Author: Dara Kam

Rick Scott: ‘The weather’s not bad, either’

Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott put on his Sunshine State cheerleader outfit to promote President Donald Trump’s “relocation” to Florida.

Scott, who served for two terms as Florida governor prior to his election to the U.S. Senate a year ago, chastised Orlando Sentinel guest columnist Bob Morris, who poked fun at Trump for his move.

Scott said he found it “interesting” that a Florida paper would publish a guest columnist who mocked “his own state just to make a political point.”

(We thought that’s what op-ed writers do, but nevermind.)

“The partisanship has driven everyone crazy. But I refuse to let our extreme, negative and partisan culture interfere with the truth,” Scott wrote in a letter to the editor.

More from Scott’s missive to the editor:

The truth is, Florida is the best state in the nation — to live, to work, and to raise a family. It’s ridiculous that someone would try to diminish the fact that our state has low taxes, as if that wouldn’t be motivation for a family to move here. Anyone who would argue otherwise has clearly never had to struggle to support a family.

I’m glad the president is choosing to make Florida home, just like I’m glad every time a family or business chooses Florida. So let’s stop making everything about politics and just take a minute to appreciate what a great state Florida truly is.

The weather’s not bad either.

Make America Shop Again! (Christmas edition)

Red-hot Republicans searching for something special to put under the Christmas tree next month?

President Donald’s got ya.

trump xmas

“The official Donald J. Trump store offers unique, one-of-a-kind gifts. Show someone you care, all while supporting our Make America Great Again movement!” the website coaxes.

Items available include the cutesy KAG (Keep America Great) Santa hat, pictured below, selling for a mere $30:

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Or for those who want something to hang on the tree instead of their heads and have a little more dosh to spend, there’s this $60 ornament:

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There’s also a wood Trump/Pence 2020 semi-truck ($35) or a Trump/Pence wooden mini train set ($40).

But for those who have their own gifts in mind, never fear. You can wrap them up in paper bearing the campaign logo:

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We’ll happily give equal time to the Dems, if you let us know of holiday merch being hawked on the blue side of the political line.

— By Dara Kam, with special thanks to Jim Turner for this post.

Pam Bondi: Jared Kushner ‘one of the smartest human beings I’ve ever met’

Appearing on Fox & Friends this morning, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi expounded on her new role advocating for President Donald Trump as impeachment proceedings against him heat up, saying she’ll not only be handling not only the media, but “legal issues and just lots of stuff.”

https://video.foxnews.com/v/6101434412001/

“We’re all of course big fans of the president,” Bondi said, when asked about her and former Treasury spokesman Tony Sayegh being tapped by the White House as impeachment-related aides. Impeachment hearings begin next week.

Bondi, joined the D.C. office of Tallahassee-based lobbying powerhouse Ballard Partners after she left office in January, was an early Trump adopter, backing him during the 2016 primary and cheerleading for him during the presidential campaign.

Since going to D.C., sources tell us, Bondi, a lawyer, is a frequent visitor to the White House, and has a close relationship with the president.

The Wall Street Journal’s Michael C. Bender, a former Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter, wrote yesterday that Bondi and Sayegh were enlisted to help with Trump’s efforts to battle the impeachment efforts.

The duo “would potentially be coming in to help out with, not only comms, but with special projects and legal issues and just lots of stuff with the White House,” Bondi told Fox & Friends this morning. “They’re so crazy busy and they’re all doing such great work.”

The Fox gang was in St. Pete, following last night’s award of the conservative news channel’s “Patriot Awards.”

Bondi said she’d be part of a “huge team” helping make Trump’s case, not that they’re necessary.

“The president, frankly, is his best spokesperson,” she said.

—By Dara Kam and Jim Turner.

 

It’s official: Bondi tapped as top Trump impeachment aide

Pam-Bondi-BW-1000px-v5-75p-1Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was long-rumored to be joining the White House or FOX News before she left office in January, is going to help President Donald Trump fight House impeachment efforts, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Instead of going back to her old haunt, FOX, or signing up as one of the president’s official cheerleaders, Bondi went to work for Ballard Partners after leaving office in January.

Lately, it’s been rumored that Bondi — who worked for the state attorney in Tampa and was a FOX News regular before her election as AG — would lead Trump’s impeachment efforts.

That was confirmed by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael C. Bender, a former Tampa Bay Times reporter in Tallahassee, in a tweet today.

Bender, who also worked for The Palm Beach Post, tweeted that Bondi and former Treasury spokesman Tony Sayegh were being added as White House impeachment related aides.

“Adding Sayegh & Bondi is both an acknowledgment Trump needs help coordinating a response to the House probe, & a compromise between competing factions in the White House where rivalries opened during a two week-long process deliberation over which adviser to bring inside,” Bender tweeted.

Bondi “had the backing of Stephanie Grisham and Mick Mulvaney and is also close to POTUS, but her work as a lobbyist presented snarls to tangle for her and the White House,” Bender tweeted.

Truth or Dara has been told by insiders that Bondi — and Panhandle Congressman Matt Gaetz — are regular visitors to the White House.

The move comes with House Democrats set to hold public hearings next week with key witnesses in the impeachment proceedings.

— By Jim Turner.

It’s pythons vs. hogs, as Gators face off against Dawgs

Pigs and pythons are on the line as the Gators vs. Bulldogs clash Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville.

After much teasing throughout the week that a gubernatorial bet was in the works for the gridiron clash between the 6th ranked University of Florida and 8th ranked University of Georgia, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted out videos of what they were putting on the line.

A UF victory means the governors would head to the Everglades to help hunt Burmese pythons.

“We need the help. We’re making progress. But I’d love to see the Gators win and Gov. Kemp come down there. And who knows, you may end up with a pair of python boots on the end of it,” DeSantis said in his video.

A Georgia win, meanwhile, sends DeSantis into Southern Georgia, where feral pigs are infesting area farms.

“I know that wild hog sausage is a lot better than python,” Kemp said.

Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.

By NSF’s relentless Jim Turner.

Florida journos embracing ‘fake news?’

focused-business-people-reading-news-smartphone_1262-14213Florida’s branch of the Society of Professional Journalists said it’s starting to send cease-and-desist letters to President Donald Trump over the use of the term “fake news.”

The society’s Florida Pro Chapter, which intends to issue the letters to Trump and other “frequent abusers” of the term, is basing its action on their pending trademark application for the term to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Of course, it’s not an application they believe will be approved.

“For what it’s worth, we don’t expect the trademark to get approved. No one can really trademark a generic term like ‘fake news,’ which started being used long before Trump even took office,” wrote Emily Bloch, the chapter president, in Teen Vogue. “What we do hope is that this idea is outrageous enough to get people to stop and think about what fake news is, and what it means to them.”

Bloch, also an education reporter for the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, wrote the action is based upon a study by the Knight Foundation and Gallup that found 40 percent of Republicans say accurate news stories that cast a politician or political group in a negative light should “always” be considered fake news.

“So yes, this is satire. It’s a joke. But it’s a joke with a point, and as any student of public discourse will tell you, a joke sometimes hits harder than the truth,” she wrote, truthfully.

Here’s the top of Bloch’s piece:

Being a journalist right now is scary. It’s frightening when sketchy videos about shooting news agencies are presented at a political conference held at a resort owned by the president. It’s terrifying when, a year after bombs were sent to CNN, a shirt suggesting reporters should be hanged is casually worn on an airplane.

But it’s also infuriating, like when our country’s own president is constantly devaluing our work and has made a habit out of brushing off dogged reporting as “fake news.”
By Jim Turner.

DeSantis: Israel has “total right” to run again, “no similarities” between sheriff suspension and Trump impeachment

IMG_2094A day after a key Senate committee handed Gov. Ron DeSantis a major victory in his crusade against embattled Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, the governor pooh-poohed any parallels between his suspension of Israel and Congressional Democrats’ efforts to unseat President Donald Trump.

DeSantis, Trump ally whose endorsement by the Republican president help boost him to a primary election victory and ultimately into the governor’s mansion last year, also told reporters today that Israel, a Democrat who is running for re-election, has the right to seek office again.

During yesterday’s Senate Rules Committee, one of Israel’s supporters, who identified himself as a “lifelong Republican” who voted for the GOP governor, equated suspension of Israel — an elected official — to the ongoing impeachment effort.

Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto quickly shut down that argument, but a reporter asked DeSantis about any similarities after Tuesday morning’s Cabinet meeting.

“I see no similarities between a presidential impeachment and the removal of a county official. This is a provision of the Florida Constitution. It talks about neglect of duty or incompetence. Obviously, we’ve seen multiple failures out of that agency. In fact, that agency, under his leadership, lost the state certification, and now it’s being reinstated under the new sheriff,” DeSantis said. “Look, had we not acted, my fear was that more failures would have put more people at risk. So I think I acted appropriately and I think that the Senate ultimately will come to that conclusion.”

The Rules Committee overturned the recommendation of Senate Special Master Dudley Goodlette, who found the governor failed to present evidence supporting his decision to suspend Israel, one of DeSantis’ first actions after taking office in January. Goodlette, former Republican state representative who is highly regarded in legislative circles, recommended that the Senate reinstate the embattled sheriff.

But voting 9-7 along party lines after a marathon meeting yesterday, the Rules Committee supported the governor’s suspension. The full Senate will vote on the matter tomorrow at 2 p.m.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, DeSantis thanked the committee, which heard emotional, heart-wrenching pleas from the families of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting victims. The families are united in their insistence that Israel be prevented from getting his old job back. Dozens of Israel supporters also attended the meeting, including numerous members of black churches who expressed their allegiance to the sheriff.

“It was a very long day, with that process,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “I also want to thank the Parkland families for coming. It wasn’t easy for them. This has been a long time coming. I think they really showed a lot of strength, and I look forward to the Senate disposing of this matter tomorrow, and look forward to moving on.”

The expectation is for another, party-line vote in the Republican-dominated upper chamber that will result in Israel being permanently ousted from his job.

Israel, who was re-elected in 2016 by more than 70 percent of Broward County voters, remains popular in most parts of the heavily Democratic county. He told reporters after the Senate committee vote last night that he believes he will be re-elected to the seat he held until he was booted by DeSantis in January.

DeSantis was asked if he would remove Israel again, should the sheriff win re-election.

“No, no, no, no. Look, the people can make that decision going forward. But then, what happens will be, they’ll be responsible for whatever decision is made in that respect. It’s not going to be something that is going to matter to me either way. I had to make the decision I had to make. Those folks can make whatever decision that they want to make,” the governor said.

When pressed about removing Israel a second time, DeSantis — a Harvard Law School grad — reiterated his stance.

“Well, obviously if there was another basis, but no. This is this. If the Senate does concur he be removed, there’s nothing in the Constitution that bars someone from then seeking the same office again. Totally has a right to do it,” he said.