Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The GOP Tea Party Contract On America

1. Repeal the Affordable Care Act (Health Insurance Reform)

Put insurance companies back in charge, repeal tax credits for small businesses, allow insurance companies to deny coverage based on preexisting conditions and to drop coverage when a person gets too sick and make prescription drugs for seniors less affordable.

2. Privatize Social Security or phase it out altogether

Turn the guaranteed retirement benefits of America's seniors over to Wall Street CEOs by putting Social Security at risk in the stock market or, as some Republicans have called for, phase out Social Security altogether and end a program millions of American seniors rely on for their survival.

3. End Medicare as it presently exists

Phase out and end Medicare as it presently exists for future generations of seniors -- ending Medicare's guaranteed healthcare benefits for more than 40 million American seniors -- and replace it with a voucher system which will result in higher premiums and fewer services for seniors.

4. Extend the Bush tax breaks for the wealthy and big oil

At a cost of nearly $700 billion, extend the Bush tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and big oil, which are set to expire and which have and will continue to explode the federal budget deficit.

5. Repeal Wall Street Reform

Roll back the toughest consumer protections ever enacted, allow banks to continue to grow too big to fail, and ensure that predatory lenders continue to utilize their most abusive practices.

6. Protect those responsible for the oil spill and future environmental catastrophes

Cap liabilities for those responsible for environmental disasters like the Gulf oil spill and let companies like BP decide which victims deserve compensation for the disaster and what the timeline for relief should be.

7. Abolish the Department of Education

Put the big banks back in charge of student loans and put an end to federal assistance for public schools.

8. Abolish the Department of Energy

End America's investments in a clean-energy future and disband the organization responsible for oversight of nuclear materials.

9. Abolish the Environmental Protection Agency

Gut the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act -- which together protect our kids from air pollution and keep drinking water safe -- and disband the watchdog that holds polluters accountable.

10. Repeal the 17th Amendment

Take away your right to pick your U.S. Senator.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Aronberg outraises all in A.G. Race

—Dave Aronberg—$264,000 in cash, slightly better than his previous two quarters, plus $115,000 in-kind from the party. That brings him to a total of about $1.2 million cash for the campaign plus $200,000 in-kind.

—Dan Gelber – His campaign announced he raised $165,000 cash in the quarter—a drop from his previous three quarters—plus $115,000 in-kind, for a total of slightly more than $1 million for the campaign so far.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Alex Sink widens lead in poll

According to the results from the latest Public Policy Polling survey found Alex Sink with a six point lead on Rick Scott and a 14 point lead over Bill McCollum.

Highlight from the press release about the poll:

"Scott and McCollum both have very poor favorability numbers. Their primary battle has completely turned off Democrats and independents, and Republicans aren't seeing them very positively either. 23% of voters have a favorable opinion of Scott while 41% view him unfavorably. While only 34% of Republicans view him positively,40% of independents and 52% of Democrats see him unfavorably. McCollum's numbers are even worse. Only 16% have a favorable opinion of him with 51% holding a negative one. Just 27% of GOP voters see him favorably, while 59% of Democrats and 57% of independents have an unfavorable opinion of him."

Read the rest of the release at
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Monday, July 19, 2010


A special session of the state legislature will begin on Tuesday to consider a constitutional ban on offshore oil drilling in Florida waters. Florida has struggled with crafting a policy developing renewable energy sources over the past three years. Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) today sent a letter to Speaker of the Florida House, Larry Cretul and President of the Florida Senate, Jeff Atwater for inclusion of a renewable portfolio standards constitutional amendment in the July 20-23 special session.

The legislature should expand the call of the Special Session on the crisis in the Gulf and design a meaningful renewable energy policy for our state. Rep. Williams filed, HJR43C relating to Renewable Energy Sources outside the governor’s call on today. The legislation is modeled after legislation passed during the 2009 legislative session, championed by the late Senator Jim King. The constitutional amendment will allow voters the opportunity to establish that 20-pecent of Florida electricity be generated by renewable sources by 2020. “This constitutional amendment will allow voters the control of reframing energy sources for Florida. Our state needs real and comprehensive energy reform now, it’s too important for our future and we can’t allow this opportunity to pass us by. I strongly believe that the answer to our growing energy needs is a renewable portfolio standard for our state.”

“A renewable portfolio standard can put Florida at the forefront of developing a Green Collar Economy that will create thousands of green jobs and careers, said Rep. Williams.” Considering the costs and benefits of renewable energy sources the results will show that the Florida can meet a significant share of its electricity needs from renewable resources at a modest cost. Our state can’t afford another oil spill catastrophe. We cannot continue investing resources overseas for foreign oil. Developing renewable energy standards will provide Florida with immediate environmental benefits, decrease our dependency of foreign oil and create jobs for the State. True democracy is ruled by the people.”


2 of 2 File(s)

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Congressman Ted Deutch has endorsed Dave Aronberg for Attorney General.

I am proud to announce that Congressman Ted Deutch has endorsed our campaign for Attorney General.

“I served alongside Dave Aronberg in the Florida Senate for three years, and during that time I witnessed firsthand Dave’s commitment to fighting consumer fraud and protecting the safety of all Floridians. He is one of the strongest consumer advocates in Florida government, and after eight years in the hands of Republicans, it's time we had a strong Democrat in the Office of Attorney General who will stand up for of all Floridians."

--Congressman Ted Deutch

Congressman Deutch served with both me and my opponent in the Florida Senate, and I am honored and humbled to receive his support in this race. He and my supporters know that as Florida’s next Attorney General, I will put public policy over politics, and return the AG's focus to public safety and consumer protection -- as it was under my old boss, AG Bob Butterworth.

Congressman Deutch joins Congressman Ron Klein, 14 Democratic Sheriffs, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Police Benevolent Association, and many other Democratic legislators and local government officials who have endorsed our campaign.

But the most important endorsement will come from you. We are only 5 weeks away from the election. Join our team and let's make the Attorney General the people's lawyer once again!

Thank you, Congressman Deutch -- and to all of you for your ongoing support and friendship throughout this campaign to change Florida.



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Florida must have attorney general who can sue BP

As a horrified nation watches daily news reports of oil washing up on our shores, it has become clear, as President Obama said, that this is “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced.”

The oil spill also presents the most important legal issue facing our state’s next attorney general, who will have to lead the state’s legal response to the actions of BP, Halliburton and Transocean. In my opinion, Florida’s next attorney general should not have worked for BP’s law firm.

For almost two months, the law firm Dan Gelber worked for until this month has been retained to represent BP in Florida. Because of this potential conflict of interest, I have serious concerns about the ability of my opponent in the Democratic primary to represent Florida against BP as attorney general. I fully realized that in raising this issue I would be accused of negative campaigning – as The Post did in a July 13 editorial. I strongly disagree.

I am tired of personal attacks in politics. But when the No. 1 issue facing the next attorney general is the impending lawsuit against BP, it is crucial to know that one of the attorney general candidates may be disqualified from leading the charge against BP. You don’t have to be a lawyer to see the potential conflict of interest when someone works for BP’s law firm and then sues BP as Florida attorney general.

If Dan Gelber is elected attorney general, can anyone doubt that BP’s first legal maneuver will be to remove him from the case? If BP succeeds, it means that one of the most important lawsuits in the history of our state will be relegated to outside counsel. Win or lose, these legal maneuvers will mean delays for Floridians who have lost their livelihoods and their homes because of BP’s oil spill.

Whether Florida’s next attorney general can sue BP is not only a relevant issue – it is the most important issue of this campaign.



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Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Legions of pajama-clad voters could decide Florida's ballot long before the August primary.

Elections officials began mailing out hundreds of thousands of vote-by-mail ballots this week, creating an unprecedented army of absentee voters in an unpredictable election year rattled by vulnerable incumbents, a desolate economy and the sudden emergence of two wealthy political upstarts.

With the ballots poised to arrive weeks before a slate of scheduled debates or other opportunities for voters to learn about the candidates, the emergence of the home as the polling place of choice for so many voters lends further uncertainty to a year already testing many of Florida's political traditions.

"There's no such thing as election day in Florida anymore," said Eric Jotkoff, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party. "It's election month."

Florida voters have steadily abandoned traditional polling sites for pre-election day voting options in recent years, particularly during President Barack Obama's 2008 grass roots campaign. What is new this year is the concerted effort behind the change. Political parties, election officials and the candidates themselves are all making a hard push for absentee ballots, with startling results:

• The Pinellas County supervisor of elections has fielded requests for 234,000 absentee ballots so far this year, compared to 78,268 requests during the 2008 primary.

• Hernando County reported 6,377 absentee ballots requests this year, compared to 4,728 requests during the 2008 primary.

• In Broward County, 19,011 absentee voters returned their vote-by-mail ballots during the 2008 primary. This year, the office has fielded 65,522 absentee requests.

"You can vote from the privacy of your home, you can get on the computer, you can look up candidates and Google," said Pasco Elections Supervisor Brian Corley, who sent out 18,458 absentee ballots last week, a far jump from the 6,429 Pasco voters who returned vote-by-mail ballots in the 2008 primary. "It's a huge convenience."

And the ranks of absentee voters are expected to keep growing. Voters can request vote-by-mail ballots up until roughly a week before the election.

"It basically means if you thought you had until Aug. 24 to do your promotions, now you really have until July 15 to lock down your votes," said Elizabeth Tetreault, campaign director for Maurice Ferre, an underdog candidate in the crowded U.S. Senate Democratic primary. "It's going to be very different."

To be sure, not every voter who receives an absentee ballot will vote by mail. As in previous years, voters can wait and vote on election day or they can vote up to two weeks early at sites set by the county elections offices.

That hasn't deterred the raft of political insiders doing everything possible to ensure that votes are cast soon.

Operatives from the state Republican and Democratic parties have asked local party officials to promote absentee ballots. Campaigns have directed squads of volunteers to sell their candidates through telephone pitches aimed at voters slated to receive absentee ballots. Candidates are appearing more frequently on television and through direct mail advertisements.

"That's intentional," said David Bishop, a spokesman for Jeff Kottkamp's attorney general campaign, which began airing television ads in the Tampa Bay and Orlando media markets last week. The lieutenant governor faces two rivals in August's heated Republican primary and needs absentee votes if he is going to advance to the general election, Bishop said. "We think they will play a critical role in who wins the primary."

Republicans historically outnumber Democrats in absentee voting, which tends to favor candidates whose names are familiar. But with the arrival of Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rick Scott and U.S. Senate Democratic contender Jeff Greene, two newcomers flush with cash, it's unclear what will happen.

"Floridians are hungry for someone who is not a career politician," said Jennifer Baker, a spokesman for the Scott campaign, which has flooded markets across the state with ads.

Candidates of every ilk have quickly learned the system. They call elections offices for constant updates. Once a voter returns an absentee ballot, the person is dropped from a campaign's contact list, at least until the general election.

In some instances, campaigns use this as a selling point, informing voters overwhelmed by direct mailers and robocalls that they'll be left alone once they submit their ballots.

Another incentive for campaigns to encourage early voting is that last-minute accusations from the opposing camp have less power if lots of voters have already cast their ballots.

It's a stark change from years past, when only a smattering of Florida voters — those able to show a need — were allowed to vote by absentee ballot. That requirement was eliminated during a rash of election reforms ushered in after the debacle of the 2000 election, where Florida's ability to count votes became an international joke.

Absentee ballots were consequently rebranded "vote by mail" ballots, and elections supervisors hosted public meetings to counter rumors that absentee ballots were counted only in close elections, if at all.

"Why stand in line for the same ballot you can have mailed to your home?" Pinellas County's supervisor of elections website tells voters.

Election officials say voter ease is a top priority, but they, too, consider absentee ballots useful.

"It allows us to do really good planning," said Craig Latimer, the chief of staff for the Hillsborough elections office, which saw pre-election voting options outpace Election Day votes for the first time in 2008. "We know how many have gone out, but we also know how many have come back.


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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Florida Bill Seeks to Further Limit Sex Offender Proximity to Children

Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed a recent bill that targeted criminals convicted of sex-related crimes.

A Senator Stood Alone One Florida legislator, Senator Dave Aronberg, tried to include additional provisions in this bill to actually remove or repeal some of the current residence restrictions for sexual predators. He stated that, "Sex offenders have been pushed underground. They go homeless, don't report and they roam our streets. This is a very dangerous situation. We need more standardization and we need to keep our streets safer." Aronberg's provision, which had to be stricken for the bill to pass, sought to increase the distance sexual criminals have to live from schools and daycare facilities from 1,000 to 2,500 feet. Aronberg's attempt here was to try to make all the state and local laws regulation where sex offenders could live more consistent, which would give these individuals a better chance to successfully rehabilitate.

Read More........
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Sen. Eleanor Sobel Endorses Dave Aronberg For A.G.

Dear Friends,

It is with great pleasure that I proudly endorse Dave Aronberg for Attorney General.

As a State Senator, I have served with both AG candidates in this race. I have chosen to support Dave Aronberg because he has dedicated his entire career to public safety and consumer protection -- and has the results to prove it. A former Assistant Attorney General, he has been called the strongest consumer advocate in state government by two different newspapers.

He is law enforcement's clear choice in this race, as he has been endorsed by 14 Democratic Sheriffs, the FOP and the PBA. Indeed, he will use his boundless energy and tireless work ethic to be one of the best Attorney Generals this state has ever seen.

And when it comes to one of the most important lawsuits in Florida history -- the impending litigation against BP -- Dave Aronberg will be the tough and aggressive AG that we need to make sure that the polluters pay.

I don't often get involved in Democratic primaries, but Dave Aronberg is too impressive and this race is too important to remain silent.

With the crucial fundraising deadline approaching on Friday, please make a donation and let Dave know you stand with the top consumer advocate in Florida!

With Best Regards,

Eleanor Sobel
Senator Eleanor Sobel


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Thursday, July 08, 2010


Greenacres Democrat questions why Florida balks at corporate misdeeds, while targeting senior citizens for fraud

TALLAHASSEE – State Senator Dave Aronberg (D-Greenacres) on Thursday renewed his call on Attorney General Bill McCollum to intervene in a pending settlement with healthcare giant WellCare, and move to collect up to $1 billion in repayment and damages as a result of alleged Medicaid and Medicare fraud.

He also asked for clarification on an announcement by McCollum and Agency for Healthcare Administration head Tom Arnold to scrutinize over 3 million Florida senior citizens for possible Medicaid and Medicare fraudulent behavior.

“There has been no response since I raised the caution flags on a pending federal settlement with WellCare that could cost our state close to $1 billion," said Sen. Aronberg. "Instead, the priority is to file for a controversial waiver that would focus the AG's enforcement glare on Florida's seniors 65 years and older as potential crooks. Meanwhile, the state seems prepared to walk away from a billion dollars of Wellcare settlement money. The priorities appear to be backwards."

Aronberg's concerns stem from a letter he sent last week to the Attorney General asking him to intervene in a $137.5 million Medicaid fraud settlement reportedly struck by federal prosecutors and WellCare. The fraudulent overbillings allegedly committed by the company amount to between $400 million and $600 million. In addition, the state could be entitled to treble damages.

While the Senator continues to await a response to his request, the Attorney General and AHCA chief announced Wednesday that they were seeking a waiver from the federal government to expand their powers to investigate potential abuse. Noting the state’s “3.03 million seniors (age 65+),” the duo outlined their plans to include data mining for fraud and abuse by zeroing in on “population specific activities” that would “encompass statewide Medicaid activities.”

Ironically, in 2003, the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit was placed on probation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for violation of the same federal law to which it is now seeking the waiver.

In addition, just two years ago, an audit by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability urged AHCA to implement advanced fraud detection systems, finding that while the agency had improved its oversight of managed care organizations, “it needs to take more steps to deter and detect corporate level abusive and fraudulent practices.”

“While bad apples can be found in any group, the state needs to first focus on plucking the ones already in sight,” said Sen. Aronberg. “While the waiver might be a good idea for future Medicaid fraud investigations, WellCare is here and now. It needs to be the immediate focus.”

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