Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Buzz

on Florida Politics

DeSantis campaign says ex-lawmaker who used racial slur is NOT co-chairing fundraiser

Representatives of Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis say a former Hialeah lawmaker who resigned 12 years ago after using racial slurs during a drunk and threatening tirade with a colleague is not co-chairing a Coral Gables fundraiser next week, despite what's stated on materials produced by the campaign.

The Miami Herald on Thursday obtained an invitation for a $10,000-a-head fundraiser for DeSantis at the Biltmore Hotel, scheduled for the evening of Sept. 20. Luminaries like former Gov. Jeb Bush were named as chairs of the event, but a co-chair list included a more infamous name: Ralph Arza.

Arza resigned as a state representative in 2006 after he and a cousin left threatening messages on the voice mail of a fellow lawmaker who had filed an ethics complaint alleging that Arza used racial slurs when discussing Miami-Dade's black schools chief. Arza had previously denied calling Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Rudy Crew a "n—-er," but admitted that he used the word in recorded voice messages left for state Rep. Gus Barreiro.

RELATED COVERAGE: Report: Ron DeSantis spoke at racially charged conference four times. 

Don't 'monkey this up' and elect Andrew Gillum, Ron DeSantis says

Racist robocall from neo-Nazi website targets Andrew Gillum

Arza blamed the incident with Barreiro on alcohol and denied that he was a racist, but pleaded guilty in 2007 to two misdemeanor counts of tampering with a witness and received 18 months probation. He is now a lobbyist.

Arza's presence as a host of a swanky fundraiser would be a problem for DeSantis, who has defended himself against charges of racism during the first weeks of his general election campaign against Andrew Gillum, the black mayor of Tallahassee.

Ralph Arza, seen here in 2006, when he was a state representative. [PHIL COALE | AP}
Ralph Arza, seen here in 2006, when he was a state representative. [PHIL COALE | AP}
The morning after the two men won their respective primaries, DeSantis caused a firestorm by saying Florida voters would take the state’s purring economy and “monkey this up” by endorsing Gillum’s progressive agenda. DeSantis has also had to address questions this week about a Washington Post story highlighting his attendance at four conferences hosted by a conservative activist who argues that white people should be viewed by history as the liberators of black slaves in America.

"Clearly disagree with that," DeSantis told Politico Florida Wednesday during a visit to the Everglades in South Florida when asked about Horowitz's tweets regarding slavery.

Arza remains a regular face in Miami politics, despite his history. Last year, for instance, he was named as a co-host for a Coral Gables fundraiser for now-Miami Mayor Francis Suarez that was also to be attended by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

But DeSantis' campaign says Arza is, in fact, not a party to next week's event. The flier obtained by the Herald, which included campaign disclaimers, was a draft sent only to the chairs of the event, according to the campaign.

An invitation purported to be a final copy did not include Arza's name, which the campaign explained was submitted by local GOP operatives as a willing Republican in Miami happy to help. After vetting, Arza's name was removed, according to DeSantis' campaign. All the other listed chairs and co-chairs remain involved with the event.

Arza told a reporter Thursday afternoon that he was on a flight and would be able to talk later. But he said in a subsequent email that he was not involved with the fundraiser.

"For the record I am not a co-chair for the event. Don't know how my name got on that. I am actually out of town on that date," he said. "Let's assume it was an honest mistake."

Comments
Judge considers Bill Nelson lawsuit to count votes with faulty signatures

Judge considers Bill Nelson lawsuit to count votes with faulty signatures

Florida's system of verifying signatures on mail and provisional ballots is under intense legal scrutiny.
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Florida officials flag a possible violation of elections law by state Democrats

Florida officials flag a possible violation of elections law by state Democrats

The forms listed the wrong due date for voters to fix issues with their mail-in ballots.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rick Scott wins suit against Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections

Rick Scott wins suit against Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections

Election watchers will now be allowed to stand inside the physical area where machine recounts are taking place.
Updated: 3 hours ago
Palm Beach recount further behind after machine malfunction

Palm Beach recount further behind after machine malfunction

There's uncertainty about meeting the Thursday deadline for a machine recount.
Updated: 4 hours ago
Broward County confident it will make Florida recount deadline

Broward County confident it will make Florida recount deadline

After starting the recount way after other counties, Broward is now optimistic about finishing on time.
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bill Nelson sues for fax, email voting records from Bay County

Bill Nelson sues for fax, email voting records from Bay County

The Bay County Supervisor of Elections has said he accepted some ballots by fax and email.
Updated: 4 hours ago
Judge Mark Walker is at the center of Florida recount legal fight

Judge Mark Walker is at the center of Florida recount legal fight

Several federal lawsuits are assigned to the federal judge.
Updated: 7 hours ago
Broward County elections supervisor says invalid ballots ‘were never counted’

Broward County elections supervisor says invalid ballots ‘were never counted’

She is trying to tamp down reports that she included invalid ballots in vote totals transmitted to the state over the weekend.
Updated: 7 hours ago
PolitiFact: Donald Trump and Rick Scott allege fraud in vote counting without any evidence

PolitiFact: Donald Trump and Rick Scott allege fraud in vote counting without any evidence

Both Scott and Trump have cast suspicion about the rising number of votes in the days following election night.
Updated: 10 hours ago
Joe Henderson: Hillsborough voters charted a reasonable path forward with school tax approval

Joe Henderson: Hillsborough voters charted a reasonable path forward with school tax approval

Voters agreed that excellent schools and a decent transportation system are vital to this community.
Updated: 10 hours ago