Ron DeSantis, Ben Carson and a Roger Stone sighting at Palm Beach County GOP Lobsterfest

U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis and Brian mast and HUD Secretary Ben Carson pose for photos with attendees at the Palm Beach County GOP’s Lobsterfest dinner in Boca Raton. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

BOCA RATON — Housing and Urban Development Secretary and Palm Beach Gardens resident Ben Carson got the top billing at the Palm Beach County GOP’s annual Lobsterfest on Thursday night, but there was also plenty of buzz for Ron DeSantisthe gubernatorial candidate backed by President Donald Trump — and for longtime Trump friend Roger Stone.

Roger Stone arrives at the Palm Beach County GOP Lobsterfest on Thursday. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Both DeSantis and his rival in the Aug. 28 Republican primary, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, were scheduled to attend the 450-attendee dinner at the Polo Club. But Putnam got tied up at a previously scheduled meeting in Miami and couldn’t get to the Palm Beach County event on time, Putnam spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice said.

So DeSantis, accompanied by wife Casey and 4-month-old son Mason, had the crowd of party activists and donors to himself.

While a line formed to get pictures with DeSantis, Carson and U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, in a VIP reception area, Stone arrived in a seersucker suit and generated his own crowd in the lobby.

Longtime Trump friend Stone’s name has frequently been mentioned in special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation of potential collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“I know that there is no evidence of Russian collusion, Wikileaks collaboration or anything pertaining to John Podesta’s devastatingly incriminating emails and me,” Stone said. “It’s not inconceivable that the special counsel could conjure up some other bogus offense in an attempt to get me to testify against the president, who I’ve known for 40 years. I’m not going to do that.”

After being interrupted by several people asking to get pictures with him, Stone added: “I wouldn’t rule out cooperating with him on some other basis if I can be helpful, but I will never testify against the president.”

Stone said there’s nothing for him to testify against Trump about “that I know of, but they may think otherwise.”

Ron DeSantis talks to reporters while holding son Mason. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

DeSantis has rocketed to the top of GOP polls since Trump tweeted his “full endorsement” in late June. The president also flew to Tampa last week to appear with DeSantis at a rally.

Palm Beach County Republican Executive Committee member Steven Ledewitz of Boynton Beach, a Putnam supporter, said he’s seen a decided swing among local Republicans to DeSantis since Trump’s endorsement.

“It’s certainly helped Congressman DeSantis quite a bit,” said Ledewitz. “And he (Trump) is technically the leader of the party, so he’s got a right to do that. I wish he hadn’t, but he did.”

DeSantis said Trump’s June 22 endorsement helped his campaign, but he also pointed to a Fox News debate a week later and other factors.

“It’s a positive impact, but he had tweeted for me in December and then did another tweet, but ultimately you’ve got to bring it home,” DeSantis said. “We had a debate in late June, I finally started spending money after getting $12 million dumped on me. I think it was a combination of the tweet, the debate and then the fact that we started being on TV.”

DeSantis crowed about his polling numbers in the race for the Republican nomination.

“I am kicking his keister in South Florida…I will win Palm Beach, Broward and Dade with significant margins” in the GOP primary, DeSantis said.

Carson, who told the partisan crowd he was appearing “as a private citizen with concerns about what’s going on in our country,” discussed the vehement opposition to Trump on the left.

“I don’t think it’s President Trump himself that the left is concerned about, it’s what he represents that they’re concerned about. He represents America. He represents the true values of the things that made us into a great nation and that’s what they don’t like,” Carson said.

“Why is there a Trump derangement syndrome going on? Why are there so many people that are just mad, irrationally mad?” Carson said. “Actually, it’s kind of logical if you stop and think about it. They have been attempting to fundamentally change America for decades. Now when I say ‘they,’ I’m talking about the Fabians, the socialists, the communists, the liberals – now they call themselves progressives. As soon as you figure out who they are they change their name, but they’re the same people. And they don’t like what this country represents. And they want to change it to their ideal, which is a government that takes care of you from cradle to grave, takes care of all your problems, but you give them all the power and they are the all-knowing. The problem is that system, wherever it has been tried, has failed.”

 

 

 

Palm Beach Gardens man Ben Carson on Charlottesville, Trump and race

Palm Beach Gardens resident Ben Carson announcing his support for Donald Trump’s presidential bid at Mar-a-Lago in March 2016. (Meghan McCarthy / Palm Beach Daily News)

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, the Palm Beach Gardens resident who is the only black member of President Donald Trump‘s Cabinet, has defended Trump and recalled his own encounter with a Confederate flag in a series of Facebook posts since Saturday’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

“Let us pray for those killed and injured during the unrest in Charlottesville today, but also for our nation as it is being severely threatened by hatred and bigotry on all sides,” Carson wrote on Saturday afternoon. “I am pleased that the President overtly disavowed any relationship with white supremacists. We should all reject the forces of division on all sides of the political spectrum. There are radical terrorists in the world who want to destroy us and are coming dangerously close to acquiring the means to accomplish their goals. We must present a strong and united front in the future. If America is going to survive, we must not yield to the forces of evil. Remember what our money says: “In God We Trust.” Let’s act accordingly.”

Ben Carson after the first GOP presidential debate in Cleveland in 2015.

On Sunday, after Trump was criticized for saying “many sides” were to blame for the violence, Carson wrote: “It is sad watching the political pundits arguing about whether President Trump went far enough in condemning the instigators of the violence in Charlottesville . The point of my previous post is that we are falling into the trap of fighting ourselves when we have a much bigger enemy who is reveling in the state of confusion and discord that exist in our country. It makes their job of destroying us that much easier. Are we going to wake up or we going to participate in our own distraction?”

On Wednesday, Carson revealed that his home near Washington was recently vandalized “by people who also wrote hateful rhetoric about President Trump.”

Carson lived in Maryland while he was head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University. He retired and moved to West Palm Beach in 2013, then moved to Palm Beach Gardens in 2016. From his latest Facebook post, it appears he also has a residence in Northern Virginia for his HUD job.

“Regarding all of the racial and political strife emanating from the events in Charlottesville last weekend, let me relate a story,” Carson posted on Wednesday. “Several years ago we bought a farm in rural Maryland. One of the neighbors immediately put up a Confederate flag. A friend of ours who is an African-American three-star general was coming to visit and immediately turned around concluding that he was in the wrong place. Interestingly, all the other neighbors immediately put up American flags shaming the other neighbor who took down the Confederate flag. More recently our home in Virginia along with that of a neighbor was vandalized by people who also wrote hateful rhetoric about President Trump. We were out of town, but other kind, embarrassed neighbors cleaned up most of the mess before we returned.

“In both instances, less than kind behavior was met by people taking the high road. We could all learn from these examples. Hatred and bigotry unfortunately still exists in our country and we must all continue to fight it, but let’s use the right tools. By the way, that neighbor who put up the Confederate flag subsequently became friendly. That is the likely outcome if we just learn to be neighborly and to get to know each other.”

Yet another Palm Beacher in Donald Trump’s Cabinet?

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani at Donald Trump’s election night celebration.

President Donald Trump‘s Cabinet already has a distinctive Palm Beach flavor.

Rudy Giuliani with friend and former Palm Beach Town Councilman Bill Diamond outside Palm Beach Town Hall in 2015.

Trump, the part-time Palm Beacher who visited his Mar-a-Lago estate seven times in his first 100 days as president, has already tapped Palm Beach neighbor Wilbur Ross for Commerce secretary and Palm Beach resident Robert Lighthizer for the Cabinet-level post of U.S. trade representative.

Palm Beach Gardens resident Ben Carson is secretary of Housing and Urban Development. And Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is a Miami resident who made headlines overseeing corruption probes in Palm Beach County as a federal prosecutor.

Now that Trump has made his irritation with Attorney General Jeff Sessions clear, Axios.com is reporting that the president is considering longtime ally Rudy Giuliani to replace Sessions.

Former New York Mayor Giuliani is frequently sighted in Palm Beach and owns a pair of condos on the island — a Lake Drive unit valued at $1.6 million and Cocoanut Row place appraised at $390,000.

Senator No: Bill Nelson opposes 10 of 18 Trump Cabinet picks

Bill Nelson at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last year.
Bill Nelson at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last year.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson voted Thursday against President Donald Trump‘s nominations of Ben Carson for secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Rick Perry for secretary of Energy.

 

Nelson has now voted against 10 of 18 Trump Cabinet nominees who have come before the Senate.

 

Nelson also joined most Democrats in opposing Mike Pompeo (CIA), Rex Tillerson (State), Betsy DeVos (Education), Jeff Sessions (Attorney General), Tom Price (HHS), Steven Mnuchin (Treasury), Mick Mulvaney (OMB) and Scott Pruitt (EPA).

 

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio expressed some reservations about Tillerson but ultimately voted for him and all 17 other Trump Cabinet nominees.

 

Nelson is up for re-election next year in a state Trump won by 1.2 points in 2016. Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, up for re-election in another state Trump narrowly won, has also voted against 10 of 18 Trump nominees, according to an analysis by DecisionDeskHQ.com of senators up for re-election in 2018.

 

The most Trump-friendly Democrat who’s running next year in a state Trump carried has been West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who has supported 14 of 18 Cabinet nominees. North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has backed Trump on 13 nominees.

 

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, up for re-election in a state where Trump eked out a surprise 2016 win, has voted against 13 Trump nominees.

 

 

Palm Beach Gardens man Ben Carson confirmed as HUD secretary

Palm Beach Gardens resident Ben Carson, shown here in March 2016 with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, was confirmed this morning as secretary of Housing and Urban Development. (Meghan McCarthy / Palm Beach Daily News)
Palm Beach Gardens resident Ben Carson, shown here in March 2016 with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, was confirmed this morning as secretary of Housing and Urban Development. (Meghan McCarthy / Palm Beach Daily News)

Palm Beach Gardens resident Ben Carson, the world-renowned neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate this morning as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

 

Sen. Bill Nelson votes against Floridian Ben Carson for HUD secretary.
Sen. Bill Nelson votes against Floridian Ben Carson for HUD secretary.

The vote was 58-41, with Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in favor and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson opposed.

 

Carson dropped his presidential bid in March 2016 and endorsed Donald Trump, becoming a key Trump ambassador to conservative Christians skeptical of the twice-divorced billionaire.

 

Carson will supervise 8,000 employees and a budget of about $47 billion. HUD provides billions of dollars in housing assistance to low-income people through vouchers and public housing. It also enforces fair housing laws and offers mortgage insurance to poorer Americans through the Federal Housing Administration.

 

President Donald Trump has tapped four Floridians for Cabinet-level posts. Clockwise from top left: Ben Carson (HUD), Wilbur Ross (Commerce), Robert Lighthizer (U.S. Trade Rep), Alex Acosta (Labor).
President Donald Trump has tapped four Floridians for Cabinet-level posts. Clockwise from top left: Ben Carson (HUD), Wilbur Ross (Commerce), Robert Lighthizer (U.S. Trade Rep), Alex Acosta (Labor).

Carson becomes the second Palm Beach County resident in part-time Palm Beacher Trump’s Cabinet.

 

Palm Beach resident Wilbur Ross was confirmed as Commerce secretary on Monday.

 

Trump has also tapped Florida International University law school dean Alex Acosta of Miami for Labor secretary and Palm Beach resident Robert Lighthizer for U.S. Trade Representative.

 

 

 

 

Trump’s emerging Florida Cabinet: Carson, Ross, Acosta, Lighthizer

President Donald Trump has tapped four Floridians for Cabinet-level posts. Clockwise from top left: Ben Carson (HUD), Wilbur Ross (Commerce), Robert Lighthizer (U.S. Trade Rep), Alex Acosta (Labor).
President Donald Trump has tapped four Floridians for Cabinet-level posts. Clockwise from top left: Ben Carson (HUD), Wilbur Ross (Commerce), Robert Lighthizer (U.S. Trade Rep), Alex Acosta (Labor).

President Donald Trump‘s choice of Miami resident Alex Acosta for Labor secretary brings to four the number of Floridians Trump has tapped for Cabinet-level posts.

 

Part-time Palm Beacher Trump’s nominees include three Palm Beach County residents.

 

• Palm Beach Gardens resident Ben Carson, a former GOP presidential rival who endorsed Trump last March, is Trump’s pick to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He’s awaiting Senate confirmation.

 

• Palm Beach resident Wilbur Ross, who lives about a mile north of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, was picked for Commerce secretary and is also awaiting Senate confirmation.

 

• Acosta, announced yesterday after Andy Puzder withdrew, hails from Miami and is dean of the law school at Florida International University after serving as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida under President George W. Bush.

 

Robert Lighthizer, an attorney awaiting Senate confirmation as Trump’s choice for U.S. Trade Representative, is often listed as a Maryland resident but has a homestead exemption in Palm Beach and has been registered to vote there since December 2015.

Trump Administration: Palm Beach County residents, Floridians in key roles

Palm Beach Gardens resident Ben Carson, shown here in March with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, is one of several Palm Beach County residents and Floridians positioned for key roles in President Trump's administration. (Meghan McCarthy / Palm Beach Daily News)
Palm Beach Gardens resident Ben Carson, shown here in March with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, is one of several Palm Beach County residents and Floridians positioned for key roles in President Trump’s administration. (Meghan McCarthy / Palm Beach Daily News)

Tallahassee lobbyist and Republican fundraiser Brian Ballard had a seat on the platform when part-time Palm Beach resident Donald Trump was sworn in Friday as the nation’s 45th president.

The prime positioning was one indication of the influential roles that Ballard and some other Floridians could play – some publicly and some less visibly – in President Trump’s new administration.

Trump, who calls his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach “the Winter White House,” has nominated Palm Beach neighbor Wilbur Ross to be Commerce secretary and Palm Beach Gardens resident Ben Carson for secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

 

Click here to read the entire story at MyPalmBeachPost.com

Donald Trump taps Palm Beach Gardens man Ben Carson for HUD secretary

Ben Carson and Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago when Carson endorsed Trump in March.
Ben Carson and Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago when Carson endorsed Trump in March.

President-elect Donald Trump will nominate retired neurosurgeon and former presidential candidate Ben Carson to head the department of Housing and Urban Development, the Trump transition team announced this morning.

 

Carson is the first African-American named to Trump’s Cabinet. He’s the second Palm Beach County resident.

 

Carson moved to West Palm Beach in 2013 and then to Palm Beach Gardens this year. Trump last week named Wilbur Ross, a resident of Palm Beach whose home is about a mile from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, to be Commerce secretary.

 

In addition to being Palm Beach County residents, both Carson and Ross are relatively new to the GOP. Carson was registered with the Independence Party of Florida before switching his registration to Republican in 2014. Ross switched from Democrat to Republican last month.

 

“I am thrilled to nominate Dr. Ben Carson as our next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities. We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up,” Trump said in a statement released by the transition team.

Donald Trump taps Palm Beach neighbor Wilbur Ross for Commerce secretary

Palm Beach resident Wilbur Ross, speaking in 2013 at The Beach Club, is President-elect Donald Trump's pick to head the U.S. Department of Commerce. (Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Daily News)
Palm Beach resident Wilbur Ross, speaking in 2013 at The Beach Club, is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the U.S. Department of Commerce. (Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Daily News)

Billionaire investor and Palm Beach resident Wilbur Ross is President-elect Donald Trump‘s pick to be secretary of Commerce, the Trump transition team announced this morning.

 

Ross, 78, is chairman and chief strategy officer of private-equity firm W.L. Ross & Co., which has specialized in buying failing companies. He was Trump’s top economic adviser on trade policy during the campaign. Ross, a $274,400 contributor to the Republican National Committee over the past two years, was also a vice chairman of the “2016 Trump Victory leadership team,” which raised money for Trump and the RNC.

 

Ross is one of two Palm Beach County residents who could serve in Trump’s Cabinet. Retired neurosurgeon and former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson, mentioned as a potential secretary of Housing and Urban Development, lives in Palm Beach Gardens.

 

Ross’s home on the Intracoastal Waterway, assigned a market value of $23 million on the Palm Beach County property tax rolls, is about a mile from Trump’s second home at Mar-a-Lago.

 

“Wilbur Ross is a champion of American manufacturing and knows how to help companies succeed. Most importantly, he is one of the greatest negotiators I have ever met, and that comes from me, the author of The Art of the Deal. Together, we will take on the special interests and stand up for American jobs,” Trump said in a statement released this morning.

 

“Wilbur knows that cutting taxes for working families, reducing burdensome government regulations and unleashing America’s energy resources will strengthen our economy at a time when our country needs to see significant growth. I am proud to nominate him as Secretary of Commerce.”

 

The Ross announcement came at the same time Trump announced Steven Mnuchin as Treasury secretary and Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts as deputy Commerce secretary.

“I am delighted to have been selected to join President-elect Trump’s Cabinet and look forward to working especially closely with Steve Mnuchin to implement the economic programs which we have developed jointly to implement the President-elect’s strategy for accelerating our economic growth,” Ross said.

Trump transition team still mum on Carson, Ross

The transition team of President-elect Donald Trump would not confirm reports that two men who live at least part-time in Palm Beach County, Dr. Ben Carson and Wilbur Ross, have been offered cabinet positions.

News reports have indicated that Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, has been offered the position of secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. After meeting with Carson on Tuesday, Trump himself tweeted: “I am seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson as the head of HUD. I’ve gotten to know him well – he’s a greatly talented person who loves people!”

Other reports have indicated Ross, a billionaire businessman who has a home not far from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion on Palm Beach, is the president-elect’s choice for secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

During a conference call with reporters on Friday, Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller said the president-elect has no official news on the selection of either Carson or Ross.

“There has not yet been an announcement with regard to those men,” Miller said. “I would say that, until the president-elect makes an announcement, I would hold off on that.”

Trump is spending the Thanksgiving holiday weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

Carson endorsed Trump after ending his own bid for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. He has given conflicting signals about his willingness to serve in Trump’s cabinet.

As Trump’s transition team began to announce cabinet nominees, Carson said he would not serve in the cabinet and would seek to help Trump as an outside-of-Washington, D.C. voice of reason.

After meeting with Trump on Tuesday, however, the retired neurosurgeon hinted during an interview on Fox News that he is interested in a role that would allow him to help inner cities.

“You know, our inner cities are in terrible shape, and they definitely need some real attention,” Carson said. “You know, there have been so many promises made over the last several decades, and nothing has been done, so it certainly is something that has been a long-term interest of mine, and I’ll be thinking and praying about it seriously over the holiday.”

Ross has become known as the “king of bankruptcy” because of his success in buying distressed companies at low costs, restructuring them and selling for large profits. Critics contend those restructurings have harmed some workers and encouraged non-compliance with safety regulations in the name of profits.

If nominated, both Carson, 65, and Ross, who turns 79 on Tuesday, would require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Miller said Trump will not meet with any other potential members of his administration until Monday, when he will meet with eight potential nominees: Sandeep Mathrani, chief executive of a real estate investment firm; Paul Atkins, former commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; Kathleen White, former chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa.; Dave Steward, chairman and co-founder of a technology firm; E. Scott Pruitt, attorney general for the state of Oklahoma; David Clarke, sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and John Allison, founder of an asset management firm.

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