Florida Five: Eric Holder uses power in slimy way to help Dem Charlie Crist, bash Gov Scott

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

Feds to monitor Florida election changes; Rick Scott pushes back: Gov. Rick Scott’s office and campaign are attacking as “blatantly political” a letter from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announcing that the Justice Department is monitoring changes to Florida’s election laws. Holder wrote to Scott on July 21 expressing concerns about elections laws and procedures that “have restricted voter participation and limited access.”Holder added he was “deeply disturbed” at the “barriers to voting” that have been added during Scott’s tenure and urged the governor to “re-evaluate laws and procedures that make it harder for citizens to register and to vote.” Read more.

will-weatherfordFlorida lawmakers to meet on redrawing congressional districts: Confronted with a judge’s ruling to swiftly redraw the state’s congressional districts, Florida’s House speaker disclosed extraordinary plans late Sunday to convene a rare summer special session to devise a new map.The speaker, Will Weatherford, sent out an email to legislators advising that they will hold a special session starting Thursday to address the “limited concerns” raised by a Florida judge over the state’s current congressional boundaries. The special session is expected to last up to a week.The decision to hold a special session was triggered by a ruling by a circuit court judge, Terry Lewis. Lewis, who had ruled in early July that the current congressional map was illegal, ordered legislators on Friday to draw up a new map by Aug. 15.  Read more.

In Miami, prove voter fraud, get a $10,000 reward: The Miami-Dade Police Benevolence Association hopes a plan to offer $10,000 rewards for tips leading to voter-fraud convictions will put the kibosh on phony absentee ballot schemes that have plagued Miami-Dade’s political races for years.“We decided to do this because absentee ballot fraud has been in this community for years and nothing has happened,” said Blanca Torrents Greenwood, executive director of the group. “We thought, let’s do this to see if we get results.” Read more.

Orlando hotel occupancy highest since June 2005: Orlando’s hotel industry has been having a strong year as evidenced by solid occupancy rates and average daily room rates that are generally higher than last year’s.But Visit Orlando, the region’s chief tourism-marketing agency, points out that June’s average occupancy rate of 75.4 percent was the best for that month in almost a decade.The last time June occupancy was above 75.4 percent was 2005, when the average occupancy rate was 76.5 percent. Those were some fat times. Unemployment in Metro Orlando was 3.7 percent, and the median home value was $218,000, compared with today’s $165,000. People were feeling pretty good.  Read more.

Marco Rubio looks to make a splash in Iowa: Marco Rubio is starting to focus on Iowa as he looks ahead to possibly making a bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Rubio was in Iowa this past weekend where he met with leading Republicans in Hardin County, smack dab in the middle of the state. As Republicans look to flip the Senate in November, Rubio continues to go to bat for Joni Ernst against Democrat Bruce Braley. No doubt about it, Rubio is starting to look hard at Iowa as he ponders 2016. Around the State Ernst has been able to count on Rubio’s support in recent months. Even before she won the primary, Rubio threw his weight behind her — a bit of a risk since she faced a competitive primary. Other possible Republican presidential candidates, like defending Iowa caucus champ Rick Santorum and Rick Perry, got behind other candidates.  Read more.

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