Posts Tagged ‘lobbyists’

New Broward jail healthcare provider has grim history of lawsuits, deaths

Monday, June 25th, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Poor medical care and at least 15 needless deaths at the Broward County Jail since 2010 appear to have caught up with controversial Miami-based Armor Correctional Health Services, which has lost its bid for another multi-million, multi-year contract to provide medical services to county inmates.
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Donors violate Miami Beach’s campaign finance laws, but face no discipline

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

By Francisco Alvarado
FloridaBulldog.org
Former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco derailed his political ascent by getting involved with a committee secretly raising money for his failed mayoral bid. Yet, lobbyists and vendors that built up the PAC’s $200,000 war chest have not faced any consequences despite a city ban designed to stop them from contributing to local candidates and political action committees if they do business with Miami Beach government.
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Lauren’s Kids funnels $3.1 million to politically connected public relations firm

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

By Francisco Alvarado
FloridaBulldog.org
A nonprofit run by Broward State Sen. Lauren Book and lavished with millions of dollars in state handouts by lawmakers paid a Tallahassee public relations firm with considerable political clout $3.1 million between 2012 and 2015.
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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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Ms. Book goes to Tallahassee, sees no conflict voting $ for Lauren’s Kids or dad’s clients

Monday, March 20th, 2017

By Francisco Alvarado
FloridaBulldog.org
Freshman Broward State Sen. Lauren Book says she won’t abstain from voting on matters involving clients of her father, powerful lobbyist Ron Book. Similarly, she sees no conflict of interest in voting on measures to funnel millions of taxpayer dollars to benefit her non-profit charity and political launching pad, Lauren’s Kids.
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Tallahassee lobbyists have a learning moment about ethics reform

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

House ethics guru Don Rubottom wrote a poem to explain what the chamber’s new ethics regime is all about:
“If you propose it, it should be disclosed before you discuss it,
“Before it shows up in any draft of a bill or amendment,
“Long before it is filed in the House.
“If others propose, disclose by number.”
OK, it’s not for the ages, but it captures the spirit of the thing.
Rubottom, staff director of the Public Integrity and Ethics Committee, was among the House aides who briefed lobbyists Tuesday evening on the arcana of the new ethics rules imposed under Speaker Richard Corcoran.
It was part of an ongoing re-education program for the lobbying corps.
Such was the interest that the gathering was moved to a massive hearing room that takes up most of the second floor of the Knott Building, adjacent to the Capitol. It was standing room only, with a television audience submitting questions via email.
Budget committee staff director JoAnne Leznoff explained the process for pushing an appropriations line item. It entails filling out a detailed form describing the amount sought, where the money should come from, and who would benefit.
Lobbyists must deliver the forms electronically to a House member. Members alone are allowed to enter the data into the House’s IT system, which will spit out a bill containing the relevant details.
Rubottom explained the ethics angle, including lobbyists’ obligation to promote a professional and ethical environment even if that means “supporting honorable behavior by members” and discouraging the other kind.
The House has tightened disclosure requirements for lobbyists — they must report in advance any issues, bills, amendments, specific appropriations. Once per year will do the job — no need to refile on a particular topic if the Legislature goes into special session, although you ought to update your disclosure filing to reflect changed bill

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Senate and House not that different, Joe Negron says

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Senate President Joe Negron said his approach to budgeting isn’t that different from fellow Republican and House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
Negron
Negron met with reporters Tuesday after he officially became president during the Legislature’s biennial Organization Session.
In sweeping changes to the House’s traditional way of doing business, Corcoran said senators would need House sponsors for special spending requests, such as hometown projects, often derided as “turkeys.”
But Negron, who along with Corcoran is a former Appropriations chair, said he “would encourage senators to find someone in the House” to support a budget item, and “we’ve always done that,” he said.
“The chances of an appropriation surviving this process are higher if both chambers are doing it,” said Negron, a Stuart Republican.
He also suggested those who lobby the Legislature for appropriations for paying clients have as much of a First Amendment right to cajole lawmakers as residents who seek money to build a senior center.
“The Capitol … should always be open for comment,” Negron said. ” … I believe that lobbyists and others and constituents have every right to redress grievances and to work in the process. And I believe all of us have a responsibility, myself included, to get information from many different sources to make a decision about voting and on budget decisions.”
The Senate this week adopted internal rules that do not contain the same strict provisions of the House regarding lawmakers’ interaction with lobbyists.
The House, for instance, even forbids members from looking at text messages from lobbyists while they are sitting in committee or a floor session.
“I think the spirit is the same: We all want to operate in a way that would make our constituents proud,” Negron said. “I think both Speaker Corcoran and I agree that we should be held to the highest standard.”
The post Senate and House not that different, Joe Negron says

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How to get around Richard Corcoran’s new rules — Volume 2

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Second in a series.
Most people are familiar with this joke about lawyers.
Q: What do you call 2,000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
A: A good start.
Well, to newly installed House Speaker Richard Corcoran, if you substitute “lobbyists” for “lawyers” in that joke, it’d be twice as funny.
Despite his brother being a lobbyist, Corcoran does not think highly of the profession and that is part of the reason why he has instituted a series of reforms which attempt to diminish the influence of the influence-peddlers.
“We must close the revolving door between the Legislature and the lobby corps,” Corcoran said last year during his designation speech. “We need to restore the distance between those who seek to influence the laws and those of us who make the laws.”
One of the key reforms Corcoran has implemented is a requirement that lobbyists file electronic disclosures on what specific issues they are lobbying for or against.
There would appear to be an easy workaround to this roadblock, err, reform.
Lobbyists, especially those at the larger firms, should file disclosures indicating they are lobbying for and/or against EVERY bill that is filed.
Say it’s out of an abundance of caution. Say you are being over-transparent. Say whatever. But if you are Brian Ballard or Chris Dudley or Nick Iarossi and you have more than 50 or 100 clients, it’s not implausible to suggest your firm has a hand in almost every bill that is filed.
Or if you are a lobbyist who represents one of the major trade groups, like the Florida Chamber of Commerce, it makes sense that you are keeping an eye on every issue before the Florida Legislature.
Here’s what how top lobbyist at one of the state’s largest firm explained how they’d work around the rules:
“We’re going to hire a Session clerk, just as we hire Session interns. The clerk’s sole job will be to sit at the computer and over-report in compliance with the new House

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John Thrasher finally free to lobby for FSU

Friday, November 18th, 2016

John Thrasher has registered to lobby for Florida State University, two years after his installation as the university’s president.
Under state law, former legislators must wait two years before becoming eligible to seek to influence their former colleagues. Thrasher’s registration took effect on Monday, according to state records.
Thrasher is a former House speaker who turned lobbyist with Southern Strategy Group before beginning service in the Senate in 2009.
He became FSU president in November 2014.
Also lobbying for the university is Kathy Mears, whose registration took effect Sept. 27. She had served as chief of staff to House Speakers Will Weatherford (2012-14) and Steve Crisafulli (2014-16).
The two-year lobbying ban extends to such key state employees “unless employed by another agency of state government,” according to state law.
The post John Thrasher finally free to lobby for FSU appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Richard Corcoran blazing his own leadership trail

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran grins widely when you suggest he’s stealing a page from the “progressive” politics playbook.
The Land O’ Lakes Republican held an impromptu press conference Tuesday after he welcomed new members at their two-day orientation session, another Corcoran innovation.
He was asked: Prohibiting state representatives from flying in lobbyists’ airplanes? Increasing the ban on former members lobbying their colleagues from two years to six years?
Aren’t these usually – dare we say – proposals that come from the other side of aisle? Corcoran would have nothing of it.
“I would just say, everything you just said, I reject,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t know where you got that concept. That is not who we are.”
Message delivered: Good government ideas don’t just belong to the Democrats.
Corcoran, who is expected to formally become Speaker at next Tuesday’s organization session, also said he doesn’t expect pushback from the Senate over his increased transparency plans for budgeting.
Even Janet Cruz, the incoming Democratic Leader, has endorsed the new rules.
For instance, Corcoran is requiring lobbyists to disclose every bill, amendment, and individual appropriation they are trying to influence. Another rule requires House members to file separate bills for each budget request they make, such as for hometown projects.
Based on conversations he’s had with some senators, “I think that they understand what we are trying to accomplish,” he told reporters. “They’ve been supportive. It’s easy to understand the motive: We’re trying to have the most open, transparent process in the nation. I think we’ve achieved that.”
Why? Because “knowledge is power.”
“The more knowledge our members have, the less powerful the special interests,” Corcoran said. “And the less distracting the outside noise or circus is.”
Even the lobby corps hasn’t complained – yet. Or at least not to him.
The reaction to the new, stricter rules “has all been favorable,” Corcoran said.

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Richard Corcoran rolls out new rules, says House will ‘set the standard for others’

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

The new rules of the Florida House of Representatives, among other things, will increase the ban on former members lobbying their colleagues from two years to six years, and prohibit state representatives from flying in aircraft owned, leased, or otherwise paid for by lobbyists.
That’s according to a final copy of the rules, released Thursday by incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
“It is time that government embodies the very highest of standards and serve citizens and not self,” he said in a statement. “The Florida House, in adopting these rules, will take a transformational leap into a new era of accountability, professionalism, transparency, and fairness.
“Those who cannot live up to the highest ethical and professional standards will find the Florida House a difficult place to work or visit,” he added.
The new rules also were endorsed by incoming House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa.
“While we will have our policy differences, one thing we can all agree on is that special interests enjoy far too much influence and not enough transparency in policymaking in our state,” she said. “I look forward to letting my constituents know about this first in a hopefully long line of bipartisan achievements.”
One of many new rules would let House members refuse to consider bill amendments on the floor if they are issues of “first impression” that haven’t been vetted through the committee process.
Other rules that have already leaked out include heightened lobbyist registration requirements, such as disclosing every bill, amendment, and individual appropriation they are trying to influence.
Another previously disclosed item requires House members to file separate bills for each budget request they make, such as for hometown projects.
Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, had begun hinting at his program as early as his closing remarks on the budget during the 2015 session, calling the

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Richard Corcoran to lobbyists: Cool your jets

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Florida House members better get used to flying commercial.
House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran is expected to announce new rules Thursday, including one that would prohibit members from flying on planes owned, leased, or paid for by lobbyists. The proposed rule change is meant to end a common practice among lawmakers and the influence industry, according to a sources close to the incoming House speaker.
The practice of hopping a ride on a lobbyist’s plane is considered fairly common. Lawmakers often pay for their ride, but it could create the appearance of impropriety.
The prohibition is expected to billed as a commonsense measure toward a good government. Corcoran is expected to make the argument that lobbyists and their clients shouldn’t be covering the cost of travel for members to do their jobs.
But Tallahassee could be one of the most difficult state capitals to get to in the country, especially from South Florida. It would take you about eight hours to drive from the House District 120 office in Key Largo to Tallahassee.
Want to fly? According to Expedia there are four nonstop flights to Tallahassee from Miami International Airport, where many members of the South Florida delegation would fly from, on Monday, Dec. 5, the first day of the committee weeks in the Florida House. Most of the other flights have a layover in Atlanta.
And just in case you were wondering: It takes less than four hours to drive from Land O’Lakes, Corcoran’s hometown, to Tallahassee.
The post Richard Corcoran to lobbyists: Cool your jets appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Broward Health begins lobbyist registration – 12 years and millions in contracts late

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Broward Health’s long-lost lobbyist registration policy is, at last, resurrected. Lobbyists looking to influence district policy or the award of profitable contracts must now publicly identify themselves and their clients.
The post Broward Health begins lobbyist registration – 12 years and millions in contracts late appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Diane Roberts: Charm and grace again flow downhill from Capitol

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

OCCUPIED TALLAHASSEE – Another Special Session! Why, it’s just like Christmas – minus the joy.
Minus the presents, too. While the members of the Florida Legislature rake in lobbyist largesse during committee weeks and every other hour that God sends, trawling for dollars during a Session is verboten.
This makes them surly.
Surlier. They aren’t exactly enjoying being forced to revisit redistricting for about the 400th time since the spring.
No one expects the Special Session, which is supposed to draw state Senate districts, to go well. The House despises the Senate which is, in turn, totally cheesed off at the House. Gov. 10-Watt is, of course, AWOL. He’s raising his own mega-bucks
Legislators fill the lonely hours they could be doing something useful by filing ridiculous bills. Sen. Jeremy Ring wants Florida students to be able to replace that annoying two years taking a foreign language with classes in computer coding.
The Margate Democrat is apparently taking the advice of a 15-year-old from Sunlake High who says Spanish class is boring.
Yeah, why would you want to learn Spanish in La Florida, a state becoming increasingly bilingual, with huge communities of Cuban, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran, Venezuelan and other Latinos? Why would you want to actually expand your linguistic skills and understand the ways of another culture through its language?
Repite despuès de mí, Señor Senador: “Esa ley es estupida. Soy estúpido.”
Muy bien. Now shut up.
But Senator Ring and his silly bill pale in comparison with the most spectacular entry in Florida’s Chucklehead Derby.
Remember when Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina publicly fretted about the Republican Party’s demographic problem? He said, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
Long term, he’s correct. Short term, there’s state Rep. Matthew Gaetz.
Master Matthew is running to succeed his daddy, former senate president Don Gaetz,

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Peter Schorsch: Richard Corcoran, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, and the idea of reforming Tallahassee

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Before Augustus and Marc Antony and before Julius Caesar and Spartacus and everyone else you can barely remember from Latin class, there was Lucius Cornelius Sulla, a dictator who was a master of the eternal city a generation before all of that “Et tu, Brute” stuff.
Sulla’s infamy is borne because he was the first Roman general to march his armies into Rome. No Roman before him had ever crossed the city limits – the pomoerium or sacred boundary – with his army.
In 88 B.C., this was a big freakin’ deal.
Yet what’s truly remarkable about Sulla is that after seizing Rome (twice), winning the First Mithridatic War, and restoring patrician rule over the city, the dictator retired to his country villa near Puteoli to be with his wife and lover. There he wrote his memoirs and then died, possibly from chronic alcohol abuse.
To put it another way, arguably the most powerful figure in the time period between Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar laid down his power after winning it in the most brutal fashion.
This brings me to Florida House Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran.
The Republican lawmaker is obviously not a Roman dictator, but like Sulla he has made a long climb up the cursus honorum of Florida politics to soon become speaker of the Florida House. This march hasn’t exactly been brutal, but it hasn’t been easy, either.
And what Corcoran is now proposing – with his call for dramatic reforms to the revolving door of state politics – is the modern day, political equivalent of marching his troops on Rome.
“The enemy is us,” Corcoran said last week in his designation speech.
Sulla’s epitaph reads: “No friend ever served me, and no enemy ever wronged me, whom I have not repaid in full.”
Friends and enemies. Dictatorship and reform. To Corcoran and Sulla, these concepts work hand-in-hand with each other.
Just as it took a dictator such

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