Todd Wilcox blasts David Jolly on calling for lobbying ban – even though he said it nearly a year ago

Since declaring his candidacy for  his first run for Congress in late 2013, David Jolly has to had to hear from his critics that he’s a creature of the Washington Establishment.

Jolly spent 11 years working with Congressman Bill Young, the last six as his general counsel. In 2007 he left join the Washington, D.C. firm Van Scoyoc Associates as a lobbyist, and in 2011, he left Van Scoyoc to open his own firm, Three Bridges Advisors.

Now he’s running as a Washington reformer in a bid for the GOP nomination for senate in Florida, and says he now believes that members of Congress should not be allowed to go back into the lobbying world after their time in Congress is over.

“Personally, I feel that for members of congress, there should be a lifetime ban,” Jolly told New York City radio talk-show Bill Samuels on 970 am Sunday morning. “Once you hold the office, I think there’s enough respect due the office that members of congress really shouldn’t engage in lobbying once they leave.”

Jolly was asked by Samuels to appear on his radio show to discuss his legislative proposal known as the STOP Act.  The bill would ban federal office holders from directly asking for campaign contributions. It’s been derided as a gimmick by his GOP senate opponents, but has won praise from several editorial boards around the country, and was featured last weekend on CBS’ 60 Minutes.

Members of Congress and senior staffers are prohibited from making lobbying contacts or communications with former colleagues for a time after leaving their government post. For senators, the period is two years; for House members, one. However, that law has been stretched, if not outright violated in recent years.  A joint study published by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Sunlight Foundation in January of 2015 revealed that of the 104 former federal legislators and staffers whose restrictions ended in time for the opening of the 114th Congress, 29 were already in government relations,”public affairs,” or employed as counsel to lobbying-oriented law firms. But only 13 of them are formally registered as lobbyists.

Jolly’s stance mirrors on banning congress from lobbying is a position that one of his GOP senate opponents, defense contractor Todd Wilcox,  laid out as part of his plan to end “career politicians” earlier this year . Wilcox has hammered Jolly for his lobbying past.

“Welcome aboard, Congressman!” Wilcox emailed to FloridaPolitics.com. “I hope this means he’ll consider supporting the rest of my Plan to End Career Politicians as well. I won’t hold my breath though, seeing as how Congressman Jolly has been on both sides of the coin when it comes to cleaning up Washington – he wants everyone to stop fundraising, yet he attended a fundraiser on Friday. Today he wants everyone to stop lobbying, yet his staff tried to erase his time as a lobbyist from his Wikipedia page. I’ve got whiplash just trying to keep up with this guy’s hypocrisy.”

The Jolly camp fired back immediately.

“Welcome to old news, Todd,” responded Sarah Bascom, Jolly’s campaign spokesperson. “Congressman Jolly is flattered that Wilcox is following Jolly’s leadership on this idea.  Would he like to sign onto the STOP Act as well? It may help his listless campaign to take a bold stand, instead of just peddling petty anger.”

In fact, Jolly came out last July to announce he was supportive of a proposal by Jeb Bush to ban former members of Congress from lobbying for six years, and declared to the Tampa Bay Times at that time that,”I don’t believe that any member actually should serve as a lobbyist.”

“Rep. Jolly believes Members of Congress are given a special honor to serve, to hold the public trust, and they have a constitutional responsibility to honor the founders’ design,” Bascom continued. “Rep. Jolly does not believe former Members should lobby and announced nearly a year ago he would never do so.”

Wilcox referenced two incidents involving the Jolly senate campaign in his statement. His comment about a Jolly fundraising appearance in Washington on Friday came after the Pinellas Representative got into a dispute with the National Republican Congressional Campaign, who accused him of lying on 60 Minutes by claiming he was told he had to spend four hours a day to fundraise. However, Jolly has never said that the STOP Act would prohibit member of Congress from attending fundraisers – the bill ”would prohibit federal officeholders from directly soliciting political contributions.  Elected federal officials would still be permitted to attend fundraisers and speak to donors.

The Wikipedia reference was to a story that BuzzFeed broke last month about a Jolly campaign official deleting part of his Wikipedia page, including references to his lobbying past.

Also on New York City radio, Jolly reiterated his comment that he said on Morning Joe last week that he prefers the “British model” when it comes to regulating political television advertising. The United Kingdom bans paid TV and radio advertising on any ads on matters of “political or industrial controversy.” It’s one reason why their political campaigns are radically less expensive than American contests.

Jolly says that because Congress funds PBS to the tune of $120 million annually, they should provide free airtime for candidates.

“What if we had candidate hours made available to legitimate candidates beginning 45 days out or 60 days out or 90 days out where voters who wanted the truth from candidates, and the ability to hear from candidates, would have a destination to have that,” he told Samuels. “So let’s take these 28-second hit ads that the American public are sick and tired of, let’s get them off TV. That would take out a lot of their cost drivers of current campaigns.”

Charlie Crist goes after Mark Bircher in fundraising note

Congressional District 13 Democratic hopeful Charlie Crist is coming out swinging against Republican Mark Bircher, in advance of Bircher’s formal kickoff campaign announcement Tuesday night.

As this website reported Monday, Bircher, the retired Marine Corps Reserve brigadier general who finished third in the Republican race for Pinellas County’s 13th Congressional District race in January 2014, will hold his first event as a candidate for the 2016 CD 13 race Tuesday night in Clearwater.

That prompted Crist, who announced in October that he would enter the Pinellas County congressional race, to fire off this missive to supporters Tuesday morning:

“Before I tell you what’s at stake, I do want to commend my new opponent on his military service to our country. Public service, especially military service, is what allows us to have these debates.

“But, here’s the deal. Mark Bircher is about as Tea Party as it gets.

“He wants Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act repealed.

“You read that right.

“Medicare. Social Security. And the Affordable Care Act. Repealed.

“That’s unconscionable.”

Crist then follows up by making the ask.

“How do you want to welcome him to the race? How about a contribution, of any amount, to the right side of history?’

Bircher is extremely conservative, which made it a challenge for him in his first bid for electoral office last year against fellow Republicans David Jolly and Kathleen Peters. The district has now become more Democratic-leaning with redistricting, making it a challenge for any Republican to win the seat that was held by the late Bill Young for over four decades.

Crist is running against former Obama Defense Department adviser Eric Lynn in the CD 13 Democratic primary.

Mark Bircher becomes the first Republican to enter CD 13 contest

Mark Bircher has filed paperwork to run for the 13th Congressional District seat in 2016, becoming the first Republican to do so. He’s the retired Marine Corps Reserve brigadier general who finished third in the district’s Republican primary in early 2014 to succeed the late Bill Young.

The 62-year-old Seminole resident and commercial airline pilot had never run for political office until he entered the special primary election in late 2013. He lost to David Jolly with about 25 percent of the vote. State Rep. Kathleen Peters finished in second place.

If the odds were formidable against Bircher last year, the challenge will grow after Wednesday’s Florida Supreme Court decision validating new district lines that make it a much more Democratic-friendly seat. That was a major factor for Jolly’s decision this year to skip a re-election bid to instread run for U.S. Senate.

Bircher’s politics are very conservative. He’s passionate to reduce federal spending.

“The states created the federal government for one purpose: to serve the interest of the states,” he said in 2013. “Printing money, common defense, foreign policy, and the post office.”

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker has been said to be considering running for the seat on the Republican side. He’s expected to decide by next month.

Any Republican who comes out of the Aug. 30 primary likely will be considered an underdog in the race, based on how much more Democratic-leaning the district is expected be with the new CD 13 map.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist and Eric Lynn, a former adviser in the Pentagon for President Barack Obama, have already declared their candidacies for the Democratic nomination.

Attempts to speak with Bircher on Wednesday were unsuccessful. An official close to him told FloridaPolitics.com that he’s out of town, to return next week.

Habitat for Humanity dedicates 340th Pinellas home

Yesterday marked the 340th home dedication for Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County.

A three bedroom, two bathroom house on 3rd Avenue N., in St. Petersburg, will now be home to the Engle family: Mary Anne, a local small-business owner who recently earned her U.S. citizenship, and her two teenage sons.

Habitat has been operating in Pinellas County since 1985. Its homeownership program revolves around building homes with volunteer community members, then selling those homes — for no profit — to households who Habitat believes otherwise could not afford to own a home.

To complete the program, an individual must attend 13 homeowners’ classes, complete at least 250 sweat-equity hours, and have enough saved up for closing costs, which are about $500, and for the first year of home insurance, which runs between $1,000 and $1,500.

“Theodore Roosevelt once said, ‘Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell them,  certainly I can, then get busy and find out how to do it,’” commented Mary Anne as she thanked everyone involved in helping her become a Pinellas County homeowner.

Habitat’s homeownership program has turned into such a success due in part to its long-term affordability design. Habitat homes are financed with a zero-interest 25-to-35-year mortgage, which,  depending on the value of the land, will cost those living in a 3-bedroom Habitat home — as the Engle family will be doing — between $664 to $720 monthly, which includes taxes and insurance.

The Engle home — like all Habitat homes — is ENERGY STAR certified, meaning that it’s in accordance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines for helping businesses and individuals “save money and protect the climate through superior energy efficiency.”

One of the benefits of the Engle home’s ENERGY STAR certifications is a solar water heater.

“It’ll keep your energy bills very low,” said Duke Energy’s Joe Triolo.

A representative of U.S. Rep. David Jolly — Stephani Lavely — was also in attendance to officially recognize the completion of the Engle family home, as well as to present the family with a flag from the nation’s capitol.

“[Congressman Jolly] is a very big supporter of this program,” said Lavely, “as was his predecessor, Congressman Bill Young.”

Jolly, according to Habitat, has either been at, or sent a representative to, each of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County’s home dedications since taking office.

St. Petersburg City Councilmember Amy Foster was also scheduled to be in attendance, but was a no-show.

In-kind donors to the Engle home include Duke Energy, Schnieder Electric, Dan Powers P.E., Innovation Cabinetry, Whirlpool Corporation, Valpak, Valspar, and Andrea Stark Home.

Sponsors include Blueprint for Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County and Chase Bank.

For more information on Habitat’s Pinellas homeownership program, visit habitatpinellas.org.

Ken Welch latest Democrat to embrace Charlie Crist’s congressional candidacy

Considering he was at Charlie Crist‘s pitch two weeks ago to run for Congress, it was no surprise Wednesday when the Crist campaign said it now has Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch‘s backing.

Charlie Crist has been standing up for our values his whole life, even when it wasn’t easy,” Welch says in a prepared statement from the former governor’s campaign. “I’ve known Charlie for years – he’s a man of the people, and I know he will move us forward and get things done. We should send someone to Washington who will lead and effectively represent all of Pinellas County – that’s why I’m supporting Charlie Crist.”

At times through the four decades when the late Bill Young ruled Congressional District 13, Welch himself was considered a possible candidate for the seat. Welch always insisted he wouldn’t run against Young, because of his service for all of Pinellas County.

Since Young died two years ago, though, it’s been higher profile Democrats who’ve run: Alex Sink in 2014, and now Crist for 2016.

Welch joins Sink, Kathy Castor and St. Pete City Councilwoman Darden Rice in rallying around Crist’s candidacy.

Crist is running against former Obama Defense Department adviser Eric Lynn in the Democratic primary. No Republican has officially entered the contest, which because of redistricting is expected to heavily skew Democratic once the Florida Supreme Court gives its imprimatur to the newly configured district.

Email insights: Eric Lynn plays on work with Barack Obama to rake in contributions

Eric Lynn is asking for support in his bid for Congress in 2016. In an email sent to supporters Wednesday, Lynn plays on his work on President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns and administration.

“From 2007 until last year, I had the honor and privilege to work for President Barack Obama,” Lynn wrote. “I was proud to be one of the first hires for his historic presidential campaign and I was honored to serve as a senior adviser on National Security in his administration at the Pentagon.”

In the email, Lynn touts a statement from Obama.

“Eric was a trusted adviser on national security issues to the first campaign and at the Pentagon,” Obama said.

The email suggests donations of $10, $25, $100 or $250. Donors can also choose to donate a different amount.

Lynn is running for Congress against fellow Democrat Charlie Crist, who recently announced his candidacy.

Lynn has already raised $500,000 while Crist, having just entered the race, has not yet posted any fundraising totals.

The two are running to replace Congressional District 13 Rep. David Jolly, who is running for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat.

A Republican has not yet entered the race. Many speculate that former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker may jump into the race on the Republican ticket.

In the Democratic primary, Lynn is seen as the more progressive candidate while Crist is considered more moderate. Crist was Florida governor as a Republican. He then ran for U.S. Senate as an independent. Most recently he ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat against Gov. Rick Scott.

Both Lynn and Crist are St. Pete natives.

The district has been a Republican stronghold for more than four decades, but because the state Supreme Court ruled CD 13 was among those unfairly drawn, it now includes South St. Pete and parts of downtown, swinging it to a district favoring Democrats.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.22.15 — Freedom Caucus hearts Paul Ryan?

Today could be an interesting day locally and nationally, or it could just be another day of unfulfilled hype: The St. Pete City Council gets together once again to decide on proposals that would allow the Tampa Bay Rays to talk to officials in Hillsborough County, a subject we’ve visited more than a few times over the past five years or so.

And in Washington, Hillary Clinton goes before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. It’s supposed to last for at least eight hours.

Meanwhile, John Boehner may just be able to become a civilian by Halloween, as was his goal when he announced last month that he’d had enough Sturm and Drang as Speaker of the House and was calling it a political career.

Paul Ryan met with the House Freedom Caucus last night. Those are the Tea Party folks in the House who continue to back Daniel Webster, and are considered to be the biggest “disrupters” in the GOP conference, the folks who David Jolly would say aren’t into governing.

After three different votes last night, Politico reports that Ryan did not reach the 80 percent of members needed from the Freedom Caucus to deliver the endorsement that he said he needed to run. An official statement said “a supermajority of the House Freedom Caucus has voted to support” Ryan.

While the former GOP vice-presidential nominee seems to be the consensus pick of the entire Republican conference, it’s fascinating to hear the criticism that’s been floating his way over the past week or so. Conservatives are focusing on Ryan’s stances on immigration and trade, which they say aren’t in the mainstream of conservative Republicans today.

He’s also being bashed for receiving praise from Democrats, heaven forbid. Yesterday New York U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley said he’s worked with Ryan and could do so if he was House Speaker, but “Whether or not he will actually work with the Democrats to move an agenda … has more to do with whatever deal he makes or will make with the House Freedom Caucus.”

“The Freedom Caucus will totally marginalize themselves, isolate themselves and show they’re out of touch with reality and it will be disastrous for the Republican Party and the country,” New York U.S. Rep. Peter King told reporters yesterday. “If it’s not Paul Ryan, I think it’s a disaster.”

It does look like it’s going to be Ryan. Expect more think pieces about how he’s a different type of Speaker and politician, because he’s got young kids whom he admits he wants to be around on weekends.

In other news…

Mike Murphy, Jeb Bush’s man over at his super PAC Right to Rise, talks incredibly confidently about his man’s prospects for the GOP nomination in an interview published by Bloomberg Politics. Murphy also takes more than a few shots at Marco Rubio in the process.

President Obama says he’ll remain neutral, thanks very much, in the Democratic primary in Pinellas County’s congressional race between Charlie Crist and Eric Lynn.  

Meanwhile, Alex Sink comes out in support of Crist.

The Hillsborough County Commission becomes the latest local government/business entity to endorse a Cuban consulate in Tampa.

Apparently, it’s personal for David Jolly regarding Charlie Crist’s candidacy. The current CD 13 congressman blasted Crist once again on Wednesday, this time referring to an incident that he says took place between Crist and the late Bill Young some 18 years ago.

More Republicans think Donald Trump will be their presidential nominee next year.

Joe Biden dropped out of the Democratic presidential race yesterday, even before he actually entered it. A poll released yesterday by the University of North Florida indicates that was a good call by the vice president.

Is long-time Central Florida Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica vulnerable due to redistricting next year? The DCCC believes so, and lays out the reasons why in a memo.

Alex Sink endorses Charlie Crist in CD 13 contest

A day after he announced his candidacy, former Florida Chief Financial Officer and vanquished CD 13 Democratic candidate Alex Sink is endorsing Charlie Crist in the race to succeed David Jolly in the Pinellas County congressional seat.

“Everyone knows how dysfunctional Washington is right now, only listening to themselves and fighting meaningless partisan battles,” Sink says in a statement. “We need someone who will give a voice to the people and push out the special interests, and Charlie Crist will do that.”

Sink and Crist did find common cause at times when they served together in the Florida Cabinet from 2007-2011, something that she alludes to in her endorsement.

“Charlie has fought for Democratic values, like expanding affordable healthcare coverage and restoring civil rights to nonviolent ex-felons. I know he’ll make sure the voices of Pinellas County will be heard in the halls of Congress. I’m proud to say I worked on the Florida Cabinet with Charlie for four years, and I know firsthand he is the right choice for the 13th District.”

Crist is running against Eric Lynn, the 37-year-old former Department of Defense official under President Obama who has already raised more than $500,000 in the race, which has literally taken a new turn following the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling this summer that the district (along with seven others) was created in violation of the Fair Districts amendments passed by voters in 2010.

Formerly a swing-district that leaned slightly Republican,  the new district will encompass South Pinellas County, a treasure trove of Democratic voters.

Sink’s endorsement matches the earlier endorsement that Lynn received from St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman earlier in the day.

Sink was the Democratic nominee in early 2014 in the special election that followed the death of longtime CD 13 U.S. Rep. Bill Young. She lost a close contest to Republican David Jolly.

David Jolly says Charlie Crist asked Bill Young to resign and endorse him in 1997

David Jolly got maximum exposure on Tuesday when he crashed Charlie Crist’s announcement in St. Petersburg, where he is running for the CD 13 seat that Jolly is vacating, calling the former Florida governor a “huckster” and ” a fraud.”

Appearing on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Wednesday morning, Jolly showed no signs of ceasing his war of words with the man who could succeed him in Washington next year. Jolly criticized Crist by saying that he attempted to press the late C.W. Bill Young to resign from his congressional seat in 1998 so Crist could run for the office. Jolly worked with Young from 1995 to 2006.

The anecdote was relayed after Jolly fielded a hostile phone call on the show.

“That’s the problem with you Republicans,” the Democratic caller identified as Douglas from Clearwater said, disapproving of Jolly’s appearance at the Crist announcement. “You don’t know how to talk nice. You don’t know how to be diplomatic. You don’t know how to be gracious, even in defeat. Those comments were outrageous what you said about him. He’s a fellow Floridian, by the way.”

The caller went on to criticize Republicans on a number of fronts, such as the redistricting lawsuits filed in Florida that have cost millions, the numerous investigations on Benghazi and Planned Parenthood, and the repeated votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

When given the chance to respond, Jolly answered some of the complaints, before segueing to Crist, where his vocal pace quickened as he relayed his disdain once again.

“I don’t apologize for my comments about Charlie Crist,” he said. “My comments reflected the frustration of people across the state who don’t know if he’s a Republican, an independent or a Democrat. I also will tell you this: this is a man who in 1997 walked into Bill Young’s office while I was there, and suggested that Bill Young was too old to serve, suggested that Bill Young should resign and retire, and endorse Charlie Crist because he was looking for another office to run for. When Bill Young refused to do that, Charlie Crist took on Bob Graham — this is a person who looks only to run for his own political future, and out of simple political convenience and not political conviction, and I will do everything I can to make sure that he is not the next member of Congress from Pinellas County.”

Crist was steamrolled by Graham in that 1998 U.S. Senate race, losing by 26 percentage points. He recovered in 2000 by winning the job as education commissioner over Democrat George Sheldon.

In 1997, Young was 66 years old. He went on to serve eight more terms and 16 more years in Congress before passing away at the age of 82 two years ago.

Kevin Cate, an aide working for Crist, emailed a response to FloridaPolitics.com.

“The petty grandstanding, name calling, and heckling from a distance by Mr. Jolly prove exactly why we need to elect more decent, honest people like Charlie Crist.”

Jolly is running in an intense GOP battle for U.S. Senate in 2016, where his relentless criticism of Crist will undoubtedly play well to the base, who considers Crist an apostate after he left the party to run as an independent for Senate in 2010.

Eric Lynn touts the real Democrat card

Congressional candidate Eric Lynn is responding to former Gov. Charlie Crist‘s long-anticipated announcement that he’ll challenge Lynn in a primary for Congressional District 13 by playing on reminders that Crist wasn’t always a Democrat.

“Since day one, I’ve been in this race to sere as a voice for the people of Pinellas County. This is my hometown. I’m a St. Petersburg native, a life-long Democrat, and I know what issues are important to the people of this district: the economy, jobs, national security, veterans, health care and women’s rights, just to name a few,” Lynn wrote in a statement.

Crist announced Monday morning he’s officially running in the newly formed congressional district to succeed incumbent David Jolly. Jolly is leaving office to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by presidential candidate Marco Rubio.

Lynn emerged early in the race after a court ordered the congressional district lines redrawn. That move shifted the district from a Republican majority to a Democratic stronghold by including South St. Pete and parts of downtown, where most voters lean left.

Lynn is likely to be seen as the further-left candidate. Crist lost against Gov. Rick Scott in the 2014 gubernatorial election in part because he was painted as an opportunist after switching from a Republican to an independent to run for U.S. Senate. He lost that race to Rubio. He then swapped to Democrat to run against Scott.

The wishy-washy political stances could leave a bad taste in some Democrats’ mouths who see Crist as a career politician who will sway whatever way he needs to get elected.

“Voters need a fresh face, someone with new smart policy ideas who is eager to make a change and fight for them in Washington,” Lynn wrote. “I’m confident I will be just that for my fellow Floridians, and I’m looking forward to a spirited primary on important Democratic issues to prove it to them.”

Crist responded earlier in the day to arguments that he was a political opportunist by arguing his views have never changed. He told reporters he’s always supported key issues like women’s rights and education.

Meanwhile, Lynn has a huge campaigning head start. He’s already raised more than $550,000 and has gained support from presidents of Democratic groups like the Pinellas Democratic Club, Gulfport Dems Club, Women’s Dems Club of Upper Pinellas and the Largo/Mid Pinellas Democratic Club.

The Greater Pinellas Point neighborhood civic association president also joins that list. That neighborhood was previously in U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor’s district that spanned both Tampa and South St. Pete.

In a separate announcement last week, Lynn’s campaign reported $150,000 of his current fundraising total was raised during the latest report period.

During his appearances today in Pinellas County, Crist dismissed the head start his opponent has, saying he intends to focus on the issues to let voters decide who the right candidate is.

A Republican, so far, has not entered the race. Former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker has been named as a possible GOP contender.