Scott praises Gorsuch, urges foes (cc: Bill Nelson) to ‘stop playing games’

Gov. Rick Scott and President Donald Trump in the White House last month.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott praises President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court in a Miami Herald letter to the editor today.


Nelson and Gorsuch.

Scott, who faces gubernatorial term limits next year and is expected to run for the seat of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, doesn’t mention Nelson in the letter. But a day after Nelson announced his opposition to Gorsuch and support for a filibuster to block an up-or-down vote, Scott accuses Gorsuch’s opponents of engaging in petty politics.


“Future Supreme Court battle will shape our lives as American citizens,” Scott writes. “And, while many in the Senate seem to take delight in challenging President Trump’s appointments for no reason of any discernable value to their constituents, that should not be done for Judge Gorsuch. Let’s stop playing games in Washington. Let’s get something done.”

Tom Rooney rips Bill Nelson on Gorsuch; ‘weighing all his options for 2018’

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson‘s announcement Monday that he opposes President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court drew immediate fire from Republicans.


Sen. Bill Nelson says he’ll vote against Judge Neil Gorsuch. (Nelson photo by Rich Graulich/Palm Beach Post; Gorsuch vote by Susan Walsh/AP)

One interesting Nelson critic: U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, who briefly considered a 2016 Senate run.


Rooney put out a statement through his House office saying he is “extremely disappointed, though utterly unsurprised, that Senator Nelson would put political posturing above the needs of the American people…He should be ashamed of himself and I hope Florida voters replace him next year in the 2018 election.”


Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott is widely expected to run for Nelson’s seat in 2018. In 2015, Rooney considered entering the 2016 Senate race if Sen. Marco Rubio didn’t seek re-election. Part of the reason he entertained a 2016 run, Rooney said, was his belief that it would be “bad timing” to run in 2018 if Scott was in the race.


Asked today about his 2018 plans, Rooney spokeswoman Meghan Rodgers said: “He is weighing all his options for 2018 and doesn’t know for sure what he is doing yet. Yesterday’s press release had nothing to do with 2018 and simply was in response to Nelson’s statement on Gorsuch.”


Chinese president to stay in Manalapan for Trump visit

Chinese President Xi Jenping and U.S. President Donald Trump will meet in Palm Beach next week.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will stay at the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa in Manalapan next week when he visits President Donald Trump, The Palm Beach Post’s Alexandra Seltzer reports.


Lantana Police Chief Sean Scheller made the announcement Monday at the Lantana Town Council meeting.


The Chinese president will visit April 6 and 7. Scheller said fencing will be going up around the area starting on Tuesday, April 4, and Lantana will lose about 80 percent of its municipal beach parking during the visit.


The Eau is about 7 miles south of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club. It’s not the first presidential visit for the hotel. Former President Barack Obama stayed there — when it was known as the Ritz-Carlton — in 2012.


Bill Nelson: No on Gorsuch, yes to Democratic filibuster

Sen. Bill Nelson says he’ll vote against Judge Neil Gorsuch. (Nelson photo by Rich Graulich/Palm Beach Post; Gorsuch vote by Susan Walsh/AP)

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson announced today he opposes President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.


And Nelson said he will support Democratic attempts to use a filibuster to block a vote on Gorsuch.


“Deciding whether to confirm a president’s nominee for the highest court in the land is a responsibility I take very seriously,” Nelson said in a statement released by his office this afternoon.


“Over the past few weeks, I have met with Judge Gorsuch, listened to the Judiciary Committee’s hearings and reviewed his record with an open mind. I have real concerns with his thinking on protecting the right to vote and allowing unlimited money in political campaigns. In addition, the judge has consistently sided with corporations over employees, as in the case of a freezing truck driver who, contrary to common sense, Judge Gorsuch would have allowed to be fired for abandoning his disabled rig during extreme weather conditions.”


Nelson added: “I will vote no on the motion to invoke cloture and, if that succeeds, I will vote no on his confirmation.”


With Nelson up for re-election next year in a state Trump narrowly carried in 2016, the National Republican Senatorial Committee was quick to criticize his announcement.


“Senator Bill Nelson proved to Floridians today that he no longer shares their values, and instead is more politically aligned with the liberal elite of Washington,” said NRSC spokeswoman Katie Martin. “Nelson has been in Washington too long and his move to ignore the will of voters in Florida will cost him his job in 2018.”






Frankel, Muoio say Trump visits cost local taxpayers millions

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, and West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio on Bingham Island near President Donald trump’s Mar-a-Lago. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

PALM BEACH — Standing within sight of President Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago estate, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, today called on Trump to “step up” and help Palm Beach County taxpayers recover millions of dollars in expenses associated with the president’s frequent visits here.


President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago as viewed from behind a police barricade on Bingham Island in Palm Beach. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office costs have already topped $1.7 million and could total $3.3 million to $5.8 million for the year, Frankel said, while business losses could hit $1 million at the county’s Lantana Airport, which is forced to shut down when the president visits.


Frankel was joined by West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio, who said Trump’s visits will require the city to add more than $4 million a year for “additional personnel to monitor possible threats” and $400,000 a year to “harden” its information technology system.


Muoio also said the city needs $4.5 million worth of “specialized equipment to handle a critical incident.”


Muoio mentioned potential threats to the city’s water supply and its waterfront, but her office didn’t immediately provide details on the extra personnel or equipment the mayor says the city needs.


Of the increased IT costs, Muoio said, “I can’t go into it too deeply but we’ve been working with the FBI on attempted hacks…I think because we are in the spotlight and because people think of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach when they think of the president, it brings more attention to us.”


Frankel and Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, sent a letter to Trump last week asking for his help securing federal money.


“If compensation is not assured of being forthcoming, we respectfully ask that you curtail your visits until such time as that matter is resolved favorably to our area,” the letter says.


Trump made extended visits to Mar-a-Lago in November and December as president-elect and has visited on five weekends since becoming president.


“It would be very unfair if help doesn’t come from Washington and if help doesn’t come from this president because the president can make choices,” Frankel said. “He has very nice secure, safe, lovely places he could be even though we live in paradise. But certainly he could save the White House – he could go to Camp David, he can make that choice to limit the expense on our area…This is really a request to the White House to say, listen, step up to the plate and help us get this money.”


Assistant Palm Beach County Administrator Todd Bonlarron also attended the news conference and tried to strike a balance between welcoming Trump and seeking federal money.


“It has real impacts to our county’s budget. The other side of it, too, is we see some real economic benefits as well,” Bonlarron said.


“So we do enjoy when the president is here. We like that he’s made this the winter White House. We think it’s a great selection, Palm Beach County, and we encourage more people to keep coming out, heads in beds, people in restaurants. But those dollars don’t always equate to dollars that are coming to the county budtget to pay for some of the security and costs to pay for those visits…We hope that there is an opportunity for us to work with the White House and Congress.”











Frankel seeks federal money for local costs when Trump visits

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies assist the Secret Service when President Donald Trump visits Palm Beach. (Melanie Bell/The Palm Beach Post)

The Democrat who represents President Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago in Congress says the federal government should step in to reimburse Palm Beach County taxpayers for security costs and other expenses associated with Trump’s frequent visits.


Democratic Reps. (from left) Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings and Lois Frankel signed a letter seeking federal help with local costs associated with President Donald Trump’s visits.

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, drafted a letter to Trump — also signed by local Democratic Reps. Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach and Ted Deutch of Boca Raton — seeking federal help defraying the local expenses.


Frankel says the costs include more than $1.7 million for sheriff’s deputies and fire rescue personnel as well as lost business at the county’s Lantana Airport, which effectively shuts down because of flight restrictions when the president stays in Palm Beach. Frankel also says the expected visit next week by Chinese President Xi Jinping will cost another $280,000.


Trump remained in Washington this past weekend but has visited Mar-a-Lago five weekends since taking office.


President Donald Trump and Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw at Mar-a-Lago last month.

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has said he believes his agency’s costs will be reimbursed by the federal government. Bradshaw discussed the issue during an in-person meeting with Trump on Feb. 20.


Frankel and West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio will discuss Frankel’s letter to Trump at a news conference this morning.

Milestone: Trump plays first presidential golf outside Florida

President Donald Trump in his private citizen days of 2011 playing golf at his Trump International Golf Club outside West Palm Beach. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump appeared to be playing golf on Saturday at his course in Northern Virginia — the first time in his presidency he has teed off outside of Palm Beach County.


Trump’s time on the golf course has become a touchy topic for the White House because Trump was a frequent critic of former President Barack Obama‘s golf outings.


As usual, the White House wouldn’t say on Saturday whether Trump played golf during his nearly 4½-hour visit to his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va.  But pictures emerged on social media of Trump in golf clothes and apparently in a golf cart.



The Palm Beach Post estimates Trump has golfed 10 times in Florida as president — nine of them at his Trump International Golf Club in unincorporated West Palm Beach and once — with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and professional golfer Ernie Els — at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter.


All Trump’s likely golf outings have come on Saturdays or Sundays. All have been on Trump-branded courses.


Obama golfed 333 times as president, according to Mark Knoller of CBS News. That’s a rate of once every 8.8 days he was in office.

Saturday was the 65th day of Trump’s presidency. With Trump’s estimated 11 golf outings, that’s a rate of once every 5.9 days.

Here’s a rundown of previous times President Trump appeared to be playing golf:

Trump in golf attire after more than four hours at Trump International Golf Club on Feb. 4.
Trump in golf attire after more than four hours at Trump International Golf Club on Feb. 4.

Feb. 4 – Arrived at Trump International Golf Club at 9:33 a.m., left at 2:05 p.m. wearing golf hat and golf shirt.

Feb. 5 — Arrived at Trump International at 9:27 a.m., left at 2 p.m. wearing golf hat and golf shirt. According to a pool report that day, “the White House shares that while at the Trump International Golf Club, he has had meetings and may play a few holes of golf.”

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe exchange a high five at Trump National Golf Club on Feb. 11.
President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe exchange a high five at Trump National Golf Club on Feb. 11.

Feb. 11 — Arrived at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter at 9:26 a.m. with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Also joined on the course by two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els. Trump and Abe left the club after playing 18 holes at about 1:30 p.m.

Trump and Abe then visited Trump International and, according to a New York Times report, played another nine holes.

Feb. 12 – Arrived at Trump International at 8:31 a.m., left at 1:49 p.m., appeared to be wearing a golf shirt in the limo ride back to Mar-a-Lago.

Feb. 18 – Arrived at Trump International at 8:51 a.m., left at 1:16 p.m. Asked the next day if Trump played golf during the 4½-hour visit to the golf club, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “I do believe he played a couple of holes.”

Trump, Rory McIlroy, former baseball star Paul O'Neill and Clear Sports CEO Garry Singer on the links Feb. 19.
Trump, Rory McIlroy, former baseball star Paul O’Neill and Clear Sports CEO Garry Singer on the links Feb. 19.

Feb. 19 — Arrived at Trump International at 8:58 a.m., left at 2:25 p.m. Spokeswoman Sanders: “I know he played a couple of holes this morning, but I’m not going to disclose any of the others that were there.” Golf blog later revealed Trump played 18 holes with four-time major champion Rory McIlroy.

After the McIlroy news, Sanders said the president “intended to play a few holes and decided to play longer. He also had a full day of meetings, calls and interviews for the new NSA (national security adviser)…”

• March 4 — After unleashing a series of early morning tweets accusing Obama of wiretapping him, the president arrived at Trump International at 9:26 a.m. and left at 1:05 p.m. wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and golf shirt. The White House said the president was conducting meetings, taking phone calls and that he “might hit a few balls.”

Golf glove on President Donald Trump’s left hand suggests he had more than “meetings and phone calls” at his golf course Saturday.

• March 5 — Arrived at Trump International at 9:02 a.m. and departed at 12:48 a.m. The White House didn’t confirm whether the president played golf during his nearly four hours at the course.

 March 18 — Arrived at Trump International  around 10 a.m. and left at 2:44 p.m. The White House said Trump had “meetings and phone calls” at the club and wouldn’t say whether he was golfing. Trump friend Christopher Ruddy later tweeted a picture of the president in the clubhouse in golf attire, including a golfing glove on his left hand.

Trump appeared to be wearing golf clothes on today’s limo ride from his golf club. (Melanie Bell/Palm Beach Daily News)

• March 19 –– Arrived at Trump International at 8:37 a.m. and left at 12:10 p.m. Appeared to be wearing golf shirt and hat on limo ride back to Mar-a-Lago.


Saturday — Arrived at 11:01 a.m. at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va. Departed at 3:20 p.m. Pictures on social media showed the president in golf shirt, hat and shoes.


Melania Trump makes cameo as Palm Beach County GOP raises money at Mar-a-Lago

Melania Trump leaves a VIP reception before the Palm Beach County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner at Mar-a-Lago Club Friday in Palm Beach. (Meghan McCarthy / Palm Beach Post)

PALM BEACH — There was no visit by President Donald Trump, who remained in Washington, but first lady Melania Trump made a cameo appearance Friday night as the Palm Beach County Republican Party held its annual Lincoln Day fundraising dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

First lady Melania Trump and Gov. Rick Scott at a VIP reception in a picture snapped by an attendee.

Nearly 700 people paid $300 and up to attend the dinner, which Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett expected to raise a little less than $300,000 and cost around $15o,000 to rent Trump’s ballroom.

Melania Trump appeared for a few minutes at a pre-dinner VIP reception.

Gov. Rick Scott, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam all attended and gave speeches. But the most rousing reception was given to Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, the African-American sisters from North Carolina known as “Diamond and Silk” for their viral videos supporting Trump.

The event came a few hours after a Trump-backed bill to overhaul Obamacare — a key promise of his presidential candidacy and of Republican campaigns since 2010 — collapsed in in the House. A scheduled vote on the measure was called off because majority Republicans did not have enough support to get it passed.

Outside Mar-a-Lago, it was an embarrassing defeat for Trump and the GOP. But within the wall’s of Trump’s compound at Friday night’s Republican dinner, partisans saw it as merely a temporary setback.

“It’s not a fail. It’s just a temporary delay…They’ll get it done,” said Republican National Committeeman Peter Feaman of Boynton Beach.

Sisters Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson — a/k/a “Diamond and Silk” at Friday night’s GOP dinner. (Meghan McCarthy / Palm Beach Post)

“It hasn’t affected my mood or anybody’s mood that I’ve talked to. Like I said, this is a celebration,” Barnett said.

Trump shouldn’t be blamed for the failure to deliver on a central Republican promise, Barnett said.

“I think it says a lot about the weakness of the House Republicans and their lack of willingness to cooperate with the president,” Barnett said. “They need to understand the mood of the American people. We supported Donald Trump and we still do. They are the ones that need to get on board with the president.”

Putnam told the crowd Friday’s failure on health care has less long-term significance than other matters.

“All the chitter-chatter on cable is about what happened today in Washington, but I’m more interested in what happened earlier this week, which is we began to take back our Supreme Court again with a fine man,” Putnam said, referring to Judge Neil Gorsuch. “That has consequences way past the next four or eight years. That’s why elections matter, elections do have consequences.”

GOP’s Tom Rooney: ‘Obamacare is the law of the land forever now…We blew it’

“Obamacare is the law of the land forever now,” a fuming U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, said today after House Republicans failed to enact — or even bring to a vote — a long-promised health care overhaul.

Rooney was elected in 2008 to a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional district. He voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, then watched his party campaign in the next four election cycles on a pledge to repeal Obamacare.

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, at a health care forum in 2009.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: President Donald Trump in Palm Beach

Rooney, who since the 2012 redistricting has represented a central Florida district, was prepared to vote today for the bill backed by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. But a scheduled vote on the legislation was called off this afternoon because the GOP didn’t have enough votes to assure passage.

“It wasn’t a hard vote. We’ve been campaigning to repeal Obamacare for eight years…We wanted to put our marker down that the thing we’ve been campaigning on for eight years we were willing to do,” Rooney said.

» Rep. Brian Mast makes rousing unity call to GOP colleagues on health care bill

“The American people rank the congressional approval rating below Fidel Castro, who is dead. And today they’re right. We failed the American people. There’s no other way to say it. We failed. They put their trust in the Republican Party to lead and we didn’t,” Rooney said.

He continued: “Obamacare is the law of the land forever now. That was our one chance to repeal it, get rid of it, make it better. … Fifty years from now we’re going to look back at this day as the day we could have done something about it and we didn’t.”

» AARP: Florida slammed worst by Trumpcare; ‘scared’ at 60 in Lake Worth

Rooney predicted portions of the Affordable Care Act will “start failing” and Congress will have to take “emergency actions to fix those parts of it that are failing. But it will still be Obamacare.”

Rooney, on his way to the airport to return to his District 17, added: “I probably shouldn’t be so emotional, but this is a boiling point…I’ve been here too long. I’m no longer the new guy that can act like things are going to get better…We finally got our chance to govern and we blew it. We blew it.”





Melissa McKinlay begins fundraising for 2018 commission re-election bid

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay on election night in 2014 (Bill Ingram/The Palm Beach Post)

Democratic Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who quietly opened a re-election campaign for her western-county District 6 seat earlier this month, has begun hitting up supporters for campaign cash.


She’s the first commission candidate to open a 2018 campaign. McKinlay’s seat and two others will be on the ballot next year. District 2 Commissioner Paulette Burdick and District 4 Commissioner Steven Abrams face term limits in 2018.


McKinlay was elected to the commission in 2014. In 2015, she opened a campaign for Congress — then pulled out of the race after deep-pocketed businessman Randy Perkins got in. Perkins won the Democratic nomination but lost to Republican Brian Mast.


A McKinlay fundraising email says she hopes to raise $38,000 by April 30. The election is more than 19 months away, but, her email says, “this is an important time to show potential challengers that we are up to the task – and that you are on my side.”