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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — February 24

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If you only read one thing: Slugging it out in the Senate [Tampa Bay Times Column]. Some highlights:

"This is like discovering Ronald Reagan was the paterfamilias of Dennis Rodman."

"Now LeMieux may be many things — declasse, cheesy, conniving and smarmy. But pointing out Mack has anger management issues rivaling Mel Gibson hardly rises to the level of amorality."

"Why would Mack even want to ascend to the Senate, since it seems he doesn't really want to spend that much time in Washington? Since the first of the year, Mack has missed 29 of 33 votes. This chap spends less time on the job he has than Maynard G. Krebs."

"Is it too late for Charlie Sheen to jump into the race?"

Also hitting on the Mack front in the last 24 hours: Appraiser seeks Mack documents [Tampa Tribune],  Connie Mack's record of arrests, financial problems getting scrutiny [Florida Times Union editorial], LeMieux: Mack Is ‘Charlie Sheen' of Florida Politics [AP] Florida Senate race gets personal [the Weekly Standard] Rep. Connie Mack defends reputation after allegations [Miami Herald] Connie Mack Slams Rival As 'Juvenile' After Being Called 'The Charlie Sheen Of Florida Politics' [Huffington Post]

And, if you only read two things today, make this your second one:  GOP Fund-raiser faces inquiries into his races [New York Times] "Federal inquiries surrounding Mr. Buchanan appear to be widening, as investigators examine allegations that his companies improperly reimbursed contributors to his campaigns and claimed improper tax deductions and that he failed to include all his varied financial interests in his Congressional disclosure reports."

Three key takeaways from this article:

Buchanan Under Investigation by the FBI and IRS. “Agents for the F.B.I. and the Internal Revenue Service recently contacted former employees alleging financial improprieties by Mr. Buchanan, who owns a number of auto dealerships thoughout Florida and elsewhere and is one of the richest members of Congress. A federal grand jury in Tampa is hearing evidence in the case as well, according to several people with knowledge of the inquiries.”

New Disclosures Reveal Individuals Involved with Buchanan’s Undisclosed Businesses Contributed $136,000 to His Campaign.  “The House Ethics Committee, meanwhile, is examining his failure in Congressional filings to disclose numerous financial interests and management positions — 17 in all — in another car dealership, a Florida development company, his own family foundation and other organizations. He also failed to report $11,000 in income from at least one of these companies. Blaming accounting oversights, Mr. Buchanan filed four years’ worth of new House disclosure statements last September, belatedly acknowledging these financial interests. But a review of campaign finance reports shows a deep link between his newly disclosed corporate interests and his own fund-raising operations, with donors affiliated with these groups donating more than $136,000 to his campaigns.”

Contributions by Individuals Involved with Buchanan Businesses Were Illegally Reimbursed. “The election commission’s investigation established that three of Mr. Buchanan’s Florida dealerships used corporate money to reimburse employees for tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to his 2006 and 2008 campaigns. Some executives and employees, who donated thousands of dollars each after rarely, if ever, making a contribution before, said they were reimbursed through cash ‘bonuses,’ or offered trips on Mr. Buchanan’s corporate jet and to his Colorado home, according the commission’s investigation. Commission investigators also found that the reimbursed contributions were part of an “extensive and ongoing scheme” by the dealerships to hide the source of the donations, in violation of federal law.”

The budget — wasn't education supposed to be a priority?

Florida Senate OKs $70.7 billion budget; stage set for talks with House over $1.5 billion gap [Palm Beach Post] "The almost $400 million cut spread across 10 of the state's 11 universities is rattling higher education. Florida Atlantic University would lose $47 million, one-third of its state operating dollars. The Palm Beach County Commission on Thursday went to bat for FAU, saying it will help the school lobby lawmakers to back off the proposed reduction. 'Cuts at that level will not be merely difficult to deal with -- they will be disastrous,' FAU President M. J. Saunders warned in a Op-Ed piece in The Palm Beach Post."

Other news we thought you should know:

VIDEO: Scott comes under fire for hefty campaign contribution [Florida Independent] "Rick Scott has come under fire for a recent campaign contribution from Coral Gables entrepreneur Miguel Fernandez, chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners, a 'private equity firm that invests in healthcare companies.' MBF recently gave a committee affiliated with Scott a hefty $125,000 donation, leading some critics to speculate that the donation comes as a 'thank you' of sorts for Florida’s Medicaid overhaul."

News from Marco Rubio — he used to be a Mormon [Tampa Bay Times] "News broke Thursday that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio was baptized as a Mormon at age 8, when his family lived in Las Vegas."

Jeb Bush finds Republican debates "Troubling" [Washington Post] "'It’s a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people’s fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective and that’s kind of where we are,' former Florida governor Jeb Bush said in a Dallas speech Thursday, Fox News reported."