Tuesday, May 31, 2011

FEC wants hefty fine from Rep. Buchanan's former company

In a breaking-news exclusive, Herald Washington Bureau reporter Lesley Clark writes that the Federal Election Commission is asking a federal court to impose a $67,900 fine on a company formerly co-owned by Rep. Vern Buchanan that it says engaged in an “extensive and ongoing scheme” to reimburse employees who made contributions to the Sarasota Republican’s congressional campaign.

The owner of the company said Tuesday he has acknowledged the company reimbursed employees, but said it was a “directive” issued by Buchanan.
“I’ve done nothing wrong,” said Sam Kazran. “I am not a politician, just a regular Joe. I had no idea.”
He said Buchanan told a group he needed to raise $1 million “to look good."

A campaign spokesman for Buchanan called Kazran's allegation "absolutely false."

Read the rest of Clark's report in this link.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Democrats to rally against Rep. Buchanan

Manatee County Democrats on Friday will rally outside the Bradenton office of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan to protest the congressman's vote in support of a plan to restructure Medicare, as proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

The rally is set for 5 to 6 p.m. Friday at Buchanan's office, 2424 Manatee Ave. W.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chappie fundraiser tonight in Bradenton Beach

A fundraiser for Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie's re-election campaign is set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Beach House restaurant in Bradenton Beach.

Chappie, who was first elected in 2008, is so far the only candidate in next year's race for the District 3 seat on the commission. District 3 is comprised of most of west and west-central Bradenton, as well as Anna Maria Island and the Manatee County portion of Longboat Key.

Anna Maria businessmen Ed Chiles -- who owns the Beach House -- and David Teitelbaum are hosting the event; and former county commissioner Pat Glass is listed as the honorary chairwoman.

To ask questions about the event, including how to contribute, contact Chappie at (941) 920-1826 or jchappie2@tampabay.rr.com

Poll: 57 percent of Florida voters disapprove of Gov. Rick Scott

A big weight holding down any serious trial balloons Florida Gov. Rick Scott might launch to test whether he could be a viable candidate for president, could be the low regard a majority of Floridians hold for him.

A new Quinnipiac University poll found that 57 percent of Florida voters disapprove of the job he is doing, compared to 29 percent who approve. That only compounds the fact that Scott received less than half -- 48.9 percent, to be exact -- of the vote last fall in winning election.

(In case the pollsters didn't call you, you can still register your opinion in an online poll at www.bradenton.com.)

The recently completed legislative session did no favors for Scott in the eyes of those surveyed. On April 6, a similar poll found a 35 percent approval rating for Scott.

"The good news for the governor is that he has three and a half years to turn public opinion around," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Hamden, Conn., university's Polling Institute.

But maybe not enough time to strengthen his base in Florida in preparation of a late entry into the race for next year's Republican presidential notion -- an option that Scott said this week he has no interest in pursuing.

Other findings from the poll:
  • 56 percent of voters disapproved of the Florida Legislature.
  • 53 percent of voters disapproved of the budget adopted by the legislature.
  • 61 percent of voters do not think the budget will aid with job creation in the state.
  • 54 percent of voters said they do not think the budget is fair to people like them.
  • 47 percent of voters said they think budget cuts go too far, compared to 18 percent said they don't go far enough and 22 percent said they're about right.
  • 74 percent of voters said property insurance is getting more expensive, and 63 percent said it is becoming harder to obtain.
Back to idea of Scott running for president.

Miami New Times has an interesting list, first published in February, of 10 reasons Scott would never make it to the White House.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rep. Vern Buchanan condemns Obama's Middle East speech, defends Israel

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, today responded with a vigorous defense of Israel in response to President Barack Obama's speech Thursday in which he called for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians based on boundaries in place before the Six-Day War of 1967 --which Israel's Arab neighbors started and Israel finished by seizing territory including East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

Buchanan, according to a news release from his office, "condemned" the president's speech.

"The borders of any Palestinian state should be determined through negotiations with Israel at the table, not announced in a presidential edict that gives away Israeli land as Palestinians continue to call for the destruction of Israel," Buchanan said in the release. “In these days of danger and change, we must reaffirm the unbreakable bond we have forged with our most trusted ally in the Middle East.”

You can read the whole statement here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gov. Rick Scott on budget: 'The filter will be whether it helps builds jobs or ... kills jobs'

When asked Wednesday about reports he is considering cutting funding for college construction projects -- including about a total of $11.5 million for projects at State College of Florida, New College and USF-Sarasota/Manatee -- Gov. Rick Scott took it as an opportunity to explain his overall approach to the budget sent to him by the Legislature.

Via the Miami Herald's Laura Figueroa:
"As you know I’m reviewing the budget, spent a lot of time reviewing every line in the budget. And I’m going to sign the budget because it does what I wanted, and that’s reduced business taxes. We’re in the process of phasing them out. Almost half the business owners won’t pay it any longer. Reducing property taxes by $210 million, and reducing the size and cost of government.

“But on top of that, there’s about 3,000 lines in the budget, and I’m reviewing all those with my team. And I’ve spent a lot of time so I’m going to be reviewing each of those and see. The filter will be whether it helps build jobs or whether it kills jobs. As you know I ran on a campaign of getting our state back to work and that’s what I’m focused on.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on why he signed property insurance bill

Speaking to South Florida reporters on Wednesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott explained his decision to sign a propery insurance bill that critics have decried as "anti-consumer."

Via the Miami Herald's Laura Figuerora:
"The insurance bill that I signed starts the process of moving Citizens from being the insurance company of first resort to the insurance company of last resort. What all of us as taxpayers have to understand is right now the way Citizens is set up, we’re on the hook for over $500 billion worth of risk, depending on the size of the storm. So what this bill does is start the process of allowing us to recruit other companies to come back into our state, so we get more insurance companies and hopefully they will make sure that it’s fairly priced.

“On top of that, we have to focus on fixing some of the things that cause our insurance to be more expensive than it should be. As examples, there’s a lot of examples where we have sinkholes that individuals take the money, they don’t actually fix their homes and so was it really a problem or not? On top of that, do you need five years to file a claim?

"My focus is on making sure we have a robust insurance market and we move Citizens to the insurance company of last resort, and we make sure that we can recruit other companies to come back to the state.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dems, others vow to not let 'Dirty Hari' off the hook at his Bradenton appearance.

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos will be in Bradenton later today to drum up support for his campaign for U.S. Senate.

Not missing a chance to draw some attention to their own cause, Democrats and others will be gathering outside of Mixon Fruit Farms, to "greet" Haridopolos as he arrives for the Tea Party Manatee event.

"We''re going to be trying our hardest to get 'Dirty Hari's' dirty agenda across, tie him to Rick Scott, and beseech Floridians from turning Florida completely 100% undeniably red," Jack Cole of Holmes Beach wrote in an email to the Bradenton Herald about the protest.

The event is set for 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Mixon Fruit Farms, 2525 27th St. E.

"This event is open to the public and will give local residents the opportunity to meet a few candidates and ask questions," the Tea Party said in a news release.

Haridopolos is seeking the Republican nomination to take on incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson in the 2012 elections.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Buchanan to host small business conference in Lakewood Ranch

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, will lead a town hall meeting from noon – 1 p.m., Friday at the 2011 Small Business Growth Conference held during National Small Business Week at the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota Small Business Development Center, 7131 Professional Pkwy. E., Lakewood Ranch.

The town hall meeting, which is an opportunity for small business owners to discuss issues impacting their businesses, is part of a free one-day conference from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. hosted by SCF.

The conference features seminars that address important topics for today’s small business owners, including “Certifications for Growth,” “Growing Globally,” “Growing Through Traditional and New Media Marketing Strategies,” and “Financing Growth.”

Speakers include certified business analysts Maria Yepes, Bill McKown, Jim Parrish, Marty Zients, Art Mahoney, Dave Noel, and Wayne Brass.

For information or to register, visit scf.edu/SBDC or call (941) 408-1412.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bill Nelson to view Osama bin Laden photos; Marco Rubio declines

Lesley Clark, our national correspondent in Washington, just blogged this on Naked Politics at MiamiHerald.com:
The Obama administration has offered the opportunity to see the post mortem photos of Osama bin Laden to a select group of Senate and House members, including those on Armed Services or Intelligence committees.

A spokesman for Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said he was invited as a member of the Intelligence Committee and will view the photos Thursday. The photos are only available for viewing by appointment at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Virginia.

Nelson had supported the president's decision to not release the pictures publicly, but has suggested that they be released at a later date when the commander in chief decides there's no terrorism risk.

Fellow Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on CBS today said he hasn't seen the pictures and isn't sure he needs to.

"I can tell you that I know that Osama bin Laden is dead," said Rubio, who is also on Senate Intelligence. "Al-Qaeda has admitted it. If Bin laden's not dead, why doesn't he produce a new video proving that he's not dead? We need to move beyond that right now."

Did the Florida Legislature accidentally ban sex between humans in Florida?

Did the Florida Legislature accidentally prohibit humans from having sex when it adopted a measure designed to stamp out bestiality in the Sunshine State?

A blogger with the moniker "Southern Fried Scientist," seems to think so, the crux of his argument being that humans are animals, too, and  the bill, Senate Bill 344, is so poorly written that it doesn't make a distinction between you and your dog.

The argument comes complete with a graphic:

The "scientist" concludes:
So if you’re living in Florida on October 1, 2011 and would like to have sexual intercourse with a consenting adult, please check with your veterinarian or local livestock breeder first to make sure you abide by  ”accepted animal husbandry practices, conformation judging practices, or accepted veterinary medical practices.”
 (H/T The Buzz)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Haridopolos coming to Bradenton

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos will be in Bradenton next week to drum up support for his campaign for U.S. Senate.

Tea Party Manatee is sponsoring a "Meet the Candidate" event with Haridopolos from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, at Mixon Fruit Farms, 2525 27th St. E.

"This event is open to the public and will give local residents the opportunity to meet a few candidates and ask questions," the Tea Party said in a news release.

Haridopolos is seeking the Republican nomination to take on incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson in the 2012 elections.

Other candidates expected to attend include Bill Galvano, a former state representative running for the Florida Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mike Bennett because of term limits. Galvano will introduce Haridopolos at the Tea Party event, according to the release.

The event includes a $5 donation charge to cover expenses.

To ask questions, email Janet Mixon at JanetM@Mixon.com

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bradenton attorney running to be area's top prosecutor

Ed Brodsky will not have a clear field in his bid to replace his longtime boss, Earl Moreland, as the local state attorney,.

Bradenton defense attorney Peter Lombardo, a former prosecutor who rose to the rank of felony division chief with the 12th Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office, last month filed to run for the seat being vacated by Moreland, according to the Florida Division of Elections website.

Moreland is not seeking a seventh term and has endorsed his chief deputy Brodsky in the 2012 election. Both Brodsky and Lombardo are running as Republicans.

The 12th Judicial Circuit is comprised of Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties.

Lombardo drew headlines in May 2010 when he and his wife Maria were arrested on charges that they were operating unlicensed assisted living facilities in Bradenton.

Two months later, however, the case was dismissed after the Hillsborough County state attorney's office determined that civil remedies were more appropriate than a criminal prosecution. Moreland's office had recused itself from the case because of possible conflicts of interest.

For more about Lombardo, watch this video ad for his law practice in which he talks about his experience:

Manatee Commissioner John Chappie files for re-election

 John Chappie

John Chappie has filed to run for re-election next year to the Manatee County Commission, according to the county elections supervisor's website.

Chappie, a Republican and former mayor of Bradenton Beach, was first elected in 2008, when he beat incumbent Jane von Hahmann in the GOP primary by a 51-49 margin.

So far, Chappie is the only candidate to file for the District 3 seat. The district includes most of west and west-central Bradenton, as well as Anna Maria Island and the Manatee portion of Longboat Key.

The other two incumbent commissioners up next year -- Larry Bustle and Donna Hayes -- have also filed for re-election. Only Hayes has so far drawn a challenger, Lakewood Ranch businesswoman Vanessa Baugh.

Filing now allows the candidates to begin raising money for their respective campaigns. However, the qualifying period for county-level positions isn't until June 18-22, 2012.

The 2012 primaries are set for Aug. 28, 2012, and the general election is Nov. 6, 2012.

Upset about Florida's budget cuts? This rally in Bradenton might be for you

An "Awake the State" rally to protest budget cuts enacted during the just-completed Florida legislative session is set for Tuesday outside the office of state Sen. Mike Bennett.

The rally is set for 5 to 6 p.m. at 3653 Cortez Road W.

Numerous similar rallies are scheduled elsewhere in Florida, according to organizers.

For instance, a rally in Sarasota is set for Island Park, near the "Unconditional Surrender" statue in downtown.

For more information, go to AwakeTheState.com.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

No more sex with animals and no more droopy drawers, says Florida Legislature

Animals in the state are closer to living in a safer Florida, after the House of Representatives on Wednesday finally got around to approving Senate Bill 344, a ban on humans having sex with animals.

Marc Caputo of the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau explains:
After three years, the Florida House dropped its inexplicable opposition to banning sex with animals. For years, the bill was blocked from coming up, with former Republican leader Adam Hasner repeatedly saying that a bestiality ban would become a mockery and would lead to unwelcome publicity about how lawmakers wasted time. Incidentally, the vote took less than two minutes.
The votes were unanimous, on March 24 in the Senate, and on Wednesday in the House.

In a totally unrelated development, the Florida House finally broke its resistance to legislation, Senate Bill 228 that bans kids in school from exposing their underwear or their butt cracks. The vote was 101-15.

The Senate in March unanimously approved the measure.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spending, jobs, the economy, and Bin Laden, too

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, announced today that he will hold a town hall meeting on spending, jobs, and the economy in Lakewood Ranch Saturday.

Although it's not among the topics listed for discussion, can't imagine that the news of the week, or maybe the year, Osama Bin Laden's death doesn't come up.

“Jobs and the economy are the most important issues,” said Buchanan in a press release. “Congress needs to rein in spending and put Americans back to work. I want to listen to the people and get their feedback, ideas and suggestions.”

The town hall meeting will be held at 11 a.m. at State College of Florida, 7131 Professional Pkwy. E., Lakewood Ranch. Doors open at  10 a.m.

If you haven't been to the SCF Lakewood Ranch campus, take University Parkway east to Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and go south to Professional Parkway. The campus is located at the intersection of Professional Parkway and Communications Parkway.

After bin Laden killing, Rep. Buchanan ready to get tough with Pakistan

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan today joined the chorus of critics ready to get tough with Pakistan, where U.S. commandos this past week found and killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. Specifically, Buchanan is calling for a freeze on U.S. aid to the country, as officials try to determine who in Pakistan knew what, and when did they know it, about bin Laden taken shelter just yards from a Pakistani military academy.

Here's a news release we just received from Buchanan's office:
Congressman Vern Buchanan (FL-13) today called for a freeze in foreign aid to Pakistan until its leaders can show they had no knowledge of Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts. The September 11th mastermind was located and killed in a sprawling compound just 1,000 feet from Pakistan’s military academy. White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said bin Laden may have been living there for five to six years.

“While the death of bin Laden represents a historic victory in our fight against terrorism, it also raises serious concerns about Pakistan’s commitment and reliability as an ally in our fight against terrorism,” said Buchanan. “We should freeze all aid to Pakistan until we have assurances that the Pakistani government is not in the business of harboring terrorists.”

Buchanan noted that President Obama requested $3 billion for Pakistan in his 2012 budget plan unveiled earlier this year –adding to the $13 billion in aid given to the country over the past decade.

“Now, more than ever, we need to know where Pakistan stands in the fight against terrorism across the globe,” said Buchanan.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Budget dealing may mean $5 million for Sarasota rowing park

Legislative deal-making in Tallahassee on the next state budget may mean some "pork" for a high-profile project on the Manatee-Sarasota county line.

A grand deal between the House and the Senate reportedly includes $5 million for the rowing center at Nathan Benderson Park -- despite lawmakers having to cut as much as $4 billion from the budget because of expected revenue shortfalls.

Despite the lean times, lawmakers found room for various "local projects," including the rowing park, funding for which had been pushed by the Sentate's ranking member, Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton.

The "pork" or "turkey" -- it all depends on your appetite, we guess -- was included as part of negotiations with Gov. Rick Scott over his desire to include cuts in corporate income taxes as part of the budget. The money for the rowing center may end up being part of that compromise.

The Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau reports:

Gov. Rick Scott said he'll decide which spending projects to veto based on a simple question: "Is it going to get our economy going?" But don't be surprised if Scott, who has vowed to veto pork from the budget, pardons some of the so-called budget turkeys.
Scott said today that negotiations with the House and Senate over his corporate income tax cut included discussion about saving some lawmakers' spending projects. "Everything has come up," Scott said. But Scott wouldn't offer any examples. "I don't think that's in my best interest," he laughed.
There was lots of laughing from Scott this morning, who was in a particularly good mood after lawmakers put corporate tax relief into the budget allowing him to claim victory the cut as well as pension reform and creation of a new state agency for economic development. All three items are a much different shape than Scott wanted, but that was no matter.
"All along I planned on working with the Legislature to figure out how to do that," Scott said. "The things I cared about -- whether it was reducing the business tax, reducing the size of government, the cost of government, pension reform -- all of these things we're moving down the track.
"So, it's good."

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Obama birth certificate delay explained

This one has gone viral.

Buchanan: Bin Laden's death is 'a historic victory' for U.S.

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Bradenton, iissued the following statement regarding Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of American military forces:
“The death of Osama bin Laden represents a historic victory in our fight against Al-Qaeda and terrorism across the globe.   I congratulate the men and women of our Armed Forces and the intelligence community for their perseverance in finding and killing bin Laden.  I would also like to commend the Obama and Bush administration’s tireless efforts in bringing the September 11th mastermind to justice.  While it will not bring back the lives that were lost at his hand, America has proven once again that it will not back down when the stakes are high and the cause is just.  In these dangerous times, we will continue to fight Al-Qaeda and world terrorism with an added certainty that the battle can and will be won.”

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sen. Rubio: I won't be on 2012 ticket

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on "Meet the Press" on Sunday said that under no circumstance will he be on the Republican presidential ticket in 2012, and that he is committed to representing Florida in the U.S. Senate.

Watch for yourself:

For more of the interview, which covered Rubio's views on the federal budget, Medicare and on what needs to happen in Libya, go here.