DeSantis to Hannity: ‘Monkey this up’ remark about Gillum had ‘zero to do with race’

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis addresses his “monkey this up” remark on Sean Hannity’s show on Wednesday night.

Florida Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis on Wednesday night told Fox News that his warning to voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his black Democratic rival, Andrew Gillum, had “zero to do with race.”

DeSantis’ original remark Wednesday morning was blasted as racist by Democratic critics and called an example of “gutter” politics by Gillum, who said DeSantis was “taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump.”

After responding with only a statement from a campaign spokesman during the day, DeSantis appeared in the evening with Sean Hannitywho campaigned with DeSantis in July — to explain himself.

“Did you in any way, do you in any way think that was something that was misstated or racist in any way?” Hannity asked.

“It has zero to do with race, Sean. It has everything to do with whether we want Florida to continue to go in a good direction, building off the success or do we want to turn to left-wing, socialist policies, which will absolutely devastate our state?” DeSantis replied.

“And here’s the thing, I believe people should be judged based on their ability and character regardless of race. But it’s because of that that I know that socialism won’t work in Florida. It’s not good for any race, color or creed. So this is not about race. This is about ideas and principles. And I’m not going to let the Democrats and Andrew Gillum try to obscure a debate about whether his tax increases, his single-payer healthcare plan, his desire to abolish ICE — whether that is something that is acceptable for Florida. I don’t think it is and I don’t care what color you are.”

DeSantis didn’t express any regrets or say whether he recognized that the remark could be considered offensive, and Hannity didn’t press him on it.

“He’s following the Trump model to the Nth degree — never apologize for anything,” said University of South Florida political scientist Susan MacManus.

MacManus predicted DeSantis’ remark will remain an issue throughout the campaign.

“It will be a get-out-the-vote tool for Democrats from now til Nov. 6,” MacManus said.

More than 250,000 Florida voters have already cast ballots for Aug. 28 primary

Nearly 100,000 Democratic voters have already made their choice in the five-candidate race for the party’s nomination for governor. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida’s Aug. 28 primaries have already happened for more than 250,000 voters.

As of this morning, 259,289 voters had returned ballots by mail, according to the Florida Division of Elections website.

The figure includes 120,939 Republicans and 98,493 Democrats.

In Palm Beach County, 8,836 voters have already cast ballots by mail.

Another 39,857 voters from minor parties or with no party affiliation have also voted statewide; they can’t weigh in on the GOP gubernatorial primary between Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis or the five-candidate Democratic race for governor, but can vote on judicial races and other nonpartisan contests on the Aug. 28 ballot.

In addition to voting by mail, in-person early voting begins Aug. 13 and runs through Aug. 26. Palm Beach County will have 15 early voting sites — find them by clicking here.


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Patrick Murphy, Jeff Greene not ruling out late Democratic bids for Florida governor

Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (left) gave his OK to a poll testing his name as a candidate for governor, with former Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Jolly (center) as running mate; Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene (right) isn’t ruling out a Democratic run for governor, either.

Two Palm Beach County Democratic figures – former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene – are not ruling out making late bids for Florida governor.

Murphy, a two-term House member who lost a 2016 race for U.S. Senate, gave his OK to a poll that tests his name as a gubernatorial candidate with Democratic voters, a person familiar with the poll confirmed. The poll also floats the names of some potential candidates for lieutenant governor – including former Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Jolly, who has been touring college campuses across the nation with Murphy to discuss partisan gridlock and governmental dysfunction.

The poll testing Murphy’s name was first reported by The Tampa Bay Times.

“Some supporters wanted to do a poll and I didn’t say no,” Murphy said in a text message to The Palm Beach Post this morning. “I certainly didn’t say yes to actually running!”

Greene, a Palm Beach resident who lost a 2010 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, told The Palm Beach Post he has concerns about whether the four Democrats now running for governor — Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham,  Winter Park businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine — will have the money and message to win in November.

“I have definitely not ruled out getting into the race…I’m still looking at it. The filing date is not til June,” Greene said. The qualifying period for gubernatorial candidates ends at noon on June 22.

Greene said his experience as an “accidental educator” — he founded The Greene School in West Palm Beach because he wasn’t satisfied with public or private school options for his children — has given him insight into education that other candidates lack.

Greene’s net worth was estimated at $3.8 billion — about $700 million higher than his nearby Palm Beach neighbor, President Donald Trump — on the latest Forbes 400 list.

Greene noted that Florida Gov. Rick Scott‘s personal wealth helped him win close races in 2010 and 2014.

“If I did get involved I’d be able to get my message out and spend whatever it would take to get me over the top,” Greene said.


Rick Scott pushes term limits in first TV ad of Senate campaign vs. Bill Nelson

Florida Gov. Rick Scott in the first TV ad of his Senate campaign against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who emphasized an outsider theme when he launched his U.S. Senate bid against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson last week, continues to do so with a debut TV ad advocating term limits for members of Congress to rid Washington of “career politicians.”

Scott’s campaign is spending about $2 million to air the 30-second spot statewide. Scott appears as just a marker-wielding guy in a checked shirt and jeans, with no mention of his status as twice-elected Florida governor and no mention Nelson — though the “career politicians” tag is clearly meant to include the three-term incumbent.

Standing in front of a white board with an outline of the continental United States, Scott says there are more than 41,000 zip codes in the U.S.

“In all but one zip code, they want term limits on Congress. It’s common sense. The only place that doesn’t want term limits on Congress — right here, Washington, where all the career politicians are,” Scott says. (Actually, Washington, D.C., has about two dozen traditional zip codes.)

“In Washington, they say term limits can’t be done. That’s nonsense. We don’t work for them, they work for us. I’m Rick Scott. I approve this message. Let’s get to work.”

Florida voters overwhelmingly approved term limits for most state and federal offices in a 1992 referendum. But the voter-imposed limits on U.S. House and U.S. Senate members in Florida and 22 other states were struck down in a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which held that limiting congressional terms would require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Proposing a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or support from two-thirds of the states (34 states) for a constitutional convention. Once proposed, a constitutional amendment must be ratified by three-fourths of the states (38 states) to become law.




Republican Trump critic Kurt Jetta quits congressional race, promises donor refunds

Republican Kurt Jetta has ended his campaign for the seat of Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel.

Delray Beach businessman Kurt Jetta faced a pair of difficult tasks in his 2018 campaign for Congress — winning a Republican nomination as a critic of President Donald Trump, then unseating Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, in a heavily Democratic district.

Jetta has reached the conclusion it can’t be done.

“I could keep grinding away in some hope of a breakthrough, but the odds of success are low and the opportunity cost of me not attending to my company, TABS Analytics, is high,” Jetta said in a recent email to supporters announcing he’s ending his campaign.

Jetta put $250,000 of his own money into the campaign and said he received $114,000 in contributions. He pledged to give refunds to his donors.

“You did not invest in this campaign to see me quit so early in the process, so I will be putting in enough money to the campaign account so that you will receive your donation back by the end of the year,” Jetta told supporters. “While I don’t regret taking a run at this office, I am very disappointed that it will end like this, and I’m sorry to disappoint you, as well. Going forward, I will be dedicating my public service efforts to organizations that are addressing the opioid epidemic, the issue that propelled me into this campaign in the first place.”

Republican Derek A. Schwartz remains in the District 21 race. Frankel, first elected in 2012, won a third term in 2016 with 62.7 percent over Republican Paul Spain.

Marco Rubio fires chief of staff for ‘improper conduct’

Marco Rubio speaks to Iowa caucus-goers in 2016. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio fired chief of staff Clint Reed on Saturday night after determining Reed had “violated office policies regarding proper relations between a supervisor and their subordinates.”

In a statement released at 11:48 p.m. Saturday, Rubio said he learned of the allegations Friday afternoon and concluded Saturday they “amounted to threats to withhold employment benefits.” He said he flew from Florida to Washington on Saturday night to terminate Reed’s employment immediately.

During Rubio’s unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid, Reed was his Iowa state director, helping Rubio to a stronger-than-expected third place finish in the Iowa caucuses. When Rubio’s presidential bid ended and he decided to seek re-election to the Senate, Reed was his campaign manager. Reed became chief of staff in Rubio’s Senate office in January 2017.

Here’s the full statement Rubio released late Saturday night:

“Yesterday afternoon, I was made aware, for the first time, of allegations of improper conduct by my Chief of Staff while under the employment of my office. These allegations were reported directly to me instead of our General Counsel or the Congressional Office of Compliance. Immediately upon receiving this complaint, I along with our General Counsel, began an investigation of this matter.

“By early this afternoon, I had sufficient evidence to conclude that while employed by this office, my Chief of Staff had violated office policies regarding proper relations between a supervisor and their subordinates. I further concluded that this led to actions which in my judgement amounted to threats to withhold employment benefits.

“This evening, I traveled from Florida to Washington D.C. and terminated his employment effective immediately.

“We have taken steps to ensure that those impacted by this conduct have access to any services they may require now or in the future. Pursuant to the wishes of those victimized by this conduct, we will not be disclosing any further details about the incidents which occurred. We will be formally notifying the appropriate Congressional and Senate administrative offices of this matter when they return to work Monday morning.”

Trump in Palm Beach: Name that golf motorcade

President Donald Trump’s motorcade on Summit Boulevard near Trump International Golf Club on four separate days over the past week. Can you tell which day is which? Answers below. (Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post)

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump may not be a conventional politician, but he’s a fairly predictable guy when he visits his winter White House at Mar-a-Lago.

On each of the five days he’s been in town on his current Thanksgiving trip, the president has visited one of his Palm Beach County golf courses.

He went to Trump International Golf Club on Summit Boulevard in West Palm Beach on Wednesday and again on Thanksgiving Day, then mixed things up a little by going to Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter on Friday before returning to Trump International on Saturday and again this morning.

Quiz answers: In the above photos of Trump’s four trips to Trump International by acclaimed Palm Beach Post lensman Greg Lovett, Wednesday’s visit is top left, Saturday’s is top right, today’s is bottom left and Thursday’s is bottom right.


Report: Paul Manafort — Palm Beach Gardens resident — indicted in Trump-Russia probe; read indictment

Palm Beach Gardens resident Paul Manafort at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Palm Beach Gardens resident Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign, has been indicted today by federal authorities in the first charges brought under special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation of Russian interference in the election, The New York Times is reporting.

THE LATEST: Mueller, associate indicted; another Trump staffer pleads guilty

Television cameras showed Manafort walking into an FBI field office in Washington, D.C., at about 8:15 a.m.

The Times reported that former Manafort business associate Rick Gates has been indicted.

Trump probe: Indictment of Gardens man Paul Manafort mentions 7 Florida businesses

Manafort and Gates were indicted on money laundering, tax and foreign lobbying charges, according to the Times.

Manafort has a homestead exemption and is registered to vote at an address in BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens. He and his wife paid $1.5 million for a 5,231-square-foot home there in 2007, and Manafort has been voting in Palm Beach County since 2012.

FROM AUGUST: Donald Trump on FBI raid of Palm Beach Gardens resident Paul Manafort

Hurricane Irma: Trump offers ‘full resources’ in call with Florida Gov. Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency and President Donald Trump has pledged “the full resources of the federal government” to help the state prepare for Hurricane Irma.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties in the state on Monday afternoon and spoke with President Donald Trump by telephone late Monday night as Category 4 Hurricane Irma barrels westward with Florida in its potential path.

Part-time Palm Beach resident Trump and Scott spoke at 10:20 p.m. Monday, according to the governor’s office.

“Just spoke to @POTUS – he offered the full resources of the federal government as Floridians prepare for Hurricane Irma,” Scott tweeted afterward.

Follow The Palm Beach Post’s incomparable Kimberly Miller for Hurricane Irma coverage.

Her must-follow Twitter feed is @KMillerWeather.


What Florida says about O.J. Simpson’s potential return

Former NFL football star O.J. Simpson appears via video for his parole hearing at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nev., on Thursday, July 20, 2017. Simpson was convicted in 2008 of enlisting some men he barely knew, including two who had guns, to retrieve from two sports collectibles sellers some items that Simpson said were stolen from him a decade earlier. (Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, Pool)

O.J. Simpson was granted parole by a Nevada board today, paving the way for his possible return to Florida.

Simpson lived in Kendall after he was acquitted of murder charges for the 1994 deaths of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman. He was jailed on armed robbery charges in Nevada after a confrontation over football memorabilia.

A spokesman for Florida Gov. Rick Scott referred questions about Simpson’s potential return to Florida to the state’s Department of Corrections.

Here’s what Department of Corrections spokeswoman Michelle Glady said:

“We are aware of his potential relocation to Florida. Pursuant to the Interstate Commission on Adult Offender Supervision, if Nevada’s request meets all criteria, Florida must accept the transfer.

“As is the case with any offender who transfers under this routine procedure, he will be assigned a Florida probation officer and will be supervised in accordance with the conditions of his parole.”

Glady said that, under the compact signed by all 50 states, a receiving state has 45 days to determine whether to accept a parolee from another state.

She added: “If the transfer is submitted in accordance with the mandatory acceptance criteria (such as the offender being a resident of the receiving state or the offender’s family is residing in the receiving state), the individual supervision plan is automatically considered valid under the Interstate Compact and the receiving state must accept the individual for supervision.”

Click here for more on Florida’s connection on O.J. Simpson