Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Buchanan calls for Wikileaks prosecution

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, is lending his voice to those calling for someone to pay for what he described as the "despicable" leaking of classified documents to the Wikileaks website, arguing for those responsible to be prosecuted under federal espionage laws.

"The leak of hundreds of thousands by Wikileaks undermines our national security and poses grave and extreme risks to Americans abroad," Buchanan wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder said Monday the Justice Department might take criminal action against those responsible -- an effort Buchanan said has his "full support."

"It is vitally necessary that these leaks be plugged, and further, that those guilty of this harmful act are severely punished to avoid future leaks jeopardizing national security," Buchanan wrote.

"In addition to heightening tension within the international community and putting ongoing military and intelligence operations at risk, the reckless release of these documents may have deadly consequences for many people, including U.S. civilian and government officials abroad."

Read the whole letter here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Report: Buchanan is 7th richest member of Congress

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, is the seventh wealthiest member of Congress, according to a report from a watchdog group that monitors politicians' finance.

Determining the net worth of members of Congress is not an exact science, as they are required only to report the value of their holdings and liabilities in ranges. The minimum value of Buchanan's holdings was minus $69.4 million and the maximum value was almost $366.2 million, for an average of almost $148.4 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which examined disclosure forms filed in 2009.

That's up almost 4.2 percent, from Buchanan's average net worth of more than $142.4 million in 2008.

In 2009, CRP said Buchanan reported 489 assets worth a total of between $87.3 million and almost $366.2 million; and 18 liabilities worth a total of between more than $31.8 million and almost $156.8 million.

Buchanan reported that several of his holdings are worth as much as $25 million, including his Sarasota Ford auto dealership and a house in Aspen, Colo. His liabilities include a line of credit with SunTrust bank on which Buchanan owes as much as $25 million.

Buchanan is one of eight representatives and senators with an estimated net worth of at least $100 million. At the top of the list is Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., at almost $303.6 million.

Get the details on Buchanan's holdings, here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bennett, Detert snag Senate appointments

State Sens. Mike Bennett and Nancy Detert have been appointed Florida Senate committee chairs by Senate President Mike Haridopolos, officials announced today.

Bennett, R-Bradenton, will chair the Community Affairs Committee, as well as serving as Senate President Pro Tempore, one of the top posts in the upper chamber of the legislature.

Detert, R-Venice, will chair the Commerce and Tourism Committee, officials said.

“Selecting committee chairs has been a member-driven process,” said Haridopolos. “I took great strides in placing Senators on committees they wanted to serve on. I asked each of them to list their top 10 committee priorities, and based on their responses, I selected committee chairs.”

The Florida Legislature today is holding an organizational session and a special session. Its regular session is slated for next spring.

Sara Kennedy

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mike Bennett named president pro tempore of Florida Senate

TALLAHASSEE – Incoming Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos today announced that he has selected Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, as president pro tempore of the Floida Senate.

He also named Senator Andy Gardiner as Senate Majority Leader.

The two members of his senior leadership team that will work with him once he takes the helm of the Senate on Nov. 16, according to a press release from Haridopolos.

"My senior leadership team has a tremendous amount of experience serving the people of Florida,” said Haridopolos. “Florida faces serious challenges and we need proven leaders to guide us through these difficult times. I’m pleased to have Senators Bennett and Gardiner as members of my leadership team, and like me, they’ll have one primary focus – helping get Florida’s economy back on track.”

Bennett was first elected to the Senate in 2002. He previously served in the House of Representatives from 2000 to 2002. Bennett’s position as President pro tempore requires approval by the Senate.

“I’m pleased that Mike Bennett has agreed to serve as President Pro Tempore,” said incoming President Haridopolos. “He has the respect of the entire Senate and is known for bringing a common sense business approach to government. I trust and value his counsel.”

Gardiner, R-Orlando, has served in the Senate since 2008. Prior to his election to the Senate, he served eight years in the House of Representatives. From 2004-2006, Gardiner served as House Majority Leader.

The new appointments are effective Nov. 16 when the Senate meets in organization session.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Galvano appointed to Scott's transition committee

Gov.-elect Rick Scott has picked state Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, for a seat on his transition advisory board.

Galvano, first elected in 2002, could not seek re-election because of term limits. He is seeking a state Senate seat in the 2012 election.

“It’s at the early stages at this point," Galvano said this morning."I did speak with Gov. Scott on election day, and he had asked if I would be willing to serve on his transition team, which I said ‘Yes I would.’”

Added Galvano, "There are some talented people he has assembled.”

What does the transition teams do?

“My understanding is that as a new administration goes in, there are a lot of moving parts and people who will have to fill certain roles, make structural decisions, working relationships need to be established. It’s a major change, I understand," Galvano said.

“We’ll be there to provide some insights and and advice as he makes these decisions.”

Galvano said the team has a number of governmental veterans, especially at the state level.

“I’ve finished two years as (Florida House) Rules and Calendar (council chairman), and eight years of experience in the Florida House, and so, hopefully, there’s something I can offer.”

The St. Petersburg Times' political blog has more details:
The leader of Scott's transition is Washington lawyer Enu Mainigi, and the executive director is Mary Anne Carter, a Tennessee lawyer who ran Conservatives for Patients Rights, the Scott political committee that opposed President Barack Obama's health care plan. The transition office will be at Scott's campaign headquarters on East Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

The advisory committee members, as announced by Scott, are former Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings; U.S. Sen. George LeMieux; Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton; former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre; former Jeb Bush chief of staff Kathleen Shanahan; Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland; Rep. Mike Weinstein, R-Jacksonville; Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono; and Sally Bradshaw, a former Jeb Bush chief of staff.

Three advisory board members have close ties to Jeb Bush (Jennings, Shanahan and Bradshaw); Ferre is the only Democrat; and Dockery is an outspoken maverick who is a fierce critic of the Republican establishment in Tallahassee and the state Department of Transportation.

"It's all individuals who love Florida, and what goes on in Florida," Scott said. "We're going to take care of their expertise and their commitment to our great state."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Whitmore, DiSabatino win commission races

Carol Whitmore and Robin DiSabatino easily won their respective contests for seats on the Manatee County Commission.

With all 127 precincts reporting, Whitmore, the incumbent Republican had 47,713 votes, or 68 percent, in the race for the at-large District 6 seat. Challenger Sundae Knight, a Democrat, had 22,504 votes, or 32 percent.

In the District 4 seat, Robin DiSabatino, a Republican, beat Democrat Roger Galle. With all 22 precincts reporting, DiSabatino had 6,006 votes, or 59 percent, and Galle had 4,176 votes, or 41 percent.

Monday, November 1, 2010

List of Manatee County polling places, sample ballots

Don't know where you are supposed to vote on Tuesday?

Check out the list of polling places on the website for the Manatee County supervisor of elections.

For a sample ballot or if you don't know your precinct number, go here.