Florida Five: County commissioner tells Alan Grayson to butt out, Lawmaker’s bill could recoup VA bonuses

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

Alan Grayson on BenghaziU.S. Rep. Alan Grayson asks each Osceola commissioner to hire full-time staffer — U.S. Congressman Alan Grayson sent a letter to each Osceola County commissioner asking them to hire full-time staffers so that they can accomplish more. In the letter, Grayson says he looks forward to working with the commissioners during 2015, but thinks they need to “augment resources to serve more constituents.” Grayson believes staff members are needed to deal with daily office duties such as scheduling, responding to emails and phone calls, and helping county residents. Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins, Jr. told Channel 9 he doesn’t like the idea of the federal government getting involved in local operations. Read more

Jeff Miller introduces bill to recoup VA bonuses – A top lawmaker introduced a bill Monday that would allow the VA secretary to order employees to repay bonuses if they were later found to have contributed to poor veteran care. Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican and chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said the new authority will give the secretary another tool to hold employees accountable. “Ideally, VA employees and executives who collected bonuses under false pretenses should be subject to prosecution when warranted, but at a minimum their bonuses should be paid back in full,” Mr. Miller said in a statement. Read more

5 former RPOF chairmen endorse Leslie Dougher re-election bid – Although she has the support of Gov. Rick Scott and oversaw huge midterm election successes, Republican Party of Florida Chairwoman Leslie Dougher is fighting to keep her post. Challengers like former state Rep. Kurt Kelly and state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, currently the party vice chairman, are hoping to chip away at Dougher’s support among rank-and-file party members. RPOF members will cast ballots in Orlando this weekend. Dougher, a Fleming Island realtor who was elected chairman last year after Lenny Curry stepped down to run for Jacksonville mayor, is still considered the front-runner but has been forced to kick her campaign into high gear. Read more

South Florida may be destination for displaced French Jews – Shock waves from the Paris terror attacks are being felt across the planet, including here in South Florida. “It makes me heartbroken,” said Serge Aboulker of Miami Beach. Aboulker is one of thousands of French Jews who live in South Florida. His brother is the general manager of the Hyper Cacher Kosher Market chain in Paris, but was not at the store which was attacked last Friday at the time of the gunman’s hostage-taking. Aboulker said his brother has no plans to leave France. “Can’t just run away from terror, we need to stand strong,” explained Aboulker. “It happened in the past to us. It will happen again. So we need to stay strong anyway, but I know some people are very scared and they cannot live with the fear hanging over them, so some people will leave.” Read more

Mitt Romney making Florida push, setting up clash with Jeb Bush — Mitt Romney, who only days ago signaled he would explore running for president after repeatedly insisting he would not, is making a strong push that includes reaching out to fundraisers in Florida this week. But the 2012 Republican nominee is running into a problem named Jeb Bush. Bush is now weeks into his own aggressive foray into the presidential race and commands the loyalty of Florida’s top fundraisers, many of whom were on board with Romney’s last campaign. That Romney would even make phone calls in Bush turf is a signal that he’s serious and sets up a clash between two of the most well-known figures in Republican politics. Read more

Bonus: Florida’s Cape Canaveral may be world’s busiest spaceport in 2015

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