A late afternoon FBI raid of former President Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago estate drew immediate (and, as expected, partisan) reactions from the Florida delegation.
“The American people have lost any reason we have to trust the FBI and Department of Justice,” tweeted Rep. Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican. “They’ve both been part of the political witch hunts against President Trump in the past and allowed the (Joe) Biden Administration to weaponize their agencies for strictly political purposes. They need to justify this raid to Congress and the American people to demonstrate that this isn’t just another of their partisan political games. Until that happens, this is a compelling reason for our decaying trust in ‘justice’ from the federal government.”
Rep. Darren Soto, a Kissimmee Democrat, said America has long known of Trump’s wrongdoings.
“Former President Trump is alleged to have unlawfully taken boxes of classified documents down to Mar-a-Lago,” Soto tweeted. “This has been reported on for months. He’s finally being held accountable for his actions. Apparently, a few of my colleagues are surprised by this.”
Whether the raid seemed a political move by an out-of-control law enforcement agency, or a long-overdue delivery of justice seemed to hinge on who delegation members voted for in the last election.
“In the United States of America, no one is above the law, not even a former President,” said Rep. Charlie Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat.
Others saw searching Trump’s home as a move beyond the rule of law.
“The FBI is operating like the wild west by completely upending judicial process and norms in their relentless assault against the former President,” said Rep. Byron Donalds, a Naples Republican. “Let’s not forget that this is the same FBI that classified parents as domestic terrorists and buried countless sexual assault allegations against serial abuser Larry Nassar by women of the USA’s Olympic team.”
A budget reconciliation bill passed in the Senate Sunday offers ammo to both sides of Florida’s nationally watched U.S. Senate race. The legislation passed on a party-line 50-50 vote that required Vice President Kamala Harris to cast a rare tiebreaking yea and send the legislation to the House.
But votes cast in a “vote-a-rama” that played out over two days may be what fuels mailers and TV ads this fall.
Sen. Marco Rubio, a nay vote, forwarded a number of amendments that failed but signaled the Miami Republican’s position on hot-button topics to voters.
That included an amendment to send more money to police departments and require prosecutors to keep certain convicts incarcerated. “Violent criminals should be in jail, not on our streets. Too many of our communities are victims of rich laptop liberals that shout woke slogans but never have to deal with the consequences of their actions,” Rubio said.
The amendment failed.
He offered another that would add language to maternal and infant-related program funding, stating that “only women can get pregnant.” A swipe at LGBTQ Americans in a year when Republicans continue to label transgender identify part of a radial gender ideology, that amendment also failed.
“Unfortunately, it looks like my Democrat colleagues don’t trust ‘the science’ after all,” Rubio said.
But Rep. Val Demings, an Orlando Democrat challenging Rubio for his Senate seat this year, attacked Rubio for votes he cast for and against spending provisions. A cap on insulin costs, which required 60 votes to pass, went down on a 57-43 vote with Rubio as a nay.
“Today, Marco Rubio put drug company profits over Floridians struggling to afford insulin,” Demings tweeted. “Send me to the Senate and I’ll do what’s right to lower prescription costs for the people in our state.”
She praised the passage of the overall legislation and made it clear she would have voted for it.
“The Inflation Reduction Act will stabilize our economy with no new taxes on the middle class. In exchange, big corporations that currently dodge billions in taxes will pay their fair share. That sounds like a good deal to me,” she tweeted. “I will always put Florida families first and support policies to bring down costs for working people even if it cuts into the profit margins of special outside interest groups.”
Rubio’s response came in one of his trademark bunker videos released on Twitter. He decried the bill as not addressing concerns he’s hearing about from people, such as how much they spent on groceries, or the latest shocking crime “in one of those cities with a (George) Soros-backed prosecutor, or how every day, Biden is letting thousands of people flood into America.”
He listed the bill’s key provisions, for him, as a new tax on oil, $369 billion in climate spending, and 87,000 new IRS agents “to audit and harass people.”
“A bill that’s going to make the laptop liberals and the Marxist misfits … very happy, but completely ignores what hardworking, everyday Americans in the real world care about.”
To watch Rubio’s message, please click on the image below:
On the offensive
While Sen. Rick Scott doesn’t stand for re-election this year, he does hold a political stake in the spending bill.
As Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Scott runs Republican efforts nationwide to retake a majority in the Senate. He criticized the passage of the legislation on the same economic terms he has leaned heavily upon for the past two years.
“After helping Joe Biden drive America into a recession and create the highest inflation in 40 years, Senate Democrats just doubled down on their attacks by targeting seniors, job creators and every American family,” Scott said. “With their new reckless tax-and-spending spree, Democrats have launched a War on Seniors and a War on American Jobs that hikes taxes and will result in far fewer lifesaving drugs.
“Worse still, with a supersized IRS that just got $80 billion more in its budget to hire 87,000 more agents, Joe Biden’s federal government is coming after every penny you have with more audits. The Democrats’ radical socialist agenda of bigger government and higher taxes isn’t working. The only thing that will come from this is even more spending, higher taxes and more inflation. The Democrats are destroying our country, killing retirements and crushing the American dream for millions, but they don’t care. This is a sad day for the country, but I will never stop fighting for Florida families and to put an end to Joe Biden’s failed agenda.”
The NRSC, meanwhile, went on the offensive. Again leaning on votes for amendments that did not pass, the political group criticized Democrats for votes “against narcotics detention,” which cites a vote against opioid detection funding, and “for slave labor,” referencing a change to eliminate tax credits on cars built using forced labor in other countries like China.
Snapping at snapper snip
John Rutherford, an avowed and avid angler, joined Stephanie Murphy to lead a bipartisan letter urging the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration not to snip the great red snapper season in the South Atlantic until more data is in.
Rutherford, a Jacksonville Republican, and Murphy, a Winter Park Democrat, sent the message to NOAA Administrator Richard Spinrad. Other signatories on the bicameral letter included Rubio and Scott in the Senate, and House Republicans Kat Cammack, Mario D?az-Balart, Gus Bilirakis, Donalds, Dunn, Scott Franklin, Brian Mast, Bill Posey, Mar?a Elvira Salazar, Michael Waltz and Dan Webster and Democrats Demings, Al Lawson and Soto. There were also a handful of members from other coastal states who signed.
In the letter, lawmakers plead with Spinrad not to make any decisions about new broad-area or season closures of all bottom fishing.
“While the two-day season this year was unacceptably short, full closures would destroy the livelihoods of many and decimate our local fishing economy,” Rutherford said.
The letter contends that fisheries’ recent efforts to regrow the red snapper stock “by all accounts … have been successful.” But current methods and data used to assess the stock do not provide an adequate picture, the letter says.
They pointed to a $5.1 million study funded by Congress and begun last year that should provide better data.
“Florida has made progress in rebuilding the South Atlantic red snapper stock, and the ongoing Great Red Snapper Count will provide the data to demonstrate this progress. Despite these advancements, the red snapper fishing season is at risk of area closures,” Murphy said.
Building the ranks
Waltz made clear who he wants to represent south Pinellas County next year.
The St. Augustine Beach Republican endorsed St. Petersburg Republican Anna Paulina Luna in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
“Anna Paulina Luna is a fearless conservative and fellow veteran that Pinellas County can count in Congress,” Waltz tweeted this week. “She’s a strong defender of our constitutional Rights, outspoken about ending illegal immigration and a strong advocate for America First policies. Anna will be an excellent colleague and I look forward to serving alongside her in Congress. She has my full endorsement.”
Waltz, the first Green Beret elected to Congress, has expended significant political capital this year promoting veterans considering runs for Congress, including Rich McCormick in Georgia and Taylor Burks in Missouri. For a period, he promoted Jay Collins for a run in Florida’s 15th Congressional District before Collins ran instead for Florida Senate.
In 2019, Waltz moved into a leadership position for the War Veterans Fund, a PAC that helped him win election to Congress in 2018. The committee hopes to increase the number of veterans in Congress; there are now just 76 in the House.
Purple Heart help
Palm Harbor Republican Bilirakis visited with the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s Greater Tampa chapter over the weekend. There, he touted recent successes in bringing better health care to those who served.
“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to recognize the contributions of the nation’s true heroes and to learn from their experiences,” Bilirakis said. “My continued goal is to honor their sacrifice by serving as their voice in Washington. There is still much more work to be done when it comes to strengthening our national security and ensuring that all Veterans have access to the care and benefits they deserve. However, I will never stop fighting to advance these important causes.”
Recent victories in that fight include securing federal funding to open a bed tower at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa and outpatient clinics in New Port Richey, Zephyrhills and Countryside, he said. He also noted the passage of the bipartisan PACT Act, which expands benefits for those suffering health conditions after exposure to military burn pits.
Eyes on Cuba
Crist urged federal attention to an oil tank fire in Matanzas, Cuba. He expressed concern about an environmental disaster in a nation 90 miles south of Florida going largely unaddressed by officials there.
“I have been following developments in Cuba regarding the massive fire at the oil tank farm in the province of Matanzas,” the St. Petersburg Democrat said. “My heart is with the families of those directly affected: the dead, the injured, the missing, and those who have been evacuated from the surrounding areas.”
At least three oil storage tanks collapsed at the Matanzas port, Reuters reports. One person died, and more than 120 others were hurt.
“I am deeply concerned about the health effects this event could have on the entire population and the extraordinary environmental damage it is causing and will likely cause in the future,” Crist added.
“The Cuban dictatorship’s record on the environment has been truly appalling over the years. I now urge the regime to do everything in its power to prioritize saving lives and protecting the island’s environment over whatever other considerations may be at play. The world is watching.”
A Florida soldier captured by Germans in World War II was posthumously awarded a series of medals, which Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor presented to his surviving family.
“So honored to meet the Sergi family and present 10 WWII medals earned by Pvt. Rocco Sergi including the Bronze Star and POW medal,” Castor tweeted. “His valiant service to our country is emblematic of the greatest generation.”
Sergi served in Europe, where he was captured after the Battle of the Bulge. While imprisoned, his weight dropped to 62 pounds. The Army sent a “missing in action” notice to his family, though his 12-year-old sister hid it from the rest of the family to avoid grief after Sergi’s older brother had died in combat.
Sergi died in 2009. Daughter Barbara Davis at the time told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune how the experience as a POW impacted his life. “He used to say, ‘No matter how bad things get, you’re still living and there are still many good things in life,'” she said.
Medals awarded to Sergi now include the Bronze Star, European–African-Middle Eastern Campaign & Bronze Star Attachment, WWII Victory Medal, Army Occupational Medal & German Clasp; Combat Infantry Badge 1st Award; POW; American Campaign, Good Conduct; Honorable Service Lapel WWII Button; Sharpshooter Badge & Rifle Bar.
Accountability in Afghanistan
While serving as a bomb expert in Afghanistan, Mast lost two legs in an explosion, so he takes the fate of Afghanistan personally. The Stuart Republican wrote in an extended appeal to voters the midterms offer “our one chance to get accountability for what might be the greatest embarrassment to our military in American history.”
“Thank you for helping me get accountability for this,” Mast wrote. “In doing so, you are helping me make peace with the fact that a mission that almost killed me was turned into an utter disaster by one of the worst presidents in history.”
He said there remains to be any consequence for members of the administration responsible for a withdrawal from the nation where 13 service members were killed. But he said there ultimately must be accountability for Biden.
“Every single tragedy there rests on one man’s shoulders: Joe Biden left them all dead and abandoned,” he said.
The federal government for decades funded education assistance to help veterans receive an education after their service. Now, Donalds wants that money available for entrepreneurship as well. He introduced the Post 9/11 Veteran Business Acceleration Act, which would establish a pilot program to direct funds from the Post 9/11 Educational Assistance Program toward a new joint effort of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Small Business Administration.
“When our brave servicemen and women return to civilian life, we must alleviate the barriers and promote as many avenues as possible for our heroes to succeed at home,” Donalds said. “In an age when citizens are engaging in new and innovative ways of achieving the American dream, Congress must recognize that earning a diploma from a higher education facility isn’t the only ticket to success in America,” Donalds said. “My bill allows veterans to use funds intended solely for education to assist Post 9/11 veterans in establishing, opening, and successfully operating a qualified small business. Our veterans are the greatest among us and deserve every opportunity to excel in the nation they valiantly defended.”
He introduced the legislation in the House with Republicans Rob Wittman of Virginia and Young Kim of California.
“We need to have the backs of our brave veterans and ensure they have the tools available to achieve their dream,” Kim said.
Fortified and reaching out
Miramar Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick’s tour bus — er, “Immigration Clinic & Mobile Office” — is making another Saturday stop. This time at Lake Park Town Hall.
Constituents in Florida’s 20th Congressional District are invited to bring any concerns about immigration, naturalization, permanent residency, employment authorization, Social Security, Medicare, taxes or any other way the federal government touches lives to the event that’s going to be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 535 Park Ave.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ schedule to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings sent her to Washington in January. Now the Miramar Congresswoman is in a rematch with the Democrat she beat by just five votes in last November’s Special Primary.
She’ll be in a much thinner field and facing a lot more voters than in November’s Special Primary, but this time she’s got backing she didn’t have before: the endorsement of both major newspapers, the Sun Sentinel and The Palm Beach Post.
And the kind of outreach her office is conducting Saturday is one of the chief reasons the Post cited in its nod.
“In her few months in office, she’s shown an ability to represent the district as a backbench newbie, primarily by addressing district needs through constituent service. She is proving to be a quick study who warrants a full term in Congress,” The Post’s editorial said.
One Florida judge managed to fell two congressional prospects in a little over a week. Leon Circuit Judge John Cooper kicked Rebekah Jones, a Democrat filed in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, off the ballot on Friday, a week after doing the same to Jerry Torres, a Republican running in Florida’s 14th Congressional District.
In the case of Jones, the candidacy collapsed on the grounds that she registered in Maryland for a time as unaffiliated with any political party. A change in Florida law requires candidates to have been members of the political party in which they are running for 365 days before candidate qualification.
That means Peggy Schiller, a Democratic opponent who sued to have Jones removed, automatically wins the CD 1 Democratic nomination to face Panhandle Republican incumbent Matt Gaetz, presuming he wins his own GOP Primary.
The Jones verdict came a week after Cooper kicked Torres out of a Republican Primary because he had notarized election paperwork in the U.S. while he was outside of the country.
That leaves James Judge and Sam Nashagh fighting for the GOP nomination to face incumbent Castor.
On this day
Aug. 9, 1974 — “Gerald Ford becomes President after Richard Nixon resigns” via History.com — In accordance with his statement of resignation the previous evening, Nixon officially ends his term as the 37th President of the United States at noon on Aug. 9. Before departing with his family in a helicopter from the White House lawn, he smiled farewell and enigmatically raised his arms in a victory or peace salute. The helicopter door was closed, and the Nixon family began their journey home to San Clemente, California. Richard Nixon was the first U.S. president to resign from office. Minutes later, Vice President Ford was sworn in as the 38th President in the East Room of the White House. After taking the oath of office, Ford spoke to the nation in a television address, declaring, “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.”
Aug. 9, 1848 — “Anti-slavery Free Soil Party founded” via American Abolitionists — It included members of the “Conscience Whigs” Party, Democrats and members of the Liberty Party. The motto was, “Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Labor and Free Men.” It was a third party, whose main purpose was opposing the expansion of slavery into the Western territories acquired after the war with Mexico. The party argued that free men on free soil was a morally and economically superior system to slavery. The party agreed with the Wilmot Proviso and tried to remove existing laws that discriminated against freed African Americans. It held its convention at Buffalo and nominated Martin Van Buren for President.
Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles, edited and assembled by Phil Ammann and Ryan Nicol, with contributions by Anne Geggis and Scott Powers.