<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - Miami Political News and South Florida Politics]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.com en-us Wed, 22 Oct 2014 22:32:23 -0400 Wed, 22 Oct 2014 22:32:23 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Sides Battle in Medical Marijuana Debate]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 22:06:06 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/medical+marijuana+stock+capsule+cannabis+prescription+note+bottle+stethoscope.jpg

With less than two weeks to go before Floridians will vote on a controversial marijuana initiative, NBC News hosted a state-wide debate on medical marijuana Wednesday night in Orlando and it came down to an argument over the health benefits versus the perceived ambiguous wording of the amendment.

NBC correspondent Peter Alexander moderated the debate over Amendment 2 and wasted no time by asking Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, why are 23 other states allow medicinal marijuana use, why are they wrong?

“Not this amendment. Not an amendment that says anybody involved in this business is completely immune from civil and criminal liability,” said Sheriff Gualtieri. “Not one that says all you have to be, to be a caregiver and distribute to five different people its 21-years-old. One that says you can be a convicted drug trafficker and give it to a 16-year-old without their parents’ knowledge; so not this amendment.”

Gualtieri was very critical of the wording of the amendment and said it was riddled with loopholes which would eventually open up the state to have recreational use of marijuana.

Under the new amendment, to obtain marijuana, a patient would have to get a doctor's certification of their condition, which in turn would qualify them for a patient ID card they can use at licensed dispensaries.

Orlando-area lawyer John Morgan, who has helped finance the push for medicinal marijuana, responded saying comparing powerful prescription opioids to medicinal marijuana.

“If I know your number and I’ve got your address, I can go to Walgreens right now. I can get you Oxycontin right now as a non-caregiver,” Morgan countered.

NBC, which organized the debate, brought in two doctors who agreed medicinal marijuana has benefits, but disagreed how far the law should go. Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos argued against any smokeable form of marijuana, while Dr. Clifford Selsky argued in favor of Amendment 2.

“I’m not against Senate Bill 1030 or Charlotte’s Web or low THC non-smokeable forms of marijuana,” said Dr. Haridopolos. “I agree there are medical benefits, a lot of physicians do. But overwhelmingly, we do not support smokeable marijuana.”

“It’s not the end all be all,” Dr. Selsky replied. “There’s still going to be children with intractable seizures that can be helped by chemicals in the whole plant.”

Selsky’s point was that while Charlotte’s Web may work for some, other patients may need more potent forms of marijuana to help ease their symptoms.

Like all statewide ballot measures, Amendment 2 will require 60 percent support in the Nov. 4 election to pass. In the end, Morgan doubts Amendment 2 will garner the support needed to pass.

“If young people get up and vote, it’ll pass,” Morgan said. “If young people stay home, it won’t.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Rivals Debate in NH Senate Race]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:06:59 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2014-10-21-21h11m54s10.jpg

Scott Brown continued to hammer away at Democrat Jeanne Shaheen's record in Washington as the incumbent repeatedly accused her Republican opponent of fear mongering during a debate in New Hampshire's U.S. Senate race Tuesday.

Brown accused Shaheen of "outsourcing independence" by voting for policies backed by President Barack Obama. Shaheen, meanwhile, sought to distance herself from the president, who has low approval ratings in New Hampshire.

"In some ways I approve, in some ways I don't approve," of the president's decisions, Shaheen said when asked to answer "yes or no" if she approves of Obama's job in office.

The latest efforts to contain and prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the United States also became a hot topic, as Brown pushed for a travel ban from West Africa. Shaheen reiterated a comment from a day earlier that she would consider one if it would make a difference. That position was a reversal from last week, when she said she didn't think the idea "makes sense." 

The Democratic incumbent accused her rival of fear mongering on the Ebola virus, border security and the threat of terrorism posed by ISIS.

The two rivals remain locked in a close race as they headed into Tuesday's televised debate, which was hosted by New England Cable News, the Concord Monitor and the University of New Hampshire. A recent WMUR Granite State poll showed Shaheen leading her GOP challenger 44 percent to 38 percent among likely voters at the start of the month. Seventeen percent remained undecided.

The competitive race has attracted campaign cash and headlines from across the country, as one of several competitive seats Republicans are targeting in their bid to win control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm elections.

Chuck Todd, NBC's "Meet the Press" host, moderated the debate from the Capitol Center for the arts in Concord.

Shaheen said she was proud of her vote for the Obama's landmark heath care overhaul, the Affordable Care Act, while Brown insisted Granite Staters wanted to repeal Obamacare.

Sparks also flew on the topics of immigration and border security.

"The border is secure when people don't come across it," Brown said to the applause of supporters after Todd asked him to define a secure border.

Shaheen attacked Brown's record on abortion rights, which he says he supports; Brown, while senator for Massachusetts, supported the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed any employer with moral objections to opt out of requiring to cover birth control in 2012.

When Brown said Shaheen was anti-nuclear as the subject of rising energy costs came up, she countered, "No, I'm not!"

Brown suggested repeatedly that Shaheen backs a new national energy tax, an assertion PolitiFact has deemed "mostly false."

In a final lightning round, Shaheen said her priority after being re-elected would be to refinance student loans; Brown said he would push the U.S. Senate to come up with a budget. Both declined to say they'd back their respective party heads in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for another term in leadership. 

Barbs were also thrown after Brown defended his decision to run in New Hampshire this year instead of seeking to win back the Massachusetts seat he lost to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in 2012 by saying he didn't run "because I live here." 

"I don't think New Hampshire is a consolation prize," Shaheen said.


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<![CDATA[Rival Gets Hands on Campaign Book]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:40:34 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/carl+demaio+scott+peters.JPG

A new bombshell dropped Friday in the race for California’s 52nd Congressional District when both candidates confirmed a Carl DeMaio campaign strategy book, allegedly stolen during an office break-in, found its way into the hands of incumbent Scott Peters’ staff.

It is the latest revelation in an already ugly race peppered with attack ads and sexual harassment allegations.

The two had a chilly meeting Friday morning at a taping of NBC 7’s Politically Speaking, as DeMaio walked right by Peters’ hand outstretched for a handshake.

During the session, DeMaio discussed the burglary and vandalism at his campaign headquarters on May 28. Cords and cables were cut, water was poured over laptops and printers, computer screens were smashed in and one important item was taken: DeMaio’s campaign playbook.

The candidate confronted Peters about the book on “Politically Speaking.”

“And Mr. Peters, I just want to ask a very simple question. Did your campaign come into possession of our strategy book, all of our direct mail pieces in the last five months?” asked DeMaio.

Peters responded with: “In early June, information was forwarded to our campaign which we immediately turned over to the police.”

DeMaio pressed the issue, asking Peters why he did not let his opponent’s campaign know that he had seen DeMaio’s playbook all along.

“I’ve obviously never seen it,” said Peters. “We turned it directly over to the police within 24 hours of getting it because what was contained in it was potentially part of a criminal investigation.”

He added his campaign manager “looked at it enough to know what it was.”

On Friday evening, Peters' Communication Director Alex Roth sent out the following statement about the revelation:

"To clarify, we do not know what a campaign playbook is; nor has our campaign ever received anything that could be characterized as 'a campaign playbook' as Mr. DeMaio called it. To reiterate, our campaign staff received information in early June that we immediately transmitted in its entirety to the police.This is nothing more than an attempt by Mr. DeMaio to divert attention away from the Filner-esque sexual harassment allegations that have been made against him.”

During the show's taping, Peters said he felt as if he had been cast as the perpetrator of the break-in, which was portrayed with Watergate-like overtones when it first happened.

DeMaio told his opponent he does not believe Peters had anything to do with the burglary.

Instead, he blames former aide Todd Bosnich.

Bosnich has publicly accused DeMaio of sexually harassing him while he worked for the former San Diego City Councilman, releasing the results of a polygraph test that he says support his claims.

Called the allegations “outrageous lies,” DeMaio said Bosnich is trying to get revenge for being fired as a suspect in the break-in.

However, the candidate said he will not take a polygraph exam to rebut Bosnich’s allegations.

CNN reports Bosnich's lawyers sent the news outlet the results to a second polygraph test Friday in which Bosnich was asked if he broke into the campaign headquarters last May. The test shows Bosnich's "no" answers were "truthful and found "no deception."

Bosnich confirmed the story to NBC 7 via text message.

DeMaio's spokesman David McCulloch defended the candidate, saying in a statement, "Both Carl DeMaio and Tommy Knepper — named in a series of vile smear attacks — have taken lie detector tests that have shown these smears are baseless. Meanwhile, Mr. Peters admitted on NBC7/39 this morning that his campaign received stolen property from our campaign — begging the question: who provided this sensitive campaign material?"  

McCulloch later clarified that statement that the lie detector test taken by DeMaio was one in August 2013 after a former colleague accused DeMaio of lewd acts in San Diego's City Hall.

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<![CDATA[Campaign Ad Featuring James Foley Pulled]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:58:35 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/tlmd_james_foley_ejecucion_isis_syria.jpg

A conservative ad campaign that featured James Foley, the New Hampshire journalist slain by ISIS, moments before his execution, will be pulled, the group responsible for the ad said.

Secure America Now President Allen Roth said in a statement that his group didn't intend to upset Foley's family with the ad attacking Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and that they "apologize for any pain we inadvertently caused.“

“It has been brought to our attention that a news report image of American hostage James Foley that appeared in a Secure America Now video has upset his parents, so we have decided to take the video down," the statement continued. “The purpose of the video was to draw attention to Washington’s failure to secure our borders from real threats by terrorists. That remains our objective and we will continue to engage in this public debate.”

Foley, a Rochester native, was beheaded by Islamic State militants in August, nearly two years after he was kidnapped in Syria. His parents say the ad was "deplorable" and told NECN in an emotional interview that they were demanding that the ad be pulled from New Hampshire.

Secure America Now used the image in a 15-second Internet ad attacking Shaheen, who is locked in a tight race against Republican Scott Brown, and other Democratic incumbents in critical Senate races nationwide.

"It makes me very sad that people would use the brutality of our son's death for their own political purposes," Mrs. Foley said.

Shaheen issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon condemning the ad.

"This is a disgraceful ad that dishonors the memory of a respected journalist and New Hampshire native," she said. "It hurts all who loved and knew Jim, and the people behind this ad owe the Foley family and apology."

According to Elizabeth Guyton, communications director for Scott Brown, Brown said, "This is completely inappropriate and disrespectful to the Foley family.”

Roth says the group did not contact the Foley family before making the ad public.

Secure America Now emphasized that the Foley execution video and the image have been used in other campaigns across the country several different times.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Scott Says Pizzi's Suspension Ended in 2013]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 23:27:28 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/082713+michael+pizzi.jpg

The battle between former Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and Governor Rick Scott took another turn Tuesday when the governor’s legal team told the Florida Supreme Court that once Pizzi’s official term ended, his suspension also ended.

Scott’s lawyers said because of that fact, there was no need to officially lift the suspension of Pizzi. The former mayor has been trying to have his official suspension lifted after he was acquitted on federal corruption charges.

"The law is very clear that when someone is found innocent and they're exonerated, the Florida Constitution requires him to revoke the suspension," Pizzi told NBC 6 Tuesday night.

However, the governor’s legal team said that his responsibility as governor if a suspended official is acquitted prior to the official’s term in office ending is: revoke the suspension and restore the official to office. However, according to the governor’s filing, the Florida Constitution limits the governor on suspensions.

“Section 112.51(6) clarifies this provision, noting that Governor may not reinstate a suspended municipal official upon acquittal if ‘during the suspension the term of office of the municipal official expires and a successor is either appointed or elected.’ In short, once the official’s term ends, the suspension ends,” the governor’s filing stated.

A new mayor of Miami Lakes took office on October 8, 2013, and the governor’s office said on that date, Pizzi’s suspension ended. Therefore, Scott’s team said the governor can no longer revoke a suspension that has already concluded.

Pizzi had also claimed in his original filing that the suspension must be revoked because it’s a ‘condition precedent’ to back pay. The governor’s office said that wasn’t the case because any entitlement to back operates independently from the Governor’s duties.

Governor Scott issued a statement about the movements in the case Tuesday saying, "The Governor's office responded to the Court's request. This matter is now in the hands of the Florida Supreme Court."

"I'm not upset," Pizzi said. "This is a good thing, beacuse now we can move it along. I expect to get a result very soon."

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[NH Lawmaker Calls Congresswoman "Ugly as Sin"]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 19:22:59 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/Steve+Vaillancourt.jpg

Candidates for New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District are speaking out after a state lawmaker described one of them as "ugly as sin."

The story has gained national attention and has both candidates denouncing the remarks. Republican state Representative Steven Vaillancourt wrote a blog post on Friday after he says he saw a poll that claimed more attractive candidates have the upper hand with voters.

In the blog, he wrote, "Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin?"

Vaillancourt then compared her to a drag queen.

"Look, it's rude and offensive," Congresswoman Kuster said. "But I have a thick skin."

Kuster's Republican challenger, Marilinda Garcia, said the post was just plain mean.

"She doesn't deserve to be treated that way," Garcia said.

Congresswoman Kuster said Vaillancourt's comments reflect a broader issue with the Republican Party.

"I am more frustrated with the positions they stand for, and frankly, that leads to an environment where people say disrespectful things," Kuster said.

Garcia said she is frustrated that exactly three weeks before the election, the conversation has turned to this.

"Looks and appearance seem to supersede commentary and observation and the other things that are more important," Garcia said.

In Vaillancourt's blog, he called Garcia, "One of the most attractive women on the political scene anywhere."

Garcia, who has worked with Vaillancourt during her four terms as a state representative, said the comments are not surprising and she is not at all flattered.

"He certainly is an equal opportunity offender," Garcia said.

NECN tried to reach Vaillancourt for comment, but no one answered when crews knocked at his Manchester home. He later sent an email referring NECN to his latest blog entry, which was posted Monday evening. Vaillancourt answers reporters' questions about whether or not he stands by his statements, writing, "Stand by the fact that Ms. Garcia is better looking than Ms. Kuster? If the reporters themselves don't see that, then they should question their own abilities to function."

In that same blog, Vaillancourt makes it clear, none of this is about supporting his party affiliation. In fact, he went on to criticize Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

"Anyone who has followed what I've written (more than 500 posts this past year) knows that neither looks nor race nor sexual orientation nor sex matters a whit to me," Vaillancourt wrote.

As for the 2nd Congressional District Race, the most recent poll shows Kuster with a two point lead over Garcia.

Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Crist has Wide Lead Among Hispanics: Poll]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 21:14:47 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Charlie-Crist-and-Rick-Scott.jpg

A new poll shows Governor Rick Scott has a lot of work to do among Latino voters if he wants to keep his seat in the governor’s mansion.

The La Raza Florida poll from Latino Decisions found Democrat Charlie Crist holds a commanding 53-29 percent lead over Scott among Hispanic voters, according to the Miami Herald. The release of the poll comes a little more than 24 hours ahead of a Telemundo 51 gubernatorial debate between the candidates.

According to the poll, Hispanic voters listed fixing the economy as the most important issue followed by: immigration, healthcare, and unemployment. According to the Herald, the issue of healthcare, and specifically expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, was widely popular among Hispanic voters.

The expansion of Medicaid has been vehemently opposed by Republicans in the Florida legislature. Scott initially completely opposed any expansion of Medicaid, but later softened his stance and supported a compromise proposed by some in the legislature.

Crist has vowed to try to expand Medicaid even through executive powers if the legislature continues to oppose the move. The Herald said the poll found 69 percent of Hispanic voters would support a governor using executive authority by a 69-27 percent majority.

According to the Herald, the poll also found widespread support for raising the minimum wage (64-15 percent) and giving undocumented immigrants the ability to apply for driver’s licenses (64-32 percent).

<![CDATA[Florida Gubernatorial Debate Friday on NBC6.com]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 08:39:59 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Charlie-Crist-and-Rick-Scott.jpg

It's a tight race for the governor's seat in Florida, with polls saying the contest between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Republican-turned-Democrat former Gov. Charlie Crist is just too close to call.

With elections just a month away, Telemundo 51 will be hosting the only Spanish-language debate between the two candidates Friday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. on-air and on Telemundo51.com.

To catch the debate in English, come back to NBC6.com Friday at 7 p.m. for an online exclusive of the debate in English. You can also download the NBC 6 app to watch.

<![CDATA[Hillary Clinton on Grandmotherhood: "I Highly Recommend It!"]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 20:39:16 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/tlmd_hillaryclinton7.jpg

Thousands waited hours in the sun to see Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday in South Florida.

Clinton was signing copies of her new book "Hard Choices" at Books & Books at 265 Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables.

There, she spoke about her book and about becoming a grandmother just a few days ago, saying, "I highly recommend it!"

Earlier on Thursday, Clinton spoke at the Crew Network Convention & Marketplace at the Loews Hotel in Miami Beach.

Her message for the 1,200 professional women at the event was one of empowerment.

"You can't get tied into knots by what others say and think, because we all know women sometimes get judged by different criteria -- even powerful women in powerful positions," she said.

Karyl Argamasilla, with the Miami Crew chapter, said she took Clinton's message to heart.

"At the end of the day, she's someone who has broken all the glass ceilings," Argamasilla said.

At one point, a woman in the audience shouted out, "2016!" -- the only mention of a possible presidential run during Clinton's Miami stops. But those in attendance said they don't doubt she'll be joining the race.

"She's already been to Iowa," said Steve Sails. "She's running."

<![CDATA[CA Plastic Bag Ban Approved]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 18:23:45 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/212*120/Plastic+Bag+Ban+Store+Counter+copy.jpg

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags Tuesday.

The measure, first proposed by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and at convenience stores in 2016.

It includes $2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to producing reusable bags and lets grocers charge 10 cents each for paper and reusable bags.

The bill had sparked one of the most contentious debates in the last weeks of the legislative session, with aggressive lobbying by environmentalists and bag manufacturers.

Moments after Brown signed the measure, the American Progressive Bag Alliance called it a “back room deal between grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars without providing any public benefit – all under the guise of environmentalism.”

The group plans to launch a referendum effort for the November 2016 ballot to repeal the measure.

San Diegan Laura Quinn-Stalker had mixed feelings about the news.

“Although I reuse my plastic bags constantly and will miss that,” she posted to NBC 7’s Facebook page, “I think this is important to do.”

“Won't see a dime saved in my pocket. Now, I have to buy garbage bags,” Oxnard resident Wade Wilson posted.

For years, a statewide plastic bag ban has been an elusive goal for lawmakers trying to reduce the buildup of plastic waste in oceans and waterways that costs millions of dollars to cleanup.

About 100 local jurisdictions in California already have adopted similar bans, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pizzi Wins Court Decision Versus Scott]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:37:12 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/081814+michael+pizzi.jpg

The Florida Supreme Court said Monday that Governor Rick Scott must give reason why his office hasn’t lifted the suspension of Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi.

The Court weighed in after Pizzi was acquitted on federal corruption charges and sought to get his old job back. Scott had originally suspended Pizzi from office shortly after his arrest in August 2013.

Scott wasn’t ordered to lift Pizzi’s suspension, but he will have to justify the continuation of the suspension to the court.

“Mayor Pizzi is gratified with the Court’s expedited order, and anticipates that his suspension will be vacated in short order,” Pizzi’s lawyer Benedict Kuehne said in a statement.

Up to this point, Scott has refused to lift the suspension he imposed on Pizzi last year. In the meantime, Pizzi’s job status remains up in the air. While Pizzi was fighting the charges against; a new mayor was voted into office in Miami Lakes.

There is a precedent in Miami when Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones was acquitted of charges against her, the suspension against her was revoked by Governor Scott and she returned to office.

The Florida high court put a time limit of October 14 for the governor’s office to respond to its Monday order.

Photo Credit: Laura Rodriguez/NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Hillary to Campaign for Charlie Crist: Report]]> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 21:24:04 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/455461900.jpg

Former Governor Charlie Crist is getting another boost from the Clinton family.

Just a few weeks after headlining a fundraiser with former President Bill Clinton, Crist will headline a dinner in Miami with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

According to Politico, Hillary Clinton will headline a dinner for Crist in Miami on October 2nd. Clinton will also hold a book signing the same day at Books & Books in Coral Gables.

Clinton is mulling a run at the White House in 2016 and having a fellow Democrat in Crist in charge in Florida would be a big boost for Democratic chances.

Crist is falling behind Governor Rick Scott in recent polling. The Florida gubernatorial race is widely considered one of the toughest races in the country.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 6 Impact with Jackie Nespral - September 14, 2014]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 22:30:48 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000014667985_1200x675_329535555560.jpg NBC 6 Impact with Jackie Nespral - September 14, 2014]]>