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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Stealth anti-Jack Latvala group tied to Adam Putnam campaign

Politico reports:

 A longtime political consultant for Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is behind a website calling one of his rivals in the race, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a “liberal.”

The committee responsible for the “Liberal Jack Latvala” site is funded by the political committee United Conservatives for Florida. That committee’s chairman is 20-year-old Skylar Lee Frey, who is registered to vote at a Sarasota home owned by Mac Stevenson.

More here

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Corcoran's House reshuffle rewards GOP freshmen

Florida Legislature's lobby between the House and Senate

Tampa Bay Times file photo

Florida Legislature's lobby between the House and Senate

House Speaker Richard Corcoran released his version of musical chairs on Thursday, giving 21 of the 27 freshman Republicans elected last fall vice chair positions, ousting veterans in many cases and replacing three lawmakers who have resigned since session ended -- Reps. Jose Felix Diaz, Eric Eisnaugle and Dan Raulerson. 

The big winner appears to be is Rep. Jamie Grant, who lost a bitterly fought race for House speaker designate for 2020 earlier this summer, and was awarded the chair of the Health Quality Subcommittee. As we have already reported, Rep. Paul Renner becomes the new chair of Ways and Means and the Ways and Means Chair, Rep. Jim Boyd, becomes the new chair of the Commerce Committee, replacing Jose Felix Diaz.

Republican Reps. Kathleen Peters and Cary Pigman, seem to have gotten the biggest demotions. …

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Rick Scott has lunch with President Donald Trump

Trump and Scott are grabbing lunch today.

[Twitter]

Trump and Scott are grabbing lunch today.

Gov. Rick Scott had lunch Thursday with President Donald Trump, the latest in a series of get togethers between the political allies.

The White House schedule showed a 1 p.m. meal at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, N.J.

Scott first meet with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

John Tupps, a spokesman for the governor, said: “Governor Scott had lunch today with President Trump following an invitation from the White House last week. Governor Scott was solely there to promote Florida. They discussed a wide range of topics including the President’s commitment to partner with Florida on needed repairs to the federally-operated Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee. Governor Scott wants to do all he can to protect Florida's environment and President Trump is very supportive to help. Additionally, they discussed the terror attack in Barcelona and the efforts President Trump is taking to keep America safe.”

Tupps said the racial violence in Charlottesville and debate over Confederate monuments did not come up. …

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Bill Nelson texted Rubio to tell him he was proud of him

Nelson

[Tampa Bay Times]

Nelson

Sen. Bill Nelson stressed the need for bipartisanship at a luncheon at a Tampa Bay Minority Enterprise Development conference, where he talked about a bill he introduced with a Republican senator, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), to lower income tax rates of small businesses to that of larger corporations.

But bipartisanship, he said, was especially important in light of President’s Donald Trump’s recent tweets and statements after violence in Charlottesville.

“The president's comments did not bring us together,” he said. “It was more divisive. The president is in a unique role as a role model for the country. And he should clearly point out where there is racial hatred, where there is bigotry, where there is anti-Semitism, that is not to be tolerated in this country."

He praised Republican Sen. Marco Rubio for condemning Trump’s reaction, and said he texted him to tell him he was proud of him.

“There are a lot of folks in the president's party who are unwilling,” he said.

Nelson said Gov. Rick Scott, who had lunch with Trump today, should be asked to state how he feels about Trump’s remarks. …

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Jeb Bush, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to speak at summit on Iran

Jeb Bush and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will be among the speakers at summit on Iran next month.

The Florida Republicans will appear at the Sept. 19 event in New York hosted by United Against Nuclear Iran and timed for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly.

"The day-long event of interviews and discussions will examine the political and economic environment since the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran -- with particular focus on Iran's role in the region, its relationship with North Korea, and the future of Iran policy in the Trump administration," UANI said in a release.

Other speakers include David Petraeus, HRH Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, former Gov. Bill Richardson, John Bolton and Joe Lieberman.

Bush sits on the UANI advisory board.

"Comprised of former diplomats and lawmakers, UANI is spearheading a global education campaign focused on the risks of doing business with Iran, warning hundreds of international companies that may be contemplating Tehran as a new investment opportunity," the group said.

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Rep. Larry Ahern's defense of Richard Corcoran goes off rails

Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, at Clearwater City Hall on Wednesday.

myClearwater.com

Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, at Clearwater City Hall on Wednesday.

It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council. Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed.

Things went downhill fast Wednesday night as Ahern became a punching bag for all of the city's frustrations with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, the state's most vocal critic of cities and counties. It was Corcoran who led the charge for a referendum on a higher homestead exemption in 2018, who wants to abolish tax-supported community redevelopment agencies and who supported an unsuccessful proposal to require cities to seek legislative approval for local ordinances that affect business and commerce. Corcoran demanded broad new accountability provisions on local tourism boards and he thinks cities and counties should be prohibited from hiring outside lobbyists with tax money. …

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Cleveland Clinic will pull event from Mar-a-Lago resort

The Cleveland Clinic pulled its annual fundraiser from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort on Thursday, reversing course after initially resisting pressure from health professionals and others over the president's support for repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting federal budget dollars to medical research.

Associated Press

The Cleveland Clinic pulled its annual fundraiser from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort on Thursday, reversing course after initially resisting pressure from health professionals and others over the president's support for repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting federal budget dollars to medical research.

A leading U.S. hospital pulled its annual fundraiser from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort on Thursday, reversing course after initially resisting pressure from health professionals and others over the president's support for repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting federal budget dollars to medical research.

The Cleveland Clinic said in a statement that it decided not to hold the event there after "careful consideration" of a number of issues. It didn't elaborate.

"We thank the staff of Mar-a-Lago for their service over the years," the clinic said.

Spokeswoman Eileen Sheil had said last week that the event was not political and that donors and executives discussed it and agreed Mar-a-Lago met the organization's needs.

The fundraiser has raised $700,000 to $1 million annually to expand programs and purchase equipment for the hospital's Florida facility. It has been held at Mar-a-Lago the last eight years.

But, citing Trump's positions, more than 1,100 doctors, nurses, medical students and other Ohio residents signed a public letter of concern over the choice of venue. …

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Venezuelan lawmaker tied to Rubio death threat: ‘We don’t care about you’

enezuelan Constitutional assembly delegate and Leader of Venezuela's ruling socialist party Diosdado Cabello, left, leaves the General Prosecutors office in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. Cabello is alleging that the husband and close aides of ousted chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega ran a multi million dollar extortion ring.

Associated Press

enezuelan Constitutional assembly delegate and Leader of Venezuela's ruling socialist party Diosdado Cabello, left, leaves the General Prosecutors office in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. Cabello is alleging that the husband and close aides of ousted chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega ran a multi million dollar extortion ring.

The powerful Venezuelan lawmaker tied to a potential death order against U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio dismissed the notion late Wednesday that he has a personal interest in getting the Florida Republican killed.

“The things we’ve said here about Narco Rubio are responses to his attacks,” Diosdado Cabello said, repeating his preferred slur against the senator. “But from my telling you that, to coming up with a plan to assassinate someone — you don’t know us. We always deal with things head on. We don’t use imperialism’s methods.”

Cabello made the comments on his state-run television program, “Con el Mazo Dando” (Hitting with the Sledgehammer), three days after the Miami Herald revealed that U.S. intelligence linked an unverified death threat against Rubio to Cabello last month. A security detail organized by Capitol Police has been protecting Rubio in Washington and Miami since then.

Rubio’s office declined to comment Thursday on Cabello’s remarks. It has also declined comment on the security detail and the death threat.

Story here.

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Dem lawmaker also wants special session on Confederate statue. (Scott already rejected idea)

State Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana

Florida House

State Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana

Echoing a request from U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz two days ago, a Democratic lawmaker in Palm Beach County sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday asking for a special session so the Legislature can select a replacement for the statue of a Confederate general that represents Florida in the U.S. Capitol.

The statue of Edmund Kirby Smith is already set to be replaced, but lawmakers failed to agree last spring on whom to replace Smith with.

RELATED: "Confederate monument at Florida Capitol sparks debate after Charlottesville"

“With the recent acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, it is more imperative than ever that we complete the process we started in 2016 to replace this statue,” state Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, said in a statement that accompanied her letter to Scott.

“There is no place for racism or bigotry in our civil society, and Florida certainly should not be represented in our nation’s Capitol by General Smith. Let’s finish the job and get this done immediately,” she added.

Read Berman's letter here. …

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Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn donates $1,000 to move Confederate monument

A check from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn for $1,000 to remove the Confederate monument from downtown Tampa.

Photo courtesy of Twitter.

A check from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn for $1,000 to remove the Confederate monument from downtown Tampa.

TAMPA — The fundraising effort to remove a Confederate monument from downtown Tampa has tripled its haul since Hillsborough County commissioners tied the statue’s fate to the success of the campaign.

Count Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn among the latest donors.

On Thursday morning Buckhorn posted to social media a picture of a signed check from him for $1,000 to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.

“Not a City statue but I have a moral obligation to do my part,” he said in a tweet. “Now take it down."

Not a City statue but I have a moral obligation to do my part. Now take it down. https://t.co/wzfax3OPma pic.twitter.com/geHgD5SiiJ

Buckhorn also sent out a link to the fundraising page on the website Go Fund Me.

Other local elected officials have contributed as well including County Commissioner Les Miller, the catalyst behind the monument’s removal, and Tampa City Council members Yvonne Capin, Harry Cohen, Mike Suarez and Luis Viera.

As of 10:30 a.m. Thursday, the Go Fund Me page had more than $24,000 in donations. Yesterday morning, it was about $7,000. The organizer of the page, Tampa lawyer Tom Scarritt, said he has received direct donations as well. …

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With election heating up, Bill Nelson floods Tampa Bay

Nelson campaigns with his wife in Orlando in 2012

Scott Keeler | Times

Nelson campaigns with his wife in Orlando in 2012

Sen. Bill Nelson seems to have set up a residency in Tampa Bay, a crucial area for his upcoming re-election campaign.

Nelson isn't doing campaign events; he's visiting the area as an elected official.

But the repeated visits give him exposure in the market. Today he's in St. Petersburg to meet with a group of minority-owned business leaders and discuss legislation he’s filed to provide small business with a tax break.

His staff notified reporters and offered a reminder "If you want to catch Nelson on any other news of the day – including President Trump’s remarks yesterday – he will be available immediately after the event."

Nelson was in St. Pete last week for a meeting on "threats" facing Florida's tourism economy. He's also visited Brooksville and Lakeland in recent days.

Nelson's probable opponent, Gov. Rick Scott, takes full advantage of his position to travel the state as well.

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Trump decries the removal of 'beauty' as governments in Florida, other states debate Confederate monuments

ATT: Hillsborough County Commission, other local governments and the Florida Legislature

From: @realDonaldTrump

Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You.....

...can't change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson - who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! Also...

...the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!

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Your guide to what Florida's top Republicans have said about Trump

Trump

[Getty Images]

Trump

Republicans nationwide are blasting President Donald Trump for how he responded to Charlottesville.

From his news conference Saturday, where he blamed “many sides” for the violent clashes between white supremacists and protesters to Tuesday’s news conference where the president said ”both sides” shared the blame, there’s been much material for the Party of Lincoln to repudiate.

“There’s no moral equivalence between racists and Americans standing up to defy hate and bigotry. The President of the United States should say so,” Sen. John McCain of Arizona tweeted to his followers. Ohio Gov. John Kasich called Trump’s comments “pathetic.” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Trump “took a step backward” in equating the two sides.

Reaction among Florida’s top GOP politicians has been varied, with a few denouncing Trump by name, but many more nibbling around the edges of the controversy while managing to avoid mention of the party’s leader at all. Some score easy points by denouncing racists and hatred, but avoid specifying exactly what type of groups they are referencing. 

Here’s a rundown of how top Republican officials have reacted...so far.

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John Morgan intends to pressure every Florida politician to fund wage initiative

John Morgan, the publicity-loving personal injury lawyer/entrepreneur who spearheaded the successful medical marijuana initiative, soon plans to start collecting signatures for a 2020 ballot initiative raising Florida minimum wage. He plans to "spend millions of my own money" on the effort, but he also intends to pressure every ambitious politician in Florida to help out on the effort.

"I'm going to have a scorecard for Florida's politicians," Morgan told The Buzz. "I plan to list every elected official that's running for office and holding office, and I'm going to ask them to go to their donors and donate to this cause. If you really believe in this then do something."

Morgan, a top Democratic fundraiser who is flirting with running for governor, said he will ask politicians from both parties but of course expects a much more receptive response from Democrats. 

"I'm going to say to Gwen Graham and Chris King and Andrew Gillum and Philip Levine, 'I want you to help me do this.' Stop just raising money for yourself,' " Morgan said of the other Democratic contenders for governor.

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Florida debates: Should a Confederate monument at the state Capitol be removed?

A monument honoring slain Confederate soldiers stands on the grounds of the state Capitol Complex in Tallahassee. Some politicians want the monument removed in the wake of the violent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, on Aug. 11-12.

Kristen M. Clark / Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau

A monument honoring slain Confederate soldiers stands on the grounds of the state Capitol Complex in Tallahassee. Some politicians want the monument removed in the wake of the violent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, on Aug. 11-12.

A monument honoring slain Confederate soldiers in front of Florida’s Old Capitol is the latest subject of debate by politicians seeking to act against racism in response to a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.

Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Florida’s capital city and a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, called on Gov. Rick Scott to remove the monument from the Capitol grounds, where similar memorials honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., veterans and firefighters, among others.

“In the wake of Charlottesville, people all around the country are grappling with how we deal with our nation’s history and its uglier elements, including slavery, racism and the Confederacy. Floridians must be a part of this work because our own history is checkered,” Gillum, who is black, said in a campaign statement Wednesday. …

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