For Charlie Crist, parties and offices change but the fan and ‘the people’ are constant

With "the people" at his back and his ubiquitous electric fan at his feet, Charlie Crist launches another campaign.
With “the people” at his back and his ubiquitous electric fan at his feet, Charlie Crist launches another campaign.

Charlie Crist has been a Republican, an independent and a Democrat.

He’s won races for state Senate, education commissioner and attorney general, lost two races for U.S. Senate and won and lost races for governor. He’s been conservative-talking “Chain Gang Charlie” and a Barack Obama-embracing cheerleader for the Democratic stimulus and health care bills.

The fan beneath Crist's lectern led to a 2014 debate fracas with Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
The fan beneath Crist’s lectern led to a 2014 debate fracas with Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

But some things about Crist never change.

For one thing, there’s that electric fan. Crist brought the cooling device with him in his Republican days (“What’s the deal with the fan?” primary rival Tom Gallagher demanded before a 2006 Republican gubernatorial debate) and, most famously, as a Democrat to last fall’s debate with Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Not surprisingly, the fan was present Tuesday when Crist made an outdoor announcement that he’s running for a U.S. House seat as a Democrat in his home town of St. Petersburg.

Flanked by running mate Annette Taddeo (left) and wife Carole, "People's Governor" Charlie Crist concedes last year's election.
Flanked by running mate Annette Taddeo (left) and wife Carole, “People’s Governor” Charlie Crist concedes last year’s election.

There’s also “the people.”

Crist called himself “the people’s governor” when he took office as a Republican in 2007. As a Democrat, he ran unsuccessfully last year as “the people’s governor” against Scott. Crist regularly refers to “the people” in his speeches, and Tuesday was no exception.

“The real problem with Washington is that they fail to listen. They fail to listen to the people. I have always tried to listen to the people,” Crist said Tuesday.

He added: “I think it’s important to always listen to the people. That will be a hallmark of my campaign. Hopefully it’s been a hallmark of my career…The people’s will must be done.”

Just in time for Halloween: Scott wants to hear tales of hospital price-gouging

Scott wants to hear stories about hospital price-gouging
Scott wants to hear stories about hospital price-gouging

Gov. Rick Scott’s Halloween season call for scary price-gouging stories from hospitals brought a swift response Tuesday from the Florida Hospital Association.

Scott and the industry have been at odds for months.

But the Republican governor turned up the pressure another notch by asking Floridians who think they were victims of hospital over-charging to contact the Governor’s Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding to share their stories.

The commission was meeting Tuesday at the state Capitol, its latest in a months-long series of hearings. Commissioners are probing hospital spending, profits and costs but many industry critics privately dismiss the panel as a kangaroo court organized by the governor.

“Last month, we announced major reforms to increase transparency and accountability so we can better empower patients,” Scott said. “By requiring hospitals to post pricing information online, we will give patients the tools necessary to prevent and report the deceptive practice of price gouging.”

Scott wants to hear consumer horror stories here:

The FHA said it supports giving patients more information. But the association also hinted that it has problems with Scott’s approach.

“The best way to truly empower patients, and to understand what drives costs, is to bring everyone in the health care continuum to the table,” said Bruce Rueben, FHA president. “By utilizing data from all health care claims, a comprehensive database would provide meaningful information about health care quality, costs and access.”

Scott and hospitals have been battling since last spring, when industry organizations backed Senate President Andy Gardiner’s push for a privatized form of Medicaid expansion, opposed by the governor and the House.

The clash delayed budget talks and forced lawmakers into a June special session. In the end, the Medicaid expansion push died, but a cut in federal aid to hospitals was softened with $450 million in taxpayer money, effectively killing Scott’s push for a record level of per-pupil school spending and even bigger tax breaks.

With hospitals facing another reduction in federal dollars this year, Scott’s healthcare commission appears at least partially designed to expose financing data that could give the governor some ground cover for opposing steering more taxpayer cash toward hospitals when lawmakers reconvene in January.


Scott targets Kentucky for latest corporate hunting trip

Gov. Rick Scott is targeting Kentucky for jobs.
Gov. Rick Scott is targeting Kentucky for jobs.

Radio ads promoting Florida as a place to do business began airing today in Kentucky, the latest Democratic-led state targeted by Gov. Rick Scott for jobs.

In a bid to lure companies to Florida, the spot takes a swipe at Gov. Steve Beshear’s “pro-union and big government” policies. It also promotes Florida as a right-to-work state with no income tax rated highly for its business environment.

The ad promises that, “Florida Gov. Rick Scott is coming to Kentucky to share Florida’s success story.”

Scott plans a trip to the state later this month. His previous trips this year include stops in Pennsylvania, California and Connecticut — states all led by Democrats.


Hillary Clinton coming to North Palm Beach for Oct. 2 fundraiser

Hillary Clinton at a 2013 appearance at the University of Miami.
Hillary Clinton at a 2013 appearance at the University of Miami.

Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton will visit the North Palm Beach home of prominent trial lawyer Fred Cunningham for an Oct. 2 fundraiser.

The event carries a $2,700-a-head price tag.

Cunningham is a former president of the Florida Justice Association who has raised money for several Democrats.

Fred Cunningham
Fred Cunningham

After the North Palm Beach event, Clinton is expected to go to previously announced fundraisers that day in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

It’s unclear whether Clinton will appear at any public events while she’s in Florida.


During her last visit to the Sunshine State on July 31, Clinton slammed Jeb Bush in a speech to the National Urban League conference in Fort Lauderdale and called for lifting the U.S. embargo on Cuba in a speech at Florida International University in Miami.


Clinton did only closed-door money events when she visited Florida in May.





Crisafulli puts kibosh on Senate’s pitch for another special session on congressional map

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli says 'no' to another special session on congressional redistricting (House photo)
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli says ‘no’ to another special session on congressional redistricting
(House photo)

Florida’s battle over congressional redistricting looks likely to be played out in the courts — not before state lawmakers — after House Speaker Steve Crisafulli rejected the Senate’s latest bid for another special session.

In a letter sent Tuesday to House members, Crisafulli said chances for reaching agreement with the Senate by a Sept. 25 deadline set by a court fell somewhere between slim and none.

Instead, Crisafulli said the House will argue before a Leon County circuit judge that the map it prepared in August’s failed special session is what should be recommended to the state Supreme Court, which will get a final look at the best way to draw the state’s 27 congressional districts.

Crisafulli’s letter follows Friday’s ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis should hold a hearing to review maps advanced by the House, Senate and others and pass on a recommendation.

Like Senate President Andy Gardiner, justices also held out the possibility of the Legislture reconvening. But Crisafulli’s letter apparently puts an end to such speculation.



Congressman shot Wednesday had Palm Beach County connection

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. (Associated Press photo)
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. (Associated Press photo)

UPDATE: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., was shot this morning as he practiced for a charity baseball game in Alexandria, Va. This story was initially published on Dec. 30, 2014. 

More on Scalise’s West Palm connection:

The uproar over House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., speaking to a David Duke-founded group in 2002 sprang from a 12-year-old post on Stormfront, a “white nationalist” website that’s run by West Palm Beach resident and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Don Black.

As a  liberal Louisiana politics blogger  noted Sunday, a Stormfront contributor named Alsace Hebert posted an account in May 2002 of a European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) conference in the New Orleans area and mentioned that Scalise, at the time a state legislator, was one of the speakers.

EURO was founded by Duke, the former Klan leader and Louisiana legislator who is a friend of Black.

Scalise told the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday that he spoke to many groups in 2002 in opposition to a tax proposal.  He said he didn’t know EURO is a white nationalist group and wasn’t aware of its association with Duke.

“I didn’t know who all of these groups were and I detest any kind of hate group…Everyone knew who he (Duke) was. I would not go to any group he was a part of,” Scalise said.

Black weighed in on the Scalise matter Monday night on Stormfront.

“Nothing ever dies on the Internet!” Black wrote. “Now this obscure, old thread, by our long departed friend Alsace, makes the legacy news media (formerly called the mainstream news).”

Black continued: “I remember that conference well. Hard to believe it’s been over twelve years. I won’t comment on Scalise. But I will note the absolute hypocrisy of the anti-White establishment…Politicians grovel before African-American, Latino and Jewish groups, which openly promote their racial interests. But they are conditioned to run like scared rabbits at the very idea European-Americans have rights.”

Black told The Palm Beach Post in a 2013 interview that white nationalists are not white supremacists. He said supremacists favor segregation while nationalists are “separatists. … We hope to one day achieve our own country with our own borders with a government reflecting our interests.”