Uncategorized

Stoneman Douglas families pushing Congress to act on school safety

Parents who lost children in the 2018 Parkland high school shooting are pushing Congress to help prevent future school shootings with new legislation that would increase awareness about school-safety measures nationwide.

The “Luke and Alex School Safety Act,” introduced Thursday, is named after Alex Schachter and Luke Hoyer, two students who were killed on Feb. 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The House bill was filed by Florida U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, Mario Diaz-Balart, Stephanie Murphy and John Rutherford, with the help of Alex’s dad, Max Schachter, and Tom and Gena Hoyer, Luke’s parents.

The bipartisan House proposal is a companion to a Senate bill introduced earlier this month by Florida Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.

“This bipartisan and bicameral bill builds on the work of Parkland parents by requiring a dedicated home within the federal government for school security best practices and guidance that will help prevent gun violence and save lives in schools across the country,” Deutch, a Democrat representing CD 22, said in a press release.

Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican, said the bill would “create a one-stop-shop for schools, families, and community officials to obtain valuable resources on school safety best practices.”

Here are more details about what the bill would do:

·       Create a federal clearinghouse with information from across the nation on school-safety recommendations, such as threat prevention, comprehensive school safety measures and incident response.

·       Recommendations made by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission would be among those included in the database.

·       Information would be stored within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

·       The U.S. Secretaries of Education, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and the U.S. Attorney General would review all grant programs administered by their  agencies and identify any grant program that may be able to be used for school security improvements.

— By Ana Ceballos.

Daniel Nordby defends UF student body president facing impeachment

Embattled University of Florida Student Body President Michael Murphy has enlisted the aid of legal eagle Daniel Nordby, a Shutts & Bowen partner who served as general counsel to former Gov. Rick Scott, in his impeachment fight.

Murphy’s facing impeachment over his decision to bring Donald Trump Jr. and his gal pal Kimberly Guilfoyle to campus last month. The couple were paid $50,000, out of student fees, for the talk.

Student Body Senator Zachariah Chou expounded on the decision to impeach Murphy in a New York Times op-ed yesterday. You can read all about that – and watch Chou’s Instagram video – here.

Nordby, who’s also the chairman of the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, blamed the impeachment proceedings against his client on “students on college campuses across America who are intolerant of conservative views.”

Here’s Nordby’s full statement on the matter:

“Michael Murphy did not violate federal election law, state law, or any university policies. Rather, this situation is reflective of students on college campuses across America who are intolerant of conservative views. As stated by the University of Florida Spokesman and by the contract for the speaking engagement, the Donald Trump Jr. event was not a campaign event. The purpose of the event was to discuss and promote Donald Trump Jr.’s new number one New York Times best-selling book, and no campaign activity occurred at the event. Michael has also invited Senator Bernie Sanders to speak at UF, but he declined. Michael fights on campus to ensure all students’ viewpoints are reflected in campus programming, and will continue to fight for those students until the end of his term as Student Body President.”

UF student leader defends impeachment inquiry prompted by Trump Jr. speech

University of Florida student leaders are taking a lot of incoming over a move to impeach student body President Michael Murphy over his decision to bring Donald Trump Jr. to campus last month.

But , a senator in the Gator student government, penned an op-ed in The New York Times to defend the inquiry, which comes amid congressional impeachment  proceedings into President Donald Trump.

Chou, who admits in the piece that he ran against Murphy earlier this year and lost, wrote that the student president has become a “conservative martyr.”

“For many of his supporters, this is simply another story of campus leftists gone berserk and threatening free speech. In fact, it’s a much more complicated story, one that throws into question the use of public funds for partisan ends,” Chou wrote.

Murphy came under fire after emails disclosed by the university’s student newspaper showed the campaign of the president reached out to Murphy to bring the younger Trump and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Trump campaign adviser, to the school.

Student activity fees were used to pay $50,000 for the appearance. The impeachment resolution said Murphy “not only endangered students marginalized by the speaker’s white nationalist supporters, but also abused his power to advance a particular political party at the expense of the student he should represent.”

Murphy’s enlisted the aid of Tallahassee’s Daniel Nordby, a Shutts & Bowen partner who served as general counsel to former Gov. Rick Scott and is now the chairman of the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission.

Earlier this month, Florida GOP leaders issued a blast email to supporters in support of Murphy.

“If it was Chelsea Clinton, they’d be praising him. Enough is enough!” the party, which called Murphy’s impeachment “completely outrageous,” said.

But Chou provided some insight into the student government’s rationale:

Michael Murphy has posted photos of himself on social media at President Trump’s inauguration and with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in the White House. He is the son of Dan Murphy, who works for the lobbying firm BGR Group. Dan Murphy maxed out donations to President Trump’s 2020 campaign, and is a known associate of Donald Trump Jr. The $50,000 that paid for the speaking fee came from mandatory student fees.

Chou noted that Scott, now a U.S. senator, called Murphy’s pending impeachment “shameful,” and also pointed out the RPOF website where supporters can add their name to support Murphy. On Nov. 14, Trump Jr. “tweeted colorful language about the Murphy impeachment inquiry and added, ‘Enough of this nonsense,’ ” Chou wrote.

The UF student newspaper, The Alligator, first reported on the emails linking the Trump campaign to the Trump Jr. speech.

“Many people saw these emails as the smoking gun, as proof that Mr. Murphy had colluded with the Trump campaign to funnel student fees toward a partisan cause.

The emails were the final straw for me and my colleagues in the Student Government Senate,” Chou wrote.

The story gathered steam, “bolstered” by the national impeachment proceedings, the student body senator added.

But, Chou argued, the impeachment isn’t based on partisan politics.

“This is about right and wrong,” he wrote.

Donald Trump Jr. made other book-tour stops where he wasn’t paid $50,000, Chou said.

Paying $50,000 for a speech that could have literally been a free speech is ethically questionable, especially seeing how Ms. Wren, a financial consultant for the Trump re-election campaign, was involved in setting up the speaking event — and that Michael Murphy’s lobbyist father has already maxed out his contributions to the campaign.

At the end of the day, had Donald Trump Jr. come to the University of Florida in the same way that he visited other universities, we would not had initiated impeachment proceedings against our student body president. It is the money questionably spent, conflicts of interest and shady Trump campaign collusion that are the sole ingredients in this recipe for impeachment.

Just as they are doing with the hearings in Washington, Republicans will try to pass this off as another day of partisan politics, but it’s not. This is about right and wrong, and just like our counterparts in Congress, we are taking a stand for ethical behavior in politics. We demand accountability.”

Here’s another excerpt from the op-ed:

“Conservative commentators have glanced in our direction and bemoaned the death of free speech on college campuses. The Florida Federation of College Republicans lamented that our student government has used “funds for years to promote liberal speakers.”

Reality doesn’t quite match up with the assertions of those who claim to be persecuted; as I’ve written previously, the vast majority of the political speakers that our student government has brought in and paid for in the last three years are conservative. On the conservative side, the former Ohio governor John Kasich came to campus in January; the former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and political commentator Ben Shapiro spoke in 2017. On the liberal side, we held events with Kal Penn, associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement in the Obama administration, and the comedian Chelsea Handler in 2017.

For the record, we do not try to impeach our student body president after every conservative speaking event on campus. Since the University of Florida opened its doors in Gainesville in 1906, there has been only one other impeachment inquiry into a student body president; in 2009, Kevin Reilly was investigated over various concerns, including violations of the Florida Sunshine Law and conspiring to keep minority-party senators out of committee seats. He was ultimately not impeached and, interestingly enough, eventually went on to work in Governor Scott’s administration.

The Florida Republican Party seems to think that the impeachment inquiry is solely about inviting a member of the Trump family to campus, but that is not the case. My fellow senators and I have no qualms with free speech. This is an issue of conflicts of interest and fiscal responsibility, revolving around how $50,000 in mandatory student fees ended up going down the drain, in the direction of the swamp.”

 

Taddeo talks Russian campaign hack on 60 MINUTES

unnamed Florida State Sen. Annette Taddeo will star in a 60 MINUTES segment Sunday night to discuss the Russian hack of national Democrats’ data that involved her  congressional campaign.

The Miami Democrat’s “campaign strategy and other sensitive data” was stolen from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in 2016.

According to the Department of Justice, “those files were hacked and dumped by Russian military intelligence units,” a press release from 60 MINUTES reads.

Taddeo lost her congressional bid, but was elected to the state Senate in a brutal special election in 2017.

Here’s the rest of the release:

Taddeo speaks to Bill Whitaker for a report that explains in detail how the Russians stole the critical information and disseminated it to undermine political candidates in 2016.  It will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Nov. 24 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Taddeo says she was on her way to a live television debate with her opponent when she learned of the hack.  “My opponent Joe Garcia, showed up at that debate with a printout of all the documents,” she tells Whitaker.   “We’ve seen a lot [in Southern Florida.] But this was a foreign government. This was so much bigger,” says Taddeo, who says she lost to her opponent by about 700 votes.  “You know, I’ve been told by a lot of people, ‘You should stop talking about this. It’s really not good for you politically to remind people that you lost.’  But I refuse to stop talking about it. Because, again, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. And it didn’t happen to me: It happened to our democracy,” Taddeo says.

Whitaker also interviews John Demers, the assistant attorney general who runs the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, which inherited the Russian hacking case from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. There is no doubt in his mind the Russians executed the hack and strategically disseminated the documents through the online persona Guccifer 2.0. The agents behind Guccifer 2.0  then gave the data to political operatives and local journalists, and it eventually found its way to mainstream media.  “So Guccifer 2.0 is a fictional online persona,” says Demers.  “It’s all an effort on the Russian side to hide their involvement.”

Robert Anderson, who played leading roles in the FBI’s counterintelligence and cyber security divisions, tracked Russian intelligence operatives for years.  He warns in an interview with Whitaker that the Russians will be back for the 2020 election. “The thing that you need to worry about with Russia and every one of their intelligence services is they will learn from these operations…They will analyze everything they did right or wrong. And when they attack again, they will not come at you the same way,” he says.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz seeks power of the purse

419491_10150695272334122_1958333897_n

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida Democrat, wants to be the head of the House budget committee, a powerful post now held by New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey, who is retiring next year.

Wasserman Schultz, a former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee who once served in the Florida Legislature, sent a letter to her colleagues seeking their support for her bid.

“As we experience one of the most consequential periods in our democracy, I am increasingly reminded of the very important power that rests solely with the Congress, a co-equal branch of government,” Wasserman Schultz wrote in the letter distributed to the media yesterday by her office.

The Broward County Democrat wrote that she wants to ensure the House Appropriations Committee has “strong and strategic leadership” that will make the committee process “more inclusive, accessible and even more transparent for all members.”

Wasserman Schultz notes that she’s served on budget subcommittees for 11 of her 14 years in Congress, including her current stint as the first woman to head the combined Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.

As chairwoman of the sub, she said she’s worked to ensure vets have “the resources and support” they’ve earned.

“I also have led the fight to protect these vital resources against President Trump’s unconstitutional raid on our military and their families to pay for the border wall boondoggle.”

 

Trump baby to prez: Welcome home!

Screenshot_2019-11-20 Click here to support Baby Trump in Florida organized by Craig Smith

Florida Democrats are unrolling a tongue-in-cheek “welcome mat” with a notorious prop to greet President Donald Trump at his “homecoming” rally in Broward County next week.

Trump in late September became a full-time #FloridaMan, after he and First Lady Melania Trump officially “relocated” to the Sunshine State, where the president had already planted a “Winter White House” flag on his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach.

The “Keep America Great” rally will take place Tuesday at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, according to an announcement issued by the president’s campaign earlier this month.

The Florida Democratic Party, meanwhile, has launched a gofoundme account to raise moolah to bring the notorious balloon to Miami to meet the prez.

As of 10 a.m. this morning, the Dems were about $1,000 short of their $3,700 goal.

Here’s a few of the comments from some of the folks who’ve thrown down:

One donor gave $10, “just to annoy the crap out of Trump.”

Another $10 contributor said “Trump must be defeated – and humiliated in the process is fine too.”

This from a $25 donor: “I love Florida!”

And someone gave $5 because “I used to live in Broward.”

 

Panuccio joins law firm headed by Democrats’ go-to guy, David Boies

7NhpduSKQckOpSCj0LJAZ0WhYgbUdIBBrHq4BxwYJesse Panuccio, a Federalist Society sweetheart who was the third-highest official in the U.S. Department of Justice, is going to work for Boies Schiller Flexner LLP in Florida and D.C., the law firm announced last week.

Panuccio served as former Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s general counsel and headed the state Department of Economic Opportunity before going to work for President Donald Trump’s administration in the DOJ.

Now Panuccio, a Harvard Law School grad, now is joining a law firm headed by one of the Democrats’ most prominent attorneys, David Boies, who, among other things, represented former Vice President Al Gore in Florida’s protracted 2000 recount.

“We are very pleased to welcome Jesse to the firm and excited for our clients to benefit from his wealth of knowledge and expertise working in the highest levels of federal and state governments,” BSF Chairman David Boies said in a prepared statement Friday. “Jesse’s unique background in high-stakes litigation, appeals, and crisis management will complement our firm’s leading practice in these areas. He is an exceptional litigator and we are excited to add him to our teams in Washington and Florida.”

Panuccio will focus on “high-stakes litigation and appeals, regulatory counseling, enforcement defense and crisis management,” according to the press release.

“Having spent the majority of my career navigating high-stakes legal matters, I am delighted to be joining Boies Schiller Flexner, which is well known for its work on bet-the-company issues. I’m thrilled to join this team of all-star litigators and crisis managers, and I look forward to helping the firm grow its federal and Florida practices,” Panuccio said in the release.