Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Giuliani’s consulting firm helped halt Purdue opioid investigation in Florida

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

By Fred Schulte
Kaiser Health News
Six months after hiring former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s consulting firm, Purdue Pharma settled a Florida state investigation that had threatened to expose early illegal marketing of its blockbuster drug OxyContin, company and state records show.
The post Giuliani’s consulting firm helped halt Purdue opioid investigation in Florida appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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First Amendment claims seen as Rx for drug makers, headache for consumers

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

By Paul Raeburn
FairWarning
Off-label promotion has long been considered a serious white-collar crime. The FDA has fined drug companies billions of dollars for off-label violations. The aim: to prevent them from overstating the benefits and understating the risks of their products, a practice known as misbranding – and one that sometimes leads to patients getting drugs that prove harmful or even deadly.
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Rick Scott, Mike Pence: When campaign fundraising met tax incentives for Scott’s company

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Two months after Florida Gov. Rick Scott helped then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence fundraise in Fort Lauderdale last year, Pence announced a $650,000 incentives package for a company owned in large part by Scott.
The post Rick Scott, Mike Pence: When campaign fundraising met tax incentives for Scott’s company appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Miami-Dade Schools give fat, multi-year lobbying contract to Trump-connected lobbyist

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

By William Gjebre
FloridaBulldog.org
Seeking an edge in Republican-dominated Washington politics, Miami-Dade public school officials awarded a federal lobbying contract to an influential Florida firm whose chief officer played a significant role in the election of President Donald Trump last fall.
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U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney mum about fat fees paid to White House Counsel’s ex-law firm

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

By Francisco Alvarado
FloridaBulldog.org
From last July to March, the campaign committee for freshman Florida Congressman Francis Rooney paid roughly $117,000 to the former law firm of White House Counsel Donald McGahn II. However, neither Rooney nor McGahn are answering questions about the payments.
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Winners and losers in Donald Trump’s first budget plan

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Military spending would get the biggest boost in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. Environmental programs, medical research, Amtrak and an array of international and cultural programs — from Africa to Appalachia — would take big hits, among the many parts of the government he’d put on a crash diet.
The budget proposal out Thursday is a White House wish list; it’ll be up to Congress to decide where money goes. If Trump gets his way, there will be more losers than winners among government departments and programs.
Some programs would tread water: WIC grants — money to states for health care and nutrition for low-income women, infants and children — are one example. Monday for states grants for water infrastructure projects would be held level as well.
Some others would lose everything: Trump proposes to eliminate money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the national endowments for the arts and the humanities and more than a dozen other independent agencies financed by the government.
A sampling:
WINNERS
—The Pentagon. Trump proposes a 10 percent increase in the massive defense budget, adding $52 billion in military spending in one year top expand personnel, equipment and capability. Another $2 billion would go to nuclear weapons.
—Veterans Affairs. Up 5.9 percent. That’s an additional $4.4 billion, driven by ever-growing health care costs.
—Homeland Security. Up 6.8 percent. That’s $2.8 billion more. Most of the increase, $2.6 billion, would be to help kick-start Trump’s promised border wall. The president has repeatedly said Mexico would pay for the wall; Mexican officials are adamant that they won’t. Trump also wants an extra $1.5 billion for more immigration jails and deportations, and $314 million to hire 1,500 immigration enforcement and border patrol agents.
—The National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the maintenance and safety of the nuclear arsenal and its research labs. The agency would grow

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Florida House Democrats demand Rick Scott speak up on CBO’s scoring of GOP health care plan

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Since the Congressional Budget Office said the Republican health care plan would raise the ranks of the uninsured by 14 million people next year earlier this week, Gov. Rick Scott has been silent.
Florida House Democrats are now calling him out for his sudden reluctance to weigh in on a subject he’s never been shy about talking about before.
The governor has been a major critic of the Affordable Care Act and traveled to Washington last week to meet with President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio, and House Speaker Paul Ryan to discuss the American Health Care Act.
Scott told reporters later he was “encouraged” about the Act, adding that it was still a “work in progress.”
But after the CBO came out with their score card earlier this week that said that the GOP plan would raise the number of uninsured to 24 million over a decade and could have a huge impact on Florida’s Medicaid program, the governor has been silent.
Florida House Democrats now say it’s time for him to speak up.
“Rather than acting as a leader, the Governor took the path of a typical politician and ducked the question entirely,” says House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz. “If Governor Scott isn’t prepared to defend ‘Trumpcare,’ he at least owes Floridians an explanation about what exactly he’s been discussing with Republican leadership during his taxpayer funded trips to Washington DC.”
“Trumpcare would rip the rug out from under the millions of Floridians who have gained access to quality, affordable health care under the ACA,” says Coral Gables Rep. Daisy Baez. “This would be incredibly harmful to the overall health and well-being of all Floridians, and they deserve to know where Governor Scott stands on this issue.”
Democrats note that Florida leads the nation in those finding coverage through the insurance exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act, with over 1.6 million Floridians signing up during this year’s

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House GOP health bill facing fresh House committee test

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

The White House and Republican leaders are talking to rank-and-file lawmakers about revising the GOP health care overhaul, hoping to keep a rebellion by conservatives and moderates from snowballing and imperiling the party’s showpiece legislation.
Four days after a congressional report projected the bill would pry coverage from millions of voters, signs of fraying GOP support for the legislation were showing. The measure would strike down much of former President Barack Obama‘s 2010 overhaul and reduce the federal role, including financing, for health care consumers and is opposed uniformly by Democrats.
In a fresh test of Republicans’ willingness to embrace the legislation, the House Budget Committee was considering the measure Thursday. Republicans expressed confidence the bill would be approved, but the vote could be tight. The panel can’t make significant changes but was expected to endorse non-binding, suggested changes to nail down votes.
The bill would eliminate the tax penalty that pressures people to buy coverage and the federal subsidies that let millions afford it, replacing them with tax credits that are bigger for older people. It would cut Medicaid, repeal the law’s tax increases on higher earning Americans and require 30 percent higher premiums for consumers who let coverage lapse.
Overt GOP opposition grew after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected Monday that the legislation would push 24 million Americans off coverage in a decade and shift out-of-pocket costs toward lower income, older people. Obama’s law has provided coverage to around 20 million additional people
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Wednesday that leaders could now make “some necessary improvements and refinements” to the legislation. But he declined to commit to bringing the measure to the House floor next week, a schedule Republican leaders have repeatedly said they intended to keep.
At a late rally in Nashville Wednesday, President Donald Trump said: “We’re going

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Marco Rubio says ‘Snoop shouldn’t have done it’ regarding video featuring fake Trump assassination

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Noted hip-hop aficionado Marco Rubio is weighing in on rapper Snoop Dogg’s controversial new music video “Lavender,” that features the rapper firing a toy gun at a clown dressed as Donald Trump.
“Snoop shouldn’t have done that,” the Florida Senator told TMZ on Monday. “You know we’ve had presidents assassinated before in this country, so anything like that is really something people should really careful about.”
“I think people can disagree on policy but we’ve got to be really careful about that kind of thing, because the wrong person sees that and gets the wrong idea, and you can have a real problem, so you know, I’m not sure what Snoop is thinking. He should think about that a little bit.”
The song is a remix of the electro-psych tune by BadBadNotGood and Kaytranada.
Snoop (whose real name is Calvin Broadus) elaborated on the video concept in an interview with Billboard, criticizing police brutality and President Trump’s policies, saying,”The ban that this motherfucker tried to put up; him winning the presidency; police being able to kill motherfuckers and get away with it; people being in jail for weed for 20, 30 years and motherfuckers that’s not black on the streets making money off of it – but if you got color or ethnicity connected to your name, you’ve been wrongfully accused or locked up for it, and then you watching people not of color position themselves to get millions and billions off of it,” he said.
The post Marco Rubio says ‘Snoop shouldn’t have done it’ regarding video featuring fake Trump assassination appeared first on Florida Politics.

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President Trump on witness list in Palm Beach lawsuit involving billionaire pedophile

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
President Donald Trump is on a list of witnesses for trial in a Palm Beach lawsuit that pits billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein against a Fort Lauderdale attorney who represents Epstein’s victims.
The post President Trump on witness list in Palm Beach lawsuit involving billionaire pedophile appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Congress’ analyst: Millions to lose coverage under GOP bill

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Fourteen million Americans would lose coverage next year under House Republican legislation remaking the nation’s health care system, and the number would balloon to 24 million by 2026, Congress’ budget analysts projected Monday. Their report deals a stiff blow to a GOP drive already under fire from both parties and large segments of the medical industry.
The Congressional Budget Office report undercuts a central argument President Donald Trump and Republicans have cited for swiftly rolling back the 2010 health care overhaul: that the insurance markets created under that statute are “a disaster” and about to implode. The congressional experts said that largely would not be the case, that the market for individual policies “would probably be stable in most areas under either current law or the (GOP) legislation.”
The report also flies in the face of Trump’s talk of “insurance for everybody,” which he stated in January. He has since embraced a less expansive goal — to “increase access” — advanced by House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans.
Health secretary Tom Price told reporters at the White House the report was “simply wrong” and that he disagreed “strenuously,” saying it omitted the impact of additional GOP legislation and regulatory changes that the Trump administration plans for the future.
Still, the budget office’s estimates provide a detailed, credible appraisal of the Republican effort to unravel former President Barack Obama‘s 2010 overhaul. The office has a four-decade history of even-handedness and is currently headed by an appointee recommended by Price when he was a congressman. Trump has repeatedly attacked the agency’s credibility, citing its significant underestimate of the number of people who would buy insurance on state and federal exchanges under “Obamacare.”
On the plus side for Republicans, the budget office said the GOP measure would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the coming decade.

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Fueled by Donald Trump opponents, Rachel Maddow’s popularity rises

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Rachel Maddow can trace the mood of her audience by looking at the ratings.
Her MSNBC show’s viewership sank like a stone in the weeks following Donald Trump‘s election, as depressed liberals avoided politics, and bottomed out over the holidays. Slowly, they re-emerged, becoming active and interested again. Maddow’s audience has grown to the point where February was her show’s most-watched month since its 2008 launch.
Maddow has emerged as the favorite cable news host for presidential resistors in the opening days of the Trump administration, just as Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity is one for supporters or Keith Olbermann was the go-to television host for liberals in George W. Bush‘s second term. Trump fascination has helped cable news programs across the political spectrum defy the traditional post-presidential election slump, few as dramatically as Maddow’s.
Her show’s average audience of 2.3 million in February doubled its viewership over February 2016, in the midst of the presidential primaries, the Nielsen company said.
“I’m grateful for it,” Maddow said one recent afternoon. “It is nice for me that it is happening at a time when I feel we are doing some of our best work.”
Those two things — ratings success and Maddow’s pride in the work — don’t always intersect.
“We’re making aggressive editorial decisions in terms of how far we’re willing to get off of everyone else’s news cycle,” she said, “but it’s paying off because the news cycle more often than not is catching up with us after we do something.”
Maddow has decided to cover the Trump administration like a silent movie, so the show could pay more attention to what is being done rather than what is being said. The central focus is on connect-the-dots reporting about Trump’s business interests and dealings with Russia.
Her show is a news cousin to HBO host John Oliver‘s

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Search for next FDP executive director narrows

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

The choice to succeed Scott Arceneaux as executive director of the Florida Democratic Party is between Jonathan Ducote and Josh Wolf, sources tell FloridaPolitics.
Political consultant Jackie Lee and former state legislator Reggie Fullwood were also in the mix, but reportedly are now out of contention for the position.
Ducote has served as political director for the Florida Justice Association since 2014. He previously served as campaign manager for Loranne Ausley’s unsuccessful 2010 bid for CFO, as financial director for Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown’s 2011 election campaign victory, and as campaign manager for Barbara Buono’s unsuccessful challenge to Chris Christie in the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election.
Wolf most recently served as campaign manager for Patrick Murphy’s U.S. Senate bid. Prior to that, he served as campaign manger for Steve Grossman’s unsuccessful 2014 campaign for governor in Massachusetts.  In 2012, he managed U.S. Rep. Ami Bera’s successful campaign in California.
Arceneaux’s departure after more than seven years as executive director was announced in January, shortly after Coconut Grove developer and fundraiser Stephen Bittel was elected as chairman.  His tenure as executive director had been contentious in recent years, as some Democrats openly wondered why he had maintained his position while the state continued to lose statewide elections.
Arceneaux was initially hired during Karen Thurman’s tenure back in 2009. He lasted through the regimes of Rod Smith and Allison Tant.
2016 proved to be another desultory year for Florida Democrats. After being a blue state for two successive presidential elections, Republican Donald Trump eked out a narrow but clear cut victory over Hillary Clinton, while Marco Rubio easily defeated Murphy to maintain his seat in the Senate.
The post Search for next FDP executive director narrows appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Donald Trump looking to Sarah Huckabee Sanders in tough moments

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Faced with aggressive on-air questioning about the president’s wiretapping claims, Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t flinch, she went folksy.
Speaking to George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America,” she pulled out a version of an old line from President Lyndon Johnson: “If the president walked across the Potomac, the media would be reporting that he could not swim.”
The 34-year-old spokeswoman for President Donald Trump was schooled in hardscrabble politics — and down-home rhetoric — from a young age by her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Her way with a zinger — and her unshakable loyalty to an often unpredictable boss — are big reasons why the deputy press secretary is a rising star in Trump’s orbit.
In recent weeks, Sanders has taken on a notably more prominent role in selling Trump’s agenda, including on television and at White House press briefings. As White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s public profile has fluctuated in recent weeks amid criticism of his performance, Sanders has increasingly become a chief defender of Trump in some of his toughest moments.
Sanders’ rise has fueled speculation that she’s becoming the president’s favored articulator, a notion she disputes. “It’s hard for any one person to maintain a schedule of being the singular face all day every day,” she said. She argued that more than one press aide spoke for President Barack Obama.
“When Eric Schultz went on TV did anybody say Josh Earnest is getting fired?” Sanders asked. “Was that story ever written?”
Spicer echoed that message: “My goal is to use other key folks in the administration and the White House to do the shows.”
Indeed, speaking on behalf of this president is a challenging and consuming job.
Trump often presents his own thoughts directly on Twitter in the early hours of the morning and is known to closely follow his surrogates on television,

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Donald Trump’s labor nominee likely to be asked about Florida case

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Labor secretary nominee Alexander Acosta is expected to face questions at his Senate confirmation hearing about an unusual plea deal he oversaw for a billionaire sex offender while U.S. attorney in Miami.
Acosta has won confirmation for federal posts three times previously, but he has never faced scrutiny on Capitol Hill for his time as U.S. attorney.
Critics, including attorneys for some underage victims of financier Jeffrey Epstein, say the plea agreement was a “sweetheart deal” made possible only by Epstein’s wealth, connections and high-powered lawyers. Acosta has defended his decisions as the best outcome given evidence available at the time.
“Some may feel that the prosecution should have been tougher. Evidence that has come to light since 2007 may encourage that view,” Acosta wrote in a March 2011 letter to media outlets after leaving the U.S. attorney’s office. “Had these additional statements and evidence been known, the outcome may have been different. But they were not known to us at the time.”
Senate aides from both parties expect Democrats to raise the case during Acosta’s confirmation hearing Wednesday as an example of him not speaking up for less-powerful people. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
Sen. Patty Murray, the leading Democrat on the committee, said in a statement she met with Acosta on Thursday and is concerned about whether he would “stand up to political pressure” and advocate for workers as labor secretary. Unlike Trump’s original choice for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, Acosta is expected to win confirmation.
The Florida International University law school dean was nominated after Puzder, a fast-food executive, withdrew over his hiring of an undocumented immigrant housekeeper and other issues.
Acosta, 48, has previously won Senate confirmation as Miami U.S. attorney, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division and the National Labor Relations

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Melania Trump begins to embrace new role as first lady

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Melania Trump‘s invitation for high-powered women to join her at the White House was about more than the lunch they would eat, or the stated purpose of honoring International Women’s Day.
It marked a “coming out,” almost two months into President Donald Trump‘s term, for a first lady described by her husband as a “very private person.” She had spent a couple of weeks hunkered down at the family’s midtown Manhattan penthouse while Trump got down to work in Washington. Now, the former model is taking her first steps into her very public new role
Mrs. Trump strode into the State Dining Room for her first solo White House event after an announcer intoned, “Ladies and gentlemen, the first lady of the United States, Melania Trump,” and was greeted by the all-female group of about 50 people, including ambassadors, Cabinet members, at least one U.S. senator and stepdaughter Ivanka Trump.
Mrs. Trump asked guests for suggestions on how best to empower women and girls worldwide, possibly foreshadowing women’s empowerment as an issue she would pursue as first lady. Trump said recently that his wife, who turns 47 next month, feels strongly about “women’s difficulties.”
“I will work alongside you in ensuring that the gender of one’s birth does not determine one’s treatment in society,” she told guests, according to a tweet by a White House official.
The White House allowed a small pool of journalists to watch as guests and the first lady arrived for Wednesday’s lunch, but they were ushered out as Mrs. Trump began to speak. The White House press office promised to distribute text of her prepared remarks after the event, but a transcript has not been released.
In recent weeks, Mrs. Trump helped plan their first big White House social event, an annual, black-tie dinner for the nation’s governors. She followed up

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Donald Trump could be forcing out U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

President Donald Trump has asked for resignations from 46 U.S. Attorneys appointed by former President Barack Obama, possibly including A. Lee Bentley of the Middle District of Florida.
The Tampa Business Journal contacted multiple sources to see if Bentley had been asked to step aside, but did not get a confirmation as of Friday evening.
Bentley was sworn in to the position just a year ago, and was appointed based on the recommendation of Florida U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio. Before becoming U.S. Attorney, Bentley spent 15 years as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the same district.
The Middle District of Florida is headquartered in Tampa.
U.S. Attorneys generally step aside when the presidential administration changes parties, but the process usually takes place gradually to ensure replacements are lined up for a smooth transition.
Miami U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer, also an Obama appointee, announced his resignation last month.
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, equated asking for the resignations to an “abrupt firing.”
“Under previous administrations, orderly transitions allowed U.S. Attorneys to leave gradually as their replacements were chosen,” she said. “This was done to protect the independence of our prosecutors and avoid disrupting ongoing federal cases.”
Feinstein said she is “very concerned about the effect of this sudden and unexpected decision on federal law enforcement.”
The post Donald Trump could be forcing out U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Martin Dyckman: What have we become in the time of Trump?

Friday, March 10th, 2017

A young woman who works at a store that we frequent told of a recent experience that haunts my mind, as I hope it will yours.
She and her husband were homebound from a European vacation. As the aircraft waited on the tarmac at Amsterdam’s airport, an announcement told three named passengers to identify themselves to a flight attendant.
Every name, she noted, sounded Middle Eastern.
Each was asked to produce a passport, even though all the passengers had had theirs inspected at least twice before boarding.
A young man near her was one of those singled out. As he stood to retrieve his bag from the overhead bin, she saw that his hands were trembling. She wondered whether he would even be able to handle the bag.
A flight attendant checked the passport and left him alone.
He took his seat, still shaking.
“Are you all right?” she asked him.
“I am an American,” he said. “I was born here.”
So that is what we have come to in the time of Trump.
Concurrently, wire services reported that Khizr Khan, the Gold Star parent who denounced Donald Trump at the Republican convention and challenged him to read the U.S. Constitution, had canceled a speaking engagement in Canada after being told, or so it was said, that “his travel privileges are being reviewed.”
His son, Captain Humayun Khan, was protecting his troops in Iraq when he was killed by a suicide bomber.
“This turn of events is not just of deep concern to me but to all my fellow Americans who cherish our freedom to travel abroad. I have not been given any reason as to why,” Kahn said. The statement did not say who told him about it.
The cancellation was announced on the same day as Trump signed a new travel ban targeting Muslims abroad.
The speech Khan had been scheduled to

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Potential CFO candidate Jeremy Ring tells his story in Tampa

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Broward County Democrat Jeremy Ring isn’t an official candidate for Chief Financial Officer in 2018 yet, but he talked the part in one of his first ever appearances in Tampa on Friday morning.
Speaking at the Oxford Exchange as part of the Cafe Con Tampa weekly event, the former Yahoo executive introduced himself to the audience by humble bragging about his private sector background, describing himself as the first salesman for the internet search engine company when he started there as a 24-year-old (he’s 46 now).
But when he self deprecating about his lack of knowledge about politics when he first decided to run for state Senate in 2006,
“I had never been to Tallahassee,” he says. “I barely knew that Jeb Bush was governor of Florida. When I lived in Silicon Valley, Nancy Pelosi was my Congresswoman – I never heard of her (actually, Pelosi represents San Francisco, an hour north of Silicon Valley, which is located in Santa Clara County). All true. I was the least experienced candidate in the history of the state of Florida. ”
The meat of his message is on making Florida an innovative economy, a theme he campaigned on during his first run for office a decade ago. And he’s produced results.
In 2008, he helped create the Florida Growth Fund, which invests state and local pension funds in technology and high-growth businesses with a significant presence in the state, and the Florida Opportunity Fund, a multimillion-dollar program that directs investments to high- performing funds committed to seed and early stage businesses.
Ring says that Florida has one of the most  complete innovation “ecosystems” in the country, not that it’s something that many lawmakers know or understand.
“Most elected officials in Tallahassee will inspire you instead of becoming the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, they’ll inspire you to be the next homebuilder or

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Bob Buckhorn says post Donald Trump, he’s not sure what the American people are looking for

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Bob Buckhorn says his decision not to pursue a run for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2018 was mainly predicated on two factors – the fact that he did not want to be away as his 15-year-old daughter spends her last few years at home, and the fact that he loves being Mayor of Tampa more than he could imagine running for statewide office for the next 18 months.
But lurking below is his realization that what he would be selling may not be what Florida voters were interested in buying next year.
“I would have been running on the fact that I was qualified, that I had managed large institutions, that we had a track record of accomplishments, that we were not particularly partisan, but I don’t know if that really matters anymore,” the mayor told reporters who gathered at City Hall for a press conference at 9 a.m. on Thursday.”I don’t know what the American public is looking for in their elected leadership. It is a disconcerting time in our country, and for those of us who aspire to lead, it’s the most unusual time that I’ve seen in thirty years.”
Buckhorn was referring of course, to the electoral earthquake that resulted in Donald Trump winning the presidency last fall over the woman he campaigned hard for in Florida (and even outside of the state), Hillary Clinton. 
Although the mayor’s decision today was expected, his trajectory about being a candidate went through an evolution in the past few years.
Based on his successful leadership in leading Tampa out of the Great Recession of the last decade as well as his outsized personality, Buckhorn has been prominently listed as part of a bench of Democratic candidates for statewide office for several years now. That speculation went into overdrive after he created his own political action committee (One Florida) in December of

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Repeal and replace — The end of traditional conservatism

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

As a lifelong Republican and a former Fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, I have always preferred voting for the Republican and conservative candidate.
Preferably, the candidate is both Republican and conservative, although that is not always the case.
For only the second time in my life, I did not vote for the Republican presidential nominee:  I found him neither Republican nor conservative. I know there are different strands of conservatism: classical, neo-cons, libertarians, religious and economic conservatives. I found Donald Trump to be none of the above.
Trump did appeal to conservatives by supporting regulatory reform, lower taxes, unleashing the private sector and rolling back the administrative state. At the same time, Trump supported existing entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, which he called untouchable, and backed new entitlements like a paid family leave program.
Until the election of Trump, Republicans venerated Ronald Reagan and his brand of conservatism. This included support for free trade, a centerpiece of conservative economic policy. Trump has denounced free trade by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership which conservatives uniformly backed. Trump also plans to end the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which Republicans helped to pass.
Another litmus test for modern conservatism was for America to play a major role in world affairs. Reagan addressed the first Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) meeting in 1974 and argued that America “cannot escape our destiny, nor should we try to do so.”
Reagan cited Pope Pius XII’s remarks after World War II that “Into the hands of America, God has placed the destinies of mankind.” Under Trump, American First has become the guiding philosophy.
Republicans and conservatives have generally opposed entitlements and big government. Trump has made Social Security and Medicare untouchable, even though most conservatives believe these programs are not sustainable given the demographic changes in American society.
Trump has called

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Fort Lauderdale woman seeks right to trial in Trump University case

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

A Fort Lauderdale woman asked this week to be excluded from a proposed settlement with President Donald Trump over fraud allegations at his now-defunct Trump University, setting the stage for a possible trial if a federal judge agrees.
Attorneys for Sherri Simpson said in a court filing that lawyers for former students in class-action lawsuits promised in 2015 that they could ask to be excluded from any future settlement. A settlement announced less than two weeks after Trump’s election allows class members to object to the terms, but they can no longer drop out, preventing them from suing on the own.
She described herself as a single mother hoping to improve life for her child — until she was victimized by what she describes as shady practices at Trump University.
“All of it was just a fake,” Simpson said in the ad. “America, do not make the same mistake that I did with Donald Trump. I got hurt badly and I’d hate to see this country get hurt by Donald Trump.”
Monday was the last day for former students to object to the $25 million settlement, which U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel will consider for final approval at a hearing March 30 in San Diego.
Curiel, a target of Trump’s repeated criticism during the presidential campaign, granted preliminary approval to the agreement in December and has said he hoped it would be part of a healing process that the country sorely needed. It settles two class-action lawsuits before Curiel on behalf of about 7,000 former students and a civil lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The former students would get at least 50 percent of their money back, according to plaintiff attorneys, who waived their fees to allow for larger payouts.
Simpson’s attorneys said many may be satisfied with the payment and acknowledged it is

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NASA’s $19.5B plan headed for Donald Trump’s desk

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

President Donald Trump will get his first chance to signal his vision for space now that both houses of Congress have approved a $19.5 billion bill cosponsored by both Florida senators to continue NASA’s programs.
The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved the one-year spending plan late Tuesday, calling for continued support for commercial space companies launching from Kennedy Space Center, continued support for the International Space Station and the first steps in NASA’s planned Journey to Mars.
The U.S. Senate approved the Senate Bill 442 in February, creating the prospect that a NASA budget could be approved and signed for the first time since 2010. It would offer a slight increase over the $19 billion NASA operated under last year. The bill is largely lifted from the one the Senate passed late in the last session, too late to be considered by the House.
The bill is entitled “NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017” but it largely funds a continuation of NASA’s current policies and programs, with some new demands from Congress for clarifications of what NASA wants to do.
The spending plan is largely good news for Florida, authorizing and funding programs that are redefining Kennedy and adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as rocket-launching home to a growing private space industry. It also calls for reports from NASA to Congress on how the private sector is doing in taking over lower-Earth orbit space activity.
It recommits to NASA’s desire to build a Mars mission in coming decades and provides funding for development of the agency’s Space Launch System super rocket and Orion crew capsule, but also requires NASA to submit a detailed roadmap on exactly what it wants to do in deep space.
That report likely would clarify NASA’s next steps, whether it be the agency’s intended but sharply-criticized plan to visit and perhaps retrieve an

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Could anti-Donald Trump quotes hurt Pat Neal’s chances of becoming CFO?

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Not surprisingly, Donald Trump hasn’t been too keen in hiring those associated with the “Never Trump” movement of conservative policy who surfaced in last year’s presidential campaign.
The most glaring example of that was the case of former State Department official Elliott Abrams. A meeting between the two last month reportedly went well, according to CNN.  Ultimately Trump opted not to hire Abrams for the job as deputy Secretary of State, however, once he learned that Abrams criticized him during his White House run.
Might strong GOP criticism of the president during the campaign turn off Rick Scott, a close ally of Trump’s, specifically when it comes to naming a new Chief Financial Officer?
While there have been a host of names floated as possible contenders (including state Senators  Jack Latvala, Jeff Brandes, Tom Lee and Lizbeth Benacquisto, state Rep. Jim Boyd,  former interim head of Citizens Property Insurance Tom Grady, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, former Speaker of the House Will Weatherfod, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera), Pat Neal, the Manatee County real estate developer and former state lawmaker, is being looked at by many as the top choice to succeed Jeff Atwater in filling out the remainder of his term. Atwater announced last month that he will be stepping down as CFO to serve as Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Chief Financial Officer at Florida Atlantic University at the end of the Florida Legislature’s regular session in May.
Neal announced last June that he would not be a candidate for the CFO position in 2018, telling the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that he was “dispirited with what I see every morning having to do with the Trump campaign.”
He went on to tell  reporter Zac Anderson that he viewed Trump as an incredibly “vulgar” candidate  who “is leading our party off a cliff.”
Neal later told the Times’ Adam C. Smith  that, “I, Pat Neal, have never had a bankruptcy, never had a bank default. When you sign a note of bonds, or sell stock with investors the right thing to

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About that unusually tense interview between Stephanopoulos, Trump aide

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

George Stephanopoulos‘ “Good Morning America” interview with White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday is an instant milestone in the hostile relationship between the Trump administration and the media.
In the discussion about President Donald Trump‘s weekend accusations — offered without proof — that former President Obama ordered Trump’s New York home wiretapped, Stephanopoulos repeatedly interrupted and stopped Sanders when he felt she veered from the truth. It was a crackling exchange unusual for the generally happy terrain of network morning television, and made Stephanopoulos a hero or villain depending on whose social media feed is followed.
It was also the second time in a month that the ABC anchor had a notably sharp interview with a Trump administration official. On “This Week” last month, he repeatedly pressed Trump aide Stephen Miller for evidence to back up the claim that there was massive voter fraud in the election.
Sanders was also interviewed on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday, while “CBS This Morning” turned down the White House’s offer to have her on. Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” brought presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway on to speak about Trump’s allegations, less than a day after White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there would be no further comment on the issue. It wasn’t clear what changed the administration’s strategy.
Stephanopoulos began his interview by asking Sanders whether Trump accepted reports that FBI director James Comey had denied there was any wiretapping of Trump. Sanders said she didn’t believe he did, and started talking about wiretapping reports in other media outlets.
“Sarah, I have got to stop you right there,” Stephanopoulos said. The stories she cited did not back up the president’s claims, he said. “What is the president’s evidence?” he asked.
Sanders said there was “wide reporting” suggesting that the administration could have ordered wiretapping. Stephanopoulos

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‘Anti-Trump’ protesters blamed for impending Marco Rubio Jacksonville office move

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

President Donald Trump apparently is the gift that keeps on giving for Sen. Marco Rubio.
On Monday evening, the Florida Times-Union reported that for a second time in a week, protesters have forced Sen. Rubio from one of his regional offices.
Rubio’s team is working to find new space in Tampa, and now faces a similar challenge in Jacksonville, after a decision was made to terminate the Rubio office’s lease because of what the T-U calls “daily protests” outside.
Worth noting: Rubio’s Jacksonville office is located next to a children’s behavioral clinic, a location which apparently factored into the decision-making matrix.
Rubio spokesperson Christine Mandreucci, meanwhile, suggests that the protesters aren’t exactly protesting the senator after all.
“For the second time in another major region of the state, the unruly behavior of some anti-Trump protesters is making it more inconvenient for Floridians to come to our local office to seek assistance with federal issues,” Mandreucci asserted, in a statement she had earlier provided to the Florida Times-Union.
The statement goes on to assert (a few sentences later) that “those who disagree with President Trump and Senator Rubio certainly have a right to exercise their First Amendment rights…”
However, the construction of the statement is worth noting, in light of the gap some perceive between Rubio’s campaign-trail promises to act as a “check and balance” against the president.‎
When we asked for examples of meaningful daylight between the positions of Rubio and Trump on issues of concern to protesters, or examples of what the T-U story was missing in terms of context, they were not immediately forthcoming.
Rather, we were re-referred to the Tampa Bay Times article linked above, and told that “protesters are part of the Indivisible group, a liberal group that literally follows a guide that outlines ways to resist President Trump and his ideas.”
Are protesters objecting to Sen. Rubio? To the Trump agenda? Do

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House GOP releases bill replacing Barack Obama health care overhaul

Monday, March 6th, 2017

House Republicans on Monday released their long-awaited plan for unraveling former President Barack Obama‘s health care law, a package that would scale back the government’s role in health care and likely leave more Americans uninsured.
House committees planned to begin voting on the 123-page legislation Wednesday, launching what could be the year’s defining battle in Congress and capping a seven-year Republican effort to repeal the 2010 law. Though GOP leaders expect their measure to win the backing of the Trump administration, divisions remain and GOP success is by no means ensured.
The plan would repeal the statute’s unpopular fines on people who don’t carry health insurance. It would replace income-based subsidies the law provides to help millions of Americans pay premiums with age-based tax credits that may be less generous to people with low incomes. Those payments would phase out for higher-earning people.
The bill would continue Obama’s expansion of Medicaid to additional low-earning Americans until 2020. After that, states adding Medicaid recipients would no longer receive the additional federal funds the statute has provided.
More significantly, Republicans would overhaul the federal-state Medicaid program, changing its open-ended federal financing to a limit based on enrollment and costs in each state.
In perhaps their riskiest political gamble, the plan is expected to cover fewer than the 20 million people insured under Obama’s overhaul, including many residents of states carried by President Donald Trump in November’s election.
Republicans said they don’t have official estimates on those figures yet. But aides from both parties and nonpartisan analysts have said they expect coverage numbers to be lower.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the bill would “drive down costs, encourage competition, and give every American access to quality, affordable health insurance.” He added, “This unified Republican government will deliver relief and peace of mind to the millions of Americans suffering under

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Gwen Graham denounces new travel ban

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham condemned President Donald Trump’s second attempt at a travel ban in a Monday afternoon Facebook post.
“Everyone who cares about America’s safety and security should oppose this latest Trump attempt at a travel ban,” she said. “And everyone who cares about America’s safety and security should call on Donald Trump to finally start listening to intelligence and military experts like the the ones who briefed me when I served on the House Armed Services Committee.”
Graham added that the revised executive order, issued Monday, “won’t make America safer or more secure, but a better-informed president sure would.”
The new travel ban is largely the same as the original ban issued about a month ago, though immigrants from Iraq are no longer barred from entering the country in the new ban, cutting the number of countries down to six, all predominantly Muslim. The new order also removed a provision that explicitly protected religious minorities.
Graham’s opinion echoes a statement put out earlier in the day by U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist as well as the opinion of Florida voters, who disapprove of the ban by a 51-44 margin.
Graham held Florida’s 2nd Congressional District from 2015 until the beginning of this year, but opted not to run for re-election after the district was redrawn to favor Republicans.
The former lawmaker announced last year that she was thinking about running for governor in 2018, a position her father, former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, held for two terms.
The post Gwen Graham denounces new travel ban appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Tom Rooney faces raucous crowd at town hall meeting

Monday, March 6th, 2017

It took about three minutes for the majority of the crowd at Florida Congressman Tom Rooney‘s town hall meeting Monday to start booing about everything from the environment to health care.
“You are supporting an appropriations bill to help clean up the Everglades. You recently voted to repeal a rule that allows coal companies to dump toxic ash in waterways throughout the whole country. Would you care to explain?” one man asked.
“We don’t live in a perfect world,” said the Republican congressman, standing alone in front of a podium on stage at the Englewood Event Center.
And that’s when the shouting started.
“That was quick,” quipped Rooney, who’s in his fifth term in Congress and represents a swath of rural and suburban counties in the middle of Florida, roughly from Lake Okeechobee to the east and toward Venice on the Gulf Coast.
Little more than a month into President Donald Trump‘s administration, Republican members of Congress are returning home to encounter crowds of concerned and, at times, raucous voters, pressing for explanations of the president’s plans for health care, immigration policies and cabinet appointees, among other things.
Those subjects came up repeatedly at Monday’s two-hour event. At times, it devolved into a holler-fest between Rooney, anti-Trump voters and pro-Trump voters.
Said Rooney, throwing his hands in the air: “So you want Trump to fail?”
The crowd screamed and clapped. One person yelled, “Yes, he already is failing!”
A Trump supporter screamed a response from the back: “You people suck!”
It appeared that a majority of the 300-strong crowd were retired, white and opposed to Trump. People grilled Rooney on the Affordable Care Act, pleading with him not to vote for a plan that doesn’t cover pre-existing medical conditions. Rooney replied that any health care revision ought to cover pre-existing medical conditions.
Another person asked what, if anything, Congress or the

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An angry weekend follows on heels of frustrations for Donald Trump

Monday, March 6th, 2017

President Donald Trump started his weekend in Florida in a fit of anger over his young administration getting sidetracked just days after his most successful moment in office. He returned to the White House late Sunday derailed — again.
Trump’s frustration appeared to be both the symptom and the cause of his recent woes. Angry about leaks, errant messaging and his attorney general landing in hot water, he fired off a series of tweets that only ensured more distractions.
His staff had hoped to build on the momentum generated by his speech to Congress by rolling out his revamped travel ban and, potentially, unveiling his health care plan. Those efforts rapidly unraveled, sparking more staff infighting and enraging a president loath to publicly admit a mistake and eager to shift the blame onto others.
And now, as Trump begins one of the most pivotal weeks yet for his presidency, his staff is facing the fallout from another allegation of close ties to Russia and the president’s unsubstantiated claims that his predecessor ordered him wiretapped during the campaign.
Trump simmered all weekend in Florida before returning to Washington ahead of signing new immigration restrictions, according to associates who spoke to the president and, like others interviewed, requested anonymity to discuss private conversations. Those close to Trump said it was the angriest he’s been as president, his rage bursting to the surface at his senior staff Friday afternoon in the Oval Office.
Trump was furious about the negative impact of the flap over Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ meetings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. He told one person he personally felt let down that his senior staff were unable to fight back against the story. He also suggested he felt that Sessions’ move to recuse himself from any investigation into administration links to Russia felt like

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