(After a bit of a hiatus, Inside the Tally Bubble news is returning for 2015)
VICTORY BRINGS BIG CHECKS TO SCOTT CAMPAIGN AND PARTY STAFF
Campaign reports filed this week from the Republican Party of Florida show that Gov. Rick Scott's campaign manager Melissa Sellers and other top staffers with the RPOF got some hefty paychecks after a hard fought campaign season.
Campaign reports show that for most of the year Sellers was pulling in bi-weekly payments equivalent to just under $152,000 a year.
But on Nov. 18 - the day after it was announced Sellers would take over as chief of staff for Scott starting on Dec. 1 - the party stroked her a check for $17,500 which would equal about 6 weeks salary.
Back on the state payroll Sellers is earning $150,000 a year - or $1,000 less than her predecessor Adam Hollingsworth.
Sellers wasn't the only person who received a sizable check after the elections were over according to new RPOF filings.
Just some of the others include:
Frank Terraferma, director of House campaigns for the party who helped the GOP get a supermajority in the state House, got a check for more than $55,000 in the middle of November. Terraferma, who was among those who testified at the redistricting trial, appeared to be earning the equivalent of about $162,000 a year.
Tim Saler, deputy campaign manager for Scott, received a check for $16,250 on Nov. 18. or about the equivalent of six weeks pay based on what the campaign was paying him over the length of the campaign.
Matt Moon, communications director for the Scott campaign who departed Florida soon after Scott's victory, got the equivalent of 6 weeks pay on Nov. 18 when he received a check for $16,250.
Chris Finkbeiner, a deputy chief of staff for Scott who became policy director for the re-election campaign, also got a check for $16,250 on Nov.18. A week later it was announced he was going to work for well-known (and Scott friend) lobbyist Bill Rubin.
Pablo Diaz, the campaign manager for Attorney General Pam Bondi, received a $25,000 check on Dec. 31.
Others who got bonus checks include Jackie Schutz, now the governor's communications director, Joel Springer, head of Senate campaigns for the party, Ashley Ross, Senate finance director for the party and Kristin Seidel Lamb, House campaigns finance director.
J.D.'s ROLE IN CABINET INTRIGUE (A HISTORY LESSON)
This past week thrust the Florida Cabinet into the limelight amid the revelations that none of the 3 current members - Adam Putnam, Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater - apparently knew ahead of time that Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey was forced to resign by the Scott administration. One of the allegations is that Bailey was told he did not have support of Cabinet members but the three Cabinet members have said that just isn't true.
Immediately after that story came out there were rumblings that Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty was also under pressure to resign. When asked about it a spokeswoman for Scott said no announcements were forthcoming, but then said it was good to get "fresh ideas and new leadership." A spokeswoman for Atwater maintained there was "no deal" to get rid of McCarty.
But forcing out the insurance commissioner is a bit tricky thanks to former Sen. J.D. Alexander.
Alexander was in the Florida House at the time legislators were required to craft a way to deal with the new CFO position. (Voters approved a change in 1998 that collapsed the comptroller and treasurer posts on the Cabinet into one job.)
There was much concern that Tom Gallagher, who planned to run for the CFO post in 2002, would have too much power, including the ability to hire and fire the insurance commissioner.
So a compromise was born. The insurance commissioner would report to the governor and Cabinet, but furthermore it would take more than just a majority to hire or fire that person. It would require agreement between the CFO and the governor.
McCarty was hired for the post and approved by then-Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet.
And he's been there ever since.
One key reason is that there hasn't been agreement among top officials on whether to force him out.
While she was in office as CFO Alex Sink made no secret of her displeasure in several instances with McCarty. But McCarty had a strong supporter with Gov. Charlie Crist.
When Scott came into office in 2011 word is he wanted a change. But it was newly-elected Atwater who backed McCarty.
Part of what's been lost in all this is that McCarty has been seen by those who follow the insurance industry as someone who has been good at carrying out the agenda of his bosses - whether it was Crist or Scott.
For his part Alexander, who got upset with McCarty over how the state dealt with State Farm and other insurance issues, later came to regret his role in how the insurance commissioner was picked.
He tried to change law to require the commissioner to be subject to a confirmation vote every 2 years, but the proposal did not pass.
"I am big enough to admit I was wrong,'' Alexander said in 2010.