The Buzz on Florida politics


Latest Buzz on Florida politics

A local political battle in the Florida Keys is proving very costly for four Monroe County commissioners.

The four agreed Friday to pay a total of $20,000 in fines for filing inaccurate financial disclosure forms with the state for four years in violation of state law and the Florida Constitution.

Meeting in Tallahassee, the Commission on Ethics unanimously approved the fines against commissioners Heather Carruthers, Danny Kolhage, Sylvia Jean Murphy and David Payne Rice.

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The war of words between the White House and Rep. Frederica Wilson has overshadowed the tragedy: four American soldiers, including one from Miami, were killed in an ambush in Niger.

So far, not a lot is known about the attack and there are growing calls on Capitol Hill for answers. Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has threatened to subpoena Trump administration officials if they aren't more forthcoming.

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democratic member of the committee, on Thursday called for an investigation.

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In the story of the week, the Miami Herald breaks a new chapter refuting the White House chief of staff’s story. Read the great reporting of Alex Daugherty, Anita Kumar and Douglas Hanks:

When White House Chief of Staff John Kelly condemned a Miami congresswoman on Thursday for sneering at President Donald Trump’s condolence call to a soldier’s widow, the retired general recalled when the two attended a somber ceremony in Miramar to dedicate a new FBI building named after two slain FBI agents.

Kelly criticized Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson for claiming “she got the money” for the new building during the 2015 ceremony while he and others in the audience were focused on the heroism of agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, killed during a 1986 shootout with bank robbers south of Miami.

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WASHINGTON – Sen. Bill Nelson says he put a procedural hold on one of President Donald Trump's nominees after accusing the president of blocking speedy disaster aid for Florida's citrus growers.

"I'm disappointed that the president has nixed the disaster money for Florida's citrus growers. He said it will be included in a November supplemental instead. So I just put a hold on one of his nominees to make sure we get this money, as promised," Nelson said in a statement.

Nelson today placed a procedural hold on Russell Vought's nomination to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Thursday he was "stunned" that Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson listened in on President Trump's call to the Florida widow of a fallen soldier and then publicized it.

Kelly also said Wilson, who was riding in the car with the family when the call came in, engaged in "selfish behavior" by telling reporters that Trump told the widow her husband "knew what he signed up for."

The soldier's mother said Wednesday that Trump showed "disrespect" to the family. Wilson said Trump made the remark and added, "but when it happens, it hurts anyway."

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The White House continues to defend President Donald Trump's comments to the Florida widow of a fallen soldier, and says any criticism is from those looking to score political points.

"Everybody knows that this president is very sorry for this family's loss, as he is every other family's loss. I've seen it first and it's just the haters being presumptively negative as they always are," Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News this afternoon.

"But you know what's tragic Harris? That that family just suffered a loss, many families have suffered – a grievance unspeakable loss, and yet it gets immediately politicized because people think people of privilege think that they can score cheap political points against a president and that's what we find to be most disgraceful and most unfortunate but America is smarter than that. I have faith in the wisdom of Americans to know that this President, he like other presidents does a variety of different things when God forbid a soldier has fallen. Sometimes you call, sometimes you write, sometimes you go and you receive the fallen soldier in a casket with an American flag draped on it, by the way everyone, for a reason. The American flag is there for a good reason and you know what's in his heart. He is remorseful for their loss. He is respectful and sympathetic as he is for every fallen soldier in this nation and I just can't believe with so much going on that people think that they can score cheap political points instead of telling people the full story."

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From the Associated Press: CLEWISTON — Federal officials are conducting daily inspections of the dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee because of its near-record water levels but say it is not in danger of failing.

Almur Whiting of the Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday there has been some seepage through the Herbert Hoover Dike but it is not significant.

The corps is halfway through a $1.7 billion renovation program for the 80-year-old dike, which is scheduled for completion in 2025. The dike's current water level is 17 feet – 4 feet higher than it was before Hurricane Irma passed over the area Sept. 10. Officials believe the water level has peaked.

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From the Associated Press: A federal prison inmate in Florida who previously received five years for threatening to kill then-President Barack Obama and others has pleaded guilty to threatening to kill President Donald Trump.

Court records show 42-year-old Richard Jeremy Ware pleaded guilty Wednesday to making threats against the president. He faces up to five more years in federal prison.

Guards at a federal prison in central Florida say they intercepted the threatening letter Ware had tried to send out this past March. Ware was nearing the end of his sentence and confirmed the letter was his.

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Beyond the Buzz

Out of sight, out of mind
Aaron Richardson Jr., now 29, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was arrested for carjacking in 2011. While in custody he lost both his sight and hearing.
Hurricane Irma
How the slightest shift kept Hurricane Irma from turning into an even worse disaster

As police and protesters prepare today in Gainesville for white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak at the University of Florida, two state legislators, both Democrats, filed bills to remove the vestiges of the confederacy from Florida law its public spaces.

Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, filed HB 235 Thursday to remove from public property all monuments erected to memorialize members of the Confederate military or any other organization that espouses white supremacist or white separatist ideology.

“Who we once were cannot, and should not, continue to define who we are today as a state,” Jones said in a statement. “It is time that we assess this period in our history with the context it deserves and with the clear-eyed understanding that our ghosts are just that: spirits whose presence cannot continue to haunt us.”

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After a year of legal hurdles, the city of Miami and Seminole Tribe of Florida can now move forward with a lawsuit challenging a state rule that would allow higher concentrations of toxic chemicals, including carcinogens, to be discharged into Florida’s rivers and streams.

The Third District Court of Appeals on Wednesday reversed a lower court ruling and Miami said Thursday it will now continue to pursue its lawsuit against the Department of Environmental Protection’s Human Health Toxics Criteria Rule.

The rule increases the acceptable levels of more than two dozen known carcinogens and decreases levels for 13 currently regulated chemicals. It was approved on a 3-2 vote by the Environmental Regulation Commission in July 2016, when the commission had only five of its seven members. Story here.

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A Miami man pleaded guilty to threatening to shoot members of the Islamic Center of Greater Miami, the Justice Department said Thursday.

During the plea hearing Wednesday, Gerald Wallace, 35, admitted that on the evening of Feb. 19, he left a voicemail message for the the mosque.

“The defendant admitted leaving a hate-filled and profanity laden message against Islam, the prophet Mohammed, and the Koran, during which he threatened to go to the mosque, and stated, “I’m gonna shoot all y’all.” He further admitted that by leaving this threatening message, he obstructed congregants who worship at the Islamic Center from freely exercising their religious beliefs,” reads a DOJ release.

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TMZ, the gossipy website known for tracking down movie stars, turned its camera on Sen. Marco Rubio this week to ask about the talk of O.J. Simpson moving to Florida.

Rubio smiles, shakes his head and says, “What can I do about that?”

The Florida Republican adds that Simpson “has a right to live wherever he wants,” but he doesn’t think Simpson has many fans left in the state.

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