The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: ron desantis

George Conway Calls Out Ron DeSantis Over 'Pathetic' Election Monitoring Plan

Pandering to conspiracy theorists who have falsely claimed that widespread voter fraud occurred in the 2020 presidential election, far-right Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed an Office of Election Crimes and Security that would cost $6 million and be part of the state government. Conservative Never Trump attorney George Conway discussed DeSantis’ proposal during a Wednesday, January 19 appearance on CNN’s New Day, slamming it as “pathetic” and stressing that the 2020 election was, in fact, incredibly secure.

Conway told New Day host John Berman and Kasie Hunt — who was filling in for Berman’s colleague Brianna Keilar — “It is all just play-acting. It's performance art…. It is designed for DeSantis to protect himself (with) the Republican base so that nobody can accuse him of being soft on the great election fraud, the fraudulent fake election fraud of 2020. And it's just pathetic…. It’s just performance art, and it’s so corrosive of our democracy.”

Conway went on to tell Berman and Hunt that not only was the 2020 election not stolen from former President Donald Trump, but also, it was a major achievement for the United States. Hunt, before joining CNN in 2021, hosted the morning show Way Too Early on MSNBC.

“This election was actually just a remarkable feat of democracy,” stressed Conway — a blistering Trump critic who, ironically, is married to former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. “It should have been celebrated. We were in the middle of a global pandemic, and yet, we had the greatest turnout we’ve had in, I don’t know, decades, of people coming out to vote.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

DeSantis Reveals Biggest Regret Of Covid Lockdown (Which Will Anger Trump)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has revealed his biggest mistake during the COVID-19 pandemic; a mistake that will likely ruffle former President Donald Trump's feathers.

On Thursday, January 13, the Republican governor appeared on the conservative podcast "Ruthless," where he revealed his biggest regrets while governing during the pandemic. DeSantis, a known Trump ally, suggested that he wasn't in favor of the national lockdown that was enforced at the onset of the pandemic, according to CNN.

He recalled the early days of the pandemic and revealed he was actually involved in the White House's pandemic response, offering advice to the former president. Although the pandemic had quickly became a national crisis, DeSantis claims he was relatively shocked when Trump shut down the economy.

"I never thought in February, early March, that [coronavirus] would lead to locking down the country," the Republican governor said on Thursday. "I just didn't. I didn't think that was on the radar."

Per CNN, the Florida governor largely blamed Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and head of the White House coronavirus task force, for advising Trump on shutting the country down.

Fauci along with other public health experts advised the former president, but the story notes that "the decision was Trump's to make, and DeSantis ultimately followed the White House's lead, closing Florida schools, government buildings, gyms, bars, and restaurant dining rooms and advising Floridians to stay home."

DeSantis' latest critical remarks about Trump follow similar comments he made back in November. At the time, DeSantis criticized the travel restrictions that were implemented as part of the pandemic response.

Although he had also supported the decision Trump made at the timie, he again came to believe that was a mistake. "I was probably the first governor in January of 2020 to call for travel restrictions from China. I supported President Trump when he did that," DeSantis said. "But we have to take a step back and acknowledge that those travel restrictions just didn't work."

Article reprinted with permission from Alternet

Supreme Court Abortion Ruling May Threaten DeSantis Reelection Prospects

When Palm Beach County District Attorney Dave Aronberg appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Thursday, January 13, the South Florida Democrat wasn’t bullish on his party’s chances of unseating Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida’s 2022 gubernatorial election. But there was a major caveat: Aronberg believes that if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade this summer, that could derail DeSantis’ chances of winning a second term.

“He is in great shape to win his reelection because he is going to have like $100 million in campaign funds,” the prosecutor told Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. “He has become a national MAGA figure, and he is getting tons of money from outside the state. And we have three Democrats running for governor right now, and they’re not raising nearly the money DeSantis is. But in the end, Florida is somewhat of a swing state.”

Aronberg, a frequent critic of Florida’s far-right governor, added that how the high court rules on Roe v. Wade could pull the rug out from under DeSantis. If Roe v. Wade is overturned later this year, Aronberg argued, DeSantis’ anti-abortion views could work against him in November and fire up pro-choice voters in the Sunshine State — which, Aronberg stressed, is not a deep red state like Mississippi.

“If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, they’ll do so in the summer right before his reelection,” Aronberg told Scarborough and Brzezinski. “DeSantis just came out and said he would support a Mississippi-style abortion bill. Well, that may work in Mississippi and other southern states, but Florida is different. That’s the kind of thing that shows he’s out of touch with Floridians and could jeopardize, what seems to many, a certain reelection.”

Conservative strategist Rick Wilson, a Florida-based Never Trumper, has described Florida as a swing state where Democrats “struggle” in statewide elections and have a hard time getting past the finish line.

When DeSantis defeated former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a liberal/progressive Democrat, in Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial election, he did so by less than one percent. Then in 2020, now-President Joe Biden lost Florida to then-President Donald Trump by around three percent (compared to 26 percent in Alabama or 16 percent in Mississippi). ‘

Article reprinted with permission from Alternet

Gaetz's Ex-Girlfriend Testifies Before Grand Jury In Sex Crimes Probe

A federal grand jury heard testimony on Wednesday from the ex-girlfriend of Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who is currently under investigation by the Justice Department for possible sex crimes.

NBC News was first to report the development and noted that the cooperation between the woman and federal prosecutors has been ongoing for several months. To protect her privacy, her name has not been disclosed; her cooperation is part of her effort to secure immunity.

Gaetz has not been charged with any crimes and has staunchly denied the swirling allegations. But it is believed, according to a wide variety of reported sources with insider knowledge, that Gaetz is under scrutiny for a trio of crimes including obstructing justice, sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl, and violating the Mann Act—a law that bars the transport of minors over state lines.

Neither Gaetz nor the Justice Department immediately returned a request for comment Wednesday.

The probe into the Florida Republican’s conduct has been ongoing for more than a year. It started when former Seminole County, Florida tax collector and friend to Gaetz, Joel Greenberg, was charged with a variety of unsavory crimes including sex trafficking a minor, identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, and conspiracy to bribe a public official. Greenberg pleaded guilty last summer and began cooperating with investigators to reduce his sentence.

Gaetz, it was revealed last April, sent Greenberg $900 over Venmo in May 2018. The very next day and over just a few minutes, Greenberg used Venmo to send the funds to three girls. The total Greenberg sent? $900.

Gaetz, in the memo portion for a cash transfer to Greenberg first wrote “test” and then “hit up ____.” The blank section, according to The Daily Beast, was not blank in the Venmo transfer memo, but rather it featured the nickname of a girl who was one of the recipients of the cash. Because she was a minor at the time, the nickname was not disclosed.

Greenberg, when paying out the $900 listed it as “tuition” and “school” in the memo.

Politico was first to report that Gaetz was the subject of an obstruction inquiry last June, citing two sources who said that this part of the probe began only after a former girlfriend of the congressman patched Gaetz into a phone call she had with a witness to the alleged sex crimes. That witness has since talked to prosecutors. Their testimony could be instrumental in shaping how prosecutors will charge Gaetz, if at all.

One of the alleged sex trafficking victims has told prosecutors Gaetz had sex with her when she was a minor and paid for the exchange. There have also been questions around Gaetz’s trip to the Bahamas in 2018, when he served as an adviser to Florida’s now-governor Ron DeSantis.

According to a Politico report from April, a young woman central to the trafficking probe was on a 2018 flight to the Bahamas courtesy of Halsey Beshears, then a top regulator working in Florida’s state government, and Jason Pirozzolo, a DeSantis gubernatorial campaign fundraiser. Bashears, Pirozzollo, and Gaetz were meeting in the Bahamas. Instead of flying with the women, Gaetz flew commercial.

While a source told Politico at the time that the women were all of age on the private flight, the report noted: “But questions surrounding the ages of some of the women surfaced immediately upon their return—three of them looked so young when they returned on Beshears’ private plane that U.S. Customs briefly stopped and questioned him, according to sources familiar with the trip, including a woman on the flight.”

News has been slow to trickle out about the career-jeopardizing investigation. In October, however, it was revealed that additional prosecutors—who specialize in sex trafficking—were added to the probe into the Florida congressman.

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Landslide: Democrat Bests Biden Margin In Florida Special House Race

Democratic nominee Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick overwhelmingly won a Florida congressional election on Tuesday. Due to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' refusal to schedule a timely special election, the seat had been vacant for more than nine months.

Cherfilus-McCormick, an attorney and health company CEO, defeated Republican nominee Jason Mariner by a 78.7 percent-19.6 percent landslide in Florida's 20th Congressional District. The district's longtime representative Alcee Hastings (D) died on April 6, 2021.

Under Florida law, the governor has the unilateral authority to schedule special elections to fill vacant House seats. DeSantis waited weeks to take any action at all to fill the majority-Black district's seat before a month later finally ordering Tuesday's special election, well after local election officials had urged him to.

"I know there'll be a lot of folks that want to run for it, so hopefully that gives them enough time to be able to get on the ballot and do whatever they need to do to be competitive," he claimed at the time.

This meant that the more than 776,000 residents of the district have lacked any House representation for 281 days. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, DeSantis' delay was far longer than any other of the past 20 years.

Cherfilus-McCormick's victory margin of over 59 points on Tuesday actually improved on President Joe Biden's 2020 margin in the district. According to data from Daily Kos Elections, Biden got 77.3 percent of the vote there to former President Donald Trump's 22.1 percent, a 55.2 percent margin.

Top national Republicans have been claiming they expect a "red wave" in the 2022 midterm elections will give them the majority in the House and maybe the Senate.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who is chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told the Associated Press in late December, "We're going to have a hell of a year," predicting, "Every state that Biden won by less than 10 is now a battleground state."

But Tuesday's results in his own state would appear to put a damper on that optimism.

And they come as recent polling has shown the GOP has lost its national midterm advantage, as registered voters generally now prefer Democrats over Republicans on the congressional ballot.

When Cherfilus-McCormick is sworn in, Democrats will be back to the full 222-seat majority it had at the start of the 117th Congress. They have easily won all four special elections to fill Democratic vacancies since January 2021.

Democratic state legislators proposed a bill last week that would require future special elections be held within 180 days of the start of a vacancy at most. Noting that delayed special elections for state House and state Senate seats left some parts of Broward County with no representation at all, state Sen. Tina Polsky (D) said, "There was no reason for this to happen. It has never happened before. ... I don't want to see this happen again in the future."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

DeSantis Covid Address Is Cluster Of Lies And Blaming

After weeks of being MIA during an unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases in his state, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference in Fort Lauderdale Monday.

He spent much of his time, as did his stunningly anti-science surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, dismissing COVID-19 vaccines as a help, downplaying the severity of symptoms of the omicron variant, and whining and complaining about how the federal government isn’t giving him the monoclonal treatment meds he’s convinced he needs.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, who oversees Orlando County, the largest in the state, ripped into DeSantis Tuesday, demanding to know where the governor was and why he wasn’t offering any help.

“Our residents, all Florida residents, should be outraged, and they should ask the question, ‘Where is our state? Where is our governor? Where is Ron DeSantis now?’ When is the last time you saw the governor do a press briefing on COVID-19?” Demings said at a press conference.

Miami-Dade had officially hit a 25 percent positivity rate, meaning one in four tests has returned positive in the last week.

DeSantis continues to advocate for COVID-19 treatment—meaning monoclonal antibody, specifically Regeneron, treatments—versus vaccinations, masks, social distancing, and virtual gatherings as prevention or as a way of minimizing illness. He repeatedly said Monday he would open more sites to offer treatment, but only based on what the state would be provided by the federal government.

DeSantis, along with Sen. Marco Rubio, has been going on and on for months about how they’re begging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to reverse course on the November decision to ration monoclonal antibody (mAb) drugs for the outpatient treatment of COVID-19.

DeSantis went on to make light of the COVID-19 cases, and again blamed the federal government for the lack of home tests, but took no responsibility for the lack of testing centers in the state.

What DeSantis left out of his finger-pointing presser was that vaccines and boosters are significant when it comes to how sick you get, with omicron or any known variant of COVID-19.

DeSantis also attempted to divert blame and diminish stunning coronavirus cases as just something that happened when patients are admitted, for one thing, get tested, and find out they have COVID-19.

According to a new study done in the U.K., COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of hospitalization from omicron across the board, and a booster dose provides the highest level of protection.

The study analyzed more than 528,000 omicron cases and 573,000 delta cases from November 22 through December 26 in England.

Ladapo admitted that hospitalizations weren’t nearly as high as case numbers in the state, which is likely due to vaccines and boosters, but instead focused on the reversal of the “completely senseless” decision of the federal government to withhold “effective treatments” for people.

In reality, there was a pause on Sotrovimab shipments for about three weeks, but by December 17, the federal government resumed shipping, distributing about 1,000 doses to Florida, and on December 27, another 2,580 doses.

Federal data shows that Florida hospitals also have nearly 10,000 doses of Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment on hand, and about 4,000 doses of Eli Lilly’s treatment. However, according to the Tampa Bay Times, those therapies have not proven to be effective against the omicron variant of the virus, leaving an overwhelming demand for GlaxoSmithKline’s Sotrovimab.

Ladapo spoke extensively about treatments but refused to discuss using masks or getting vaccines.

”It’s time for people to be living and make the decision they want regarding vaccination and enjoy the fact that many people have natural immunity and unwind this preoccupation with only Covid as determining the boundaries and constraints and possibilities of life,” Ladapo said.

The surgeon general then went on to talk about “low-value” COVID-19 testing versus “high-value” testing. Meaning that older and more at-risk people should get tests versus children and healthier adults.

Again, in reality, Ladapo’s comments are 100 percent irresponsible and inaccurate. Bloomberg reports pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen to record levels in the omicron surge, amplifying the need for kids to get boosters and vaccines.

New hospital admissions of kids with COVID-19 have increased 66 percent to 378 a day on average for the week ending Tuesday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The last peak occurred in early September at a daily count of 342.

On Monday, the FDA authorized Pfizer booster vaccines for kids 12 to 15.

“The majority of our hospitalized kids are in the hospital because they are sick with COVID symptoms,” Roberta DeBiasi, the hospital’s infectious disease chief told Bloomberg. She added that it’s rare for children to arrive for another reason and be incidentally diagnosed with COVID-19.

“We occasionally have someone who, for instance, was here for surgery or trauma and was noted to be positive for Covid, but that is not very common,” said DeBiasi.

Ladapo defended Regeneron, saying that there’s “a difference between laboratory data and clinical data,” and alleging that perhaps monoclonal treatments were withheld because the head of HHS, Becerra doesn’t have a clinical background.

DeSantis finished the press conference declaring that Florida schools would not close and should not have mitigations. He railed against masks, particularly cloth masks—which the CDC has recently said aren’t as effective for omicron and urged the public to up their mask game. “I think they have a right to breathe,” DeSantis said, referring to mask usage.

”Let’s just be honest with people. When you have something that’s this widespread that is airborne, simply putting a cloth over [their faces] and thinking that it will somehow provide good protection, that’s just not accurate,” DeSantis said about what he called “draconian policies.”

DeSantis ended by slamming vaccine passports, saying they haven’t worked and that not having them is the reason people enjoy traveling to Florida.

Watch the entire DeSantis address below:

Florida Governor Ron Desantis Offers Lies and Blame on Omicron 

Article reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

DeSantis Brings Cancer-Stricken Spouse to 'Super-Spreader' Worship Leader's Event

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

For much of the latter part of December, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been slammed for being missing in action as the state reels from a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the Omicron variant. Well, late on Friday, DeSantis tried to defend himself. He claimed that he was accompanying his wife, Casey, to a cancer treatment session.

But later on Friday, DeSantis attended an event sponsored by a Christianist worship leader whose events have been linked to numerous superspreaders. Never mind that his wife is presently at really high risk for COVID-19, even if she’s vaccinated.

In response to criticism from state and national Democrats about his apparent absence in the wake of record-breaking case counts in Florida, DeSantis—through his spokesmen—said that at the time, he was with his wife while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

A DeSantis spokesperson said the governor accompanied wife Casey to cancer treatment Dec. 29, the day several left-wing critics accused the governor of "missing."
DeSantis' announced in October that his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, telling Fox News at the time that as "the mother of three young children, Casey is the centerpiece of our family and has made an impact on the lives of countless Floridians through her initiatives as first lady."

But later on Friday, Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA revealed that DeSantis was going to be on hand for the Orange Bowl that night—his first public appearance in two weeks. Before that night, he’d only been seen in public twice in the latter half of December—a press conference on December 17, and an interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on December 19.

That was problematic in and of itself, considering that as a cancer patient, Casey DeSantis is at particularly high risk for breaking bad if she catches COVID. But what DeSantis did next is particularly incomprehensible. It turned out that when DeSantis left Hard Rock Stadium, he and Casey headed over to Lifted Church (formerly Miami Baptist Church), where Christianist worship leader Sean Feucht was holding one of his “Let Us Worship” events.

Watch a recap here, from Feucht.