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September 2010

Crist, Sink and McCollum - the three blind mice

If you were too busy Sunday to read Sydney Freedberg's story about the failures of Gov. Charlie Crist, CFO Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum in their oversight of Florida's investments you missed an important investigation.

Freedberg, an excellent investigative reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, finds that the three failed to ask tough questions of Florida's money managers even as the state was losing hundreds of millions in the value of its portfolio.

When the losses became public, all three talked tough about taking action against Wall Street, but Freedberg reports: bank was prosecuted, no lawsuit was filed and there was never a full accounting of a financial debacle that could cost Florida governments and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now the St. Petersburg Times has obtained e-mails and internal memos that document a story at odds with the one told by Crist, Sink and McCollum, the elected officials responsible for oversight of the state's money managers.

The securities Wall Street "dumped" on Florida? The records show the state was anything but an innocent dupe; it was an eager partner.

It is a complicated but important story that reveals Florida's money managers were taking unnecessary risks with the state's money and that Crist, Sink and McCollum were Florida's three blind mice.

Jim DeMint backhands Charlie Crist

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, not known for his moderate views, says he is the guy making it possible for Republicans to capture the U.S. Senate in November. And he backhands No-Party Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

DeMint made his remarks to CNN political reporter Candy Crowley - no relation to Crowley Political Report.

"The only reason we have a chance at a majority now is a large part for the candidates I've been supporting. Candy, if the Republican Party in the Senate was now symbolized by Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist, we would not have the energy behind our candidates anywhere in the country. But the fact that we've got Ken Buck in Colorado and Dino Rossi in Washington state and Sharron Angle, we've got candidates that people are generally energetic about."

Mike Bender departs with story about Rick Scott

Mike Bender moves upstairs in the Florida Press Center on Monday when he joins the St. Petersburg Times Tallahasssee Bureau. 

Bender's final story at The Palm Beach Post is a very good profile of Republican candidate for governor Rick Scott.

It is this kind of reporting and writing that convinced the Times to add Bender to their Tallahassee team.

An excerpt:

Rick Scott could not look away from the TV on his campaign bus as a cheetah blurred across the screen, sprinting after a panicked gazelle.

"We saw some lions try to catch a cheetah," Scott said, reminded of one of the four safari trips he has made to Africa.

"There's no way in the world," he concluded. "A cheetah is so much faster."

Scott watched the televised pursuit with a childlike amazement - a look one might not usually associate with a businessman better known for being a predator in the cutthroat world of American capitalism.

Good luck Mike and here's the story about Scott.


Marco Rubio 77 percent chance of winning

Rubiofin FiveThirtyEight/NYTimes is giving Republican Marco Rubio a 77.6 percent chance of winning Florida's U.S. Senate race.

The calculation is based on 100,000 simulations.  Their current prediction on how voters will vote on Nov. 2 shows Rubio getting 41.9 percent of vote. No-Party Gov. Charlie Crist gets 34.5 and Democrat U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek gets 23.6

FiveThirtyEight has become one of the more respected politics statisticians and recently merged with the New York Times.

Read more about their results here.

Florida GOP embarrasses itself

Just for fun Crowley Political Report is going to pretend that wasteful spending at the Florida Republican Party began in 2007.

Golly, we'll even make believe that the party has never used donor money to funnel it to favored former campaign aides who magically turn into lobbyists and senior consultants.

And surely the GOP never spent a dime on questionable air travel and hotel rooms before 2007.

There is no question that  Jim Greer and Delmar Johnson made a fine art of creative spending of donor money. And investigators believe the two broke a few laws along the way.

It certainily appears, based on the newly released GOP audit of spending between 2007 and 2009,  that Greer thought the RPOF was his personal piggybank.

The Republican Party audit of its finances is chock full of details - but does it tell the whole truth about what has been going on in the party for at least a decade - not hardly.

So here are a few of the scores of fun-facts that emerged from the audit released today:

Continue reading "Florida GOP embarrasses itself" »

Charlie Crist called a slippery politician

The conservative Club for Growth has a new ad suggesting that No-Party Gov. Charlie Crist is to blame for our lousy economy, foreclosures, job losses and rain on Saturdays.

Okay they don't really blame him for the rain.

Of course the ad starts out with the classic flip-flop claims that are required in every campaign. At least with the flip-flops the ad does a better job of being accurate.

Here it is:



Miami Herald cuts newsroom again

Florida's shrinking news media takes another hit with the announcement this morning of new layoffs, furloughs and the shedding of open positions at The Miami Herald.

We first reported this story shortly after the announcement on Twitter @crowleyreport.

With the announcement that the paper will not be filling open positions it raises a question about what will happen after political writer Beth Reinhard leaves to go the National Journal.

Will the Herald replace Reinhard or simply shift her work to another reporter already on staff - perhaps Marc Caputo in Tallahassee.

Unfortunately, as we get ready to enter the final quarter of the year, it likely that other Florida news organizations will take similar steps over the next few months.

See the Herald memos on the next page.

Continue reading "Miami Herald cuts newsroom again" »

Charlie Crist, John Lennon and Revolution Number 9

Cristnew1 No-Party Gov. Charlie Crist may need to find some solace from the late John Lennon.

The former Beatle was fond of the number - 9. And it appears that Crist is going to have to become fond of the number 9 as well.

Crist's name will appear at number 9 on the Nov. 2 ballot for the U.S. Senate. Not by any means a coveted spot.

This must be very frustrating for a candidate doing his best to manuver a path to victory by grabbing chunks of dispirited Democrats, Republicans and No-Party folks to forge a winning coalition of supporters.

Lennon found great solace in the number 9, according to legend. When the Beatles hit Revolution was released in 1968 it included words that could apply to today's politics.

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan

Continue reading "Charlie Crist, John Lennon and Revolution Number 9" »

Rick Scott 47, Alex Sink 45

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll suggests that the Florida race for governor is a dead heat.

Republican Rick Scott  - who has been relatively quiet compared to his onslaught of television ads during primary - has 47 percent of the vote to Democrat Alex Sink's 45 percent.

The other numbers that stand out: 82 percent of Republicans polled said they are certain to vote while only 61 percent of Democrats said they are certain to vote.

Floridians are also increasingly worried about the state's economy with 61 percent saying that is Florida's number one problem. Only 51 percent felt that way in July.

Meek hangs with the picketers, Crist sticks around to do a TV interview

No-Party Gov. Charlie Crist did not show up at the non-partisan Forum Club of the Palm Beaches luncheon today but he did make a little time to be interviewed by WPTV-NewsChannel 5 for a taped segment to be aired this Sunday on the political program To the Point.

Crist decided he could not bring himself to attend the Forum Club and urged Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek to "join me in standing up for Florida's working families by not crossing the picket line."

But while Crist was doing mike checks for his TV interview, Meek, who also announced at the last minute that he would not attend the lunch, was outside with the union folks grabbing a few free sound bites from the gathered media.

Continue reading "Meek hangs with the picketers, Crist sticks around to do a TV interview" »

Charlie Crist shrugs and leaves a mess

(( UPDATE - Kendrick Meek after being pressured by Charlie Crist says he will not attend Forum Club. ))

((Another Update - Brian E. Crowley of Crowley Political Report and Lynn University political expert Robert Watson are pinching hitting at today's event. Crowley and Watson are political commentators for the WPTV-NewsChannel 5 Sunday political program "To the Point" ))
First a bit of disclosure - Crowley Political Report is on the board of directors of the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches. What appears below is solely the opinion of Crowley Political Report and does not reflect the thoughts or opinions of any other member or staff of the Forum Club.

Now, a note to No-Party Gov. Charlie Crist - are you kidding?

Some weeks ago, after much haggling, Crist agreed to be a speaker at the non-partisan Forum Club at noon Wednesday where he would be joined by Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek to talk about the issues in the campaign to be Florida's junior U.S. Senator.

Republican Marco Rubio declined because of a scheduling conflict.

Crist insisted that the format be changed so that each candidate would speak and answer questions separately. The normal format would be that each candidate speak and then together answer questions from the audience. But the Crist folks feared that would appear too much like a debate.

Continue reading "Charlie Crist shrugs and leaves a mess" »

Crist proposes broad support for gay rights

No-Party Gov. Charlie Crist is taking on gay rights as a key issue in his bid to win Florida's junior U.S. Senate seat.

Crist has a new nine-point position paper on gay rights that advocates giving same-sex couples the same legal rights as hetrosexual couples. Crist stops short of endorsing gay-marriage.

"I believe civil unions that provide the full range of legal protections should be available to gay couples. That includes access to a loved one in the hospital, inheritance rights, the fundamental things people need to take care of their families." 

Continue reading "Crist proposes broad support for gay rights" »

Charlie Crist the great unifier

No-Party Gov. Charlie Crist has a new ad for his campaign to become Florida's next U.S. Senator.

He is walking along the beach - looking a bit like Moses carrying a staff and wearing tasseled loafers.

He draws a line in the sand and says he will work with both Republicans and Democrats to adopt their best ideas.

But for a candidate who got shoved out of the Republican Party it is hard to see him in the role of unifier when Republicans continue to vilify him.

During Crist's first year as governor, to reach out to both parties. He often appeared to make more headway with Democrats than the folks in his former party.

Can Charlie Crist be the great unifier?

Not likely, but he does seem to be tapping into the mood of those voters who are weary of party fighting that has less to do with helping Floridians than with staying in power.


Is California nuttier than Florida?

While Floridians wallow in one of our oddest election years maybe we can find some comfort in the California race for governor.

Very rich Republican candidate Meg Whitman has already spent more than $120 million of her own money in her effort to defeat Democrat Jerry Brown.

Whitman makes Republican Rick Scott look like a piker for only spending $50 million of his cash in his effort to win the Florida governor's mansion.

And to add a special touch of California craziness to the election, Brown reacts to a Whitman commercial, where she uses a clip of Bill Clinton blasting Brown during a 1992 debate, by telling supporters that Clinton isn't known for always telling the truth and reminding them about Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinski.

Here's the Whitman ad followed by another video with Brown's remarks.




Karl Rove's view - does it apply to Florida?

Obama cartoon  
With at least five hot congressional races in Florida and a raging battle to see which party will take over Florida's junior U.S. Senate seat and the governor's mansion - President Obama has been notably missing from the Democratic equation.

Not long ago, Florida Democrats, basking in Obama's victory, believed that 2010 would be their year to take back the senate seat, the governor's mansion and host of other offices. Today, Democrats worry that Obama is more of a liability than help in the November elections.

Republican strategist Karl Rove offered this thought in the Wall Street Journal:

"No Democratic incumbent has run a single ad this summer heralding health-care reform, while several have run ads emphasizing their opposition to it. Praise for the stimulus is rare even from the lips of Democratic candidates. Democrats have passed a lot of legislation but don't want to claim public credit for it."

Are Florida Democrats proving Rove right?

CNN TIME Poll - Sink 49, Scott 42, Rubio leads Crist and Meek

A new CNN/TIME/Opinion Research Poll shows Democrat Alex Sink leading Republican Rick Scott in the race for Florida governor.

The poll also shows Republican Marco Rubio at 36 percent leading Democrat Kendrick Meek at 24 percent and no-party candidate Charlie Crist at 34 percent in the race for U.S. Senate.

Crist and Rubio are essentially tied with the margin of error at 3.5 percent for the 899 registered voters who were interviewed from Sept 2 to 7.

While Sink's lead appears impressive the margin-of-error suggests that her race against Scott remains too close to call.

Sink, Scott let us peek at their taxes

Check this one off the political ritual list - both Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink have agreed to release their tax returns for public scrutiny.

Generally there is not a lot of useful information. Sure you find out where their dough is coming from and how it is invested but unless they are getting cash from Tony Soprano it's not a big deal.

On the other hand, political operatives for both campaigns will be pouring over the returns hoping to find out that their rival has invested money in a corporation that has a sudsidary that sells milk to Iran.

This will then be turned into a 30-second ad warning voters not to elect the candidate with close ties to the terrorist state of Iran (somber music).

One thing we will know for sure - our next governor is going to be a lot wealthier than Gov. Charlie Crist.