Miami developer hires governor’s pal; Scott, Cabinet green light Watson Island project

Lobbyist William "Billy" Rubin, left, and Gov. Rick Scott

By Francisco Alvarado
In late March, state emails show, Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection was poised to pull the plug on a long-delayed, contentious plan to build a resort and mega-yacht marina on Miami’s Watson Island. But developer Flagstone Island Gardens had an ace in the hole. A month earlier, the company hired Fort Lauderdale lobbyist William “Billy” Rubin, a longtime personal friend, business associate and political supporter of Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott campaign ad touting jobs record stars convicted smuggler

A Rick Scott television ad features the governor shoulder to shoulder with flag-waving smuggler Maikel Duarte-Torres

By Francisco Alvarado
A Cuban-born grocery store owner starring in a Rick Scott Spanish language television campaign ad touting the governor’s job creation record was convicted on human smuggling charges in St. Maarten four years ago. THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED

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Leisure parks chain looks to buy Miami Seaquarium, South Florida’s iconic attraction


By John Dorschner
The owner of South Florida’s iconic tourist attraction, the Miami Seaquarium, has had “discussions” about selling to a California-based subsidiary of a Spanish parks operator, but said no final deal has been struck.

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Two senators short-circuit Legislature’s plan to audit troubled Hallandale Beach CRA

State Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood and State Sen. Oscar Braynon II, D-Miami Gardens

By William Gjebre
A Florida Legislature’s joint auditing committee is dropping its inquiry of Hallandale Beach’s questionable use of local redevelopment funds at the urging of two area state senators, one a long-time acquaintance of Mayor Joy Cooper.

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Push against offshore secrecy an uphill battle

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom talk in the Oval Office before their meeting in March 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

By Michael Hudson
Center for Public Integrity
Offshore tax havens are under attack again in the wake of scandal. Britain has vowed to lift secrecy covering the Cayman Islands and other financial sanctuaries under its flag. France’s president has promised to “eradicate” tax havens. Will this time be different?

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Star of Oscar-winning film about dolphin hunting cast in long-running Broward civil action

Ric O'Barry

By William Hladky
Six years after it began, a sprawling civil action targeting the Miami-based star of an Academy Award-winning documentary about dolphin hunting in Japan drags on in Broward Circuit Court with no end in sight.

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Koch-backed nonprofit spent record cash in 2012

Billionaire David Koch speaks at a 2013 Americans for Prosperity Foundation event.

By Michael Beckel
Center for Public Integrity
Americans for Prosperity — the main political arm of billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch — spent a staggering $122 million last year as it unsuccessfully attempted to defeat President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of documents.

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A Miami police informant, a prophetic racist and fresh questions about JFK’s death

President Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963

By Dan Christensen
At 94, former Miami Beach mayor and still active Miami-Dade Senior Judge Seymour Gelber is among the few who remember Miami police informant No. 88, Willie Augustus Somersett. Somersett has been dead 43 years. But in the half-century of assassination lore that’s grown up around the murder of President John F. Kennedy, Somersett has attained a kind of immortality as the man who heard about it first.

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Loyal Obama supporters, canceled by Obamacare


By Charles Ornstein
San Francisco architect Lee Hammack says he and his wife, JoEllen Brothers, are “cradle Democrats.” They have donated to the liberal group Organizing for America and worked the phone banks a year ago for President Obama’s re-election. Now, their insurance company has told them their plan is being canceled due to Obamacare.

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The governor and the felon: the profitable, private partnership of Rick Scott and Ken Jenne

Before he was governor, Rick Scott, left, funneled stock options worth $375,000 to then Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne

By Dan Christensen
Gov. Rick Scott has refused to explain why a state background check failed to uncover resigned Broward Health Commissioner Kimberly Kisslan’s involvement in ex-Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne’s corruption scheme. But Scott has a little-known reason for not wanting to talk about Jenne.

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Court asked to decide if transparency trumps corporate reputation in ‘Company Doe’ Case


By Lilly Fowler
Leading consumer and media organizations asked a federal appeals court today to unseal dozens of documents related to a closely watched product safety and business confidentiality dispute cloaked in extraordinary secrecy.

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