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.”

Opioid crisis: Latvala schedules roundtable in Palm Beach County

Florida Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, will host an opioid roundtable in Palm Beach County next month before making announcement about the 2018 governor’s race. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Senate Appropriations Chairman and potential 2018 gubernatorial candidate Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, has scheduled a roundtable discussion on the opioid crisis for Aug. 8 at the Lake Worth campus of Palm Beach State College.

State Sen. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, and Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay have urged Latvala to hold a roundtable on the opioid crisis.

Latvala said he’s been urged to hold such a meeting by Sen. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, and by Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and wants to be “on top of the issue” when he oversees spending levels for next year’s budget.

BREAKING: Delray will sue Big Pharma for ‘scourge of opioid addiction’

“It’s fact-finding,” Latvala said in an interview this morning. “I don’t really understand a whole lot about this issue. I hear about it from the members over there, I hear about it from the commissioner there who’s my friend…It seems like Palm Beach County is the epicenter of the problem in Florida.”

Latvala said he wanted to schedule the opioid discussion before his planned Aug. 16 announcement about running for governor in 2018.

“I want to get this done before that so it doesn’t get tied up in politics,” Latvala said. “It really doesn’t have anything to do with the governor’s race.”

Republican Adam Putnam (top) has a big financial head start in the Florida governor’s race against potential GOP rivals Richard Corcoran, Ron DeSantis and Jack Latvala.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam opened a Republican campaign for governor in May. Putnam’s campaign has raised $2 million for the race and the pro-Putnam Florida Grown political committee began July with $10 million in cash on hand.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, have also shown interest in GOP bids for governor.

Latvala today called the race for the GOP nomination “a wide-open situation” and said that in addition to the elected officials mulling the race he expects some wealthy candidate to seek to emulate Gov. Rick Scott and President Donald Trump and launch a self-financed bid.

The opioid roundtable is scheduled for Aug. 8 from 9:30 a.m. to noon in Room PSD 108 at Palm Beach State College at 4200 Congress Avenue in Lake Worth Florida.




Why Gov. Rick Scott is returning to Boca Raton today

Gov. Rick Scott during a May visit to the offices of 3Cinteractive in Boca Raton. He’s returning to another nearby corporate headquarters today. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott returns to Boca Raton this afternoon to highlight job growth at the corporate headquarters of Orangetheory Fitness in Boca Raton.

Scott is expected to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson next year and will likely make the state’s job growth a central part of his campaign. The governor is also stopping by a Florida Forklift facility in Jacksonville this morning for a similar job-themed event.

The Orangetheory headquarters on Broken Sound Parkway isn’t far from the headquarters of 3Cinteractive, where Scott visited and signed tax-cut legislation in May. And it’s less than 3 miles from the headquarters of IDI, a data analytics firm Scott visited in 2016.

Check out later today for coverage of Scott’s visit by the acclaimed Charles Elmore.

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.”


How a potential Rick Scott-Bill Nelson Senate race unites GOP, Dems

Republican Gov. Rick Scott, left, and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson both bring a solid hand-gesture game into a potential 2018 Senate clash. (Photos by George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

WASHINGTON — In an era of partisan polarization, Republicans and Democrats have found some common ground when it comes to Florida’s 2018 U.S. Senate race.

Many in both parties expect Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Scott. who’s been urged by President Donald Trump to run, insisted it’s too early to talk about 2018 when he visited Washington last week.

Click here to read about a potential Scott-Nelson contest and how both sides are preparing at