Republicans targeting Nelson with billboard on algae bloom

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is hoping to tie anger about the toxic algae bloom that has fouled waters in the Treasure Coast to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat the GOP wants to knock off when he seeks re-election in 2018.

Starting today, commuters driving past Interstate 95 at 10th Avenue near exit 64 will see a billboard urging them to “TELL BILL NELSON: Do more to fix Florida’s algae crisis.”

Nelson authored legislation that was passed into law in 2014 to direct $82 million for research into the causes and control of algae blooms and to give additional resources to communities affected by them.

The senator has also sponsored legislation that would, for the first time, pave the way for states and local communities hit hard by algae blooms to get federal assistance.

That legislation passed the Senate’s Commerce Committee in May. The Senate’s GOP leadership will determine when it is brought to the floor.

Nelson, first elected to the Senate in 2000 after a stint in the U.S. House of Representatives, could face Gov. Rick Scott in what would be an expensive, all-out battle Democrats can’t afford to lose if they have any hope of recapturing a majority in the Senate.

The GOP is already at work softening up Nelson.

“After 40 years in Congress, Bill Nelson has only reinforced his ineffectiveness as a lawmaker,” NRSC Communications Director Katie Martin said. “Floridians deserve a senator who will win the fight to fix the algae crisis, and decades have proven that Bill Nelson isn’t the man for the job.”

An algae outbreak curdled sections of the St. Lucie River in 2016, damaging businesses and angering residents who blamed Lake Okeechobee discharges for the smelly bloom.

State lawmakers passed a plan this year that would have the state store water south of Lake Okeechobee as a means of eliminating the discharges and, they hope, the algae spread.

For his part, Nelson is aware he has a political target on his back.

His campaign sent out a fundraising pitch Thursday mentioning Scott and President Donald Trump.

“CNN has ranked Florida’s Senate race as one of the most competitive races in the country next year,” the campaign pitch read. “And just last week, Gov. Rick Scott and Donald Trump met in New Jersey to begin plotting their campaign against Bill Nelson.”

The campaign said “a generous group of donors has stepped up big time and has offered to MATCH every donation we receive this week.”

“With Trump personally recruiting Scott to be his rubber stamp in the Senate, we CANNOT afford to waste this extraordinary opportunity to have your donation DOUBLED – making every dollar you give go TWICE as far – but time is running out.”

The donation match ended on Friday, but Nelson’s fight for re-election is only just warming up.

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.”

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.”

Brian Mast amassing money for re-election bid

Rep. Brian Mast

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, figures to have a tough re-election battle.

He’s already drawn one opponent, former U.S. Navy attorney Pam Keith, and another formidable candidate, State Attorney Dave Aronberg, is rumored to be considering a run.

If they get in, they better have some generous supporters.

The Mast campaign will report raising $734,000 this quarter, bring its total so far to over $1.1 million.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reported that its internal polling shows Mast to be vulnerable, but the U.S. Army veteran said he’s not worried.

“While national democrats desperately dump money into the 18th District with lies to undermine Brian mast’s service to our country, people obviously aren’t buying it,” Mast spokesman Brad Stewart said. “With 92 percent of all donations being small dollar and a median donation of $25, it’s clearer than ever that there is a broad grassroots enthusiasm for Brian’s agenda to upend the status quo in Washington and restore fiscal sanity to our country.”

 

Pro-Trump rally to be held today

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump enter the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea for Easter service Sunday. (Melanie Bell / Palm Beach Daily News)

The Palm Beach County Tea Party is hosting a rally this afternoon in support of President Donald Trump’s tax reform plan.

The rally, scheduled to be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the intersection of PGA Boulevard and Military Trail in Palm Beach Gardens, comes on the heels of a weekend of protests across the country where the president was criticized for not releasing his tax returns.

Trump’s tax reform plan has not been laid out, and recent polling suggests the president has sunk to historic lows in job approval and trustworthiness at this point in a presidency.

But his backers are rallying the troops, urging them to bring signs or use ones they’ll supply to push for support for the president’s plans.

Constitution Revision Commission to meet at FIU, FAU

Carlos Beruff

The Constitution Revision Commission will hold a pair of public meetings today and Friday, giving residents in South Florida a chance to weigh in on whether and how the state’s constitution should be changed.

Today’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at Florida International University’s Student Academic Success Center in Miami.

Friday’s meeting begins at 9 a.m. at Florida Atlantic University’s Acura Club, which is located in the university’s football stadium in Boca Raton.

The meetings are free and open to the public.

“We were pleased to see 400 Floridians attend our first public hearing in Orlando,” CRC Chairman Carlos Beruff said. “Given the public interest in speaking before the CRC, we have found new spaces on the FIU and FAU campuses that can hold even more participants. I encourage all interested Floridians in the greater Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County areas to come make their voices heard on April 6 at FIU in Miami and on April 7 at FAU in Boca Raton.”

Report: Paul Ryan in Palm Beach Thursday; Dem already attacking

Ryan

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan isn’t in the Sunshine State yet, but gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is already throwing some shade his way.

“When Speaker Paul Ryan comes to Florida later this week, he’ll hear a rallying cry from every corner of our state: Governor Rick Scott should expand Medicaid now, and Obamacare is the law of the land,” Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee, said in a press release. “His continued refusal to expand coverage is a deeply damaging mark on our state’s healthcare system, and the governor should immediately take this long overdue step to save lives. Speaker Ryan should know that healthcare is a right, and any attempt to further hurt Florida’s families will backfire at the ballot box.”

The Miami Herald has reported that Ryan, fresh off the House’s high-profile failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, plans to spend Thursday and Friday at The Breakers on Palm Beach huddling with top financial donors.

Scott backs Trump, tourism and business groups in State of State

Gov. Rick Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott expressed his happiness that Donald Trump was elected president and backed a pair of controversial tourism and business agencies in his State of the State address Tuesday.

Speaking to a joint meeting of the state House of Representatives and Senate at the opening of this year’s legislative session, Scott made no mention of the opioid and heroin epidemic that has ravaged families in Palm Beach County and throughout the state.

Palm Beach County officials said they were pleased by aspects of the governor’s speech but were disappointed he did not mention the opioid epidemic.

The governor’s support for Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida puts him on a collision course with some state legislators, who have criticized those agencies as havens of waste and corporate welfare.

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on this story.

Frankel looks to keep heat on Trump, GOP about Obamacare repeal

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, speaks during a press conference with Sherry Riggs of Fort Pierce behind her. (Wayne Washington/Palm Beach Post)
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, speaks during a press conference with Sherry Riggs of Fort Pierce behind her. (Wayne Washington/The Palm Beach Post)

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, has invited a Fort Pierce woman who credits the Affordable Care Act for saving her life to be her guest as President Donald Trump makes his first speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.

Frankel and other Democrats are looking to keep the heat on Trump and other Republicans who say they will repeal the ACA, better known as Obamacare, and replace it with something better.

Some Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, are hearing from constituents during angry town hall meetings that they don’t want Obamacare repealed unless it’s replaced with something that won’t drive up costs or lead to more  people without health care.

Members of Congress are allowed to bring a guest to hear Trump’s speech, and Frankel’s will be Sherry Riggs, a 55-year old barber who says she turned to Obamacare in 2015 after learning she could not afford private health insurance because of a preexisting heart condition.

Months after signing up, Riggs, a mother of three, underwent heart surgery, the first two procedures she has now undergone while using Obamacare.

“If it wasn’t for the Affordable Care Act, I would be dead twice now,” Riggs said during a press conference with Frankel Monday morning.

Learn more about Riggs and the debate over repeal at http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today.

Mast gets earful as hundreds pack town hall meeting in Fort Pierce

mast-mtgU.S. Rep. Brian Mast was jeered and, at times, cheered during a packed, raucous, four-hour town hall meeting at the Havert L. Fenn Center in Fort Pierce Friday.

MyPalmBeachPost: See our full coverage of the raucous town hall

The Palm City Republican was the most recent member of Congress to face constituents infuriated by policies supported by the Republican Party and by President Donald Trump.

Mast, a double amputee Army veteran elected in November, held the meeting to address the concerns of military veterans, but he got an earful on a host of other issues, particularly the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

Most of those in the audience seemed intent on tearing into Mast, though the congressman had plenty of supporters among the nearly 500 people who showed up.

Unlike some in his party who returned to their districts, Mast did not cancel the town hall meeting, nor did he lose his temper as angry audience members booed some of his answers or shouted at him in fury.

Audience members seemed most angry about Mast’s support for a repeal of Obamacare and a border wall between Mexico and the United States, two of Trump’s prominent policy goals.

Many of the talking points that stood Republicans in good stead on the campaign trail – respect for states’ rights, getting rid of ‘waste, fraud and abuse,’ repeal of Obamacare, bashing illegal immigration – drew condemnation Friday. Audience members also booed whenever Mast veered into long answers instead of saying ‘yes,’ or ‘no.’

But respect for Mast’s military service – and the congressman’s calm responses over the course of the meeting – kept the audience from completely letting loose on him.

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later for more on this topic.

Mast
U.S. Rep. Brian Mast