Rubio on Univision: No immigration law unless border security measures are improved

Note: Excerpts of English and Spanish transcripts as published by Univision are below.

Excerpts of Interview on Univision’s “Al Punto” with Maria Elena Salinas. 

Senator Marco Rubio: “I am 100 percent committed to the immigration issue, immigration reform. Quite the opposite, I will continue to work to make sure that it doesn’t come to that. My point is that if we don’t have those—if we cannot secure the border, if we cannot take the necessary steps to earn our colleagues’ trust, this will never become law. We’re wasting our time. But I don’t think it will come to that. I simply think that if we can arrive at a reasonable measure— of course, it has to be something reasonable—to secure the border and prevent any sort of wave of illegal immigration in the future, that we’re going to have more than enough votes to be able to accomplish it.”

Maria Elena Salinas: “Let’s try to understand how to accomplish that. At this time, the border is more secure than ever. There are 21,000 border agents, a 651-mile wall, more than 300 watchtowers. And the bill that you helped to write has even more funds for border security. So, what are the measures that you consider key for the Senate to approve the reform? What else do the Republicans want?”

Rubio: “Well, the problem—, not just Republicans. There are four, five Democrats who are also asking for it in the Senate. And the point is the following: What they want are details on exactly where those resources are going to be used because, yes, there are sectors of the border that are much more secure, but there are others that aren’t. For example, the area of Tucson, Arizona. So what they’re asking is that it not be left to the discretion of the Administration or agencies, but that the law specifically says where and how those resources will be used so that there is no waste and that the—the errors of the past are not repeated.”

Senador Marco Rubio: “Yo estoy 100 por ciento comprometido al tema migratorio, la reforma migratoria. Al contrario, voy a seguir trabajando para asegurarnos que eso no sea el resultado. El punto mío es que si no tenemos esos–si no podemos asegurar la frontera, si no podemos tomar las medidas necesarias para ganar la confianza de nuestros colegas, esto nunca se va a convertir en ley. Estamos gastando el tiempo. Pero yo no creo que va llegar a eso. Yo simplemente pienso que si nosotros podemos llegar a una medida razonable, no, tiene que ser algo razonable. Pero una medida razonable para asegurar la frontera y prevenir cualquier tipo de otra ola de migración ilegal en el futuro que vamos a tener más de suficientes votos para poder lograrlo”.

Maria Elena Salinas: “Vamos a tratar de entender cómo lograr esto. En este momento, la frontera está más segura que nunca. Hay más de 21,000 agentes fronterizos, 651 millas de muro, más de 300 torres de vigilancia. Y el proyecto que usted ayudó a redactar tiene aún más fondos para seguridad en la frontera. Entonces, ¿cuáles son esas medidas que considera que son clave para que la reforma se apruebe en el Senado? ¿Qué más quieren los republicanos”?

Rubio: “Bueno, el problema–, no solamente son republicanos. Hay cuatro, cinco demócratas que lo están pidiendo también en el Senado. Y el punto es el siguiente: Ellos lo que quieren es detallar exactamente de dónde es que se van a utilizar esos recursos porque, sí, hay sectores de la frontera que están mucho más seguros pero quedan algunos sectores que no lo son. Por ejemplo, la área de Tucson en Arizona. Entonces ellos lo que están pidiendo es que no se le dejen a la discreción de la administración o de las agencias, sino que en la ley específicamente diga dónde y cómo se van a utilizar esos recursos para que no haya malgasto y no se repitan los–los errores del pasado”.

IRS favored HAMAS linked CAIR while targeting Iraq War Veteran who exposed them

In a strange twist of fate, it appears that in 2009 the IRS targeted Iraq War veteran David Gaubatz who was involved in exposing the HAMAS front group Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Based upon Gaubatz’s book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret World that’s Conspiring to Islamize AmericaRep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., and other congressional leaders asked the IRS to investigate CAIR. Gaubatz’s book called attention to CAIR’s missing IRS filings and foreign donations.

World Net Daily reports, “At the same time the Internal Revenue Service delayed or denied requests for tax-exempt status from hundreds of conservative non-profit groups, it was quietly restoring the tax-exempt status of an Islamist front group accused of collaborating with terrorists. Last year, the politicized agency reinstated the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations’ tax-exempt status despite years of delinquent tax filings. CAIR officials had met with officials inside the White House before the decision was made.”

In an email to WDW Gaubatz states, “Once my book (Muslim Mafia) came out in 2009, I got a letter from the IRS for an audit. They wanted a copy of my book, info about the Center for Security Policy, World Net Daily, etc… and then slammed me with a $146,000 tax bill. I had always completed my taxes on time and paid what I owed. I had two accountants go through my tax info, and in actuality the IRS owed me, but I am too small to fight the govt. Now they take it out of my disability pension (from war in Iraq).”

Gaubatz notes, “Anna Prillaman (IRS Tax Compliance Officer from Richmond, VA office) was reviewing my book Muslim Mafia, and wanted to know exactly which mosques I visited in 2007 and 2008…The IRS insisted I list the individual mosques.” Prillaman gave Gaubatz 15 days to respond to the tax bill.

World Net Daily notes, “Though Democrat-connected CAIR did not officially endorse Obama, many of its staffers helped turn out the Muslim vote for his re-election. CAIR boasted that its own polling showed more than 85 percent of Muslim-Americans voted for Obama. In 2011, the IRS stripped the group’s national office of its nonprofit status for failure to file annual tax reports as required by federal law.”

“During the years CAIR failed to disclose its donors to the government, it solicited funds from Libya, Sudan and other terror-sponsoring foreign governments, according to ‘Muslim Mafia‘. CAIR is not registered as a foreign agent. CAIR repeatedly failed to file its annual disclosure report, IRS Form 990. CAIR blames a clerical error for the delinquency and claims to have completed the forms. However, several news organizations, including Politico.com and Gannett Co., have asked CAIR for the 2007-2010 documents, and CAIR has not been able to produce them,” states World Net Daily.

CAIR’s is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror-financing case, this failure to comply with federal disclosure laws is all the more troubling,” U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, the co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, wrote the IRS in a separate request for investigation in 2011.

World Net Daily found:

CAIR’s terrorist ties run deep. The Justice Department lists it among U.S. front groups for Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist organization. And several CAIR officials have been convicted or deported on terrorism-related charges.

The FBI says that until suspicious ties between the leadership of CAIR and that of Hamas are resolved, it will no longer work with CAIR as a partner in counter-terrorism efforts.

Despite these red flags, the IRS in June 2012 sent CAIR-Foundation Inc. a letter stating the controversial nonprofit had regained its tax-exempt status as a 501(c)3. At the same time, the IRS demanded tea party and other patriot groups turn over donor rolls, membership lists and contacts with political figures, among other things, before the agency would consider granting tax-exempt status to them.

CAIR Foundation, which is listed at the same 453 New Jersey Ave. address as CAIR’s national headquarters in Washington, told the Washington Post that “all the paperwork issues have been resolved” concerning the organization.

However, WND has obtained CAIR-Foundation Inc.’s latest filing, and even this tax document is incomplete. It is a partial return for the calendar year 2011, covering only the period from Aug. 9, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2011. The final page of the return, in fact, requests an extension from the IRS.

“Additional time is required to obtain information necessary in filing a complete and accurate return,” states CAIR’s accountant Joey Musmar.

The filing says the organization solicited $3,964,990 in gifts, grants and other contributions that “were not tax deductible.” An annual fundraiser raised a net $106,879.

At the beginning of 2011, CAIR’s liabilities exceeded its assets by $940,279.

It also owed “CAIR Inc.” $722,261 for “charity consulting.” This amount is listed as a “loan.” CAIR Inc. is listed as a “C Corp.”

CAIR insists its tax returns for 2007-2010 exist. Yet it still won’t produce them, despite repeated requests. According to the IRS, nonprofits must make their tax returns available to the public upon request.

CAIR lists Todd Gallinger, director of chapter development, as its contact for such matters, at (202) 488-8787 and tgallinger@cair.com.

It’s not clear what, if anything, the IRS investigated concerning CAIR’s filings. The agency did not respond to requests for comment.

Florida’s counties have a mixed record on transparency

How transparent is your county? Did you know that only 47 of 67 of Florida’s counties post their budget online? Less than half post current audit information on their website. Only three counties disclose if they belong to a government sector lobbying association.

Sunshine Review is dedicated to “bringing state and local government to light”. A government that is transparent is key to understanding how it functions and spends taxpayer money in the public good. Florida’s 67 counties have a mixed record.

Florida has 67 counties. In 1968, Florida voters adopted a constitutional amendment that grants local voters the power to adopt charters to govern their counties. Charters are formal written documents that confer powers, duties, or privileges on the county. They resemble state or federal constitutions and they must be approved by the county’s voters.

As of January 2009, 20 counties in Florida have adopted charter status. Taken together, these counties include more than 75 percent of Florida’s residents.

According to Sunshine Review:

  • 47 of the 67 counties posted their budgets online.
  • 60 counties include information on their websites about public government meetings.
  • 57 include information about the county’s elected officials.
  • 46 include information about the county’s administrative officials.
  • 52 counties give information about permits and zoning in the county.
  • 31 of the counties put information on their websites about audits that the county government has had performed.
  • 22 of the 67 counties give information about their contracts with county vendors.
  • 3 Counties (DuvalPalm BeachPinellas) disclose whether or not they belong to a government sector lobbying associations.
  • 8 counties (CalhounDixieDuvalEscambiaHighlandsOrangePinellasPolkPutnam) provide information on how to request public records using the Florida Sunshine Law.
  • 54 county websites provide some information about county taxes.

Additionally, Ballotpedia evaluated Ballot measure information on Florida county websites.

See also

External links

True The Vote files suit against the IRS

True the Vote (TTV), the nation’s leading voters’ rights organization, filed suit in federal court in Washington today against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), asking the Court to grant its long-awaited tax exempt status and seeking damages for the unlawful actions by the IRS in the processing of its application for exempt status. ActRight Legal Foundation, a 501(c)3 fundamental rights and public interest law firm represents True the Vote in the lawsuit.

“We’ve been waiting for three years to receive a decision from the IRS about our tax exempt status,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “After answering hundreds of questions and producing thousands of documents, we’re done waiting. The IRS does not have the power to pocket veto our application. Federal law empowers groups like True the Vote to force a decision in court – which is precisely what we aim to do.”

True the Vote is dedicated solely to promoting election integrity in our Republic,” Engelbrecht said.  “Our mission is to educate Americans on all of the rights they enjoy as voters. We do not pick winners and losers, but instead fortify the voting process so that it is fair and free. If this goal is deserving of such scrutiny, then we have serious questions that we, as a nation, must face,” she added.

Cleta Mitchell, counsel to True the Vote and of counsel to ActRight Legal Foundation, stated, “We are not going to allow the IRS to claim, as it has been doing in the past week, that the targeting of conservative groups is over and ‘everything has been fixed.’   It is not yet fixed and this litigation is a vital step both to resolve True the Vote’s status and to learn exactly what happened inside the IRS.”

True the Vote‘s lawsuit consists of three counts:

Count One:  Seeks recognition of True the Vote as a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization pursuant to  26 USC § 7428.

Count Two:  Seeks damages and injunctive relief from the IRS and IRS employees and agents, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), for violation of True the Vote’s constitutional rights by virtue of the actions of the government in unlawfully targeting and delaying recognition of True the Vote’s exempt status.

Count Three:   Seeks damages and injunctive relief against the IRS and IRS employees, pursuant to 26 USC § 7431, for their unlawful intrusions into True the Vote’s activities by requiring the filing of voluminous materials with the IRS, then unlawfully inspecting and potentially disseminating the information.

“This is just the first of several cases ActRight Legal Foundation plans to file against the IRS and those within the agency who have violated the constitutional rights of these citizens’ organizations,” said Dr. John Eastman, Chairman of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and of Counsel to ActRight Legal Foundation.
To read the complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, click here.

True The Vote 

(TTV) a nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots organization focused on preserving election integrity is operated by citizens for citizens, to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visit www.truethevote.org.

Voto Honesto 

(TTV) es una organización sin fines de lucro, no partidaria, enfocada en preservar la integridad en las elecciones y operada por ciudadanos para ciudadanos, ara inspirar y equipar a voluntarios para envolverse en cada una de las etapas del proceso electoral. TTT capacita a organizaciones e individuos a través de la nación para activamente proteger los derechos de los votantes legítimos, sin importar a que partido político perteneces. Para más información, por favor visite  www.votohonesto.org.

Is Gov. Rick Scott abusing his executive powers?

Republicans have been quick to point out that President Obama’s recess appointments bypass the US Senate’s constitutional role of advice and consent. Courts have ruled against President Obama calling some appointments “unconstitutional“. But what happens when a Republican does the same thing?

Governor Rick Scott is coming under fire for recent “recess” appointments.

Scott recently made 42 appointments to boards and commissions throughout the state. Among them was Dr. John Armstrong, State Surgeon General and Secretary of the Florida Department of Health, who Scott reappointed for a term beginning May 16, 2013, and ending at the pleasure of the Governor. Health News Florida reports, “Dr. John Armstrong will continue to lead the Department of Health, thanks to a reappointment by Gov. Rick Scott. As the Associated Press reports, Florida Senators, particularly state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, wanted Armstrong out.”

Governor Scott can reappoint one time. If the Senate does not confirm them at the next session, they must vacate their positions.

Two other appointments have also drawn the ire of the Florida Senate. Katie Sanders from the Tampa Bay Times wrote, “Senators approved a slew of Gov. Rick Scott appointees on Thursday [May 2, 2013] and are slated to do more today. However, a few notable names will not make the cut. Unconfirmed appointments include state Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong, Florida A&M trustee (and former Pinellas County school board member) Glenn Gilzean, and the entire Florida Polytechnic University Board of Trustees.”

Armstrong fell out of favor with senators when he failed to show up for a confirmation hearing, Latvala said. ‘There were some issues with some members of the Legislature and the way he interacted with them. It’s a little behavior management’,” Sanders reports.

Is there a double standard when it comes to recess appointments?

Rubio: President’s “culture of political intimidation” (video)

Senator Marco Rubio went on the Senate floor and described President Obama’s “culture of political intimidation” not unlike “the tactics of a Third World nation”.

Excerpts from U.S. Senate Floor Speech
Senator Marco Rubio
May 15, 2013

Full Speech: http://youtu.be/D8f9Lq71Jes

RUBIO: THESE ARE THE TACTICS OF THE THIRD WORLD

“So in the span of four days, [there were] three major revelations about the use of government power to intimidate those who are doing things that the government doesn’t like. These are the tactics of the third world. These are the tactics of places that don’t have the freedoms and the independence that we have here in this country. And it is shocking to Americans that this would come to light in the way that it has. I would submit to you, however, that none of this is new. That what we see emerging here is a pattern, a culture, a culture of intimidation, of hardball politics that we saw both on the campaign trail and now through the apparatus of government.”

RUBIO: OBAMA’S CULTURE OF INTIMIDATION LEADS TO THIS SCANDALOUS BEHAVIOR

“This is not just limited to the I.R.S. This is a culture of intimidation, a willingness to play hardball politics against your political opponents. Let’s not forget the case in South Carolina of Boeing, who decided to relocate, as any business has a right to do, in the United States of America. A business should have the right to locate its operations in any state it wants. Well, when Boeing decided to relocate from Washington state to South Carolina, the NLRB came after them in a complaint, which they claimed was on the merits, but it was very straightforward. They were going after them because the union in Washington state was upset about the move. And in fact, the case was dropped partially because of political pressure.  But interestingly enough, the effort was only abandoned after – after – they negotiated a contract deal with the union. Now listen, I can be up here all day and I intend to keep coming back to the floor and citing examples of this. But the point is, [what] we have going on now is a culture of hardball politics and intimidation which is unacceptable and should be chilling to every member of this body, Republican and Democrat. This is unacceptable behavior. But this is what you get with an administration, when an administration is all about politics. This administration is a 365-days-a-year, year-round political campaign. Every issue is a political campaign leading up to the election and even now, every issue is a wedge. Few times in the history of this country has anyone used this office to drive more wedges among the American people than this president and this administration. And so yes, this is the culture that has been created. ‘ They’re bad and we’re good. Our enemies are bad people. The people who disagree with us on policy are bad people. You don’t support us on guns, you don’t care about children and families. You don’t support some measure against religious liberty, you’re waging a war on women.’ On issue after issue, a deliberate attempt to divide the American people against each other for the purposes of winning an election. That is the culture that’s been created, and that culture leads to this kind of behavior. Whether it was directed or not, we don’t know that. I’m not saying someone picked up the phone in the White House and said do these audits, leak this information. I am saying that when you create a culture where what’s rewarded is political advantage, when you create a culture in your administration where everything is politics 24 hours, seven days a week, when you create a culture where every issue that comes before the Congress is used to divide people against each other, to see who can get to 51% in the next election, when you create a culture like that, it leads to this kind of behavior throughout your administration.”

RUBIO: OBAMA LABOR SECRETARY NOMINEE’S RECORD RIDDLED WITH GOVERNMENT INTIMIDATION AT ITS WORST

“And in the days to come, we’re going to be hearing more about this. We have a nominee right now to the Labor Department who has an admirable personal story which I admire and applaud but who has a history of using the government and his position in government to intimidate people to do what he wants them to do. I would submit to you that Mr. Perez’ nomination is bad for the country at any time, but in this administration, in this political culture after what we have learned in the last few days, even more so. And I hate to single him out, but that is one of the pending ones that are before us.”

RUBIO: SOON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THIS SAME IRS ENFORCING OBAMACARE

“This same IRS that was willing to do this, this same IRS that was willing to target groups because of their political leanings, this same IRS that audited Mr. VanderSloot after he happened to appear on the Obama enemy list, this same IRS will now have unfettered power to come after every American and ensure that either you’re buying insurance or you’re paying them a tax. Every American business. The front lines of enforcing ObamaCare falls to the IRS. That is what happens when you expand the scope and power of government. It’s always sold as a noble concept. It’s always offered up by government as, ‘We’re going to give the government more power so they can do good things for us.’ But the history of mankind proves that every time a government gets too much power, it almost always ends up using it in destructive ways against the personal liberties of individuals.”

RUBIO: THE CONSTITUTION IS SUPPOSED TO GUARD AGAINST THIS GOVERNMENT ABUSE

“And that’s why the framers of our Constitution were so wise to impose real constitutional limits on the power of our government, because they knew from history that this was the case. That’s why our Constitution says that unless government at the federal level is specifically given a power, it doesn’t have it. That’s why it says that. That’s why you see people stand up here on the floor and fight to protect the Constitution. That’s why these groups were formed around the country. Everyday Americans from all walks of life, people, some of whom had never been involved in politics before, who joined a Tea Party movement or a 912 movement because they feared the direction our country was going, and so they stood up and said, ‘This is wrong. This is why.’ This is why this adherence to the Constitution. Because the Constitution was based on the simple truth that if government has too much power, it almost always ends up destructive. Our framers knew better than to rely on good people being in government to take care of us. They understood that government’s power in order for us to have freedom and prosperity necessarily had to be limited, not because we’re anti-government. Of course we need a government. Who provides for our national defense?  Who is supposed to secure our borders when we’re having this immigration debate? These are important things our government needs to do. But if you give it too much power, it leads to these abuses. This is why the Constitution was so wise to limit the power of the federal government to its enumerated powers and leave to the government closest to the people most of the powers. And I think we should reexamine all these decisions that have been made that have expanded the scope and power of our government.”

RUBIO: THIS HAS A CHILLING EFFECT ON FREE SPEECH

“I don’t know how many people are aware of this, but early next year, every single one of you is going to have to buy insurance, health insurance that the government says is good enough. Maybe not the insurance you’re getting today that you’re happy with. And if you don’t buy that insurance, you are going to owe the IRS some money. That’s a tax to me. The same IRS that has shown a propensity to target people based on their political leanings. This is who we’ve empowered through ObamaCare. So this is what’s going on here. It’s not just one scandal at the IRS, it’s about a culture of hardball politics. I think in the days to come, we’re going to learn a lot more about it and we’re not going to like what we learn. For example, you think about some of our most precious freedoms, the First Amendment right to free speech. Think about if you’re a reporter at the Associated Press. Think about if you are a source unrelated to national security to the Associated Press. Think about if you’re really a whistle-blower, someone who is blowing the whistle on government activity because you work in the government and you think what the government is doing is wrong. Think about that for a second. Now all of a sudden, what are you afraid of? ‘I’m not calling that reporter back because their phone might be tapped. My number may show up on their records.’ Because the Justice Department has just shown that they’re willing to do that. Think about the chilling effect that that sends up and down the government. If there is wrongdoing somewhere in the government right now, people are probably afraid to blow the whistle because they’re afraid that they are being surveilled by the Justice Department or that the person they’re talking to is being surveilled. That’s how outrageous this is. Think about people that are thinking about getting involved in the political process, contributing to a group or speaking out, donating to a campaign or a candidate as they are allowed to do under the Constitution. They don’t want to be the next VanderSloot. They don’t want to be the next guy being targeted. They don’t want to be the next person being smeared on a website. This is unacceptable. This is an outrage. And every single member of this body should be outraged by this behavior – this culture of intimidation, these hardball politics tactics. We cannot stand for this. And I hope we will be united in condemning this and ensuring we get to the bottom of this with significant investigations and hearings from the committees in the Senate that have jurisdiction on the matter.”

Fraud Alert: More red light tickets coming if you live in Florida

WDW did a column on red light cameras that are popping up all over the state of Florida. We reported on a study conducted by Barbara Langland-Orban, PhD, John T. Large, PhD, Etienne E. Pracht, PhD from the University of South Florida (USF) on red light cameras in 2008. They updated their study in 2011. Langland-Orban, et. al. found that red light cameras (RLC) increase the number of accidents at intersections by 28%.

The 2008 study found:

“Rather than improving motorist safety, red-light cameras significantly increase crashes and are a ticket to higher auto insurance premiums, researchers at the University of South Florida College of Public Health conclude. The effective remedy to red-light running uses engineering solutions to improve intersection safety, which is particularly important to Florida’s elderly drivers, the researchers recommend.

Instead, they increase crashes and injuries as drivers attempt to abruptly stop at camera intersections. If used in Florida, cameras could potentially create even worse outcomes due to the state’s high percent of elderly who are more likely to be injured or killed when a crash occurs.”

Tampa Bay News Channel 10 did a report on red light cameras. According to 10 News:

“A subtle, but significant tweak to Florida’s rules regarding traffic signals has allowed local cities and counties to shorten yellow light intervals, resulting in millions of dollars in additional red light camera fines.

The 10 News Investigators discovered the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) quietly changed the state’s policy on yellow intervals in 2011, reducing the minimum below federal recommendations. The rule change was followed by engineers, both from FDOT and local municipalities, collaborating to shorten the length of yellow lights at key intersections, specifically those with red light cameras (RLCs).”

10 News reports,While yellow light times were reduced by mere fractions of a second, research indicates a half-second reduction in the interval can double the number of RLC citations — and the revenue they create.”

The 10 News investigation stemmed from a December discovery of a dangerously short yellow light in Hernando County. After the story aired, the county promised to re-time all of its intersections, and the 10 News Investigators promised to dig into yellow light timing all across Tampa Bay.”

“Red light cameras generated more than $100 million in revenue last year in approximately 70 Florida communities, with 52.5 percent of the revenue going to the state. The rest is divided by cities, counties, and the camera companies. In 2013, the cameras are on pace to generate $120 million,” notes 10 News.

Cities and counties install red light cameras as a “hidden tax” on motorists. RLCs are a new revenue stream for government and those companies that produce RLCs according to the USF study:

Comprehensive studies from North Carolina, Virginia, and Ontario have all reported cameras are significantly associated with increases in crashes, as well as crashes involving injuries. The study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council also found that cameras were linked to increased crash costs.

Some studies that conclude cameras reduced crashes or injuries contained major “research design flaws,” such as incomplete data or inadequate analyses, and were conducted by researchers with links to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS, funded by automobile insurance companies, is the leading advocate for red-light cameras.

 The Florida legislature, during the 2013 session, considered HB 4011 which would repeal the use of red light cameras in the state. However, HB 4011 died in the House Appropriations Committee.

Rubio: IRS head must resign

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today urged Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (pictured above) to demand the resignation of the current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner, in light of reports about the agency’s deliberate targeting of conservative organizations.

“[I]t is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership,” said Rubio in a letter to Lew. “I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.”

Rubio also called on Lew to ensure the Treasury Department’s full cooperation with all investigations regarding this scandal now known as “IRSgate”.

“The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration,” Rubio wrote. “If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Below is the full text of the letter:

May 13, 2013
The Honorable Jack Lew
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Lew:

Recent revelations about the Internal Revenue Service’s selective and deliberate targeting of conservative organizations are outrageous and seriously concerning. This years-long abuse of government power is an assault on the free speech rights of all Americans. This direct assault on our Constitution further justifies the American people’s distrust in government and its ability to properly implement our laws.

The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration. It is imperative that you, your predecessor, and other past and present high-ranking officials at the Department of Treasury and IRS immediately testify before Congress.

The public expects your complete cooperation with both congressional investigations and potential criminal inquiries. If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At a bare minimum, those involved with this deeply offensive use of government power have committed a violation of the public trust that has already had a profoundly chilling effect on free speech. Such behavior cannot be excused with a simple apology.

Furthermore, it is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership. Therefore, I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.

Sincerely,

Marco Rubio

New Government Report Undercuts Anti-Gun Agenda

report issued by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS-a component of the Justice Department) shows that firearm homicides in general, and violence at schools, have decreased substantially during the last two decades; the percentage of homicides committed with firearms has decreased; and only a tiny percentage of state prison inmates imprisoned for gun offenses obtain their guns from gun shows.

As the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin characterizes it, the report is “wonderful news for the country and rotten data for anti-gun advocates.” 

To make matters worse for anti-gun advocates, the story has been picked up by the national news media. In an article for U.S. News and NBCNews.com, veteran reporter Pete Williams points out that the BJS report shows that 40 percent of criminals get their guns from friends and family members, and another 37 percent get theirs from theft or other illegal sources. Lest gun control advocates accuse the BJS or Williams of having a pro-gun political agenda, Williams notes that “The report is strictly factual.”

In his article for the Washington Post, Jerry Markon says that while “gun shows were central” to the recent debate in the U.S. Senate over expanding background checks to cover private firearm transactions, “Less than 1 percent of state prison inmates who possessed a gun when they committed their offense obtained the firearm at a gun show,” according to the report. The figure reported by the BJS is 0.8 percent.

NRA members probably are not surprised at the gist of the BJS report.

In the NRA’s magazines and NRA-ILA’s Grassroots Alerts, we’ve been reporting the decline in violent crime, the relative safety of schools, and the relative rarity of criminal acquisition of firearms at gun shows, for nearly 20 years. But for the general public, the contents of the BJS report may come as a revelation, especially given the way that many in the media have reported on the gun control issue over the last few months.

As another U.S. News article and a Fox News article that covered the BJS report point out, a recent Pew Research Center poll found that while “The gun homicide rate in 2010 was the lowest it had been since [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] began publishing data in 1981,” 56 percent of respondents believe that gun crime is higher than it was two decades ago, against 12 percent who believe it is lower.

To be clear, 2010 is the most recent year for which the CDC has released homicide data. For the record, FBI data show that the murder rate dropped again in 2011, and again in the first half of 2012.

Rubio: IRS targeting of Conservative groups is reprehensible, must be investigated

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement regarding today’s admission by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that it has deliberately targeted conservative groups:

“The IRS’s political targeting of select groups based on their political leanings is reprehensible, and it should trouble every American to know that a federal government agency could abuse its power so outrageously.  We need immediate congressional hearings to investigate these actions and determine who needs to be held accountable.  This is deplorable behavior by the IRS that threatens the very essence of our democracy and the First Amendment rights under our Constitution.”

One of 300 letters sent from the IRS was to the Waco Tea Party.

The IRS letter states, “We need more information before we can complete our consideration of your application for. exemption.  Please provide the information requested on the enclosed Information Request by the response due date shown above. Your response must be signed by an authorized person or an officer whose name is listed on your application.  Also, the information you submit should be accompanied by the following declaration: Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this information, including accompanying documents, and, to the best of my knowledge and belief, tile information contains all the relevant facts relating to the request for the information, and such facts are true, correct, and complete.” The Information Request demands in part the following:

1. Please provide copies of your current web pages, including your blog posts. Please provide copies of all of your newsletters, bulletins, flyers, newsletters or any other media or literature you have disseminated to your members or others. Please provide copies of stories and articles that have been published about you.

2. Provide copies of the pages of your social networking sites.

10. List the community events, including rallies, you organized or took part in in the past, or plan to organize or participate in during the current election cycle. What are the dates on which they took place or will take place?

a. Describe the purpose of the event, and the issues that it addressed.

b. Provide copies of any materials disseminated to participants in the event.

c. If you permitted a candidate qua candidate to address the participants in any event, explain in detail.

20. Apart from your responses to the preceding,estimate the percentage of your time and what percentage of your resources you will devote to activities in the 2012 election cycle,in which you will explicitly or implicitly support or oppose a candidate, candidates or slates of candidates,for public office.

The IRS letter concludes with:

If we don’t hear from you by the response due date shown above,we will assume you no longer want us to consider your application for exemption and will close your case. As a result,the Internal Revenue Service will treat you as a taxable entity. If we receive the information after the response due date, we may ask you to send us a new application.

From the letter it appears that the IRS was seeking information beyond its role and responsibility.

The cost of amnesty

A new study by the Heritage Foundation on the cost of amnesty will reveal the following:

The immigration debate is about to get a lot more concrete.

Lawmakers need to be honest about the cost of their proposed immigration plans—and a new study due out today from The Heritage Foundation calculates the cost to taxpayers of granting amnesty to unlawful immigrants.

Yesterday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Heritage President Jim DeMint said:

The study you’ll see from Heritage this week presents the staggering costs of another amnesty in our country and the detrimental effects, long-term, that that will have. There’s no reason we can’t begin to fix our immigration system so that we won’t make this problem worse. But the bill that’s being presented is unfair to those who came here legally; it’ll cost Americans trillions of dollars; it’ll make our unlawful immigration system worse.

Watch Jim DeMint talk about the cost of amnesty on “This Week”

DeMint previewed the study, conducted by Heritage senior research fellow in domestic policy Robert Rector, who studied the cost of amnesty under a similar proposal in 2007. DeMint said:

The way that we calculated the cost, and I read the study over the weekend, I don’t think anyone can argue with it. If you consider all the factors related to the amnesty—and believe me, this is comprehensive, that it will have a negative long-term impact on our gross domestic product. We just want Congress for once to count the cost of a bill. They are notorious for underestimating the cost and not understanding the consequences.

Heritage’s Jason Richwine, the senior policy analyst in empirical studies, says the new report will be a “resounding rebuttal to the claim from amnesty supporters that a long waiting period between the initial amnesty and citizenship will eliminate any major costs to taxpayers.”

This window of ineligibility for many government services has led supporters to argue that an amnesty will not be costly. There are two problems with this argument. First, households headed by illegal immigrants today consume some government services and pay far less in taxes….The second problem with the view that amnesty would not be costly because of the waiting period is rather obvious: After the waiting period is over, lifetime costs will be substantial.

To make sure that costs are counted accurately, Richwine says, “The estimates for the final period in our research will be calculated beginning 14 years after the initial amnesty, which is the point at which recipients could become naturalized citizens.”

Heritage’s cost analysis is unique. DeMint dismissed the idea that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) could be trusted with calculating the bill’s costs, because it is bound by the way that Congress asks it to add the numbers. He said:

CBO said Obamacare wouldn’t cost us anything—they’re basically puppets of the Congress and the assumptions that they put in the bill. Heritage is the only organization that has done an analysis of the cost. Unlawful immigrants make up about 2 percent of our GDP, and they consume most of that. If you consider all the factors of amnesty and unlawful immigration, the cost will be in the trillions of dollars over the lifetime of these unlawful immigrants.

DeMint said that Members of Congress must read the Gang of Eight immigration proposal to make sure they know what is on the table.

“I think if people read the bill, that it will be blocked,” he said. “Because once you get into it, just like Obamacare, it is not the way it’s being advertised.”

To read the full study click here.

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

Florida Sheriff wants you to spy on your neighbor

The Palm Beach Post reports. “Florida House and Senate budget leaders have awarded Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw $1 million for a new violence prevention unit aimed at preventing tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., from occurring on his turf.”

The only problem is Sheriff Bradshaw wants “local citizens to report their neighbors, friends or family members if they fear they could harm themselves or others.”

This goes well beyond reporting criminal activity and has civil rights activists up in arms.

According to Dara Kam and Stacy Singer from The Palm Beach Post:

Mental health advocates, however, worry about a potential new source of stigma, and the potential for erosion of the civil rights of people with mental illnesses.

“How are they possibly going to watch everybody who makes a comment like that? It’s subjective,” said Liz Downey, executive director of the Palm Beach County branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “We don’t want to take away people’s civil liberties just because people aren’t behaving the way we think they should be.”

Bradshaw acknowledged the risk that anyone in a messy divorce or in a dispute with a neighbor could abuse the hotline. But, he said, he’s confident that his trained professionals will know how to sort out fact from fiction.

“We know how to sift through frivolous complaints,” he said.

The proposal still needs the blessing of Gov. Rick Scott, who has line-item veto authority.

Ann Berner, CEO of the Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network, which manages mental health care payments for the state warned, “To be successful, however, there will have to be close coordination with the mental health providers, she said. For example, the county already pays for mobile crisis response teams at two nonprofit mental health providers, a service that includes a 24-hour crisis call center. They, too, are trained to de-escalate conflicts and refer troubled people to care. Which ones will respond when there’s a call from a school or a home? That will have to be clarified.”

“Also, after troubled people are identified by Bradshaw’s teams, then what? Who will pay for their care? The state? Medicaid? The county?” ask Kam and Singer. I would add to this list: Who is liable for false reports or claims? What happens if a citizen is injured during a false report? What happens to a person who files a false report.

In 2002 there was a movie starring Tom Cruise called Minority Report. The idea of “pre-crime” detection did not work out well there.

Police departments worldwide have seen the 911 calling system misused. The Center for Problem-Oriented Policing (CPOP) has looked at 911 call misuse and abuse.

According to the CPOP website “911 misuse and abuse is divided into two categories: unintentional and intentional calls.” For example there is a serious problem with phantom 911 calls. “The National Emergency Number Association reports that phantom wireless calls account for between 25 and 70 percent of all 911 calls in some U.S. communities. The California Highway Patrol (currently the handler of nearly all California wireless 911 calls) estimates that between 1.8 million and 3.6 million of the 6 million wireless 911 calls it receives annually are phantom. U.K. police estimate they receive 11,000 phantom wireless calls per day to their 999 emergency number. The wide data variations highlight the need for further research to pinpoint the scale of the problem,” the CPOP report notes.

Will this open the floodgates for false calls?

SPECIAL REPORT: Florida’s Sunshine Laws

We at Watchdog Wire – Florida know that politicians change their behavior when they know the citizenry is watching.

That’s why Watchdog Wire and the Franklin Center are participating in Sunshine Week (March 10-16), a nationwide initiative focused on the importance of access to public information. We’ll be featuring articles and resources on FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), state open records law, and other transparency efforts all week.

Sunshine Review evaluates how transparent local and state governments are via a grading system. Florida’s cities, counties, school boards and the state all received a grade of “B”.

Recently, Enterprise Florida, the Florida Public Service Commission and Citizen’s Insurance have come under fire for their lack of transparency. Floridians frequently wake up and read about violations of Florida’s sunshine laws at the citycountyschool board and state agency level.

The common thread to each of these violations is a lack of sunshine in the sunshine state.

For example, did you know that State lawmakers have no power to require the Governor or Cabinet members to meet in public when they are exercising their constitutional administrative duties or acting as a policy-making board related by the Legislature, such as the State Board of Education. For instance, the governor’s deliberations with Cabinet members about whether to grant a pardon or clemency are not covered by the Sunshine Law because they involve constitutional duties, not statutory duties.

Sunshine Review notes, “The Florida Sunshine Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to the public records of governmental bodies in Florida. The law was first enacted in 1995. The original statutes state:

The Florida Open Meetings Law (Fla. Stat. sec 286) governs the extent to which public meetings are open to the public. The Florida Public Records Law (Fla. Stat. sec. 119) governs the inspection and copying of public records.

The University of Florida’s Brechner Center for Freedom of Information has a useful list of frequently asked questions:

1. When did Florida begin its tradition of openness?

2. What is the Sunshine Law?

3. What changed after the Constitutional Amendment in 1992 was approved?

4. How does the Sunshine Law work?

5. Who does the Sunshine Law apply to?

6. Which government bodies does the Sunshine Law cover?

7. What types of advisory committees have the Florida courts found to be subject to the Sunshine Law?

8. Which committees are exempt from the Sunshine Law?

9. Does the Sunshine Law Apply to the Governor and Cabinet?

10. What Legislative meetings are covered by the Sunshine Law?

11. What activities are covered by the Sunshine Law?

12. Are there exemptions to the Sunshine Law?

13. Are private organizations covered by the Sunshine Law?

14. Is a private organization that receives public funds subject to the requirements of the Sunshine Law?

15. Who is responsible for attorney’s fees when there is a lawsuit over the Sunshine Law?

To help you as a citizen prepare to hold your government accountable, we’ve compiled a list of action items that empower you to shine a light on government waste and abuse in your own communities:

1. Figure out FOIA here:  Florida FOIA procedures

2. Embrace money-tracking tools

3. Check visitor logs and daily schedules

4. Investigate stimulus dollars in your area

5. Dig deeper into ObamaCare repercussions

6. Track state pensions

7. Report on a local transparency hero

Click here to read the full list of transparency tips and report back your findings on Watchdog Wire. We will list your story in our special Sunshine Report featuring all citizen research and writing. E-mail your ideas, tips and questions to me at Florida@WatchdogWire.com.  If you want to write for Watchdog Wire – Florida, sign up here!

Here’s to an open and more accountable government.

Florida Senate passes sweeping ethics law but questions remain

Daniel B. Krassner, Executive Director of Integrity Florida

Daniel B. Krassner, Executive Director of Integrity Florida stated in an email, “Senate President Don Gaetz, House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senate Ethics and Election Committee Chairman Jack Latvala and House Ethics and Elections Subcommittee Chairman Jim Boyd are all to be commended for their constructive, bipartisan pursuit of ethics reform. Floridians have not seen our state leaders prioritize and pass comprehensive ethics reform since the implementation of the 1976 Sunshine Amendment.”

However, former Florida Commission on Ethics Executive Director Phil Claypool identified areas of concern about Senate Bill 2, the ethics reform bill just passed 40-0 by the Florida Senate.  Claypool shared the things good about the bill as well as his concerns in a memo to Integrity Florida.  Claypool’s analysis includes these not-so-goods:

[Blind Trusts]

For the first time in Florida, the bill would provide for “blind trusts,” an ethics concept from the federal government and many other states that the Ethics Commission has recommended for several years. In these other jurisdictions, this allows a public official to create a trust for his or her assets, to hand off responsibility for investing those assets to a trustee, and then to “blind” the official to what he or she owns by prohibiting the trustee from telling what is owned or sold. If an official doesn’t know what he or she owns, then the official should not be influenced in his or her public decisions by considering personal gain or loss.

Unfortunately, the bill as currently written takes the Ethics Commission’s recommendations regarding blind trusts and eliminates most of the parts that would protect the public. In effect, the proposal stands the concept of a “blind trust” on its head. Instead of protecting the public from conflicts of interest that a public official may have through “blinding” the official to what he or she owns, the proposed law would allow officials to use their positions for private gain while “blinding” the public to what’s going on.

[Financial Disclosure; Fines; Amendments; Investigations]

The bill requires the Commission to treat an amended disclosure form as if it were the original, so long as the form is filed by Sept. 1st. The intent is to allow an official to file an incorrect disclosure, be notified of the error when a citizen has investigated and files a complaint, and then correct the filing without consequence if he or she can by Sept. 1st.

Someone is being protected here! And it isn’t the public. Shouldn’t officials take personal responsibility for their actions? Already, officials can amend their forms at any time to fix mistakes. Shouldn’t they treat financial disclosure – which they file under oath and make only because they hold the public trust – as seriously as their income tax returns?

[Ethics Commission Investigative Authority]

Part of the bill would allow the Ethics Commission to investigate possible violations when referred by one of several different officials, thus not requiring those officials to file a complaint with the Commission (and allege that they believe there has been a violation) if they believe a situation should be investigated.

This has been one of the Commission’s recommendations and would be a positive step forward, although still a step short of allowing the Commission to initiate investigations on its own. However, the bill also would limit the Commission’s jurisdiction to investigate if the complaint or referral is filed within 30 days of an election against a candidate. This extends the 5-day limitation that is in the current law to 30 days.

This appears to take a step backward – why do public officials need even greater protection?

[Voting Conflicts of Interest]

This is a very technical subject, one that I spent hours lecturing on at various seminars. Currently, State-level officers (as opposed to local government officials) can vote on measures in which they have a conflict of interest, but are required to disclose the conflict within 15 days of the vote (if an elected official), or prior to the vote (if an appointed official). A conflict is created when the measure under consideration would inure to the special private gain or loss of the official, of a principal by whom the official is retained, or of a relative or business partner of the official.

The bill would prohibit State-level officers from voting on a measure that would inure to their special private gain or loss. That is a change in the law. They still would be allowed to vote on matters benefiting their principals, relatives, and business partners but would have to disclose the conflict within 15 days.

It also would amend the law on when State and local officials have a conflict requiring them to abstain and/or disclose the conflict, by defining “special private gain or loss.”

[Gifts from PC’s and CCE’s]

This section creates an entirely new prohibition against some gifts being given to public officials and their families by Political Committees and Committees of Continuous Existence. But not all gifts – just the ones that are “not primarily related to contributions, expenditures, or other political activities” under Ch. 106.

Without seeing any examples of what is intended or without having a specific definition, it is difficult to determine what would be “primarily related to” contributions, expenditures, or other political activities, and what would not. It may be that a definition would make this clearer.

Click here to read the full Phil Claypool Memo to Integrity Florida – Ethics Reform Bill Analysis

US Supreme Court Voting Rights Case and its impact on Florida

The US Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder beginning today. The issue according to the SCOTUS Blog is, “Whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.”

The ruling on this case will impact as many as five Florida Counties. According to Larry Kahn of KeysNet.com, “Section 5 covers Monroe and four other Florida counties, as well as some local jurisdictions in California, North Carolina, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York and South Dakota. It also covers all of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Alaska, Arizona and Virginia.”

Kahn reports, “Last year, then-Monroe County Elections Supervisor Harry Sawyer battled Gov. Rick Scott on the national stage over how many early-voting days should be allowed in the November election. Scott ultimately won — eight days instead of Sawyer’s preferred 14 — but that battle and more will be heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Kahn notes, “‘Last year we got an umbrella from Section 5 because it helped Mr. Sawyer fight and the voters were heard from,’ said Elections Supervisor Joyce Griffin. ‘If we weren’t under Section 5, they wouldn’t have been heard from’.”

Mr. Sawyer wanted to use Section 5 of the voting rights act to bypass the governor and state of Florida.

In the column, “Voting Rights at the Supreme Court Today“, Amy Payne reports:

The Voting Rights Act provides “broad and powerful protection against discrimination,”explains Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky, a former Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Regardless of the Supreme Court’s take on Section 5, the Voting Rights Act remains in effect to protect all Americans from voter discrimination.

But Section 5 outlived its purpose decades ago—and the federal government is still forcing some voting jurisdictions to justify all of their local rule changes. Von Spakovsky points out:

[Section 5] effectively presumes that all voting-related actions by certain states and jurisdictions are discriminatory and therefore requires that they obtain pre-approval from the federal government for otherwise ordinary and routine actions, such as moving a polling station from a school that is under renovation to another one down the street or drawing new redistricting plans. This is a major and unusual imposition on state sovereignty.

What was originally intended to safeguard individual liberty has become a way for the feds to attack state liberty. For the Department of Justice and many activists, Section 5 merely exists to bully local authorities.

Von Spakovsky says that if Section 5 were struck down, “The only change would be to curb the abuses of federal bureaucrats and check the power and influence of the liberal activist groups that rely on Section 5 to enforce their agendas.”

Watch this Heritage Foundation video to understand what the arguments on Section 5 are: