A.G. Gancarski, Author at Florida Politics - Page 4 of 379

A.G. Gancarski

Jacksonville a ‘strong candidate’ to host 2026 FIFA World Cup action

The history of soccer in Jacksonville is longer than some new arrivals might think. From 1980, when the Jacksonville Tea Men started off in the North American Soccer League, to today, when the Jacksonville Armada play locally, soccer has had a foothold here for decades.

Even in 2016, the U.S. National Team played in Jacksonville — a match against Trinidad and Tobago, with an outcome that was never in doubt, drew nearly 20,000 people.

However, as soccer grows domestically, the stakes — and the expectations — are higher. And both arguably will peak in 2026, when the United States, Canada, and Mexico plan to join forces for a NAFTA version of the iconic event — with 48 teams expected to comprise the sprawling field.

Meanwhile, as correspondence from U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry reveals, Jacksonville is in the mix to host World Cup action … which will involve, in 2026, a whopping 80 matches over a 30 day period.

“Jacksonville is a strong candidate for participation in this process, given your support of soccer, stadium facilities, and the related tourism infrastructure you already have in place. As such, we will be making informal contact with the stadium and sports commission contacts in your city in the coming days, but we wanted first to make you aware of this significant opportunity, so Jacksonville can best present itself as a participant in this process,” Gulati remarked.

The ultimate goal, according to Gulati: “a world class bid that harnesses the immense social, cultural, and economic power of our continent to ensure that North America can deliver a 21st century vision of soccer’s greatest event. It will be a vision the world can share.”

We have reached out to Curry’s office for any comment that the Mayor or staffers may want to offer; if such is provided, this article will be updated.

St. Johns Riverkeeper decries ‘economically infeasible’ Jax dredge

While Jacksonville and Northeast Florida politicians are excited by the fact that, at long last, federal and state resources are manifesting to dredge the St. Johns River, a note of caution continues to be sounded by the St. Johns Riverkeeper — which is less sanguine about the proposed dredge of the river to a 47 foot depth throughout an 11 mile stretch.

The latest blast on Tuesday: a report from a New Orleans based “port and shipping expert”, Dr. Asaf Ashar, that deems the deep dredge to be economically infeasible.

Ashar contends, contra optimistic U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates, that there is a good chance that total costs of the project could outweigh benefits.

As well, Ashar asserts that JAXPORT likely will remain a secondary port compared to Savannah and Charleston, two regional competitors, dredging notwithstanding. Ashar also notes that both of those ports have channels that aren’t even 47 feet deep.

The Riverkeeper has worried that this project would proceed without community dialogue, and those worries continue.

“This new report provides further evidence that the economic projections for the Deep Dredge have been grossly overstated,” says Jimmy Orth, St. Johns RIVERKEEPER Executive Director.

“It also demonstrates the urgent need for a transparent community dialogue to fully vet the project before dredging begins.  We can’t afford to potentially spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars, cause significant harm to our river, and then find out later that the project wasn’t beneficial or even necessary,” Orth added.

Jay Fant falls behind Ashley Moody in AG money race

A big piece of news for those watching the Florida Attorney General GOP primary race dropped last week: Ashley Moody, between her committee and campaign accounts, hauled in $603,000 in June — Moody’s first month as a candidate.

Moody showed real strength in contributions, with prominent names chipping in for both her committee and her campaign account.

On the committee side, Moody scored $10,000 donations from Sen. Wilton Simpson‘s “Jobs for Florida,” Carlos Beruff, and Michael Corcoran, on her way to a $113,000 first month for her “Friends of Ashley Moody.”

As impressive as that was, the real eye-popping total was on the hard money side: where Moody brought in $490,000 of new money in June.

Among the donors: former Ambassador and GOP mega-donor Mel Sembler, currently of “Drug Free America”; Mac Heavener, assistant State Attorney in the Jacksonville-centered 4th Circuit; the aforementioned Michael Corcoran; and a cross-section of the Tampa-area legal community.

From there, eyes turned to Jacksonville State Rep. Jay Fant — would he be able to match Moody’s money?

The short answer: no.

In what can’t be seen as a good sign for Fant’s viability, Fant — between his campaign and committee accounts — brought in just under $70,000 in June.

Just $1,000 of that went to his committee account (from former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton‘s Gate Petroleum), giving Fant’s “Pledge This Day” roughly $72,000 on hand.

Fant did a bit better in hard money — bringing in $68,240 of new money in June, giving him just over $145,000 on hand.

All told, Moody holds nearly a 3-to-1 cash on hand advantage … and is the preferred candidate of incumbent AG Pam Bondi — a situation which neatly obliterated Fant’s early campaign talking point that he was best-suited to carry on Bondi’s legacy post-2018.

The question regarding Fant, running with a geographic disadvantage, as someone at odds with the Richard Corcoran wing of the Florida House, is a basic one: can he demonstrate the ability to get traction statewide?

June’s numbers don’t provide definitive affirmation of that question.

For one thing, of the $68,240 haul, a full $18,005 of it either came from the family of consultant Brett Doster (who is running Fant’s campaign) or Fant himself.

For another thing, the vast majority of Fant’s June donations are from Jacksonville — raising questions about how much was really accomplished when Fant barnstormed the state weeks back launching his campaign. And those Jacksonville donations are not from, by and large, movers and shakers.

Nor are they from the Jacksonville legal community, by and large — another key difference between Fant and Moody.

While Jacksonville City Councilman Jim Love‘s $1,000 donation certainly will help, Love was the sole donor with name value in June — and Love, though a very responsive City Councilman, is not an augury of any groundswell.

Committees — some with interesting names on the donor list — came through for Fant.

“Florida Conservatives United,” which has gotten donations from Hugh F. Culverhouse and “Greenpointe Holdings”, a company owned by Jacksonville mega-donor Ed Burr, gave $1,000.

Likewise, “First Coast Conservatives” — Rep. Travis Cummings’ committee — likewise gave $1,000.

July is going to have to be stronger for Fant. Moody isn’t going away. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz is a possible candidate. As is U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Fant jumped into the race first, but he hasn’t demonstrated the momentum necessary to clear the field.

And the main power broker in Jacksonville politics — Mayor Lenny Curry — still hasn’t lifted a finger to help Fant, with bad blood still lingering over Fant criticizing Curry’s performance as Mayor at a recent meeting of local Republicans.

While Curry has been willing to go to the wall for friends running doomed campaigns before (Marco Rubio for President), he won’t even get out of his chair for this effort.


While the race on the GOP side appears to be — as of this writing — a money race between Jacksonville and Tampa, the Democratic side of the ledger is considerably more torpid.

The sole declared candidate — Ryan Torrens — raised $17,934 in June, giving him roughly $17,000 on hand.

Jason Fischer hauls in nearly $55K in June for re-election bid

Jacksonville state Rep. Jason Fischer had one of the stronger Junes of any Northeast Florida incumbent in terms of fundraising.

Between Fischer’s campaign account and the account for his political committee, “Conservative Solutions for Jacksonville,” Fischer brought in almost $55,000 for his 2018 re-election effort.

Of that new money, a full $32,700 went into Fischer’s campaign account — pushing it over $51,000 on hand.

Among the donors to the campaign account: some familiar campaign committees, including Sen. Travis Hutson‘s “Sunshine State Conservatives,” Rep. Travis Cummings’ “First Coast Conservatives” and Rep. Paul Renner‘s “Florida Foundation for Liberty.” As well, the “JAXBIZ” committee of the Jax Chamber ponied up.

Also on board: Peter Rummell and Michael Munz, via “RummellMunz Partners.” And the Gary Chartrand Trust.

All of the above gave $1,000 to Fischer’s campaign.

Fischer’s committee, after $22,700 of new money in June, now has just over $29,000 on hand.

The June donors: a lot of familiar names.

Florida Blue, Florida East Coast Industries, and the Jacksonville Kennel Club, along with John Baker and Ty Petway, all cut checks for Fischer’s committee in June, as did Renner’s Florida Foundation for Liberty.

Lenny Curry committee clears $110K in June fundraising

While May was the month for the Jacksonville donor class to pony up for Paul Renner ahead of his win of the 2022 Speaker slot, June saw a return of a familiar pattern.

That pattern: big-dollar donations to the political committee of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

All told, June saw $110,000 in new money, much of it from familiar names, including Tom Petway and the Petways’ family insurance company “US Assure”, JB Coxwell Contracting, and Greenpointe Holdings of Jacksonville donor class mainstay Ed Burr.

With less than $9,000 in expenditures over the June period, Curry’s committee now has $242,456 on hand.

Curry’s committee spent heavily earlier this year, in an effort to ensure that the City Council did not waver in voting yes on his raft of pension reform bills.

Jacksonville’s pension reform was a big priority for Curry; starting in October, the city’s current defined benefit plans will be closed to new hires, who will be slotted into defined contribution plans.

In exchange for these plan changes for new hires, city unions will all enjoy raises phased in over the next few years, as the city prepares to spend money (outside of the Sports Complex) in a way that it hasn’t been able to since the economic downturn of 2008, an event which slashed ad valorem collections and led to a series of austerity budgets spanning three mayoral administrations.


Other local leaders’ political committees had quieter Junes.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams‘ committee, “A Safe Jacksonville,” raised $9,600 in June, and has roughly $20,000 banked.

4th Circuit State Attorney Melissa Nelson‘s “First Coast Values” committee likewise remained dormant, as it has throughout 2017.

Big June haul for Clay Yarborough’s re-election campaign

Though Rep. Clay Yarborough was not the establishment choice in the 2016 GOP primary in House District 12, as an incumbent the former Jacksonville City Council President continues to find traction with the donor class.

The latest evidence for that claim: the June campaign finance report, which shows Yarborough bringing in $22,375 — by far, his biggest haul since filing for re-election months back.

Some reliable Northeast Florida donors ponied up: among them, names like Robert ShircliffJ.B. Coxwell, Ty Petway, 4th Circuit Public Defender Charles Cofer, and Mac McGehee.

Support also came in from committees associated with fellow regional Republicans, with Rep. Travis Cummings‘ “First Coast Conservatives” and Sen. Travis Hutson‘s “Sunshine State Conservatives” both ponying up.

Yarborough, defending a safe, deep-red seat on Jacksonville’s Southside, entered July with roughly $35,000 on hand.

Corrine Brown acquittal, new trial hearing set for Aug. 7

Corrine Brown recently re-affirmed motions for acquittal and for new trial, in response to federal prosecutors opposing those original motions. Her attorney wanted a chance to make oral arguments.

And he is getting that chance: Aug. 7 at 3:00 pm in Jacksonville Federal Courtroom 10-D.

Brown, found guilty on 18 counts related to wire, mail, tax, and financial disclosure fraud related to a charity that led to the unjust enrichment of her and co-conspirators, continues to vigorously maintain her innocence.


The motion for new trial continues with the pyrotechnics revolving around Juror 13, the juror dismissed as it was ascertained that the Holy Spirit telling him Brown was innocent interfered with his impartiality.

The juror’s removal, the memo holds, violated Brown’s Constitutional rights.

Moreover, it exposed religious bias from the court.

“The Court’s decision to dismiss the juror was based on its findings: (1) that God exists; and (2) that God is an external force. As with the juror’s statements, the Court’s findings were statements of faith. They reflected the Court’s religious beliefs.”

“In fact, the juror was not dismissed because of his religious beliefs. He was dismissed because of the Court’s
religious beliefs. He was dismissed because the Court believes that God exists, and that God is an external force. But the record does not support these beliefs,” the memo contends.

“The Court’s decision, if it is not corrected, will discourage a broad section of our population from productive jury service,” the memo warns.


In the memo arguing again for acquittal, the defense maintains that insufficient evidence of fraud existed, with “fraudulent intent” unproven.

As well, the defense contends, albeit unsympathetically, that there is no requirement that a charity dispense any amount of money — an interesting canard.

The defense also contends that Corrine Brown was not the “primary beneficiary” of the One Door for Education “fraud,” as she got just $37,000 out of it.

As well, Brown could not have been guilty of tax fraud: “A fair reading of the evidence show [SIC] that the Defendant’s taxes and financial disclosure forms are exactly what one would expect given the lack of attention
to detail and the last minute rushed nature of their preparation.”

In other words, contends her attorney, Brown was too sloppy with forms to commit tax fraud.


Brown was found guilty on 18 total counts, which sets her up potentially for a prison sentence of over 300 years, and fines and restitution in the millions of dollars.

On Count 1 — conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud — the jury ruled that Brown was found guilty of mail and wire fraud both.

Counts 2 through 17 involved mail fraud and wire fraud. Counts 2 through 8 — mail fraud — come down to shipments of checks via FedEx; counts 9 through 17 — wire fraud — involve interstate wire transfers, emails, et al.

Counts 2 through 8 saw the aforementioned co-conspirators, her former chief-of-staff Ronnie Simmons and his one-time girlfriend and CEO of the charity, Carla Wiley, at the other end of the mail solicited from donors, with the biggest pitch being for a check upward of $28,000 from a single donor.

The jury ruled that Brown was guilty on five of the seven counts.

Counts 9 through 17 saw Simmons soliciting checks from donors on some, with some “pass-through” transactions reflected in some counts, through the Alexander Agency — the agency of former Brown part-time employee Von Alexander.

The jury ruled that Brown was guilty on seven of the nine counts.

On Count 19 — scheme to conceal material facts on Congressional financial disclosure forms — the jury ruled that Brown was guilty.

Count 20 — scheme to conceal material facts — was predicated on “underreporting income” and “bogus” charitable deductions. The jury ruled that Brown was guilty.

Counts 21 to 24: four tax counts. 21 is to “obstruct and impede the due administration of Internal Revenue laws”, with false tax returns from 2012 to 2014 constituting the final three tax counts. Brown was found guilty on all.

Despite foreclosure auction, Kim Daniels prospers

2016 financial disclosure statements are rolling in, and among them is that of Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Kim Daniels.

Daniels, a charismatic preacher first elected to the Florida House last year, is thriving in the professional sphere — a prosperity spawned by interests in two ministries.

Kim Daniels Ministries International, listed as a secondary source of income, brought Daniels just over $100,000 in 2016.

Spoken Word Ministries, meanwhile, brought in another $96,000 — even as it is subject to a legal claim regarding foreclosure on a formerly shared “parsonage” in Davie, Florida, one once occupied jointly by Daniels and her ex-husband.

An August 15 foreclosure auction is pending on a home once co-owned by Spoken Word Ministries, Daniels, and her former husband, Ardell Daniels.

The home had been listed for such a sale before, but it didn’t go through.

The Daniels, who shared a ministry for almost two decades before their relationship fell apart while Kim Daniels served on the Jacksonville City Council, lived well.

The parsonage is valued at over $800,000.

All told, Daniels’ net worth is just shy of $595,000, with $34,116 in liabilities including two car notes and department store charge cards.

Matt Carlucci’s fundraising shows he’s a serious candidate headed into 2019

Welcome back to politics, Matt Carlucci. If people weren’t taking your 2019 run for Jacksonville City Council At Large Seat 4 seriously, they are now.

Carlucci, the recent former head of the Florida Ethics Commission, paced the field of 2019 hopefuls with a blockbuster June, bringing in $60,000 in his first month in the field.

Among the interesting donors: the current occupant of the seat, Greg Anderson, whose $500 check leaves it no secret as to who the former Jacksonville City Council President wants to succeed him.

Another former Council President, Kevin Hyde, donated $1,000 to Team Carlucci — as did Wayne Weaver and Delores Barr Weaver.

Also ponying up from the other side of the aisle: former Alvin Brown Chief of Staff Chris Hand; the Jacksonville Democrat, currently working to make Gwen Graham Governor next year, waded in with $250 of support for Carlucci, a Republican who nonetheless endorsed Brown over Lenny Curry for Mayor in 2015.


Carlucci’s June is the biggest single month of anyone in Jacksonville races in the 2019 cycle, and immediately makes him the second most prodigious fundraiser locally.

The top man: Ron Salem, a Republican running to replace termed-out John Crescimbeni in AL-2.

Salem’s fundraising waned in June — just clearing the $3,000 mark — but he still has $95,000 on hand with no opponent filed for the citywide race.

Among Salem’s June benefactors: the aforementioned Kevin Hyde, along with former Clerk of Courts Henry Cook.


Beyond Salem and Carlucci, there was little action on the money side for other 2019 candidates; only Marc McCullough in District 7 has more than $1,000 banked.

After winning Speaker’s race, a quiet month of fundraising for Paul Renner

May saw blockbuster fundraising for “Florida Foundation for Liberty,” the political committee of future House Speaker Paul Renner.

The total May haul: $266,000.

With June obviously being where the rubber met the road in the leadership race, worth watching was how much of that May money was deployed, and to where it went.

It turned out that just over $38,000 went out the door in June (against $6,500 brought in during the same period).

Out of that money, two donations went to campaign accounts of Renner’s colleagues who were linked to the leadership race: Randy Fine, a serious candidate for most of the stretch; and Byron Donalds, who came up short in the June 30 ballot.

Each of them got $1,000 from the Renner committee, as did the campaign accounts of Bob Rommel of Naples, and Mel Ponder of Destin; Ponder’s money was for consulting, according to the report.

Jacksonville Rep. Jason Fischer‘s campaign account also got $1,000, and Fischer’s “Conservative Solutions for Jacksonville” committee got $5,000.

Other committees scoring $5,000 donations: “Florida Opinion Leaders” and current House Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s “Watchdog PAC,” in yet another indicator of the burgeoning alliance between the current Speaker and the future one.

Renner’s committee has roughly $240,000 on hand, and his campaign account has just over $30,000 in total, as he prepares for a 2018 rematch with St. Augustine Democrat Adam Morley.

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