Freshman class reflects on their first 100 days
President Trump’s tumultuous first 100 days conclude this week. For the freshman members of Congress, their 100th day came in mid-April.
How do the first-term Members of Congress feel about their experience or their performance over that span? What are their highlights and disappointments?
Val Demings created a video showcasing her first 100. The Orlando Democrat highlighted her opposition to the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the military response to Syria, and her call for a “commitment from the President to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them in the first place.” The video ends with Demings proclaiming “we’re going to put America first and it starts with putting the American people first.”
Others offered their thoughts exclusively to The Delegation.
“In the first 100 days, I have sponsored and co-sponsored over 25 bills, supported rebuilding our military, led a Congressional delegation to the southern border and responded to over 25,000 constituents,” said Jacksonville Republican John Rutherford. “My number one priority is serving as the voice for Northeast Floridians, and we have only just begun our work on their behalf.”
“In the first 100 days, we opened three district offices, responded to 25,000 constituent concerns and assisted over 300 people who were having Social Security, Medicare, and Veterans claims – returning $350,000 in earned benefits,” said St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Crist.
Crist also touted his four pieces of legislation that dealt with assisting seniors, protecting Social Security and benefits, mental health care for veterans and flood protection for homeowners. He expressed pride in what “our team has accomplished in such a short period of time, and look forward to continuing the fight for the people of Pinellas!”
Naples Republican Francis Rooney expressed disappointment that health care is not yet solved, but was proud that his first bill, which reduced regulations on the private sector, was passed and signed by the President. He has poured much effort into his signature issue of water supply and quality.
“The predominant issue facing Southwest Florida has been fixing our water quality,” he said. “I have been vigorously focused on building support for Lake Okeechobee and Everglades restoration projects.”
Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, talked about the fight to get things done, but is particularly proud of co-sponsoring bills that would impose term limits on Congress and another to authorize building the border wall. He also expressed major disappointment in the failure to replace Obamacare.
“No one said that draining the Washington Swamp was going to be easy,” he said. “Despite the excitement of these first hundred days, and all its challenges and victories, I remain impatient – there’s still much work to do.”
Meanwhile, here are this week’s insights from the Beltway to the Sunshine State.
State Department removes webpage featuring Mar-a-Lago — The State Department removed an article on its website about the South Florida resort this week after criticism it was an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds, reports George Bennett with the Palm Beach Post.
In an April 4 blog post, the private resort was described as President Donald Trump’s Florida estate, where he has hosted foreign leaders.
According to the Associated Press, the post said that by “visiting this ‘winter White House,’ Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago’s original owner and designer.” Bennett reports ShareAmerica, the State Department’s website, “posted pictures of the resort and a description of it and original owner Marjorie Merriweather Post’s vision of Mar-a-Lago as a presidential retreat.”
The president has hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago since his inauguration.
The post was removed Monday night, and replaced with a message from the State Department.
“The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the president has been hosting world leaders,” the post reads. “We regret any misperception and have removed the post.”
That apology might not be enough, though. On Tuesday, Common Cause, a watchdog group, filed an ethics complaint over the article. The complaint claims the article “constitutes a misuse and abuse of taxpayer dollars.”
Federal law, the complaint goes on to say, prohibits employees from using public office “for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.”
“Common Cause calls on the Department of State and the Office of Government Ethics to conduct an investigation and to take disciplinary action to hold all responsible federal government employees accountable for this misuse and abuse of taxpayer funds,” wrote Karen Hobert Flynn, the group’s president, in the complaint.
Scott to Trump: Argentina committed to ‘pursing closer trade relations’ with U.S. — One day after Gov. Rick Scott met with Argentine President Mauricio Macri, the Naples Republican sent a letter to President Trump about his upcoming meeting with Macri.
In his letter, Scott said Macri is “already working hard to create robust economic opportunities for his country and has demonstrated a commitment to pursuing closer trade relations with Florida and the United States.”
“I know that increasing job creation and economic growth across the U.S. continues to be a major goal for your administration,” wrote Scott. “As you prepare for your upcoming meeting with President Macri, I hope that you see Florida as an example of the significant impact of increasing trade with Argentina. We are competing in a global economy, and increasing trade and business opportunities with Argentina is not only good for Florida, but good for our entire nation.”
Florida is one of the top trading partners with Latin America, and about one in four Florida jobs is dependent on international trade. Scott said the Sunshine State is “second among all U.S. states in origin exports to Argentina.” Last year, Florida and Argentina trade exceeded $4.2 billion, and the state is “far and away the most popular U.S. destination for Argentine tourism,” said Scott.
“Maintaining a strong relationship with Argentina is incredibly important to establishing Florida’s position as a global hub for trade and ensuring job creation opportunities for generations to come,” wrote Scott.
Putnam accuses Mexico of unfair trade practices; seeks help from Trump Administration — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is convinced Mexico isn’t playing by free trade rules as defined by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Putnam believes unfair trade practices by the Mexican government is hurting Florida agriculture and he wants the Trump Administration to look into it.
He recently took his concerns to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a Palm Beach resident. In a letter to Ross, Putnam extolled the virtues of Florida’s agricultural products and his belief in “free and fair trade.”
“Unfortunately, the current trade environment created under NAFTA is anything but a fair and level playing field for Florida’s producers,” he wrote. “I urge you to initiate an investigation into Mexico’s unfair trade practices, which have allowed Mexican producers of specialty crops – in a matter of 20 years – become the dominant supplier of specialty crops into the U.S. market.”
President Trump has often voiced his dislike for NAFTA and hinted he may seek to remove the U.S. from the 23-year-old trade agreement that includes the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Late Wednesday night he publicly stated the U.S. would stay in, but the deal would need to be renegotiated.
Nelson to Tillerson: Open temporary passport office in Miami — The Orlando Democrat sent a letter this week to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to open a temporary passport office in Miami, after the passport agency suddenly closed because of extensive water damage.
“Closure of the Miami Passport Agency — even for a short period of time — is an inconvenience for Florida travelers and others from around the southeastern United States, especially those with urgent or emergency travel plans,” wrote Nelson in his letter.
The office, located in the Omni building on the northern edge of downtown Miami, was unable to take appointments or process passports, reported David Neal with the Miami Herald. According to the State Department, the office suffered serious water damage Sunday.
The Herald reported that customers with appointments at the Miami office were rescheduled at another agency office out of state. Those customers, as well as those scheduled to pick up a passport or in need of expedited passport, should call the National Passport Center at 877-487-2778.
“Until the Agency can be re-opened, I urge you to make every effort to minimize the inconvenience, including issuing clear guidance to affected travelers and opening a temporary location in Miami for emergency passport services as soon as possible,” wrote Nelson. “I also request that the Department provide regular updates detailing the steps taken to re-open the Agency and assist travelers in the meantime.”
– “What to do about passports while the closed Miami passport office dries out” via David Neal of the Miami Herald
Zika bills sponsored by Nelson, Rubio clear key panel — The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved a measure this week co-sponsored by Nelson and Sen. Marco Rubio that reauthorizes the “Strengthening Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health Act” (SMASH Act) of 2004.
The bill would authorize an additional $100 million per year for five years in grant funding to local mosquito-control efforts to eliminate the mosquitoes responsible for spreading the virus. It would also authorize additional funding for public health laboratories so they can better test for the virus, and would require the Government Accountability Office to find ways to improve existing mosquito-control programs.
“One of the best ways to curb the spread of the Zika virus is to eliminate the insects known to carry it,” Nelson said in a statement. “As summer approaches, Florida’s mosquito population is going to rise, and we need to make sure our local mosquito-control boards have the resources they need to protect their communities.”
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health approved the companion bill, introduced by Rep. Darren Soto.
Rubio meets with renowned Cuban activist — Florida’s Cuban-American Republican Senator expressed his honor to have the opportunity to meet with prominent Cuban human rights activist Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. A longtime opponent of the Castro regime, Biscet spent nearly a decade in a Cuban prison for his outspoken views on freedom.
“Dr. Biscet’s actions and words continue to inspire those living in Cuba under the repressive Castro regime, and others around the world who are beaten and bloodied for expressing their ideas, living out their faith, or disagreeing with their government’s leaders,” said Rubio.
Biscet was released in 2011 after having eight years of his freedom and livelihood taken away. While imprisoned, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2007.
He was briefly detained three months ago in Havana, but subsequently released. According to the Miami Herald, Biscet was told he would go back to prison “if he continued.”
“I commend Dr. Biscet for standing strong against a dictatorship that continues to oppress its own people, and I look forward to working with him in the days ahead to bring hope and freedom to the people of Cuba,” said Rubio.
Paulson’s Principles: Will Corrine Brown Lose Again?
After a twelve-term, 24-year Congressional career, African American Congresswoman Corrine Brown, a Democrat from Jacksonville, was defeated by fellow Democrat Al Lawson of Tallahassee. After losing a Congressional race, Brown now faces losing her personal freedoms when she goes on trial for fraud and tax evasion.
Brown faces a 24 count federal indictment and potentially faces up to 357 years in prison and a $4.8 million fine. Brown is accused of using her position as a member of Congress to extract over $800,000 in contributions for her One Door Education Foundation. Federal prosecutors contend the “one door” must have been to Brown’s bank account, since most of the funds went to Brown. Only two scholarships worth $1,200 were given to students.
The 53-page indictment claims that Brown and her assistants took money out of the Foundation account and put it in their own bank accounts. In addition, Brown is accused of using Foundation money to pay for personal expenses such as $2,643 in car repairs, and a $5,000 magazine cover featuring Brown and the words “Corrine Delivers.” Another $200,000 was used to promote and honor Brown, including luxury boxes at a Beyoncé concert and a Washington Redskins/Jacksonville Jaguars football game.
The indictment contributed to Brown’s loss to Al Lawson, as did the redrawing of Brown’s district. After the Florida Supreme Court rejected the Congressional boundaries drawn by the Republicans, they adopted a map offered by the League of Woman Voters which changed the district from a north-south district to an east-west district stretching to Tallahassee.
A similar east-west map was rejected by both the Florida NAACP and Federal Judge Clyde Atkins in 1992 because they believed it would be more difficult for a minority to effectively compete. The NAACP pointed to the legacy of discrimination in the east-west district, as well as the large number of voting age minorities incarcerated in jails and prisons in that district.
Brown claims the indictment is just one more example of racism. The charge is difficult to sustain given that Barack Obama was the president at the time of the indictment, and Eric Holder was the first black Attorney General. She also maintains that she never had a formal role in One Door and had no authority over finances.
Brown and her attorney have lined up more than 30 defense witnesses to testify on her behalf. Defense witnesses include former Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, Brown’s former colleagues and fellow black Congress-members Sheila Jackson Lee and Bennie Thompson, newly elected Florida Democratic Party Chair Stephen Bittel, former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Pajcic and former Florida campaign manager for Donald Trump, Susie Wiles.
I testified as an expert witness in the 1992 federal court case which created Brown’s district and resulted in the election of the first three black members of Congress from Florida in 110 years. As I was on the witness stand, there suddenly arose the voices of hundreds of minorities singing spiritual and black protest songs, many of them bused in by Brown.
Brown always puts on a good show. I expect nothing less in her trial. Jury selection began on April 24th, and the trial is expected to run until mid-May. The federal case against Brown is substantial and other defendants have already pled guilty and agreed to testify against Brown. A second loss for Brown may be unavoidable and far more painful than her Congressional loss.
Gaetz expands Florida lionfish program to feds – Panhandle Congressman Gaetz is expanding to the federal level a Florida program providing incentives to spear fishermen for collecting invasive lionfish.
Gaetz is planning to submit legislation that expands the state’s lionfish program beyond the state controlled 10.3-mile limits in the Gulf of Mexico and 3.4-mile limit limits off Florida’s Atlantic coast.
“I’m looking to mirror the success of the program in state waters,” Gaetz, said during a recent visit to Pensacola.
The state program gives rewards to fishermen who collect large numbers of the invasive lionfish, allowing them to collect additional red grouper or cobia beyond the mandated catch limit.
Dunn digs new agriculture executive order — The freshman Republican from the 2nd District is all-in on President Trump’s Executive Order designed to assist the country’s agriculture, ranching and forestry industries. It includes forming a task force, led by the Secretary of Agriculture, that requires government agencies to work together to facilitate growth in those industries.
Representing a largely rural district, Dunn extolled the benefits of the President’s action.
“Farmers and ranchers in the Second District are an integral part of our economy,” said Dunn in a statement. “The task force’s work can’t come soon enough, and I look forward to reviewing any recommendations that require congressional action. I am looking forward to working with President Trump and our new Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, to ensure that our farmers, ranchers, and foresters are supported.”
Dunn also saluted Lynetta Griner from Levy County, who was one of Trump’s 15 invited guests to an agricultural and timber roundtable held at the White House this week. Griner, who is a highly successful cattle rancher and timber producer, was Florida’s 2013 Woman of the Year in Agriculture and the first female President of the Florida Forestry Association.
“Lynetta is a champion for Florida agriculture, and President Trump will benefit from her wise counsel,” Dunn said
Murphy introduces bills to address North Korea, Asia-Pacific security — Winter Park Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy said this week she plans to introduce legislation to require the U.S. intelligence and diplomatic agencies to address international security concerns with North Korea and the Asian-Pacific theater.
The bills would would require the U.S. intelligence and diplomatic agencies to set up special units to deal with both areas.
One bill — the “North Korea Intelligence Enhancement Act” — would require the director of national intelligence to create a North Korea-focused integration cell, consisting of experts who would streamline, synthesize and synchronize intelligence on North Korea so that U.S. policymakers have the best information possible upon which to base decisions.
“North Korea is a difficult intelligence target. It is a secretive society where dissent is severely punished. This makes the recruitment of human sources inside the country very challenging,” said Murphy, a former U.S. Defense Department national security analyst who now sits on the House Armed Services Committee,” during a floor speech. “Moreover, high-level defectors from North Korea with intelligence about the regime are rare.”
The other — the “Asia-Pacific Defense Commission Act” — would create a commission of U.S. security officials and their counterparts from allies to ensure stability of the Asia-Pacific region, by working on issues ranging from terrorist networks to international intelligence coordination, and from cyber-security to free navigation of international waters.
Bilirakis touts grant funding to fight opioid addiction — The Tarpon Springs Republican took to the House floor to weigh in on the opioid problem that has become a crisis. He told his colleagues that “addiction knows no bounds and does not discriminate based on race, age, income or zip code.”
Part of his message included the announcement of $27 million in new grant funding for Florida to combat the scourge. The grant is part of $485 million in federal grants generated through the landmark 21st Century Cares Act, signed into law in December, 2016.
Bilirakis, a member of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was instrumental in obtaining the grants. Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor is also a member of the subcommittee.
“The $27 million will go towards increasing access to treatment and recovery services, strengthening public education efforts, and improving pain management practices,” Bilirakis said in his floor remarks. “This critical grant is the first of two rounds of funding to support an all-hands-on-deck approach in Florida to combat opioid abuse and save lives.”
Crist asking feds to require safety belts on all school buses — The St. Petersburg Democrat introduced legislation this week, dubbed the Best to Use Safety (BUS) Belts Act, that would to enhance school bus safety by requiring all new buses be equipped with safety belts. The proposal would also provide grants to upgrade existing buses with seat belts.
“Families across Florida teach their children to buckle up. But for millions of kids across the country their school bus lacks this basic safety feature,” said Crist. “All students deserve access to a safe education – this measure simply extends that principle to children’s transportation to and from school.”
In the past six months, school bus accidents have killed and injured students in Maryland, Tennessee, Massachusetts and on Tuesday, in Omaha, Nebraska. The BUS Belts Act aims to prevent injuries and deaths when school bus accidents occur.
“Children are provided the protection of three-point belts when they ride in a car. The same protection should be offered to them in school buses. This legislation would enable this to happen,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council.
Ross pondering run for House Oversight chair — Rep. Dennis Ross might have his eye on a chairmanship, reports Rachael Bade and John Bresnahan with POLITICO.
Ross told House Speaker Paul Ryan he plans to run for chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, as long as U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy doesn’t.
“I think Trey Gowdy would be exceptional for that … but if he chooses not to do that, I would definitely choose to be in the running for that position,” Ross said in an interview with POLITICO. “I think I’ve got as good a shot as anybody if Trey decides not to do it, so I’m going to make a push for it.”
Ross, an attorney who sits on the House Financial Services Committee previously served as the chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce and the U.S. Postal Service.
Reserve judgment on Trump., Buchanan says – As the new administration approaches the 100-day mark, the Sarasota Republican urges constituents to withhold judgment of the new president’s achievements.
“I know we like to focus on the 100 days … but the bottom is: Let’s give him the first year, let’s see what he can do,” Buchanan told Sarasota Republicans last week.
Buchanan said the confirmation of conservative judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court is a “significant achievement” within influence that could last decades.
“He could be there 30 years, the president’s there four to eight,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan’s campus visit focuses on workforce development — Education and jobs were on the agenda for the Republican from the 16th District as he recently toured the SouthShore Campus of Hillsborough Community College located in Ruskin.
Joined by campus President Dr. Allen Witt, administrators, and student ambassadors, Buchanan received an overview of the campus and degree and certificate programs offered by the school, including workforce development.
“The SouthShore Campus was delighted to welcome Representative Buchanan to Hillsborough Community College to discuss our efforts to raise the educational attainment levels in our community and provide an ongoing pipeline of skilled workers to advance the region’s business and industry,” said Witt.
The visit was Buchanan’s first since the most recent reapportionment placed the area within the 16th District. Nearly 7,000 students study at the Ruskin campus.
“Hillsborough Community College is providing vital educational opportunities for people in our region,” said Buchanan.
Mast calls out Obama Administration’s “interference” in Iranian investigations — The freshman Republican from the 18th District, in conjunction with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, wants to get to the bottom of possible interference with law enforcement investigations. Mast and Royce, a California Republican, are responding to the recent revelations in Politico about the release or non-prosecution – in conjunction with the Iran nuclear deal — of individuals allegedly involved in helping Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.
The two wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, urging the federal government to re-open closed cases. The request follows Politico’s findings that in addition to releasing some individuals, pending cases against other dangerous Iranians were “hindered” or “unwisely abandoned” under the Obama Administration.
“Needless to say, the Obama Administration appears to have done serious damage to our national security,” they wrote. “To better understand the impact of the prior Administration’s interference in law enforcement investigations….we respectfully request that your agencies brief the Committee on law enforcement investigations delayed by the previous Administration.”
The letter concluded with a pledge to “support the Administration’s efforts to more aggressively investigate, indict, and extradite those involved in supplying Iran’s nuclear, missile, or conventional weapons programs in defiance of U.S. law.”
F.Rooney backs Scott/Senate in Lake O dispute — The Naples Republican has taken sides in a dispute between the Florida Senate and Gov. Rick Scott on one side, and the Florida House on the other. The issue is funding to create a reservoir to handle rising waters in Lake Okeechobee and prevent releases that damage fresh water rivers in the region. Scott and the Senate want the funding while the House does not.
“The single biggest issue impacting our Southwest Florida community is water quality,” said Rooney. “Our economy is forever tied to our ecology, and having clean water flow through our rivers, streams, estuaries and Everglades. I fully support solutions that will solve our water issues in the quickest and most efficient way possible, and I agree with Governor Rick Scott and his priorities for restoring the Everglades.”
Rooney has been a staunch supporter of Everglades restoration both before the election and since his swearing in on Jan. 3. A member of Congress’s Everglades Caucus, he has testified on four occasions on water quality issues. He has also chastised the federal government for “reneging” on their promises made in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
Deutch, Sen. Durbin team up to combat climate change — The Boca Raton Democrat and Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois have teamed up file a bill in both chambers designed to raise funds for communities committed to addressing climate change.
The Climate Change Adapt America Fund Act would empower the Secretary of Commerce to issue up to $200 million annually in “Climate Change Bonds” which could be purchased by those Americans concerned by climate change. Proceeds would go into the “Adapt America Fund” for distribution to states and communities preparing for the effects of climate change.
“With rising tides and sunny-day flooding, my constituents in South Florida are all too aware of the urgent need to respond to climate change,” said Deutch. “There’s no time to waste.”
“Americans are seeing the impact of climate change everywhere — from flooding coastlines and year-round forest fires, to extreme droughts and food shortages,” said Durbin. “I’m proud to introduce this bill with Congressman Deutch, which would give Americans an opportunity to help communities prepare for and deal with the damaging effects of climate change.”
Deutch, Wasserman-Schultz commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day — The South Florida Democrats shared their thoughts with their constituents, especially Holocaust survivors on the day of remembrance. Increased violence and threats against Jews in the present day fit in with the message of the lessons from the past.
“As this last generation of Holocaust survivors pass form this world, our moral responsibility to keep their memories alive becomes more sacred and essential,” said Wasserman-Schultz. “The resurgence of anti-Semitism and bigotry toward religious and ethnic minorities makes that mission more urgent and vital than ever.”
“As we reflect this Yom HaShoah on the horrors of the Holocaust and remember the millions who perished at the hands of blind, coldblooded hatred of Jews, we also recognize the undeniable spike in anti-Semitism across this country and around the world,” Deutch said. “While it is our responsibility to never forget the horrors that befell the Jewish communities in Europe, it is also our responsibility to ‘never again’ allow such atrocities to occur.”
Wilson brings in Capitol Hill veteran to serve as Chief of Staff — The Miami Gardens Democrat has brought back a Capitol Hill veteran to serve as her Chief of Staff. After a 12-year absence, Stephanie Jones has returned to Congress to head Wilson’s congressional office.
Jones previously held a similar position for a former member and was counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee before joining the National Urban League and the Department of Transportation. Most recently, she operated her own consulting business.
Jones replaces Kim Bowman, who left in February.
Curbelo taking more heat on health care — The Miami Republican is coming under more fire from a liberal group over the possible repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A 30-second ad from the Alliance for Healthcare Security targets Curbelo and other Republicans in swing districts around the country with the charge, among others, that care for “pre-existing conditions would no longer be guaranteed.”
The ad appears to be a pre-emptive strike against Curbelo since the American Health Care Act (AHCA) went down in flames on March 24. With the rumors of a possible deal between the House conservative Freedom Caucus and the Republican moderates on a new plan, Curbelo may be called upon to cast the vote that was halted one month ago.
Curbelo, who voted for the AHCA in committee, is cast as being for higher costs on “coverage for maternity care, cancer treatment, (and) substance abuse treatment.” In addition, the ad makes a subtle case that Curbelo and the other targets would be OK with a “massive age tax for people over 50.”
The ad’s claims of the dire ramifications appear to stem only from a direct repeal of the ACA without a replacement. The group’s website features an item headlined “Where will we end up if Congress repeals our healthcare without a replacement plan that protects our care?”
Curbelo, who is also being targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has not advocated for repealing the ACA without a replacement.
Ros-Lehtinen hails departure of golf sponsorship targeted by Holocaust survivors — As many paused to commemorate Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Miami Republican was praising the end of a sponsorship agreement between the PGA Tour and a German-based insurance company. That company, Allianz, has hosted the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, but has a history that has outraged Holocaust survivors for years.
“The end of Allianz’s sponsorship of the PGA Tour’s Boca Raton tournament is welcome, but long overdue news,” said Ros-Lehtinen in a statement. “For the past seven years, I have echoed the concerns of Holocaust survivors who have rightly protested against this sponsorship.”
At the most recent tournament in February, dozens of protestors held up signs saying “Survivors Can’t Wait.” The company reportedly owes survivors more than $2 billion from claims surrounding actions carried out against Jews by the Nazis.
“It’s fitting that the survivors are marking Allianz’s departure on Yom HaShoah, when we honor the six million Jews who were murdered and we re-commit to never forget them or the unparalleled crimes of the German Nazi regime.
Sean Buchan enters CD 9 GOP field — A political newcomer, the Winter Have Republican announced last week he was running for Florida’s 9th Congressional District.
Buchan, 31, a banker with Wells Fargo Bank in Winter Haven, filed to run late last week, joining last year’s GOP nominee Wayne Liebnitzky of St. Cloud in hoping to take down Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto in the 2018 election.
“The time is right,” Buchan stated of his entry into politics.
Married with two children, Buchan spent eight years in the U.S. Marines and two in the Army, and served two tours in Iraq.
The district includes most of south Orange County, all of Osceola and much of eastern Polk. Last year Soto, a former state senator, defeated Liebnitzky, to replace two-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson. Liebnitzky won in Polk but Soto handily carried the vote in the other two counties.
Buchan said he’s currently reaching out to county Republican executive committees and Young Republican clubs to begin pulling together support and organization.
Heather MacDougall appointed to Trump’s OSHA Review Commission – Trump named employer relations expert MacDougall of Melbourne to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Since January, MacDougall has been acting chair of the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission. In 2014, then-President Barack Obama nominated her to the Commission, and she was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. MacDougall brings 20 years of experience in labor, employment, occupational safety and health law, most recently with Akerman LLP law firm based in West Palm Beach. In addition, she served as Chief Counsel to OSHRC Chair W. Scott Railton in 2002-2003 under the George W. Bush administration. OSHRC is the independent federal agency as an administrative court deciding contested OSHA citations. MacDougall also served as associate general counsel of a Washington, D.C. trade association standing for human resources executives of Fortune 500 corporations.
Jeff Miller heads to K Street — The former Republican Congressman from District 1 is moving his employment address to Washington’s lobbyist row located on K Street. The Hill reports Miller will serve as a senior legislative advisor with the international advocacy and law firm McDermott Will & Emery.
Miller will be the GOP balance to the firm’s other prominent legislative advisor, former Democratic Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia. The two will “join forces to provide a bipartisan approach to a vast array of issues” in the area of government affairs.
Both are prohibited from lobbying former colleagues in Congress for one year, but can approach the Trump Administration immediately. Miller’s “knowledge of the Administration will be of great value to clients,” said Steve Ryan, head of McDermott’s Government Strategies practice.
Miller served as Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and was an early supporter of President Trump. During transition, he was reportedly under consideration for the role of Secretary of the Veterans Administration.
“I wasn’t quite sure when I left Congress what I wanted to do on a full-time basis, but I knew I wanted to stay involved in policy work and education,” Miller told The Hill. He “felt they were the best fit.”
Ballard Partners quickly making a mark in DC — Florida super lobbyist and President Trump confidante Brian Ballard and his firm are already lining up clients just a few weeks after setting up shop in Washington, DC. USA Today reports Ballard and his firm Ballard Partners have already signed up 20 federal clients (that number has quickly risen to 24), including the governments of Albania and the Dominican Republic, while hauling in $1.1 million over the first three months of 2017.
The focus of the paper’s “investigation” quickly shifts to Ballard in the second paragraph, labeled as one of “more than a dozen” allies of Trump setting up shop for going to work for a DC lobbyist. Not even competitor Corey Lewandowskicould shake Ballard from top billing.
Fred Wertheimer, President of “watchdog” group Democracy 21, believes what Ballard and others are doing is bad for America and “represents the complete opposite of what candidate Trump claimed he would do something about.” He was referring to Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp.”
Ballard made the decision to expand into Washington, adding to a network that includes 7 Florida cities, after some of the firm’s Florida clients asked him to “please open an office in Washington.” Those clients were seeking, according to Ballard, an understanding of “how the administration operates, how it works, what are the thought processes of the people behind it.”
In addition to the founder, Ballard DC has built a team with campaign and advocacy experience. Sylvester Lukis, Managing Partner, has more than 25 years lobbying for Florida entities in Washington. Susie Wiles, is well-known in political circles and most recently served as Florida Senior Strategist for the Trump campaign.
Former Ambassador Otto Reich has more than three decades of foreign policy experience, including his service as Ambassador to Venezuela under President Reagan. Dan McFaul has run campaigns and served as Chief of Staff for both Jeff Miller and Matt Gaetz.
NYC bar earmarks profits for progressive causes — At Coup in Manhattan, every cocktail is a cocktail for cause, reports Deepti Hajela with the Associated Press.
The bar — a reference to a sudden seizure of power, not the house for chickens — opened this month with protest-themed décor, a distinctly anti-President Donald Trump vibe and a promise by its owners to donate their profits to organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood.
When patrons buy a drink, they are given a token to drop in one of a half-dozen jars, each labeled with the name of a nonprofit group. The list of recipients will rotate. Jars on tap this week included the Natural Resources Defense Council and Human Rights Watch. After labor costs, liquor bills and other expenses are paid, the profits are divided among the groups based on the number of tokens they receive.