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.”

 

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.

Mast returns donation from businessman accused of bilking customers

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, is returning a $5,400 donation from a Florida businessman accused of bilking customers.

The Federal Trade Commission has accused Scott J. Cooper and his company, World Patent Marketing, of defrauding people in a marketing scam, Politico has reported. Cooper donated to a committee that supported Mast’s campaign last year, the news site reported.

Mast had been listed as member of World Patent Marketing’s advisory board, and the Miami-based company has used publicly available footage of him in a promotional video. The company issued a news release touting Mast’s membership on its advisory board.

Mast spokesman Brad Stewart said the congressman “never served on the board and has no knowledge of the inner workings of this business.”

Stewart also said Mast never conducted any business on behalf of the company, did not attend any meetings of the company and did not receive any compensation from the company.

Mast did not know about the news release when it was sent out, Stewart said, adding that “promotional materials using the congressman’s image were taken from media that was publicly available on the internet.”

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

Poll shows Rubio leads Murphy in U.S. Senate race, with Democrat losing independents; not winning enough women voters

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy dodged raindrops to work the crowd at Barack Obama's Sunday rally in Kissimmee.
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy dodged raindrops to work the crowd at Barack Obama’s Sunday rally in Kissimmee.

Republican Marco Rubio has a sizable lead over Patrick Murphy in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, a new poll shows, with the Democrat unable to summon the strong support from women voters that are powering presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The presidential race in Florida remains a dead heat, according to the latest Quinnipiac University Poll. But the survey shows Rubio topping Murphy 50-43 percent in his bid for a second term in the U.S. Senate, which other polls show is likely to shift into Democratic hands following Tuesday’s elections.

Rubio is helped by overwhelming support from men, white voters and independents, who favor him 55-39 percent, Quinnipiac found. And while Murphy leads among non-white voters, women voters deadlocked at 46-46 percent, Quinnipiac found.

“U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy is not getting the support a Democrat needs among women and non-white voters to overcome Sen. Marco Rubio’s lead among men and white voters,” Brown said.

Murphy, a two-term Congressman from Jupiter, has been outspent by Rubio, whose has a 3-to-1 advantage in money from outside groups supporting him. It’s translated into more TV ads and campaign organization.

Murphy introduced President Obama on Sunday at a big last-day-of-early-voting-rally in mostly Hispanic Kissimmee. But the Quinnipiac poll also shows that Rubio is holding a 48-46 percent edge on Murphy in early voting.

Quinnipiac polled 884 likely Florida voters from last Thursday through Sunday. The poll has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 3.3 percent.

 

Trump, Clinton feature prominently in Perkins-Mast race

Your party’s presidential nominee is worse than mine. So there!

In the final days of the closely watched District 18 congressional race, Republican Brian Mast and Democrat Randy Perkins are using their opponents’ presidential nominee as a cudgel.

Mast has called on Perkins to repudiate Hillary Clinton, whose campaign was rocked by news that the FBI has re-opened its investigation into how she handled emails that passed through the personal server she had set up when she was U.S. secretary of state.

“Randy Perkins has no qualms about making his race about the presidential candidates, so it’s time for him to answer for the fact that Hillary Clinton, who he endorsed, is under investigation by the FBI,” Mast spokeswoman Madison Anderson said. “His silence on the dishonesty and scandal-ridden career of his pick for president speaks volumes of how he would serve in Congress. After all, his entire career has been about him garnering millions in no-bid government contracts by gaming the political system. His latest endeavor, Congress, will be no different. We call on Randy Perkins to break his silence and denounce Hillary Clinton’s scandal-ridden career and presidential campaign.”

Perkins wasted little time firing back, tossing the widespread condemnation of Trump’s comments about women back at Mast.

“Brian is trying to hide the fact that he’s anti-women’s choice, he does not support equal pay for equal work and is committed to ‘100% de-funding’ services like breast cancer testing, Zika screenings, and prenatal care for women in need,” Perkins said. “He and Donald Trump are both anti women.”

Republican Brian Mast (left) and Democrat Randy Perkins.
Republican Brian Mast (left) and Democrat Randy Perkins, candidates for the congressional District 18 seat.

FBI probing alleged donor scheme in Murphy’s 2012 race, report says

Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy at their first debate in Orlando
Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy at their first debate in Orlando

The Hill newspaper is reporting Wednesday that the FBI is investigating an illegal contribution scheme involving a Saudi family that backs Democrat Patrick Murphy in Florida’s U.S. Senate race.

The paper points out it found no evidence that Murphy was aware of the alleged use of “straw donors” to steer money to his 2012 campaign for Congress.

A Republican Super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, filed a complaint in June with the Federal Elections Commission over the same issue. The PAC alleged the scheme also helped Charlie Crist in his 2010 run for U.S. Senate.

According to the Senate Leadership Fund: “The donors have no prior contribution history other than the out-of-state contributions to Murphy and Crist…(and) contributions were all made on overlapping or closely-clustered dates; and the only apparent connection between these contributors is a wealthy ally of Patrick Murphy named Ibrahim Al-Rashid.

Al-Rashid is a former high-school friend of Murphy’s and the son of a politically connected Saudi billionaire. Al-Rashid has given almost $400,000 to Murphy’s campaigns over the years and to outside groups supporting the Jupiter congressman.

Murphy’s campaign said neither Murphy nor his campaign staff have been contacted by the FBI and point out the Senate Leadership Fund has poured millions into helping opponent, Republican Marco Rubio’s campaign.

Murphy, speaking in West Palm Beach on Wednesday, disputed the Hill’s report.

“There’s no sources. There’s nothing in there. The authorities did not even comment on it,” Murphy said. “I haven’t been contacted, nor has my team. This is another attempt by the special interest groups, the Republican groups, to try to distract from Senator Rubio’s record. We’re not distracted.”

 

 

Florida Democrats, Republicans agree: They want money from Obama administration

Florida Democrats, Republicans agree they want money -- fast-- from the White House.
Florida Democrats, Republicans agree they want money — fast– from the White House.

With Election Day nearing, Florida elected officials from both parties have found something to agree on: They want more money from the Obama administration.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott started the demand for dollars Tuesday — saying the president should move more swiftly to free money for states to combat the Zika virus.

Congress broke a months-long deadlock in September by approving $1.1 billion to fight the virus. But Florida hasn’t received any money yet, Scott said.

“While Florida continues to work through the bureaucratic and highly complex approval process for federal funding, there should be an expedited award to Florida given the fact that we are the only state currently battling local transmission of Zika through mosquitoes,” Scott said.

Soon after, Democratic and Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation sent Obama a letter asking him to quickly total a request for emergency funding for Florida and other states hit last month by Hurricane Matthew.

Florida is having to rebuild part of A1A in Flagler County that was wiped out by the storm.

“If your administration believes that emergency funding is necessary, we strongly urge you to submit a request to Congress as soon as possible so that it may be considered in the next government funding bill that Congress needs to pass by December 9, 2016,” the delegation wrote.