Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 7 of 65

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

Moody’s: Florida transportation authorities should bounce back quickly from Irma

Florida’s transportation infrastructure should be able to bounce back quickly from Hurricane Irma according to a memo put out Tuesday by financial research group Moody’s.

The credit rating group said even though many are still closed, the state’s airports, seaports and toll roads will “generally be able to sustain their long-term credit quality because of three important factors: strong liquidity, resilient revenue streams, and experience with previous storms that has improved readiness.”

Moody’s cited large cash reserves held by tolling authorities, airports and seaports in the memo, which it says will help them wade through a short-term drop in revenue over the coming weeks.

Of the 20 transportation groups to issue bonds, state toll roads will fare the best in their recovery, with Moody’s pointing to cash reserves among the five state-owned toll roads totaling 2,200 days of operating expenses.

The Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority is in even better shape, with nearly 4,000 days’ worth of cash on hand, while the Canaveral Port Authority has the lowest reserves, clocking in at still respectable 185 days.

The financial rating group also lauded Florida’s emergency management network, which it said is well positioned to help get the Sunshine State’s transportation infrastructure up and running again post haste.

Anheuser Busch brings in 310K cans of water

Anheuser Busch stepped up to bring in more than 310,000 cans of clean drinking water to areas of the state affected by Hurricane Irma.

The brewing company made deliveries Friday in Fort Pierce, Orlando and Sarasota and the American Red Cross will handle the final leg of delivery to the people and communities that need it most.

“We are grateful to be in a position to help communities affected by natural disasters by putting our production and logistics strengths to work,” said Bill Bradley, Anheuser-Busch’s Vice President for Community Affairs.

“We halted production at our Cartersville brewery on Labor Day to ensure a ready supply of emergency drinking water and are working with the American Red Cross to distribute the water with the help of our wholesale partners, Southern Eagle Distributing Inc., City Beverages, and Gold Coast Eagle Distributing. Providing safe, clean drinking water is the best way we can help in these situations.”

Anheuser-Busch has a track record of shutting down its brewing operations at unaffected facilities to make sure those in harm’s way have an adequate supply of drinking water.

Last year, the company produced and shipped emergency drinking water to communities hit by natural disasters, including the California wildfires, the Louisiana floods and Hurricane Matthew. Last week alone, Anheuser Busch sent out more than 800,000 cans of emergency drinking water to communities in Texas and Louisiana that are still reeling in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which hit the western Gulf of Mexico late last month.

Anheuser-Busch also announced a $1 million donation to the American Red Cross’ Annual Disaster Giving Program and said it plans to keep an eye on Irma to make sure employees at its five Florida facilities make it through the onslaught safe and sound.

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Bill Galvano, Wilton Simpson each break $200K in August

Future Senate Presidents Bill Galvano and Wilton Simpson had big fundraising hauls last month, according to finance reports filed by their committees.

Galvano, who is set to take over for Senate President Joe Negron after the 2018 elections, brought in $213,000 for his “Innovate Florida” committee last month and so far has brought in $50,000 in September.

The largest August contributions came from the Florida Retail Federation and Disney Worldwide Services, which gave $40,000 a piece, while Southeast QSR, The Florida Chamber of Commerce and Dex Imaging each gave $25,000.

The lone September contribution came from Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, a political committee chaired by Associated Industries of Florida VP of Political Operations Ryan Tyson.

Expenditures for August came in at $319,000, with another $50,000 spent so far in September.

Topping the list was a $50,000 contribution to Tampa-based political committee Taxpayers in Action, and $25,000 contributions to Liberty Florida and the First Amendment Fund. Liberty Florida got another $25,000 from Galvano’s committee on the first of the month.

Galvano finished July with about $482,000 on hand in his political committee, and the new numbers show him with about $380,000 on hand as of Sept. 5.

Simpson’s committee, “Jobs for Florida,” took in $282,500 in August and spent $211,000, leaving it with about $1.6 million on hand on Sept. 1.

The 2021-22 Senate President designate’s biggest donors were the Florida Jobs PAC and the Florida Prosperity Fund, each of which chipped in $50,000. Florida Jobs is associated with the Florida Chamber, while the Florida Prosperity Fund is a political committee tied to AIF.

The Florida Manufactured Housing Association, Racetrac and the Florida Insurance Council also gave $25,000 apiece.

By far the biggest expenditure for Simpson’s committee was a $160,000 contribution to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the fundraising arm for Senate Republicans.

Capital Finance Consulting got the bulk of the rest, with about $40,000 heading to the Tallahassee-based firm for fundraising and governmental consulting.

Jack Latvala adds $273K in committee cash

Republican gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Jack Latvala raised $273,000 last month for his political committee, according to updated reports on the committee website.

The top contributor to “Florida Leadership Committee” last month was investor and hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones II, who cut a $50,000 check to Latvala.

The committee also took in $25,000 from veterinarian Richard D. Wilkes and Titan Healthcare Services.

The committee also spent about $100,000 last month, including a $20,000 payment to Tel Opinion Research, several small consulting contracts and a handful of donations to county level Republican parties.

The August haul leaves the committee with about $4 million in the bank heading into September.

The Clearwater Republican, who chairs the Senate Appropriations committee, entered the race for governor in mid-August, and as of Sept. 7 had not turned in his first campaign finance report. Candidates and committees face a Monday deadline to file updated reports.

Latvala was the second major Republican candidate to enter the race after Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Putnam had about $10.8 million on hand in his political committee, “Florida Grown,” at the end of July. He also had a little over $1.5 million on hand in his campaign account through the same date.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and House Speaker Richard Corcoran are also considering entering the primary race. Corcoran had about $2.8 million in his “Watchdog PAC” committee at the end of July.

Felon voting rights amendment passes 100K signatures

A 2018 ballot initiative to have the state automatically restore voting rights to nonviolent felons has reached 100,000 signatures according to the Florida Division of Elections.

The initiative has 108,674 valid signatures, which is nearly double the number of signatures in mid-August and has now surpassed the threshold to be reviewed by Attorney General Pam Bondi.

To make the ballot, initiatives need signatures equal to 8 percent of the voter turnout in the most recent presidential election. That equals 766,200 signatures for initiatives aiming for the 2018 ballot, which is a significant jump from the 683,149 needed to make the cut in 2016.

The initiative would restore the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. Certain felons, such as those convicted of murder or sexual offenses would not be eligible for automatic restoration.

Current law requires felons to apply to have their voting rights or other civil rights restored, and a majority of the governor and Cabinet must vote in favor of restoration on a case-by-case basis.

There are currently more than 10,000 cases in the executive clemency backlog.

Through the end of July, Floridians for a Fair Democracy has raised just shy of $1.1 million and had about $93,000 of that money on hand on Aug. 1. The majority of the money has financed signature gathering efforts.

The committee faces a Monday deadline to file its campaign finance numbers for August.

Philip Levine raises $250K in August

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine dumped another $66,000 of his own money into his political committee last month, according to a new campaign finance report filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

Levine, a Democrat, is considering a run for Florida governor, and has even publicly mused about running as an independent if he were to jump into the race.

Including his own money, Levine brought in $251,015 for “All About Florida” last month. The top outside contributor was Stamford, Connecticut-based TCC Air Services at $50,000, followed by New York City resident Bobby Hematian at $25,000.

Expenditures came in at just $38,000, including $8,000 to Matthew Van Name for campaign management, $6,000 to Edge Communications for consulting work, and $5,000 to Sayfie Media for event sponsorship.

Through the end of the month, the committee had raised a total of $4.77 million and had only spent about $116,000. Levine was the source of more than $2.6 million of that money.

If he entered the race for governor as a Democrat, he would be the best-funded candidate, followed by former Congresswoman Gwen Graham of Tallahassee.

Her most recent campaign finance numbers show her with about $1.7 million in the bank for her political committee, “Our Florida,” and another $577,000 on hand in her campaign account.

Third Republican files for House District 69

Another Republican has filed to take over for House District 69 Rep. Kathleen Peters, who plans to leave the Legislature to run for Pinellas County Commission.

Jeremy Bailie joins Raymond Blacklidge and Chris Licata in the GOP primary for the seat, which covers parts of Pinellas County, including Gulfport, Madeira Beach, South Pasadena and Treasure Island.

Bailie is an associate attorney for Abbey, Adams, Byelick & Mueller LLP and is an alumnus of the Stetson University College of Law.

During the 2017 Legislative Session, Bailie testified in front of the House Health Quality Subcommittee about the implementation of the state’s medical marijuana amendment.

The Gulfport Republican is against medical marijuana edibles and warns that the situation in Florida could end up being similar to the opiate “pill mill” problem that AG Pam Bondi cracked down on when she took office.

Since Bailie filed his paperwork at the beginning of the month, his first campaign finance report will not be available until mid-October.

So far, Blacklidge leads the declared candidates in fundraising with nearly $60,000 raised through the end of August, including $5,500 in loans. He has about $43,000 of that money on hand.

Licata, a Navy veteran who originally filed for House District 62, hasn’t filed his August report yet and declared no contributions in July.

HD 69 has a Republican lean, though voter registrations between the two major parties are relatively close.

Peters won her 2012 contest against Democrat Josh Shulman 52-48, and her elections since have had even greater margins — she won 58-52 in 2014 and took 57 percent of the vote in 2016.

Dorothy Hukill gets Democrat challenger

A Democrat has filed to run against Port Orange Republican Sen. Dorthy Hukill in SD 14, which covers parts of Brevard and Volusia counties.

Melissa “Mel” Martin opened her campaign account on Aug. 23 and is so far the only candidate challenging Hukill, who has held the seat since 2012.

Martin is a former member of the Marine Corps, where she worked as a judge advocate. She is an alumna of of both the U.S. Naval Academy and Barry University, where she earned her law degree.

“I hope to bring a practical mind and my leadership experience to bear in service to the folks who live in Senate District 14.  My door will always be open to facts, science, logic, and personal accounts regarding what needs to change in Tallahassee. And, to put all potential lobbyists on notice, money does not talk for me,” she wrote on her campaign website.

She said her priorities if elected would be to end “campaign bribery” by prohibiting campaign contributions by lobbyists, boost Florida Forever funds, and expand home rule for local governments.

Despite her platform, Martin could likely use some of those lobbying dollars as she faces an uphill battle against Hukill, who is both well funded and has the advantage of running in a GOP-friendly district.

Through the end of July, Hukill had raised about $55,000 for her campaign account and had about $40,000 of that money on hand.

SD 14 has about 16,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats, and was carried by Mitt Romney 54-46 in 2012 and by Donald Trump 57-38 last year.

Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio want more FEMA cash in aid bill

U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio sent a joint letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Wednesday asking for money for Florida to be added to the Hurricane Harvey aid package passed by the U.S. House earlier in the day.

“Hurricane Irma is now one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and is currently on track to make landfall in South Florida as early as Sunday,” they wrote. “This massive category-5 storm has the potential to cause catastrophic destruction throughout the state, and we are deeply concerned that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will not have the resources it needs to respond if Congress doesn’t act soon.”

The senators noted that FEMA is set to run out of money by Friday, two days before Irma is expected to hit the state.

“As Floridians are preparing for one of the worst storms on record, they need to know that the federal government is both ready and willing to direct the necessary resources needed to help them in the recovery process. As such, we strongly urge you to include additional funding in the Hurricane Harvey aid package to account for the additional costs FEMA will likely incur responding to Hurricane Irma,” they wrote.

The package that passed the House includes $7.9 billion in aid specifically for Hurricane Harvey recovery and could not be shifted to Florida responders without leaving the victims of that storm out to dry.

Bill Nelson asks FTC to go after gas gougers

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson asked the Federal Trade Commission to keep a lookout for price gougers ahead of Hurricane Irma’s potential landfall on Florida shores.

The Democratic senator sent a letter to acting FTC head Maureen Ohlhausen asking for the commission to watch for spikes in gas prices ahead of the storm and also in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which ravaged the gulf coast last week.

Nelson said that the release of 1 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve looks to have kept prices stable in the immediate aftermath of Harvey.

“Hurricane Irma now poses a grave threat to Florida and many other areas of the Southeastern United States.  While continued disruption to some refinery operations may continue to contribute to higher retail gasoline prices, past experience in Florida and elsewhere has shown that some unscrupulous operators will seek to magnify these natural price increases to take advantage of consumers – including those that may be trying to prepare for or evacuate from an impending hurricane,” Nelson wrote.

“I ask that you closely monitor retail gasoline outlet pricing in the coming weeks to detect and defeat any price gouging schemes.  Thank you in advance for your assistance with this critical consumer and public safety issue,” he continued.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has also opened up the state’s price gouging hot line, 1-865-9-NO-SCAM. Violators of the state’s price gouging statute can face civil penalties of $1,000 per violation up to a total of $25,000.

An advisory released 5 p.m. Tuesday by the National Hurricane Center puts Irma 130 miles east of Antigua, moving at 15 mph to the west. The storm is expected to turn west-northwest for Tuesday evening and through the next couple of days.

The storm is expected to hit the state sometime Friday, but experts are not yet sure which parts of the state will be affected.

Keep track of the latest news on Hurricane Irma.

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