Rubio presses Trump administration on Lake Okeechobee dike pledge

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio near a map of Lake Okeechobee during a 2016 visit to the South Florida Water Management District headquarters in West Palm Beach. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is pressing President Donald Trump’s administration to put some money behind the president’s recent pledge to accelerate repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee.

Trump — heeding the pleas of Florida Gov. and key political ally Rick Scott — endorsed a speeding up of renovations, which are now scheduled for completion in 2025.

But the White House statement on the dike was short on specifics — such as a target date for completing construction or the amount of money the administration is proposing to accelerate the job.

In a letter today to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, Rubio thanks Trump for his pledge and notes that a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to complete the dike fix by 2022 would cost $776.6 million.

“That plan requires specific funding levels of $212.4 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, $242.1 million in FY20, $203.9 million in FY21, and $118.2 million in FY22,” Rubio’s letter says. “Given that budget requests below these funding levels would threaten to leave South Florida communities along the dike vulnerable for longer than necessary, I am seeking to clarify that your commitment to an expedited rehabilitation timetable includes your support for these required funding levels.”

Rubio, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told Mulvaney he’s ready to help Trump “fulfill his commitment.”

 

Clemens’ Senate constituents could go unrepresented for entire 2018 session

Former Democratic state Sen. Jeff Clemens’ abrupt resignation leaves Senate District 31 without representation — possibly through the entire 2018 legislative session.

The vacancy created by Democratic state Sen. Jeff Clemens‘ abrupt resignation last week could leave his District 31 constituents without representation in the Senate for the entire 2018 legislative session.

Clemens, who was in line to become the Senate’s top Democrat next November, stepped down Friday after news emerged of an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.

The 2018 legislative session is scheduled for Jan. 9 to March 9. Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, in a Monday email to the Florida Division of Elections, has suggested a special Jan. 30 primary and special April 10 general election to fill Clemens’ District 31 seat.

Gov. Rick Scott will have the final say on setting special election dates.

District 31 is so heavily Democratic (a 46.6-to-24.1 percent registration advantage over the GOP) that Republicans didn’t even field a candidate for the seat last year.

If no Republican, minor-party candidate or write-in candidate files for the special election, the Democratic primary would fill the seat. Under Bucher’s suggested timetable, District 31 would then have a Democratic senator for the final 39 days of the 2018 session.

But don’t expect Republicans to pass up this race. With a low turnout special election, Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett says, “it’ll be tough but I think we’ll have a shot.”

County GOP Vice Chairwoman Tami Donnally, who lost state House races in 2010 and 2012 in Democrat-tilted districts, says she’s considering a run for the Senate seat.

Even if Republicans don’t win the District 31 seat, the mere presence of a Republican on the special election ballot could mean Democrats have only 15 senators instead of 16 throughout the upcoming session. There are 24 Senate Republicans.

Two Democrats — state Rep. Lori Berman and former state Rep. Irving Slosberg — have said they will run in District 31. Two other Dems — state Rep. David Silvers and Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein — are possible candidates as well.

 

 

Reversal: Charity that fled Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is coming back

President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

Big Dog Ranch Rescue was among the nonprofit groups announcing in August that it was yanking its annual fundraising event from President Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach after Trump’s controversial comments about the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

But The Palm Beach Post’s esteemed Alexandra Clough reports that Big Dog has changed course and advertised in the Palm Beach Charity Register that it will hold its 5th annual Wine Women & Shoes event on March 10 at Mar-a-Lago. The event is chaired by the president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, and Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“This isn’t about politics,” Big Dog President Lauree Simmons said. “This is about the dogs and the work we do. It’s about expanding our mission. And quite frankly, if people want to take a political stance, then they don’t care about what we do and the animals.”

Click here to read the entire article.

 

 

State Rep. Lori Berman confirms she’ll run for Clemens’ Senate seat

Four Dems to watch in upcoming special Senate District 31 election (clockwise from top left): former state Rep. Irving Slosberg, state Rep. Lori Berman, state Rep. David Silvers, Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein.

State Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, confirmed today that she will abandon a Palm Beach County commission bid to run in a special election to replace state Sen. Jeff Clemens, the Atlantis Democrat who abruptly resigned Friday after admitting to an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.

Former Democratic state Rep. Irving Slosberg has also said he’ll run for Clemens’ former seat. Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein is considering the race and Democratic state Rep. David Silvers is another strong possibility.

Gov. Rick Scott has not yet set a date for the election to replace Clemens in Democrat-leaning Senate District 31, which is generally east of Florida’s Turnpike from Lake Worth to Delray Beach.

Berman’s announcement statement notes that only 13 of Florida’s 40 Senators are women.

Said Berman: “We’re in the midst of a watershed moment in the struggle for women’s rights across this country and one of the key motivators in my decision to do this is our state’s need for a champion on issues ranging from pay equity to healthcare and reproductive rights to freedom from sexual harassment and workplace discrimination. My message is simple: now more than ever, women need a strong voice in the Florida Senate.”

Berman, facing House term limits next year, had opened a 2018 campaign for a Palm Beach County commission seat and was the leading fundraiser in the commission District 2 race. Four other Democrats — Alex Garcia, Emmanuel Morel, Sylvia Sharps and Gregg Weiss — are running for that seat. At least one other Democrat, attorney Dodger Arp of West Palm Beach, is weighing the race now that Berman is leaving.

Trump probe: Indictment of Gardens man Paul Manafort mentions 7 Florida businesses

From left, Paul Manafort, then Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, and Rick Gates, Manafort’s longtime protégé and junior partner, speak on their mobile phones at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 17, 2016. Federal charges against Manafort and Gates represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over Trump’s first year in office. (Sam Hodgson/The New York Times)

Before he was chairman of Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign, Palm Beach Gardens resident Paul Manafort used seven Florida businesses in a scheme to launder money from Ukraine, according to the indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller unsealed this morning.

The indictment also alleges that Manafort used wire transfers from foreign accounts to obtain more than $1.7 million worth of goods and services from three Florida businesses — described in the court filing only as “Vendor B,” “Vendor J” and “Vendor R” — without paying taxes on the income.

RELATED: Read indictment against Manafort, Gates

The indictment says Manafort “resided in homes in Virginia, Florida and Long Island, New York.” Manafort has a homestead exemption and is registered to vote at an address in BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens. He registered to vote in Palm Beach County in 2011 and cast his 2016 ballot for president at an early voting site in the county.

Trump this morning seized on the fact that the activities in the criminal complaint against Manafort and associate Richard W. Gates III occurred before Manafort served as Trump campaign chairman from June to August of 2016.

“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????” Trump tweeted this morning.

In a follow-up tweet, the president said, “….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”

The indictment says Manafort and Gates “generated tens of millions of dollars in income” by acting as unregistered agents of the Ukrainian government and two Ukrainian political parties between 2006 and 2015, then “laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts.”

The indictment says 17 domestic entities controlled by Manafort or Gates were used in the scheme to launder the money, with seven of those businesses incorporated in Florida.

The Florida businesses mentioned in the indictment are:

• Daisy Manafort LLC, incorporated in Delaware in January 2012 and Florida in March 2011. Florida records list Manafort as a manager and his Palm Beach Gardens home as its mailing address.

• DMP, incorporated in Virgninia in March 2005 and Florida in March 2011. Florida records show a Davis Manafort Partners Inc., inactive since 2013, with a Virginia business address that lists Manafort as its president and director.

• DMI, incorporated in Delaware in June 2011 and Florida in March 2012. Florida records show a DMP International incorporated in March 2012 with a Delaware address and Manafort listed as manager.

• Jesand Investments Corporation, incorporated in March 2011. Florida records list Manafort as president.

• John Hannah, LLC, incorporated in Virginia in April 2006 and Florida in March 2011. Manafort is listed as manager and his home as the business address in Florida records.

• Lilred, LLC, incorporated in Florida in December 2011. The business lists a New Jersey address and Manafort as manager.

• MC Soho Holdings, LLC, incorporated in Florida in January 2012 and in New York in April 2012. Manafort is listed as manager in Florida records and his home is listed as the principal address of the business.

The indictment says Manafort and Gates used millions of dollars worth of wire transfers from offshore accounts into the U.S. to buy goods, services and real estate but did not report the transfers as income.

The indictment says the money went to 19 vendors, including three from Florida:

• Vendor B, described in the indictment as a “home automation, lighting and home entertainment company in Florida,” received $1.3 million in wire transfers from 2011 to 2013 from accounts in Cyprus, the United Kingdom and the Grenadines.

• Vendor J, described as a “contractor in Florida,” received transfers totaling $432,487 from 2011 to 2013 from accounts in Cyprus, the indictment says.

• Vendor R, an “art gallery in Florida,” received wire transfers from Cyprus in 2011 and 2013 totaling $31,900, the indictment says.

 

 

 

Report: Paul Manafort — Palm Beach Gardens resident — indicted in Trump-Russia probe; read indictment

Palm Beach Gardens resident Paul Manafort at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Palm Beach Gardens resident Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign, has been indicted today by federal authorities in the first charges brought under special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation of Russian interference in the election, The New York Times is reporting.

THE LATEST: Mueller, associate indicted; another Trump staffer pleads guilty

Television cameras showed Manafort walking into an FBI field office in Washington, D.C., at about 8:15 a.m.

The Times reported that former Manafort business associate Rick Gates has been indicted.

Trump probe: Indictment of Gardens man Paul Manafort mentions 7 Florida businesses

Manafort and Gates were indicted on money laundering, tax and foreign lobbying charges, according to the Times.

Manafort has a homestead exemption and is registered to vote at an address in BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens. He and his wife paid $1.5 million for a 5,231-square-foot home there in 2007, and Manafort has been voting in Palm Beach County since 2012.

FROM AUGUST: Donald Trump on FBI raid of Palm Beach Gardens resident Paul Manafort

Despite charity exodus, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago has packed schedule for 2017-18 season

President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

Twenty-one charities have cancelled fundraising events at President Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, most of them in protest of Trump’s equivocal response to the deadly August white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

But Mar-a-Lago will hardly be a ghost town in the upcoming season, says ace Palm Beach Post reporter Alexandra Clough. Private events and other charities have filled the vacuum.

Click here to read the full story on Mar-a-Lago and the upcoming season.

“All I can tell you is we are really doing fine. It will be a good season,” said Bernd Lembcke, Mar-a-Lago’s general manager.

Trump spent about three weeks at Mar-a-Lago between his 2016 election victory and his inauguration, then made seven trips there between February and April as president. He often dropped in on events at the club. The White House hasn’t said when Trump plans to return, but he’s expected to resume regular visits during the 2017-18 social season.

 

State Rep. Lori Berman mulls run for Clemens’ Senate seat; Abruzzo out

Four Dems to watch in upcoming special Senate District 31 election (clockwise from top left): former state Rep. Irving Slosberg, state Rep. Lori Berman, state Rep. David Silvers, Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein.

Facing House term limits in Tallahassee, state Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, launched a 2018 campaign for an open Palm  Beach County commission seat in May and raised $76,672 through the end of September.

But Berman now appears likely to abandon her commission campaign and run instead in a special election for the District 31 state Senate seat that suddenly became open on Friday when Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Atlantis, abruptly resigned after admitting to an extramarital affair.

Look for Berman to announce her plans Monday.

Former Democratic state Rep. Irving Slosberg, who lost a 2016 primary challenge to Clemens, has already said he plans to run in the not-yet-scheduled special election to fill Clemens’ Democrat-leaning seat.

Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein said he is “going to take a serious look” at the special Senate race as well.

And don’t rule out Democratic state Rep. David Silvers, though Silvers on Friday night said it was too early to make a decision.

State Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Boynton Beach, a former state senator, was also mentioned as a potential District 31 candidate, but said today he will not run.

Within 3 hours of Clemens’ Senate resignation, Dem says he’s running

Four Democrats to watch in Senate District 31: Former state Rep. Irving Slosberg says he’s running, Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein says he’s looking, state Reps. Joseph Abruzzo and David Silvers say it’s too soon to contemplate.’

That didn’t take long.

Less than three hours after Atlantis Democrat Jeff Clemens resigned from his state Senate seat after admitting to an extramarital affair, former state Rep. and 2016 Clemens primary rival Irving Slosberg said he will run in the special election to replace Clemens.

UPDATE: See the latest on who’s in, out in District 31

Voters in Florida Senate District 31 will choose a replacement for Democratic Sen. Jeff Clemens, who resigned Friday.

Clemens, who had been in line to become Senate Democratic leader next year, announced his resignation a few minutes after 5 p.m. after Politico reported in the morning that he’d had an affair with a lobbyist.

“I’m in,” Slosberg told The Palm Beach Post at 7:26 p.m. on Friday.

Gov. Rick Scott has not yet set a date for a special election to replace Clemens in Senate District 31, which runs from Lake Worth to Delray Beach generally east of Florida’s Turnpike. Democrats hold a 46.6-to-24.1 percent registration advantage over Republicans in the district.

Slosberg could have company in a special Democratic primary.

Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein, who recently announced he won’t seek re-election in the upcoming March municipal election, said he’s “going to take a serious look” at the Senate District 31 seat.

Two Democratic state House members — Reps. Joseph Abruzzo and David Silvers — are also worth keeping an eye on. Both said Friday that it’s too soon to consider a campaign.

Slosberg gave up his state House seat last year to challenge Clemens in a Democratic Senate primary. Clemens won with 52.3 percent to 32.4 percent for Slosberg while Emmanuel Morel got 15.2 percent.

Irving Slosberg is the father of state Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, who ran for her dad’s old seat last year.

 

Apologize for Trump remarks, county GOP chairman urges Burdick

Palm Beach County Mayor Paulette Burdick told a Japanese business group not to let President Donald Trump “offend” them.

Palm Beach County Republican Chairman Michael Barnett says Palm Beach County Mayor Paulette Burdick should apologize for criticizing President Donald Trump to a group of visiting Japanese aviation business officials on Thursday.

“My president of the United States does not represent my values and my beliefs,” Democrat Burdick told the group. “Please do not let him offend you.”

Barnett sent a letter to Burdick today.

“Your comments referencing the President were inappropriate, unbecoming of your office, and judging by the response you got as reported by the Post, not well received. Remember, Mayor Burdick, that you were elected to serve all of Palm Beach County, not merely your Democratic base,” Barnett wrote. “You owe us, your constituents, and the President an apology,” Barnett concluded.

 

 

Burdick wasn’t immediately available for comment this afternoon.