In the News

Florida Democratic Party News Clips – May 28, 2013


PolitiFact Florida rates Gov. Rick Scott’s claim on ’700,000 jobs’ promise [Politifact] “Scott said the state is ‘already almost halfway to our 2010 goal of creating 700,000 new jobs in seven years.’ By his preferred measure since taking office — 700,000 jobs regardless of normal growth — he’s in the ballpark. By the measure he asked Floridians to hold him accountable to — 700,000 jobs on top of 1 million jobs in normal growth — he still has quite a long ways to go. We rate his claim Mostly False.”]



Gov. Scott’s justification for rejecting Amazon, jobs, revenue is unreasonable [Bradenton Herald Editorial] “It’s impossible to fathom the tortured logic that Gov. Rick Scott expressed in rejecting a sure-fire jobs initiative from none other than Internet retail giant Amazon. The Seattle-based enterprise offered to build one or two warehouses in Florida with anticipated employment up to a whopping 2,500. But our self-professed jobs governor stood firm on a wrong-headed ideological principle against all “new” taxes. That is a specious argument in this case. The tax already exists.”



Editorial: Scott’s vetoes more about politics than priorities [Palm Beach Post] “Gov. Rick Scott listed these conditions for approving or vetoing a spending item in the state budget: ‘One, is it going to help our families get more jobs? Two, will it help improve our education system in our state? And three, will it help make government more efficient so we keep the cost of living low in our state?’ But if you consider two Palm Beach County projects, you realize that the governor cannot have meant what he said…A better explanation for the governor’s inconsistent vetoes is that he wanted to show tea party voters that, despite the record budget, he’s the same budget-cutter that he was in 2011. And he has a point with his veto of $1 million for Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw’s ‘violence prevention units’ that the sheriff could start with his agency’s money and assess. Of course, the governor also got many emails critical of what some called a rat-out-your-neighbor plan. Other vetoes, though, wiped out money for water and other projects that would serve poorer, rural communities where local resources might be tapped out. Still another cut $1 million in legal aid to the poor. In what the governor calls a “Families First” budget, those cuts will hurt families — just those less likely to vote.”



Ruth: In Florida, the scheme rises to the top [Tampa Bay Times Editorial] “Take Heritage Property and Casualty Co., for example. Just 10 months ago the firm didn’t even exist and had no track record in selling insurance besides a company president with a history of fines and violations from state regulators. But this week Citizens Property Insurance Corp. voted to give Heritage up to $52 million to take up to 60,000 Citizens policies. Talk about the scheme rising to the top. Some nitpickers say this deal stinks to high heaven. Some naysayers kvetch that this is a classic example of insider bigwigs gaming the system. Some holier-than-thou types will look at the $140,000 in political contributions Heritage ponied up to Gov. Rick Scott and the state Republican Party as a damning indictment of the insidious influence of money on policymaking.”

Sweet deals are business as usual in Florida government [Tampa Bay Times Editorial] “It is an amazing place, that capital of ours. A city where campaign donations are forever chaste, and conflicts of interest can never be found. If money trades hands and a favorable decision follows, it’s not considered shady at all. In Tallahassee, that is what is known as a coincidence. We were reminded of this Candyland innocence again this week when a St. Petersburg company got $52 million worth of business from the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Did Heritage Property and Casualty Corp. get a corporate care package because it had donated more than $140,000 to Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Party of Florida? Gosh, no.”



Florida Governor Rick Scott asked to return money to insurer in Citizens Property policy deal [AP] “A leading Florida Democrat is calling on Gov. Rick Scott to return $110,000 in campaign contributions from an insurer. Dan Gelber, a former state senator and potential future statewide candidate, wrote a letter Friday to Scott saying that the deal ‘smells.’ Heritage Property Insurance and Casualty Insurance is getting $52 million as part of an agreement to absorb 60,000 policies now held by Citizens Property Insurance Corp. The Citizens board narrowly approved the deal earlier this week. Heritage donated money to Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, back in March.”



Hue and cry grows over deal for Scott donor [Miami Herald] “Key House Republicans in the Florida Legislature have raised new questions about a unique $52 million deal between an upstart St. Petersburg insurance company and Citizens Property Insurance Corp. House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said he had ‘serious concerns’ about the Citizens deal on Friday, zeroing in on a provision that will allow Heritage Property and Casualty Insurance Company to cherry pick 60,000 insurance polices with no losses, leaving Citizens with a higher concentration of risk. The company also gets up to $52 million from Citizens surplus fund. ‘Once again, Citizens did not provide a sufficient advanced briefing to the Legislature, and the proposal was hastily pushed through a sharply divided board.’ Weatherford said. The deal has created a political firestorm ever since the Herald/Times reported this week that Heritage donated $110,000 to Gov. Rick Scott, just two months before Citizens agreed to transfer $52 million to the new company, which opened for business nine months ago.”

House speaker cites “serious concerns” about Heritage-Citizens insurance deal [Palm Beach Post] “Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford expressed ‘serious concerns’ Friday about an unusual $52 million deal a start-up insurer got from state-run Citizens, and a former Democratic legislator called for Gov. Rick Scott to return a contribution from the firm…Gelber described Heritage as ‘a company trying to obtain a no-bid giveaway from a quasi-state agency over which you have great influence. You make appointments directly to the Citizens board and regularly conduct oversight of them in your role as the leader of the Florida Cabinet.’ Keeping Heritage’s $110,000 contribution in March to Scott’s Let’s Get To Work committee ‘only confirms the dark suspicions so many Floridians have about state government,’ Gelber said.”

Weatherford: I’m ‘highly concerned’ about $52 million Heritage insurance deal [Miami Herald] “The list of lawmakers criticizing Citizens Property Insurance Corp. for a $52 million takeout deal continues to grow, as House Speaker Will Weatherfordsaid Friday that he had ‘serious concerns’ about the plan…Weatherford joins Rep. Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey), Gov. Rick Scott,  Rep. Frank Artiles (R-Miami) and former state senator Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) in slamming Citizens for the deal.”

Fasano questions ‘suspicious timing’ of $52 million Heritage deal [MIami Herald] “Rep. Mike Fasano is the latest official to raise questions about a $52 million take-out deal between an upstart St. Petersburg insurance company and Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Fasano, R-New Port Richey, penned a letter to the state’s Insurance Commissioner on Friday questioning whether Heritage Property and Casualty Insurance has already violated a May 17 consent order from the Office of Insurance Regulation. Heritage has firmly denied the accusation. Fasano alleged that Heritage had been contacting insurance agents and policyholders prior to May 23, when the company officially received approval to take out some 60,000 policies in a $52 million deal. That would be a violation of the OIR’s consent order, Fasano said, citing a part of the agreement that bans Heritage from contacting ‘any potential policyholder, including sending communication regarding this depopulation’ prior to the deal being signed.”



Sen prez Gaetz worries about Rick Scott hurting other Republicans [Tampa Bay Times] “As the 2014 election cycle approaches, a lot of prospective Republican candidates are nervously watching Gov. Rick Scott’s low poll numbers, knowing that their campaigns could well be dragged down…Count Florida Senate President Don Gaetz among those worried about Scott’s prospects. ‘There is a growing concern among many people who run for office at the local level or the legislative level that we want to have a strong top of the ticket,’ Gaetz, R-Niceville, said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9. ‘All of us are together on that ticket. We hope he does well, but I think it’s going to be an uphill battle.'”

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