Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

RPOF Steps In It

Well, the Republican Party of Florida certainly stepped in a pile of dookie today.  It seems the RPOF released an attack on “Banker” Alex Sink alleging that she participated in predatory lending practices that led to the crisis with subprime mortgages.  The chair of the RPOF, Jim Greer, called on Sink to “release all information relating to her involvement with Barnett Bank (among others) subprime predatory lending practices.”  The only problem is, Sink never worked at Barnett Bank…..but Jeff Atwater, Senate President and the Republican candidate running to replace Alex Sink as CFO, did.  Read more about it here.  

You just can’t make up stories as good as this one.

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

McCollum: Everything the Republicans are Struggling With

Good Sarasota Herald Tribune article on Bill McCollum’s candidacy for Governor and how he represents everything the Republican Party is currently struggling with.  He’s an older, white politician who may not draw independent women, younger voters, or minorities.  He’s been a part of big government for years.  And he lacks excitement.  Yet, the RPOF plans to support him over a younger, more exciting candidate because “he’s paid his dues.”  McCollum will be announcing his run for Governor this morning in Orlando.

Read the article here.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , ,

RPOF Chair: Crist Needed in DC

From the Orlando Sentinel’s political blog, more hints dropped about Governor Crist’s potential run for US Senate.

It is the political version of the face that launched 1,000 ships.

Florida’s dreary, $66.5 billion spending plan, passed over the objections of many hard-line Republicans and the faux protestations of Democrats, is set to start the dominoes falling toward a wide-open 2010 election season. Gov. Charlie Crist — no doubt tired of all the negativity in Tallahassee these days — plans later this week to announce which office he will seek in 2010, and all signs point toward the U.S. Senate.

Four big-name candidates have met with Florida Republican Party officials and prime donors to gauge the level of interest in seeking the governor’s office: Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, Attorney General Bill McCollum, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan of Sarasota and Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson.

The huge costs a wide-open GOP primary could create was one reason why Crist asked Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer not to run for Congress next year and instead keep hold of the reins of the party.

“He indicated his preference that I do what I need to do as chairman,” Greer says.

Next weekend, Greer and Crist will be fundraising side by side in Key West as they go deep-sea fishing. Greer’s take on which job Crist will be seeking by then?

“He’s going to seek the office where he thinks he can best serve Florida,” he says. “And right now, a lot of the problems are coming out of Washington.”

Read more here.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , ,

Fishing for Dollars

While Representative Patronis, R-Panama City, was busy saving us all from having to pay for a saltwater fishing license to fish with a cane pole from shore, the Republicans were cooking up much larger fish. For $25,000, you can fish with Governor Crist and raise money for the Republican Party of Florida. Thanks so much for the invite RPOF, it’s a really nice boat. But I think I’ll stick with my cane pole here on the shore.  The bait is a little too pricey for me. 

See the invite after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , ,

GOP moves to paint Alex Sink as “Evil Banker”

In a rather interesting move, the Florida Republican Party has moved to paint Alex Sink, Florida’s CFO and presumed Gubernatorial candidate, as an “evil banker.”  (This would seem to be an acknowledgement that Charlie Crist is indeed running for the US Senate.)  What is perhaps most curious about this is the fact that Republican Party has long received overwhelming support from the banking industry.  In fact, Ken Lewis, the Bank of America CEO that the GOP is now highlighting Sink’s ties with, was a frequent contributor to Republican candidates, including nearly $10,000 to Rep. Sue Myrick (R-North Carolina).  Of course, trying to tie Alex Sink to Ken Lewis isn’t all that difficult—she is a former Bank of America executive, and therefore it’s only natural that she would have worked with him.

It will be interesting to watch whether or not the Republican Party embraces the same strategy—highlighting an individual’s prior career—when touting their own candidate for Governor.  If Bill McCollum, the presumed front-runner, were to come out on top, that would mean we could look forward to a campaign focusing on a career politician’s accomplishments.  After all, Bill McCollum served 20 years in the House of Representatives, during a period in which the national debt grew from $907 billion to $5.6 trillion.  Perhaps they will even highlight his time managing the impeachment case against President Clinton.  Or, we can perhaps count on a spotlight being turned on his two recent unsuccessful campaigns for US Senate, after which he settled upon a campaign for Attorney General.  Now, after one term as Attorney General, he will be setting his sights on the Governor’s Mansion.  Is it just me, or do I see a campaign focused on Bill McCollum’s repeated attempts to stay on the taxpayers payroll?

Let’s just assume that Charlie Crist’s campaign for the US Senate will include the same strategy…Crist for State Senate, Crist for US Senate, Crist for Education Secretary, Crist for Attorney General, Crist for Governer….and Crist for US Senate II.

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

Legislators Still Getting Plenty of Free Gifts

Just in case you really thought the gift ban that applies to the Florida Legislature was really working, please note that our elected legislators merely use a different path to get themselves plenty of freebies.

Freebies are still flowing freely
H-T Capital Bureau Correspondent

Smarting from scandals linking lobbyists and state legislators, the Florida Legislature tried to crack down three years ago on legislators accepting meals, gifts and other freebies from lobbyists.

But despite that ban, state lawmakers are still wining and dining for free or getting free tickets and hotel rooms at places like Universal Studios in Orlando.

It’s all legal.

They form political organizations that can accept contributions from lobbyists and use the proceeds for meals and travel. They can eat free or accept free tickets to Disney World, for example, but the meal and trip are considered a donation to the Republican Party of Florida or the Florida Democratic Party.

Some legislators also are members of caucus groups that take donations from lobbyists and use the money for meals and other expenses.

“There is some hypocrisy that the gift ban seems to ban the small stuff but not the big stuff,” conceded Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, who represents a part of Charlotte County.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Crist Endorses Gambling

In a move certain to further complicate his position within the Republican Party (as if endorsing Barack Obama’s stimulus plan wasn’t enough), Charlie Crist has bucked the Christian Coalition and endorsed gambling.  Gambling, and the “expansion of gaming” were two things that Crist continually stated his opposition to during his 2006 campaign for Governor—a position that was crucial in a religious conservative-dominated primary.

Those campaign promises have now been thrown out the window.

“You know we’ve had probably the most profound economic change since the Great Depression. We have to adapt and we have to adjust and we have to be open-minded in order to get through this. And that’s what has changed.”

In the Governor’s eyes, convictions aren’t convictions unless they can be tossed aside.  The question is…Will religious conservatives in the Governor’s own party see it that way?

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

GOP Chairman: Stop Talking About Bill McCollum’s Make-Up

Jim Greer, the Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, has fired the first round in the state’s next Gubernatorial race (whether that be 2010 or 2014).  Actually, the Democratic Party of Florida fired the first round last week when they attacked Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum for awarding a no-bid $1.4 million contract to his former campaign consultants to produce a television ad for the web.  The Democratic Party took it one step further by revealing that $550 of that $1.4 million was spent on make-up for the Attorney General.  

Jim Greer has decided to lay the blame at the feet of Florida’s CFO, Alex Sink.  (It is presumed that Sink and McCollum would be front-runners for their party’s nomination if Crist does not run for re-election in 2010.)  Calling it a “partisan witch hunt,” Greer claims that Sink and the Democrats are attempting to destroy the credibility of Bill McCollum.  And, in keeping with politics’ version of Godwin’s Law, Greer lamented the harm being caused to “Florida’s children” by the criticism on McCollum.

Politics is such an honorable sport.

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

RPOF and its legislators party while Florida goes broke

Even as the legislature considers wiping out an estimated $388 million in sales tax breaks to try to plug Florida’s rapidly growing (and currently estimated at $6 billion) budget hole, the Republican Party of Florida and Republican legislators are wasting no time or expense throwing a huge weekend-long party this weekend at Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios, and the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando.  After taking VIP tours of Islands of Adventure and Universal, the legislators will be treated to lunch and then later a Mardi Gras party and a VIP viewing of a Pat Benatar concert.

Meanwhile, all the poor taxpayers are begging “treat me right”.

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

Grand Jury: Keep on investigating Ray Sansom

A grand jury in Tallahassee this afternoon told investigators to keep looking into Rep. Ray Sansom and the job he took at Northwest Florida State College after securing millions in state construction money for the school.

“We don’t know where it will go, but it’s going to keep going,” State Attorney Willie Meggs said.

An assistant state attorney gave the jury an update on the Sansom case, apparently focusing today on possible Sunshine Law violations concerning a meeting between the college trustees, president Bob Richburg and Sansom last March.  [St. Pete Times]

In related news,

Jay Odom has resigned from the board of directors for Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-run insurer, citing “time constraints” with his family.

Odom, 52, sent a letter to the board and Senate President Jeff Atwater announcing his resignation. Odom was last appointed to Citizens by then-Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie.

The news comes on the same day the Republican Party of Florida said it is no longer contracting jet services from Odom.

Odom is considered to be a subject in the grand jury investigation into Rep. Ray Sansom’s dealings with Northwest Florida State College. [St. Pete Times]

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

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