Trump golf tracker: Who’s the latest celeb to join president on links?

Since winning the presidential election in November, Donald Trump has golfed with Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, former NFL star Peyton Manning, Sen. Rand Paul and professional golfers Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins golfed with President Donald Trump last weekend at Trump’s course in Bedminster, N.J., The Washington Post reports.

Cousins, who called it a “great experience,” is the latest big-name athlete to golf with part-time Palm Beach resident Trump since he became president.

Future NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and professional golfers Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy have also joined President Trump on the links. Trump’s presidential golf companions have also included Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Bob Corker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

President Donald Trump trails former President Barack Obama by more than 300 rounds of golf, but Trump has been teeing off at a faster rate. (Trump photo by Allen Eyestone/Palm Beach Post; Obama photo by Chris Carlson/AP)

While he was president-elect, Trump golfed in December with Tiger Woods at Trump International Golf Club in unincorporated West Palm Beach.

The Palm Beach Post estimates the round with Cousins on Saturday was the 22nd time Trump has played golf as president.

The number is difficult to pinpoint because the White House — no doubt mindful of Trump’s frequent criticisms of former President Barack Obama‘s golf habits — rarely reveals whether the president is playing golf.

Click here for a rundown of 21 likely Trump presidential golf outings

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.

Today is the 147th day of Trump’s presidency. Based on the Post’s estimate of 22 golf outings, that’s a rate of once every 6.7 days in office.


Democrats want to see Brian Mast emails with accused scammer

A still photo of Rep. Brian Mast with World Patent Marketing founder Scott Cooper in a promotional video by the company.

Florida Democrats hoping to oust freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, from a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast seat want more information on Mast’s ties to a Miami company accused by the Federal Trade Commission of scamming thousands of customers.

World Patent Marketing announced then-candidate Mast as a member of its board in February 2016. A few weeks later, company founder Scott Cooper gave $5,400 to a pro-Mast committee, which then gave half the money to Mast’s campaign. Mast returned the contribution in March this year after the FTC filed its complaint, and Mast spokesman Brad Stewart said the congressman “never served on the board and has no knowledge of the inner workings of this business.”

Mast told Politico in March that he only met Cooper in person twice. He said Cooper never got his permission to use footage of Mast in a promotional video for the company.

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel filed a Freedom Of Information Act request with the FTC this week seeking emails and other records between Mast and Cooper. Bittel also asked the FTC for correspondence related to the political contributions.

Mast is cooperating with the FTC, said Stewart, who said it’s up to the FTC whether to release the “very limited communication” between Mast and Cooper.

“Congressman Mast has offered his full support and transparency to the FTC in their case against Scott Cooper and is working with them to ensure that there is justice for anybody who was defrauded by World Patent Marketing,” Stewart said.  “As he has said from the beginning, Congressman Mast has no knowledge of the inner-workings of the company and never conducted any business on their behalf.  He has volunteered the very limited communication he had in the course of his campaign with Scott Cooper to the FTC in hopes that it may help shed light on any wrongdoing.”





NEW: Trump names South Florida GOP leader as ambassador to Costa Rica

President Donald Trump will nominate a longtime Republican Party official from South Florida to be ambassador to Costa Rica, the White House said Wednesday night.

Sharon Day currently serves as national committeewoman for the Broward County GOP, where she has been a key figure for more than 20 years.

Broward County’s Sharon Day speaks to the 2016 Republican National Convention. (Getty Images)

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Latest news on President Donald Trump

Day was tapped last year to speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where she said Trump would be “a president who tells the truth.”

The White House also on Wednesday announced Trump would nominate Kelly Knight Craft of Kentucky to be ambassador to Canada.

Here is the White House announcement on Trump’s intent to nominate Day:

Sharon Day of Florida to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Costa Rica. Ms. Sharon Day most recently served as co-chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC), having been first elected in January 2011 and reelected in 2013 and 2015. She has served the Republican Party at the local, state, and national level for more than twenty years, with a focus on engaging and empowering women candidates and activists, as well as strengthening state parties and volunteerism. She is an active political columnist and commentator. Earlier in her career, she was the chief executive officer and vice president of Marketing of Stop Loss International, a general managing underwriter and reinsurance company, headquartered in Indianapolis. Ms. Day has also been active in community service, including as housing authority chair for the Broward County Housing Authority and as commissioner on the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.”


Close call: Rep. Tom Rooney on shooting at GOP baseball practice

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, left today’s GOP baseball practice moments before a gunman opened fire.

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, practiced with other members of a Republican congressional baseball team this morning but left a few minutes before a gunman opened fire in Alexandria, Va.

Rooney said he left the practice about 7:05 a.m. to take his kids to school. Police said the shooting began at 7:09 a.m.

The GOP team is scheduled to play a Democratic squad in the annual congressional game Thursday night in Washington to raise money for charity.

Rooney, who had the game-winning hit in last year’s game, said the Republican team has used the same field for practice for several years. For roughly six weeks before the game, the team practices from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. on days Congress is in session, Rooney said.

“It’s not a secret that we’re there,” Rooney said.

» OPINION: Alexandria shooting shows ‘there’s too much hate’ in our politics, GOP congressman says

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., was among the injured. Because Scalise is a member of House leadership, a security detail accompanies him to practice. Rooney said a black SUV with at least two officers parks to block a gate on the first base side of the field. The gunman apparently began firing from behind the third base side of the field, injuring Scalise and others.

“Thank God his detail was there…It could have been a lot worse,” Rooney said.

Rooney plays first base and Scalise plays second. Rooney said he was standing near Scalise in the infield to work on double plays during this morning’s practice.


Another Florida House member on the team, Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, said he also left the practice moments before the shooting and may have spoken to the gunman.

“There was a guy that walked up to us that was asking whether it was Republicans or Democrats out there and it was just a little odd and then he kind of walked toward the area where all this happened. So we told the police that,” DeSantis said in an interview with Fox News.

Rep. Alcee Hastings endorses Andrew Gillum for governor

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, (left) is endorsing Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach, the dean of Florida’s congressional delegation and a go-to figure for Democrats seeking to turn out black voters, announced today he’s supporting Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the 2018 Democratic primary for governor.

Hastings, in his 13th House term, is the first member of Congress to endorse Gillum, who so far faces former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Winter Park businessman Chris King in the primary.

“We live in historically troubling times, and last year’s election result proved that the stakes are high. I feel it necessary to make my voice heard early in this process, so that Democrats and all Floridians understand what is at stake in the 2018 election. For the last 20 years, under Republican rule in Tallahassee, communities of color across the state have suffered from a lack of job opportunities, poor access to quality public education, and access to quality and affordable healthcare. As Democrats, we need to make significant changes, and in this spirit, I believe that Mayor Andrew Gillum is the right choice to lead our state” Hastings said in a statement released by Gillum’s campaign.

Hastings called Gillum “an innovative pragmatic progressive leader that Florida desperately needs to confront our biggest challenges: attacking climate change, rebuilding our economy, protecting access to healthcare, and revitalizing public education. He has shown the courage to stand up for what he believes in, and he has never hesitated to give a voice to those who need one most. Floridians can trust Andrew Gillum to rebuild our state into one that works for everyone.”



Rick Scott hails Donald Trump as ‘partner’ to fix Lake Okeechobee dike

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, and Gov. Rick Scott talk about the 2017-18 budget at the South Florida Water Management District headquarters today.

Transformed from fiscal foes to budget buddies, Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, stopped in Palm Beach County today to highlight the $83 billion budget lawmakers approved last week after months of disagreement.

Scott also saluted President Donald Trump as a “partner” in efforts to accelerate repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee.

Corcoran and Scott answer questions from reporters in West Palm Beach.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to spend $930 million in federal money on dike projects through 2025. Scott hopes to get the repairs done by 2022. Florida’s 2017-18 budget includes $50 million toward dike repairs, with Scott expressing hope the state will be reimbursed by the federal government.

“Under President Obama I kept asking for help with the dike and we didn’t get anywhere,” Scott told reporters at the South Florida Water Management District headquarters in unincorporated West Palm Beach. “President Trump has committed to being a partner. He’s going to make sure we get that dike finished. My goal is to get the dike finished by 2022.”

Asked how Florida will get reimbursed, Scott said, “We’re still working through how that would happen.”

Scott said Florida has made similar arrangements with the Corps for a Port of Miami dredging and a project in Jacksonville.

“We have to take care of our state. This is part of our state. It might be a federal project, but the dike’s important to everybody, especially in this part of the state,” Scott said.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard, left, joins House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Gov. Rick Scott at a lemonade stand outside the South Florida Water Management District headquarters.

Scott said part-time Palm Beach resident Trump understands the importance of Lake Okeechobee.

“I sat down with President Trump and I let him know the importance of the dike and he had some knowledge of the dike because he’s been down here in Palm Beach,” Scott said. “And so he is committed to making sure we get that done. Now, every dollar adds to, accelerates it. My goal is to get it done by 2022. In his case, he’s going to work through Congress getting it done. I’m going to continue to work through the speaker and the Senate to have funding every year to get this done.”

Scott and Corcoran are visiting five Florida cities today to promote the budget. Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, couldn’t make the tour because he and other Senate Republicans are attending a previously scheduled fundraising retreat in California.

Corcoran slammed business incentives favored by Scott as “corporate welfare,” but ended up agreeing to $85 million in incentive money after the program was changed to benefit public projects rather than specific private businesses. Corcoran also relented on tourist-promotion money after saying he was satisfied that additional accountability safeguards were added in.

Many Tallahassee insiders speculate that Corcoran agreed to some of Scott’s spending priorities in exchange for the governor’s agreement to sign a Corcoran-backed education bill, HB 7069, that promotes charter schools. Both Corcoran and Scott said no deal was struck. Scott said he is still “reviewing” the education bill before deciding whether to sign or veto it.

Republican Putnam has $10 million, three Dems combined $4.2 million for Florida governor race

From left: Republican Adam Putnam; Democrats Gwen Graham, Chris King, Andrew Gillum

Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam began June with $10 million in cash on hand for his 2018 campaign for governor, according to finance reports filed Monday.

The three leading Democrats in the race have a combined $4.2 million.

• Putnam’s total includes nearly $9 million in his Florida Grown political committee and just over $1 million in his formal campaign account, which he launched last month.

• Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, who also launched her campaign for governor last month, began June with $1.8 million. That includes $342,591 in her formal campaign and $1.5 million in the One Florida committee.

• Winter Park businessman Chris King has $1.6 million available for his Democratic bid. His main campaign has $1.2 million — thanks mainly to $1,062,000 from King himself — and his Rise And Lead Florida committee has $417,437 in the bank.

• Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum began June with $743,625 available to spend. That includes $366,010 in his campaign account and $377,615 in his Forward Florida committee.



Today: Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Corcoran ‘celebrate’ in West Palm Beach

Gov. Rick Scott speaks to reporters during a recent visit to Boca Raton. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Gov. Rick Scott will be in suburban West Palm Beach this morning with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, as part of a five-city “Fighting for Florida’s Future Victory” tour to “celebrate” passage of Florida’s 2017-18 budget.

Check out and @gbennettpost on Twitter for coverage later today.

Scott and Corcoran will be at the South Florida Water Management District headquarters at 11 a.m. after a scheduled earlier stop in Miami.  The duo are scheduled to visit Fort Myers, Tampa and Jacksonville later today. Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, isn’t along for the tour. He’s at a previously scheduled fundraiser for Senate Republicans in California.

Scott and Corcoran clashed over economic and tourism incentives before legislators reached agreement on a budget in a special session last week.

Republican Scott faces term limits in 2018 and is expected to run for the seat of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson next year. Corcoran is weighing a run for governor. Their campaign-style tour will focus, according to the governor’s office, on “the major wins for Florida families and students during last week’s legislative special session.”

Corcoran and Scott are travelling separately today. Corcoran spokesman Fred Piccolo said that’s “out of an abundance of caution” because the governor has lobbyists and House members cannot accept travel from principals or lobbyists.

West Palm Beach man fans latest Trump-Mueller rumor

Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy of West Palm Beach on PBS Newshour Monday.

West Palm Beach resident Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax Media, sent the Washington rumor mill spinning on Monday when he told PBS that President Donald Trump is considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller.

“I think he’s considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel. I think he’s weighing that option,” Ruddy told Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour.

Ruddy added: “I personally think it would be a very significant mistake, even though I don’t think there’s a justification….for a special counsel in this case.”

Christopher Ruddy with President Donald Trump in March in a photo Ruddy posted on his Twitter account.

Ruddy visited the White House Monday, but administration officials noted he didn’t speak with Trump. When White House press secretary Sean Spicer said “only the president or his attorneys are authorized to comment,” Ruddy pushed back this morning in an email to Politico Playbook.

“Spicer issued a bizarre late night press release that a) doesn’t deny my claim the President is considering firing Mueller and b) says I didn’t speak to the President about the matter — when I never claimed to have done so. Memo to Sean: focus your efforts on exposing the flim-flam Russian allegations against POTUS and highlighting his remarkable achievements! Don’t waste time trying to undermine one of your few allies,” Ruddy told Playbook.

Newsmax is headquartered in Boca Raton and is influential in the Trump administration. Its Washington correspondent, John Gizzi, regularly gets called upon to ask questions during White House press briefings. Ruddy is a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club who has met with the president several times since Trump took office.

In February, after talking with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, Ruddy told CNN that he didn’t think the president was being well-served by chief of staff Reince Priebus. Later in the day, however, Ruddy tweeted that he had been assured by presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner that Priebus was doing an “amazing job.”

Ruddy gained fame in the 1990s as a critic of former President Bill Clinton. He authored a 1997 book that questioned the official account of Clinton confidante Vince Foster’s suicide and launched Newsmax in 1998 with billionaire Clinton antagonist Richard Mellon Scaife as an investor.

But Ruddy later became a friend of Clinton and donor to the Clinton Foundation.

In an April 2015 interview with The Palm Beach Post, Ruddy said he liked then-GOP frontrunner Jeb Bush for president. But he also foresaw problems that ultimately doomed Bush’s candidacy.

“I really like Jeb Bush,” Ruddy said at the time. “I think Jeb was a fantastic governor of the state of Florida. He has great executive abilities. He’s a philosophical conservative. But so far Jeb has not been connecting with the base of the Republican Party.”

Part-time Florida man Donald Trump returning to state after two-month hiatus

President Donald Trump at Palm Beach International Airport in February. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump will visit Miami next Friday to unveil a new U.S. policy on Cuba.

The part-time Palm Beach resident was a frequent Florida visitor during his first 100 days in office .  He made seven trips to Florida, logging about 19 days in the Sunshine State or travelling to or from Florida on Air Force One. The bulk of Trump’s Florida time, about 17½ days, was spent in Palm Beach County, where Trump used his Mar-a-Lago estate to host world leaders, order missile strikes in Syria, make key personnel moves and fire off some controversial tweets.

Donald Trump discussed Cuba policy in an exclusive interview with The Palm Beach Post in October. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

But Trump hasn’t returned to Florida since Easter weekend in April.

There’s been no word yet on whether the president will spend any time in Palm Beach next weekend.

The fact that Trump is choosing Miami to announce Cuba policy suggests the changes he’s making will be pleasing to the Cuban exile community that supports the U.S. embargo and other hard-line policies against the communist island.

As he courted Cuban-American voters during the 2016 campaign, Trump criticized former President Barack Obama for easing restrictions on Cuba.

In an exclusive interview with The Palm Beach Post in October, Trump called for more “strength” in U.S. dealings with Cuba.

“I think the deal that Obama is making is a terrible deal for the Cuban people and for the Cuban people that are living here. And I wouldn’t want to do anything with Cuba – that’s why I’ve never done anything with Cuba – I wouldn’t want to do anything with Cuba unless the proper deal is made,” Trump said.

“We need strength. We need strength. We have to have teeth in the deal. This deal is a one-way ticket for Castro and we need strength in this deal. They want us  to go there so badly, but we need strength,” Trump said.