Florida Five: Legislature won’t appeal challenged congressional districts, Crist’s summer of stumbles

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

Charlie Crist’s summer of stumbles continues: Charlie Crist’s bad summer continued on Tuesday as Republicans giddily brought out a deed for a Fisher Island home that Crist and his wife Carole sold back in 2012 but didn’t include in any of their tax returns or financial disclosure forms that they released to the public. The news comes at a bad time for Crist. The new Democrat had a double-digit lead over Rick Scott last year and most recent polls have shown a dead heat or Scott ahead by a whisker. Liberals are still unhappy that Crist won’t debate primary opponent Nan Rich. After a series of high-profile defections, Crist’s campaign team seems to have settled into place, but there remain rumors that family members are actually calling the shots. Read more

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Photo Credit AP

Legislature won’t appeal but will redraw challenged congressional districts — for 2016: Florida legislative leaders have ended their silence on the rejected congressional map and announced Tuesday they will not appeal the circuit court ruling but agree to redraw the map deemed unconstitutional because of two invalid districts, as long as they can wait until next year. The voters groups, led by the League of Women Voters, contend that Florida must not run the next elections on a constitutionally-flawed map. They asked Judge Terry Lewis for an expedited hearing to decide how to make the fix and Lewis has scheduled a status conference for Thursday morning.  The legislative leaders, however, whose legal challenge involved months of delay over discovery documents related to GOP political consultants, say the new map should wait. Read more 

Fraudsters cash in on Florida welfare benefits: Afraid to lose her job if she’s identified, a Broward Countywoman tells Watchdog.org her boss’ girlfriend is ripping off Florida’s welfare safety-net programs while working alongside her and being compensated off the books. How does she know? Because her coworker is fairly open about it — even while living in a nice home and driving a respectable vehicle. The scenario isn’t far-fetched, though it’s difficult for us to fully verify. It’s also difficult to know exactly how rampant this kind of fraud is in the Sunshine State, though it undoubtedly happens. Read more

Rick Scott backs drug-testing, school choice in meeting with Times-Union editorial board: Gov. Rick Scott stood by efforts to drug-screen welfare recipients, touted private-school vouchers and delivered an upbeat assessment of the state’s condition during a wide-ranging talk with the Times-Union’s editorial board Tuesday. Meeting with editorial board members, editors and reporters as part of his reelection bid, Scott restated his support for some controversial policies from his first term in office, including his support for drug tests. “I’m going to continue to pursue it. It’s the right thing to do,” said the 61-yr-old Republican, adding that effects on children should be the main concern in setting welfare policies. “If you think about it, welfare is for the benefit of the child. It’s not for the benefit of adults.” Read more

Criticism led to layoff, former St. Pete VA specialist testifies: Until June 30, Javier Soto was a rating specialist at the Veterans Benefits Administration St. Petersburg office. But just days after delivering what he said is a blistering review of how the office handles veterans claims, Soto said he was laid off by director Kerrie Witty. Monday night, Soto testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee about his experience at the office and the problems he says exist there. “The pressure to focus on production and complete cases has resulted in less attention on quality to meet ‘numbers’ goals,” Soto said in his written statement for the committee. Read more

Bonus: Watch Florida cops fight each other at traffic stop: ‘I will shoot you’

For more Florida political news, visit BPR’s FLORIDA NEWS page

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