UPDATE: Deutch, Moskowitz blast Putnam, DeSantis on guns

IMG_0075UPDATE: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s government office responded to the blog with a schedule from Feb. 20 showing a one-hour visit to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. And Putnam’s gubernatorial campaign spokeswoman, Amanda Bevis, had this to say:

“It’s no surprise the Democrats are selling a story full of untruths. If they did their research, they would know that Adam Putnam has in fact visited the school, has met with the students and mourned with them for their loss, and has met with law enforcement officials and the Governor to discuss what we as a state can do to prevent further tragedies like the massacre that took the lives of so many innocent Floridians. It’s the Democrats who are politicizing this tragedy – using falsehoods to further their own agenda of limiting our Second Amendment rights. The monster in Parkland, who was a red flag that should have never gotten his hands on a gun, cannot and should not be compared to law-abiding citizens who seek to defend themselves and their families.”



Congressman Ted Deutch and state Rep. Jared Moskowitz shredded U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Ag Commish Adam Putnam — Republicans in a heated race to succeed Gov. Rick Scott — over a new school-safety law and gun regulations in general.

The Florida Dems — who aren’t running for governor, as far as we know — spoke to reporters during a conference call Monday morning, with Moskowitz challenging both “empty suit” Putnam and DeSantis to a debate on the issue.

“I’ll meet in Taylor County, if that’s what they want,” Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 14 students and three staff were slaughtered on Feb. 14.

Scott recently signed into law a measure, aimed at the Parkland massacre, that raises the age from 18 to 21 and imposes a three-day waiting period for the purchase of long guns, such as the semi-automatic rifle used by 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz on Valentine’s Day. The new law also bans bump stocks, which can make semi-automatic weapons mimic fully automatic guns.

Moskowitz condemned Putnam, who has said he would not have signed the bill into law, for failing to visit the school, something Scott and the other members of the Florida Cabinet did, and for not meeting with students who traveled to the Capitol to lobby  for school safety measures and stricter gun regulations.

“He hid in his office on the ground floor while everybody else was trying to figure out how we work together to keep kids safe in schools,” Moskowitz said during the conference call.

DeSantis, too, “did not bring anything to the table,” according to Moskowitz.

“Would he have signed the bill? He should be challenged to answer that question,” he said.

The call was a taste of what’s sure to come as the race to replace Scott heats up, now that the Legislature’s packed up and gone home.

“It’s pretty clear that anyone who spends five minutes looking at the records of both my colleague, Congressman DeSantis, and Adam Putnam that they’ve chosen their A-rating from the NRA over their concern about public safety, the lives of kids, the city of Parkland and the state of Florida. And that makes them both unfit to serve as governor of the state,” Deutch said.

DeSantis’ lengthy pro-gun voting record  “has shown utter disregard for and rejection of the kind of common sense measures that can help save lives,” Deutch said.


Gun-rights group blames Parkland massacre on Florida lawmakers

Democrats and gun control advocates are blaming Wednesday’s school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on lax state and federal gun laws.
But a Second Amendment group is pointing the finger at the Florida Legislature for refusing to approve a law that would allow concealed weapon license holders to bring their guns to schools.
In an open letter to Florida lawmakers sent Friday, Florida Carry demanded that the Republican-controlled Legislature hurriedly pass legislation the organization’s general counsel, Eric Friday, maintains would make schools safer.
Florida Carry is asking House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron to:
    • Pass emergency legislation to eliminate gun-free zones for law-abiding concealed carry licensees;
    • Pass emergency legislation authorizing all teachers in public schools who possess a CWFL to carry their licensed, concealed firearm if they so choose, without repercussion;
    • Provide immediate funding of one million dollars in grants for county school boards and sheriffs to implement pilot programs of the Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER) Program in the State of Florida.
The day after the school shooting that left 17 individuals — including 14 teens — dead,  the guns-at-school measure popped up on next week’s Senate Judiciary Committee’s agenda for its first hearing, more than midway through the session. The committee is headed by Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican who has pushed for NRA-backed bills.
Here’s the full text of the Florida Carry missive:
As the State of Florida mourns the loss of innocent lives on Wednesday in Broward County, I mourn too, but I am also angry. I am angry that the Florida Legislature has once again enabled an evil individual to take innocent lives because the Legislature refuses to acknowledge the fact that that evil people will not follow the laws it passes. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Legislature acts as if the laws it passes will stop criminals. Laws punish wrongdoing, they do not stop wrongdoers. Yet Florida continues to prohibit licensed law-abiding citizens from possessing the tools to protect themselves and their children from mass murder.
Despite the repeated failure of so called “gun-free zones”, the Florida Legislature has taken no steps over the past seven years to protect our children. While the responsibility for Wednesday’s events rests solely with the actions of the evil person who committed this act, it is the Legislature that has enabled such tragedies to occur. It is the Legislature’s inaction that has made such tragedies worse.
The Legislature has ignored the repeated requests of Florida Carry, other civil rights groups, and the law-abiding citizens of this state to give up the fallacy of “gun-free zones”. This body has left our children and their teachers defenseless. It has kowtowed to anti-freedom groups and has blocked or refused to hear common-sense legislation to protect our children and the professionals to whom we entrust our children’s care on a daily basis.
It is a well-established fact from numerous such events that bad people with guns will only stop their carnage when confronted by an armed response. Every second until that response occurs allows the murderer to kill and maim more innocents.
From 1987 until now, every time the Legislature has acted to restore the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect those for whom they love and care, those citizens have responsibly exercised the trust placed in them. Every time, those citizens have proven the claims of the anti-gun forces to be lies. Every time, the claims of dire consequences for returning rights to the people have proven false.
This case was not a failure of law-abiding citizens to act responsibly. This was another failure of law enforcement to investigate and stop a deranged individual. People did SEE something, and people did SAY something, but law-enforcement failed to fully investigate and prosecute the shooter for prior crimes. Just as in Sutherland Springs, law-enforcement’s failure is being blamed on law-abiding citizens and their legal firearms. Law-abiding citizens cannot rely on law enforcement to protect them and must be given the means to protect themselves.
The time for half-measures and incrementalism is over. It is past time to give ‘we the people’, our teachers, and the parents volunteering in schools the ability to defend themselves and stop these tragedies.
The time to act is now. For years, many in the Legislature have touted their NRA ratings. They have claimed to be on the side of the law-abiding citizens with licenses who, for over three decades, have proven themselves more law-abiding than even the police officers who heroically responded Wednesday. Why then, should these same citizens be left defenseless while they await law enforcement’s response?
In every state that has allowed law-abiding citizens to carry in schools, the citizens have proven equal to the challenge. None of these states have suffered what Florida suffered Wednesday. Those state have eliminated a favorite target of the deranged individuals who commit such evil.
Florida Carry hereby calls on the Legislature to immediately:
  1. Pass emergency legislation to eliminate gun-free zones for law-abiding concealed carry licensees;
  2. Pass emergency legislation authorizing all teachers in public schools who possess a CWFL to carry their licensed, concealed firearm if they so choose, without repercussion;
  3. Provide immediate funding of one million dollars in grants for county school boards and sheriffs to implement pilot programs of the Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER) Program in the State of Florida.
Though the Legislature’s inaction enabled Wednesday’s events, errors of judgment can be corrected if good people are willing to admit they were wrong. It is time for those who support the Second Amendment, who recognize that armed citizens are an asset, and who truly want to protect our children, to recognize and admit that evil will not obey laws. Evil will not respect gun-free zones. Evil will not be stopped by anything other than armed response. The longer that response, the more innocent lives lost.
I am reminded today of the teachers at Sandy Hook who died trying to shield the children they loved from evil. An unarmed person is just another victim. An armed person is a force who can stop the carnage. It is within the Legislature’s power to make sure that if it happens again, the response will be faster and fewer innocent lives will be lost.
As a father of two public school children I cannot wait any longer. I want my children to be safe when they are not with me. I will not rest until the Florida Legislature takes action to protect my children and their friends. If it will not be done by those already in the Legislature, it will be done by those who replace them.
Eric J. Friday
General Counsel, Florida Carry, Inc.

NELSON: Trump “going to have a fight” over NASA proposal

iss054e022063U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, lashed out following a report that the Trump administration plans to cut off funding for the International Space Station by 2025.

“If the administration plans to abruptly pull us out of the International Space Station in 2025, they’re going to have a fight on their hands,” Nelson, a onetime astronaut from the state’s Space Coast region, said in a press release yesterday. The Commerce Committee oversees the space industry.

“Such a move would likely decimate Florida’s blossoming commercial space industry, which is one of the reasons why Congress has directed NASA to look at extending the ISS to 2028 and to provide a plan to help scientists and researchers continue experimenting in low-Earth orbit beyond that,” Nelson, who could be facing a match-up against Republican Gov. Rick Scott this year, added.

The Wall Street Journal was among a number of sources on Thursday reporting that the White House’s next NASA budget will feature public-private missions tied to a trip to the moon, while eliminating funding for the International Space Station around 2025.

We love the headline on the WSJ story: “Trump’s NASA Budget: More Moon, Less Space Station.”

By Jim Turner.

Brogan faces Senate committee confirmation

Florida homeboy Frank Brogan — a former Sunshine State lieutenant governor, education commissioner and university-system chancellor — appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions on Thursday.

Brogan was nominated in December by President Donald Trump to be assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, noted that the letters of support for Brogan included a missive from Gov. Jeb Bush, Brogan’s top-of-the-ticket running mate in 1998 and 2002.

Brogan left the state in 2013 to become chancellor of Pennsylvania’s university system, a position he held until this past summer.

If you have an hour to kill hearing Senators offer pontificating questions and Brogan’s response, here ya go.

By Jim Turner.

Hannity hearts DeSantis

An endorsement from President Donald Trump is probably the biggest coup for a Republican candidate trying to garner support from conservative, base voters in a statewide primary election.

But a resounding thumbs-up from conservative icon Sean Hannity is arguably a runner-up.

And that’s what U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis scored, with Hannity, who has a condo in Naples, telling the Palm Coast Republican, “You’re going to be my future governor, I hope,” during a radio interview.

DeSantis is facing up against state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose amassed a considerable campaign war chest as he serves up Florida OJ at his “Up and Adam” breakfasts throughout the state. House Speaker Richard Corcoran is toying with a run for governor, and former state Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who is facing possible criminal charges after resigned last month amid investigations into sexual harassment, is still in the race.

Putnam’s made a noticeable pivot to the right as he gears up for the August primary. And we’re not usually keen about endorsements. But the support of Trump and Hannity could translate into considerable dosh and being onstage with Trump couldn’t hurt, either.


Black lawmakers condemn Trump’s alleged “s—hole countries” comment

image1(1)A host of legislative Democrats joined together Friday morning, condemning alleged comments by President Donald Trump, in which he reportedly questioned why the United States should accept immigrants from “s—hole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and countries in Africa.

During a news conference in the Capitol this morning, members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus also called on Governor Rick Scott to take an even stronger stance in his rebuke of the president.

“We are appealing to all elected officials, to stand united with us in our demand for an open apology from President Trump to the American people. We are a nation of immigrants,” state Sen. Daphne Campbell, a Miami Democrat who was born in Haiti, said at the presser, adding that Trump’s remarks reeked of racism.

According to numerous reports, the president also suggested that the U.S. should welcome more immigrants from countries like Norway.

“It appears President Trump does not have an issue with immigrants. He has an issue with immigrants of color,” Campbell said.

The event took place hours after early morning tweets from the president, in which he denied making the remarks. Trump, however, did not specify what he said at Thursday’s White House meeting centered on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Obama-era policy that focused on children who are brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents or guardians.

“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!” the president tweeted.

Late Thursday, Scott released a statement calling Trump’s remarks wrong after Campbell called on the governor to denounce his pal Trump’s alleged comments.

Florida is home to more Haitians than any other state, and Trump’s decision to end temporary protective status for Haitians could affect nearly 30,000 Haitians now residing in the Sunshine State.

Sen. Perry Thurston, chairman of the black caucus, called Trump an “ignorant bigot.”

“He’s embarrassing and he’s a disgrace to the presidency,” Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, said. “We understand Donald Trump, believe me. We will stand with our brothers and sisters from Haiti, African and all other bleephole countries in fighting Trump’s racist views that creep into his policies.”

The outcry over the president’s remarks comes just days before the Monday holiday celebrating the late civil rights icon, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Former Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa Democrat and civil rights leader, said that young people need to understand that the civil rights fight isn’t over.

“You might be living good and making good money, but baby nothing has changed in that regard. It’s time to demand respect, and demand that the people we elect stand up beside us and with us, and respect us,” Joyner said.


Trump denies vulgar comments about Haiti and Africa (plus reax)

1600px-LodalenPresident Donald Trump took to Twitter this morning to deny reports that he called Haiti, El Salvador and Africa “shithole countries” during a bipartisan White House meeting yesterday focused on immigration reform.

“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!” Trump (@realDonaldTrump) tweeted at 7:28 a.m.

According to several news outlets, including The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Trump reportedly questioned why the United States should accept immigrants from “s—hole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and countries in Africa.

Here’s an excerpt from the LA Times story:

“What do we want Haitians here for?” the president asked, according to the people briefed. “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? Why do we want all these people from shithole countries?”

The president added: “We should have people from places like Norway.”

Trump’s alleged comments sent Twitter ablaze and stuffed email in-boxes with reactions from politicos and others blasting the president, who recently decided to do away with Temporary Protected Status for Haitians displaced by a devastating earthquake that ravaged the island nation in 2010.

Here’s a selection of reactions, topped by our pick for the most entertaining of the lot.

Michael Calderin, Vice-President of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, released a statement late last night, taking a swipe at the president’s Palm Beach estate, Mar-A-Lago:

It may come as some surprise that the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida understands President Trump’s recent inflammatory comment.

Let us provide some context. After all, as Floridians, we have been living in the presence of a shithole for years. And the disgust has grown exponentially over the last year, particularly as it was occupied for nearly a quarter of 2017 by the most rancid, foul-mouthed person known around the world.

We urge the residents of Palm Beach County to strongly object to the shitholes that are Mar-a-Lago, its owner, and his guests. With the irreversible damage being caused, we can only hope there are grounds for legal action to rid this blight from our otherwise beautiful land.

Trump’s alleged comments drew a rebuke from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who’s had a longtime bromance with the part-time Florida man.

“If this report is true, it is absolutely wrong to say or think this. I do not think this way, nor do I agree with this kind of sentiment. I represent Florida, and we are an amazing melting pot where over 250 languages are spoken,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott’s reaction came in response to a press release from state Sen. Daphne Campbell, a Miami Democrat who was born in Haiti, calling on the governor to denounce Scott.

Other Florida politicos piled on, blasting the president for dissing Haiti. Florida is home to more Haitian emigres than any other state in the nation.

“As an American, I apologize for the incentive, disparaging remarks made by our President. Eight years ago today well over 100,000 souls were lost in Haiti to a massive earthquake. My prayers are with you all & I thank you for your continued contributions to our country” — Tweet from state Sen. René Garcia, a Hialeah Republican running for Congress.

This tweet from U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtenin, another Republican from Miami-Dade County:

“Told @CBSMiami: no country deserves to be called a “shithole.” The #USA stands for inclusion and opportunity, not condescension. Someone should tell @POTUS he’s the President and encourage him to start acting like it.” — @RosLehtenin at 10:21 p.m. Thursday.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Broward County Democrat, issued this statement issued last night:

“Trump’s vile comments are outrageous, unacceptable and continue a disturbing pattern of racist remarks. He repeatedly sews seeds of racism which foment horrendous, discriminatory actions. No American can be proud of a President who speaks this way. Trump’s Republican colleagues must denounce his comments and stand up against bigotry and intolerance or be guilty of sanctioning them.”

And from the NAACP:

“As our nation fights to move forward, our President falls deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of racism and xenophobia. The United States’ position as a moral leader throughout the world has been thoroughly damaged by the continuous lowbrow, callous and unfiltered racism repeatedly espoused by President Trump.  His decision to use profanity to describe African, Central American and Caribbean countries is not only a low mark for this president, it is a low point for our nation. This President’s failure to grasp simple ideas of inclusion and maturity is an open sore on our democracy that continues to fester. It is clear that the president wants to return America to its ugly past of white supremacy where immigration laws as well as all laws of society only favored individuals from European nations and European ancestry. In fact, the President himself benefitted from those racially biased laws when his ancestors immigrated to this nation. Yet today, he wants to force the American public to pay billions to build a wall to block off our southern neighbors in exchange for the return of protections for DACA that were already guaranteed to immigrants before he came to office. As we head into 49th NAACP Image Awards being held on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Holiday for the first time to honor his legacy, we realize that the Bull Connor of our day is none other than the President of our nation. As King fought then, we fight today against those seeking to implement slicker and newer forms of racial segregation.

We’ll be back later with reaction to Trump’s denial.