Posted on 05 February 2010 by admin
Posted on 11 January 2010 by admin
Several members of the Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC) attended the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) annual meeting January 8th and 9th. With factors such as the recently announced resignation of RPOF Chair Jim Greer, the growth of the RLC, the emergence of Tea Party movements and the influence of the “We Surround Them” (912) groups, we had high hopes for a new direction for the RPOF.
New opportunities were opened with the anger and energy of these activist groups, and the RPOF state committee recognized this with a resolution to encourage county executive committees to reach out to “Tea Party people.” This would have given the RPOF a solid boost heading into the 2010 elections. But they failed to understand that those “Tea Party people” want principled leadership and bottom-up representation, not the party-first top-down mentality currently in place.
At the annual meeting, the RPOF leadership demonstrated that they still don’t get it. Chairman Greer received a standing ovation from party leadership when he exclaimed at the conclusion of his speech, “It’s about the party, party, party”. The cries heard at a Tea Party or grassroots function, however, are for “principles, principles, principles.”
Rank-and-file Republicans are clearly angry over the unprecedented growth of the federal government in 2009. They are also disgusted at our Governor Charlie Crist’s display of support for Obama’s stimulus package. Yet, when Crist addressed the RPOF at the meeting, he stated that “Florida needs to get her fair share,” and added that he would “not apologize for supporting the stimulus.” Such a statement would be met with scorn from the majority of voters of the Republican Party and Tea Party attendees, but was met with a standing ovation by party leadership.
The first person to speak on policy was Jeff Kottkamp, candidate for Attorney General. Kottkamp did not talk about reducing the size and scope of government, cutting spending, or removing regulations and encouraging free enterprise. Instead, he focused his remarks on expanding the Defense and Space industries in Florida. Grassroots Republicans are pleading for leadership that understands the core issues of fiscal responsibility and limiting the size and scope of government, but RPOF leadership offers only promises to protect special interests.
Most discouraging of all, however, was the apparent coronation of Senator John Thrasher to replace Jim Greer as Chair of the RPOF. In much the same fashion Jim Greer was chosen, the word is that Thrasher had been chosen before the conference call announcing Greer’s resignation had even ended. Many in leadership have rallied around Thrasher because of his ability to raise large sums of money, something the RPOF is in need of. What the RPOF needs more than money, however, is to discover its principles and to get candidates who truly understand those principles elected to office.
A Sign of Hope
In spite of the leadership’s general disconnect with the grassroots, there was a significant sign of hope. There appears to be some serious resistance to the leadership-led coronation of John Thrasher as the new RPOF Chair. Sharon Day, who currently serves as national committeewoman for Florida, stated that she too is running for RPOF Chair in the election that will take place at the February 20th special meeting in Orlando. “I’m running to give the RPOF members a choice, because there should always be a choice,” Day said when she addressed the state committee Saturday morning.
The RLC applauds those in the RPOF that are supporting the courage of Sharon Day and others that seek to offer a voice to the rank-and-file Republicans. We hope that more in party leadership will stand against the top-down approach taken by many in the RPOF.
Source: RLC Website
Posted on 24 July 2009 by admin
It’s fitting that Jeff Kottkamp’s political rise involved an airplane trip.
On the morning of Sept. 13, 2006, reporters filed onto Charlie Crist’s campaign plane without being told where we were going. “Undisclosed location” was the official line.
We resented it. It was media manipulation at its best, but it was either that or miss the announcement. Only when the plane was out of reach of reporters to use cell phones and BlackBerry units did Crist spokeswoman Vivian Myrtetus utter these words: “We’re headed to southwest Florida,” where Kottkamp lived.
The 48-year-old lawyer and former House member from Cape Coral has been encased in Crist’s shadow for the past 21/2 years, his obscurity shattered only by his own frequent use of state planes to commute to Tallahassee.
Nobody knows who the lieutenant governor is. The idea is to be seen and not heard, to avoid controversy at all costs.
For Kottkamp, the bad news is that what most people know about him is that he flew on the state plane a lot.
The good news is that the two candidates for governor, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, have their own frequent-flier controversies that are, like Kottkamp’s, fodder for investigations by the Commission on Ethics. Once again, Kottkamp may find himself overshadowed by others — to his advantage.
This week, for the first time, Kottkamp began to emerge from Crist’s shadow as he attempts to become the first lieutenant governor in state history to win higher office.
Cast adrift when his meal ticket, Crist, opted to run for the U.S. Senate, Kottkamp now must stand on his own two feet and try to win office independently.
He now must walk a delicate line, balancing his fealty to Crist with his need to establish an independent identity. He will be forced to re-address his own record, such as his support (as a legislator in 2001) for flying the Confederate flag on public grounds.
Kottkamp wants to be Florida’s next attorney general — the state’s chief legal officer, arbiter of public records disputes, and member of the Cabinet on major policy issues ranging from the environment to investing pension funds.
“I feel very excited about this campaign,” he said, “and I wouldn’t run if we weren’t going to run to win.”
He shaved off his mustache. He hired campaign consultant Rocky Pennington, long aligned with the influential trial bar.
He launched a Web site, www.jeffkottkamp.com, where you can watch a four-minute video in which he vows to get tough with the “vile thugs” preying on innocent Floridians.
Kottkamp is well liked, and the trial bar is comfortable with him — a rare thing for a Republican candidate. It was telling that neither of his two Democratic rivals, state Sens. Dave Aronberg and Dan Gelber, would poke him this week when given the chance.
Skittish about reading about more plane-trip stories, Kottkamp now largely travels by car. In the past few weeks, Kottkamp has logged 3,000 miles, according to the state trooper who’s at his side 24/7.
Those travels in a state-owned SUV surely will increase as he works to boost his visibility as a candidate for attorney general. This week alone he was in Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa and Miami, ending the week Friday on familiar turf — his home base of Fort Myers.
Steve Bousquet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 224-7263.
Posted on 20 July 2009 by admin
Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, a former North Fort Myers legislator, confirms that he intends to take the plunge Monday morning and file his papers to run for attorney general.
When he does, the Republican who at one time was eyeing the governor’s race, becomes the immediate frontrunner for the Cabinet post.
The only other Republican officially in the race is Fort Lauderdale attorney Jim Lewis.
Kottkamp, 48, will likely face one of two Democratic legislators in the general election, Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres, whose district also includes Lee County, and Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach.
Look for Kottkamp to tout his sponsorship of anti-crime measures when he served in the House from 2000 to 2006, and his current role overseeing the governor’s office of adoption, his chairmanship of the quasi-governmental economic development arm, Space Florida, and the newly created Children’s Cabinet.
He’ll also seek to downplay his use of state aircraft and an ongoing ethics investigation. The same formal complaints also cloud the campaigns of Attorney General Bill McCollum and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the two leading candidates for governor.
One of the reasons Gov. Charlie Crist chose Kottkamp as a running mate was his solid credentials with Christian conservatives, who were skeptical of Crist’s moderate, bipartisan reputation. Kottkamp was also valued for his low-key style, one that makes him unlikely to upstage his boss.
Former House Speaker Marco Rubio, a Republican from West Miami who is running in the race against Crist for the U.S. Senate, has denied Washington beltway reports that he is considering switching races and challenging Kottkamp in the primary.
Posted on 02 July 2009 by admin
State Representatives Darryl Rouson (D-Tampa), Janet Long (D-Seminole), Michael Scionti (D-Tampa), Bill Heller (D-St. Petersburg) and Betty Reed (D-Tampa) today announced their endorsement of Senator Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) as Florida’s next Attorney General.
Rep. Darryl Rouson said, “Floridians need strong leaders who are going to fight for their rights and protect them from unscrupulous practices. I witnessed Dan’s strong leadership skills on the House Floor and as Florida’s next Attorney General, he will continue to be a voice of reason on reforming the status quo and the way business is done in Tallahassee.”
Rep. Janet Long said, “After serving with Dan for two years in the Florida House , I know he will stand up to protect Floridians who have been victims of fraud and dishonest practices. He has the mindset and courtroom experience we need in our next Attorney General. I am proud to endorse Dan in his new journey to serve the people of Florida as their Attorney General.”
Rep. Michael Scionti said, “Having served with Dan, I know he will lead the charge to protect consumers and be a real voice for everyday Floridians. Dan has fought against public corruption and wasteful spending and will put his skill sets to work as Florida’s next Attorney General.”
Rep. Bill Heller said, “I have met few individuals who share Dan’s passion and drive to bring change to Florida. Working families across our state need Dan in Tallahassee and on the Cabinet working to keep our communities safe. I am proud to stand with him because he is the type of leader we need working on behalf of Floridians. ”
Rep. Betty Reed said, “I am supporting Dan because he is never afraid to take a stand and fight for what is right. He has always been the first to demand accountability and has long been a champion of transparency and an open government.”
“Our state faces enormous challenges and we need leaders in Tallahassee that will stand up to change the status quo,” said Sen. Gelber. “Floridians need a stronger commitment to public safety and consumer protections from our state government. I want to bring about that commitment to keep Floridians safe at home and in their communities.”
Dan Gelber was elected to the State House of Representatives in 2000, serving as the House Democratic Leader from 2006-2008; and elected to the State Senate in 2008. Prior to elected life, Dan spent nearly a decade as a federal prosecutor, working mostly on public corruption, narcotics and civil rights cases, and serving as a top deputy in that office. He was then appointed chief counsel and staff director for the United States Senate’s investigations committee where he focused primarily on terrorism and domestic security. Dan is an AV rated attorney and listed in various peer review publications including Best Lawyers in America and Florida’s Legal Elite. He and his wife Joan Silverstein make their home in Miami Beach with their three children. For more information about Dan Gelber, please visit www.dangelber.com.
Posted on 02 July 2009 by admin
The race for Florida attorney general may be one of the hottest contests in 2010, but the presumed Republican frontrunner has yet to step in the ring.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, a former legislator from North Fort Myers, promised an announcement at the end of June. Kottkamp was in his Fort Myers office on Thursday and could not be reached for comment.
As his supporters wait, and the Ethics Commission weighs a complaint about his use of state airplanes, the name of a potential primary opponent has surfaced: Holly Benson, secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration and a former lawmaker from Pensacola.
“She’s a bright, articulate, young woman and a lot of people are looking to her as a potential opponent for Kottkamp in that race,” Sally Bradshaw, a veteran GOP strategist and former campaign manager for Gov. Jeb Bush, said during a discussion of recent poll results on a political Web-cast sponsored by Sachs Communications.
Benson on Thursday would only say she is weighing her options.
“Folks have asked me about it,” Benson said. “They’re looking for a lawyer and the party needs some diversity.”
For a time, Kottkamp considered running for governor, but he has backed current Attorney General Bill McCollum in that race.
In May, Kottkamp said he was leaning to the attorney general race. “I’m giving very serious consideration, most likely, to attorney general,” Kottkamp said then.
He said that would allow him to emphasize his strengths from working as a lawyer, a member of the Legislature and lieutenant governor.
Both Benson, 38, and Kottkamp, 48, owe their current jobs to Gov. Charlie Crist. Like Kottkamp, Benson was first elected to the House in 2000. Both were serving in the House when Crist came calling, selecting Kottkamp as a running mate during the campaign for governor; and Benson to head the Department of Business and Professional Regulation once he was elected. Crist named Benson to her current post in February 2008.
Benson said she has no timetable for making a decision. However, she said she is hesitant to leave the agency at a time when Congress is debating a massive overhaul of the nation’s health care system and at a time when her agency is about to roll out a major, electronic health records initiative.
Posted on 25 June 2009 by admin
Flight logs show that while Alex Sink and staff were traveling to the capital from West Palm Beach in January, the plane stopped in Tampa for 20 minutes. No one got off, and only Sink’s husband, Bill McBride, got on the plane before taking off again. FLIGHT LOGS CLICK HERE Each flight generally costs taxpayers between $1,500 – $2,000 an HOUR!
Similarly, McBride was with Sink and staff members in Boca Raton in October 2008. On the way back to Tallahassee, the plane stopped in Tampa for five minutes, where McBride got off and the rest of the passengers continued to the capital, records show.
Sink’s office didn’t dispute the records, but would not comment on whether the Tampa stops were scheduled solely to pick up and drop off family members.
“The rare times a family member has been on the plane, the CFO proactively paid the state for the cost of travel,” said her spokeswoman Kyra Jennings.
“We have a responsibility to increase openness and transparency in Tallahassee, and making this travel information available to the public continues this commitment,” Sink said in May when she asked DMS to post travel logs.
Records also show that in June 2007, Sink and staffers flew to Orlando, and on the way back stopped in Tampa, where her son, Bert McBride, got on the plane for the trip back to Tallahassee. Two days later, on a Friday, Bert McBride traveled with Sink to Orlando for an official event, and the state plane dropped both off in Tampa before taking a staffer back to Tallahassee. Sink’s next official event was in Tampa the following Tuesday.
In April 2007, Sink flew from Miami to Tallahassee, stopping in Tampa where Bill McBride and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair got off the plane during a 15-minute stop.
Sink is a Democratic candidate for governor in 2010. She hopes to replace Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running for Senate. Attorney General Bill McCollum is the only major Republican seeking in the governor’s race.
“It’s shocking that the Chief Financial Officer who is the self-proclaimed watchdog of the taxpayers’ money would use the taxpayers’ money in such a manner, what appears to be a pickup and drop-off service for family members,” said Matt Williams, McCollum’s campaign manager.
State law states use of the plane “shall be available for official state business only as authorized by agency heads.”