Jeb Bush weighs in on arrested Debbie Wasserman Schultz staffer

Jeb Bush campaigning in Iowa in 2016. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Private citizen Jeb Bush uses his Twitter account sparingly, often to promote school choice programs or other education reforms.

The former Florida governor and failed 2016 Republican presidential candidate tweets the occasional link to articles critical of President Donald Trump and in June called it “Inappropriate. Undignified. Unpresidential” when Trump attacked Mika Brzezinski. He also praised retired Gen. John Kelly as “a good man and a tremendous leader” when Trump tapped him to be White House chief of staff.

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

On Saturday, Bush drew attention to the recent arrest of an information technology staffer who worked for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, and several other House Dems — including Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.

“The incompetence and terrible judgment displayed by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and House Democrats is jarring,” Bush tweeted.

He added a link to a Wall Street Journal column that says the arrest of Imran Awan and investigation of four other IT staffers is “a tale of massive government incompetence that seemingly allowed a family of accused swindlers to bilk federal taxpayers out of millions and even put national secrets at risk. In a more accountable world, House Democrats would be forced to step down.”

Trump taps another Palm Beacher for his administration

President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in March. (Meghan McCarthy/Palm Beach Daily News)

President Donald Trump late Thursday announced his intention to nominate investment manager and Republican donor Duke Buchan III of Palm Beach to be ambassador to both Spain and Andorra.

Buchan lives on the north end of Palm Beach, about 6 miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

He is the founder and CEO of Hunter Global Investors L.P.  According to the White House, Buchan and his family also “own and manage farms that grow over a 100 varieties of heirloom vegetables and raise horses.”

In 2016, Buchan contributed more than $350,000 to the Republican National Committee and a variety of state Republican parties, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Buchan speaks Spanish and has a “working knowledge” of Catalan, the official language of Andorra, according to the White House. He established an endowment focused on Spanish languages, literature, and culture at the University of North Carolina, where he received a B.A. in economics and Spanish. Buchan also has an M.B.A from Harvard Business School and studied at La Universidad de Valencia, and La Universidad de Sevilla in Spain.

Other Palm Beach residents in the Trump administration include Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Why Trump signed a ‘seriously flawed’ Russia sanctions bill

President Donald Trump says his reputation as a negotiator helped him get elected but is limited by a “seriously flawed” sanctions bill. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump signed a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia and issued a statement that appears to acknowledge Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

But Trump also called the legislation a “seriously flawed” encroachment on executive authority to negotiate with foreign countries and said he’s only signing it “for the sake of national unity.”

Said Trump: “I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars.  That is a big part of the reason I was elected.  As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”

Here’s the complete statement released by the White House this morning:

Today, I signed into law the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,” which enacts new sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.  I favor tough measures to punish and deter bad behavior by the rogue regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang.  I also support making clear that America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process, and that we will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization.

That is why, since taking office, I have enacted tough new sanctions on Iran and North Korea, and shored up existing sanctions on Russia.

Since this bill was first introduced, I have expressed my concerns to Congress about the many ways it improperly encroaches on Executive power, disadvantages American companies, and hurts the interests of our European allies.

My Administration has attempted to work with Congress to make this bill better.  We have made progress and improved the language to give the Treasury Department greater flexibility in granting routine licenses to American businesses, people, and companies.  The improved language also reflects feedback from our European allies – who have been steadfast partners on Russia sanctions – regarding the energy sanctions provided for in the legislation.  The new language also ensures our agencies can delay sanctions on the intelligence and defense sectors, because those sanctions could negatively affect American companies and those of our allies.

Still, the bill remains seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.  Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking.  By limiting the Executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together.  The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President.  This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.

Yet despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity.  It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States.  We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary.

Further, the bill sends a clear message to Iran and North Korea that the American people will not tolerate their dangerous and destabilizing behavior.  America will continue to work closely with our friends and allies to check those countries’ malignant activities.

I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars.  That is a big part of the reason I was elected.  As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.

 

 

 

Boca Raton man who staged Donald Trump’s 2016 rallies turns sights to 2020

Boca Raton resident George Gigicos at Palm Beach International Airport in February after accompanying President Donald Trump as White House director of advance. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

The Boca Raton man who helped stage the campaign rallies that were a signature feature of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign is ready to work on Trump’s 2020 re-election bid.

George Gigicos, one of the original core members of Trump’s 2016 campaign, joined the Trump Administration as White House director of advance when Trump took office. Gigicos left that post this week.

“I’m going back to the campaign….I’m going to continue to serve the president, but I can serve him better from the outside,” Gigicos said today. He’ll be at Trump’s Thursday rally in Huntington, West Virginia.

The New York Times reported that Gigicos has discussed joining a consulting firm headed by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Gigicos confirmed discussions but told The Palm Beach Post he hasn’t made any decision.

Gigicos, 50, did logistical work on presidential campaigns for Republicans George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney before joining the Trump team in 2015.

Gigicos was in charge of organizing the large, freewheeling rallies that helped propel Trump to the GOP nomination and then the presidency.

He downplayed his role in Trump’s rise.

“It was all him — the right man with the right message,” Gigicos said of Trump. “I just built the stages.”

Deval Patrick for president in 2020? What he once said in West Palm Beach

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick during a 2014 visit to West Palm Beach to campaign for Charlie Crist’s bid for governor. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Former President Barack Obama is “nudging” former Masssachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick to run for president in 2020 against President Donald Trump, according to Politico.

Patrick was also the topic of some early 2016 presidential chatter. When he visited West Palm Beach in 2014 to campaign for Charlie Crist‘s gubernatorial bid, Patrick told The Palm Beach Post  that the White House talk “blows my mind. I’m just a kid from the south side of Chicago and people are speculating about such a thing. It’s extraordinary but it’s not what I’m planning on, thank you.”

Patrick didn’t run in 2016. During his 2014 visit, he warned Democrats against giving Hillary Clinton a free ride to the party’s nomination in 2016.

Patrick called Clinton “fantastic” but added: “The problem with inevitability is it’s sometimes interpreted as entitlement and I think that voters want competition and they want their candidates to have to work for it.”

If he’s at all serious about 2020, expect Patrick to spend time in crucial Florida next year to campaign for Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson‘s re-election bid and/or for whoever wins the Democratic nomination for governor.

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.

After two congressional defeats, Carl Domino gets a win in court

Carl Domino in 2010.

It’s been nearly three years — and two congressional defeats — since Republican Carl Domino fired fundraising consultant Annie Marie Delgado.

Delgado filed a breach of contract suit against Domino on Oct. 29, 2014, less than a week before Domino lost his challenge to former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, in a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional district.

A Circuit Court judge ruled in Domino’s favor in 2016 and, after Domino finished fourth in a six-candidate GOP congressional primary, ruled in November that Domino is entitled to $60,000 in legal fees from Delgado.

An appeals court upheld the Circuit Court ruling last month.

Domino could not be reached today and Delgado declined comment.

Domino, meanwhile, has filed a lawsuit against West Palm Beach consulting firm Public Concepts, which hired Delgado in 2014, seeking to recover the costs he incurred defending Delgado’s lawsuit. Two initial versions of Domino’s lawsuit have been dismissed.

 

 

Palm Beach County Democrat: ‘We all felt that there was fraud going on’

“We all felt that there was fraud going on,” says former Democratic Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor. who lost her re-election bid with a narrow primary defeat last year. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Former Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, knocked out of office last year when she lost a Democratic primary to Mack Bernard, continues to question the role absentee ballots played in her defeat.

“We all felt that there was fraud going on,” says Taylor in a story by award-winning Palm Beach Post reporter Lawrence Mower.

Taylor got 766 more votes than Bernard at early voting sites and election-day polling places. But Bernard piled up a 1,287-vote margin in absentee ballots to win the Aug. 30 primary.

Detectives with State Attorney Dave Aronberg‘s office found clear-cut evidence of voter fraud in last year’s August primaries, with nearly two dozen people’s signatures forged on requests for absentee ballots.

But prosecutors are dropping the case.

Find out why by clicking here to read Mower’s entire story at MyPalmBeachPost.com.

 

Jeb Bush calls Donald Trump ‘deeply troubling’

Jeb Bush campaigning in Iowa in 2016. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the first establishment Republican casualty in Donald Trump‘s rise to the presidency, took some shots at President Trump  and the celebrification of American politics on Saturday at OzyFest in New York City.

Bush also accused some of his fellow Republicans of being inconsistent on Russia.

“If Barack Obama did something as it related to Russia and you get, you say this is outrageous, all this stuff, then when your guy does the same thing, have the same passion to be critical,” according to a video clip posted on Twitter by Business Insider politics reporter Maxwell Tani.

Bush told Trump’s Democratic critics that Trump isn’t a true Republican.

“He’s not really affiliated with the party, just to be clear. He’s Trump,” Bush said, according to an Associated Press account.

“We may have really talented people that are really good on TV being our leaders for a while until we sort things out…Ideas and policy really matter. It’s not just about personality,” said Bush.

While critical of the president, Bush said he wants Trump to be successful.

“I find him deeply troubling in a lot of ways. But I pray for him every night. And I pray for our country every night,” Bush said. “I care about my grandkids.”

Mast rips media in roundtable discussion

Rep. Brian Mast

Forget Russia. Forget WikiLeaks and its document dumps. Forget, even, all of those undocumented residents who, according to President Donald Trump, voted illegally and cost him the popular vote.

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, said the press was “the greatest saboteur” in the 2016 election.

Mast, whose district includes northern Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, made the comment during a roundtable discussion with other members of Congress filmed by CBS News.

“If I would point to anyone as the greatest saboteur of our election, it would be the press and the way they drive the message that they want to drive – hands down,” Mast said.

His comment drew an immediate response from U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J.

“Yeah, but what’s the alternative?” Pascrell asked Mast. “You want to do it like Greece and Turkey in terms of how they control their media, particularly their print media? I think the press has done a fantastic job.”

Pascrell then decried attacks on the press over the past six months.

“I would say the alternative is more editorializing and less opinion,” Mast said.

Members of both parties told CBS News that the press seizes on political discord, but, with Trump branding unfavorable reports as “fake news,” ripping the press has become a staple of some Republicans.

Asked for comment Wednesday, a spokesman for Mast said the congressman will let his remarks speak for themselves.

While Mast described the press as the “greatest saboteur” of the 2016 election, he has been critical of Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies said tried to influence the election.

“Unfortunately, the vacuum of power created by the Obama Administration has also been filled by Russia to sow chaos through both physical and cyber warfare,” the congressman says on his web site. “Russia’s expansion in Eastern Europe must be stopped and their attempts to influence the outcome of American elections must not be tolerated.”

Democrats have said their internal polling indicates that Mast will be among the most vulnerable Republicans in the country when he seeks re-election next year. The seat is expected to be a key part of the Democrats’ push to recapture a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In an effort to tie Mast to the unfolding Russia scandal, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has cited reporting that a Mast consultant used information the Russians stole from the DCCC’s computers in 2016.

“Congressman Mast’s campaign used information stolen by Russian hackers and then got caught trying to mislead his voters about what his campaign had done,” Cole Leiter, a DCCC spokesman, said Wednesday. “Frankly, it’s telling how far Washington he’s gone that he’s now pointing fingers at the media instead of taking responsibility for his own dirty tricks.”

Republicans have said they aren’t worried about Mast’s re-election prospects and have labeled the used-hacked-information charge as a “ridiculous lie.”