Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Florida Cabinet Reinforces Rep. Janet Long's Legislation to Reign In Public Adjusters -- HB1181

After nearly five years, claims that continue to be filed against insurance companies as a result of Hurricane Wilma are being considered by the state’s top political leaders.

State Representative Janet Long (D-St. Petersburg) said “recognition of the problem by the Governor, Chief Financial Officer and Attorney General adds further importance and urgency” to a bill she filed this week that would limit the time that claims can be filed. Current law allows five years. Representative Long’s bill (HB 1181) reduces that limit to three years. The bill’s Senate companion is SB 2264 by Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton.

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today said she believes three years “is plenty of time to know if you had damage from a hurricane.” The CFO made the comment at today’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet and a subgroup, the State Board of Administration (SBA), which serves as trustees for the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. Attorney General Bill McCollum agreed, saying cutting off hurricane claims after some reasonable period “just makes common sense.” Governor Charlie Crist has also expressed interest in the bill.

The issue surfaced as the SBA was being asked to authorize another bond issue to help fuel the CAT Fund to cover new or reopened claims stemming from Hurricane Wilma.

Hurricane Wilma hit Florida on Oct. 24, 2005. Wilma-based claims have lagged far worse than claims after even Hurricane Andrew, the most expensive hurricane in insured losses in Florida history. Almost daily, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and private insurers receive new or reopened claims from Hurricane Wilma. Roughly 90 percent of all claims from Hurricane Andrew were received within six months of when the hurricane made landfall August 1992; about 95 percent were received within nine months; and between 98 and 99 percent were received within a year.

A cottage industry known as public adjusters has sprung up in recent years, enticing thousands of homeowners to reopen claims against insurance companies. Using mailers and campaign-like flyers and door hangers, public adjusters lure homeowners with promises of extracting more money from insurance companies if the homeowner allows them to re-open or even file a new claim against insurance carriers.

The problem has become so pernicious that several companies have gone bankrupt in the past two years and CAT Fund officials have been forced to float two bond issues to raise the cash needed to cover its debt. With the continued wave of re-opened claims, CAT Fund officials returned to the Florida Cabinet today requesting a third bond issue to cover the growing debt that SBA Director Ash Williams admitted his agency is still trying to understand.

Director Williams told the Governor and Cabinet members that the SBA is trying to “understand why that claims experience is surprising us on the upside.”

Governor Charlie Crist asked, “What is going on, you think?” Williams cited three factors, including what he termed “the explosion in the public adjuster industry.”

The Hypocrisy Continues: How Many Recovery Act Dollars Have Florida Republicans Requested From The Federal Government?

From FDP:

Republicans have had a hard time explaining themselves in the last few weeks after it was found that more than 120 of them have been complete hypocrites on the Recovery Act. They vote against it and rail against it in Washington, then go back to their districts and attend ribbon cuttings for projects funded by the Recovery Act or they write federal agencies requesting Recovery dollars for projects in their districts, saying the projects will "create jobs."

We know that many Florida Republicans have been found to be hypocrites - Reps. Brown-Waite, Stearns, Mica, Young, Putnam, Posey, Rooney, Ros-Lehtinen, and the Diaz-Balart brothers. Some of them have had their letters to federal agencies released as a result of inquiries by news organizations. But what about the rest of the Republican delegation?

We call on Reps. Miller, Crenshaw, Bilirakis, Buchanan, and Mack to release all the letters, emails or other correspondence they have sent to federal agencies requesting Recovery Act funding, or letters of endorsement for projects they have provided to other groups or branches of government.

"It's time to clear the air on this -- economists from all walks of life and the CBO have said the Recovery Act worked to save or create more than 2 million jobs and kept our economy from falling into depression. And it was passed with only three Republican votes," said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff. "It's now time for Republicans to show their hand - are they attending ribbon cuttings for projects and requesting funding from the bill they voted against and continue to decry? Or are they playing politics with their constituents' economic security and turning down job creating projects that would stimulate their local economy?"

On the Day of Bipartisan Jobs Vote - Where Are Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio's Plans to Get Florida Back to Work?

From Kendrick Meek:

As the Senate voted on the HIRE Act this morning, a commonsense job creation package that will create thousands of new jobs across Florida and more than a million jobs across the nation, the Kendrick Meek For Florida campaign is asking where Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio's jobs plans are. The bipartisan bill that the Senate voted on has four key provisions, including a payroll tax holiday for businesses to encourage hiring, additional funds to help small businesses expand, an extension of the Highway Trust Fund to allow more infrastructure investments, and an expansion of the Build America Bonds program to allow states finance infrastructure projects. Will Rubio and Crist lend their support to this bipartisan bill? If not, when will they release their own plans to get Floridians back to work?

"As the Senate voted on a jobs creation package, where are Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist's plans for getting Floridians back to work?," said Abe Dyk, campaign manager for the Kendrick Meek for Florida campaign. "Rubio and Crist should tell Florida voters if they support the bipartisan job creation bill in the Senate and if not, why they don't."

According to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which created over 2 million jobs last year, has boosted the US economy by 3.5%, and has lowered the unemployment rate by up to 2.1%. The CBO projects that the stimulus will have an even greater impact in 2010.

Statement By Leader Franklin Sands --- Regarding the Election of Janet Cruz, Florida House District 58

“On behalf of the members of the Florida House Democratic Caucus, it is with great joy and pride that I offer congratulations to Tampa native Janet Cruz on her election.

“The people of Florida are longing for prosperity, stability and a legislature that works in a bipartisan manner. As the representative for Florida House District 58, Janet will be a determined advocate for the residents in Hillsborough County and all Floridians.

“I wish Janet much success in the challenging tasks that await her. She can be assured that every member of our caucus will welcome her warmly as we strive to create a better future for Florida.”

Kendrick Meek on the Tragic Death of Cuba Prisoner of Conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo

Kendrick Meek today issued the following statement following the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a prisoner of conscience in Cuba who passed away after a 47-year arbitrary prison detention by the brutal Castro regime.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Orlando’s mother, Reina Luisa Tamayo, and his family at this most difficult time. The Cuban government’s stunning lack of respect for human rights was highlighted by Orlando as much in his life as in his death. He stood for freedom in the face of indignity and joins those who have put their lives on the line for the reality of a free Cuba. His stand was an act of conviction – a call for freedom in the face of oppression.”

In 2003, Amnesty International declared Orlando a “prisoner of conscience” in recognition of his extraordinary courage.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thurman Letter To Crist: Campaign's Use Of Sansom Shows Why Special Prosecutor Is Need In RPOF Case

Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman send the following letter to Governor Crist today, renewing demands that Crist appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate allegations of corruption at the Republican Party of Florida. A copy of the letter can be downloaded by clicking here.

February 23, 2010

The Honorable Charlie Crist
The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Dear Governor Crist,

I write today to once again demand that you start an independent investigation into the alleged corruption at the Republican Party of Florida by appointing a Special Prosecutor.

As you may know, your Campaign Manager Eric Eikenberg released a statement yesterday to the press requesting that Speaker Marco Rubio provide all relevant documents regarding the ongoing investigation of Speaker Ray Sansom:

"As you are well aware, your hand picked budget chief, Rep. Ray Sansom, resigned from his House seat yesterday... It is essential that the Republican primary voters and the people of Florida understand the role that a potential U.S. Senator might have played in matters that are now under investigation. To that end, we are confident that you will agree to release all emails and documents between Rep. Sansom, yourself, and your respective staff. We look forward to your response."

While I remain disappointed by your refusal to take action to hold Sansom accountable, it is encouraging that after 15 months of ignoring Republican corruption in Tallahassee, you finally recognize that Floridians are fed up with Republican politicians who have protected their political cronies rather than doing what is right for Florida.

Over that time, information that came to light in large part because of the investigations into Speaker Sansom have led to many more allegations of corruption within the Republican Party of Florida. Almost all of these allegations have one thing in common - the RPOF AmEx cards that were given to Republican politicians including Speaker Rubio, Rep. Dean Cannon, Sen. Jeff Atwater, and many others.

Unfortunately, despite a mountain of evidence and allegations from many leading Republicans of corruption at the RPOF, AG Bill McCollum refuses to order an investigation. With AG McCollum's reported involved in many of the backroom dealings at the RPOF, this conflict of interest serves to question his motivation not to investigate.

Based on your apparent change of heart yesterday, I would like to renew my demand today that you appoint a Special Prosecutor because only an independent investigation can legitimately determine if crimes were committed by Republican politicians like Rubio, Cannon, and Atwater, and discover why Attorney General Bill McCollum has refused to take action on the matter.

To echo Mr. Eikenberg, it is essential that the people of Florida understand the role that our state's elected leaders played in the current scandals plaguing the Republican Party of Florida.

We look forward to your response.


Karen Thurman

Chair, Florida Democratic Party

Putting polluters first

One would assume that if you were running to be the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, you would want to have at least a middle-of-the road record on fighting corporate pollution.

After all it is this cabinet member who is supposed to look out for Florida’s consumers and fight to make sure that the food we put on our dinner table is suitable for consumption.

That means taking on polluters, fighting for food safety and ensuring that our food is free from dangerous chemicals like harmful pesticides and other toxins.

Not Adam Putnam.

Congressman Adam Putnam rated near the bottom – even worse than most GOP House members – on a recent environmental scorecard.

You already know about his anti-Florida/anti-jobs position on oil drilling, but you probably didn’t know that Putnam sided with corporate polluters and other special interests 86% of the time... worse than 8 other Florida Republicans!

Scott Maddox will always stand up for you and for the safety of your family.

Help us send a message to those who want to poison our water, our air and our food that you have had enough of career politicians like Adam Putnam.

Join us today.


Scott Maddox

PS: To see the environmental scorecard, go to:


House Democrats Call For Good Government Reforms to Restore Public Trust

Florida House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands today praised House Democratic Caucus members’ proposals to restore honesty, integrity and openness to state government.

“The people’s trust has been violated through abuse and corruption by elected officials and other public servants,” said Sands, D-Weston. “Florida House Democratic Caucus members seek changes to restore faith in the government. We urge Republican legislative leaders to join us in supporting good-government reforms, and to make these initiatives a high priority of the 2010 legislative session.”

Florida House Democratic Caucus members have filed bills that would:

· Require state laws and budgets to be written in a truly transparent manner consistent with Florida’s government-in-the-sunshine traditions;

· Encourage greater public participation in government and elections; and

· Lead toward an open and accountable state government that honors the public’s right to know.

“Important bills filed by members of the House Democratic Caucus will help put an end to the culture of corruption that is pervasive in politics today,” said Sands. “These ideas are presented to help make certain that Florida’s leaders serve the people’s interests, not the special interests.”

Among the “good government” bills filed by Florida House Democrats are:

House Joint Resolution 241. Expanding The Public’s Access. Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, (D-Sarasota). HJR 241 is a proposed constitutional amendment that requires budget documents to be user friendly and easy to understand. The amendment would prevent last-minute backroom budget and legislative deals that avoid public input and scrutiny.

The resolution requires:

· Budget documents must be user friendly, easy to read and understandable;

· A three-fourths vote is necessary to allow an amendment on the House floor during the last week of session to reduce the back room last minute deals showing up for a vote without public scrutiny;

· Members of conference committees are prohibited from discussing legislative matters among themselves, except at noticed public meetings;

· A two-thirds vote of both chambers is required to enact public records or public meeting exemptions; and

· Citizens are allowed the right to challenge in court the rules governing public access to documents and meetings.

Several caucus members are sponsoring bills to clarify to public officials what they may not do with the power of the office the people entrust to them. Among the bills are:

House Bill 585. Rep. Ari Porth (D-Coral Springs) Standards of Conduct/Restoring Faith in Public Office Act: The bill bolsters the state’s Official Misconduct law by imposing tougher criminal penalties on a public servant who, with corrupt intent, willfully fails to disclose certain financial interests and other benefits.

House Bill 489. Rep. Adam Fetterman (D-Port St. Lucie) Public Corruption: The bill increases the penalties when a person uses their public authority to commit a crime.

House Bill 533. Rep. Mark Pafford (D-West Palm Beach) Testimony Before the Public Service Commission: The bill requires individuals who provide public comment at PSC hearings to disclose any financial relationship with a utility company. It helps to ensure that the commission makes an informed decision about how the relationship might affect their comments. The bill also requires the financial interest to be disclosed, including charitable contributions, gifts or any positions of governance that are held by an employee of a public utility within the organization represented.

House Bill 587. Rep. Adam Fetterman (D-Port St. Lucie) Voting Conflicts: The bill prohibits legislators from voting on bills that would result in their personal gain, their family’s gain or any business/group they work with from gaining. It also requires disclosure of interests before legislation is considered, and requires written disclosure within a certain time period after a vote on legislation is taken.

House Bill 1153. Rep. Martin Kiar (D-Parkland) Bribery or Misuse of Public Office: The bill aims to make it easier for citizens and the attorney general to hold public officials accountable when they violate the public trust.

Thurman: Sansom Investigation Exposed True Republican Culture Of Corruption In Tallahassee

Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman, who first called on Sansom to resign on Dec. 3, 2008, released the following statement reacting to the resignation of disgraced Speaker Ray Sansom late last night:

"Over the course of the past 15 months, since I first called on Speaker Ray Sansom to resign, the investigations into his alleged corruption scheme have uncovered a true Republican culture of corruption in Tallahassee.

"Republican politicians living large off the RPOF AmEx slush fund, secret backroom dealings, and wasteful spending that only benefits Republican leaders in Tallahassee have all come to light thanks to the investigations into Sansom.

"But while Sansom's resignation is a step in the right direction, given the news accounts of much larger corruption schemes infecting the Republican Party, Sansom's actions today do very little to clean up the Republican corruption festering in Tallahassee.

"Just like in the Sansom case, Florida's chief law enforcement officer, A.G. Bill McCollum refuses to hold Republican politicians accountable by ordering an investigation into the alleged corruption at the Republican Party.

"Since McCollum's conflicts of interest serve to question McCollum's motivation not to investigate, last week I called for Governor Crist to appoint a Special Prosecutor because only an independent investigation can legitimately determine if crimes were committed by Republican politicians and party officials. Yet, Governor Crist refuses to even acknowledge these calls, let alone do his job by taking action.

"And for most Floridians, the most disappointing lesson from the Sansom case isn't about what was uncovered, but what we were reminded of -- that for the Republican politicians in Tallahassee, Sansom's abuse of power was as they say 'just business as usual' in our state's capital.

"Unfortunately, we only have to look to Sansom's mentor, Speaker Marco Rubio, to prove that point with Turnpike contracts, jobs at FIU, sweetheart mortgages, and Rubio's refusal to release his RPOF AmEx card statements.

"Because Floridians deserve more from our elected officials, Florida Democrats will continue holding Republicans accountable and fighting to clean up Republican corruption in Tallahassee."

Kendrick Meek Receives Endorsement from the Florida Chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters

The Florida chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters endorsed Kendrick Meek in the Democratic primary today outside of a Jacksonville fire house.

"We salute Florida's firefighters, brave men and women who run into harm's way, not away from it. Florida's firefighters and their families know firsthand how this recession hits home in Florida. They are being asked to do more with less and are working in our neighborhoods where communities are being challenged and jobs are lacking. To stand beside some of Jacksonville's finest citizens is an honor, and my work to bring home more resources to our state will benefit their work. I am honored to receive their endorsement today," said Kendrick Meek, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

A former captain with the Florida Highway Patrol and First Responder, Kendrick Meek was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police last week in Orlando.

Statement By Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson On Thrasher RPOF Election

Florida Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) on Saturday issued the following statement in response to Sen. John Thrasher’s election as Republican Party Chairman:

“While I wish I could congratulate John Thrasher on winning the Chairmanship of the Florida Republican Party, I am very concerned with his offensive language used this morning during a speech to Republican activists. In his comments, Sen. Thrasher referred to voters that register with the Democratic Party as his “enemy.” John Thrasher’s language is beyond the pale and offensive to the nearly 4.7 million voters who identify themselves as Florida Democrats.

“Unfortunately, John Thrasher is no longer fit to serve as Chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee nor serve on the Reapportionment Committee. Both positions require bipartisan cooperation, and John Thrasher has demonstrated that he is incapable of conducting himself in such a manner.

“On Monday, I will make a formal request to Senate President Jeff Atwater to remove Senator Thrasher from the Ethics and Elections and the Reapportionment Committees. President Atwater has expressed a desire that Senate business be conducted in the highest professional and ethical standards. As a result, I am confident that my request will be granted.”

Florida Republicans Double Down on GOP Culture of Corruption With Election of Thrasher As Chairman

The Florida Democratic Party reacted to the election of John Thrasher as RPOF Chairman, issuing the following statement:

"Today, the Republican Party of Florida doubled down on the Republican culture of corruption in Tallahassee. Rather than electing someone to be the voice of Republican grassroots activists or clean up the RPOF mess, Republican insiders instead opted for ethics-lacking, big-spending John Thrasher, who has been convicted twice of breaking Florida's ethics laws," said Eric Jotkoff, Florida Democratic Party spokesman. "Florida's Republican politicians might be celebrating, because they know Thrasher won't shut down their RPOF slush fund, but by rejecting their grassroots supporters, Floridians of all stripes see that Florida's Republican Party is open to only elite member of their smoky backroom club."

Thrasher: Ethically Challenged

Thrasher is an ethically challenged individual, having been fined numerous times for violating ethics laws as both a lawmaker and as a lobbyist; at one point as a lawmaker, Thrasher even admitting to violating the state constitution by unethically lobbying the legislature while serving as a state representative. In Thrasher's first year as House Speaker, he became the first Speaker in the history of the state to violate state ethics laws. Furthermore, Thrasher's chief of staff while House Speaker was embroiled in an ethics scandal surrounding his simultaneous public and private work. Even after leaving the state legislature, Thrasher continued to attract criticism for his ethically questionable lobbying activities.

Thrasher's Excessive Spending

While House Speaker, Thrasher was repeatedly criticized for his excessive spending habits. During that time, Thrasher paid his chief of staff more than double the governor's salary for 11 months of work and his aide-de-camp $113,374 a year. When Thrasher refurnished his office in 1999, he spent thousands on a flight to Texas to look at a new desk. Also in 1999, he voted to expand lawmakers' access to state benefits.

In 1999 and 2000, Thrasher paid an aide who later became his chief of staff $255, 000 for 11 months of work. In 1999, McNamara was paid $127,500 over the six-month period when he served as a policy advisor to Thrasher. MacNamara signed a new five-month contract with Thrasher on July 8, 1999 agreeing to return in January 2000 as Thrasher's chief of staff for $127,500.

In a May 4, 2000 column, Ronald Littlepage, a Times-Union columnist, criticized Thrasher's pay of his Chief of Staff calling it the "most mind-boggling thing" all session.

In February 2001, the Tallahassee Bureau Chief of the Palm Beach Post, S.V. Date, criticized Thrasher's pay of a staffer as "preposterous." Date criticized the $113,874 Thrasher paid his aide-de-camp.

In August 1999, Thrasher spent $3,100 of taxpayer money to fly to Texas to look at a desk. Thrasher traveled to Texas on a state plane with the House's sergeant-at-arms, a clerk, the director of information technology and a project estimator.

Kendrick Meek Receives Endorsement from Florida Education Association, Renews Support for Florida's Class Size Amendment

The Florida Education Association (FEA) announced its endorsement of Kendrick Meek in the Democratic primary this morning at their education conference in Orlando.

"We are gathered in Orlando to fight on behalf of Florida's teachers and students, while the Republican Party of Florida is in town to fight with each other," said Kendrick Meek, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. "We will work together throughout this campaign and in the years ahead to improve Florida's schools and strengthen education to create a more prosperous future for Florida."

"We stood united to reduce class size in Florida and battled the forces of low scholastic expectations wishing to undermine a right our families deserve. Our opponents will never yield and neither will we because as parents and teachers, we know that when it comes to our children and students, we will do whatever it takes to fight for their interests. We can't break our promise to Florida's children, and we won't," added Meek.

"Kendrick has always stood tall for our teachers and educators, and we continue to stand tall with him," said Andy Ford, President of the Florida Education Association. "Together we have battled the special interests who advocate for clients, not our children, and thanks to the class size amendment, teachers can educate our students in classrooms instead of lecture halls. Kendrick has always put education first, and we put him first too."

A graduate of the public school system, Kendrick Meek, a longtime advocate for Florida's schools, was chairman of Florida's Coalition to Reduce Class Size in 2002 and wrote an op-ed in Thursday's Palm Beach Post in support of class size, titled: "Smaller classes a win for kids: Challenges to size amendment will fail."

Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman's Statement In Support of President Obama's Announcement of Additional Assistance for Hardest-Hit Housing

Today, President Obama announced a new program that will help homeowners in struggling housing markets where home prices have fallen more than 20% from their highest point. Funds to help struggling homeowners will be administered through housing finance agencies and will be used with local challenges in mind. In response to this announcement, Florida Democratic Party spokesman Karen Thurman released the following statement:

"President Obama's announcement is welcome news for Florida's homeowners who are still struggling to make ends meet. It is also further evidence that the President and Democratic Leaders are serious about helping the middle class and will not rest until the American Dream is restored. This program is an important step towards stabilizing Florida's housing markets and helping middle class families stay afloat in these difficult times. I want to thank President Obama for his continued attention to the challenges facing Florida's families. And I call on Republicans in Congress to stop playing politics and blocking progress at every turn, and instead start working with Democrats to get our economy back on track."

The program will help in the following areas:

1. Unemployed borrowers

2. "Underwater" borrowers-those who owe more on their home than their home is worth.

3. Borrowers with second liens-borrowers who have a home equity line of credit on their home and problems associated with that.

This new program will help housing finance agencies to take new steps in struggling housing markets to help homeowners stay afloat. Under this new initiative, $1.5 billion of funds made available under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) will be used to improve and expand the work of state and local Housing Finance Agencies (HFA)s. The new initiative will apply to states where housing prices have dropped by 20% or more. This program will be administered with the utmost regard for transparency and accountability and in accordance with existing EESA funding requirements.

Legislation Aimed at Reducing Melanoma's in Florida's Youths Passes Second Committee Stop

Legislation beefing up parental consent requirements for teens using ultraviolet ray-emitting tanning machines and sponsored by Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) passed its second committee stop on Thursday. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure 6-2.

“It’s time we acknowledged the dangers that tanning machines pose to young Floridians and I’m thrilled to see this very important public health issue advance further through the legislative process,” said Sen. Sobel. “The science is simply overwhelming. Tanning machines cause cancer.”

SB 430 will require in-person parental consent for teen tanning machine use and prohibit children under 14 from using dangerous tanning machines. Recent studies, including a report by the World Health Organization, confirmed that there is direct connection between ultraviolet rays emitted by tanning machines and melanomas, which are the deadliest forms of skin cancer. SB 430 strengthens current Florida law and will allow a parent or legal guardian to indicate exactly how many times their teenager may tan over a 12-month period.

“If I could, I would stop all young people from using these dangerous machines,” said Sen. Sobel. “But I am thankful and encouraged by the support of Judiciary Chair Sen. Negron and the rest of the committee for helping put some power back in parents’ hands with respect to teen health.”

The next stop for SB 430 is the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Appropriations.

Sen. Sobel's "Distressed Condominium Relief Act" Sails Through First Committee Stop

State Senator Eleanor Sobel’s (D-Hollywood) legislation to help stimulate the depressed condominium market cleared its first committee stop earlier this week, unanimously passing the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries.

“Florida’s housing market has obviously been one of the hardest hit in the country by this recession” said Sen. Sobel. “My bill makes it easier for long-term investors to buy units, providing relief to the condo market and much-needed fees for battered condo associations.”

The Distressed Condominium Relief Act (Senate Bill 840) eases some of the obligations placed upon a person who wants to acquire seven or more units, called a “bulk buyer.” Currently someone who wants to purchase in that amount is considered a “developer” and can be held liable for problems caused by the original builder, including construction defects. Redefining the potential liabilities of a bulk buyer makes bulk purchases more attractive to potential owners—owners who are willing and able to help shoulder the burden of rising fees and assessments that threaten to overwhelm current owners.

The bill is sponsored in the House by State Representative Julio Robaina (R-South Miami) and has already unanimously passed two committees in that chamber. The next stop for SB 840 is the Senate Committee on Community Affairs.

This is exactly why people are tired of Congress

Congressman Adam Putnam, a career politician, voted to oppose the federal stimulus bill on more than one occasion last year. I can only presume he voted against it because his political bosses inside the beltway told him to do so.

But Politico and the St. Pete Times have reported that he's now saying Florida needs the cash to help with jobs and to balance the state budget. So now he is asking the feds for a waiver to send us the very same dollars he opposed.


This is exactly the kind of hypocrisy Floridians are tired of.

If you’re going to be against the stimulus plan in principle, then you need to live up to your word and not flip-flop from one month to another. I would have told you the truth and I wouldn’t engage in such stunning hypocrisy.

If you are ready to join a team that opposes political hypocrisy and send a message to a career politician that you’ve had enough, help us spread the word.


Scott Maddox

P.S. - In case you missed it, Wikipedia, the worldwide online encyclopedia, literally had Adam Putnam listed under the word “hypocrisy”.


Sen. Sobel’s Python Legislation Wins Unanimous and Bi-Partisan Support at First Committee Stop

State Senator Eleanor Sobel’s (D - Hollywood) bill to prohibit personal ownership of six species of giant reptiles, including Burmese pythons, sailed through its first legislative hearing with a unanimous and resounding “yes” this week, unanimously passing the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee.

“Floridians would agree we have enough snakes in our sunshine state already,” said Sen. Sobel. “We do not want more exotic and invasive giant reptiles living and breeding in Florida. They pose too high a risk to our environment and they can endanger public safety.”

Senate Bill 318 is the only measure currently filed in the Florida Senate which would ban five species of giant snakes and one species of giant lizard, already identified as “Reptiles of Concern” by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Although possession of these species for personal use would be prohibited, current owners will be allowed to keep their pets through a grandfather clause.

“We’ve known for years about the risks posed by Burmese pythons yet they’re still allowed to be imported into the state, breed in the state and be sold within the state. This legislation gives Floridians the power to say: 'enough is enough',” Sobel added.

Passage of the legislation is being aided by Senator Lee Constantine, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation, as well as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Its next stop is in the Senate’s General Government Appropriations Committee.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kendrick Meek in Orlando, Gainesville, Tallahassee Meeting with Florida Families, Students Affected by Economic Downturn

Meek: "Floridians need to hear solutions to our economic woes, not political doublespeak and ideological rhetoric. I stand with Floridians who need leaders to fight for them, not politicians who fight with each other."

Orlando, FL - Kendrick Meek met today with Orlando families and workers living through Florida's worst economic downturn, before continuing to Gainesville and Tallahassee to attend campaign events with students concerned about their job prospects in this economy.

"Florida's middle class, who have worked so hard to provide for their families, are paying the price for other people's recklessness. Floridians deserve an economy that works for all of us and that produces long term jobs transforming this state from recession to recovery. Floridians need to hear solutions to our economic woes, not the political doublespeak we've grown accustomed to from the governor, and the ideological rhetoric from the former speaker - neither of which creates one more job in Florida, nor expands our struggling economy," said Kendrick Meek, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. "We hear about economic recovery in other states, but don't see it in Florida. I stand with Floridians who need leaders to fight for them, not politicians who fight with each other."

On Wednesday, Kendrick met with Florida's law enforcement community and citrus growers. Later this week and next, he will travel to Pensacola, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Daytona Beach to meet with Florida teachers, firefighters, faith leaders, scientists, and engineers to discuss ways to grow Florida's economy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman's Statement on the First Anniversary of the Recovery Act

Bill Has Funded Thousands of Jobs in Florida and Saved Our Economy From Total Collapse

One year ago today, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Since then it has funded up to 2 million jobs nationwide, including jobs in Florida, and saved our economy from total collapse. On the first anniversary of the signing of the bill, Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman issued the following statement:

"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law by President Obama one year ago today, has funded thousands of jobs in Florida and saved our economy from total collapse," said Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman.

"It has kept teachers in the classroom and police officers on the streets. Florida's working families have seen a tax break because of this bill, and small businesses have received loans to help them build their businesses and create more jobs. On this day, I want to thank President Obama and our Democratic Leaders in Congress for their leadership on this issue as they have worked day-in and day-out to get our economy back on track. But this success has come despite the best efforts of Congressional Republicans, who are now happy to reap the benefits of the Recovery Act even though they voted against it.

"While we still have much work to do creating more jobs and rebuilding our economy for the long-term, it's clear that the Recovery Act is doing what it needs to do and is turning our economy around."

House Dems Seek to Increase Citizen Participation in Government & Elections

Several bills sponsored by Florida House Democratic Caucus members that aim to encourage voter participation and turnout in elections were introduced today in a workshop held by the House Government Affairs Policy Committee.

“Floridians are demanding that we continue striving to improve our state’s elections process,” said House Democratic Leader Pro Tempore Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando. “Florida House Democrats are pleased to sponsor several important proposals to increase citizen participation in government and encourage voter turnout for elections. Today’s discussions are a good beginning.”

Among the bills discussed in committee today are:

House Bill 57 – Early Voting -- Rep. Joe Gibbons (D-Hallandale Beach). The bill requires more early voting hours and encourages supervisors of elections to extend early voting to 12 weekend hours. Currently, early voting is limited to 8 hours per weekday and 8 hours in total on weekends. Representative Gibbons also seeks to give supervisors flexibility to place early-voting polling sites at more locations.

House Bill 213 – Congressional Vacancies -- Rep. Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg). The legislation calls for U.S. Senate vacancies to be handled identically to the manner of vacant U.S. House seats. The idea is to ensure that voters—not political officeholders—select their public servants in Washington.

House Bill 681 – Challenging A Person Desiring to Vote -- Rep. Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando). The bill seeks to protect prohibit “voter caging” activities, which can deny residents the opportunity to vote when challenged by someone without actual knowledge of their qualification to vote. Voter caging is often used to target vulnerable populations, including racial minorities and people whose properties are in foreclosure.

House Bill 407 – Student Voter Education -- Rep. Ronald Brise (D-Miami). The bill requires all school boards to work with county elections officials to educate students about the voting process and how to register to vote.

House Bill 835 – Elections -- Rep. Bill Heller (D-St. Petersburg). The bill creates an option for voters to request permanent absent ballots instead of having to renew their absentee ballot request every two years.

House Bill 625 – Voter Information Cards -- Rep. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville). HB 625 requires voter information cards to include polling place addresses. It also requires new voter information cards to be issues when voter’s change address or when their polling place is relocated.

House Bill 869 -- Political Advertisements -- Rep. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) and Rep. Eric Eisnaugle (R-Orlando). The bill is an attempt to address the use of new Internet communications during political campaigns. The bill considers advertising links on sites such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and cell-phone texting for political campaign purposes.

Kendrick Meek Takes Jobs Message to Dover, Fla.; Meets with Local Citrus Growers, Tours Orange Groves

Kendrick Meek Takes Jobs Message to Dover, Fla.; Meets with Local Citrus Growers, Tours Citrus Groves

Vows to Expand and Grow Florida's $9.3 Billion, 90,000 Florida Jobs Industry

Dover, Fla. - Kendrick Meek met with Dover citrus growers this Wednesday, toured local citrus groves and pledged to work with local industry to expand and grow Florida's 9.3 billion, 90,000 Florida job-producing industry.
"After a record setting cold spell and Washington continuously shortchanging our agriculture producers, Florida's farmers and citrus growers are hurting, much like Florida's economy. In Dover, and in every Florida county, agriculture is a vital part of the economic engine of this state, and as Florida's next senator, my commitment is to growing and expanding this Florida-first industry," said Kendrick Meek, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

"The national economy is slowly returning to life, while Florida is being left behind. National unemployment is falling, yet ours is rising, and instead of hearing about solutions to our economic problems, Floridians are listening to non-stop bickering and name calling from politicians. I am fighting for Florida's families to create new jobs for this generation and future ones. My concern is restoring our economy for all Floridians, not the internal discourse and future direction of a political party. I am putting the people of Florida first and the political ideology of party last," added Meek.

Florida's unemployment rate is expected to climb to 12.3 percent later this year, while the national unemployment rate declined to 9.7 percent in January.

Rep. Steinberg and Sen. Hill Sponsor Diversity Bill

Representative Richard L. Steinberg (D-Miami Beach) and Senator Anthony C. “Tony” Hill Sr. (D-Jacksonville) are sponsoring House Bill 1093 during the 2010 session to require state colleges and universities to interview qualified minority applicants when hiring head athletic coaches and athletic directors.

The bill will require Florida’s state colleges and universities to interview at least one qualified minority applicant when hiring a head athletic coach or an athletic director.

The bill is modeled after the National Football League’s ‘Rooney Rule’ which calls for football franchises to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations positions. Currently, there is no such rule for college sports. HB 1093 will promote equitable employment opportunities in college athletics.

“Florida’s university athletic coaching positions are some of the most sought after positions in the nation,” said Representative Steinberg. “I hope that my colleagues in the Legislature will join me in passing this important legislation to ensure that our hiring practices in Florida are fair and that we attract the best talent. Our university teams will benefit tremendously with leadership that more accurately reflects the diversity of their student athletes and fans.”

Kendrick Meek Receives Endorsement From the Florida Fraternal Order of Police

The Florida Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) announced its endorsement of Kendrick Meek in the Democratic primary this morning during their February Board of Trustees Meeting in Orlando.
"Congressman Meek has served Florida's law enforcement community as a Trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol and he served in the Florida Legislature in both the House of Representatives and the Florida Senate as an advocate for education and better opportunities for all Florida citizens. We believe Congressman Meek has worked hard in Washington, D.C. and will continue to represent the best interests of Floridians in the U.S. Senate," stated the Fraternal Order of Police.

In response, Kendrick Meek said: "As a former Captain of the Florida Highway Patrol, I know firsthand the hard work and dedication of the law enforcement community in this state. It is an honor to be endorsed by my brothers and sisters in uniform, some of the finest and most honorable citizens in Florida. Florida's families are in need of economic relief, and that includes Florida's law enforcement families. We are being asked to do more with less, and Florida's law enforcement community deserves better."

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is an organization of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. The Florida FOP Labor Council represents law enforcement professionals and more law enforcement bargaining units than any other union in Florida.

Sen. Dan Gelber Calls on Attorney General to Protect Florida Consumers and Hold Manufacturers Accountable

Four years after first joining with several other states claiming millions of dollars in current and ongoing damages allegedly caused by substandard plastic pipeline, the Florida attorney general’s office has yet to make up its mind on whether it will pursue the class action suit to recover the money.

On Tuesday, state Senator Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) called on the Attorney General to do just that.

“In the four years since the filing of this complaint, your office has failed to take action and has potentially allowed Floridians to suffer serious financial damage as a result of fraud. Florida’s consumers deserve that this complaint be fully investigated to determine if wrongdoing was committed,” wrote Gelber in a letter hand-delivered to Attorney General Bill McCollum.

“Florida has one of the largest and best-equipped attorney general offices in the nation. I urge your office to deploy those resources to ensure Florida’s consumers are protected and the manufacturer is held accountable.”

At issue is polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipeline manufactured by Los Angeles-based JM Eagle and its predecessor company, which was sold throughout the country to cities, towns and counties including in Florida, primarily for use in water and sewer system installations.

A former employee of the company turned whistleblower alleged that the pipe was below industry standards, and deceptively sold to customers in order to boost company profits. The pipe, which is supposed to last for 50 years, has been faulted not only for leaks and breakages, but fires and explosions, some of these occurring within the first year of use.

The litigation outlining the alleged fraud and shoddy production was first filed as a qui tam or whistleblower suit in federal court in 2006. Florida was among the states involved in the action, noting that it was seeking treble damages and penalties under the state’s False Claims Act, and alleging that the substandard pipe was purchased by “state governmental entities, agencies, or subdivisions (including but not limited to counties and school districts).”

According to court documents, the state also claimed that “the Florida State Government has suffered million of dollars in damages and continues to be damaged.”

Gelber also underscored the fact that in the same year in which the lawsuit was drafted, “the Orange County Center Against Domestic Violence in Orlando, which houses adults and children, accepted 3,000 feet of the company’s water and sewer PVC pipes.”

Last week, as the suit was unsealed and the confidentiality requirements cloaking the qui tam action were lifted, documents revealed that although the initiating states such as Nevada and Virginia were pursuing the fraud allegations, Florida was still on the fence, leaving the state’s consumers exposed and potentially on the hook.

The failure to move forward was troubling, Gelber said. “The Florida Attorney General needs to follow the lead of Nevada and Virginia and join forces to protect our citizens as others are protecting theirs. It shouldn’t take another four years to tilt the scales of justice in the right direction.”


Links to the lawsuit and a story published last week by the New York Times on the issue appear below. The State of Florida’s allegations begin on page 60 of the complaint:

Senator Justice Files Bill to Curb Medicaid Fraud

Senator Charlie Justice (D- St. Petersburg) filed legislation Tuesday that sends a strong message to health insurers in the State of Florida: If you steal from the taxpayers, you will lose your license. Senate Bill 1958 states that if any health insurance provider is found to be involved in Medicaid fraud, their license will be suspended, revoked or denied.

“Floridians are sick and tired of paying higher insurance premiums because some bad apples in the health insurance industry don’t take our laws seriously. It’s time we sent them a clear message that we will not tolerate fraudulent behavior,” Senator Justice said.

Similar legislation passed the legislature last year that denied, revoked or suspended licenses of medical providers such as doctors, hospitals and pharmacists that were found to be involved in Medicaid fraud. Justice’s latest bill builds on that legislative foundation.

“The health insurance industry is a huge piece of our overall health care and should be held to the same standards that our medical providers,” Justice said. “Continuing to crack down on the Medicaid fraud epidemic in this state is a sure fire way to bring down health care costs.”

Gelber Comments on passage of unemployment tax relief for businesses

State Senator Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach), Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce issued the following statement on the passage of unemployment tax relief for businesses:

“I commend Sen. Garcia for moving quickly with SB 1666, which addresses a portion of our state’s unemployment crisis. Florida’s small businesses face increases from $8.40 to $100 per employee in unemployment taxes as a result of the more than one million Floridians out of work. This drastic increase is a shock to our businesses who are trying to stay afloat during these challenging times. While the measure passed today is welcome, it is not a permanent fix; a band aid won’t stop an infection from spreading.

“But it is a mistake born out of short-term thinking to turn our backs on the $500 million available to Florida if we modernize our five decade old unemployment system. If the legislature would have had earnest dialogue on this matter last legislative session, we would be in a much different place today, and the sticker shock businesses suddenly confronted would have been far less. Failing to address this portion of the crisis will only hinder our efforts to turn our economy around. Unemployed Floridians who have access to unemployment benefits contribute to our economy and aid in our economic recovery. We cannot ignore this challenge and I urge my colleagues in the Florida House and Senate to address this important issue.”

Contamination Notification Bill Passes First Committee Unanimously

From the Senate Dems:

Legislation to enhance the notification requirements for sites contaminated with harmful toxins passed unanimously through the Senate Environmental Preservation Committee today. The bill, sponsored by Senator Charlie Justice (D - St. Petersburg), is a direct result of a toxic plume affecting residents of Pinellas County. The plume was discovered in 1991, but residents were not made aware of the contamination until 2008, seventeen years later. During that time, the dangerous chemicals have migrated off site affecting two apartment complexes, three neighborhoods, community parks, schools and Tampa Bay.

“If we had the kind of notification standards I propose in this bill, the situation in St. Petersburg would not have grown to the level of putting people’s health, property value and trust at risk.” Senator Justice said.

Presently, the Department of Environmental Protection only notifies the county administrator and any residents that have contamination on their property. Senator Justice’s bill will require notification to also be sent to residents living within 500 feet of the contaminated area, elected officials and community leaders.

“People have the right to know if there are dangerous chemicals potentially affecting their family,” Senator Justice stated. “I am proud to work on this good legislation and ensure that we put a stop to situations like this from happening in the future.”

Senate Bill 602 now goes to the Senate Community Affairs committee.

Kendrick Meek: Keep Commitment To Florida's Schoolchildren

Not too long ago, Florida schools ranked at the bottom of the national barrel, known for being overcrowded and underfunded. Elected leaders were shortchanging parents, children and teachers and failing to invest in our state's long-term economic prosperity, which depends on a highly skilled and educated workforce.

In 2002, a citizen-led initiative supported a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing students the right to smaller class sizes. The amendment, scheduled to go into full effect this fall, limits the number of students in core curriculum classes in grades kindergarten to 3 (18 students), grades 4 to 8 (22 students) and grades 9 to 12 (25 students).

As chairman of Florida's Coalition to Reduce Class Size, I will never forget the hopeless look on the faces of Florida's parents, wanting nothing more than to provide the best public school education for their children but not knowing how to achieve that in overcrowded classrooms.

Ultimately, a broad coalition of more than 2.5 million Florida parents, teachers, students and education supporters voted. The class-size amendment passed, and smaller class sizes are now enshrined in Florida's constitution.

The class-size amendment ensures that teachers can teach in an environment that students can learn, yet politicians have not relented in watering down hard-fought class-size limits while refusing to tackle the special-interest bidding that is alive and well in the state capital.

Those who wish to undermine the amendment often talk about the problem of the 19th child. If a new student transfers into a school during the academic year, they argue, that additional pupil in a class of 18 would result in schools violating class-size requirements. The scare tactic boogeyman is borne out of an unyielding desire to find any argument, no matter how flimsy, to undercut the people's will.

The state Legislature possesses the statutory tools to resolve this non-issue and provide exceptions to schools in such cases.

Since smaller class sizes have come into effect, a consistent improvement in student achievement levels across the state is being realized.

Reading and math proficiency have improved. High school graduation rates have risen. Years of research also illustrate that children in smaller classes are better behaved, less likely to drop out and have higher grade-point averages.

Reducing class size is one tool of many to give our children a better education. This is what we promised our future generations. This is what they deserve. We can't break our promise to Florida's children.

Weekly Word

From Jim Piccillo:

Greetings Friends and Supporters!

The Jim Piccillo for Congress campaign is pleased to send you this 2nd Edition of the Weekly Word. This newsletter is designed to keep all of our supporters "in the loop" about the campaign's progress and activity. Click here to join the team. We hope you find the information helpful and informative. If we didn't address an area you are interested in, please feel free to call or email us. Your feedback is appreciated and, after all, we are here to listen to you!

On the Money

Our fund raising efforts are in full force. We have started the year by making great strides, but still need your help if we are to reach our goal of $100,000 by the end of the quarter (March 31st). Click here to help us reach this critical goal. Jim has been spending countless hours on the phone, calling potential donors and supporters to bring in the money that will showcase the 5th District as winnable for a Democrat this upcoming November. The incumbent is heavily funded by greedy insurance and banking industry PACs. By taking a quick glance at her financial reports on the FEC website it is easy to see who she truly represents.

Community Outreach

Over the past week, Jim met with some of the good folks of our local Unions and also visited Citrus County to meet with the wonderful Democrats at the Central Citrus Democratic Club. While unable to spend as much time with them as he would have liked, Jim was able to answer some questions and learn more about the concerns of the voters in that area. Jim will continue to tour the District, visiting with as many organizations, companies, businesses and Clubs over the course of the next nine months as possible, so that he can learn what issues most affect the people of the 5th District.

Weekly Word: Pressing Issue

In a press release dated February 16, 2010, Jim called upon the incumbent Ginny Brown-Waite (R) to return $2,000 in campaign contributions she accepted from scandal plagued WellPoint insurance (also known as Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of CA). WellPoint has been under fire for increasing their customers premiums by 39% after reporting a $2.7 Billion profit in the 4th quarter of 2009. It is despicable to accept contributions from such a greedy and corrupt organization. WellPoint's price gauging is the perfect example of why we need aggressive healthcare reform.

Spreading the Message

It can't be said enough... together, we will lift the 5th District in Florida back to the glory of the good old days; significantly lower unemployment, generate small business growth and ensure stability to those who have been hardest hit by these tough economic times. This is why we ask, once again, for all Democrats to get involved NOW! The most important part of any campaign is the people who volunteer. Walk with Jim side-by-side on this journey. Please visit to sign up to contribute, host a house party or just volunteer your time to help bring common sense back to Congress. The Republican incumbent continues to talk the talk, but is at a stand-still when it comes to walking the walk. Take this walk, to November and beyond, with Jim Piccillo.

Democratically yours,
Team Piccillo

Rep. Mia Jones Hosts Medicaid Town Hall Meetings

Representative Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville) will host a series of Medicaid Town Hall Meetings to hear from medical providers and patients participating in the Florida Medicaid reform pilot project.

Meetings for people who are enrolled in the Florida Medicaid reform pilot project will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, Feb. 22, and again at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 22. The meetings take place at the Florida State College Jacksonville Downtown Campus Auditorium, 101 W. State Street in Jacksonville.

A meeting for the medical providers will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010 at the Florida State College Jacksonville Downtown Campus auditorium, 101 W. State Street in Jacksonville.

A Medicaid reform project was implemented in August 2006 in Broward and Duval counties. In September 2007, Baker, Nassau, and Clay counties were added to the project. The stated goal has been to improve delivery of health care services by making managed care health plans more flexible, improve services provided to Medicaid beneficiaries, and promote competition among the plans. But as of June 2009, according to an Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) report, little data has been attained to determine the project’s success.

“As a member of the Florida Legislature, my goal is to help create a better Medicaid program that focuses on quality patient care,” said Representative Jones. “Unfortunately, many beneficiaries are not receiving the quality care they need and providers are not being compensated for the services they are delivering. Before the pilot program is expanded, there are many questions that need to be answered. Therefore, I am taking the time to carefully listen to all stakeholders in hopes of finding a formula that works for all of the Floridians that we serve.”

Monday, February 15, 2010

Time for a call

Dear Friend,

Over the last couple weeks, serious and disturbing revelations have come to light over the management of the Republican Party's budget. It's an issue that strikes at the core of the leadership of our state government and the will of Republican elected officials to do their job and investigate.

Newspapers from across Florida have reported about the excessive payments to Republican Party officials, politicians using party funds for their own benefit, and schemes to hide these dealings from public scrutiny.

However, Florida's chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Bill McCollum, has refused to investigate the alleged criminal activity within the Republican Party. Like the career politician that he is, McCollum recently paid lip service to cleaning up corruption by setting up a hotline for taxpayers to call and report alleged corruption so it could be investigated

So it's time for you to take action by picking up your phone and calling that hotline.

Let Attorney General Bill McCollum know that Floridians believe he needs to investigate the RPOF AmEx slush fund now. It'll just take a minute for you to leave your message and let him know you feel he should do his job and investigate.

Call the hotline now at 1 (800) 646-0444, right now. Then click on this link to let us know you did so we can follow up and let you know the outcome.

Last week, State Senators Dave Aronberg and Dan Gelber joined together to send a letter to Attorney General Bill McCollum calling for him to stop delaying and open an investigation:

"As Florida's chief law enforcement officer, it is incumbent on you to formally request an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into the possible criminal activity and public corruption surrounding the RPOF's secret contracts and credit cards."

Even the Republican Party's own former General Counsel Robert Sechen was paraphrased as saying these secret dealings "might also run afoul of a state law governing Florida political parties that makes it a third-degree felony for a chairman or treasurer to knowingly make 'a false or improper accounting for' political money."

We need to let Attorney General Bill McCollum know that the people of Florida want to hold politicians, including McCollum's cronies, accountable by demanding an investigation.

Please, take minute to make a call and let Attorney General Bill McCollum know that he's waited long enough, Floridians expect action, and that means an investigation.

Call the corruption hotline now at 1 (800) 646-0444 and let them know they should investigate. Then click on this link to let us know you did so we can follow up and let you know the outcome.

This is not just a political scandal. There is a serious issue that that reaches the highest level of our state government.

Sadly, the way the Republican Party has managed their own budget isn't too different from how they have managed the state's budget: private slush funds, secret contracts and pay offs for friends. But it's not their money; it's the people's money.

Former Speaker Ray Sansom's scandal has revealed how the Republicans treated the budget as a personal business plan and now the Republican Party's scandal has revealed that literally dozens of GOP legislators treated themselves to private partisan slush funds.

We can't sit by while this lack of leadership continues to be the norm from the Republican political elites of our state. We need to make the call and let Bill McCollum know it has to stop now.

This needs to stop - it's time for you to make a call.

Take a minute to call the corruption hotline now at 1 (800) 646-0444 and let them know they should investigate. Then click on this link to let us know you did so we can follow up and let you know the outcome.

Thank you for standing up and making a call today. With your help, we can make sure that the people know the truth.

Sincerely, Karen L. Thurman

Monday, February 1, 2010

Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Kendrick Meek's Statement On The NASA Budget Announcement

Meek: "I Will Work Tirelessly to Ensure That Florida Remains a Global Center for Space Flight and Discovery."

Miami Gardens, Fla. - Today, U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek issued the following statement regarding the Obama's administration's decision to end the Constellation Program:

"For decades, Floridians have stood at the forefront of innovation and discovery in space. Continuing space exploration is critical to the future of Florida and the nation. It's one element that drives the state's economy.

"Ending manned NASA missions to the moon would put 7,000 direct Florida jobs in jeopardy, as well as thousands of others that support the program. The proposition of losing thousands of Florida jobs is unacceptable.

"These individuals are highly skilled workers who are working hard to keep the United States at the forefront of technological development and scientific study. The fact that we would potentially lose our sharpest minds to China or India because these experts cannot find a job at home would be a major loss for Florida."