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Florida Democratic Party News Clips - March 19, 2013

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NEW PPP POLL OUT TODAY: Rick Scott's approval at 33-percent, compared with 57-percent disapproval

RICK SCOTT'S FIRST FAILURE: 'PLENTY OF RED FLAGS' AHEAD OF CARROLL APPOINTMENT 

Jennifer Carroll Financial Disclosure Flawed [Capitol News Service] "Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll resigned last week after talking with law enforcement investigators over consulting work she did for Allied Veterans of the World – the internet cafe operator that skimmed hundreds of millions of dollars that should have gone to charity. A review of Carroll’s financial records should have raised red flags for the Rick Scott administration long before last week...By the time Jennifer Carroll was sworn in as Florida’s 18th Lt. Governor there were plenty of red flags in her financial disclosure that should have raised concerns for Rick Scott and his administration. As a state legislator, Carroll failed to disclose a list of her assets for two years, and for one of the years, a list of her debts. Integrity Florida calls the filings just the beginning of one error after another...The Rick Scott campaign used two Washington DC firms to vet Carroll. A very high level staffer to Rick Scott campaign told us it was quote 'pretty hard to believe' the mistakes were missed. Advocates say, the Carroll case alone is reason for the Ethics Commission to have more power to investigate blatant errors and mistakes."

Romano: Did Anyone Know Jennifer Carroll Had Done Such a 'Fantastic' Job? [Tampa Bay Times Op-Ed] "'I believe I did a fantastic job.' Nope, can't say that I saw that one coming. I mean, it's not a hard and fast rule, but when 'Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation' and 'resignation' are in the same sentence, the term 'fantastic' is typically not the first description that comes to mind... Naturally, Carroll is entitled to her own opinion. And she knows better than anyone what she accomplished behind the scenes for a governor with a dramatically low approval rating. But I can't help wondering if a lack of humility or self-awareness wasn't part of the problem."

 

GOP ETHICS REFORM 'FLAWED,' 'NOT ENOUGH'

On Ethics Reform, 'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back,' Expert Says [Tampa Bay Times] "A leading ethics expert in Florida said Monday that the Legislature's efforts to strengthen state ethics laws are 'one step forward and two steps back' and in some cases would make things more lax than they are now. Attorney Phil Claypool, the retired executive director of the Commission on Ethics, appeared at a news conference with Integrity Florida, the Tea Party Network and Progress Florida -- all groups that say the current ethics proposals before the Senate and House are not strong enough. They critiqued the legislative proposals on the eve of a scheduled vote Tuesday in the House Ethics & Elections Subcommittee. 'It's not progress,' said Claypool, who worked for the ethics agency for more than three decades."

Groups: Ethics Legislation Not Strong Enough [News Service of Florida] "Hoping that the resignation of former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll provides an opportunity to press their cause, a coalition of groups from across the political spectrum called Monday for lawmakers to strengthen pending ethics legislation. The groups spoke ahead of a meeting today where a House subcommittee is set to hear its version of ethics reform, a bill that the organizations said strengthens some provisions of the Senate bill but also weakens other key aspects...'We feel this is an historic opportunity and a critical opportunity to see meaningful ethics reform, and we really want to make sure that that happens this time around,' said Damien Filer, political director of Progress Florida, a liberal organization."

Groups Concerned That Ethics Bills Are Flawed [AP] "Groups on both sides of the political spectrum believe ethics bills being considered by the House and Senate are flawed and don't go far enough. Representatives from The Tea Party Network, Progress Florida and Integrity Florida joined a former executive director of the Florida Commission on Ethics on Monday to point out what they believe are flaws in the bills. While they said there are some good aspects to the bill, like more power to collect fines, there are also provisions they said make the states ethics laws weaker. These include allowing officials to correct their financial disclosure forms after someone files a complaint."

Bipartisan Coalition Urges Ethics Reformers To Go Further [WFSU] "In the wake of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll’s resignation amidst a racketeering probe, a bipartisan coalition is calling for stronger ethics reform in Florida. The group warns, the bill the Senate passed on day one of session takes steps backward instead of forward. And a bill a House panel will consider on Tuesday does not go far enough, they say...The coalition is calling for much stricter reform than what’s in the bill the Senate unanimously passed and in the one going before a House committee."

Coalition Calls For Ethics Improvements [The Florida Current] "The former executive director of the Florida Commission on Ethics joined a broad coalition Monday in warning that pending legislation aimed at improving the ethical climate of state government still leaves gaping holes that would protect politicians more than the public...'Florida is No. 1 in corruption,' said Dan Krasner, head of Integrity Florida, a nonpartisan watchdog group. 'And our lawmakers have to tell the people of Florida if that's acceptable or not.'"

 

CYBERATTACK ON MIAMI-DADE ELECTIONS WEBSITE

Cyberattack on Florida Election is First Known Case in US, Experts Say [NBC] "An attempt to illegally obtain absentee ballots in Florida last year is the first known case in the U.S. of a cyberattack against an online election system, according to computer scientists and lawyers working to safeguard voting security. The case involved more than 2,500 'phantom requests' for absentee ballots, apparently sent to the Miami-Dade County elections website using a computer program, according to a grand jury report on problems in the Aug. 14 primary election. It is not clear whether the bogus requests were an attempt to influence a specific race, test the system or simply interfere with the voting. Because of the enormous number of requests – and the fact that most were sent from a small number of computer IP addresses in Ireland, England, India and other overseas locations – software used by the county flagged them and elections workers rejected them."

Florida Cyberattack On Absentee Ballot Site Is First Known Case Of Online Election Tampering: Report [Huffington Post] "A Florida website became the first known target of an election-focused cyberattack last year, when more than 2,500 'phantom requests' for absentee ballots were made from international locations, NBC News reported Monday. The Miami Herald first reported in February about the irregularities on the election website, which took submissions for absentee ballots. The Herald found that 2,552 requests were filed to a Miami-Dade County elections website over a two-and-a-half week period in July, primarily targeting Democratic voters ahead of upcoming primary elections. They came on behalf of voters who had not actually applied for absentee ballots and were tracked to a few Internet Protocol addresses registered in India, the United Kingdom and other foreign countries. NBC reports that the incident has been officially documented and is being met with concern among election watchers as the first attack of its kind."

 

NAN RICH: GOP'S MEDICAID POLICY A 'RACE TO THE BOTTOM'

Former State Sen. Nan Rich Editorial: Florida’s GOP-led Legislature in Race to Bottom on Medicaid [Miami Herald] "Florida’s legislators faced a critical moral decision as they began the 2013 legislative session. The question was would they engage in a 'race to the bottom' in healthcare by refusing to take the federal funding for Medicaid expansion to almost one million low-income Floridians? Or would they take the high road of compassion and caring for real working people who are not merely numbers on a legislative budget spreadsheet? I am disappointed the Republican-controlled Legislature took the low road by rejecting Medicaid expansion and the accompanying federal dollars that would have provided healthcare to one million more Floridians."

 

SENATE GOP REJECTS COMMONSENSE ELECTIONS REFORMS

Partisan Sparks Fly as Senate Panel OKs Voting Bill [Tampa Bay Times] "It was bound to end sooner or later, and it did on Monday. The bipartisan cooperation that marked early work on an elections bill vanished Monday as Democrats on the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee repeatedly forced roll-call votes on amendments the Republican majority opposed. The GOP prevailed on a series of 8-5 votes. That also was the vote on the bill (SB 600), sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, the panel's chairman. A visibly peeved Latvala at one point said he would consider giving way on a point the Democrats wanted, 'but not now,' he said, and he quickly left the hearing without speaking to reporters. With other Republicans rallying around Latvala, the GOP-crafted bill has two major provisions that worry election supervisors: a requirement that anyone voting absentee must have an adult witness their signature, and a requirement that anyone who wants an absentee ballot mailed to an address other than their voting address must fill out an affidavit."

Bipartisan Voting Reform Effort Comes to an End in Florida Senate Committee [Palm Beach Post] "Senate Ethics and Elections Committee Chairman Jack Latvala hoped for a unanimous thumbs-up on a measure designed to fix the election woes highlighted by long lines at voting sites last November. Instead the St. Petersburg Republican stormed out of the committee meeting room Monday after all Democrats – including Vice Chairwoman Eleanor Sobel of Hollywood – voted 'no.'[...]Senate Democrats said the early voting changes proposed by this year’s bill don’t go far enough to undo the damage created by a 2011 elections package (HB 1355) that shrank the number of early voting days from 14 to 8 and imposed new requirements along with stiff penalties for third-party registration groups. A federal court overturned the third-party voter registration part of that law, but the rest remained intact."