JaxPoliticsOnline.com

Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Attorney General Race Starting To Heat Up

Who knew the hottest race of 2010 might turn out to be the Attorney General race?  At the least, it could turn out to be the most crowded race of the year.

Last week, State Senator Dave Aronberg (D-Ft. Myers) announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination.  Today, State Senator Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) made a quick switch from the US Senate race to the Attorney General race.  Despite the best efforts of Bill Nelson, the Democrats appear headed for the exact scenario they were determined to avoid—a contended primary.  Rod Smith, a former state senator from Alachua, is also rumored to be considering the race.

On the Republican side, Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp looks like he might have an open field to the nomination.  The Lt. Governor is facing numerous ethics complaints over extensive flying at taxpayer expense.  He faces additional controversy over the revelations that he recently used the Florida Highway Patrol to drive him to Atlanta for a Kenny Loggins concert.  While Kottkamp has not officially announced his candidacy, the clean shaven look he debuted this past Friday would seemingly indicate his intent to pursue higher office.

Both parties may be successful in clearing the field for their preferred Gubernatorial and Senatorial candidates, but the Attorney General’s race is starting to look like the place for variety.

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Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , , , ,

Pimpin’ Out The Florida Highway Patrol

Jeff Kottkamp.  Some may still draw a blank when they hear the name, but others may remember the controversy—a family vacation to St. Augustine courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol’s aircraft (an expense that wasn’t reimbursed until nearly two years later after multiple media outlets, including JaxPoliticsOnline.com, starting making records requests about it), bodyguards that cost the taxpayers of Florida $700,000 and multiple controversies involving state aircraft.  Well, Charlie Crist’s Lt. Governor seems not to have learned a thing from the spate of ethics complaints that have flooded into Tallahassee.

According to the St. Pete Times, just as the Lt. Governor was under full attack for his extravagant traveling ways (on the taxpayers dime, of course), Messr. Kottkamp engaged the Florida Highway Patrol to drive he and his wife to Atlanta for a surprise birthday party—for a Tallahassee lobbyist.

In a state-owned vehicle, Kottkamp and his wife joined lobbyist Steve Metz and family members at a Saturday night concert in Peachtree City, Ga. featuring Kenny Loggins, a soft rock singer-songwriter popular in the 1970s and ’80s.

Kottkamp said the taxpayer-funded drive was legitimate and noted that the law requires the Florida Highway Patrol to provide security protection for him 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a public or private event. They’re there to provide safety and security, whether it’s the governor or for me,” Kottkamp said. “If I’m traveling, whether it’s state business or not, if they’re going to be providing meaningful security, it’s going to be all the time.”

Perhaps the most amusing piece to arrive out of this newest scandal is the revelation that Kottkamp is considering a run for Florida Attorney General if Crist decides not to run for re-election.  I’m sure the Democratic Party would love nothing more than to run a race against a man facing multiple ethics complaints, but Kottkamp doesn’t appear ready to give up those Tallahasee perks.  (Although…one wonders…would he actually move to Tallahassee if he were to theoretically win the Attorney General post?  After all, becoming Lt. Governor certainly didn’t necessitate a move.)

(Photo used courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel.)

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , ,

Lt. Gov Reimburses State for St. Augustine Trip

On April 28, 2007, Florida Lt. Governor travelled to St. Augustine with his wife and son for two days of rest and relaxation.  According to the Lt. Governor’s official state calendar, the two days (April 28 and April 29) involved in this trip were “Personal Days” and he had no public events scheduled.  After an investigation by the Sun-Sentinel uncovered this trip, I set out to request a number of public records from the Governor’s Office to determine whether or not the Lt. Governor had violated state law with this particular trip.

Of course, the Lt. Governor is entitled to take a weekend of rest and relaxation in the nation’s oldest city with his family—who could fault him for that?  But, what was particularly troubling was Kottkamp’s method of travel.  The Lt. Governor and his family travelled aboard a Florida Highway Patrol aircraft at taxpayer expense.

The Lt. Governor has now apparently agreed with me—he did violate state law. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , ,

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