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TALLAHASSEE — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi made a surprise endorsement of Donald Trump on Monday, only to run into criticism over the way her office examined fraud claims against Trump University after the New York billionaire contributed money to her campaign. At issue is a $25,000 campaign contribution from the Donald J. Trump Foundation to a Bondi-controlled political committee in 2013. It came just days after she said her office was reviewing complaints related to Trump’s school. Bondi’s office later determined it did not need to take any action against Trump University because of an ongoing lawsuit already filed in New York. That decision is getting renewed attention after Bondi endorsed Trump at a Tampa rally one day before the Florida primary. “Every time I’m surprised someone endorsed him, there’s a a quid pro quo — $25,000 buys a lot when it comes to a state-level politician,” said Katie Packer, a former Mitt Romney aide who now runs Our Principles, an anti-Trump super PAC. “It’s too bad people defrauded out of money by Trump University don’t have that kind of money to buy an advocate in the Florida Attorney General’s office.” Read more in POLITICO
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Press Release: (Tallahassee, Fla.) – Today, Tuesday, March 8, Uber debuts a new TV ad clearly connecting the dots and highlighting the longstanding relationship between Senate President Andy Gardiner and Florida’s largest taxi company. The ad begins airing this evening in Orlando and Tallahassee. The new TV spot, “Connect the Dots,” can be found HERE. Listen to more on Uber issue on 'Episode 50: The Final Countdown'
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TALLAHASSEE -- House and Senate budget negotiators finalized the roughly $80 billion 2016-17 state budget Monday night, in the process growing the overall spending plan by $123 million. The increased spending came largely from supplemental funding lists, known as “sprinkle lists” in Capitol parlance, that emerge at the end of final budget negotiations. The lists were unveiled during a 9 p.m. budget meeting. The House proposed $30 million in additional spending, while the Senate had $72 million in additional funding. On the lists was a $25 million boost for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, including a 3 percent increase for residential habilitation services, which amounts to nearly $11 million. Other things on the last-minute spending list include $11 million proposed by the Senate for the University of North Florida’s Skinner Jones Hall. Budget negotiators said the project had support throughout the process, but had slipped through the cracks. The Senate also put forward $10 million for the Department of State’s cultural grant list. Read more in POLITICO
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Polls show it. Elections data indicate it. The political class frets about it. And now his own campaign manager admits it. Marco Rubio is losing his home state of Florida—the place he has guaranteed he’d win on March 15. “Yes,” Rubio’s campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, said when asked if the Florida senator is trailing Donald Trump at home. “But it doesn’t matter. We’re going to win Florida.” These are dark days for the Rubio campaign, and they might be his last. The confidence Sullivan has in a Florida victory does not extend much beyond Rubio’s staff and his longtime backers. Read more: POLITICO
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TALLAHASSEE -- Since lawmakers last week unveiled the outline for their roughly $80 billion budget plan, news has gone from bad to worse for Gov. Rick Scott. Legislative budget-writers rocked the Capitol by not funding the $250 million in economic incentive money Scott requested. It was his biggest budget priority, and his budget staff has met with legislative leaders in his plaza-level office on the issue since trying to resurrect the plan, though the chances, if there are any, seem exceedingly thin. Scott wanted $1 million in tax cuts. The Legislature responded with a $400 million plan that’s likely to look nothing like Scott’s proposal. Those snubs came even after Scott signed into law top priorities for legislative leaders. He signed off on a water bill for House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner’s proposals to help developmentally disabled children. But, for Scott, the moves seemed to buy him little capital with the lawmakers. Read more in POLITICO
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TALLAHASSEE — Lawmakers agreed to a budget outline on Friday that deals a body blow to Gov. Rick Scott’s top policy priorities, a move that will no doubt tempt the governor to wield a heavy veto pen. The spending plan agreed to by the House and Senate’s top budget-writers includes no money for a $250 million pot of economic incentive money that has been pushed for hard by the Scott administration and Enterprise Florida, the state’s private-public economic development arm that Scott chairs. The Senate included the $250 million in its proposed spending plan, but the House did not. Senate budget chief Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said that he agreed to lose the funding to help reach a middle ground with the House. “We both came off the floor in very different places, as we worked through those against the clock because it's clear if we were going to get out on time and get back home, something was going to have to give,” Lee said. Read more in POLITICO 
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The Republican establishment has finally fallen in love with Marco Rubio, but it may be too late. With Donald Trump trouncing the competition in Tuesday's night's Nevada caucuses and dramatically expanding his reach into voter groups thought to be leaning toward Rubio, lawmakers and party operatives are tripping over themselves to back the Florida senator's presidential bid. During the past 72 hours, Rubio has racked up more than 20 endorsements from high-profile Republican leaders such as Bob Dole, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Prominent megadonors like Joe Craft and political operatives including the Koch brothers' political guru Marc Short have also jumped on board. Read more in POLITICO 
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On Monday, Rick Scott said he wasn’t ready to endorse in Florida’s presidential primary election on March 15, but there are those who believe he might be leaning towards Donald Trump. That speculation was sparked last month, when Scott penned an op-ed in USA Today, a column in which he wrote very favorably about the New York City billionaire real estate developer. “I know Donald Trump personally, and while I currently have no plans to endorse a candidate before Florida’s March presidential primary, there is no doubt that Donald is a man who speaks and tweets his mind freely. But I don’t think his ability to give the most interesting interviews or speeches is the only thing that has him leading in the polls. I think he is capturing the frustration of many Americans after seven years of President Obama’s very intentional government takeover of the U.S. economy.” The quiet speculation broke out into the open on Tuesday, when The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza listed Scott on a short-list of possible running mates that Trump might be contemplating as he continues to roll through the Republican primary and caucus calendar. Read more at FLORIDA POLITICS
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Jeb Bush, unable to muster enthusiasm for his presidential bid beyond the family network that helped him raise a record $160 million, is suspending his campaign following a disappointing finish in South Carolina. The decision follows a string of underwhelming primary finishes for the former Florida governor, including in New Hampshire where he invested heavily and bet on a massive ground organization but still finished behind Donald Trump, John Kasich and Ted Cruz. Read more POLITICO
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Rep. Alan Grayson is “unethical.” Rep. Patrick Murphy is a “lickspittle pillock.” With each incongruously mentioning Valentine's Day, the two Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate traded insults on Sunday, as Grayson’s campaign continued to reel from allegations of impropriety over an offshore hedge fund run by Grayson that is the subject of an ongoing House ethics investigation.  Grayson has denied wrongdoing and described the complaints against him as politically motivated. Read more in POLITICO
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A weekly podcast focusing on the people and stories shaping Florida politics produced by Trimmel Gomes an award-winning journalist and former statewide news director of Florida Public Radio. Gomes hosted its flagship program "Capital Report" and created the public affairs program "It's About Florida." Gomes is political commentator and regular political contributor to WTXL ABC 27 in Tallahassee.

 

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