congressional delegation are held by incumbent Republicans who are considered safe.

Small campaign accounts do not necessarily signal a political problem. In many cases, a small campaign account is a sign that the incumbent faces no serious opposition. Democrat Alcee Hastings, representing District 20 in Miami, only has $92,074 in his campaign account. That signals that Hastings has never faced a serious challenge since winning a congressional seat in 1992.

Those with the largest campaign accounts include Republican Vern Buchanan in District 16 ($1,982,876), Republican Ron DeSantis in District 6 ($1,674,185), Republican Carlos Curbelo in District 26 ($1,078,588) and Democrat Charlie Crist in District 13 ($1,121,494).

Crist, serving his first term in Congress, is perhaps Florida’s best-known member of Congress and a prodigious fundraiser. Curbelo represents one of two Florida congressional districts held by a Republican that has a large Democratic advantage. Curbelo is more threatened than most members of Congress. Both Buchanan and DeSantis represent districts with a marginal Republican electorate. DeSantis’ district has a +4 Republican advantage and Buchanan’s district has a +6 Republican advantage.

Only one challenger taking on an incumbent has raised over $50,000. Louis Sola made a personal loan of $99,000 to his campaign account.

Two former members of the Florida congressional delegation filed campaign reports, signaling their hopes to keep their options open to another congressional run.

Former Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns raised $51,704 and has $1,579,227 in his campaign account, more than all but two of the current members of the delegation.

Democrat Alan Grayson, who represented District 9, filed paperwork in District 11. Grayson raised $68,532 and has $455,584 in the bank.

It is still very early with 19 months to go before the 2018 congressional elections. Some candidates have not announced and still have plenty of time to do so. What we do know, based on past history, is that two-thirds of the delegation face no serious threat. The other third who are in marginal districts or who have angered their constituents are going to raise as much money as they can to retain their seat.

There is one truism in Congress: Every member of Congress thinks they are indispensable.


Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg specializing in Florida politics and elections.

Chris Latvala says the moderate in the GOP race for Florida governor is not his dad

Chris Latvala predicts that the race for governor will be a campaign unlike any ever seen before in the Sunshine State, especially within the Republican Party.

The Clearwater Republican, first elected to the state House in 2014, has a unique view of the race, considering that his father, Jack Latvala, is now seeking to occupy the Governor’s mansion

Jack Latvala officially filed to run on Friday, but he will be making three appearances around the state Wednesday to give his campaign a proper introduction to the public and the media.  A press conference is set for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium at 1 p.m.

“I think that it’s something that he has thought about for a long time,” Chris Latvala said on Tuesday, specifically saying it was sometime last summer that his father talked to him about his desire to run for governor. “I certainly was surprised, but as time has gone by, I think that there’s definitely a path for him, especially with Adam Putnam announcing and then a week or two later changing his campaign manager.”

Immediately after Putnam ended a 10-day bus tour of the state to launch his campaign in March, his campaign manager, Kristin Davison, was relieved of her duties, as was political director Jared Small.

If anyone follows Chris Latvala on Twitter, you know that he has taken several shots at the presumptive front-runner for the GOP nomination. And he’s even more relentless in picking apart the Bartow Republican in an interview.

“Adam Putnam has not exactly set the world on fire,” Latvala says, declaring the race for the GOP nomination to be “wide open.”

With his entrance into the race, Jack Latvala and Putnam are now the two biggest Republicans in the race for governor, although House Speaker Richard Corcoran is also expected to enter the race and rumors continue to circulate that Ponte Vedra Beach Representative Ron DeSantis will also enter the contest.

Considered a moderate in today’s Florida Republican Party, conventional wisdom has it that his opponents will wrap the “M” word around Jack Latvala throughout the primary campaign, but Chris says the moderate in the race is not who you think it is.

“I think that, to the contrary, he’s a conservative who has a conservative record,” Latvala says of his father. “Keeping your promises to the people doesn’t make you a moderate, being mindful of the environment doesn’t make you a moderate.”

Fueling his argument is a litany of congressional votes that he says makes Putnam vulnerable in a GOP primary, such as voting to increase the national debt, supporting the “Cash for Clunkers” program, and pushing for “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.

“Conservatives believe in less government and, therefore, I would argue government shouldn’t be involved in your bedroom or your day to day life,” Chris says.

No one will ever call Jack Latvala “slick.” Chris Latvala says that’s part of the longtime state legislator’s appeal to voters.

“He’s not a typical politician,” he says. “He’s not going to be the skinniest and the best looking candidate, and he’s not going to sugarcoat the issues with voters. I think people respect that.”

Adam Putnam: Nobody knows Florida better than I

Adam Putnam assured the 200 or so delegates to his breakfast at the Republican Party of Florida quarterly meeting in Orlando Saturday that he knows their towns, he knows their roads, he knows their barbecue places, and he knows their hopes, dreams, and struggles of living somewhere that’s not on an Interstate exit.

The Florida agriculture commissioner and former state lawmaker and former U.S. Congressman running for governor spun his theme of Florida being the greatest state, where everyone wants to visit or live, while pressing conservatism, urging that Florida must be “the launching pad of the American dream,” and warning of liberal uprisings, with “The left is coming for us!”

And, most of all, the candidate turned on his folksy side, reminded everyone he’s a fifth-generation Floridian with a ranch outside of Bartow, and strove to connect with Republicans in too-often-ignored rural areas and small towns from the Keys to the western panhandle.

Putnam, alone in the Republican race for governor until Friday, now has serious competition for the Republican primary nomination. State Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater filed to run Friday and addressed the Republican convention Friday night. Potential candidate U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach was to address the crowd Saturday afternoon. House Speaker Richard Corcoran of Land O’ Lakes also is a real prospect.

On Saturday morning, Putnam was positioning himself as the grassroots candidate.

He spoke of how two-thirds of Floridians don’t have college degrees so the state must put more emphasis on technical training and less on trying to get everyone to go to college. He spoke of making sure everyone has the chance to start their own businesses, and don’t dismiss someone starting out with a lawn-care business.

“I know our state,” Putnam said. “I know every corner of our state. I’ve been down every four-lane, every dirt road. I know all the barbecue restaurants. If you need a tip I can tell you where the best pulled-pork meal is, where the best brisket is, who’s got the best chicken. I know our state like the back of my hand. I am dedicated to the future of our state.”

From there, he appeared to respond to Latvala’s comments Friday night, when the House Appropriations Committee chairman lashed out at other candidates, whom he didn’t name, whom he accused of forgetting the needs of the Republican Party of Florida while they pursued their own careers, and of raising money for their own causes, without contributing to the party.

“We’re going to bring this state together. And this party is a part of that. It’s an integral part of that,” Putnam said to the party loyalists at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. “It’s not us against them. It’s not Bradford versus Highlands. It’s not the party versus the electeds. You have seen me at your meetings and in your Lincoln Days…. I can’t succeed as a governor if we don’t succeed as a party.”


Gwen Graham pledges public education as her priority, blasts Richard Corcoran

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham pledged Thursday to a number of educators and parents concerned about public education that she would make public education her top priority.

While meeting with a roundtable of teachers, former teachers, public education advocates, and parents in an Orlando restaurant Thursday, Graham blasted Republican efforts to promote charter schools, which she said was at the expense of public schools, and renewed her vows to abolish testing and school grades and bring back technical education.

“I give you my commitment, as governor this is going to be my priority,” Graham said. “I’m going to work on this every day. And we’re going to start from day one.”

Graham, the former congresswoman and former schools lawyer from Tallahassee, faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park developer Chris King seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor in 2018. Adam Putnam is the only major Republican running, though others, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, and Senate Appropriations Committee Jack Latvala are mulling runs.

At the round table and later speaking with reporters, Graham blasted Corcoran in particular for cutting the deal that led to passage of House Bill 7069 in the Special Legislative Session this summer, a bill she characterized as a Republican attack on public education in order to promote private charter schools.

“What I believe is going on is a desire to privatize our school system, and strip resources away from schools that desperately need additional resources. They don’t need to have what 7069 has done, which is to take funding away from Title I schools, to strip away options for school districts if it gets a C or a D grade,” she said.

“And don’t even me started on the grading, because we’re going to end the grading of schools,” she added. “Everywhere I go I hear how damaging it is to the schools, the school districts, the kids themselves. There’s no point to it other than as a way to diminish and demoralize schools that are working so hard, and eventually strip the funding away from schools so we can privatize them.”

And then she turned to Corcoran personally, noting that his wife Anne founded a charter school.

“The legislators that behind this are making money,” she said. “They financially benefit from what he is doing to the detriment of nine out of ten kids in Florida who go to public schools.”


AFP-FL to host summer town hall series with Ron DeSantis

Americans for Prosperity-Florida is hitting the road to energize activists about tax reform.

The grassroots organization is scheduled to hold “Un-Rig the Economy” town hall meetings in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando in August and September to talk with activists about the current situation in Washington, D.C. and energize them for what’s to come. The AFP-FL team will be joined by local leaders and members of the federal affairs team to discuss the need to enact comprehensive tax reform.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Ponte Verde Republican, is scheduled to join AFP-FL at each of the town hall events. DeSantis, who is believed to be mulling a 2018 gubernatorial bid, is expected to discuss how Congress can act to fix the tax code.

“AFP has been leading the charge on calling for Congress to un-rig the American economy,” said Chris Hudson, the state director for AFP-FL, in a statement “We hope the rest of the Florida delegation will join Congressman DeSantis in fighting back against the current rigged tax system by joining our effort to pass pro-growth tax reform. Americans want a system that’s based on simplicity, efficiency, equitability, predictability, and creates no new burden on taxpayers. We want to speak directly to Floridians who want to help fix our broken tax code.”

The summer town hall series kicks off on Aug. 24 with a town hall in Miami, followed by a town hall scheduled on Sept. 19 in Fort Lauderdale and Sept. 28 in Orlando.

Adam Putnam and Jack Latvala to speak at Florida GOP meeting

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala are both set to speak at the Republican Party of Florida’s Quarterly and Executive Board Meeting this weekend.

The Friday and Saturday event at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando will feature a handful of appearances open to the press, including a “Dessert with Sen. Jack Latvala” Friday at 9 p.m. and an “Up & Adam Breakfast” with Putnam Saturday at 8 a.m.

Putnam’s event will be followed up by a talk from Fox News contributor Stephen Moore, with the RPOF Executive Board set to meet from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Putnam is currently the only major Republican candidate running to be Florida governor, though Latvala could join him in the race as soon as next week. The Pinellas County Republican is set to announce his 2018 plans on Aug. 16 at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Both men have millions socked away in their political committees. Putnam ended July with $11.6 million on hand between his campaign and committee, “Florida Grown,” while Latvala had $3.84 million on hand for his committee, “Florida Leadership Committee.”

A couple more big name Republicans are also mulling a run, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran whose committee neared $3 million in total fundraising last month. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is also considering a run.

Wayne Liebnitzky criticizes the $4,600 a month in rent Darren Soto pays for Kissimmee office

Republican congressional candidate Wayne Liebnitzky criticized the rent U.S. Rep. Darren Soto is paying for his Kissimmee office as “unusually extravagant expense of peoples’ money,” while the congressman defended the office Tuesday for its convenience and service to the district.

Soto is spending $4,638 a month for his primary district office, plus $866 a month for a CD 9 office in Orlando, according to Congressional Office Disbursement Reports filed with the U.S. House of Representatives. He also has been opening other satellite and part-time offices, notably in Polk County.

That’s 40 percent more than Soto’s predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson paid. Grayson had his main office in Orlando, for which he spent $3,300 a month in rent, and a district office in Kissimmee that cost $626 a month.

“My opinion of paying $55,000 a year for a congressional office in Kissimmee is an unusually extravagant expense of the peoples’ money,” said Liebnitzky, who lost the 2016 general election to Soto and filed for a rematch in the 2018 election.

“In the uncertain times of increased expenses the people of our community are experiencing, was this a wise decision to spend that kind of money on an office space? What decisions in the future are we expected to hear about that have not been thought through fiscally?” he added.

In his written statement, Soto responded, “We are deeply proud of our Kissimmee district office, which is centrally located to serve our constituents, symbolic of our rancher heritage, and provides a facility that is very conducive to community gatherings.”

Nonetheless, the rents Soto is paying now and Grayson paid last year are both relative middle points in the wide spectrum that Central Florida members of Congress pay or have paid for their offices to support local staffs, the members when they’re back home, and services to constituents.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy pays $7,142 a month for her Winter Park district office in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

On the other extreme, Republican U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster has three local offices for Florida’s 11th Congressional District, and pays less than $800 a month in rent for each of them.

Then there is Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey. He doesn’t pay a dime for his office in Viera for Florida’s 8th Congressional District. That’s because Brevard County has long – predating Posey – provided its congressional representative with rent-free office space in the government center there, something approved by the Congressional Ethics Office.

Members of Congress receive set allocations, adjusted for costs of living in each district, for their offices, staff, travel, and operational expenses. Generally the members are free to budget the money however they see fit. If their spending goes over the allocations, the law requires them to make up the difference out of their own pockets. If they go under, the unspent remainder is returned to the U.S. Treasury, something Webster touts every year. A higher-than-average district office rent likely would have to be offset by lower expenses elsewhere in the member’s budget.

Liebnitzky, a St. Cloud small business owner, questioned whether Soto could have been more economical, especially considering what Grayson spent last year, and considering the rise of internet communications.

“My opinion is an office is a shrine. It serves very little purpose in the technology times of telecommunications and social media,” he added. “Communication with the people you are suppose to represent should be top priority. We must do it better than anyone else can and set the example for the country to experience. This will be part of the performance I shall deliver in 2019. And, yes, I will have offices, but much more reasonable so we can communicate with all of our constituents.”

Soto’s landlord is the city of Kissimmee. The office is a historic old building at 804 Bryan St., in the heart of the Kissimmee government complex. Its 3,613 square feet provides enough space for small town hall meetings.

“It’s location in the Osceola Government Complex fosters critical communication with local and state officials and is ideal to maintain office security,” Soto stated. “We also have important satellite and part time offices in Lake Nona, Winter Haven, Haines City and Lake Wales to more conveniently serve our constituents in Orange and Polk Counties.”

Among other members of Central Florida’s congressional delegation, Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings pays $5,319 a month for her office in west Orange County for Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis pays $1,700 a month for his primary office in St. Johns, $300 a month for a satellite office in DeLand, and $100 a month for one in Port Orange, for Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

The three freshmen Democrats – Murphy, Demings and Soto – all are spending more than their predecessors.

Murphy’s predecessor, Republican former U.S. Rep. John Mica, had three district offices with a total rent of $5,077 a month for the trio.

Demings’ predecessor was Webster. However, due to redistricting, most of her district actually was represented by Democratic former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown. She spent $3,114 a month for an office in Orlando, and $2,356 for one in Jacksonville. Her total was a little more than what Demings spends now, but with a district spanning parts of two major cities.

Florida congressmen put ‘on notice’ by EMILY’s List

Three Florida congressmen were put “On Notice” by national women’s candidates support group EMILY’s List.

The group announced its “Republicans On Notice” list this week, which identifies 50 House and Senate Republicans the group says it will target in the 2018 midterm elections “due to their anti-woman and anti-family positions.”

U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis, Brian Mast and Carlos Curbelo were the only Florida lawmakers on the list.

All three legislators were called out for voting in favor of the House plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and voting to defund Planned Parenthood.

Curbelo and DeSantis were also put on notice for voting against equal pay provisions protecting women, while Mast was hammered because he has come out in support of overturning Roe v. Wade.

All three congressmen had double-digit margins of victory in 2016. DeSantis won his CD 6 race by 17 percent, while Curbelo held former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia at bay with a 12-point victory in CD 26, and Mast beat out Randy Perkins in CD 18 by 10 percent.

The list covers a lot of the same races being targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, and despite the large margins in favor of Republicans in 2016, all three Florida districts have at least some potential to flip.

Each of the three districts are pretty even in voter registration numbers between the two major parties, and all were carried handily by Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012, according to the redistricting plan approved by Florida courts in late 2015.

Money pouring in for Florida’s Congress members in tough districts

Members of Florida’s congressional delegation vulnerable because of their balanced districts each raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the second quarter of 2017, new reports show.

The latest campaign finance reports posted this week, covering money raised and spent in April, May and June, shows that Republican U.S. Reps. Brian Mast of Palm City and Carlos Curbelo of Miami had the biggest hauls in the second quarter, while Democrats Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg and Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park were not far behind.

The reports also show the heat already rising in Florida’s 27th Congressional District based in Miami, where longtime incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced her retirement and numerous Democrats and Republicans are scrambling for her seat.

Two of them, Democrat Kristen Rosen Gonzalez Miami Beach, and Republican Bruno Barreiro, raised at least $175,000 each last quarter, more than most Florida incumbent members of Congress managed.

Regardless of what they did in the second quarto of 2017, the candidates with biggest war chests all were Republican incumbents who hold fairly safe seats, U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Ron DeSantis each sit on more than $1.5 million in cash more than 15 months before the 2018 general election.

Among challengers, only Louis Sola raised at least $50,000 during the quarter, and that’s because he fueled his campaign to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson in Florida’s 24th Congressional District with a $99,000 personal loan. That’s all he reported.

Among Florida’s incumbent members of Congress:

Mast, in the 18th District, raised $733,964 in the quarter, spent $303,010, and finished the quarter with $797,222 in the bank.

Curbelo, in the 26th District, raised $705,026, spent $231,831, and finished with $1,078,588.

Crist, of the 13th, raised $551,811, spent $102,558, and finished with $1,121,494.

Murphy, of the 7th, raised $412,924, spent $150,642, and finished with $518,970.

Republican Neal Dunn of Panama City, in the 2nd, raised $337,793, spent $134,271, and finished with $270,857.

Republican Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami, in the 25th, raised $296,319, spent $81,541, and finished with $748,837

Republican Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor, in the 12th, raised $264,221, spent $122,127, and finished with $302,261.

Republican Dennis Ross of Lakeland, in the 15th, raised $256,313, spent $149,872, and finished with $932,904.

Buchanan, in the 16th, raised $241,662, spent $66,606, and finished with $1,982,876.

Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, in the 23rd, raised $216,626, spent $238,332, and finished with $215,220.

Democrat Darren Soto of Orlando, in the 9th, raised $157,596, spent $37,417, and finished with $171,175.

Democrat Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, in the 21st, raised $149,962, spent $132,693, and finished with $943,810.

Democrat Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, in the 22nd, raised $142,658, spent $125,991, and finished with $277,383.

Democrat Alcee Hastings of Miramar, in the 20th, raised $121,314, spent $112,396, and finished with $92,074.

Republican John Rutherford of Jacksonville, in the 4th, raised $116,784, spent $16,287, and finished with $132,332.

Democrat Kathy Castor of Tampa, in the 14th, raised $102,675, spent $64,744, and finished with $629,803.

Republican Ted Yoho of Gainesville, in the 3rd, raised $96,327, spent $42,183, and finished with $157,680.

Republican Bill Posey of Merritt Island, in the 8th, raised $93,627, spent $47,364, and finished with $506,876.

Republican Francis Rooney of Naples, in the 19th, raised $89,981, spent $57,435, and finished with $305,685.

Democrat Al Lawson of Tallahassee, in the 5th, raised $86,468, spent $38,501, and finished with $147,206.

Republican Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach, in the 1st, raised $80,901, spent $40,417, and finished with $170,046.

Republican Tom Rooney of Okeechobee, in the 17th, raised $70,097, spent $49,182, and finished with $114,763.

Republican Dan Webster of Webster, in the 11th, raised $66,655, spent $59,304, and finished with $83,295.

Wilson of Miami Gardens, in the 24th, raised $63,709, spent $21,873, and finished with $401,544.

DeSantis, in the 6th, only raised $52,379, while spending $51,153, yet he was sitting well going in, and finished with $1,674,185 in the bank.

The Federal Election Commission did not post second-quarter reports for Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando, in the 10th District. Her first quarter report showed she finished March with $189,021 in the bank.

Among other challengers, Tim Canova of Hollywood, seeking a Democratic primary rematch with Wasserman Schultz in the 23rd, reported raising $49,117 in the second quarter, spending $32,819, and finishing with $19,641.

Two Democrats in the 15th, James Pilkington of Indian Lake Estates and Andrew Learned of Valrico, put up somewhat respectable fundraising numbers seeking a challenge with Ross. Pilkington raised $26,338, spent $6,699, and finished with $19,739. Learned raised $22,289, spent $6,162, and finished with $16,127.

Robert Tager of Clearwater, seeking to take on Bilirakis in the 12th, reported raising $12,404, spending $3,320, and finishing with $11,823.

No one else raised $10,000 in the quarter.

However, several former members of Congress and former candidates kept their FEC paperwork updated.

Republican former U.S. Rep. Cliff Sterns reported raising $51,704, nearly all on interest, and spending $6,618, nearly all on account management, and finished with $1,579,227 in the bank in the 3rd.

Democratic former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who served in the 9th and moved his paperwork to the 11th; and his wife, Democrat Dena Grayson, who ran in the 9th and moved her paperwork to the 8th, both reported activity too. Alan Grayson raised $68,532 in the quarter, spent $50,340, and finished with $455,584. Dena Grayson reported raising $9,821, spending $10,117, and finishing with $729.

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