Todd Wilcox calls on Carlos Beruff to immediately release financial disclosure documents

Todd Wilcox may have gotten out of the U.S. Senate race, but that hasn’t stopped him from blasting one of his former opponents.

In a statement Wednesday, the Orlando Republican and one-time U.S. Senate hopeful, said Carlos Beruff need to “stop stalling” and immediately release his financial disclosure forms. Beruff, according to the Tampa Bay Times, filed for a second extension to delay filing the financial disclosure form.

Candidates were required to file the form in May, but the Tampa Bay Times reported Beruff asked for an extension until June. He then filed for another extension that would allow him to report his wealth at the end of July. The extensions, the Times wrote, were granted.

“Carlos Beruff needs to stop stalling and release his financial disclosure immediately, because as we’re learning with Hillary Clinton, only guilty politicians try to hide the truth from voters,” said Wilcox in a statement Tuesday. “Beruff was quick to make a play for my supporters when I exited the race last week, but as I’m hearing from so many of them, he isn’t exactly inspiring confidence with his record of political contributions, support for Charlie Crist, high-powered appointments and sweetheart deals for his buddies.”

Wilcox announced Friday he was bowing out of the 2016 U.S. Senate race. In a statement announcing his decision, Wilcox threw his support behind Marco Rubio, who announced last week he was running for re-election.

On Tuesday, Wilcox said Floridians are “sick and tired of Beruff’s brand of politics.”

“Floridians are sick and tired of Beruff’s brand of politics where deep pockets go to great lengths to buy elections — dismissing voters as nothing more than ratings points in a media buy, forsaking the grassroots advocates for whom the GOP exists and refusing to substantively debate the most important issues facing our state and nation,” he said in his statement.

Beruff will face Rubio in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

NRSC attacks “Privileged Patrick” Murphy in new television ad to air in Washington D.C.

(UPDATE)

That investigative report by CBS Miami’s Jim DeFede on Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy’s business background continues to enjoy added life in the form of a new television commercial produced by the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

The ad, entitled, “A Career Built on Lies,” relies heavily on DeFede’s report, which reported that Murphy has never been a licensed CPA in Florida, nor a small business owner, contrary to his proclamations since he began serving in politics. The ad will be shown only in Washington D.C., a fact picked up by the Murphy campaign later on Tuesday.

“It’s no surprise that the NRSC would choose to campaign for Marco Rubio in Washington instead of Florida, since DC may as well be Rubio’s home state,” said Murphy Campaign Manager Josh Wolf. “Marco Rubio completely abandoned Florida to run for President and it was DC special interests, not Floridians, who decided Rubio should run for re-election. But this election will not be decided by residents of Washington. It will be decided by the Florida families who are desperate for leadership and a Senator who will actually show up for work. The NRSC is welcome to waste their money in DC, because Patrick is fighting for Florida.”

The Murphy campaign had previously pushed back strongly in refuting parts of DeFede’s report last week.  And later on Tuesday, they released another detailed critique of that story by criticizing the NRSC ad.

They said that Murphy worked at Deloitte & Touche for over half a year, “during which his training and skills were called upon.”

They also disputed the allegation that neither Murphy or his company, Coastal Environmental Studies, had been awarded a single contract to clean up oil in the Gulf of Mexico during the BP oil spill. They said that coastal Environmental had bought another company that had both oil-skimming boats and clean-up contracts.

The ad also shows grainy footage of Murphy denying a report in the Miami Herald that he had embellished his college academic record. His campaign said that listing of earning two degrees at the University of Miami was “unintentional.”

The NRSC is not the first group to air segments of DeFede’s report in a campaign ad; Last week, Florida First Project, a super PAC formed to help Marco Rubio’s senate bid, also used similar parts of the CBS Miami story in a digital ad to disparage the Jupiter Congressman and hurt his chances of a general election victory against Rubio.

The NRSC says the ad will air the next two weeks in the Washington D.C. metro area.

Patrick Murphy endorsed by Florida Police Benevolent Association

After enduring his worst week as a candidate since declaring that he was running for the senate over a year ago, Jupiter Representative Patrick Murphy has received a nice boost in his campaign to succeed Marco Rubio in Washington, procuring the endorsement from the Florida Police Benevolent Association.

“The Florida PBA is proud to endorse Patrick Murphy because we know the he will stand with our police officers and first responders in the U.S. Senate,” said PBA President John Rivera. “Patrick is the leader that our officers need to ensure that they can continue keeping our communities safe. As the organization that advocates for Florida’s police officers, we trust Patrick Murphy to advocate for us.”

In 2014, the Florida PBA endorsed Democrat Charlie Crist for governor, but also supported the rest of the GOP-laden cabinet, backing AG Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in their bids for reelection.

“I’m proud to receive the endorsement of the brave men and women at the Florida PBA,” said Murphy in a statement supplied by his campaign. “Every day, our officers put their lives on the line to protect us and they deserve our full support. In the U.S. Senate, I will stand with our police officers and first responders to make sure they have the resources necessary to keep Florida safe. Our communities and families are safer and stronger because of their hard work, and I am humbled to have them standing with me in this campaign.”

Murphy unveiled his plan to reform the criminal justice system earlier this month in Hollywood at the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue Gala. Among those proposals include legislation mandating that all police officers be equipped with body cameras (though a bill called the Police CAMERA Act, which would increase funding for states and local governments). Murphy also  is supporting the TRUST (the Tracking Reputations Upgrades Society Trust) Act, which would measure public trust in law enforcement via the National Crime Victimization Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Justice Statistics.  That proposed legislation (sponsored by Florida Democrat Corrine Brown) calls for areas where the level of public trust in the police force is problematically low; the Attorney General would submit recommendations to improve confidence in law enforcement and address systemic problems before conflicts escalate.

Murphy is opposing Alan Grayson and Pam Keith in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

Mitch Perry Report for 6.28.16 – SCOTUS ruling on McDonnell case must delight compromised politicos across the land

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday unanimously overturned former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s conviction on corruption charges.

In case you’ve forgotten, McDonnell and his wife Maureen accepted more than $175,000 in nice gifts, such as $6,000 Rolex watches and $20,000 in designer clothing from a dude named Jonnie Williams, who was swarming around the couple in hopes that the governor would help some of his businesses, most prominently diet supplements.

But apparently there was never a smoking gun.

“There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that,” wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in the majority opinion. “But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.”

 The High Court said there was no “quo” in the quid pro quo allegation.

I do believe those politicians whose reputations are shall we say, a bit unsavory, were high-fiving anybody with their arm reach yesterday when they read the news.

Corruption? No doubt New York lawmakers  Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos  and their lawmakers were pleased after the SCOTUS decision.

Sheldon was the state assembly speaker, Skelos the Senate Majority Leader. The two men were separately convicted of various bribery and fraud charges last year and immediately ejected from office. They haven’t served any time yet, as their bail-pending-appeal hearings were postponed until after the McDonnell decision came down.

Susan Lerner, executive director of good-government group Common Cause/NY, told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that the court “lives in a fantasy land that defies the common sense understanding of two New York juries.”

“By confirming that a pay-to-play culture is an inherent part of day-to-day politics, the Supreme Court has opened the floodgates for special interest groups to influence politicians, at the expense of American democracy,” Lerner added.

The McDonnell case could complicate the feds charges against New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Melendez, who is accused of using his office to benefit a South Florida optometrist in exchange for more than $1 million in gifts and campaign contributions.

In other news..

The Reverend Manuel Sykes won’t be the ballot this year in the HD 70 race, and it’s all because of a missed signature.

Eric Lynn says that despite what it might look like, he’s doing remarkably well in fundraising as he gets nearer the two-month timespan before he’ll face fellow Democrat Ben Diamond in the HD 68 race.

Both candidates were endorsed by the Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County over the weekend, while Lynn exclusively earned the backing from the Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women.

And Stacy Frank, who had become seriously ill with cancer in recent months, passed away over the weekend. The Hillsborough Democrat will be fiercely missed by her friends and family.

Last week’s vote by the Hillsborough MPO to include the controversial TBX into the Transportation Improvement Program is still upsetting local residents in Tampa. On Monday, two critics of the FDOT proposal blasted the Tampa Bay Partnership’s support for the program, and said that an email that was sent out by an official with the group last week was meant to “intimidate”the four MPO members who opposed the project.

Rick Scott was in Tampa, where we asked him if he would be actively campaigning for Carlos Beruff, now that he’s spoken so highly of him in the Senate race vs. Marco Rubio.

The Governor was in Tampa at an event with those working to combat human trafficking in Florida, along with Attorney General Pam Bondi and Dover Republican state Representative Ross Spano.

Carlos Beruff says he is ‘not ashamed of Donald Trump as our nominee’

Some Republicans may be shying away from the Republican National Convention; Carlos Beruff doesn’t appear to be one of them.

On Monday, POLITICO reported dozens of prominent Republicans, including governors, senators and House members are saying they were not interested in speaking at the convention, and many stated that they weren’t going to Cleveland at all.

According to the report, Marco Rubio — a 2016 presidential hopeful who recently announced he was running for re-election to his Senate seat — said it was unlikely he’d be asked to speak, and if he does “it won’t be on Trump’s behalf.”

Beruff, who is challenging Rubio in the Aug. 30 Republican primary, said Monday he would happily take Rubio’s slot at the convention if offered.

“I’m happy to take Marco Rubio’s slot at the Republican National Convention because I’m not ashamed of Donald Trump as our nominee,” said Beruff in a statement. “Trump is motiving voters across Florida and the country who have felt ignored by the Republican and Democratic establishment alike. He’s looking to shake up Washington, and I’m behind him 100 percent.”

A Manatee County homebuilder, Beruff compared himself to Trump, saying the New York Republican is a “businessman with real-world experience who’s looking to shake up the status quo in Washington.”

“The career politicians in Washington are always afraid to lose power, and candidates like Trump and myself challenge their authority,” said Beruff. “It’s no surprise that Marco Rubio and others are shying away from supporting Donald Trump.”

Rick Scott says Marco Rubio has done a “good job” as Florida Senator

When Marco Rubio announced last Wednesday he would re-enter the U.S. Senate race that he insisted he would never do, the Florida GOP establishment immediately embraced his return. Despite the fact that he lost all but one of Florida’s 67 counties in the state’s presidential primary in March, Rubio still outpolled the five Republicans who were at one time running to replace him.

There has been one notable holdout in the Rubio love fest, however, and it’s Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott posted a statement last week upon Rubio’s re-emergence by seemingly going out of his way to praise Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff, the only Republican Senate candidate left standing after the GOP incumbent made his ambitions known.

Scott did not endorse Beruff. However, it was a point he emphasized Monday while speaking to reporters after holding an event in Tampa.

“Carlos is a friend, he’s a businessperson,” Scott said. “His race is similar to mine back in 2010, I was the outsider; I was the businessperson.”

Scott said he never endorsed during the primary season, and wouldn’t now, but did say, “Marco Rubio has done a good job as U.S. senator. He’s also a friend. What I’ve said is, I’m not endorsing; let the voters decide.”

Scott also told reporters he has not been contacted by anyone in Donald Trump‘s campaign about being vetted as a vice-presidential possibility, and said “I like my job now” when asked if he would consider the position, should it be offered to him.

Although Scott was thought to be backing Trump during Florida’s presidential primary (over Rubio), he kept mum during the lead-up to the March 15 election, opting to endorse Trump the day after the vote. He rejected a call for him to advise the Trump campaign on what type of candidate they should consider to be the veep. “He doesn’t need my advice,” he said.

When asked what he thought of the “Brexit” vote by the British people last week to separate themselves from the European Union, Scott said, “We’ll see what happens.” He said he would be traveling to England next month on a trade mission. “The voters decided there, and we’ll see what impact is has there.”

Scott also boasted of his own administration’s move to request $26.2 million to fund preventive efforts regarding the Zika virus. The Florida Department of Health will send the money to counties and mosquito districts.

Scott has been calling on the federal government approve a $1.9 billion package to fight Zika. The House last week approved a $1.1 billion measure, but President Barack Obama is threatening to veto the legislation, as he holds out for the larger measure.

“It’s frustrating,” Scott said. “The federal government has not shown up with their money. We have over 100 cases of Zika. Fortunately, so far they’re all travel related. I want to make sure we do everything that we can. We have 40 entities, mosquito boards, cities and counties that have asked for funding, the feds are playing politics and not putting up (their) money.”

Carlos Beruff takes aim at Marco Rubio in new advertisement

Carlos Beruff is taking aim at Marco Rubio in a new digital advertisement.

The 35-second spot — called “Unequivocal” and released Monday morning — splices together clips of Rubio, who announced last week he was running for re-election, responding to questions of whether he would commit to a full six-year term in the Senate with clips of broadcasters calling him robotic.

In each of the clips, Rubio is saying essentially the same thing — that he will no longer make unequivocal statements.

“The voters of Florida deserve a Senator who is committed to doing the job he’s been hired to do, but that’s not what they’ll get with Marco Rubio, who won’t even commit to serving a full six-year term or deny he won’t use the seat to run for president again,” said Joanna Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Beruff campaign, in a statement. “Floridians are tired of Marco’s robotic responses and Washington-approved talking points. It’s time for a change. We can’t afford six (or less) more years of the same old Marco.”

Rubio repeatedly said he was not going to run for re-election, and that he planned to return to private life at the end of his term. On Wednesday, he reversed course and announced he intends to run for re-election.

Rubio will face Beruff in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

Jac VerSteeg: How Marco Rubio might get Hillary Clinton elected

Marco Rubio says he decided to run for reelection because it will be imperative to have people like him in the U.S. Senate if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

“There’s [a] role for the Senate that could end up being its most important in the years to come: The Constitutional power to act as a check and balance on the excesses of a president.”

But it is worth asking: Does Rubio’s decision to run make it more likely that Clinton will become president?

It’s easy to envision a scenario in which it does. Eagerness to drive a political stake through Rubio’s heart could increase Democratic turnout in Florida, throwing the most important swing state – and therefore the election – to Clinton.

Think about it. Democrats hardly would be whipped into a frenzy by a desire to defeat, say, Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Most voters probably still are fuzzy at best on who, exactly, Lopez-Cantera is. But Rubio? He’s become a high-profile target.

The wish to stick it to Rubio also plausibly would be a better election-day mobilizer than any positive feeling toward either Rep. Patrick Murphy or Rep. Alan Grayson, who are battling it out to be the Democratic senatorial nominee.

Rubio’s insinuation that the Orlando massacre influenced his decision to seek reelection only heightens Democratic anger toward him. Before, the biggest knock on Rubio was that he was a slacker who couldn’t be bothered to show up to work in the Senate. Damaging, yes, but not something to make Democrats get out and vote.

Now, though, Rubio is the hypocrite who steadfastly has opposed LGBT equality and common sense gun control yet has the gall to imply he’s running in response to the assault-weapon massacre perpetrated at a gay night club?

How epically self-serving.

Rubio’s anti-LGBT record is exactly the kind of issue that could motivate young Democrats and Independents who otherwise might have stayed home to make the effort to vote. As a group, they might not even have been that enamored of Clinton. But if they take the trouble to vote against Rubio in remembrance of Orlando, they might just vote for Clinton while they’re at it.

For Clinton to win in November, she’ll need a big turnout of Democrats in the Orlando area – precisely the area that ought to be most offended by Rubio’s decision to use the Pulse horror as his excuse to run. Democratic turnout in South Florida also is a key, and that’s also an LGBT-friendly venue.

Plus, Rubio’s flip-flop on immigration is a double-whammy in those two regions. Not only does it anger Hispanics who feel he stabbed them in the back by abandoning immigration reform, it angers those who remember that gay Hispanics were targeted in the Pulse attack.

Current polls show Rubio beating either Murphy or Grayson. But if Democrats exploit Rubio’s Pulse hypocrisy with skill, Rubio might just help them beat Trump.

___

Jac Wilder VerSteeg is a columnist for The South Florida Sun Sentinel and former deputy editorial page editor for The Palm Beach Post.

Jeb Bush throws his support behind Marco Rubio in U.S. Senate bid

Jeb Bush has picked his candidate in the U.S. Senate race.

The former Florida governor announced Thursday he was backing Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race. The announcement came one day after Rubio announced he was running for re-election.

Bush took to Twitter on Thursday to announce his support, saying he is “joining many good conservatives in supporting” Rubio. He continued by saying there is “nothing more important than” keeping a Republican majority in the Senate.

JEBENDORSE

Both men were among the more than a dozen Republicans vying for their party’s nomination for president. During the campaign, Bush had a few harsh words, including telling him he should be showing up to work.

“I’m a constituent of the Senator, and I helped him, and I expected he would do constituent services, which meant he would show up to work,” said Bush during the CNBC debate in October. “When you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work.”

Bush dropped out of the race after the South Carolina primary. Rubio dropped out a few weeks later after a disappointing showing in the Florida primary.

Rubio faces Republicans Todd Wilcox and Carlos Beruff in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

Conservation group takes Marco Rubio to task, calls him ‘wrong for Florida’

Shortly after Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio announced he would run for re-election, environmentalist group League of Conservation Voters took him to task for his positions on the environment and said he was “wrong for Florida.”

“Marco Rubio’s failed run for president laid bare his true colors,” the group said in a Wednesday email. “Rubio is dangerously out of step with Floridians and has taken every opportunity to advocate for the big polluters that have contributed over $700,000 to his campaign.”

In addition to calling out his campaign donors, LCV took umbrage with Rubio denying man-made climate change, his votes against certain wind and solar initiatives in the U.S. Senate and his opposition to the Paris Climate Agreement, a greenhouse gas reduction plan the U.S. and dozens of other countries signed on to earlier this year.

“With a lifetime LCV score of 6 percent, Marco Rubio’s record and positions on a whole host of environmental issues are clear evidence that he is wrong for Florida, wrong for the Senate and wrong for our country,” the group said.

Marco Rubio announced he would run for re-election Wednesday, reversing the pledge he made at the end of his presidential campaign that he would return to private life when his term was up.

Since the announcement, the first-term U.S. Senator picked up support from National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Republican Party of Florida and even his former rival, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

The hours after the Miami Republican’s announcement also brought harsh criticism from U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson, who are running for his seat, and a wave of attack ads from pro-choice group NARAL Pro-Choice America.