Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:
National parties weigh in big in CD 13, with Clinton, Rove: With less than a week to go until the election, candidates running in Pinellas County for the congressional seat opened by the death of longtime U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., made their final pitches this week, with a little help from their new famous friends. Republican David Jolly has Karl Rove, former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff during much of the George W. Bush administration, blanketing the airwaves on his behalf. And in robocalls released this week, former President Bill Clinton stressed former state CFO Alex Sink’s ability to reach out across the aisle. Sink is the Democratic candidate. Read more.
Fla. A.G. Pam Bondi announces breakup of international drug trafficking operation: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Wednesday the arrest of a number of co-conspirators involved in a drug smuggling ring stretching from South America to New York. Drug Enforcement Administration agents from the Orlando district office served arrest warrants this week in Puerto Rico, Orlando and New York, resulting in the arrest of 10 members of a international drug trafficking organization that used the U.S. Postal Service to move money and drugs, according to the statement.
Agents also seized cocaine, heroin, money, vehicles and guns, including an AK-47. Read more.
Spy game: Local police tap cell phones: The National Security Agency apparently isn’t the only government agency engaged in domestic spying. Local law enforcement is playing the role of Big Brother, too, but to what extent is still unknown. Recent court documents reveal a troubling cell phone surveillance program conducted by a Florida police department against unsuspecting cell phone users. Attempts to keep the practice secret, even from judges, is raising questions as to just how prevalent police spying is within the Sunshine State.The controversy stems from the arrest of James L. Thomas, a criminal suspect believed to be in possession of a stolen phone. Tallahassee police located and arrested Thomas by tracking a cell phone signal, then promptly searched his home. It later became known that police didn’t seek a warrant or admit to using a little-known surveillance device called a “Stingray.”Read more.
In-state tuition for DREAMers breezes through House Committee: The 2014 legislative session may have just begun Tuesday, but a bill to offer in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants is quickly making its way through Tallahassee. The bill, HB 851, sponsored by Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, R-Miami, passed through the Education Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday with a unanimous vote. HB 851 provides that students who attend a Florida high school for three consecutive years and enroll in an institution of higher education within 24 months after graduation will not be required to pay out-of-state fees, as long as they submit their high school transcript as documentary evidence of attendance and graduation. Read more.
DNC chief Wasserman Schultz: Issa cutting off Cummings today was kinda’ like what’s happening in Ukraine and Venezuela: Are we really putting the utter lawlessness, corruption, and suppression of the Venezuelan socialist regime in the same context as the House Oversight Chairman trying to adjourn a hearing that obviously wasn’t going to take place after Lois Lerner pleaded the 5th? Does that not seem… hyperbolic, perhaps? The, ahem, “inimitable” DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz evidently thinks not. Read more.
BONUS: Big changes coming to SAT
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