<![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, 17 Sep 2014 07:36:06 -0400 Wed, 17 Sep 2014 07:36:06 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![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]]> <![CDATA[Crist & Scott Tied in Governor's Race: Poll]]> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 15:51:28 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/186802332.jpg

With the general election a little more than two months away, Democrat Charlie Crist holds a slight lead over Republican Governor Rick Scott, 42-39 percent in the latest Public Policy Polling poll. The slight lead was inside the poll’s margin of error, making the race a statistical tie.

But, the poll found the public doesn’t care too much for either candidate. Governor Scott had a 40-49 percent approval-disapproval mark, while Crist had a 40-46 favorability-unfavorability rating in the PPP poll.

That unfavorable view of political leaders also carries over to the White House. The poll found President Barack Obama’s approval rating at 39 percent and disapproval at 54 percent.

The poll also found Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie polling at eight percent in a three-way race with Crist and Scott. Removing Wyllie from the race doesn’t change the lead with Crist leading in a two-man race 44-41 percent.

Elsewhere on the ballot, the PPP poll found Republicans lead in the races for Agriculture Commissioner, Attorney General, and Chief Financial Officer.

The medical marijuana amendment was polling at 61 percent, just above the 60 percent of the vote it would need to become law. However, the ratings have dropped from June when the margin was 66-25 percent.

Two issues Democrats have focused on recently, raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour and the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act both polled very well in the state. Voters in Florida support increasing the minimum wage by a margin of 61-29 percent and favor Medicaid expansion by a 61-27 percent margin.

Breaking the issues down further, support for the minimum wage was over 70 percent among very liberal voters, somewhat liberal voters, and moderates. However, opposition was at 47 percent among somewhat conservative voters and at 63 percent among very conservative voters.

On the issue of accepting Medicaid funds for expansion, support for accepting the funds is above 75 percent among very liberal, somewhat liberal, and moderate voters. Opposition is at 46 percent for somewhat conservative voters and 59 percent among very conservative voters.

Looking ahead to the 2016 presidential election, the PPP poll found Hillary Clinton continues to lead the entire GOP field, although she is statistically tied with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush 46-44 percent. Clinton leads Senator Marco Rubio 49-42 percent, Chris Christie 46-38 percent, Rand Paul 48-40 percent, and Ted Cruz 51-36 percent.

According to the poll, just 32 percent of Floridians want Rubio to run for President while 31 percent want Bush to run for president. Fifty-three percent opposed either Rubio or Bush making a run at the White House.

The only group of voters, by ideology, that think Bush should run is very conservative voters, which is the same for Rubio.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Bill Would Authorize Airstrikes in Syria]]> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 15:42:15 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Florida-Senator-Bill-Nelson.jpg

United States Senator Bill Nelson filed legislation Monday to authorize airstrikes inside Syria to go after the terrorist organization, ISIL.

Nelson’s bill would authorize only airstrikes inside of Syria. The second section of the authorizatio0n provides “no authorization for use of rotational ground forces” in the fight against ISIL in Syria.

The authorization for airstrikes would expire three years after the date of the resolution’s enactment.

“This is a barbaric group that’s committed heinous acts of torture and murder, and we have to go after them now - not only in Iraq, but in Syria as well,” Nelson said in a statement.

The White House has been utilizing airstrikes in Iraq to try to weaken the terrorist organization’s hold and protect American interests. ISIL is responsible for the beheadings of two Americans, including Miami journalist Steven Sotloff.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Crist Calls in Clinton for Campaign Stop]]> Sat, 06 Sep 2014 00:04:05 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/clintonandcrist.jpg

The political odd couple, former President Bill Clinton and former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, campaigned this year for the first time at a Miami rally Friday night.

Clinton came to Miami to give Crist a boost as the former Republican governor is locked in a tight race with current Governor Rick Scott. Clinton implored the Democrats in the crowd to bring out the vote in the mid-term election.

“We’re great at doing what’s right if there’s a presidential election on the ballot, but we’re not nearly as good as our Republican opponents are at showing up in the midterm elections,” Clinton said. “The whole shebang is going to depend on who shows up.”

The combination of Crist and Clinton on stage comes more than a decade after Crist was very critical of the former president during his impeachment. Crist, at that time a Republican, called for Clinton to resign the presidency.

However, as the Republican Party moved further to the right, Crist first became an independent before switching to the Democratic Party last year. Standing next to Crist Friday night, Clinton emphasized the former governor’s political change is for real.

“He cut property taxes for seniors and the middle class and he worked to make our drugs more affordable,” Clinton told the crowd.

The former president reminded voters that when Crist was in office, he extended early voting hours for the 2008 presidential election and enacted automatic restoration of voting rights for former non-violent felons, which Clinton noted Scott has since undone.

Clinton focused on the vote noting that Scott and the GOP-controlled legislature enacted voting restrictions before the 2012 elections. Many of those restrictions ended up with long waits at precincts in Miami-Dade County.

“For me, when somebody messes with the right to vote, I take it personally,” Clinton said to loud applause.

Clinton also focused on Governor Scott’s vast campaign and personal wealth. Scott has already spent more than $25 million, with much of it portraying Crist as a “slick politician” and “lousy governor.” Clinton said Crist is the candidate who will protect the middle class.

“If you’re trying to raise a kid or two on the minimum wage, you need somebody with facts to be on your side, and Charlie Crist will be on your side.”

Crist not only has to battle Scott, but also has to convince some reluctant Democrats that he can be trusted as the party’s representative. At the Clinton/Crist rally Friday night, voters in the crowd liked what they heard from the former governor.

“I think what President Clinton said is absolutely right, that the party left Charlie Crist, rather than Charlie Crist leaving the party,” said voter Joan Blank.

“I believe that it takes some courage to change your position in the face of the type of criticism that he received for doing so,” said voter Karls Paul-Noel. “So I don’t believe he is an opportunist at all. As a matter of fact, I think he is a savior.”

Clinton’s appearance was the first of several high-profile Democrats that will stump for Crist. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley are both scheduled to appear with Crist later in the month.

Democrats are focused on taking Florida ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Owning the governor’s seat in the nation’s largest swing state in the nation would give Democrats a way to push back on what they say is decades of conservative rule.

Crist said while some of the work has been finished, there’s still plenty left to do.

“We have already spoke to hundreds of thousands of voters, but we need to speak to hundreds of thousands more before this November,” Crist told the crowd, “with your help, and God’s will, we will get that done.”

Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[Meet Chuck Todd of "Meet the Press"]]> Sat, 06 Sep 2014 09:22:40 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/090714_LSP_Chuck_Todd_1200x675_325741123764.jpg

Chuck Todd makes his debut as moderator of "Meet the Press" on Sunday, and has landed President Barack Obama as his first guest. On Friday, Todd took to Reddit to introduce himself.

The Miami native, who attended George Washington University, was previously NBC’s chief White House correspondent and political director. Despite his years in Washington, the sports lover remains committed to teams outside D.C.; he has been a fan of the Miami Hurricanes and the Green Bay Packers since birth.

Here, from his Reddit “Ask Me Anything,” are five things we learned about the famed political junkie.

When will he shave his facial hair?

Don’t hold your breath — even if, as suggested, it would improve his ratings. When he looks in the mirror, he sees his late father, he says. Shaving his beard would be like getting rid of that piece of his father that he carries with him

Who is one person, now dead, that he would have loved to have interviewed?

Richard Nixon, because it would have been a challenge

How does he see his role as a reporter and moderator?

His job is to push back against bloviation and talking points by being grounded in facts, and to get to the nut of the debate.

How does he feel about his name?

He hates having two one syllable names, and has given both of his children multiple-syllable first names. “I’ve been ‘ChuckTodd’ with every coach and teacher during my childhood,” he wrote on Reddit.

Does he ever get nervous interviewing high profile guests?

He's always a tad nervous. "Any moment can be a career ender," he wrote.

What did he think about the University of Louisville’s football win over Miami on Monday?

His late father-in-law was a star quarterback at Louisville, so criticism of Louisville is off-limits in his house. He’s not upset about Louisville, he says, but about the University of Miami being unprepared.
“It’s time for the ‘State of Miami’ to return, meaning that the best players in the best high school football factories in the country go to Miami,” he wrote.

<![CDATA[McDonnells Guilty on Most Charges]]> Fri, 05 Sep 2014 18:16:31 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/mcdonnell-guilty-AP977255973421.jpg

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife have been found guilty of most of the public corruption charges they faced in a marathon trial centered on lavish gifts and loans from a wealthy businessman.

The former governor has been found guilty of 11 of the 13 charges against him. Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell has been found guilty of nine of the 13 charges against her.

It was a bombshell ending to a trial that included the dissection of the former first couple's marriage, testimony that Bob had moved out and was living with a priest, and testimony that Maureen had begun frequently texting and emailing the businessman in the case, Jonnie Williams, who wanted help promoting his dietary supplement.

Three of the McDonnells' five children clutched each others' hands and prayed before the verdict was announced, breaking into sobs as their parents' guilty counts were read aloud.

The couple's son Bobby McDonnell looked at his father with tear-glazed eyes as the former governor's head collapsed into his hands.

Bob McDonnell is "broken" and "devastated," said defense attorney Henry Asbill, who added that he would appeal the verdict.

The government had accused the McDonnells of doing special favors for Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplement maker Star Scientific, Inc., in exchange for more than $177,000 in gifts and loans.

Courtroom observers said two jurors wiped their eyes as the verdicts were read.

As co-defendants, the former first couple was separated in the courtroom, with three lawyers sitting between them. Maureen McDonnell teared up, but appeared composed compared to the emotional reactions of her husband and children.

The McDonnells didn't look at each other as the verdict was read. They left the Richmond courthouse together but got into separate cars. It was a marked difference from the rest of the trial, which verged into soap opera territory as defense lawyers suggested that the McDonnells' marriage was so broken they could not have conspired to obtain gifts, trips and loans from Williams.

Throughout the trial, Bob McDonnell had appeared confident, telling reporters repeatedly that he was sure he would be exonerated and was putting his faith in God.

"All I can say is my trust remains in the Lord," he said in a brief statement as he left the courthouse Thursday with Maureen, before they got into separate cars.

McDonnell, who was once considered a rising GOP star and potential vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney in 2012, now faces, along with his wife, up to 30 years in federal prison when they're sentenced in January.

"This is a difficult and disappointing day for the Commonwealth and its citizens," said Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. "Public service frequently requires sacrifice, and almost always requires financial sacrifice. When public officials turn to financial gain in exchange for official acts, we have no choice but to prosecute the case."

Bob McDonnell is the first former governor of Virginia to be convicted of a crime. The commonwealth had long had a reputation for clean politics, a reputation shattered in the five-week McDonnell trial.

Political analyst Bob Holsworth called it "a day of infamy in Virginia."

The Verdict, Count by Count

Bob and Maureen McDonnell were each charged with 13 counts in a 14-count indictment:

  • In the first count against them, the McDonnells were found guilty of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud for accepting gifts and loans from Williams.

  • The next three charges, counts 2-4, involved accepting checks from Williams: On counts 2 and 3, the McDonnells were both found guilty of honest-services wire fraud for accepting a $15,000 check to pay a caterer for their daughter's wedding, and for accepting a $50,000 loan check for MoBo Real Estate, a company the former governor operated with his sister.

  • On count 4, Bob McDonnell was also found guilty of a count of honest-services wire fraud for a $20,000 wire transfer for MoBo. Maureen McDonnell was found not guilty on that charge.

  • On count 5, the McDonnells were found guilty of conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right for the gifts and loans they received.

  • The McDonnells also faced six charges of obtaining property under color of official right, counts 6-11: On counts 6-8, they were found guilty of three charges of obtaining property under color of official right for a $50,000 check to Maureen, for the $15,000 check to the wedding caterer, and for a $2,380 golf outing.

  • On count 9, Bob McDonnell was found guilty of obtaining property under color of official right for a $1,424 golf outing. Maureen McDonnell was found not guilty of that charge.

  • On count 10, both McDonnells were found guilty of obtaining property under color of official right for the $50,000 check to MoBo.

  • On count 11, Bob McDonnell was found guilty of obtaining property under color of official right for the $20,000 transfer to MoBo. Maureen McDonnell was found not guilty of that charge.

  • Only Bob McDonnell was charged with count 12. He was found not guilty of making false statements on a TowneBank loan application.

  • In count 13, both McDonnells were found not guilty of making false statements on a PenFed loan application.

  • Only Maureen McDonnell was charged with count 14. She was found guilty of obstruction of official proceeding for a handwritten note to Williams.

They will be sentenced Jan. 6, 2015.

Inside the Testimony

The trial centered on the testimony of the former governor and Williams, the prosecution's star witness. Maureen McDonnell did not take the stand.

Williams was granted immunity for his dealings with the McDonnells and possible securities fraud violations, which had been investigated by a separate grand jury. He testified that he spent lavishly on the McDonnells to secure their help promoting and obtaining state-backed research for Star Scientific's tobacco-derived anti-inflammatory supplement, Anatabloc. Williams intended to share the results of that research with doctors to gain their support of the product.

Prosecutors claimed the former first couple had an "unconscionable amount" of credit card debt and presented testimony that they were eager to accept gifts from Williams, including a $6,500 Rolex watch that Maureen gave Bob for Christmas, a vacation at Williams’ luxurious home on Smith Mountain Lake outside Roanoke, use of Williams' Ferrari and a shopping spree for designer clothes and accessories for Maureen.

Testimony showed Williams loaned $50,000 to Maureen McDonnell that she used to pay down credit debt in 2011. He also loaned $50,000 and $20,000 to MoBo Real Estate, a small company that Bob McDonnell and one of his sisters ran to operate two beach properties.

Prosecutors also said Williams paid $15,000 in catering expenses when one of the McDonnells' daughters got married. And they claimed Maureen had developed a close relationship with Williams, exchanging more than 1,200 texts and calls over a nearly two-year period, including 52 in one day.

In his defense, Bob McDonnell testified he did nothing more than extend routine political courtesies to Williams. Before the indictment, he had apologized for what he described as bad judgment and said he had repaid about $120,000 in gifts and loans, but denied breaking any laws.

A key part of the defense strategy was the claim that the McDonnells couldn't have conspired, because their marriage had deteriorated to the point that Bob McDonnell had moved out and was now living with a priest, who is a family friend. Maureen McDonnell's lawyers called Williams her "favorite playmate."

Both the prosecution and the defense called Maureen volatile and emotional. One prosecution witness called her a "nut bag." Bob McDonnell himself said his wife didn't take well to the role of first lady, calling her handling of behind-the-scenes matters "a disaster." Testimony revealed staff members at the governor's mansion had threatened to resign en masse.

Judge: 'Can't Take Another Second'

After lengthy days of intense testimony -- on day four, the judge in the case said he was stopping testimony because he "can't take another second" -- the jury faced the task of deciding the McDonnells' guilt or innocence.

Judge James R. Spencer issued lengthy instructions to the jury Tuesday morning, including the warning that the testimony of a witness who is granted immunity must be more closely examined than testimony of other witnesses.

The heightened scrutiny was required to determine whether the testimony of the immunized witness is "affected by self-interest," Spencer said.

To be found guilty, Spencer said, a defendant must understand the nature of the conspiracy and deliberately join it.

However, Spencer said a conspiracy does not have to achieve its goals, which could have undercut a defense claim that Williams never received anything of substance, including the research he took preliminary steps to seek.

He also said an agreement need not be stated explicitly by the conspirators and that it didn't matter whether the defendant would have done those favors absent a bribe.

Spencer also told jurors -- who heard from three character witnesses, two for Bob McDonnell and one for his wife -- that "evidence of good character alone may create a reasonable doubt as to a defendant's guilt."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Courthouse and FIU Expansion Head to Voters]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 23:07:20 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/ballot+generic.jpg

Miami-Dade County voters will make the final decision on replacing the county courthouse and whether FIU will expand into the current home of the youth fairgrounds.

The Miami-Dade County Commission gave approval for both items to be placed on the November 4th general election ballot, according to the Miami Herald. The County Commission voted to approve the items after the legal community pushed for the courthouse and FIU bused students in to support the expansion of the school, according to the Herald.

The ballot question on the courthouse would give commissioners the legal authority to increase property taxes to pay for a $393 million replacement civil courthouse. Commissioners voted 11-2 in favor of giving the voters the final say on replacing the civil courthouse, the Herald reported.

As for the FIU question, the plan currently has the school expanding into part of the fairgrounds on 107th Avenue in Miami-Dade County, home of the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair. The youth fair poses a hurdle for the county allowing FIU to expand.

According to the Herald, the county would have to find another site for the fair and a consultant estimated the total cost to be upwards of $230 million for construction, road and service improvements.

The commission still voted the measure through with only Commissioner Lynda Bell voting against the proposal.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 6 South Florida

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[2016 Presidential Contenders Flock to NH]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 12:26:49 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/rand-paul.jpg

It's still two months from the 2014 mid-term elections, and already numerous potential 2016 presidential candidates are flocking to New Hampshire.

Politico reported on Wednesday that GOP Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will speak at a Generation Opportunity event on Sept. 11 and the NHGOP Unity Breakfast on Sept. 12. Both events will be held in Manchester.

This weekend brings two more Republican presidential hopefuls to the Granite State. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is scheduled to make appearances in Dover and Stratham on Saturday, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will be in Concord, Manchester and Nashua on Sunday.

It was also announced last week that Donald Trump will travel to New Hampshire on Nov. 12 to speak at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communication's 12th annual First Amendment Awards.

Paul, Jindal, Cruz and Trump have all made previous trips to New Hampshire this year.

Vice President Joe Biden, a possible 2016 contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, was scheduled to speak at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Impact With Jackie Nespral - August 31, 2014]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 16:13:38 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000014470447_1200x675_324405827910.jpg Impact With Jackie Nespral - August 31, 2014]]> <![CDATA[Curbelo Wins District 26 GOP Primary]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 08:35:12 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/curbelo082614.jpg

Carlos Curbelo easily won the District 26 Republican nomination to face incumbent U.S. Representative Joe Garcia in November.

Curbelo, who received an endorsement last week from former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, won 52.11 percent of the vote with 167 of 192 precincts reporting. He was followed by Joe Martinez at 19.7 percent and Ed MacDougall at 17.2 percent.

Met by cheering friends and family, curbelo walked into his victory celebration promising to clean up politics in congressional district 26, describing a circus-like environment plagued with scandals.

"For too long, our district has been the victim of scandal, absentee ballot fraud, straw candidates," said Curbelo. "In short, a political circus that has damaged our image."

The district has seen a former congressman and the current representative embroiled in controversy.

Former Representative David Rivera is accused of being involved in federal finance scheme that has led to guilty pleas for two people, one a close associate of Rivera's. An absentee ballot controversy has also clouded the term of current representative, Democrat Joe Garcia.

Curbelo and Garcia wasted no time before taking swipes at each other Tuesday night.

"We don’t need someone like Carlos Curbelo — a lobbyist who refuses to disclose his big money clients and is only looking out for his own political interests," Garcia said in a statement after Tuesday's election.

Curbelo fired back, "Joe Garcia is one of the most corrupt members of Congress. I'm not surprised by any of his attacks."

Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[Voter's Guide to the Primaries]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 09:43:39 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/050911+miami-dade+voting+generic.jpg

Florida's primary election is Tuesday, with Democrats Charlie Crist and Nan Rich facing off to see who will go up against Gov. Rick Scott in November.

Many are worried voters won't show up to the polls. While about 1.2 millions residents are registered to vote, only an 18 percent turnout is expected.

Elections officials said about 117,000 Miami-Dade residents have already voted either absentee or early, and another 100,000 are expected to vote Tuesday. In Broward, only 20,000 have cast early or absentee votes so far.

On this year's ballot, in addition to the the Democratic gubernatioral primary: The 1,000-foot SkyRise Miami tower, Miami Beach term limits and other municipal issues.

The SkyRise Miami tower, which would include obvservation decks, a restaurant and a thrill ride, would extend the City of Miami's lease with Bayside Marketplace for another 99 years and bring in millions in revenue to the city. But, many worry about the size of the structure and it's placement on public property.

Meanwhile, the democratic gubernatorial primary is getting its own attention as lifelong democrat Nan Rich runs against party novice Charlie Crist, who is the favorite to win. Crist, a former Republican turned Independent turned Democrat, is trying to win back the seat he gave up in 2010.

"Everyone is assuming he has got it," said Charles Zelden, a political science professor at Nova Southeastern University. "If that is the case, a lot of people who are going to vote for him just may not show up to vote, and Nan Rich's supporters are rabidly, strongly in support of her."

Former congressman David Rivera is also running once again for his old seat in west Miami-Dade county, even though he is currently involved in a federal campaign finance fraud investigation. School Board member Carlos Curbelo is expected to win that election.

Among other municipal items on the ballot: Miami Beach residents will decide if term limits should be adjusted; North Miami will choose a new mayor and Doral voters will decide if a committee should be established to investigate crimes by elected city officials.

"I think the big story for tomorrow is going to be: 'Where are the voters, why didn't they show up?'" Zelden said. "I think the apathy has to do with the nature of the election and also the negative nature of the elections."

More than 500 polling locations will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For a complete list, visit MiamiDade.gov/Elections.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 6 South Florida

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Perry in NH: Charges All Politics]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 23:03:05 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/edtAP259994489655.jpg

New Hampshire wasn't kind to Texas Governor Rick Perry back in 2012. He's hoping voters in the granite state will give him a fresh start as he considers another presidential bid in 2016.

On Friday, Governor Perry returned to New Hampshire for a series of GOP sponsored events.

He met with business leaders in Portsmouth and focused many of his remarks on border concerns and the growing threat of ISIS, even connecting the two by speculating members of ISIS could enter the U.S. through unsecured borders.

"ISIS has said we are coming to America and they are going to attack us, I take them at their word," said Gov. Rick Perry.

Governor Perry also addressed his recent indictment on coercion charges by a Texas grand jury. He called the charges politically motivated and said he will fight them with every fiber of his being.

He also acknowledged making mistakes in New Hampshire back in 2012, saying he didn't spend enough time in the state and wasn't as prepared as he would have liked.

Governor Perry will make several more stops in New Hampshire through Saturday.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Pizzi Goes to Court Against Governor Scott]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 18:46:17 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/081814+michael+pizzi.jpg

Former Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi brought legal action against Governor Rick Scott Thursday seeking to force him to revoke the former mayor’s suspension from office.

Pizzi was suspended when public corruption charges were filed against him in federal court. Pizzi was acquitted of all of the public corruption charges last week and since then has been saying his suspension should be lifted and he should once again be mayor of Miami Lakes.

“What the Governor has done – suspend Michael Pizzi upon his arrest – the Governor must now undo – revoke the suspension upon Michael Pizzi’s acquittal,” the petition for the writ to the Florida Supreme Court states.

The petition for a writ of mandamus filed by Pizzi’s attorney Thursday asked for expedited treatment of the complaint “in light of the continued, unjustified deprivation of Michael Pizzi’s right to have his suspension revoked ‘forthwith.’”

In the filing, Pizzi’s attorney said under the Florida Constitution, specifically Article IV, Section 7 (c), Governor Scott has no choice but to lift the suspension of the former mayor since he was acquitted on all of the charges.

“When a municipal official is acquitted of all charges that form the basis of a gubernatorial suspension pursuant to the Florida Constitution and Florida law, the Governor shall forthwith revoke the suspension,” the petition for the writ stated. “This directive is mandatory and ministerial, allowing no discretion to the Governor to refuse or delay the revocation of the suspension.”

The petition also referred to Pizzi as “the duly elected Mayor of the Town of Miami Lakes.” That point is disputed by the current Mayor of Miami Lakes, Wayne Slayton.

Slayton was elected in a 2013 special election while Pizzi was suspended and under the federal indictment. When Scott was asked about the dispute last week, he said, “Miami Lakes already had an election and so they have a mayor now. So there is no place to reinstate him to.”

Slayton’s term doesn’t end until 2016 and he said he has “no intentions of resigning.”

The filing of the petition doesn't address whether Pizzi should be re-instated to the job of mayor.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 6 South Florida

Photo Credit: Laura Rodriguez/NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[GOP Staffer in Chicken Suit Faces Charges After Clucking at NH Governor, Senator]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 11:25:01 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/zona+chicken+suit.jpg

A GOP state committee staff member has been charged with disorderly conduct after heckling New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Governor Maggie Hassan at this past Saturday's Old Home Day parade.

Michael Zona, of Manchester, was dressed in a chicken suit when he began to interfere with the parade, reports The Eagle-Tribune.

The 23-year-old allegedly ran out into the parade route toward Shaheen and Hassan, clucking at them.
"I believe Senator Jeanne Shaheen should be holding town halls and I have a First Amendment right to express that point of view. I wasn't bothering anyone. I wasn't disturbing anyone. In fact, I got a good deal of encouragement from people along the parade route," said Zona in response to the incident.
Zona was escorted from the parade after failing to comply with numerous requests to stop. 
“At one point, the governor had to take a few steps back toward her security staff,” Detective Christopher Olson told The Eagle-Tribune.
Julia McClain of the New Hampshire Democratic Party used the incident to blast the state Republicans, saying the party "wastes taxpayer resources and local law enforcement time with these juvenile antics when we should be discussing critical issues that matter--like raising the minimum wage, creating good paying jobs, and protecting social security and Medicare for our state's seniors."

Photo Credit: Twitter: John DiStaso]]>
<![CDATA[Romney Campaigns for Carlos Curbelo]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 09:26:16 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/romneycurbelo.jpg

Former Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney came to South Florida Monday to help the Congressional campaign of Republican Carlos Curbelo.

“I am here to do one thing; and that is to officially endorse Carlos,” Romney told a crowd of supporters. “This is the kind of person, not just a career politician, but the kind of person who has lived a real life, in a real community, is a real dad; this is the kind of person I think that Washington needs.”

Romney spent part of the day on a tour of Vicky Bakery, one of the hundreds of small businesses in the heart of District 26. The district spans from Kendall south down to Key West and includes parts of southwest Florida too.

The district is currently represented by Democrat Joe Garcia. Democratic supporters staged a protest outside of the bakery telling Curbelo to avoid what the protesters called Romney-like Republican policies.

“We are here to let him know that we do not agree, that Romney lost in 2012 in Miami-Dade County big and if he goes with those same policies; he will lose too,” said Juan Carlos Cuba of the Miami-Dade Democrats.

Florida’s 26th Congressional District has seen a fair share of controversy and scandal over the past few years. Former Representative David Rivera is currently under a federal investigation. Current Representative Joe Garcia has been plagued by an absentee ballot controversy.

Curbelo said he promises to be scandal free, without controversy, and a change for the better.

“I decided to get up off my couch and run for Congress because I think we deserve better,” Curbelo said. “Governor Romney know we deserve better.

<![CDATA[NYC Council Speaker Tweets About HPV Diagnosis, Urges Annual Check-Ups]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 13:34:22 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/MarkViverito.jpg

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced via Twitter Sunday that she had "high-risk HPV" in an effort to boost awareness about the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the country and encourage women to have regular gynecological exams.

In a series of tweets, Mark-Viverito divulged that she learned Friday she had the infection, and that she hadn't been to a gynecologist in two years prior to her most recent visit.

"At recent #GYN visit alarmed to find out last one, 2yrs ago. Friday got call re: results. Told have "high risk HPV". #Biopsy needed #ASAP," she tweeted.

"Tuesday I'm there. To say I'm not wee bit worried = lie. "High risk HPV" can POTENTIALLY but NOT definitively lead to cervical #cancer."

Mark-Viverito, 45, tweeted that she is "an extremely private person," but that her position has given her a platform -- and a responsibility to use it.

"Our health should never be compromised," she tweeted. "Annual physicals have to be sacred. Yet our health care system doesn't lend itself to this for many."

Mayor de Blasio called Mark-Viverito's decision to share her experience "brave" and "exemplary."

About 79 million people in the United States have HPV, and another 14 million contract it each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone can get it once they become sexually active, and nearly half of the new infections each year occur among people ages 15 to 24, according to the New York City Health Department.

Most people who get HPV have no symptoms of infection. Each year, about 12,000 women diagnosed with HPV nationwide develop cervical cancer, the most common cancer associated with the infection, and about 4,000 of them die from it.

To learn more about HPV treatment and prevention, including a vaccine, click here.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 6 South Florida

Photo Credit: McMullan/Sipa USA]]>
<![CDATA[Former Vt. U.S. Sen. Jeffords Dead at 80]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:57:40 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/James+Jeffords.jpg

Former Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., died Monday at Knollwood, a military retirement home in Washington, D.C., a former aide said. He was 80.

A navy veteran, Jeffords made a name in politics as a state senator and attorney general before he was elected to seven terms in the U.S. House, once splitting with his fellow Republicans in opposing a President Reagan tax cut plan. Vermonters voted him into the Senate in 1988, where he was a champion for environmental causes.

The moderate, even liberal, Republican shocked Washington in 2001 when he said the GOP had drifted too far to the right for him. He quit the party, became an independent, and caucused with democrats.

“I am confident it is the right decision,” Jeffords said upon making his famous “jump.” “I hope that the people of Vermont will understand it.”

Jeffords announced in 2005 he would not seek re-election the next year, citing declining health.

"I think we have to bring back people like Jim Jeffords, who say running for office is really a form of public service," former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin said Monday.

Kunin remembered Jeffords as a good-hearted guy who just wanted to do what he thought was right; not tow some party line. "The comparison is rather painful, where we now have a Congress that prides itself on doing nothing, where in those days, people really went there to get things done and to improve the lives of the public," Kunin said.

"He's going to be very sorely missed," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who was in the U.S. House when Jeffords was in the Senate. "He was a guy who, I think, much preferred to be around Vermonters here in Vermont than among the big shots in Washington. It wasn't who he was."

Tom Vogelmann, the University of Vermont's agriculture and life sciences dean, told New England Cable News he thinks of Jeffords as "one of the giants." The University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is housed in the building that bears Jeffords' name.

"He was a very strong supporter of education, a very strong supporter of environmental legislation, and that's the curriculum that's basically taught in this building," Vogelmann told NECN. "So we have thousands of young people who are training here and that's all adding to his legacy."

Reflections on the life and legacy of Jim Jeffords poured in Monday. Here are several of those:

President Barack Obama:

Michelle and I send our deepest sympathies to the family of Senator James M. Jeffords on his passing. Jim devoted his life to service - as a Naval officer, a local leader in his hometown of Shrewsbury, and eventually as a U.S. Senator representing his beloved Vermont. During his more than 30 years in Washington, Jim never lost the fiercely independent spirit that made Vermonters, and people across America, trust and respect him. Whatever the issue - whether it was protecting the environment, supporting Americans with disabilities, or whether to authorize the war in Iraq - Jim voted his principles, even if it sometimes meant taking a lonely or unpopular stance. Vermonters sent him to Washington to follow his conscience, and he did them proud.

Our prayers are with the Jeffords family, including his son Leonard and daughter Laura. And we're grateful to Jim for his legacy of service to Vermont and the United States of America.

Vice President Joe Biden:

Jim Jeffords was a personal friend, a great senator, and a good man. He was not only beloved by the people of Vermont, but by anyone who ever worked with him. For the nearly four decades I served in the United States Senate, nearly half were spent with Jim as a colleague. Jim knew that with a country as diverse as ours, there is a need for consensus to move the country forward. He was a man who dealt with his colleagues without pretext and with complete honesty. And he always knew what he was talking about—and his colleagues and constituents always knew where he stood on an issue. Jim was a reflection of Vermont—independent and non-ideological and always about solving problems. Jill and I are saddened by his passing and join his family, friends, and his former staff in remembering all that he stood for: basic fairness and principled independence.

Former President Bill Clinton:

Hillary and I are saddened by the passing of our friend Senator Jim Jeffords, who served the people of Vermont and the United States for more than 30 years. Jim was one of our strongest advocates for better health and education, a cleaner environment, and increased opportunities for people with disabilities. I will always be especially grateful for his support of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Brady Bill, and our 1993 health care reform effort. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his many friends across the country.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.:

He was a partner in our work for Vermont, and he was a friend. He was a Vermonter through and through, drawn to political life to make a difference for our state and nation. Part of his legacy will also stand as an enduring chapter of the Senate's history.

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.:

I know I share the view of all Vermonters today in expressing condolences to the family of Senator Jim Jeffords on his passing, and our gratitude to him for his life of service.

While Jim would certainly wave away the notion, he was indeed a legend in Vermont and the nation. With characteristic decency, humility and civility, and a dogged persistence, he made his mark in Congress. Millions of children with disabilities are better off today because he lead the charge for their equal access to education. Americans are breathing cleaner air and drinking cleaner water because of his fierce advocacy for the environment and clean energy. And budding artists across the nation receive the boost of his encouragement every year thanks to his legacy as the founder of the annual Congressional Arts Competition.

And, in 2001, the world saw what his fellow Vermonters already knew: Jim Jeffords, above all, had the courage of his convictions.

Jim and his wife, Liz Daley Jeffords, were mentors to me in my early days in the House of Representatives. I am deeply grateful to them both for their friendship, their support and their contributions to Vermont and our country.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt.:

I join Vermonters and citizens nationwide today in celebrating the life of Jim Jeffords, a true gentleman and an independent-minded maverick in the best tradition of our state. Jim followed in the footsteps of Senators Bob Stafford and George Aiken, always putting the interests of Vermonters and the nation ahead of partisan politics. He followed his sense of right in all that he did, and was never afraid to seek compromise by reaching across the aisle for the good of our country. Jim’s contribution to Vermont spanned his service in the Vermont House, as Attorney General, and as Vermont’s Representative in the U.S. House, where he developed his passion for high quality public education that forged his policy work on behalf of our kids and continued throughout his career. The passing of Senator Jim Jeffords will be felt throughout Vermont and our country. We need more like Senator Jeffords. My heart goes out to his children and extended family.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vt.:

The story of Vermont politics cannot be told without Jim Jeffords. He served in the most honorable way a person can serve: Selflessly, and always with the best interests of others at heart. He did what he felt was right, not what he felt would make him popular. Whether it was during his time in the Vermont Senate, or as Attorney General, or in the United States House of Representatives, or in the United States Senate, Jim valued the voices of Vermonters and leaves a legacy we can all learn from: Respect over rhetoric, pragmatism over pandering, and love for Vermonters overall.

In our large, and largely faceless, system of government, he demonstrated the power that one person speaking for their constituents can have. His example of moderation and independence is what I’ve tried to model my own career off of. My sincere condolences go out to Laura, Leonard, and the entire Jeffords family.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Mayor Goes Back to Miami Lakes City Hall to Get Job Back]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 18:29:27 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/081814+michael+pizzi.jpg

Former Miami Lakes mayor Michael Pizzi showed up at City Hall Monday to get his job back as current mayor Wayne Slayton said he plans on finishing his term.

"I'm going to go in there and very politely and respectfully ask that they follow the Constitution and allow me to return to office," Pizzi said.

Pizzi was allowed to enter city hall and met with the city manager behind closed doors but didn't get the result he'd like. He said his next step will likely be legal action.

Shortly before Pizzi arrived, Slayton held a news conference to announce that there were no open positions to fill.

"I was elected in a special election to fill out my term until 2016," Slayton said.

The drama began last week when Pizzi was acquitted of public corruption charges in federal court. He had been suspended by Gov. Rick Scott after he had been charged.

Scott's office released a statement saying Pizzi would not be reinstated.

Pizzi said he had squarely beaten Slayton when they ran against each other in a previous election.

"In every precinct he never got more than 30 percent of the vote, so he has no basis to be serving in that office," Pizzi said.

Photo Credit: Laura Rodriguez/NBC6.com]]>