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Danny McAuliffe

Christina Daly leaving Department of Juvenile Justice

Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Christina Daly will depart the agency August 31, according to a statement released Thursday afternoon by Gov. Rick Scott’s office.

Currently, it’s unclear who will replace Daly. Scott’s office said those details will soon become available.

Daly has served at DJJ since 2006 in a variety of leadership positions. In 2014, Scott, shortly after winning re-election, picked Daly to lead the agency.

“Christy Daly has done a fantastic job at DJJ and has driven positive change through innovative leadership to build a better system of care for the thousands of youth they serve,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “Under her leadership, DJJ has increased collaboration statewide with community partners, strengthened evidence-based practices and has been recognized as a national leader in reform of a comprehensive juvenile justice system.”

In a resignation letter addressed to Scott, Daly wrote, “I’m extremely proud of the progress that has been made under your administration.

“It has been my goal from the beginning to deliver to the citizens of Florida a balanced and sustainable juvenile justice system.”

A news release announcing Daly’s planned departure credits her leadership with reductions in “both juvenile arrests and incarceration statewide, while improving public safety through a more-balanced approach that incorporates a community-based, effective continuum of services that results in improved outcomes for youths.” 

Although, her tenure did not go without controversy. Following a 2017 Miami Herald investigation that found a culture of violence in youth lockups, Daly’s oversight of the agency became a hot-button issue. DJJ and the newspaper exchanged public back and forths over the nationally recognized story.

But in response to the investigation and with the help of Daly, lawmakers and Scott agreed to address the issues at juvenile detention centers through legislation. Among changes passed in 2018: An $8 million appropriation to raise probation and detention officer salaries; a $1 million investment in surveillance equipment; $5.3 million for facility upgrades; $6.1 million for new beds at lockups; and $9.1 million for prevention and intervention programs.

“Florida has risen as a state leader in juvenile justice reform, reform that has been strategic and driven by data and research,” Daly continued in her resignation letter. “Our use of validated assessments and decision-making tools has strengthened public safety throughout our communities and resulted in better outcomes for Florida’s children and families.”

Pam Bondi bridges Adam Putnam with Donald Trump in new TV ad

Attorney General Pam Bondi is leveraging her relationship with President Donald Trump in an attempt to give her Cabinet colleague Adam Putnam a boost in his gubernatorial campaign.

Putnam’s campaign announced Thursday night that it will begin airing an ad featuring Bondi’s’ support for the Agriculture Commissioner.

But having the Attorney General’s support, one could argue, means having at least some link to the President. The 30-second spot features Bondi saying, “I fought hard to elect President Trump and I’m supporting Adam Putnam for Governor.” Bondi stumped for Trump in 2016, and the Donald J. Trump Foundation has donated to Bondi’s political coffers in the past. 

“Adam will stand with President Trump to get tough on illegal immigration, ban sanctuary cities and deport criminal illegal aliens,” Bondi continues. She also reminds viewers that close to 50 Florida sheriffs have endorsed Putnam. 

The ad follows Putnam’s recent slip in favorability among Florida voters. Three recent polls have shown DeSantis ahead by double digits, and a poll released by Florida Atlantic University on Wednesday showed DeSantis up nine points over Putnam. In another recent poll, the Florida Chamber (which has endorsed Putnam) declared the race a current tie.

DeSantis’ recent success has been linked to Trump’s June intervention in the race, when he tweeted, “Congressman Ron DeSantis, a top student at Yale and Harvard Law School, is running for Governor of the Great State of Florida. Ron is strong on Borders, tough on Crime & big on Cutting Taxes – Loves our Military & our Vets. He will be a Great Governor & has my full Endorsement!”

Trump’s campaign arm has since announced that the President will come to Tampa to tout certain Republicans, DeSantis among them, on July 31.

Watch the ad below:

Jeff Greene dishes out $3.2M for Parkland-themed, women’s rights ads

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene is continuing his television outreach blitz a month away from the primary with two new ads addressing the Parkland shooting and the fate of women’s rights amid Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hitting two heavy concerns of Democrats — gun control and reproductive health care — Greene’s latest ads attack a mix of federal and state issues and resemble a continuation bet for his all-out assault on his part-time Palm Beach neighbor, President Donald Trump.

Backed by a hefty $3.2 million from Greene’s campaign, the two ads follow the Palm Beach billionaire’s steady pouring of cash into his campaign account. He’s amassed and spent — by way of personal loans and personal checks — more than $10 million since entering the race in June.

Addressing gun control, Greene’s ad titled “Parkland” features Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Sarah Brodsky, who at one point recalls, “I didn’t think that at 16 I’d be going to 6 funerals,” a reference to the 17 students and faculty killed during the Feb. 14 shooting at the Parkland high school. 

In the same ad, a narrator says, “Jeff Greene will stand up to Florida’s children by standing up to Trump and the NRA.”

In closing, Brodsky’s father says, “The NRA buys politicians in Florida. They can’t buy Jeff.”

That ad will begin airing Thursday, and follows Greene’s personal war with National Rifle Association Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer sparked this week by a father that claims “the NRA turns our kids into targets.”

In retaliation to those mailers, Hammer told the Tampa Bay Times afterward that Greene is “bankrupt of ideas and he has to resort to these dumb ideas to try and get attention for himself and his campaign.”

In the other ad titled “For Women,” Greene appears saying, “With his pick for the Supreme Court, Trump has declared war on the women in the state of Florida.

“But Trump’s got a big problem,” Greene continues. “Me.”

Greene then promises to ensure Florida is a “safe haven for women,” protect “right to choose” and “fully fund planned parenthood.” The ad closes with a series of women saying, “For women.”

That ad also will begin airing Thursday.

Mike Griffin steps down from Tampa Port Authority

Mike Griffin, a respected leader in the Tampa Bay area who was recently named one of Florida’s 100 most influential people in Florida politics, is resigning from his post at the Tampa Port Authority Board of Commissioners.

Griffin told Florida Politics he feels it’s a good time to leave the board, and he’d like to direct his full attention to other public service commitments, including a role on a task force charged with consolidating accreditations in the University of South Florida system.

“I really feel like [the task force] needs my attention right now,” Griffin said. A longtime advocate for focusing on economic drivers in the Bay area, he described the university as integral to Tampa’s economy.

“I want to always know I’m driving toward new advancements and greater prosperity through all our drivers,” Griffin added. 

Announcing his resignation in a letter to Gov. Rick Scott, Griffin cited the Port’s recent accomplishments and expressed optimism for the future.

“Although I know that Port Tampa Bay’s best days are still ahead, it is time for me to move on,” wrote Griffin. “I look forward to being a continued advocate for our Port community for many years to come.” 

Scott appointed Griffin to the board last year amid media reports of overspending at Port Tampa Bay, which is overseen by the board. “I look forward to the Tampa Port Authority Governing Board reviewing policies to prevent wasteful spending by employees,” Scott said in announcing Griffin’s appointment.

Griffin noted in his resignation that the board implemented transparent-driven policies during his tenure.

“It has been a sincere honor serving our community as a member of the Port Tampa Bay/Tampa Port Authority Board of Commissioners for the last year,” Griffin wrote. “During the past year, we have developed one of the most accountable and transparent expense and marketing policies for any public entity in the State of Florida.

“Additionally, we have continued to reduce our millage rate while at the same time experiencing record-high revenues to the Port – this is a great return on investment to the taxpayers of Florida and Hillsborough County.”

Griffin, who received his bachelor’s degree from USF in 2003, is influential in Bay-area business. He is a former chair of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the Chamber’s advisory board. Griffin is also a senior managing director for Savills Studley Occupier Services, a large real estate firm with 30 offices in North America. 

In 2015, the Tampa Bay Times named Griffin one of the top 25 most influential business players in Tampa Bay. Describing him as “the focused millennial,” Times journalist Robert Trigaux wrote, “Griffin is the real deal and can deliver a great message that talented leadership of any age can find good opportunity here.”

Ryan Torrens campaign admits fundraising violation

Democratic Attorney General candidate Ryan Torrens admitted to accepting more than the allowed maximum personal donation to a state campaign and has allegedly overlooked a series of other finance-related election violations.

In a letter dated July 13, Torrens’ campaign treasurer Jessica Vasconez acknowledged to Secretary of State Ken Detzner that the campaign received a $4,000 contribution. The maximum permitted for a statewide candidate is $3,000. Vasconez told Detzner she refunded the donor $3,332.52.

According to state elections law, “any person who knowingly and willfully makes or accepts no more than one contribution in violation” over the maximum allowable contribution “commits a misdemeanor of the first degree,” which carries a penalty of up to a year in jail. Multiple violations are charged as a third-degree felony.

But complicating matters for the Torrens campaign is a July 18 complaint alleging it has violated multiple provisions of Florida Election Code.

The complaint, filed by Tallahassee elections attorney Max Solomon, claims the $4,000 contribution came via a cashier’s check. Florida law limits cash and cashier’s check contributions to $50 per person per election. Again, a violation of that law is considered a first-degree misdemeanor.

The complaint also accuses the Torrens campaign of accepting $100 in total from seven different donations filed anonymously, but from the same address. The address in question corresponds to the Odessa post office box the Torrens campaign lists as its primary address.

Solomon’s complaint also claims the campaign accepted more than the cash maximum from similar names listed at the same address. If those contributions were made by the same people or person, but made to appear as different people in a finance report, that could be a violation of the elections code punishable by up to a year in jail. Multiple violations could be charged as a felony.

On the subject of anonymous cash donations, the Florida Division of Elections says: “Report this contribution as an anonymous contribution on your campaign report but do not spend these funds on the campaign. After the campaign is over, dispose of the funds pursuant to Section 106.141, F.S. (DEO 89-02).”

In total, the complaint levies five violations against the campaign.

As of yet, the Torrens campaign has not formally responded to allegations made in the complaint, other than acknowledging the $4,000 personal contribution before the complaint was filed.

Torrens is an attorney in Hillsborough County. He will face state Rep. Sean Shaw, of Tampa, in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary.

As of July 13, Torrens had raised about $128,000 including $8,450 in loans and had $3,422 in the bank. Shaw has raised more than $810,000 between his campaign and committee, Sean Shaw for Florida. He has $514,000 on hand.

Donald Trump plans Tampa rally for Ron DeSantis

President Donald Trump will host a July 31 rally in Tampa where he is expected to tout his support for Republican gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The rally will take place at 7 p.m. at the Florida State Fairgrounds. It’s the eighth time the President has come to the Tampa area since he declared his run for presidency in 2015.

News of Trump tentatively coming to Tampa on July 31 was first reported in POLITICO Florida’s Playbook on Thursday.

DeSantis, who has surged in polls in recent weeks, already carries Trump endorsements via Twitter. The President in June wrote on the social media platform, “[DeSantis] will be a Great Governor & has my full Endorsement.”

The June tweet followed Trump’s December embrace of the Ponte Vedra Congressman before he officially entered the race for governor.

DeSantis is among a select group of Republican congressmen who have habitually defended Trump amid controversy like the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. As Donald Trump Jr. reminded a crowd in Orlando last week, “Ron DeSantis was there from Day 1. He got it. He saw it. He went on TV. He was with us when it wasn’t cool to be with us.”

DeSantis will face Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Aug. 28 primary. Putnam, a longtime Florida politician, has raised more than $35 million for his gubernatorial bid and until recently was considered a frontrunner. DeSantis has raised a little more than $13 million.

Trump’s recent intervention in the race, dating back to his June tweet, was followed by gains in DeSantis’ favorability. A poll published last week put DeSantis 20 points ahead of Putnam. A Florida Chamber poll published Friday put the two at a “virtual tie.”

Across party lines, some already see Trump’s planned appearance as a death blow to Putnam’s campaign.

“Our condolences to Adam Putnam,” Florida Democratic Party spokesman Kevin Donohoe said in a prepared statement.

Trump also will express his support for Gov. Rick Scott‘s bid for U.S. Senate, and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz‘ reelection.

#FlaPol in Review: A weekend roundup

The British Open didn’t keep Florida pols off the campaign trail this weekend.

Candidates across the state and up and down the ballot are doing everything they can on Saturdays and Sundays leading up to the Aug. 28 primary. Consider this a highlight reel of those activities.

At the top, Gov. Rick Scott, who’s competing for U.S. Senate, went to Tampa this weekend:

Incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson listened to Floridians talk health care:

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis rallied supporters in Jacksonville for his gubernatorial bid:

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, DeSantis’ primary opponent, isn’t forgetting about his hometown area in Polk County:

Jeff Greene, a Democratic candidate for governor, has made a point of criticizing President Donald Trump on the campaign trail:

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine went to church in Orlando:

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham and her family showed they aren’t foreign to public service:

Andrew Gillum‘s team continues to impress him:

Orlando businessman Chris King offered advice to his supporters:

In the statewide race for Agriculture Commissioner, State Sen. Denise Grimsley has found a friend in a former colleague:

On Saturday, Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell went to a Florida Farm Bureau BBQ:

Agriculture Commissioner candidate Baxter Troutman is racking up media hits on the trail:

Democratic Ag Comish hopeful David Walker touted an endorsement from Indivisible East Hillsborough:

Attorney General hopeful Sean Shaw issued a statement over the weekend regarding a recent ‘stand your ground’ shooting:

AG candidate Ashley Moody is showing support from other lawmakers near the Tampa area, where she is from:

Now to congressional candidates.

It looks like South Florida’s Carlos Curbelo will soon be on the Beyond the Bubble podcast:

Congressman Mario DiazBalart informed a local business they received a federal grant:

In races for state seats across Florida …

State Sen. Dana Young, who’s in a hotly contested battle for reelection, is receiving ground support from her Republican colleagues:

State Sen. Annette Taddeo is aligning herself with Gillum on the campaign trail:

State Senate candidate Manny Diaz Jr. isn’t letting weekends go by without door knocking:

State House Rep. Holly Rashcein helped welcome the Special Olympics:

State House candidate Ardian Zika was busy cornering Pasco:

State House candidate Trayce Polson made it clear she’s running for teachers, among other constituents:

Florida targeted by new voter engagement group

An effort to empower those who cannot vote in the U.S. is turning its focus to Florida ahead of the midterm election.

The reason? Florida’s population marks an intersection of three groups that fear their voices go unheard at the ballot. Among them: immigrants without citizenship, underage voters and disenfranchised felons who have completed their sentences.

The Love Vote launched in mid-October ahead of the New Jersey gubernatorial election. Optimistic of the pilot, Brooklyn-based founder Esther de Rothschild has targeted other states, including Kentucky, Alabama and now Florida, to spread the word of what she describes as “paradigm shift” of the electoral process.

“Voting is an act of love,” Rothschild told Florida Politics.

The organization seeks to tell the stories of who they describe as ‘Movers,’ or people living in the U.S. who cannot vote, but may be able to encourage others to vote on their behalf.

The Love Vote acts as a medium by which Movers’ stories are transmitted. Video snippets of Movers are on the organization’s website, and viewers have the option to ‘promise’ to vote, because the Movers cannot. Rothschild likened the process to online crowdfunding, but instead of money, the goal is to raise promises.

“Our stories are focused on the personal,” Rothschild said. “There’s a lot of stories out there that give you an overview of the issue and a lot of them are impactful, but we’re really looking to move people with love, and show that voting is not just something you do for yourself, but is something that you can do for someone you love.”

Professional-grade videos are on the organization’s website, but anyone who cannot vote and would like to become a Mover can upload a cellphone video sharing their story. The Love Vote follows up with each person who makes a promise.

Rothschild said Movers typically get promises from family, friends and others close to them. But that’s not always the case.

Brett Ramsden, of Sarasota, cannot vote because he is a convicted felon. He is a Mover with The Love Vote, and told Florida Politics that he only knows about half of the 89 people who have promised to vote to keep his interests in mind.

Ramsden’s video shares the story of how he racked up a series of drug-related thefts that eventually landed him a felony conviction. He served a one-year sentence at a substance abuse facility in Naples and two years of probation. He’s since lived in Texas, where he had voting rights, and Florida, where he is currently disenfranchised.

“My convictions came from drug use that came out of teenage years,” Ramsden said. He felt that sharing his story via The Love Vote would not only encourage others to participate in elections, but also raise awareness of felons who’ve been silenced in the political process.

“My story adds value to that,” Ramsden said.

The videos aren’t expressly political. “They’re moving people to vote on their behalf, but they’re not telling people how to vote — we don’t mention parties or candidates,” explained Rothschild. Some videos spotlight issues.

In Ramsden’s case, that issue is Florida’s practice of permanently disenfranchising felons, a population estimated to be above 1.5 million in the Sunshine State.

For those who’ve promised to vote with Ramsden in mind, they could be empowered to support Amendment 4 at the ballot. If passed, it would automatically restore voting rights to felons, barring those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, who’ve completed their sentences and have integrated back into the community.

Ramsden currently works with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a group pushing for passage of Amendment 4.

Another Mover, Aicha Cherif, cannot vote in November because she is 17 years old. Her video spotlights gun violence. Cherif, who attends school in Manhattan, New York, heard a gang-related shooting across the street while attending an after-school program. Her school also received a threat following the Santa Fe high school shooting earlier this year.

Cherif is a student at a high school where Rothschild used to teach. Rothschild said she founded The Love Vote after the 2016 election.

“I was hearing my students express frustration after the election that they were not able to vote, they were too young to vote,” Rothschild said, but they were still impacted by the outcome of the election.

In Florida, The Love Vote has partnered with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the Florida Immigrant Coalition, ENGAGE Miami, New Florida Majority and Mi Familia Vota.

Chris Nocco endorses Agriculture Commissioner hopeful Denise Grimsley

A popular Republican from Pasco County is throwing his weight behind Denise Grimsley in the race for Agriculture Commissioner.

“Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture serves farmers, ranchers and more,” said Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco in a Thursday news release. “She must protect consumers. And there’s just one candidate I trust with that job: Denise Grimsley. Denise isn’t a politician – she’s a warrior. And she’s got my vote.”

With Nocco’s nod, Grimsley, a state Senator representing Sebring, now has the backing of 33 county sheriffs. She’s also received endorsements from the Florida State Fraternal Order of Police and Florida Professional Firefighters.

“Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture must be prepared to not only fight for our state’s farmers, but also our state’s consumers,” Grimsley said in accepting Nocco’s endorsement. “As a third-generation farmer and a first-generation nurse, I am ready to be that advocate for farmers and ranchers, and also fight alongside our sheriffs and first responders to protect and serve Florida consumers.”

Gov. Rick Scott in 2011 appointed Nocco as Pasco’s sheriff. He won the election in 2012 and ran unopposed in 2016. State House Speaker Richard Corcoran appointed Nocco to the 2017 Constitution Revision Commission, which wrapped its work in May.

While Grimsley has close to half of Florida’s county sheriffs backing her bid for the Cabinet seat, she isn’t the only candidate racking up local support.

On Wednesday, state Rep. Matt Caldwell, one of Grimsley’s Republican primary opponents, announced a slew of endorsements from municipal leaders across the state, including one from former Pasco County Sheriff Bob White.

Grimsley, Caldwell, former state Rep. Baxter Troutman, and retired U.S. Army Col. Mike McCalister all are competing for the Aug. 28 Republican primary. The winner of that race will go up against one of three Democratic hopefuls: Nikki Fried, Jeff Porter and David Walker.

Rick Scott pressures lawmakers to OK citrus grant

Ahead of Thursday’s state Legislative Budget Commission meeting, Gov. Rick Scott is making it clear that he wants the panel to approve a $340 million federal block grant designed to help Florida citrus growers get back on their feet.

“I look forward to the legislature approving these important funds tomorrow so we can get this money to our growers,” Scott said in a statement released Wednesday. 

Sonny Perdue, U.S Secretary of Agriculture, announced the grant in May. Unlike other federal remedies made available to farmers across the country this year, the grant is exclusive to Florida growers. The money will be used to cover damages caused by Hurricane Irma, including the buying and replanting of trees, grove rehabilitation, and repairs to irrigation systems. 

While the state tentatively accepted the federal grant, the dollars require approval from the Legislative Budget Commission before dispersal.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam also expressed his support for the grant’s approval.

“Thanks to the hard work of so many, this much-needed piece of disaster assistance is finally on the way and will go a long way to help Florida’s citrus industry rebuild,” Putnam said. 

The sizeable grant, if approved on Thursday, will be a victory for Scott’s administration. The term-limited Republican governor cited a December meeting with Perdue on Thursday, during which he discussed “Florida’s iconic citrus industry.” The grant also appears to stem from Scott’s relationship with President Donald Trump. In announcing the grant in May, Perdue said he was instructed by Trump to work with Scott and Putnam to “put a process in place that will ensure the Florida citrus industry maintains its infrastructure and can continue to be the signature crop for the state.”

If approved, the news will be favorable to Florida growers, who this year experienced one of the worst citrus seasons in decades. They also await $2.36 billion worth of federal disaster-relief funding. The USDA plans to distribute that money through the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program. The program’s signup period began Monday and expires November 16.

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