Florida Five: Congressional wealth revealed, Michelle Obama, Marco Rubio SOTU guests have Cuban ties

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

Alan Gross to sit with Michelle Obama at State of the Union; Marco Rubio invites late Cuban activist’s daughter – Alan Gross, the American contractor held for five years in a Cuban prison, will attend Tuesday’s State of the Union address as a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama, the White House announced Monday. Gross was released last month as part of President Obama’s move to normalize relations with Raúl Castro’s government. Gross won’t be the only reminder about how U.S.-Cuba policy will be front and center at the annual speech. Sen. Marco Rubio has invited Rosa María Payá, daughter of activist Oswaldo Payá, who was killed in a suspicious car accident on the island. Read more

New Florida GOP Chair Blaise Ingoglia: ‘The party will be united’ – Florida’s mighty Republican Party is in a state of uncertainty following the giant upset victory Saturday of a charismatic, new party chairman who immediately signaled he won’t be just another rubber stamp for elected Republicans in Tallahassee. One of the first things state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia did after his election as Republican Party of Florida chairman was to restrict access to state party headquarters in Tallahassee, order no removal or transfer of documents and bar any financial transactions without his authorization. Read more

Congress swearing inMost in Congress wealthier than constituents – Some shop at Publix. Most drive their own cars. Many of their kids go to public schools. But in one big way, South Florida’s members of Congress aren’t like most of the rest of us. Hint: It involves money. Newly crunched numbers from the Center for Responsive Politics find the Florida congressional delegation, including the members from Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, is much like the rest of the U.S. Senate and House — far wealthier than everyday Americans. The median net worth of Florida’s two senators and 27 representatives is $1.06 million. Most of the 29 people are millionaires. Read more

Can judicial candidates solicit donations? Supreme Court to weigh case. (+video) – Shortly after deciding to run for an open county judge seat in Florida, Lanell Williams-Yulee did something that is quite common for political candidates: She signed a fundraising letter asking for political support and money. If Ms. Williams-Yulee had been running for a county commission seat, her mass-mailed solicitation would have sounded no alarm bells. But as a candidate for a judicial office, her request for contributions attracted the attention of lawyers with The Florida Bar. The association charged her with violating an ethics rule that prohibits judicial candidates in Florida from personally soliciting for campaign funds and support. Read more

State pot committee heavy with commercial interests – Florida’s rules for medical marijuana will be crafted in part by a 12-member panel that includes Winter Garden nurseryman Bruce Knox and at least eight others in position to make money from the law.The 12 make up a committee formed to help the Florida Department of Health determine how to select, license and regulate Florida companies to grow a non-euphoric cannabis, make a medicinal oil from it and sell it to patients. The law, approved last year, allows patients with intractable epilepsy and several other medical disabilities to use the cannabis oil. But the department’s efforts to write regulations bogged down in legal challenges from growers, court rulings and bureaucracy. So the committee was announced to negotiate rules the growers could accept. Read more

Plus: Florida teenager pulls ‘Doogie Howser’ stunt, caught impersonating doctor at local hospital

For more Florida political news, visit BPR’s FLORIDA NEWS page


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