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Alex Leary, Times Washington Bureau Chief

Alex Leary

Alex Leary is the Washington bureau chief for the Tampa Bay Times. He previously worked in the Times' state capital bureau, and before that covered local politics, environmental issues and law enforcement. His career in journalism began at the Valley News in New Hampshire.

Phone: (202) 306-4807

Email: leary@tampabay.com

Blog: The Buzz

Twitter: @LearyReports

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  1. In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

    National

    UTICA, N.Y.

    Pat Marino pulled into the shop on a cold, wet Thursday and stood close as a young mechanic with gelled-up hair and earrings lifted the truck and ducked underneath.

    "You need a little bit more oil," the mechanic said.

    "Five quarts wasn't enough? Oh, okay."

    An ordinary scene on an unremarkable afternoon. But as the men got talking, they revealed the story of this city's rise, fall and scrappy climb back — one the descendant of immigrants, the other an immigrant himself....

    Jafar Mohamed, 30, grew up in a refugee camp.
  2. Florida widow who got Trump phone call says it made her 'very upset and hurt'

    Politics

    Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, said the condolence phone call last week from President Donald Trump left her in tears and "very upset and hurt."

    Asked on Good Morning America if she had anything to say to the President, who accused Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson of lying about the call, Johnson said: "No. I don't have nothing to say to him."

    She also said that Wilson, D-Miami, accurately described the phone call, setting off a war of words with Trump that continued Saturday as Johnson was laid to rest....

    FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, file photo, Myeshia Johnson kisses the casket of her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson during his burial service at Fred Hunter's Hollywood Memorial Gardens in Hollywood, Fla. Myeshia Johnson told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, that she has nothing to say to the president, adding that his phone call to her made "me cry even worse." (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP, File) FLMIH301
  3. Bilirakis, Rubio sponsored drug bill

    State Roundup

    Millions of TV viewers last weekend learned of a successful attempt by the drug industry to weaken federal regulations, just as the opioid crisis was reaching its peak — and two Florida Republicans played a supporting role.

    Rep. Gus Bilirakis and Sen. Marco Rubio were among a handful of co-sponsors of the legislation, which sailed through Congress last year and was signed into law by President Barack Obama....

    Tallahassee, Florida, Mayor Andrew Gillum speaks during day Three of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 27, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
  4. Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam push for federal citrus relief

    State Roundup

    WASHINGTON — As lawmakers were poised to vote on a $36 billion disaster relief package, top Florida officials on Wednesday implored the state's congressional delegation to secure $2.5 billion more for the battered agriculture industry.

    But as Gov. Rick Scott made the request, he found himself tangled in a dispute over debris removal with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.

    Scott arrived in Washington with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who said Hurricane Irma had left an already-strained citrus industry in shambles. They pushed for $2.5 billion even as the House planned to vote today on the larger spending package....

    An orange sits on a tree in Lake Wales last month affected by Hurricane Irma. Overcome by almost $800 million in losses from the hurricane, the state' citrus industry is suddenly facing its lowest orange yield in 75 years,
(TAMARA LUSH | AP File Photo]
  5. Government denies Mar-a-Lago records

    State Roundup

    Nothing to see here.

    That's the federal government's response to a watchdog group that has sought names of visitors to President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago. Last month, the government provided names of people related to a visit by the Japanese prime minister, which triggered more court action from the liberal group CREW.

    Thursday, the group released a document from the Secret Service saying no more records are available. Essentially, there's no system in place to track visitors, the government said....

    Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, proposed a bill that would repeal Florida's no-fault auto insurance system. | [Courtesy of Sen. Tom Lee]
  6. Wave of Puerto Ricans fleeing Hurricane Maria devastation may shift Florida landscape

    Politics

    The crisis in Puerto Rico could send tens of thousands of people to Florida, accelerating an already steady exodus from the economically depressed island and triggering wide-ranging effects on schools, housing and jobs.

    "This is a humanitarian crisis and Florida needs to brace for the influx," said Dennis Freytes, a political activist in the Orlando area. "Many of the people coming are the most vulnerable. I'm desperately trying to get my 92-year-old mother out of there and haven't been able to even with my connections."...

    Nearly one week after hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, residents are still trying to get the basics of food, water, gas and money from banks. Much of the damage done was to electrical wires, fallen trees, and flattened vegetation, in addition to wooden home roofs torn off. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS) 1212057
  7. Wave of Puerto Rican evacuees may shift Florida landscape

    News

    The crisis in Puerto Rico could send tens of thousands of people to Florida, accelerating an already steady exodus from the economically depressed island and triggering wide-ranging effects on schools, housing and jobs.

    "This is a humanitarian crisis and Florida needs to brace for the influx," said Dennis Freytes, a political activist in the Orlando area. "Many of the people coming are the most vulnerable. I'm desperately trying to get my 92-year-old mother out of there and haven't been able to even with my connections."...

  8. Comey's letter hurt her in Florida, Clinton writes

    State Roundup

    Just days before the presidential election, a Tampa focus group revealed the damage inflicted by the "unprecedented intervention by then-FBI director Jim Comey," Hillary Clinton writes in her new book.

    "On November 1 and 2, my campaign conducted focus groups with independent, swing voters in Philadelphia and Tampa, Florida. The undecideds weren't ready to jump to Trump yet, but in retrospect, the warning signs were blinking red," the book reads....

    First lady Melania Trump visits with children at a youth center at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) MDSW101
  9. Bondi applauds Trump move to give surplus military equipment to local law enforcement

    Blog

    Attorney General Pam Bondi welcomed President Trump's order lifting a ban on local law enforcement from obtaining surplus military equipment.

    "This executive order will help ensure our brave law enforcement officers have the gear they need to combat terrorism, drug cartels, gangs and other threats to public safety," Bondi said in a statement Monday. "This order will give our law enforcement officers access to billions of dollars’ worth of equipment such as armored vehicles, ammunition and other military gear that will help in disaster related situations like we are seeing in Texas with Hurricane Harvey—as well as terrorism-related cases such as the Pulse nightclub attack, where a military-style helmet stopped a bullet, saving an officer’s life, and San Bernardino, where this type of equipment protected law enforcement officers as they pursued terrorists....

  10. Charlottesville questions continue to trail elected officials in Florida

    Blog

    Elected officials continue to face questions over race and violence following the events in Charlottesville and Florida Rep. Brian Mast became the latest to echo President Trump's "both sides" argument.

    "There were multiple people from multiple sides that came out there with the intent of clashing with one another. That’s just the fact," the freshman Republican said during a town hall last week in Port St. Lucie....

  11. As Rubio applauds Trump's move on Venezeula, Nelson says sanctions fall short

    Blog

    Here’s something you don’t see: Bill Nelson getting to the right of Marco Rubio.

    Nelson, up for re-election next year, today said the new sanctions against Venezuela are inadequate.

    “These new sanctions are a step in the right direction, but they don't go far enough,” Nelson said in a statement. “The administration needs to ban at least some of the Venezuelan oil being imported into the U.S., until constitutional democracy has been restored in Venezuela.”...

    Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio
  12. Miami Republicans tell Trump to save DACA

    Blog

    With DACA on the ropes, members of Congress aren't racing to find a legislative fix. But two Florida Republicans are urging President Trump to maintain the program.

    "Children brought to the United States at a young age did not have a choice in the matter,” reads a letter sent to Trump and signed by six House members, including Miami Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo. “For many, the United States is the only country they know or remember.”...

    A letter to President Trump
  13. Once a bitter rival, Marco Rubio continues to enjoy a relationship with Donald Trump

    Blog

    For all their shared vitriol on the campaign trail, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump have enjoyed a productive relationship and today, the Florida senator applauded the president yet again.

    “I commend the Trump administration for taking decisive and significant action to prevent the Maduro regime from using Wall Street to finance its repression and tyranny,” Rubio said moments after new sanctions were announced. “The United States remains committed to supporting the cause of freedom and democracy in Venezuela.”...

    Debate rivals Marco Rubio and Donald Trump
  14. Ron DeSantis says there is room for him in race for governor

    Blog

    Congressman Ron DeSantis isn’t ready to enter the race for governor but makes the case for himself.

    "I think that there's definitely a opening for somebody that's got a proven record for advancing limited government," DeSantis said in Miami on Thursday after an Americans for Prosperity event on taxes. "I think there needs to be someone with military experience in the race. There's definitely the opening.” ......

    Rep. Ron DeSantis
  15. Elian Gonzalez, now 23, says he would like to reconcile with his Miami relatives

    Blog

    From the Miami Herald:

    Cuba’s Elián González would have become the “poster boy” for Cubans in Miami had he stayed in the U.S., he told CNN in an exclusive interview.

    But, both he and his father, Juan Miguel, said they hope to reconcile with their family in Miami.

    González, 23, and his father sat down with CNN ahead of the documentary “Elian,” which airs at 10 p.m. Thursday night on CNN....

    Elián González, the young Cuban rafter who was at the center of a bitter custody battle in 2000 between relatives in Miami and his father in Cuba, attends a gala for the 90th birthday of Cuban Leader Fidel Castro at the 'Karl Marx' theater in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016.