Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rep. Vern Buchanan has more than $900K in bank as he prepares for re-election campaign

Reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission show that U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, is starting out with a huge fund-raising lead in what is expected to be a general election battle next year with former state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald for the 13th District seat in Congress.

As of Sept. 30, Buchanan had more than $904,000 in cash on hand and zero debt.

Fitzgerald, a Sarasota Democrat who announced earlier this month after the most recent reporting deadline, reported zero contributions, zero expenditures and zero cash in the bank.

So far this year, Buchanan has raised more than $942,000. Almost two-thirds -- or almost $609,000 -- came from political action committees and the remainder from individuals, according to the FEC.

Buchanan in 2011 has spent almost $995,000, with almost $644,000 going to pay off personal loans Buchanan made to his campaign, according to reports.

Of the remaining $311,000, reports show $71,000 went to Patton Boggs, the Washington law firm representing Buchanan as he remains under investigation for possible campaign finance violations.

(The Federal Elections Commission has closed its investigation, finding no wrongdoing by Buchanan. However, Buchanan's campaign acknowledged earlier this month that the U.S. Justice Department is now investigating the matter.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Democrats say 'Rickpublican' Rep. Vern Buchanan is a lot like Florida Gov. Rick Scott

Democrats have come up with a new moniker for one of their biggest Republican targets, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota.

Buchanan, according to a new fund-raising website, is a "Rickpublican," signifying that he is too much like Gov. Rick Scott.

Here's the precise definition:
[rick-puhb-li-kuh´n] noun 1. Proper name for Florida Republicans wrought with greed and corruption who are hell-bent on selling out to the corporations and special interests while leaving Florida’s middle class families out-to-dry.
As for why Buchanan is a Rickpublican, the Democrats compile previous claims against the congressman:
Just like Gov. Scott, who was at the helm of a company who received the single largest fine for Medicare fraud in history, this former used car salesman is no stranger to criminal activity. Congressman Vern Buchanan – who is currently under investigation by the feds - has made CREW’s Most Corrupt list not once, but a remarkable three times for his shady, ethically-challenged dealings.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Romney holds on to fund-raising lead in Manatee-Sarasota

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has widened his fund-raising lead among donors in the Manatee-Sarasota area, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

In the third quarter of this year, which ended Sept. 30, supporters donated a total of $25,160 to Romney's campaign, bringing his haul from the area to $134,260.

Similarly, Romney holds a huge fund-raising lead statewide, collecting more than $2.46 million from Florida donors. The next largest haul was by Gov. Rick Perry, who has mined Florida for more than $737,000 in contributions.

President Barack Obama -- the man the Republican candidates are hoping to face in the November 2012 general election -- reported rasising $45,483 in Manatee-Sarasota during the third quarter, bringing his total to $111,691. Obama has raised a total of almost $2.1 million from Florida donors.

However, the biggest fund-raiser in Manatee-Sarasota during the third quarter was former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., who raised $44,000, which his brought his total to $44,500.

Next was U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, who out-raised his fellow Texan, Perry, among Manatee-Sarasota donors.

Paul reported receiving $23,370 from donors in the area, bringing his total to $38,358. Perry, who entered the race in the middle of the quarter, reporting raising $20,960.

Herman Cain, the Atlanta businessman leading in many national polls, reporting raising $4,665 from Manatee-Sarasota donors during the third quarter, bring his total $8,655.

Bringing up the rear were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., who collected $375, bringing his total to $6,975; former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, $4,250 ($4,250); Rep. Michelle Bachmann, $1,797 ($4,547); and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson $775 ($775).

To view the reports, including the list of donors' names, go here, click on the map of Florida, click on a candidate's name on the left, and the scroll down to 342xx on the right pull-down menu.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bill Galvano continues to draw in big money for Senate race

The campaign cash is flowing to lawmakers in Tallahassee and to those hoping to join them.

And that includes to officeholders and candidates for seats in the Manatee County delegation.

Here's a breakdown:
  • Former state Rep. Bill Galvano, a Republican from Bradenton running unopposed for a state Senate seat, collected $56,700 in contributions during the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30, bringing his total take so far to more than $305,000. Galvano so far has spent almost $109,000 on his campaign.
  • State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, raised $19,000 in the third quarter, bringing her haul to $63,400. So far running opposed, she has spent more than $8,000 on her re-election effort.
  • State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, raised $12,350 in the third quarter for his re-election campaign, bringing his total to $19,150. He has spent almost $9,200. His only announced opponent, Republican Sharon Russ of St. Petersburg, reported receiving $140 in the third quarter, bringing her total to $290. She has spent a total of $185 on her campaign. (House District 57 includes parts of Manatee County.)
  • State Rep. Greg Steube, R-Bradenton, reported receiving $7,750 in contributions during the third quarter, bringing his total take to more than $23,000. He has spent almost $8,900 on his re-election effort. So far, he is running unopposed for re-election.
  • State Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, reported receiving almost $41,000 in contributions in the third quarter, bringing his total take to almost $56,000. So far running unopposed, Boyd has spent almost $2,800 on his re-election campaign.
  • State Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, reported receiving more than $52,000 in contributions in the third quarter. So far running unopposed for re-election, Pilon has collected total of more than $58,000 and spent more than $3,000.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Keith Fitzgerald launches bid to unseat Rep. Buchanan

Former Florida state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, a Democrat from Sarasota, on Thursday officially kicked off his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota.

Here's Fitzgerald's announcement:
Sarasota, FL – Former State Representative Keith Fitzgerald today announced that he is running for Congress in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Keith Fitzgerald is running because he believes political leaders in Congress have failed miserably when it comes to standing up for hard working American families, creating jobs, lowering the deficit, and honoring our nation’s seniors by protecting Social Security and Medicare. In announcing his candidacy, Keith Fitzgerald pledged to run his campaign, and serve in Congress, with the honesty and integrity Floridians and Americans expect in their members of congress. 
“Getting our country back on track will require electing leaders who can work across the aisle to create jobs, grow our economy and invest in the future of our fellow Americans who just want a fair chance to get ahead,” said Keith Fitzgerald. “I’ve worked with small business owners, Republicans and Democrats, to improve the lives of seniors and families here in Sarasota and along the Suncoast, and I want to take that same pragmatic approach to Washington.” 
Keith Fitzgerald, who lives in Sarasota, is a former state legislator and professor at New College of Florida. He grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, graduated from the University of Louisville, and earned a Ph.D. from Indiana University. He moved to Sarasota in 1994 to teach political science at the New College of Florida and was elected to the State Legislature in 2006.
In the state legislature, Fitzgerald was a watchdog for taxpayer dollars, who fought to take on corruption and make government more accountable. He partnered with business leaders to create jobs and cut taxes; and worked across the aisle to provide tax cuts for small businesses who invest in green technology. Fitzgerald worked tirelessly to protect Florida’s coast from offshore drilling and was a leader committed to making critical investments in Florida’s educational system. 
“Instead of focusing on creating jobs or helping families struggling to make ends meet, Congressman Vern Buchanan has tried to end Medicare and protect tax giveaways for big oil while running from one scandal to the next,” said Fitzgerald. “His tarnished leadership in a perfect example of what is wrong with Washington, and it’s time for him to go. 
“I am running to be the independent leader that the Suncoast can count on. I am going to stand up for the hopes and dreams of Floridians in the coming months, and share my vision for a strong economy by creating jobs right here at home and moving America forward.”
Learn more about Fitzgerald on his campaign website and on his Facebook page. 

Demonstrators 'Occupy Sarasota'

 Ringling art student Joanna Pilar Garra joins a large crowd in front of the downtown Sarasota Bank of America branch for an "Occupy Sarasota" protest.(PHOTO:  TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/
Here is a photo gallery from this morning's "Occupy Sarasota" event outside a Bank of America branch in downtown Sarasota.

On Sunday, demonstrators will try to "Occupy Bradenton."

Activists plan to 'Occupy Bradenton' on Sunday (UPDATED)

The Occupy Wall Street movement has apparently come to Bradenton, with an organizers planning an Occupy Bradenton event for Sunday morning to decry "corporate greed and corruption."

According to the group's Facebook page, activists plan to "occupy" the intersection of Manatee Avenue West and 43rd Street West. Refreshments won't be provided, but organizers noted the location is near a Publix store, the Shake Pit restaurant and other capitalist food outlets.

The Bradenton rally, set to start at 9 a.m., is one of several such meet-ups organized by Occupy Together, which was formed in response to recent protests targeting Wall Street and the American capitalism system. (Check out the a photo gallery here.)

"We the 99% will not be silent and we will not be intimidated. This Sunday we will march together as one to show that it is time that the 99% are heard," the Facebook page states. "We are unions, students, teachers, veterans, first responders, families, the unemployed and underemployed. We are all races, sexes and creeds. We are the majority. We are the 99 percent. And we will no longer be silent."

As of Thursday morning, 50 people had "liked" the Facebook page, which was started earlier this week, far fewer than the 1,477 who "liked" the Occupy Sarasota page. A rally in downtown Sarasota, outside the Bank of America building at Main and Orange streets, is set for 10 a.m. today, according to the page, which noted that 245 people had responded that they would attend.

Follow Occupy Bradenton on Twitter @OccupyBradenton.

UPDATED, 11 a.m. EDT -- Bradenton Herald photojournalist Tiffany Tompkins-Condie reports that about 60 demonstrators were gathered in downtown Sarasota this morning.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Siding with Rubio, Perry, Romney and Huntsman to boycott Univision debate

The Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau has the latest on the flap over how the Univision television network handled a story about the arrest 24 years ago of U.S. Marco Rubio's brother-in-law:
Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and John Huntsman, are boycotting a proposed Univision debate due to what they say were unethical journalistic practices in the way the Spanish-language media giant handled Sen. Marco Rubio, a vice-presidential shortlister. 
Other campaigns might soon join Perry and Huntsman, sources say. 
They made their announcement at the behest of three Florida Hispanic Republican lawmakers who noted that the senator’s office and Univision insiders said Univision publicized an embarrassing story about Rubio’s brother in law because he wouldn’t sit down for an interview on the show Al Punto, which has espoused a liberal line on the hot-topic of immigration. 
Univision has called the allegations of a quid-pro-quo “absurd,” and said that the July story of the 24-year-old drug bust was reported fairly and accurately. 
But Perry, Huntsman and Romney apparently believed the reports from Rubio’s office and the Univision insiders, which were first revealed in a Sunday Miami Herald story. 
“Governor Perry will not consider participating in the January 29, 2012, Univision debate until your network addresses this ethical breach and takes action to correct it,” Perry’s communications director, Ray Sullivan, wrote Univision on Tuesday. 
“With NBC and Telemundo also hosting a debate the same weekend in January 2012, we will have ample opportunity to engage with Spanish-speaking Americans,” Perry wrote. 
Huntsman’s campaign manager, Matt David, was more measured in his letter to Univision. But he said the candidate stands firm. 
“Unless Univision resolves this issue in a timely and satisfactory manner, Governor Huntsman will not give consideration to your network’s debate currently proposed for January, 2012,” he wrote. “We ask the other Republican candidates to join us in this decision and will work with them to identify another forum to debate issues that are important to Americans of Hispanic descent in Florida and across our nation.” 
Romney didn't write a letter to Univision, but issued a statement from spokesman Ryan Williams that said: "We have not received any invitation from Univision for a debate, but we are troubled by these allegations and would not participate in any such debate unless and until Univision satisfactorily addresses this situation."

Monday, October 3, 2011

Former deputy to challenge Manatee Sheriff Steube in GOP primary

 William Waldron

William Waldron, a former homicide detective with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, is challenging his old boss in next year's election.

Waldron, 46, recently filed to run in next year's Republican primary against incumbent Sheriff Brad Steube.

"Having a vast experience in investigating gang-related crimes and all types of violent crime in Manatee County, I am well aware of the current trends in these crimes and others and what efforts need to be taken to reduce crime in Manatee County in order to make our community a safer place for all people," Waldon wrote in a statement posted on the Manatee supervisor of elections' website. "I would like to re-institute community policing efforts back into our community to instill better relations with the people we are sworn to protect and serve."

Waldron retired from the sheriff's office in August 2010 after 20 years in law enforcement. While at the sheriff's office, As a detective, Waldron investigated property crimes and later crimes against persons, including homicides.

One of the murder suspects Waldron investigated, Blaine Ross, was awarded a new trial  after the Florida Supreme Court last year ruled 4-3 that Waldron violated Ross’ rights in obtaining a confession two days after the slaying of his parents and that Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas should have disallowed the confession at trial. A jury convicted Ross, now 27, in May 2007 of first-degree murder and robbery, and Nicholas sentenced Ross to death that November after a jury recommended the punishment.

After the court ruling, former sheriff Charlie Wells defended how Waldron handled the interview.

“I disagree with the ruling,” Wells said. “I watched the whole thing on video from another room as it was going on, and the detective did everything right."

Ross' retrial is set to start later this month.

Steube has already filed for re-election, and as of June 30, he had collected more than $98,000 in contributions for this re-election effort.