In a May article, The Florida Independent’s Travis Pillow documented how Secretary of State Kurt Browning’s office was rushing to immediately implement Florida’s controversial new election law in 62 of Florida’s 67 counties, while holding off in the remaining five counties till the U.S. Department of Justice approves the changes — a necessary step under the Voting Rights Act because of the history of discriminatory voting rules in those five counties.
Best of The Florida Independent
Just days before the 2010 elections, we posted a feature by Florida Independent contributer Luke Johnson that took a hard look at one of the most famous addresses in Florida politics: 610 South Blvd., Tampa. The accounting firm located there, Robert Watkins and Co., managed the finances for dozens of conservative political action committees — including one comparing Obama to Castro — and candidates for higher office during the 2010 cycle.
A year ago last week, The Florida Independent’s Virginia Chamlee became the first reporter anywhere to write about a Federal Election Commission lawsuit filed against a former business partner of Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, as well as a car dealership the two once co-owned.
The Florida Independent’s Marcos Restrepo broke news in August that between 40 and 45 construction workers at a South Florida site were being stiffed out of wages they were owed for weeks of labor. Restrepo identified many of the companies involved in the wage theft (Pozo Construction, Florida Shell Construction and BJ&K Construction), each of whom blamed others on the project for the missing money.
In early June, The Florida Independent’s Marcos Restrepo began blogging about HIV criminal charges brought against Daniel Hay Lewis, a South Florida man who allegedly bit an officer during a shoplifting arrest.
In April, The Florida Independent’s Ashley Lopez broke news about a provision in the state’s Medicaid overhaul that allows providers to opt out of providing family planning services for “moral or religious reasons.” Months later, Lopez explored whether the provision was legal, examining the claim that if family planning providers cannot afford to participate in Medicaid because of low reimbursement rates, women in the state could be left stranded.
In February, Florida Independent contributor Kopsa broke news about ties between the founder of the Jacksonville-based abstinence education program Project SOS, an organization that has received more than $8 million in taxpayer funding since 2001, and Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, a chief proponent of that country’s “Kill the Gays” bill.
During the 2011 legislative session, The Florida Independent’s Travis Pillow captured state Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, defending new voting restrictions in unusually direct language. “Do you read the stories about the people in Africa?” Bennett asked.
Beginning in early January, Virginia Chamlee tracked progress of a Florida bill created to redirect how money raised through the sale of the state’s “Choose Life” license plates is distributed. The measure, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, was written to remove rules stipulating that at least 70 percent of the money go to meet the physical needs of pregnant women, leaving the controversial organization Choose Life, Inc., free to spend the money on anti-abortion advertising and counseling.
In November 2010, The Florida Independent’s Virginia Chamlee reported on internal emails she obtained that revealed that officials in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection knew that the cost estimates it was using to argue against new EPA water quality rules were artificially inflated and, in some instances, mathematically incorrect.