Rep. Alcee Hastings and 10 other House members implicated in alleged bribery scheme


By Dan Christensen
Congressional ethics investigators will review allegations that South Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings and 10 other House members took bribes by accepting campaign contributions from the payday lending industry shortly before or after taking official actions in support of the industry.

Pipeline company to judge: Evidence of Gov. Scott’s investment in us ‘irrelevant’

Gov. Rick Scott

By Dan Christensen
Lawyers for a company that wants to build a natural gas pipeline in north Florida have told a judge that environmental opponents should be blocked from “presenting evidence or argument” about Gov. Rick Scott’s financial interest in the company.

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“Serious concerns” about court orders altered by BSO prompt Broward judges’ meeting

Broward County Court Judges Sharon Zeller, right, and Ginger Lerner-Wren

By Dan Christensen
Concerned that the sheriff’s office has altered the terms of misdemeanor probation orders without informing judges, Broward’s top county court judge has called a meeting of judges for next week to assess what’s happening.

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Hallandale commissioners cash-in on new travel allowance policy they approved


By William Gjebre
Hallandale Beach’s new travel reimbursement policy has paid big dividends to city commissioners less traveled. Five Hallandale Beach city commissioners pocketed nearly $35,000 of their unspent travel allowances last month under the new policy they enacted last year. Previously, unspent travel funds were returned to the city’s general budget.

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Not yet sworn in, Curbelo facing FEC’s questions about campaign finances

Miami Congressman-Elect Carlos Curbelo

By Francisco Alvarado
After running a campaign promising to restore public trust and integrity to the seat he won on Election Day this month, Congressman-elect Carlos Curbelo is already drawing scrutiny from federal regulators.

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They say “Drink Responsibly,” but what does it mean?


By Stuart Silverstein
The “drink responsibly” or “enjoy in moderation” messages tucked into liquor and beer ads don’t impress Jennifer Romo. “Nobody actually takes that seriously,” said Romo, a 21-year-old political science major at UCLA. She added: “‘Drink responsibly,’ what does that even mean?”

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FBI probes whistleblower claim of $130 million scam; Plaza Health Network under scrutiny

Plaza Health Network's headquarters at 1800 NE 168th St., North Miami Beach. Witnesses saw FBI agents carting off computers and boxes of patient records there for several days last year.

By Francisco Alvarado
Since being founded 64 years ago as a convalescent home for elderly Jewish people and war veterans, Plaza Health Network has nurtured a reputation for providing top-notch services to senior citizens of all denominations. But a little-noticed whistleblower’s lawsuit by an ex-Plaza executive alleges the non-profit company scammed the federal government for $130 million.

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An election result you likely missed: anti-corruption referendum wins big in Tallahassee


By Dan Christensen
Lost in the hubbub of a heated election season headlined by a down to the wire governor’s race, voters in Tallahassee approved a first-of-its-kind municipal anti-corruption referendum intended to limit the influence of big moneyed special interests in local politics.

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BSO quietly changes court’s probation orders; Broward judge blows the whistle

Broward County Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren, left, and David Scharf, director of community programs for the Broward Sheriff's Office

By Dan Christensen
Fort Lauderdale resident Christopher Wayne Thurlow was adjudged guilty last April of misdemeanor battery and violating a restraining order. His sentence: 12 months of reporting probation – that is, to appear personally once a month before a probation officer. But that’s not what happened.

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Ballot measure backers spend big, win big

A screengrab from the Drug Free Florida Committee against Amendment 2 in Florida, a measure to allow medical marijuana. The measure failed. Drug Free Florida Committee/YouTube

By By Liz Essley Whyte
Center for Public Integrity
Big money was a boon to groups fighting for and against ballot measures across the states on Election Day. In 21 of the top 25 most expensive state ballot measure races in terms of television ad spending, groups that won the war on the airwaves also won at the ballot box. But surprising upsets also showed that in the wild world of direct democracy, money isn’t everything.

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For the public’s right to know or for profit? A town’s showdown with litigious residents

By Dan Moffett
Special to
A non-profit foundation that bills itself as dedicated to the public’s right to know is a target of angry municipal officials who allege it is actually a money-making tool that uses frivolous public records lawsuits to squeeze payouts from governments in South Florida and across the state.

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