From Congress, Little League World Series vet has tips for West Boynton team

West Boynton Little League All-Stars listen to their coaches Chuck Shiflet and
Omar Tirado last week. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

An all-star team from the West Boynton Little League will play in the Southeast regional tournament this weekend in Georgia in hopes of attaining a coveted Little League World Series berth in South Williamsport, Pa.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, played in the 1991 Little League World Series with a team from Dunedin.

A team from East Boynton — including future Major Leaguer Devon Travis — reached the World Series final in 2003 before losing to a team from Japan.

Another Florida team, from Dunedin, made it to Williamsport back in 1991. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, played on that team, which won the South region before being knocked out by a California team in the quarterfinals.

DeSantis, a potential 2018 candidate for governor or attorney general, was asked today if he had any advice for the West Boynton players.

“I would just say you’re having the time of your life, enjoy it. Those are friends that you’re going to have forever. Play hard, work hard…just feel lucky that you’re doing it. And thank your parents,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis went on to play baseball at Yale. He has also played at Nationals Park in Washington as part of the Republican congressional team. But he said the most awestruck he’s been by his baseball surroundings was when he stepped onto the field at Howard J. Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport 26 years ago.

“I remember the grandeur,” DeSantis said. “It’s one of the most fantastic facilities that I’ve ever been to.”

 

Adam Putnam bracing for GOP challenger(s)

Adam Putnam campaigning in Riviera Beach in May. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam so far is the only major 2018 Republican candidate for governor.

But with state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, considering gubernatorial bids, Putnam’s recent social media posts show he’s aggressively seeking to nail down crucial conservative support for a potential GOP primary.

When a Tampa Bay Times columnist last week accused Putnam of being a sellout to the National Rifle Association, it gave the Putnam campaign a Republican primary twofer: a chance to rip the liberal media and an opportunity to proclaim his support for the Second Amendment.

“What a surprise. The liberal media is attacking a conservative again. The Tampa Bay Times recently called me a sellout to the NRA. As someone who believes the Second Amendment is an inalienable right, I’ll wear that comment like a badge of honor. I’m a proud NRA Sellout. If you’re proud to be an NRA Sellout, too, sign the petition below!” said a post on Putnam’s campaign Facebook page.

Latvala responded Sunday on Twitter to Putnam’s “sellout” declaration.

“I will never sell out to anyone, anytime,” Latvala tweeted.

https://twitter.com/JackLatvala/status/891629517760069632

Over the weekend, Putnam went after the media again, using Twitter and Facebook to promote a petition to “Tell CNN to stop spreading Fake News!”

Latvala, who will be in Palm Beach County next week for a roundtable discussion on the state’s opioid crisis, is expected to announce later this month whether he’s running.

DeSantis, who’s also considering a run for attorney general, says he’ll decide by the fall whether he’s entering the governor’s race.

Corcoran has said he won’t decide on a gubernatorial bid until 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was Trump-China summit at Mar-a-Lago a bust?

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in April. (Doug Mills/New York Times)

When President Donald Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in April, Trump tweeted that “tremendous goodwill and friendship was formed” between the two leaders .

Aside from the high-level talks, the Palm Beach summit featured a visit to Bak Middle School of the Arts by First Lady Melania Trump and Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan, and a serenading of the Chinese president by the children of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner that Chinese state-run media called “a touching moment.”

Trump has said he hopes better relations with Xi will persuade China to rein in the nuclear ambitions of its neighbor, North Korea.

But after North Korea test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental U.S., Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to show his disappointment in China.

“I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!” Trump said in a pair of tweets late Saturday.

 

Trump in Palm Beach: Coast Guard spent $6.6 million, shark research altered

A Coast Guard boat outside President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in April. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

In addition to Air Force One costs and expenses for Secret Service and local law enforcement protection when President Donald Trump visits Palm Beach, the trips to Mar-a-Lago cost the Coast Guard $6.6 million, The Washington Post is reporting.

Coast Guard cutters, patrol boats, helicopters and anti-terror specialists were used to protect Mar-a-Lago, which fronts both the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean and has been dubbed “the Winter White House” by the president.

The Palm Beach Post requested the same information from the Coast Guard on April 11. The Coast Guard has not fulfilled the request, or six others on various topics that The Post has submitted to it under the Freedom of Information during the last two years.

Flight restrictions when the president is visiting also took a toll on shark research, notes The Palm Beach Post ‘s esteemed Kimberly Miller.

Florida Atlantic University shark expert Stephen Kajiura said his aerial surveys of shark populations along the Atlantic coastline were interrupted when the president was in town.

“It’s absolutely unintended. They have no idea they are impacting research,” Kajiura said. “But who would have ever thought a president could accidentally impact data collection.”

Trump spent considerable time at Mar-a-Lago as president-elect, then made seven visits to the estate as president between February and April.

 

 

Another “Trump Divorce” in the offing?

Dave and Lynn Aronberg at a New Year’s Eve celebration at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion.

The divorce of Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg from former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Lynn Aronberg isn’t the only one being blamed, in part, on President Donald Trump.

Multiple news reports Friday indicated that the wife of the president’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, has filed for divorce citing, among other things, their differing views of Trump.

The news reports quote people supposedly close to Deidre Scaramucci saying she loathes Trump.

In his first press conference as communications director, Scaramucci said – many, many times – that he loves the president.

A press statement released by a media company that employs Lynn Aronberg was headlined: “Dave and Lynn Aronberg Sign Amicable Divorce Settlement Putting and End to What Some Were Calling The Trump Divorce.”

Dave Aronberg is a Democrat. The statement described Lynn Aronberg as “a staunch Republican and supporter of President Donald Trump” who “said she felt increasingly isolated in the marriage.”

Obamacare supporter Bill Nelson seeks ‘new bipartisan approach’

Sen. Bill Nelson in his West Palm Beach office in May. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

The bond of former state insurance commissioners transcends partisanship, according to Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

In the aftermath of the Republican-controlled Senate’s failure to enact a long-promised repeal and replacement of Obamacare, onetime Florida Insurance Commissioner Nelson said today he’s working with Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins — another former state insurance commish — on “a new bipartisan approach to health care.”

Nelson, who’s up for re-election next year, released a statement today announcing he’s working with a small bipartisan group of senators that includes Collins, who was one of three Republicans to vote against a GOP-backed “skinny repeal” bill.

Here’s a statement from Nelson released by his office: “While the imminent disaster of 20 percent rate hikes and 16 million people losing coverage has been avoided by the defeat of the Republican’s health care bill, now is the time to come together and start working in a bipartisan way to stabilize the market and make health care more affordable.

 

 

“Sen. Collins and I have discussed this issue many times and we are now working together. As former state insurance commissioners, we know how complicated this issue is and we are working with a small bipartisan group of senators equally dedicated to finding real solutions. This group of senators met for dinner the other night to start sharing our ideas and discussing a path forward. While we still have a long way to go, we are starting to work together to try to get this done in a bipartisan way.”

 

Arrested Democratic staffer didn’t have access to sensitive information, his lawyer says

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, taking heat at last year’s Democratic National Convention, is being criticized again over information technology issues.

Imran Awan, the information technology staffer for several congressional Democrats who was arrested on a bank fraud charge this week as he tried to leave the U.S., didn’t have access to sensitive information in his job, his attorney told The Palm Beach Post.

Attorney Chris Gowen claims Awan — who worked for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, until his arrest and worked for U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, in the past — is the victim of “a frenzy of anti-Muslim bigotry.”

Awan and four other IT staffers who worked for House Democrats have been blocked from the House server since February during a U.S. Capitol Police investigation that has raised concerns about the possibility of confidential data being breached. The other staffers — who include Awan’s wife, two of his brothers and a friend — divided their time among dozens of House members including U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, and former Reps. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, and Gwen Graham, D-Tallahassee.

None of the other staffers has been charged. Gowen says Awan and the other staffers under investigation had “no security clearance or access to confidential information.”

Click here to read the latest on the IT matter and its Florida connections at MyPalmBeachPost.com

White House wants ‘thorough investigation’ of Democratic House IT matter

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, in 2015.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders today called for a “thorough investigation” of a congressional information technology staffer who worked for U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutch and several other Democrats.

The staffer, Imran Awan, was arrested Monday night on a bank fraud charge as he prepared to leave the country after months of investigation by U.S. Capitol Police involving Awan and at least four other information technology staffers who worked for House Democrats.

Awan pleaded not guilty and his attorneys claim he’s the victim of “a frenzy of anti-Muslim bigotry.”

Sanders was asked at a press briefing today if President Donald Trump had an opinion on the matter.

“I haven’t had a conversation with him specifically about that,” Sanders responded, “but I do think that is something we should fully look into and there should be a thorough investigation.”

Awan was the technology aide for Wasserman Schultz, who resigned as Democratic National Committee chairwoman last year amid controversy triggered by hacking of the DNC’s email system. Awan was a shared employee paid by several House members, including Deutch between 2012 and 2014.

Other House IT staffers under investigation were paid by Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, and former Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter. None of the other staffers has been charged.

Today: Rick Scott back in Boca Raton

Gov. Rick Scott during a 2014 visit to Modernizing Medicine in Boca Raton. He’ll visit the company again today.

Florida Gov. and potential 2018 Senate candidate Rick Scott returns to Boca Raton today.

According to an advisory sent late Wednesday, Scott will “announce new jobs at Modernizing Medicine, a specialty-specific health information technology company in Boca Raton. This announcement of new jobs builds on the Governor’s announcement last week that the state’s unemployment rate stands at 4.1 percent- the lowest in a decade.”

Scott visited the Orangetheory Fitness corporate headquarters in Boca Raton last week.

Scott also visited Modernizing Medicine in 2014 while campaigning for re-election.

The governor is also scheduled to visit the Boca Raton police department.

Wasserman Schultz draws fire from left and right on arrested information tech staffer

Democrat Tim Canova (left) and Republican Carla Spalding (right) are both criticizing U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, over the arrest of her information technology staffer.

With the arrest of her longtime information technology staffer this week as he tried to leave the country, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, is drawing fire from the left and the right.

Tim Canova, the liberal law professor who challenged Wasserman Schultz in a 2016 Democratic primary and has filed to run against her again in 2018, noted the arrest of Imran Awan in a fundraising letter sent Tuesday night. He accused Wasserman Schultz — who kept Awan on her payroll after he was barred from the House computer system in February — of trying to obstruct the investigation of Awan and others.

“I have also been calling on Wasserman Schultz to resign from her House seat and I have pointed out the obvious — that as long as she’s in public life, the Democratic Party will flounder and the people of South Florida will be ill served in Congress,” Canova wrote in the fundraising pitch.

Carla Spalding, who has filed to run as a Republican in Wasserman Schultz’s heavily Democratic Broward and Miami-Dade district, also questioned the Democratic incumbent’s trustworthiness today.

“I call on Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step out of the shadows and come clean about what she knows. The American people deserve to hear the truth straight from Wasserman Schultz. If her own staff can’t be trusted with Congress’s email system, then we can’t trust her in Congress,” said Spalding, a Palm Beach County resident who ran as a no-party candidate last year for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 seat. She got 3.3 percent in a race won by Republican Brian Mast.