RUBIO HAILS SELECTION OF PAUL RYAN

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio issued the following statement regarding Governor Mitt Romney’s selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate:

“Throughout his life, Mitt Romney has made great decisions, and choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate is a truly inspired choice. I got to know Paul during my Senate campaign when he endorsed me early on when I was still considered a long shot. Paul Ryan is a courageous reformer who understands our nation’s challenges, has proposed bold policy solutions to solve them, and has shown the courage to stand up to President Obama and other Washington politicians trying to tear him down.

“The Romney-Ryan ticket is going to win in November because it offers the American people visionary leadership to recapture the free enterprise spirit that has empowered countless Americans to build businesses from scratch and live the American dream. I’m excited about the visionary change a Romney-Ryan team will bring to Washington, and I look forward to campaigning with them this fall.”

Term Limits Comes to Duval County

Courtesy of Florida Term Limits Blog:

In May, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that county commission term limits are constitutional and also receded from its 2002 decision in Cook that term limits on constitutional officers are unconstitutional. The message from the court that day couldn’t be clearer: county term limits in Florida are constitutional.

Nonetheless, Duval County Clerk of Courts Jim Fuller didn’t get it. Fuller continued to campaign for his fourth term in office in violation of Duval County term limits law.

Naturally he was sued. And today Judge William Wilkes ruled that Fuller is not above the law. He is ineligible and must drop out of the race.

As a constitutional officer, Fuller’s term limit had been nullified by the Supreme Court’s Cook case in 2002 but this year’s Telli case “reactivated” it, Judge Wilkes ruled. Fuller said he would not appeal the decision.

“I think the court fully and properly applied the decision in the Telli case,” Duval County attorney Michael Wedner told the Florida Times-Union.

Today’s ruling turns the spotlight on Pinellas County, where four county commissioners continue to defy voter-approved county commission term limits.

Voters approved the 8-year limits on the county commission and constitutional officers in 1996 by 72 percent of the vote. As in Duval, the Cook decision temporarily nullified the term limits on constitutional officers.

Pinellas County Commissioners have long and erroneously argued that the Cook decision did apply to county commissioner term limits as well. The commission never tested this novel interpretation in court. But now that the Supreme Court has receded from Cook, that argument is kaput. Their new claim per Pinellas County Attorney Jim Bennett is that May’s Supreme Court decision in Telli does not apply to Pinellas because the court’s ruling only applies “prospectively” not “retroactively.”

Today’s ruling in Jacksonville explicitly tosses that flimsy argument out the window:

Judge Wilkes: “The Florida’s Supreme Court decision in Telli has in effect revived a dormant section [of the charter]. No legislative action must be taken for [the] section … to take effect.”

Three citizens have launched the Save Pinellas lawsuit in Pinellas County to compel the commission and supervisor of elections to comply with the voter-approved law.

Heritage Alliance Grades FL Republican Primary Candidates

Heritage Alliance has graded all the candidates with opposition in the Republican primary in Florida. Below are the grades for those contested primary races. At the bottom of the list are the criteria for the Heritage Alliances’ grades.

U.S. Senator – Republican

Long, Deon (R) Grade: C
Mack, Connie (R) Grade: B
McCalister, Michael (R) Grade: B
Stuart, Marielena (R) Grade: B
Weldon, Dave (R) Grade: A+

U.S. Rep., Dist. 3 – Republican

Jett, James (R) Grade: B
Oelrich, Steve (R) Grade: A
Stearns, Cliff (R) Grade: B+
Yoho, Theodore (R) Grade: B

U.S. Rep., Dist. 4 – Republican

Black, Bob (R) Grade: C
Crenshaw, Ander (R) Grade: B
Pueschel, Deborah (R) Grade: C

U.S. Rep., Dist. 6 – Republican

Clark, Richard (R) Grade: C
Costello, Fredrick W. “Fred” (R) Grade: A+
DeSantis, Ronald D. “Ron” (R) Grade: B
Kogut, William (R) Grade: D
Miller, Craig (R) Grade: A
Pueschel, Alec (R) Grade: B
Slough, Bev (R) Grade: B

U.S. Rep., Dist. 7 – Republican

Adams, Sandy (R) Grade: A+
Mica, John (R) Grade: C

U.S. Rep., Dist. 9 – Republican

Long, Todd (R) Grade: C
Melendez, Julius (R) Grade: C
Oxner, Mark (R) Grade: B
Quinones, John (R) Grade: D

U.S. Rep., Dist. 13 – Republican

Ayres, Darren (R) Grade: B
Vance, Madeline (R) Grade: B
Young, C.W. Bill (R) Grade: B

U.S. Rep., Dist. 14 – Republican

Adams Jr., Eddie (R) Grade: D
Otero, Evelio (R) Grade: C

U.S. Rep., Dist. 17 – Republican

Arnold, Joe (R) Grade: C
Rooney, Tom (R) Grade: B

U.S. Rep., Dist. 18 – Republican

Crowder, Robert L. “Bob” (R) Grade: D
West, Allen (R) Grade: B+

U.S. Rep., Dist. 19 – Republican

Aubuchon, Gary (R) Grade: B
Davidow, Joseph (R) Grade: C
Donalds, Byron (R) Grade: B
Goss, Chauncey (R) Grade: C
Kreegel, Paige (R) Grade: B
Radel, Trey (R) Grade: C

U.S. Rep., Dist. 23 – Republican

Bresso, Gineen (R) Grade: D
DeFario, Osvaldo (Ozzie) (R) Grade: C
Garcia, Juan Eliel (R) Grade: C
Harrington, Karen (R) Grade: B
Kaufman, Joe (R) Grade: B

About iVoterGuide.com

Volunteer Panelists

Panelists were selected after a Leadership Survey and a check of references that demonstrated conservative credentials and belief in limited constitutional government, free enterprise, strong national defense, and traditional Judeo-Christian values, such as the sanctity of life and marriage. Panelists include men and women from all walks of life who are committed to electing conservatives to public office.

Grading

After evaluating the data, panelists assigned a grade indicating what kind of voting record that candidate, if elected, would likely receive from a multi-issue conservative organization that grades on economic and social issues. Unless a candidate already has a legislative voting record, this is purely subjective. That is why the source data is provided so voters can more easily make their own evaluation.

A = 90% B = 80% C = 70% D = 60% F = below 60%
I = Insufficient information available for evaluation

A low grade does not mean panelists necessarily considered the candidate to be liberal. Rather, it may mean sufficient information was not available from public sources or from the candidate to give panelists the confidence that the candidate would govern conservatively if elected.  Sources of information considered the most important measure of conservative principles in governance are listed in descending order:

  • Legislative voting records if the candidate has recently held office
  • Financial contributions by the candidate to legislators with voting records
  • Record vote ratings for legislators to whom donors to the candidate have also contributed
  • Endorsements by conservative and liberal groups
  • Candidate Survey – less important because it represents promises rather than demonstrated action. However, no candidate can receive an A without answering the survey.
  • Statements on the candidates’ websites

Judge Fund Raises for State Attorney Candidate From the Bench?

Judge Janette Dunnigan

12th Judicial Circuit Judge Janette Dunnigan in an email helps State Attorney candidate Ed Brodsky with a fundraiser. The email was sent during working hours, from Judge Dunnigan’s Chambers on her Judical computer, using her government email address.

The email was sent to Walt Smith, Sarasota County Court Administrator and forwarded to Ed Brodsky, who works for Earl Moreland the State Attorney, again via government emails and during working hours. The email was to have Walt Smith tell Ed Brodsky that Judge Dunnigan had secured Ed Chiles to host a fundraiser for Brodsky. The email violates Canon 7 of the Judicial Code of Ethics and it is also a crime. Cannon 7 states all judges shall not “publicly endorse or publicly oppose another candidate for public office.”

Following is the full text of the email sent by Judge Dunnigan:

From: Ed Brodsky [mailto:EBRODSKY@scgov.net]
Sent: Monday, April 04, 2011 9:44 AM
To: Ed Brodsky (ed.brodsky@mymanatee.org)
Subject: FW: SAO
——————————————-
From: Walt Smith
Sent: Monday, April 04, 2011 9:44:23 AM
To: Ed Brodsky
Subject: Fwd: SAO
Auto forwarded by a Rule

Begin forwarded message:
From: “Janette Dunnigan” <JDunnigan@jud12.flcourts.org>
Date: April 4, 2011 9:42:34 AM EDT
To: “Walt Smith” <WSmith@jud12.flcourts.org>
Subject: SAO

You can tell Ed Brodsky that Ed Chiles will support him and do a fundraiser up here. I talked with him on Saturday. I got the impression that Ed had already met with him. If that is not the case, then he should arrange that soon. He said it was Earl’s man?? Tell Brodsky to mention my name when he calls. J

NOTE: SAO refers to the State Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Ed Chiles

The reference in Judge Dunnigan’s email to Brodsky being “Earl’s man?” refers to Earl Moreland, the State Attorney for the 12th Circuit. Moreland has endorsed Brodsky who works for Moreland in the State Attorney’s Office, 12th Judicial Circuit.

Mr. Ed Chiles is the son of Lawton Chiles the former Democrat Governor of Florida from 1991 to 1998. Chiles is a local restaurateur and owns the Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Bar on Longboat Key, FL and two other restaurants. Ed Chiles has been the Treasurer of the Lawton Chiles Foundation since 1998.

Brodsky is running in the Republican primary against Peter Lombardo. The Lombardo campaign issued the following statement, “It would appear that they do not have to designate it as private until a public record request is made. Then we must rely on their honesty in determining what is public as opposed to private. The problem with that is who will voluntarily hand over E-mails showing ethics violations or criminal activity? Apparently not the 12th Judicial Circuit PIO.”

“It does not surprise us that liberal Ed Brodsky was engaged in effforts  to get money from noted Democratic fundraiser Ed Chiles. This is further evidence of  Mr. Brodsky being a Republican in name only not a true Republican,” notes the Lombardo campaign.

According to Dennis Menendez, Chief Information Officer for the 12th Circuit, the email from Judge Dunnigan, “was previously reviewed for another public records request and was determined to be a private email not subject to public disclosure pursuant to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420(c) and case law.  See State v. City of Clearwater, 863 So. 2d 149 (Fla. 2003) and In re Amendments to Rule of Judicial Administration 2.051-Public Access to Judicial Records, 651 So. 2d 1185 (Fla. 1995).”

RELATED COLUMNS:

Defense attorneys question judge’s impartiality after email surfaces

Bradenton attorney Lombardo running for state attorney

 

Florida Group Reaches Out to Evangelicals

The United West (TUW), a group of academic activists, is now reaching out to Evangelicals in Florida. The outreach is focused on educating Evangelicals on national security issues, Israel and threats against freedom of religion. Tom Trento, President of TUW states, “We will ask Evangelicals to register and vote in the primaries on August 14 and general election on November 6, 2012. We do not tell them how to vote but encourage them to vote.”

Tom Trento notes, “In the 2008 Presidential election one million Florida Evangelicals either did not register or did not vote. This is a travesty and must be addressed. We are addressing this issue in the swing state of Florida.

NewsMax reports, “Some 17 million Evangelicals failed to vote in 2008 when Democrat Barack Obama beat the GOP’s John McCain — and now the fight is on to get them there this November,” Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed says.

November’s election is critical, Reed said, because President Barack Obama is “somebody who’s called for more government, more spending, more bureaucracy. He seems to think the answer to everything that ails America is more government and bigger government.” Reed also said he believes the Obama administration is engaged in an attack on religious freedom.

According to The United West, Florida accounts for nearly 6% of the national Evangelical vote and they are concentrated in a key state. President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have visited Florida numerous times, underlining the importance of the state in November. It was the Florida primary that helped propel Governor Romney to become the presumptive Republican nominee. Governor Romney spent over $15 million to win the Florida Republican presidential primary. Over 8.1 million Floridians voted on the 2008 Presidential ballot; had the aforementioned one million evangelicals voted they would have made up 12.5% of the electorate.

Trento states, “President Obama won Florida in 2008 by 204,577 votes. He took key areas, such as Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties by a plus 47,000 votes. It is important to insure the faith based community is well informed, registers and votes. That is what we do as academic activists – inform the public on important issues. If Evangelicals register and vote it can make a huge difference in who takes Florida in November.”

Faith-based issues are becoming a more important part of the national dialogue, including President Obama’s recent announcement that he supports gay marriage. Florida Proposition 2–“The Marriage Amendment“–was passed in 2008 by a margin of 61% to 39% and is now in the state Constitution. As more information is revealed about the Affordable Health Law and its impact on businesses, organizations and churches providing health services more are becoming engaged. Evangelicals are now paying attention.

According to NewsMax, “Conservative Christians and Evangelical conservatives will play a big role in the upcoming election,” Reed said, “and they support Romney by about 60 percent, compared to previous support for John McCain (73 percent) and George W. Bush (78 percent) … the Evangelical vote, which has historically been between 20 and 23 percent of the electorate, turns out in the largest numbers ever seen in a presidential election.”

With long lines at Chick-Fil-A last week will Florida see long lines at the polls in November? Only time will tell what the faith based value voters will do in Florida.

RELATED COLUMNS:

Rasmussen: 87% Oppose Letting Government Officials Play Politics In the Marketplace

Rasmussen: 61% Hold Favorable Opinion of Chick-fil-A

MAJOR CHRISTIAN GROUP ENDORSES WELDON FOR U.S. SENATE

The United Christians of Florida’s Political Action Committee is urging, “all principled patriots to support Dr. Dave Weldon, trusted physician and conservative former U.S. Congressman in the race for U.S. Senate in Florida.”

“In Dr. Dave Weldon, we have a proven and experienced Congressional Representative who understands how to lead America toward economic stability and prosperous times for generations to come,” said Mike Nelis, United Christians of Florida, Executive Director.

Looking at the Republican Primary candidates, Nelis feels that “. . . merely sending a ‘fiscal conservative’ to forge long-term solutions in Washington is not the sole answer to our dilemma,” added Nelis. “Dr. Dave Weldon has the deeply rooted Christian spiritual conviction to add proper balance to fiscal policy and bring lasting improvement to our economic crisis. His personal convictions would stand in unity with our nation’s founders who in times of frustration and confusion turned to fasting and prayer for solutions – and they got the answers they sought!”

The group is specifically concerned about one of Weldon’s opponents. “Floridians have been fooled by slick campaigns before that have done a disservice to the nation by sending the deceptive liberal-progressive Bill Nelson as our representative to the U.S. Senate. Now, Florida Republican power brokers with the assistance of the media seem to be anointing Fort Myers Congressman Connie Mack, IV who claims the dedication to sound fiscal policy but demonstrates spiritual immaturity regarding social concerns and therefore, is unable to lead us toward God’s blessing and true national prosperity, ” Nelis stated.

The Christian PAC has been making recommendations to voter since 1986. In fact, they were “. . . the very first, of any organization, in February 1988, to endorse Connie Mack, III (the father of Connie Mack IV) for his first U.S. Senate race and continued to support him through his successful time in public service,” said Nelis. “It is with deep regret that an endorsement of (the son) Connie Mack, IV is not possible at this time due to his misunderstanding regarding issues of human life and his shallow respect for the sanctity of marriage and the critical importance of full-time fatherhood.”

The group stated it is proud of their excellent record of early support for winners, Rick Scott for Governor in 2010, for example. And they feel they have this race called accurately too.

“In many ways, this Weldon campaign reminds me of Rick Scott’s race. The political establishment has picked their candidate (Connie Mack), but conservative Christian activists and TEA party members are gathering in growing enthusiasm for Dave Weldon,” added Nelis, “and he only lacks the high dollar special interests that support Nelson and Mack! I happen to believe in political volunteers and the kind of activism that counteracts the multi-millions spent on mail, television and radio ads and sends the right people into public service. I will still always contend that is what actually made the difference for Rick Scott, regardless of what he spent.”

Fraud in Florida – Dual Registered Voters

Absentee ballots are being delivered this week to the mail boxes of Florida voters in preparation for the August 14th primary. Retired FBI Special Agent Stu Senneff writes in an email, “Of particular interest to me is the subject of ‘voter fraud’ on a national basis but since I live here, specifically the possibility of voter fraud in Florida. Actually, I became interested subsequent to the Bush – Gore 2000 presidential election. Since Florida has a veritable plethora of home owners who spend part of the year in another state, I believed it not only possible but probable that persons could register to vote in more than one state. It is a simple matter to vote by absentee ballot in one or both of the states in which one resides.”

Russ Buettner, New York Daily News staff writer, wrote in an August 2004 article titled “Registered to Vote in City & Fla.“, “Some 46,000 New Yorkers are registered to vote in both the city [of New York] and Florida, a shocking finding that exposes both states to potential abuses that could alter the outcome of elections, a Daily News investigation shows.”

“Registering in two places is illegal in both states, but the massive snowbird scandal goes undetected because election officials don’t check rolls across state lines. The News found that between 400 and 1,000 registered voters have voted twice in at least one election, a federal offense punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. One was Norman Siegel, 84, who is registered as a Republican in both Pinellas Park, Fla., and Briarwood, Queens. Siegel has voted twice in seven elections, including the last four presidential races, records show,” writes Buettner.

Former FBI Special Agent Senneff notes, “As a police officer and subsequently an FBI Agent, if I wanted to check to see if a person was wanted anywhere in the United States, I could simply provide the necessary background information and within a matter of seconds ascertain a person’s status. If I use my credit card in order to make a purchase, records are immediately checked with regard to the legitimacy of the credit card. . . I have often wondered why no such system exists on a Federal level for voting and indeed believed the lack of checking nationally may well have resulted in massive voter fraud over the years.”

Kathy Dent, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections, responding to Senneff’s concern states, “Until we have a national voter registration database, we have no way of determining who is registered in more than one state. Florida does let other states know when a person registers here and they let us know on the application where they were previously registered. But that information is an optional field on the application and not required to be completed. A step in the right direction would be to get our legislature to require previous registrations.”

“We can determine if someone tries to register in two different Florida counties because of our statewide voter registration database. Therefore, we have no dual registrants in Florida,” notes Supervisor Dent.

Kansas is taking the lead in cleaning up registration rolls so that people won’t vote in two states. The architect of what is called the Kansas Project, or the Interstate Cross Check Project, is Kris W. Kobach, the Republican Secretary of State who was elected in 2010. Mr. Kobach has set up a database with 14 other states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee. Six more states are considering joining.

Supervisor Dent warns, “Florida law states it is a third degree felony punishable by a term of imprisonment not to exceed 5 years and/or a fine of up to $5000.00.”

 

The War for the Veteran Vote in Florida

Florida is home to 1.6 million veterans, which is the second largest concentration of veterans in the U.S. after California. As a percentage of population Florida ranks number one.

In December 2008 ABC reported on how the veteran vote impacted the election of then Presidential candidate Barack Obama. Remembering that John McCain is a veteran the ABC column titled “The Veteran Vote – an Update” noted, “But the biggest surprise is for anyone who assumed a major tilt toward the Republican Party among veterans. Thirty-five percent of veterans voting in 2008 identified themselves as Democrats, 34 percent as Republicans (the rest were independents). That’s a striking change from 2004: Republican allegiance among veterans dropped from 41 percent then to 34 percent this year [2008]. Democrats gained 4 points, independents 3. What had been a 10-point Republican advantage over Democrats among veterans vanished.”

The war for the veterans in Florida is on with two groups vying for this coveted vote. In 2008 veterans nationally accounted for 14% of the total votes cast. Veterans do vote.

The two groups are Vote Vets and Concerned Veterans for America. Each is after the veteran vote in Florida, a key battle ground state and must win for both parties. The issues of concern by these organizations are as different as night from day. Vote Vets is linked to and supported by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The Vote Vets website states, “While non-partisan, the group is the largest progressive organization of veterans in America.” Their primary focus during the 2012 election is to increase the minimum wage from the current $7.50 an hour to $10.00. Veterans benefits and military salaries are not tied to the minimum wage. Both are determined by Congress, which uses various metrics to determine increases or changes to co-payments for medical care, as an example.

Jeff Jacoby in his Boston Globe column “Minimum-wage laws are costly for the unemployed” reports on efforts by Democrat Senator Tom Harkin to raise the minimum wage. According to Mr. Jacoby, “Congress enacted the first federal minimum wage in 1938. A provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act, it covered about 6 million workers and set a wage floor of 25 cents per hour. It also cost a lot people their jobs. The Labor Department reported that as many as 50,000 employees, mostly poor Southern blacks, were thrown out of work within two weeks of the law’s taking effect. In the months that followed, the carnage spread. ‘African Americans in the tobacco industry were particularly hard hit,’ wrote David Bernstein in his 2001 history of labor regulations and black employment. ‘In Wilson, N.C., for example, machines replaced two thousand African American tobacco stemmers in 1939.'” [Emphasis mine]

Mr. Jacoby provides the below chart in his column showing a nexus between raises in the minimum wage and rise in black teenage unemployment from 2002 to 2010.

Mr. Jacoby states, “Minimum-wage laws are typically thought of as a mandate on employers. In reality they constrain employees. As it stands now, the federal wage law tells workers that unless they can find a company willing to pay them at least $7.25 an hour, they can’t get a job. That may not seem like much of a barrier to [Iowa Democrat Senator Tom] Harkin, one of Congress’s wealthiest members, but it might as well be the Berlin Wall to an unskilled teen or young adult with no high-school diploma or employment history whose labor is only worth, say, $5.50 an hour. No matter how much that person might leap at the chance to work for what he’s worth, the minimum wage forbids it. Should Harkin’s bill become law, life will become even harder for those seeking entry-level employment.” [Emphasis mine]

Raising the minimum wage may harm Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. According to David Lerman from Bloomberg, “The unemployment rate for U.S. veterans who’ve served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan increased last year, while the rate for non-veterans declined, the Labor Department reported yesterday. The jobless rate for veterans who were in service following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was 12.1 percent last year, up from 11.5 percent in 2010, the department’s data show. Among all non- veterans, 8.7 percent were jobless last year, down from 9.4 percent in 2010.”

While harmful to veterans seeking jobs, raising the minimum wage does get out the vote.

The discredited group ACORN successfully used the minimum wage issue in Florida in 2004. “In Red State Florida, Victory for Working People” John Atlas reported, “The decision for ACORN, which has chapters in 28 states, to invest heavily in a Florida campaign [to raise the minimum wage] was not made in haste. The group commissioned a statewide poll in November 2003 that found overwhelming support for increasing the state’s minimum wage, especially among low-income and minority residents … ACORN was betting that many low-income people, who might not otherwise register or vote, would do so to increase their pay, and once they went to the polls, they would vote overwhelmingly for a Democrat.” [Emphasis mine]

Mr. Atlas noted, “ACORN budgeted over $2 million for the campaign. In addition to a team of strategists, pollsters, fundraisers and a full-time coalition coordinator, the group deployed a field staff of 40 organizers, up to 60 canvassers, and over 2,000 volunteers. The field staff gathered signatures, registered 122,000 voters and implemented a get-out-the-vote plan that resulted in a net increase in turnout of 68,000 new voters in November. The campaign roused the interest of wealthy progressive donors, major Democratic party players, unions and well-financed anti-Bush groups smitten by the notion that helping the poor was not only an end in itself, but a way to dump Bush.” [Emphasis mine]

The same strategy is playing out today by Vote Vets and the SEIU in Florida. The added twist is this”veterans advocacy” organization with deep community organizing roots may actually harm veterans with its campaign to raise the minimum wage.

Mr Jacoby warns, “With the best intentions in the world, lawmakers cannot raise the value of anyone’s labor to $9.80 an hour (or $7.25 an hour, or even 25 cents an hour) merely by passing a law. Making it more expensive to hire workers who are just starting out doesn’t advance beginners’ prospects; it worsens them. Decades of economic research and empirical studies confirm what common sense should tell anybody: Boost the minimum wage beyond what low-skilled workers are worth, and more low-skilled workers will be priced out of a job.”

Rasmussen: Mack Leads Nelson by 9 Points

A Rasmussen Report survey of 500 likely voters in Florida taken July 9, 2012, shows Republican Representative Connie Mack IV (FL District 14) with a nine-point lead over incumbent Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, 46 percent to 37 percent.

Representative Mack’s Senatorial campaign manager Jeff Cohen said, “The momentum is on our side. Rasmussen now considers the Florida Senate race ‘Leans Republican’ for the first time.”

The poll was taken after the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. Likely voters may have been influenced by a statewide advertising campaign from Freedom PAC – Florida, which labeled Senator Nelson as a “lockstep liberal” alongside President Barack Obama.

Rasmussen Report notes, “Fifty-two percent of Florida voters favor repeal of the health care law, while 36 percent oppose repeal. Mack earns 85 percent of the vote from those who ‘Strongly Favor’ repeal. Nelson gets 78 percent support from the smaller group of voters ‘Strongly Opposed’ to repeal.”

On July 11, 2012, two days after the Rasmussen survey, Congressman Mack (FL-14) voted to repeal ObamaCare, a measure that passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 244 – 185. Congressman Mack recently introduced two pieces of legislation that would repeal the law in its entirety and block funding for the law’s implementation: the “NObamacare Act” and the “NObamacare Funds Act.”

“Florida, with its large number of retirees, has consistently registered high opposition to President Obama’s national health care law and was one of the leaders in the recent unsuccessful constitutional challenge of the law before the U.S. Supreme Court,” according to Rasmussen.

Pinellas County Commissioners Behind the 8 Ball

By Dr. Rich Swier – In 1996, the ballot initiative “8 is Enough” was passed by 78% of voters in Pinellas County, Florida to limit County Commissioners to two four year terms. That ballot initiative has been in litigation since then. Recently the Florida Supreme Court upheld term limits for all Constitutional officers and County Commissioners.

This Florida Supreme Court decision impacts four of the seven sitting County Commissioners, including the Chair and Vice-Chair. The commissioners who are in violation of the two term referendum are: Susan Latvala, John Morroni, Karen Williams Seel and Kenneth T. Welsh.

A lawsuit has been filed against the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections, Pinellas County and names the four Commissioners in violation by a group of local citizens. At the Pinellas County Commission meeting on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 the lawsuit will be discussed.

Former Tarpon Spring Mayor Bev Billiris, who is part of a group that has filed a lawsuit to support the referendum, stated “They did not follow the will of the people. The people voted 78 percent to have term limits for county commissioners.”

A similar lawsuit was filed in Sarasota County, FL to keep Commissioner Jon Thaxton off the 2012 ballot. Commissioner Thaxton violated a referendum passed by Sarasota County voters in 1996 limiting County Commissioners terms to eight years.

A Rasmussen Reports survey asking about trust of local government of 1,000 Adults nationwide was conducted on July 5, 2012. The survey found six out of ten do not trust local government. The federal government garnered 23% and state government 12%.

Anarchists Coming to the RNC Convention

By Dr. Rich Swier – The Republican National Convention will be held in Tampa, Florida from August 27-30, 2012 to select the Republican nominees for President and Vice-President. A coalition has formed under the banner March on the RNC to protest at the convention.

The coalition is made up of labor unions, anti-war groups, student groups and self-identified anarchists.

Endorsing organizations include: Occupy Pensacola, Occupy Tallahassee, Occupy Tampa and Occupy USF. David Graeber, American anthropologist and anarchist, in his column “Occupy Wall Street’s anarchist roots” states, “It was only on August 2, when a small group of anarchists and other anti-authoritarians showed up at a meeting called by one such group and effectively wooed everyone away from the planned march and rally to create a genuine democratic assembly, on basically anarchist principles, that the stage was set for a movement that Americans from Portland to Tuscaloosa were willing to embrace.”

David Graeber defines “anarchist principles” as: 1.) The refusal to recognise the legitimacy of existing political institutions; 2.) The refusal to accept the legitimacy of the existing legal order; 3.) The refusal to create an internal hierarchy, but instead to create a form of consensus-based direct democracy; and 4.) The embrace of prefigurative politics. The term “prefigurative politics” was first used by Wini Breines specifically with reference to the new left movements of the 1960s.

David Graeber in Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology described “prefigurative politics” as:

“When protesters in Seattle chanted “this is what democracy looks like,” they meant to be taken literally. In the best tradition of direct action, they not only confronted a certain form of power, exposing its mechanisms and attempting literally to stop it in its tracks: they did it in a way which demonstrated why the kind of social relations on which it is based were unnecessary. This is why all the condescending remarks about the movement being dominated by a bunch of dumb kids with no coherent ideology completely missed the mark. The diversity was a function of the decentralized form of organization, and this organization was the movement’s ideology.”

Other March on the RNC endorsing groups include: Code Pink, Students for a Democratic Society including chapters from Tampa Bay, FL, Gainesville/University of FloridaWright College SDS (Chicago), University of Wisconsin SDS (Milwaukee), University of Minnesota SDS (Twin Cities) and UNC Chapel Hill Students for a Democratic Society.

Code Pink has joined with the anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic Free Gaza movement and the Women Occupy movement. Code Pink was part of the 2012 Gaza Freedom March against Israel.

FL Primary Voting Registration Ends July 16, 2012

With a primary election approaching, here is voter information from the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections office:

In order to register to vote in Florida, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States of America
  • Be a Florida resident
  • Be 18 years old (A person who is otherwise qualified may preregister on or after his/her 16th birthday and may vote in any election on or after his/her 18th birthday.)
  • Not now be adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or any other state
  • Not have been convicted of a felony without your right to vote having been restored
  • Provide your current and valid Florida driver license number or Florida identification card number. You must provide the last four of your Social Security number if you do not have a Florida driver license number or a Florida identification card number. If you have not been issued any of these items, you must write “NONE” in the box indicated on the Voter Registration Application.

How to Apply to Register to Vote

  • Fill in the Voter Registration Application online. If you wish, you can print the application and write your information in with a black ballpoint pen.
  • For the Voter Registration Online Application in Spanish select this link.
  • Print the application out.
  • Verify that all the information on your application is complete. The office where you register, your decision not to register, your Social Security number, Florida driver license number and Florida ID card number will remain confidential and will be used only for voter registration purposes.
  • Sign your application. The application requires an original signature because you are swearing to or affirming an oath.
  • Mail your application to your county supervisor of elections. (Requires first class postage stamp.) You may also hand-deliver the application to any supervisor of elections office in the state, a driver license office, a voter registration agency or armed forces recruitment office, or to the Division of Elections.
  • If your application is complete and you qualify as a voter, the supervisor of elections will mail you a voter information letter as official notification that you are registered to vote. Make sure all of the information in your letter is correct. If you do not receive a confirmation letter within 8 weeks, or if you have any questions, call your supervisor of elections.

NOTE: You must be registered for at least 29 days before you can vote in an election.

If the information on the application is not true, the applicant can be convicted of a felony of the third degree and fined up to $5,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 5 years.

Federal Court: “Irreparable Harm” If Non-Citizens Allowed to Vote

A federal judge rejected a Department of Justice (DOJ) request to issue a temporary restraining order blocking Florida from removing non-citizens from the voter rolls. Additionally the judge rejected DOJ’s argument that the National Voter Registration Act prohibits removal of non-citizens from the voter rolls. The court also said that permitting known non-citizens to vote would result in “irreparable harm” to eligible voters.

Florida Governor Rick Scott was pleased with the decision, which is consistent with his position that Florida has an obligation to remove non-citizens from the voter rolls.

“The court made a common-sense decision consistent with what I’ve been saying all along: that irreparable harm will result if non-citizens are allowed to vote. Today’s ruling puts the burden on the federal government to provide Florida with access to the Department of Homeland Security’s citizenship database. We know from just a small sample that an alarming number of non-citizens are on the voter rolls and many of them have illegally voted in past elections. The federal government has the power to prevent such irreparable harm from continuing, and Florida once again implores them to grant access to the SAVE database.”

Nearly a year ago, the state requested access to a citizenship database, maintained by the Department of Homeland Security, called the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database, that would allow Florida to more accurately identify non-citizens who are registered to vote. To date, the federal government continues to block access, thereby preventing Florida’s efforts to ensure fair elections.

Eleven Constitutional Amendments on FL Ballot

By Dr. Rich Swier – There are eleven amendments to the Florida Constitution on the November 6, 2012 ballot. Two deal with religious freedom, two address veterans issues, one on public funding of abortions, one on health services, one on the state courts, four dealing with taxes and homestead exemptions and one on the college/university system. All of the amendments were placed on the ballot by the Florida legislature.

The following is a brief description of each of the Florida Constitutional Amendments:

Amendment 1 – Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person or employer to purchase, obtain, or otherwise provide for health care coverage; permit a person or an employer to purchase lawful health care services directly from a health care provider; permit a health care provider to accept direct payment from a person or an employer for lawful health care services; exempt persons, employers, and health care providers from penalties and taxes for paying directly or accepting direct payment for lawful health care services; and prohibit laws or rules from abolishing the private market for health care coverage of any lawful health care service. Specifies that the amendment does not affect which health care services a health care provider is required to perform or provide; affect which health care services are permitted by law; prohibit care provided pursuant to general law relating to workers’ compensation; affect laws or rules in effect as of March 1, 2010; affect the terms or conditions of any health care system to the extent that those terms and conditions do not have the effect of punishing a person or an employer for paying directly for lawful health care services or a health care provider for accepting direct payment from a person or an employer for lawful health care services; or affect any general law passed by two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature, passed after the effective date of the amendment, provided such law states with specificity the public necessity justifying the exceptions from the provisions of the amendment. The amendment expressly provides that it may not be construed to prohibit negotiated provisions in insurance contracts, network agreements, or other provider agreements contractually limiting copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, or other patient charges.

Amendment 2 – Proposing an amendment to Section 6 of Article VII and the creation of Section 32 of Article XII of the State Constitution to expand the availability of the property discount on the homesteads of veterans who became disabled as the result of a combat injury to include those who were not Florida residents when they entered the military and schedule the amendment to take effect January 1, 2013.

Amendment 3 – This proposed amendment to the State Constitution replaces the existing state revenue limitation based on Florida personal income growth with a new state revenue limitation based on inflation and population changes. Under the amendment, state revenues, as defined in the amendment, collected in excess of the revenue limitation must be deposited into the budget stabilization fund until the fund reaches its maximum balance, and thereafter shall be used for the support and maintenance of public schools by reducing the minimum financial effort required from school districts for participation in a state-funded education finance program, or, if the minimum financial effort is no longer required, returned to the taxpayers. The Legislature may increase the state revenue limitation through a bill approved by a super majority vote of each house of the Legislature. The Legislature may also submit a proposed increase in the state revenue limitation to the voters. The Legislature must implement this proposed amendment by general law. The amendment will take effect upon approval by the electors and will first apply to the 2014-2015 state fiscal year.

Amendment 4 – (1) This would amend Florida Constitution Article VII, Section 4 (Taxation; assessments) and Section 6 (Homestead exemptions). It also would amend Article XII, Section 27, and add Sections 32 and 33, relating to the Schedule for the amendments. (2) In certain circumstances, the law requires the assessed value of homestead and specified nonhomestead property to increase when the just value of the property decreases. Therefore, this amendment provides that the Legislature may, by general law, provide that the assessment of homestead and specified nonhomestead property may not increase if the just value of that property is less than the just value of the property on the preceding January 1, subject to any adjustment in the assessed value due to changes, additions, reductions, or improvements to such property which are assessed as provided for by general law. This amendment takes effect upon approval by the voters. If approved at a special election held on the date of the 2012 presidential preference primary, it shall operate retroactively to January 1, 2012, or, if approved at the 2012 general election, shall take effect January 1, 2013. (3) This amendment reduces from 10 percent to 5 percent the limitation on annual changes in assessments of nonhomestead real property. This amendment takes effect upon approval of the voters. If approved at a special election held on the date of the 2012 presidential preference primary, it shall operate retroactively to January 1, 2012, or, if approved at the 2012 general election, takes effect January 1, 2013. (4) This amendment also authorizes general law to provide, subject to conditions specified in such law, an additional homestead exemption to every person who establishes the right to receive the homestead exemption provided in the Florida Constitution within 1 year after purchasing the homestead property and who has not owned property in the previous 3 calendar years to which the Florida homestead exemption applied. The additional homestead exemption shall apply to all levies except school district levies. The additional exemption is an amount equal to 50 percent of the homestead property’s just value on January 1 of the year the homestead is established. The additional homestead exemption may not exceed an amount equal to the median just value of all homestead property within the county where the property at issue is located for the calendar year immediately preceding January 1 of the year the homestead is established. The additional exemption shall apply for the shorter of 5 years or the year of sale of the property. The amount of the additional exemption shall be reduced in each subsequent year by an amount equal to 20 percent of the amount of the additional exemption received in the year the homestead was established or by an amount equal to the difference between the just value of the property and the assessed value of the property determined under Article VII, Section 4(d), whichever is greater. Not more than one such exemption shall be allowed per homestead property at one time. The additional exemption applies to property purchased on or after January 1, 2011, if approved by the voters at a special election held on the date of the 2012 presidential preference primary, or to property purchased on or after January 1, 2012, if approved by the voters at the 2012 general election. The additional exemption is not available in the sixth and subsequent years after it is first received. The amendment shall take effect upon approval by the voters. If approved at a special election held on the date of the 2012 presidential preference primary, it shall operate retroactively to January 1, 2012, or, if approved at the 2012 general election, takes effect January 1, 2013. (5) This amendment also delays until 2023, the repeal, currently scheduled to take effect in 2019, of constitutional amendments adopted in 2008 which limit annual assessment increases for specified nonhomestead real property. This amendment delays until 2022 the submission of an amendment proposing the abrogation of such repeal to the voters.

Amendment 5 – Proposing a revision of Article V of the State Constitution relating to the judiciary. The State Constitution authorizes the Supreme Court to adopt rules for the practice and procedure in all courts. The constitution further provides that a rule of court may be repealed by a general law enacted by a two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature. This proposed constitutional revision eliminates the requirement that a general law repealing a court rule pass by a two-thirds vote of each house, thereby providing that the Legislature may repeal a rule of court by a general law approved by a majority vote of each house of the Legislature that expresses the policy behind the repeal. The court could readopt the rule in conformity with the public policy expressed by the Legislature, but if the Legislature determines that a rule has been readopted and repeals the readopted rule, this proposed revision prohibits the court from further readopting the repealed rule without the Legislature’s prior approval. Under current law, rules of the judicial nominating commissions and the Judicial Qualifications Commission may be repealed by general law enacted by a majority vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature. Under this proposed revision, a vote to repeal those rules is changed to repeal by general law enacted by a majority vote of the legislators present. Under current law, the Governor appoints a justice of the Supreme Court from a list of nominees provided by a judicial nominating commission, and appointments by the Governor are not subject to confirmation. This revision requires Senate confirmation of a justice of the Supreme Court before the appointee can take office. If the Senate votes not to confirm the appointment, the judicial nominating commission must reconvene and may not renominate any person whose prior appointment to fill the same vacancy was not confirmed by the Senate. For the purpose of confirmation, the Senate may meet at any time. If the Senate fails to vote on the appointment of a justice within 90 days, the justice will be deemed confirmed and will take office. The Judicial Qualifications Commission is an independent commission created by the State Constitution to investigate and prosecute before the Florida Supreme Court alleged misconduct by a justice or judge. Currently under the constitution, commission proceedings are confidential until formal charges are filed by the investigative panel of the commission. Once formal charges are filed, the formal charges and all further proceedings of the commission are public. Currently, the constitution authorizes the House of Representatives to impeach a justice or judge. Further, the Speaker of the House of Representatives may request, and the Judicial Qualifications Commission must make available, all information in the commission’s possession for use in deciding whether to impeach a justice or judge. This proposed revision requires the commission to make all of its files available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives but provides that such files would remain confidential during any investigation by the House of Representatives and until such information is used in the pursuit of an impeachment of a justice or judge. This revision also removes the power of the Governor to request files of the Judicial Qualifications Commission to conform to a prior constitutional change. This revision also makes technical and clarifying additions and deletions relating to the selection of chief judges of a circuit and relating to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, and makes other nonsubstantive conforming and technical changes in the judicial article of the constitution.

Amendment 6 – This proposed amendment provides that public funds may not be expended for any abortion or for health-benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion. This prohibition does not apply to an expenditure required by federal law, a case in which a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would place her in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, or a case of rape or incest. This proposed amendment provides that the State Constitution may not be interpreted to create broader rights to an abortion than those contained in the United States Constitution. With respect to abortion, this proposed amendment overrules court decisions which conclude that the right of privacy under Article I, Section 23 of the State Constitution is broader in scope than that of the United States Constitution.

Amendment 7 – REMOVED

Amendment 8 – Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution providing that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding or other support, except as required by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and deleting the prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

Amendment 9 – Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature to provide by general law ad valorem homestead property tax relief to the surviving spouse of a military veteran who died from service- connected causes while on active duty or to the surviving spouse of a first responder who died in the line of duty. The amendment authorizes the Legislature to totally exempt or partially exempt such surviving spouse’s homestead property from ad valorem taxation. The amendment defines a first responder as a law enforcement officer, a correctional officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, or a paramedic. This amendment shall take effect January 1, 2013.

Amendment 10 – Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to: (1) Provide an exemption from ad valorem taxes levied by counties, municipalities, school districts, and other local governments on tangible personal property if the assessed value of an owner’s tangible personal property is greater than $25,000 but less than $50,000. This new exemption, if approved by the voters, will take effect on January 1, 2013, and apply to the 2013 tax roll and subsequent tax rolls. (2) Authorize a county or municipality for the purpose of its respective levy, and as provided by general law, to provide tangible personal property tax exemptions by ordinance. This is in addition to other statewide tangible personal property tax exemptions provided by the Constitution and this amendment.

Amendment 11 – Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature, by general law and subject to conditions set forth in the general law, to allow counties and municipalities to grant an additional homestead tax exemption equal to the assessed value of homestead property if the property has a just value less than $250,000 to an owner who has maintained permanent residency on the property for not less than 25 years, who has attained age 65, and who has a low household income as defined by general law.

Amendment 12 – Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to replace the president of the Florida Student Association with the chair of the council of state university student body presidents as the student member of the Board of Governors of the State University System and to require that the Board of Governors organize such council of state university student body presidents.

Each Amendment to the Florida Constitution will be sent in a pre-ballot to each registered voter. Voters may review the exact language of each Constitutional amendment.

Of the top 10 U.S. counties Romney must win 2 are in FL

Chris Palko in the April 2012 edition of Campaigns & Elections magazine wrote, “A dozen swing states will determine the outcome of the presidential election. That’s a given. But within these so-called purple states, not all areas are swing. In Ohio, for instance, Cuyahoga County — home to Cleveland — would vote for a Democrat regardless of the candidate, while mostly rural Shelby County will vote Republican no matter what. The formula is simple: win the swing counties, win the swing states and win the presidency. That’s what President Obama did in 2008 and, for that matter, what George W. Bush did in 2004.” [My emphasis]

Palko states, “Now, Mitt Romney will need to be competitive in these areas in order to unseat the president. Here’s a closer look at some of the larger counties where the Romney campaign will be fighting its battles this fall.”

Palko lists the top 10 of 3009 counties in America that Romney must focus on. Two of those counties are in Florida and are ranked #1 and #2 on Palko’s list.

According to Palko:

2. Pinellas County, Fla. Population: 916,542 Largest city: St. Petersburg

The top-two counties are both part of Florida’s I-4 Corridor, which runs through the Daytona Beach, Orlando and Tampa areas. The I-4 Corridor is the most important region in this presidential election. In Pinellas County, St. Petersburg has some neighborhoods that are solidly Democratic, but most of the territory is split 50/50. Every precinct could make the difference between winning and losing.

Past results: Bush was in a virtual tie with Kerry here while Obama bested Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) 54-46.

1. Hillsborough County, Fla. Population: 1,229,226 Largest city: Tampa

The most crucial county this fall is on the other side of Tampa Bay from Pinellas, the runner-up. Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa and its immediate suburbs, is the only county listed with more than one million residents. Still, it’s a fairly accurate small-scale version of America. It has a solidly Democratic central city that includes large African-American and Hispanic populations, and some outlying areas that are heavily Republican. The immediate suburbs are closely split. Whoever wins Hillsborough County in November is most likely the next occupant of the White House.

Past results: Bush won here with 53 percent while Obama finished a point better in 2008.

President Obama in 2008 took Hillsborough and Pinellas counties by a +47,000 votes. Obama took Florida by a margin of 204,577 votes or .02% of all votes cast. The Tampa Bay area accounted for over 20% of the margin of victory. The Tampa Bay area will be where key battles for the Presidency, and the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Bill Nelson, will be fought.

Chris Palko works as an assistant media analyst at Smart Media Group, a Republican political media buying agency in Alexandria, Va. He is a graduate of American University and George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.

A version of this post was also published on Smart Media Group’s blog, Smart Blog.