Peter Schorsch, Author at Florida Politics

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

Latest poll: Democratic race for Florida governor is as close as ever

With eight days before Election Day in the race for the Democratic nomination for Florida governor, three candidates, including a surging Andrew Gillum, are separated by just six points.

Leading the field is former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham at 27 percent. Right on her heels is former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine at 25 percent. Those two have been atop nearly every poll in months, and began looking like they were locked in a two-person battle.

But now Gillum, who rallied in Orlando and Tampa last week with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and launched a new TV commercial pushing his progressive message, has surged to 21 percent, a marked improvement from two weeks ago when the Tallahassee Mayor was in fourth at 12 percent.

The poll was conducte over the weekend of 2,202 registered voters, by StPetePolls.org, which is reporting a margin of error of 2.1 percent.

Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene is starting to fade in our tracking poll, dropping to fourth place at 15 percent. In our previous survey, Greene was at 23 percent and in second place.

Chris King, despite his sharp message and his fierce yearning to make an impression with voters, is in the low single digits, while six percent of Democratic voters are still undecided.

The survey was conducted by St. Pete Polls for Florida Politics on August 18 and 19 and finished with a sample size of 2,202.

The numbers in this survey get even more interesting when you look at the breakdown of those who say they’ve already voted. Going by that number, the race is even tighter, with Graham and Levine tied atop the field. And not just rounded-up tied, but down-to-the-tenth-of-a-percent tied at 27.8 percent. Gillum is third at 20 percent.

Buoying the top three candidate’s strong showings are their favorability ratings with Democratic voters. Graham, Levine, and Gillum each have favorability ratings north of 50 percent, while both Greene and King are upside down.

The past several weeks have seen numerous negative TV commercials and mailers, through which the candidates have been attacking each other.

The latest poll suggests they’re working.

Everyone’s favorability ratings fell, some sharply.

Gillum’s has solidly emerged as the best-liked Democrat in the field: 50.4 percent of those polled said they have a favorable opinion of him, while just 11.2 percent have an unfavorable view of him. That gives him favorable-unfavorable overall rating of 39.2.

Levine is second, with 31.4 percent more respondents liking him than not liking him.

Graham’s overall favorability rating was 23.6.

Greene and King both were underwater, with more respondents saying they have unfavorable ratings than favorable ones.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.20.18

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Before we dive into the rundown of all that is happening in Florida politics just one week before Election Day, let’s begin the morning with two apolitical items of note, one sweet, one so bittersweet.

First, congratulations to Alison Hengesbach, an attorney with Sundberg, P.A., and Herbie Thiele, a partner at Sachs Media Group, on their beautiful wedding.

Herbie Thiele and Alison Hengesbach wed on Saturday, August 18th.

The couple met on a blind date in 2016 and have not been able to leave each other’s side since.

On Saturday, before more than 200 friends and members of their families at St. Thomas More Church in Tallahassee, the happy couple said: “I do.” From there, they welcomed all to a reception was at Goodwood Museum’s Carriage House. There were too many from The Process to list all of the “spotteds.”

The couple will honeymoon in Europe for the next two weeks. Plans include a cruise of the Italian coast.

Just as photos from the wedding were popping up on social media, so too did a story we wish we didn’t have to read.

POLITICO Florida’s Alexandra Glorioso, whose fierce reporting on sexual harassment in the Florida Legislature, made her a finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists’ James Batten Award for Public Service and the Gene Miller Award for Investigative Reporting, writes a harrowing account of how she has gone from being a reporter who covers health care issues to being patient battling breast cancer at the too-young age of 31.

“And now I’ve been given the thing I’ve always wanted as a journalist: access,” explains Glorioso. “I’ve got direct access to the cumbersome and complicated and hopefully lifesaving American health care system. I am in reporter heaven even if I am in cancer-patient hell.”

As I sat in church Sunday morning, my thoughts kept drifting back to Glorioso’s difficult situation AND Alison and Herbie’s beautiful wedding (a friend had even sent a short video clip from the nuptials). Two completely disconnected events. Yet I couldn’t stop thinking about how they both were serving as a reminder that there is so much more to our lives than who wins and who loses House District Who Gives A F*ck.

So, as we barrel toward the primary election and then after that the general election, do your absolute best to not lose touch with those close to you who do not live and die by politics. I read and see so many those in The Process writing and posting and tweeting that they have their heads down until Election Day or they are not coming up for air until the day after the elections (November 7), or their family thinks they’ve gone missing.

Don’t do that.

Hold your loved ones. Eat dinner with your family. Take care of yourself.

There are more important things in this life than election results.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

—@RealDonaldTrump: The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel [sic] Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel [sic], he must be a John Dean type ‘RAT.’ But I allowed him and all others to testify — I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide

@BrowardPolitics: .@AlceeHastingsFL warms up Democratic rally in Sunrise with a joke about the difference between a crisis and a catastrophe. Crisis: if @realDonaldTrump falls into the Potomac River & can’t swim. Catastrophe: If “anybody saves his ass.”

—@KevinCate: The earned TV media value of @BernieSanders in Tampa & Orlando for @AndrewGillum: $661,957. This doesn’t include hundreds of thousands of social views and the front page of the @TB_Times and Orlandosentinel. The Gillum surge is real.

@Fineout: .@JeffGreeneFL @Adamputnam @GwenGraham air TV ads during Bucs-Titans preseason game. With a dearth of live events in August, candidates trying to get exposure when they can

@BWeiss22: Today marks the 98th anniversary of women getting the right to vote. I honored those who fought for that right by rallying early voters for Florida’s future first female governor, @GwenGraham. Doesn’t get better than that!

@GBennettPost: Copiously filling out the sign-in sheet at the Kings Point Democratic Club is one of the most Bob Graham things ever.

@DeFede: Remember when @JeffGreeneFL said he would release the video with audio of his confrontation with @realDonaldTrump? Well it’s been two weeks, and he still hasn’t released it. What gives?

@Matt_Caldwell: Our campaign experienced just what @RealDonaldTrump describes. Our conservative #2A message was suspended by Facebook, and it took press like @FoxNews to help change their decision. Outrageous!

@ShevrinJones: So excited to start my first day as a PhD student at @FloridaAtlantic. With a starting cohort of 9 scholars, we are looking forward to this journey with our mentors, and our professors, @Drcriss_salinas and @Faudrdeb

@JoseFleixDiaz: As we get ready for the start of the school year, let us take this opportunity to enjoy the simple things: no mind-numbing traffic, and Instagram and Facebook posts that don’t include the hashtag #MyBabyIsAllGrownUp

— LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —

— DAYS UNTIL —

Start of the U.S. Open — 7; Primary Election Day — 8; College Football opening weekend — 10; Labor Day — 14; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 17; NFL regular season starts — 17; First general election mail ballots go out — 33; First day of fall — 33; Future of Florida Forum — 37; FSU vs. UM football game — 47; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 64; MLB World Series begins — 64; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 65; Halloween — 72; General Election Day — 78; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 92; Thanksgiving — 94; Black Friday — 95; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 99; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 176; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 197; 2020 General Election — 806.

— GIVETH OR TAKETH —

President Donald Trump isn’t on the ballot in 2018, but he’s bound to be on the mind of voters who go to the polls.

Candidates on either ticket can’t avoid him. The golden question in November will be which side prevails. Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times observes that the jury’s still out.

While Democrats have secured a handful of special election upsets since 2016, Smith notes, “For all the anecdotal evidence of a Democratic wave building as Trump’s shadow looms, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical(.)”

He may not be on the ballot, but Donald Trump is on voter’s minds everywhere. (Image via Getty)

Red state: “Trump is more popular in Florida, polls show, than much of the rest of the country and not nearly as politically toxic as Democrats often argue.” As well, “A few thousand more Democrats than Republicans have registered to vote in Florida so far this year, but since the 2014 midterms, the Democrats’ overall voter registration advantage has shrunk by half.”

Blue state: Four bellwether victories for Democrats have largely been attributed to an electorate upset with 45. “Trump was the factor that got these people in the race, Trump is the factor getting people to talk to their neighbors about issues that really matter to them, and Trump is a factor in getting them to knock on their neighbors’ door,” Juan Penalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, tells Smith.

Something to think about: It’s not all Trump, despite his media spotlight. “Democratic candidates and canvassers say they have been struck by how many voters seem more motivated by state issues and antipathy toward Gov. Scott and Republican leadership in Tallahassee.”

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Florida election officials seek info as support builds for Bill Nelson’s Russian-hack claim” via Alex Daugherty and Greg Gordon of McClatchy D.C. — Florida officials faced with the prospect of ongoing hacking attempts say they’ve seen no evidence of voter information being altered as early primary voting continues in counties around the state. Paul Lux, the supervisor of elections for Okaloosa County and the president of the state Association of Supervisors of Elections, said county-level election officials had not been informed of concrete steps they should take to inoculate themselves from the specific threat of ongoing Russian hacking attempts that Nelson has alluded to. Florida officials who do have access to classified information regarding the state’s voting systems typically receive briefings from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. DHS spokesperson Sarah Sendek said the agency is aware of Nelson’s recent statements, but the agency has “not seen any new compromises by Russian actors of election infrastructure.”

Florida officials still want answers about Bill Nelson’s claim Russians are roaming freely in Florida’s voting system. (Image via AP)

Nelson, Rick Scott point fingers at each other about Florida’s environmental woes” via John McCarthy of FLORIDA TODAY — Scott has run a TV ad accusing Nelson of having done nothing during his time in Congress to improve the situation with Lake Okeechobee. Seasonal discharges from the lake have fueled toxic algae blooms along the Treasure Coast and in Southwest Florida. Nelson responded with his own ad that ended with “the water is murky, but the fact is clear: Rick Scott caused this problem.” While water quality is a problem throughout the state, the images of green, slimy waters and dead marine life along both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of South Florida has made Lake Okeechobee discharges the center of the environmental debate. Since the federal government controls those discharges, Scott blames Nelson for not doing more to stop it. States are generally responsible for setting and policing the environmental quality standards for their citizens and businesses. But Congress plays an important role as well, creating policy for the use of federal lands within states and funding federal programs such as national park upkeep and cleanup of Superfund toxic waste sites.

Did Scott’s wallet affect his epiphany on rail line?” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Here’s what’s missing that Floridians didn’t know: Scott and wife last year invested at least $3 million in a credit fund for All Aboard Florida’s parent company, and it could be much more. The federal financial disclosures Scott was required to file as a U.S. Senate candidate show two of Ann Scott’s three holdings in a credit fund for Fortress Investment Group — All Aboard Florida’s parent company — are worth “over $1 million.’’ Scott’s disclosure shows the governor’s blind trust holds between $500,000 and $1 million in the credit fund, Fortress Secured Lending Fund. And last year, the Scotts’ investment in that fund produced at least $150,000 in income. That’s information Floridians should know as they evaluate whether Scott’s public policy decisions have been affected by his family’s personal investments. Yet they would have remained in the dark without the federal financial disclosure forms. Most of the governor’s investments are held by a blind trust, and the state does not require the finances of spouses of state officeholders to be publicly disclosed. As the old Florida slogan goes, the rules are different here.

Scott puts another $6.5M in personal cash into his Senate bid” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Scott raised $8.6 million and spent nearly $10 million between July 1 and Aug. 8, according to a summary page of a campaign finance report for the period. Outside of the personal money, Scott’s roughly $2 million in donor cash slightly beat out the $1.8 million raised by his Democratic opponent, Sen. Nelson. However, the numbers are much closer than the last reporting period, when Scott brought in a record $22 million compared to Nelson’s $4.4 million, the three-term senator’s biggest ever single quarter. During that period, Scott put in $14 million of his own money.

Scott turns to those he appointed for campaign cash” via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post — Scott has collected close to $1.4 million from 127 appointees, their spouses and children, who have given either to his Senate campaign or the New Republican PAC supporting his bid, an analysis shows. The amount is a fraction of the more than $22.5 million Scott has collected — including $14 million of his own money. But it shows how the broad reach of the governor’s power can be used to advance his political future. Those contributors deny that there’s any link between their appointments and the checks they cut for Scott’s Senate bid. But the campaign data shows a remarkable correlation. “The governor or people in his campaign have never asked me to give,” said developer Syd Kitson, CEO of Kitson & Partners of Palm Beach Gardens, appointed by Scott in 2016 to the State University System Board of Governors.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 1 —

Poll: Panhandle GOP split over governor; Dems prefer Gwen Graham” via CrestviewBulletin.com — A new poll from the Haas Center at the University of West Florida shows that Republicans in the Panhandle are split over their gubernatorial candidates, while Democrats are widely supporting Graham for governor. The report was conducted from July 30 through Aug. 13 and surveyed 610 respondents across 18 Panhandle counties. According to the Haas Center, gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam are in a “statistical tie” among registered Republicans, with DeSantis slightly edging out Putnam 30 percent to 28 percent. Eighteen percent of Northwest Florida Republicans said they were “unsure” who they would vote for, and 10 percent said they did not know any of the candidates. The remaining 14 percent spread their votes among the rest of the candidates, including Don BaldaufTim DevineJohn Joseph MercadanteBruce Natham and Bob White.

Ron DeSantis, Matt Gaetz campaign with Jim Jordan in Pensacola while on Freedom Tour” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News-Journal — The event Saturday morning was in a talk-show format with Gaetz directing questions to DeSantis and Jordan, while still getting the key points of his own stump speech in as part of his questions. “I’m sure a lot of folks would love to see me lose my primary, not because they care about Northwest Florida, but they want to take out one of Trump’s guys — one of Trump’s fighters,” Gaetz said. Jordan, founder of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans in the House that includes Gaetz and DeSantis, is one of the candidates seeking to be the next Speaker of the House when Rep. Paul Ryan leaves Congress after the election.

Jim Jordan, Ron DeSantis and Matt Gaetz on the Freedom Tour. (Image via the Pensacola News-Journal)

Mayfield ‘flattered’ to be on short list for lieutenant governor as Ron DeSantis running mate” via Dave Berman of TCPalm — Mayfield said DeSantis had not contacted her about the prospect but said she would consider the possibility if offered. POLITICO said its source for the list is “two top Republicans connected to the campaign.” Mayfield was elected to the Florida Senate in 2016 after serving four two-year terms in the Florida House. She represents Senate District 17, which includes central and south Brevard County and all Indian River County.

Florida’s not picking an ‘Apprentice,’ Adam Putnam says in new ad — “I support President Trump’s agenda. Tax cuts to create jobs and cracking down on illegal immigration. But Florida’s not picking an apprentice. We’re electing a Governor,” Putnam says in, “Honored,” a new 30-second campaign spot. “For me, it’s always been Florida First, and I’d be honored to have your vote.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Assignment editors — Putnam will continue his Florida First Bus Tour: 2 p.m., Moreno Bakery, 737 W. Brandon Blvd., Brandon; Pasco for Putnam Grassroots BBQ, 6 p.m., Covington farm, 36222 Covington Road, Dade City.

Can Andrew Gillum convince Florida voters to elect a black governor?” via Bob Moser of Rolling Stone — Gillum has only begun to air his first TV commercial — in a far-flung state where advertising matters more than most — in recent weeks. But with African-Americans making up more than a quarter of Florida’s Democratic voters (and Hispanics another 17 percent), and with no other candidate pulling out far in front (white centrist Rep. Graham has mostly led in the polls but with support in the 20s), Gillum’s late surge has given him a shot at replicating Georgia’s Stacey Abrams’ success in firing up long-overlooked voters with an uncompromising message they haven’t heard in decades, if ever: “When our base doesn’t get excited about our nominee, they don’t show up. Many of them feel they’ve been failed by the politicians, by the government. They’re out there working two jobs to try and make ends meet, and even if they lean toward the Democrats, just that is not going to get them to take the time to vote and to participate.”

Hot on campaign trail, Jeff Greene cools on West Palm real estate” via Jeff Ostrowski of the Palm Beach Post — Four years ago, he was the deep-pocketed investor poised to single-handedly transform the skyline of West Palm Beach, a city where he had spent $125 million to amass vacant land and unsold condos. Today, he’s an underdog gubernatorial candidate whose track record of developing his vast real estate holdings has left some in West Palm Beach underwhelmed. His gubernatorial campaign comes as some in West Palm Beach have soured on Greene, the real estate mogul who once seemed ready to lead West Palm Beach out of the Great Recession. In 2011, he embarked on a shopping spree that saw him spend more than $200 million on Palm Beach County real estate, mostly in West Palm Beach and Palm Beach. While he has won city permission to build two splashy towers on Quadrille Boulevard and so-called micro-apartments downtown, he has yet to break ground on those projects. “There’s major disappointment — even hostility — toward Jeff Greene,” said City Commissioner Paula Ryan.

Greene pours another $7 million and the governor’s race” via the News Service of Florida — It brings the total since early June to nearly $30 million … Greene loaned and contributed a total of $7 million to his campaign account from Aug. 6 to Aug. 9. In all, Greene had put $29.45 million into the campaign, which had spent $29.066 million, as of Aug. 10.

Philip Levine launches new ad that looks beyond primary” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The new 30-second spot “The Challenge,” appears more focused on Aug. 29 and beyond, pairing DeSantis and Trump as status quo for problems ranging from the environmental threats of offshore drilling to the rise of hate groups. “If Trump and DeSantis win, nothing will change,” Levine says in the ad. “If we do, we take back our state.” The ad does go through the roll of many of the basic Democratic issues in this primary season: “We cannot have drilling,” Levine insists. “Our schools need help. And so do our teachers,” he follows up. “If we don’t expand Medicaid, women and children will suffer,” he continues. “Florida needs stronger gun laws, and we have to stop the hatred that’s tearing us apart.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Assignment editors — Levine will make campaign stops in West Central Florida for his early vote tour: 10:30 a.m., 13180 S. Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers; 1:30 p.m., 8731, Citizens Dr., New Port Richey; 2:30 p.m., 9220 Spring Hill Dr., Spring Hill; 4:30 p.m., 930 E. Parker St., Lakeland.

Assignment editors – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King will continue his Fearless for Florida bus tour in Central Florida with a “welcome back” rally, 5:30 p.m., Winter Park Farmers Market, 200 W. New England Ave., Winter Park.

Ryan Torrens calls for truce in Democratic race for Attorney General” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – I’ll drop mine if you drop yours, Torrens told Sean Shaw on Sunday night. Lawsuit, that is. Torrens, a Democratic candidate for Florida Attorney General, sprang a Sunday night surprise on Shaw, his primary opponent and a Tampa state representative. “Let’s both agree to drop our lawsuits – right now – and instead of meeting in a courtroom on Wednesday to tear each other down, let’s meet for a joint press conference, declaring loud and clear that no matter who prevails in this primary, we will stand united to make sure we elect a Democratic attorney general in November,” Torrens – a  consumer-rights attorney in Tampa – said in a press release.

For Ag. Comm. hopeful Roy David Walker, questions abound on bio, finances” via Florida Politics — A resident Broward County, Walker’s main claim to fame is that he resigned after Republican Gov. Scott banned the use of the words “climate change” in official state communications. Through his website boasts several scientific and environmental bona fides, the reality behind Walker’s background — and his campaign — is far from impressive. While he holds two degrees in environmental policy/management, Walker’s education was, in fact, through the American Public University, a West Virginia-based online-only, for-profit college. And though Walker claims to have held “research positions” at various state and federal conservation agencies, he was not employed by any of them. For example, his role at the state Fish and Wildlife Commission was checking-in duck hunters at a stormwater treatment plant. But it is Walker’s campaign finances in his bid for Agriculture Commissioner that raise the most concern. Several news outlets, including the Tampa Bay Times, noted many inconsistencies in Walker’s personal finances. In a disclosure document filed with the Florida Division of Elections, he claims a net worth of more than $138,000 and over $73K in student loans. Though campaign reports show him as “self-employed,” Walker managed to loan his campaign nearly $160,000. Also, he filed every campaign finance report late, and was fined thousands of dollars. This ability to loan (and pay fees) simply does not jive with Walker’s financial past.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —

Load up: Committee raises bank to fight gambling measure” via the News Service of Florida — The committee, Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3, Inc., filed paperwork with the state July 18 and raised the money from Aug. 1 through Aug. 7. Contributions included $500,000 from Jacksonville Greyhound Racing, Inc., a Northeast Florida gambling operator, and $250,000 from Fontainebleau Florida Hotel, LLC of Miami Beach, according to campaign-finance reports. The Fontainebleau is owned by real estate billionaire Jeffrey Soffer, who also owns South Florida’s former Mardi Gras Casino and Race Track, now called “The Big Easy Casino.” Chairing the committee is Dan Adkins, the longtime head of the Hallandale Beach casino and racetrack. If approved by at least 60 percent of voters, the ballot proposal would change the Florida Constitution and give voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state.

New committee raises money to fight gambling measure” via the News Service of Florida — The committee, Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3, Inc., filed paperwork with the state July 18 and raised the money from Aug. 1 through Aug. 7. Contributions included $500,000 from Jacksonville Greyhound Racing, Inc., a Northeast Florida gambling operator, and $250,000 from Fontainebleau Florida Hotel, LLC of Miami Beach, according to campaign-finance reports. The committee opposes a proposed constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 3, that will appear on the November general election ballot. If approved by 60 percent of voters, the ballot proposal would change the Florida Constitution and give voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state.

Judge promises quick ruling in dispute over education amendment” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – A Leon County judge indicated that he hopes to rule by Monday on whether to strip from the November ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that could deprive county school boards of oversight of charter schools. “I hesitate to overpromise and under deliver, but my goal is to have this decided by Monday morning,” Circuit Judge John Cooper said … Veteran Tallahassee education policy litigator Ron Meyer argued for the league (backed by co-counsel from the Southern Poverty Law Center) that the ballot summary attempts to misrepresent what it would do, misleading voters. The amendment also contains provisions for establishing term limits for school board members, and requiring a “civics literacy” curriculum.

Nancy Soderberg takes solid lead in CD 6 Democratic primary — A new poll in Florida’s 6th Congressional District gives a significant lead to Soderberg, with nearly half the 407 likely Florida Democratic primary voters surveyed say they support the former ambassador. In the survey by St. Pete Polls, conducted August 17, Soderberg took just under 50 percent of total support, nearly 56 percent of those who already voted, as well as almost 48 percent of those planning to vote in the primary August 28. Democrat Stephen Sevigny came in second with nearly 19 percent; nearly 20 percent remain undecided. About three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents say they plan to vote in the primary, with 28 percent already voted.

David Shapiro gets support from Jan Schneider in denouncing ‘nasty, lying ads’” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Shapiro, a Siesta Key attorney, is facing Sarasota attorney Schneider in the District 16 Democratic primary. But Schneider isn’t the one running the attack ads, and she even went so far as to defend her fellow Democrat against the ad financed by Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan. Schneider said Buchanan is running “nasty, lying ads.” “We run a civil campaign,” she said.

Assignment editors – Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican running for an open seat in Congressional District 17, is expected to speak to the East County Republican Club. That’s at 6:30 p.m., Superior Word Fellowship, 6512 Superior Ave., Sarasota.

’Working mom’ in pro-Brian Mast ad is a GOP candidate for state House … in Pennsylvania” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A third-party ad in support of Mast‘s re-election in Florida’s 18th Congressional District features testimony from a “working mom” on the benefits of the GOP tax cuts passed late last year. Left unsaid in the ad? That working mom who’s supporting a U.S. House candidate from Florida is a candidate herself for the state House of Representatives … in Pennsylvania. The ad is not from Mast’s own campaign. Instead, it was posted in March by American Action Network, a conservative 501(c)(4) organization. In it, a woman identified as Natalie Mihalek speaks out about the tax bill’s benefits to middle-class families. That’s the same Natalie Mihalek who is registered to run for the Pennsylvania State House in District 40.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Mast doubling up Lauren Baer’s cash on hand in CD 18” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Mast held just under $1.8 million after data from the most recent period of July 1 to Aug. 8 was added. Mast pulled in just under $300,000 during that period. That was nearly equaled by Democrat Baer, who earned over $270,000 during the period. But she had under $900,000 on hand, compared to Mast’s roughly $1.8 million.

Nicolas Kimaz calls on Javier Manjarres to release Air Force records or drop out” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Manjarres released a mailer tying him to the Air Force, despite the Air Force’s own records showing Manjarres never completed basic training. Kimaz says Manjarres can clear this up by simply releasing his discharge records. The DD-214, or “Report of Separation,” can display an individual’s “[d]ate and place of release from active duty” as well as their “[l]ast duty assignment and rank,” according to the National Archives. “If it corroborates his story, then fine,” Kimaz said. Still, he argues Manjarres should produce his DD-214 “or drop out of the race immediately.”

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 3 —

Elections complaint filed against nonprofit backing Olysha Magruder in SD 8” via Florida Politics — A Florida nonprofit known as Liberation Ocala African American Council Inc. has been making a late push for Magruder, but its methods may be running afoul of state campaign finance laws. The company, run by former Marion County NAACP President Whitfield Jenkins, has footed the bill for some direct mail campaigns supporting Magruder and opposing her primary opponent, Kayser Enneking. The mailers also hit Enneking, a physician, for being “privileged” and unaware of the struggles “average citizens face,” with another attempting to paint their primary battle as “rigged” and portraying Enneking as a “puppet” of the Florida Democratic Party. But despite the numerous factual errors in the mailers, there are many questions about whether they are legal and how they are being paid for. Ft. Lauderdale attorney Jason B. Blank, who is not affiliated with Enneking’s campaign, filed a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission seeking clarification on whether nonprofit corporations can advocate for or against individual candidates without following the reporting guidelines of a political committee. According to the Florida Division of Elections, that’s a resounding “no.”

A nonprofit supporting Olysha Magruder gets hit with a elections complaint.

Janet Cruz questions Hispanic group backing Dana Young in state Senate race” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce endorsed state Sen. Young who’s being challenged for re-election by Rep. Cruz. But the Cruz campaign shot back that the chamber is actually “a front group” for special interests including offshore oil drilling, corporate charter schools and others. Young and Cruz, who’s Hispanic, are running in a district that includes heavily Hispanic areas of West Tampa and Town ‘n’ Country. The Wellington-based Hispanic chamber’s president, Julio Fuentes, has written op-ed pieces arguing for offshore drilling and more charter schools, and the organization is a member of a new group formed to advocate offshore energy exploration. Fuentes said his group chose Young because, “She has been a true champion for small businesses (and) for education, specifically the Florida tax credit scholarship program,” which diverts corporate tax revenue to a voucher program for low-income families.

Manny Diaz retains money lead despite strong fundraising period for David Perez” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Diaz, who is attempting to move to Senate District 36 after representing House District 103, is the only Republican filed to run in the race. He brought in more than $4,600 in outside contributions from Aug. 4 to Aug. 10. Nearly all of that came from assorted PACs related to entities such as the Duke Energy Corporation and Holland & Knight law firm. Diaz spent even more than that during the same period. He dropped more than $2,600 on various supplies and just over $1,500 on campaign door-hangers. Another $500 went to canvassing, and $444 went toward meals among other, smaller expenditures. Still, Diaz holds plenty of money as he readies for the general. He’s brought in more than $450,000 overall, spending just over $250,000 of that.

Jason Pizzo primed to unseat Daphne Campbell, poll says” via Florida Politics — According to a new survey from St. Pete Polls, conducted Aug. 16, Pizzo leads Campbell by 14 points among Senate District 38’s likely primary election voters, about a third of whom said they were undecided less than two weeks out from the Aug. 28 nominating contest. Of the 42 percent of voters who said they’d already ticked a box and sent in their ballot, Pizzo led 42-32 percent with 26 percent saying they were “undecided.” Pizzo’s support crosses party lines. He leads 40-26 percent among Democrats, 43-23 percent among Republicans and 39-32 percent among unaffiliated and third-party voters.

The primary between Daphne Campbell, Jason Pizzo heats up.

Pizzo approaches primary with large cash lead over Campbell” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Pizzo maintains more than $50,000 cash on hand himself, with another few thousand available in a pair of committees associated with his campaign. Campbell, meanwhile, has just over $3,000 available in her campaign. An associated committee, Millennials for Change PC, has spent more money than it received. Looking at the most recently reported fundraising period, from Aug. 4 to Aug. 10, Pizzo’s campaign took in $2,115 in outside contributions, with Pizzo chipping in another $20,000 in self-funding. Much of that $2,115 was made up of contributions from individuals. Another $1,000 came from a group called the Florida Laborers Political Committee. In all, Pizzo has raised more than $123,000 in outside contributions while adding a total of $320,000 of loans to his campaign.

Campbell, Pizzo trade barbs in CBS Miami debate” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Jim DeFede, host of the CBS Miami program, moderated the discussion between the two. And it was apparent throughout that Campbell struggled to answer DeFede’s questions. This was most evident during a discussion on LGBTQ rights. DeFede appeared to trip up Campbell on the issue of same-sex marriage and gay adoptions, eliciting a confusing set of answers on the topic. DeFede pressed Campbell on her 2015 vote to maintain a ban on gay adoptions. “The gay people have their rights, I have my rights,” Campbell responded as justification for her vote, which again, would have denied those rights to gay couples. “I took an oath to serve everyone. I don’t discriminate. I have gay people working in my office. I have gay friends. But they have their rights; I have my rights.” “But again, in 2015, you voted on House Bill 7013, which would’ve kept the ban [on gay adoptions] in place,” DeFede responded. “So that’s you voting to say your beliefs are more important than their rights.” “No, that’s not true,” replied Campbell.

Matt Spritz faces questions after ‘Never Trump’ quote resurfaces” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The since-deleted Facebook comment from Spritz read, “Never said I was for [Donald] Trump. I’m not. Nor will I defend him.” Accountant Mike Caruso, who’s facing off against Spritz for the GOP nomination, released a statement on Facebook hammering Spritz for his comments. Caruso declared he “has been behind President Donald Trump since the beginning. No questions asked.” But it’s not just his primary opponent criticizing Spritz on the Trump issue. Sue Snowden, who served as chair of the Trump campaign in Palm Beach County, said Spritz was a non-figure when it came to the 2016 campaign. “I never saw or heard of Matt Spritz during the entire 15 months of my being the chair,” Snowden said.

Michael Gottlieb tops Democratic competitors in HD 98 fundraising” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Aug. 4 to Aug. 10, Gottlieb earned just over $6,000 in contributions. The vast majority of that money came from various PACs, law firms and attorneys. Grieco spent nearly 10 times as much as he brought in, with expenditures approaching $60,000. More than $56,000 of that went toward campaign materials ahead of the Aug. 28 primary. Gottlieb is one of five Democrats running for the seat vacated by state Rep. Katie Edwards-Walpole, who decided not to pursue another term. Over the course of the campaign, Gottlieb has spent more than he’s taken in from outside sources. But a $50,000 self-loan from March is keeping his campaign in the black, with more than $40,000 still on hand. That number leads the Democratic field.

Michael Grieco wins fundraising period in HD 113 on back of $20k loan” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Grieco is competing with another former Miami Beach Commissioner, Deede Weithorn, along with attorney Kubs Lalchandani for the Democratic nomination. Grieco added just a single $250 outside donation from Aug. 4 through Aug. 10 … That’s in addition to the $20,000 loan. Overall, Grieco has brought in nearly $140,000 during his campaign. $45,000 of that comes in the form of self-loans. The Grieco campaign has spent just over $87,000, leaving it with just over $52,000 on hand. Grieco’s political committee, Strong Leadership for South Florida, earned no contributions during the recent reporting period. That group maintains less than $1,000 cash on hand.

What Kevin Sweeny is reading — “Blue wave? Not here: Democrats will have few choices in local elections” via Jared Keever of the St. Augustine Record — In three of six partisan races for seats representing St. Johns County, Democrats have failed to field even a single candidate, let alone a choice of candidates for primary voters. That means, depending on where one lives, they may not even see a local partisan race on their primary ballot. Voters in southern St. Johns County will because three Volusia County Democrats are running in the primary for the District 6 congressional race. That is the seat left open by DeSantis. The district includes a portion of St. Johns County and Flagler and Volusia counties. For those Democrats further north, in District 4, they won’t see a candidate on their primary ballot, though a Ponte Vedra Beach Democrat, George “Ges” Selmont, is mounting a challenge to Republican incumbent Rep. John Rutherford in the general election.

George “Ges” Selmont, one of the rare Democrats on the general election ballot in Northeast Florida.

Great read — “Is the ever-weird Florida man becoming Florida politician?” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press — Over the past week, a legislative candidate staged an elaborate scam to try to convince people she was a college graduate. Another candidate had to deny putting out a Facebook ad accusing an opponent of distributing tainted breast milk. And then there’s the thing about, well, sphincter bleaching … Even for longtime followers of the Florida experience (guns, gators, greed), this is a bit confounding. “Florida politics has always been as weird as Florida in general, but this year has seen a Twilight Zone level of campaign screw-ups, oddball candidates, post Republican Trumpers in all their lunatic glory, edge cases, easily debunked fraudsters and a cavalcade of stupid,” said Rick Wilson, a GOP consultant whose hostility toward the president he recently channeled into a best-selling book. “The political subspecies of ‘Florida Man’ is in full glory.” Ah yes, Florida man. The now revered meme and trope about bizarre incidents in the Sunshine State often spread across the internet faster than a startled palmetto bug in the middle of the night. It does not on most days refer to those men and women who have sought public office.

— AMENDMENT 8 GETS BOOST —

Amendment 8, known as the education amendment, received a major boost today from Howard Rich, chairman and founder of U.S. Term Limits, another supporter going all-in on the amendment, which among its policies would create eight-year term limits for Florida school board members, bringing fresh faces and ideas to education. Rich announced his $100k donation to 8isGreat.org, a non-profit organization created to promote the proposed amendment’s passage.

“To truly have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, we need to put an end to career politicians who are in it for themselves more than for their constituents,” said Rich. “I am proud to support the work taking place in Florida to make sure education in our rapidly changing world is served by fresh ideas from citizen legislators.”

In addition to term limits, the amendment would remove red tape, making way for student-centered public education possibilities, and it would prioritize and protect civic education to help students become informed, engaged citizens.

— DUTY CALLS —

The new political vogue: Women with military experience running for office.

“[There’s a] crop of female veterans running for Congress in this year’s midterm elections,” write Laurie Kellman and Bill Barrow for The Associated Press. “ … They’re part of a record number of women running for seats in Congress, but in certain ways, they are a class apart.”

They’re “mission-driven” and frame their ballot presence as a continuation of service, “to work toward a common goal.”

Remember her?: MJ Hegar, the Texas congressional candidate whose awesome ad went viral, gave the movement a face and story.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

 

Putting criticism to rest: As one source tells AP, “One of the traditional knocks against female candidates is ‘they aren’t tough enough, they aren’t strong enough, and they might not have the leadership skills.’” That’s no longer a question, particularly because female combat vets are filling up the ballot.

#MeToo: All have highlighted their uniqueness in the military, working side-by-side at times with mostly men. All have also recounted sexism and the abuses of power accompanied by it.

— STATEWIDE —

Mike Carroll takes new job with Lutheran Services of Florida” via WFLA NewsChannel 8 (Tampa) – Florida DCF Secretary Carroll is taking a job with Lutheran Services of Florida (LSF) as Executive Vice President of Programs a month after he resigns his state post Sept. 6 … At LSF, he will oversee a number of programs involving juvenile justice as well as state-funded foster care contracts in Pinellas and Fort Myers. Carroll recently ordered major reforms in Hillsborough County’s state-funded foster care program after an 8 ‘On Your Side’ investigation revealed foster kids living day and night in a gas station parking lot.  

Florida’s prisons are more expensive than ever. What will the next Governor do about it?” via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union — How he or she would do so falls on a single but complex question: Does Florida’s harsh penal system need reform? Putnam sees no need for change, vowing to veto any effort to reduce sentences that he says have made the state safer. DeSantis has been virtually silent on the issue. The Democratic candidates say the criminal justice system is broken and in need of fixing. All of them agree that judges need more discretion, that mandatory minimum laws need reform, and eliminate private prisons. But they differ in how to prioritize policies.

You do it ‘to survive.’ Ex-inmate at Florida women’s prison tells how staff extorted sex” via Julie Brown of the Miami Herald — For Luana Santos, every day at Lowell Correctional Institution was horrific, but her darkest days came when she was put into confinement — unable to speak to another human being for two months, except the orderlies who served her food. For months, officials at the Central Florida women’s prison knew that the assistant warden, Marty Martinez, had been sexually involved with Santos — but it was Santos who often paid the price when the rumor mill became too loud to ignore. It wasn’t Martinez who got into trouble; it was Santos who was put into “lock,” or confinement. Inmates and officers were all too familiar with the 55-year-old assistant warden’s obsession with young, pretty, petite female prisoners. He had squired so many young women at the prison that he had earned the nickname “Daddy,’’ the Florida Department of Corrections found in a 2015 internal investigation.

Former inmate Laura Santos. (Image via Miami Herald)

NRA: Legislators who voted against stand your ground special session will get a higher grade” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — Democrats did Republicans a “great service” by calling for a special legislative session on stand your ground. That’s according to National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer, who sent out a news release saying that lawmakers who voted against the session will see their grades boosted by the national gun rights group. “As voters are heading to the polls in the Primary, they can be confident in the knowledge that they know exactly where their elected officials stand on the important constitutional right of self-defense,” Hammer wrote. Although no special session was called, Hammer said the vote gave legislators a chance to improve their standing with the NRA. In particular, Hammer wrote, legislators who saw their grades drop after voting for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act — which included modest gun restrictions — could achieve a marginally better score if they voted against the stand your ground special session.

Julie Brown, Gary Clark to stay on PSC” via Florida Politics – Incumbents Brown and Clark are staying on the Florida Public Service Commission. Gov. Scott on Friday said he had reappointed the two to serve another four-year term each. His picks are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate. The five-member panel regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities. Clark, 50, of Chipley, had been Deputy Secretary of land and recreation at the Department of Environmental Protection. Brown, 43, of Tampa, previously was Associate Legal Counsel for First American Title Insurance Co., and an assistant city attorney for the City of Tampa.

4 trustees resign from B-CU, more likely to follow” via T. S. Jarmusz of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Four members of the Bethune-Cookman University’s board of trustees resigned this week — and more could follow — amid an ongoing financial crisis that’s prompted calls for their ouster from alumni and a protest involving students and employees at a board meeting. The resignations came from former board chair Joe PetrockRafael A. Ramirez Jr., Michael D. Walsh, and Nancy Lohman, according to current board chair Michelle Carter-Scott. The resignations follow a letter from B-CU National Alumni Association President Robert Delancy citing the board’s failures to protect the school’s finances and calling for the resignations of several members, including Carter-Scott and Petrock. “I’m fed up with it. I’m out of there,” Petrock said. “But it’s not because I did something wrong.”

Seminole tax collector on Facebook: How do Muslims benefit society? Asking for a friend” via Marco Santana and Michael Williams of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg touched off a firestorm with a Facebook post that many have deemed Islamophobic. “Very simple question,” the post read. “Name just ONE society in the developed world that has benefited in ANY WAY from the introduction of more Muslims. Just one. Asking for a friend.” In a comment under the status, Greenberg linked to an article from “JihadWatch.org,” which claimed that a toddler was the victim of female genital mutilation in London. By 5 p.m. the post had more than 50 shares and 100 comments, with opinions ranging from anger to full-throttled support. Greenberg defended the status by saying he was copying the question that a friend, Neal Boortz, posted on Twitter. Boortz was an author who hosted a nationally syndicated radio show, which ended in 2013.

Joel Greenberg asks for a friend: “Are Muslims bad?”

Ex-state attorney running for judge stokes the wrath of the powerful” via John Pacenti of the Palm Beach Post — A former state attorney, Michael McAuliffe is running to be a circuit judge — a powerful position that can oversee multimillion-dollar civil disputes or the fate of convicted murderers facing the death penalty. He’s been gone from the political scene for six years after he abruptly exited the state attorney’s office in March 2012 with 8½ months left in his term. He went to work for energy magnate and Palm Beacher Bill Koch — the lesser known brother of the conservative kingpins. McAuliffe played a central role in the palace intrigue of Koch’s West Palm Beach-based Oxbow Carbon where the billionaire accused him of high corporate betrayal. The official line from Oxbow is he resigned in February 2016, but in court testimony, Koch said he fired McAuliffe. Now that he aims to come back to public service, McAuliffe is proving to be powerfully polarizing. His judicial campaign has ignited animosities from bridges burned while it is amassing key support. The sheriff provides significant law enforcement backing, but the county mayor excoriates him.

Think you know stand your ground? The recent Clearwater case tells us you’re probably wrong” via Kathryn and Zachary Simpson of the Tampa Bay Times — Seemingly no one can agree on what stand your ground means. It says people who fear they are about to be seriously hurt or killed do not need to attempt to flee before using force and are later immune from prosecution. But when asked to apply it, lawyers, legislators and armchair commenters rattle off conflicting interpretations. An amendment to the law last year put the burden of proof in a stand your ground hearing on prosecutors instead of the defense. That means if Michael Drejka’s lawyers file a motion to dismiss the case, saying he feared for his life after Markeis McGlockton shoved him to the ground July 19 in a convenience store parking lot, the State Attorney’s Office will have to prove otherwise. If Drejka’s lawyers push for a stand your ground hearing, prosecutors will have to demonstrate “clear and convincing” evidence that McGlockton — who approached Drejka as he was arguing with McGlockton’s girlfriend over why she parked in a handicap-reserved spot without a placard — did not pose a threat of serious injury in the moments before the shooting.

Want to win a Florida liquor license? Entry period starts Monday” via Susan Taylor Martin of the Tampa Bay Times — This year, an unusually large number of applicants is expected, due to a near-record number of new licenses (59 in 30 counties) and increased awareness of a drawing that the state Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco has never done much to publicize. The potential rewards are great — licenses in many counties can be sold for at least $100,000, and they can bring as much as $500,000 in tourist-heavy ones like Monroe and Walton. Florida is one of 17 states with quotas on the number of liquor licenses they issue, and it is among even fewer that distribute them via a lottery. A county gets one license for every 7,500 increase in population: This year, Pasco and Hernando each get one and Hillsborough gets five (Pinellas, largely built out, gets none.)

— D.C. MATTERS —

4.3 M Floridians to get new Medicare cards next month” via The Associated Press — Federal health officials are mailing the new cards in geographic waves, so Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina are also getting new cards along with 4.3 million Floridians. The new cards are free and will be automatically mailed. The cards should arrive by the end of September. They won’t have your Social Security number of them anymore. The cards also have new features to help beneficiaries detect and avoid identify theft and scams. There are no changes to Medicare benefits.

— OPINIONS —

Bill Cotterell: Were collective editorials bold or fodder for president’s tweets” via the Tallahassee Democrat — As you’ve probably heard, about 350 newspapers of the roughly 1,300 daily newspapers nationwide, collectively rebutted the president’s accusation that journalists are “the enemy of the people.” They most assuredly changed few, if any, minds. It was surprising to see some readers scolding the Democrat for not joining the show of support for our trade. This is, after all, the only line of work specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights and the president has, after all, egregiously lied about the press. It was startling last week to see news stories about a poll indicating something like 40 percent of Republicans believes Trump should be able to close any publication he dislikes … But it’s such defenses of press freedom, happening in small ways and in big stories day by day, that give the lie to Trump’s “enemy of the people” and “fake news” bluster. A national day of editorial protest was nice but, in this case, actions really do speak louder than words.

Joe Henderson: Graham focused on policies, not breaking ceilings” via Florida Politics — Say what you will about Trump, but in 2016, while Clinton was projecting an air that no one would be dumb enough to vote for him, he pounded the points over and over about border security, tax cuts, shredding regulations and so on. That message flipped enough key states, including Florida, to put him in the White House. So, when I asked Graham about the $1 billion backlog in facilities maintenance at Hillsborough County public schools, she had a ready answer. “This is another example of the starvation at our schools after 20 years of Republican rule. They have not received the resources they need for the maintenance and upkeep of the schools, and as a result, we have seen lead in the water of other school districts as well,” she said. I followed up with a question about the growth of charter schools in the state. That has been a key push for Republican lawmakers in Tallahassee. “My concern about charter schools is that they have morphed into something they weren’t intended to be. Charter schools initially were meant to be community-based that were supported by the families and were part of the of the school district,” she said. “They have become for-profit behemoths that are taking money away from our public schools. In many cases, we’re finding that the education they were providing is not of a quality we should expect at any school.” Yep, it’s a campaign that’s all about the policy and not so much about the personality.

Nancy Smith: Party split or not, Republicans using George Soros to smear of the Republicans? Offensive” via Sunshine State News — The GOP primary pits tea-party-backed Scott Sturgill against conservative Mike Miller, a state representative since 2014 for the 47th District … The Sturgill camp is stoked by the fire of Jacob Engels‘ online Central Florida Post, which writes, “Miller and his allies have been relentlessly touting the backing of a RINO deep state group calling themselves the ‘Republican Main Street Partnership.'” Engels quotes a Michelle Malkin column from 2014: “‘What do George Soros, labor unions and money-grubbing former GOP representative Steven LaTourette all have in common? They’re united against tea-party conservatives. And they have all operated under the umbrella of D.C. groups masquerading as ‘Main Street’ Republicans.'” Sorry, Jacob, but I’ve always had a lot of respect for Republican Main Street Partnership. It’s transparent, fiercely proud of the candidates it endorses and committed to advancing positive policies and solutions that have tangible effects on American families. Main Street is dedicated to electing and defending legislators who will govern effectively in the Republican tradition. It is comprised of more than 70 members of Congress, in the U.S. House and Senate — all solutions-oriented, fiscal realists and defenders of national security. This is a bad thing?

— MOVEMENTS —

Appointed — James Baxley to the 5th Circuit Court; Nickolas Hunter Davis and Peter Holden to the 17th Circuit Court; Hope Pattey to the Polk County Court.

Capital City Consulting reports $2.5M in second-quarter earnings” via Florida Politics — The lucrative quarter should come as no surprise — Capital City Consulting has consistently placed among the state’s top firms when it comes to revenue. The Q2 team of Jim BoxoldJustin DayMegan FayKen GrangerNick IarossiDean IzzoAshley KalifehAndrew KetchelRon LaFaceDaniel NewmanScott RossChris Schoonover, and Gerald Wester juggled the needs of 135 clients during the quarter, and each report was rife with recognizable names. On the legislative side, health insurer Aetna topped the client sheet with an estimated $45,000 in Q2 payments. Five contracts followed at the $35,000 level: The Everglades Foundation, Florida Association of Health Plans, Jacksonville Greyhound Racing, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office and RAI Services Company.

Diverse clients boost Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney bottom line” via Florida Politics — Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney brought in an estimated $720,000 in fees during between April and June … The haul represents only a minor backslide from the firm’s prior report, which saw the team — Keith ArnoldBrett BacotMarnie GeorgeMichael HarrellPaul HawkesJim MagillKimberly McGlynnIvette O’DoskiTimothy Stanfield and Mac Stipanovich — bring in $785,000 during the three months that included the 2018 Legislative Session. Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s legislative compensation report lists State Farm and U.S. Sugar as its top paying clients this go around, with each paying between $30,000 and $40,000 over the three-month stretch.

PinPoint Results notches $405K in Q2 lobbying fees” via Florida Politics — The new filing indicates Robert BeckBryan CherryTanya Jackson and the firm’s new addition, former state Rep. Marti Coley Eubanks, brought in $225,000 in pay from their legislative branch clients and tacked on another $180,000 for executive branch lobbying work — those figures best the firm’s estimated Q1 earnings, which clocked in at $375,000. The team showed a total of 31 legislative clients in its new filing, a small boost over the 29 principals that recorded during the first quarter. The new additions were St. Petersburg-based Companions & Homemakers, Inc. and the Nemours Foundation, where Eubanks had worked as governmental relations director before joining the firm in May. Topping the legislative report were seven principals that paid an estimated $15,000 apiece: nonprofit behavioral health care organization Aspire Health Partners, the Broward County government, the Florida Council on Aging, health services company Independent Living Systems, business software company Infor, medical software company Mediware Information Systems and labor union SEIU 1199 United Health Care Workers.

Personnel note: Rachel Nordby joins Shutts & Bowen” via Florida Politics – Nordby, who’s been a deputy solicitor general for Attorney General Pam Bondi, is heading to the Shutts & Bowen law firm as a partner in the Tallahassee office, the firm announced Friday. Nordby, who starts Sept. 10, will be vice chair of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group … Nordby, a 2008 graduate of the Florida State University College of Law, is married to Daniel Nordby, currently general counsel to Scott — and a former Shutts partner. As general counsel, he’s Scott’s top legal advisor holds great sway over who Scott taps for judicial appointments … Jason Gonzalez, managing partner of the firm’s Tallahassee office, is a former general counsel to the Republican Party of Florida and to Gov. Charlie Crist.

Rachel Nordby joins Shutts & Bowen.

Personnel note: Matthew Surrency named president of Florida League of Mayors” via Florida Politics – Surrency, mayor of Hawthorne in Alachua County, was named president of the Florida League of Mayors at the organization’s annual business meeting Thursday. Surrency will serve a one-year term as the League’s president. “I’m honored,” Surrency said. “Mayors across Florida have long benefited from working together to solve common issues. I’m really looking forward to working with our Board of Directors and the members this year to continue doing exactly that.” Surrency is serving his fifth term on the League’s Board of Directors.

— ALOE —

For a major Disney collector, it’s the magic hour” via Frank DeCaro of The New York Times — Colorful curiosities and hundreds more are part of a temporary exhibit called “That’s From Disneyland!” All of them (even the Country Bear Jamboree postcard machine and the triangular Tinker Bell parking-lot sign) belong to one man, Richard Kraft, who has been amassing big-ticket Disneyland-related objects for 25 years. On Aug. 25, however, he is abdicating. Starting then, he is putting his happy holdings on the auction block, with estimated prices ranging from $50 for a set of Haunted Mansion “hitchhiking ghost” souvenir beanbags to $150,000 for a Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride vehicle. “I’m getting rid of everything,” Kraft said, “because I’m of the philosophy that if I kept one thing, I’d keep two and then we’d be selling just one Mickey Mouse piece of plastic, and we don’t want that.” A portion of the proceeds from the two-day auction and related events will go to help children with special needs. Kraft’s 4-year-old daughter was born with the genetic disorder Coffin-Siris syndrome, which can cause learning disabilities.

Richard Kraft, left, and his son Nicholas lead a tour through the memorabilia. (Image via Emily Berl/The New York Times)

Happy birthday from the weekend to Rheb Harbison of GrayRobinson, the Tallahassee Democrat’s William Hatfield, our friend Merritt Lindstrom, and Brian Seel. Celebrating today are Mark BubriskiMatt Florell of St. Pete Polls, former state Rep. Alex Miller and Janell Hendren.

How the FBI f*cked Andrew Gillum

Unless a caravan of black Chevy Suburbans is spotted this week arriving at Tallahassee’s City Hall, that town’s mostly ceremonial mayor, Andrew Gillum, will have progressed through the entire Democratic primary for Florida governor.

That’s without being charged – or, perhaps more importantly, exonerated – by the FBI as part of its investigation into public corruption in the Capital City.

A year ago, rumors swirled throughout Tallahassee that arrests, including Gillum’s, were imminent. Then nothing happened.

Six weeks later, the whispers started again. And, just as before, there were no handcuffs in sight.

In July, the Tallahassee Democrat’s Jeff Burlew reported a story headlined, “‘Indictment Eve’? Charges could come soon in FBI probe, experts say.” But Indictment Day never materialized.

Such is the ebb and flow of a saga which began in June 2017 when FBI agents delivered subpoenas requesting thousands of pages of records from key players in Tallahassee government.

Gillum insists that he is not the target of the federal probe, but admits his longtime friendship with Adam Corey, a lobbyist who appears to be at the center of the investigation, and a trip to Costa Rica in which Gillum paid cash for his share of a rental house shared with Corey and others, have made him a subject of scrutiny.

Corey very well could be arrested. So, too, could Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox. Gillum could be implicated. Or not.

But it’s likely nothing will happen before Aug. 28, when Florida Democrats choose their nominee for Governor.

As the Tampa Bay Times recently reminded readers, an unofficial, but often-cited Department of Justice regulation states that federal law enforcement officials are not to discuss or act on investigations within 60 days of an election.

We all witnessed what happened when James Comey violated this unofficial rule, by sending a bombshell letter to Congress that the bureau was looking to examine new evidence relevant to Hillary Clinton’s email case. Doing so changed the course of history.

The stakes in Florida are nowhere near as high as they were in the fall of 2016, but the FBI, by taking no action one way or the other in this case, has done as much damage to Gillum’s campaign as Comey did to Clinton’s.

Point blank: The FBI f*cked Andrew Gillum.

Now, it’s still possible Gillum will prevail next Tuesday, but that’s doubtful. If not, it will be difficult not to think what might have been.

If Gillum loses, it will be because not enough black voters realize Gillum is black.

Seriously.

Gillum, a strong, progressive black candidate, should be the overwhelming choice of the monolithic black vote.

He’s not.

Matt Isbell, a data consultant who’s supporting Gwen Graham, said recent polls show Gillum with a maximum of 30 percent support among black voters, far shy of the 70 percent the mayor is counting on.

And why don’t more black voters know about Gillum? Because Gillum’s campaign has not, at least until recently, raised the kind of money necessary to introduce himself to enough voters, black or otherwise.

And Gillum wasn’t able to raise serious money early on because (you can already see where this is going), he was dogged by the FBI investigation.

Democratic donors, still scarred by what happened with the FBI and Clinton, were unwilling to bankroll another candidate who, if he were to be the nominee, could be filleted by the Republicans if it turned out there’s more than smoke at the center of the dumpster fire in Tallahassee.

So Gillum has persevered and is, perhaps, surging at the end. The most recent polling shows that he has moved into third place, ahead of Jeff Greene and his millions of dollars.

Bernie Sanders was in-state for him over the weekend, delivering an earned media bonanza. There’s even a poll showing Gillum in second place with Democrats in the Panhandle, a region his campaign says its not even targeting with TV ads.

There is a powerful photograph of Gillum from this weekend and Bernie Sanders isn’t anywhere near it. The shot is of Gillum sitting alone during a Tampa NAACP candidate forum. Of the five Democrats running for Florida governor, he was the only one to show up.

Despite the horrible start to his campaign and in the face of a scandal which has perpetually swirled around him, Gillum has showed up every day of this primary campaign. Even his critics must acknowledge that.

Unfortunately for Gillum, just as the day Donald Trump first tweeted his support for Ron DeSantis is the most important moment for the Republican, the key moment on the Democratic side was June 2017 – when the FBI started demanding records from Gillum’s City Hall.

__

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post, republished with permission. 

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Hustlin’ 45

Rick Wilson, the Tallahassee-based Republican operative whose moonshot to the spotlight accompanied his unwithering criticism of President Donald Trump, came home this week.

His landing spot: The capital city’s Midtown Reader bookstore, to read from and discuss his new best-selling book, “Everything Trump Touches Dies.”

“This process started a little bit as catharsis,” Wilson told the large crowd. “I started out writing this book in a moment when I was frustrated with my own party for letting this creature take office and with the failures of leadership.”

Rick Wilson speaks to a packed house this week at Tallahassee’s Midtown Reader.

Initially, Wilson planned to take a “fairly academic” approach to write the book, but decided he’d rather “have some fun with it.” While there’s plenty of “Wilson-style humor,” his new work is balanced by “serious thought about the future of the country and the party,” he said.

He read a bit of prose aloud to the audience from a chapter that took umbrage with Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp.” In the segment, Wilson points to a turnover problem and early failures of the administration exacerbated by what he views as the President’s inability to make employment decisions independent from his connections to the private sector.

“Trump’s administration provides all the things you expect: Banality, incompetence, a stunning lack of policy knowledge and a slurry of people dragged from Trump’s business world who couldn’t manage a Waffle House,” Wilson read.

Afterward, he fielded questions – both from Republicans and Democrats – and covered a wide-ranging list of concerns from the audience, giving humorous replies almost always, although they were rooted in truths about the state of American politics.

Prefacing his discussion was news from the previous night that the book would top The New York Times best-sellers list for Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction.

While “blown away” by the reception, Wilson showed a sense of self-awareness of his media niche. A longtime GOP ad man and strategist, he’s staked claim to a unique pedestal from which to criticize a Republican President.

He’s captured an online following that on Twitter is edging toward the 400,000 mark, and noted the book’s success came without a network like “Fox News” promoting it day and night.

“If nothing else, I got hustle,” he confessed.

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Danny McAuliffe, Drew Wilson, Jim Rosica, Michael Moline and Peter Schorsch.

But first, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Take 5

State presses Bill Nelson to back hacking claim – Secretary of State Ken Detzner penned a letter this week to Sen. Nelson asking the longtime Florida lawmaker to substantiate his public comments that Russians had “penetrated” some Florida voting systems ahead of the 2018 midterm election. Nelson told a Tampa Bay Times reporter two weeks ago, “The Russians are in Florida’s election records” but did not provide any more details. Since then, both Gov. Rick Scott and Detzner have publicly sought more information on the alleged hackings. Detzner wrote to U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr asking for additional information before writing personally to Nelson. Scott, who’s attempting to unseat Nelson this fall, said Friday in St. Augustine that Nelson “needs to come clean.” He added, “Did they release classified information? And how did he have access to it? He doesn’t have the right to it; he’s not on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Or did he just completely make it up?”

Former justice challenges six amendments – Six of the eight constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission were challenged this week by retired state Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead. Anstead, who served on the Supreme Court 1994-2009, believes the contested amendments violate voters’ First Amendment rights since each one “bundles independent and unrelated proposals in a single ballot question.” The petition argues that the bundling “requires a voter to vote ‘yes’ for a proposal that the voter opposes in order to vote ‘yes’ for an independent and unrelated proposal the voter supports, and to vote ‘no’ for a proposal the voter supports in order to vote ‘no’ for an independent and unrelated proposal the voter opposes.” Amendments 6,7,8,9,10 and 11 are named in the petition. The lawsuit names Secretary of State Detzner as a defendant.

Unemployment lowest since 2007 – At a St. Augustine appearance on Friday, Gov. Scott said the state’s unemployment rate has dropped to 3.7 percent, the lowest recorded since April 2007. In a news release announcing the healthy economic indicator, Scott linked the employment level to the number of jobs — 1,595,000 — created since December 2010, one month before he took office. “Our soaring economy has allowed us to make investments in areas that matter to families, like education, transportation and protecting our environment,” Scott said. “That’s why Florida continues to outpace the nation in job growth and is the best state to find a job and raise a family.” According to state records, Florida created over 211,400 new private-sector jobs over the past year. The Sunshine State’s job growth rate has outpaced the nation’s for 75 of the last 76 months, with the outlier coinciding with Hurricane Irma.

State highlights debt reduction – Florida has eliminated more than $7 billion worth of debt, according to the state Division of Bond Finance. The decline, called a “sea change,” was spotlighted during a meeting of the Florida Cabinet this week in Tallahassee. Division of Bond Finance Director Ben Watkins credited Gov. Scott with pursuing an “unprecedented” policy of limited state borrowing, reports Lloyd Dunkelberger for the News Service of Florida. Watkins also highlighted how three major credit ratings groups had doled Florida a ‘triple-A’ rating. “The good news is it recognizes the strength of the state, the management of the state, the financial position and policies of the state, which translates into lower borrowing costs for the state,” Watkins told Scott. “It is, in effect, a validation from the rating agencies that we are doing the right thing.”

Revenue forecast remains steady – State lawmakers can expect to have a little more than $32 billion when they return to Tallahassee to craft the 2019-20 fiscal year budget, according to economists with the Revenue Estimating Conference. The panel met this week and reviewed details of revenue collected from state sales, documentary stamp, beverage, pari-mutuel, insurance premium, severance and corporate income taxes, along with other contributors to the General Revenue Fund. “It’s going to be a very stable picture for the Legislature, with no big changes,” said Amy Baker, coordinator for the Office of Economic and Demographic Research and the Legislature’s chief economist.

Scott recognizes entrepreneurs

During one of his last remaining Cabinet meetings, Gov. Scott took the time to acknowledge two promising small business ventures going on in the state.

Jason Kelloway, owner of Social Grounds Coffee Company in Jacksonville, received the Governor’s Business Ambassador Award. A formerly homeless veteran, Kelloway launched the business with the goal of helping veterans get back on their feet. Each purchase goes to helping employ and empower vets.

Rick Scott, Florida Cabinet give props to Jacksonville’s Social Grounds Coffee Company.

“Florida is the most veteran-friendly state in the nation, and it’s great to see veteran-owned companies succeed in Florida,” Scott said. In July, he poured coffee from the Jacksonville shop for troops in Kuwait.

Madison Setliff, a 23-year-old Tallahassee businesswoman, received the Governor’s Young Entrepreneur Award for her midtown clothing boutique, Sparkle by Madison.

“I am so honored to receive the Governor’s Young Entrepreneur Award,” Setliff said. “It’s wonderful to be able to not only own my business but also to be able to share my passion for fashion and style with young women in Tallahassee.”

Businesswoman Madison Setliff, 23, was recognized with the Governor’s Young Entrepreneur Award for her midtown clothing boutique, Sparkle by Madison.

Unclaimed treasure hunt

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is marking the start of the school year by reminding Floridians that the state might be holding unclaimed property that they’re entitled to recover.

The state devotes any proceeds from abandoned bank accounts, jewelry, coins, or other valuables to public schools.

Jimmy Patronis helps auction off Florida’s unclaimed treasure.

However, there’s no time limit for claiming such property — the state is obliged to pay legitimate claims.

Patronis said the “Back to School” unclaimed property initiative includes more than 4,600 accounts — including one worth more than $135,000.

Patronis has returned $361 million in unclaimed property since taking office last year.

You can search for your own unclaimed property at www.fltreasurehunt.gov.

Facebook scam alert

Patronis issued a consumer alert against scam artists trying to take advantage of Facebook’s new financial services offerings.

The platform is allowing financial services companies to use its Messenger app to handle credit card transactions, checking accounts and more. Criminals are cloning Facebook accounts for people’s friends and family to steal this sort of personal information.

Jimmy Patronis warns to aware of the latest Facebook scam.

Here’s Patronis’ advice:

— Watch out for subtle anomalies in the names of people who try to contact you. A random space or capitalization might be a tipoff.

— If an account looks fake, don’t accept the message.

— Report and block fake accounts right away.

— Keep up with Facebook’s updates on its efforts to detect senders’ locations and identify fake accounts.

— Notify your financial institution if your account is compromised or you think it’s been.

“There are as many as 13 million active Facebook users in Florida, and anyone can fall victim to this latest scam,” Patronis said. “These are not your friends; they are criminals actively looking to steal your personal information and your identity.”

Instagram of the Week

The cake is not a lie.

A post shared by Rick Wilson (@therickwilson) on

The week in appointments

5th Circuit Court

James R. Baxley, a Lake County Judge, fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Mark A. Nacke. A two-time graduate of the University of Florida, Baxley, 49, previously was a partner at Hatfield and Baxley P.A.

17th Circuit Court

Nickolas Hunter Davis, 37, of Fort Lauderdale, is an Assistant Statewide Prosecutor for the Office of the Attorney General and previously served as an Assistant State Attorney in the 17th Judicial Circuit. He received his bachelor’s degree from The University of South Carolina and his law degree from Washington and Lee University. Davis fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Circuit Judge Merrilee Ehrlich.

Peter Holden, 57, of Fort Lauderdale, has served as an Assistant State Attorney in the 17th Judicial Circuit since 1989. He received his bachelor’s degree from Nichols College and his law degree from Nova Law School. Holden fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Circuit Judge Lisa M. Porter.

Polk County Court

Hope Pattey, 47, is an Assistant State Attorney for the 10th Judicial Circuit and fills the vacancy created by the promotion of Judge Gerald P. Hill II. A graduate of the University of South Florida, Pattey went on to receive her law degree from Florida State University College of Law. She is 47 years old.

Sarasota County Court

Scott appointed Dana Moss, 47, of Lakewood Ranch. She is a felony division chief for the 12th Circuit Public Defender’s Office. Moss previously served as a police officer. She received her bachelor’s degree from Penn State University and her law degree from Florida Coastal Law School. Moss fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Judy Goldman.

Tallahassee Community College District Board of Trustees

Gov. Rick Scott reappointed Eugene Lamb, Jr. The 71-year-old, of Midway, is retired from working in the Tallahassee area as a teacher for 30 years and also served on the Gadsden County Commission for eight years. Lamb’s new term ends May 31, 2022. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Early Learning Coalition of Orange County

Scott appointed Linda Shaughnessy, 60, of Orlando, an accountant at St. James Cathedral School. She received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Loyola University. Shaughnessy succeeds Linda Gonzalez for a term ending April 30, 2021.

Honoring a ‘Champion of Service’

Sam Rogers, a Tallahassee-based, longtime community volunteer, was presented this week with the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award during a Florida Cabinet meeting.

Bestowing Rogers with the honor were Gov. Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO David Mica, Jr. Volunteer Florida is the state’s service agency.

Tallahassee-based volunteer Sam Rogers is recognized with the Champion of Service Award.

Rogers has mentored two first-grade students every year for almost two decades, helping them hone their reading skills and introducing them to art and culture. He is credited with being instrumental in partnering Kate Sullivan Elementary School with Trinity Methodist Church.

“Sam is extremely deserving of the Champion of Service Award,” Mica said. “As a direct result of his mentorship, local students are succeeding in school, developing valuable life skills and becoming well-rounded individuals – ensuring a bright future for both Tallahassee and the State of Florida.”

Added Scott: “Sam’s longstanding commitment to his community inspires those around him and helps make our state the best place to live in the country.

Gator gigging time

Alligator hunting season is here again, through Nov. 1.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has issued more than 7,500 permits, including an additional 1,313 countywide permits, this year.

It’s Florida’s alligator hunting season once again.

The hunt is part of the commission’s program to control the population Florida’s official state reptile, now estimated at 1.3 million. The alligator was among the species on the endangered list when first issued in 1967. Its numbers had recovered to the point that Florida removed it from the list in 1987.

Last year’s hunt produced 6,261 carcasses averaging 8 feet, 3 inches in length.

The commission also operates a nuisance alligator program — you can call 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286) to contact a state-sanctioned trapper to capture gators that pose risks to people or pets.

Good news for Doctors Lake

Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Travis Cummings, both of northeast Florida, this week announced money is ready to back essential water projects in Clay County.

On Wednesday, the two Republican lawmakers told residents that funding is on the way for a series of projects targeting water quality in Doctors Lake, a tributary of the nearby St. Johns River.

Funding is on the way for Doctors Lake, to help with water quality. (Image via News4Jax)

The money will be used to transition lakeside homeowners from septic to sewer systems, replace old septic tanks, and begin the Doctors Lake Enhanced Effluent Treatment Project, expected to eventually treat a minimum of 2 million gallons of water per day.

“We can work together to improve Doctors Lake, so Clay County residents may enjoy our precious natural resources for generations to come,” Cummings said.

Dr. Ann Shortelle, executive director of the St. Johns River Water Management District, added: “These proposed projects focus efforts on Doctors Lake, which has experienced water quality concerns for decades … As always, we look to the science to guide us in making sound decisions about project opportunities.”

Greenberg Traurig’s ‘Best Lawyers’

The 2019 edition of “Best Lawyers in America” is out, and Greenberg Traurig has a lot to celebrate.

The firm had 133 of its attorneys make the cut and was named the top firm in four Sunshine State markets: Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tallahassee.

In addition to a “Best Lawyers” top pick for those seeking counsel in the capital, Greenberg Traurig was honored as a “Top Listed” firm in seven practice areas, including Government Relations — not only does the international firm routinely make the top-5 in Florida lobbying pay, but it’s among the top-quality outlets, too.

Greenberg Traurig was recognized for having several top-rated lawyers in Florida.

The good news didn’t stop there. Among the 133 Greenberg Traurig lawyers singled out by the publication for their quality work were a dozen who earned the top-flight “attorney of the year” distinction in their practice areas.

The honor roll: Cesar Alvarez, International Trade and Finance Law; Hilarie Bass, Litigation-Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy); Bridget Berry, Employment Law-Management; Mark Bideau, Litigation – Securities Litigation-Labor & Employment; Mark Bloom, Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law; Michael Cherniga, Health Care Law; Lucia Dougherty, Administrative/Regulatory Law; Glenn Goldstein, Litigation-Banking and Finance; Barbara Hall, Government Relations Practice; Gregory Herbert, Litigation-Intellectual Property; Richard McCrea Jr., Litigation-Labor and Employment; and David Peck, Health Care Law.

AOB abuse alert

A business coalition is continuing its public relations offensive against assignment-of-benefits abuse by launching an interactive guide warning consumers of these contracts’ pitfalls.

The Consumer Protection Coalition’s Tips to Avoid Contractor Fraud & Abuse website warns against “deceptive” tactics including high-pressure sales, contracts with blank spaces, and offers to rebate the deductible so the repairs are free.

Also, there are links detailing how to verify property damage and check contractor references and get a written contract, and warning against paying up front.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce helped to organize the coalition.

“Peak hurricane season is here – the time when most major storms hit and the threat of AOB abuse increases,” said coalition member Logan McFaddin, regional manager for the Property and Casualty Insurers Association of America. “To prevent this type of abuse from happening now and in the future, consumer awareness is critical.

LeadingAge Florida recognized

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) recognized LeadingAge Florida members for “heroic efforts to care for Florida seniors in the days following Hurricane Irma.”

LeadingAge received a Silver Power Award for “Project Lifeline: Caring for Seniors in the Aftermath of Irma.” The project chronicles nine LeadingAge Florida members that delivered food, water and other supplies to communities of seniors impacted by the hurricane.

Steve Bahmer, LeadingAge Florida president and CEO.

“Many times, during the past year, I have been asked how our members dealt with Hurricane Irma and its aftermath,” said Steve Bahmer, LeadingAge Florida president and CEO. “There are a number of ways to answer that question, but the word that always jumps to the front of my mind is ‘character.’”

“This award isn’t ours. It’s our members,” he added. “It’s a national testimonial to the values of our Association, and to the power and depth of our members’ mission to care for older adults.”

From providing food, water and ice, in some cases diverting their own resources to help others, to filling vans and buses with various supplies and delivering them to troubled communities, LeadingAge Florida members quickly helped in whatever way they could, regardless of the provider community in need or its location.

The Able Trust backs training

Easterseals Florida, which provides services for children and adults with disabilities and their families, received a $60,000 grant this week from The Able Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Floridians with disabilities find employment.

The money will be used to support Easterseals’ STRIVE program, short for Skills Training Results in Vocational Employment.

The Able Trust cuts a big check for vocational training.

At the Igoe-Amar Center in West Palm Beach, STRIVE participants will receive curriculum over the course of 12 weeks, consisting of 30 hours split between the classroom and an on-site “hotel simulation room.”

“Supporting the Easterseals Florida and programs like the STRIVE in Hospitality Program are vital to helping people with disabilities find successful employment,” said Dr. Susanne Homant, president and CEO of The Able Trust. “They not only help those who use the program, but also the surrounding communities by providing area businesses with quality employees.”

“As Easterseals approaches 100 years of changing the lives of children and adults with disabilities, we look to the future and how we can continue to grow services for the community,” added Sue Ventura, president and CEO of Easterseals Florida.

FSU launches student resilience tool

In an effort to help students adjust to the university, improve mental health and lower stress, Florida State University will launch the Student Resilience Project.

“Florida State University recognizes that some incoming students have experienced significant family or community stress,” said Karen Oehme, director of the Institute for Family Violence Studies. “Unmanaged stress responses can interfere with student success in college and cause long-term negative consequences.”

FSU Provost Sally McRorie.

The soft launch for the online trauma resilience tool was Aug. 1, but by this fall, the Institute for Family Violence Studies at the FSU College of Social Work expects to fully launch the training.

The training uses animated instructions and videos reminiscent of TED Talks, according to the university. Each module teaches resilience and coping skills students may need for there time away from home. The university will welcome some 6,000 freshmen this fall.

“FSU recognizes the need to provide more tools to respond to the increasing mental health needs of our students,” said Sally McRorie, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “The project is open and frank about mental health topics our students may face and is intended to destigmatize and encourage seeking help.”

Seminole Sensation Week is back

An annual tradition tailored to promote student involvement at Florida State University begins this Wednesday, as the institution welcomes students back to campus for fall semester.

Known as Seminole Sensation Week, the university will host a weeklong series of events that help introduce students to an array of organizations and opportunities available outside of the classroom.

Seminole Sensation Week returns!

“Seminole Sensation Week is a campus tradition that creates moments for students to make connections and get involved at FSU,” said Lori Vaughn, interim director for Student Activities. “Becoming part of our campus community helps students succeed in their classes and beyond.”

New Student Convocation, the marquee event, is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. There, widely respected nuclear physicist and FSU faculty member Mark Riley will deliver the convocation address.

As is tradition, the President’s Welcome, hosted each year by FSU President John Thrasher, will take place after the convocation. The seven-day schedule of events can be found here.

Island View Park completed

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Franklin County, and The Trust for Public Land this week announced the completion of Island View Park, providing “improved public access to the beautiful coastal resources of this region.”

Island View Park is a 7-acre tract in Franklin County, about 1 mile east of the city of Carrabelle, with almost 900 feet fronting St. George Sound. The park includes a boardwalk with viewing areas, extensive landscaping with native trees and plants, two long fishing piers, shoreline access for paddle craft, and a central plaza with an information kiosk.

Island View Park is now ready for visitors.

Funding for park amenities, along with 10 years of operation and maintenance funds for the county ($2.6 million), came from an agreement with British Petroleum to conduct restoration projects to address injuries resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to enhance the public’s access to surrounding natural resources and increase recreational opportunities.

Additional funding for the Park was also provided by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

This project will enhance and increase the public’s use and enjoyment of the natural resources that were severely impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred April 20, 2010.

Capitol Directions

Personnel note: Matthew Surrency named president of Florida League of Mayors

Matthew Surrency, mayor of Hawthorne in Alachua County, was named president of the Florida League of Mayors at the organization’s annual business meeting Thursday.

Surrency will serve a one-year term as the League’s president.

“I’m honored,” Surrency said. “Mayors across Florida have long benefited from working together to solve common issues. I’m really looking forward to working with our Board of Directors and the members this year to continue doing exactly that.”

Surrency is serving his fifth term on the League’s Board of Directors. He is replacing outgoing President Gary Bruhn, mayor of Windermere.

Surrency was first elected to the Hawthorne City Commission in 2009 and has served as the city’s mayor since 2011. He has also served with several statewide and national groups related to local government and served as Florida League of Cities president in 2015-16.

“Mayor Surrency has been an active member of the Florida League of Mayors and involved in local government in general for many years,” Executive Director Scott Dudley said.

“He’s definitely ready to lead this organization and his fellow members into the next year as they continue to work together in the fight for Home Rule,” Dudley said. “I’m looking forward to working with Mayor Surrency in his new role as president.”

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.17.18

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Pardon me while I talk about me for a moment.

I recently sat for an in-depth interview produced by St. Pete Catalyst, a news and civics media outlet in the ‘burg.

In the episode, I discuss Florida Politics, Sunburn (talk about meta) and my space in Florida’s political landscape. If you get the chance, tune in here. Meanwhile, here are some highlights:

How I work: Checklists. Whether you’re a rocket scientist, a brain surgeon, or a publisher who strives to make sense of fast-paced politics in the Sunshine State, you need a checklist. “When I get tired, I say to myself, go back to the list. I start back at the top, work my way through it, throw it away and start the day with a new list.”

Labels: “When people ask me what I do, I really don’t know. Am I a publisher, a writer, a journalist, a reporter, a graphic designer? I’m all of these things and none of these things.”

What’s next: When it comes to web traffic, “We’re drinking from a fire hose in our industry.” But there could be a podcast, a new project, or a daily briefing on Amazon Alexa in the future. Stay tuned.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

—@RealDonaldTrump: The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, is dead. She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice. She will be missed!

@LearyReports: “Larry Keefe is widely respected in the legal community in North Florida. He will do a great job for us,” says @MattGaetz, former law partner of Keefe.

—@AdamPutnam: It was great joining @SeminoleSheriff Lemma and @FLGovScott today at Metal Essence in Longwood to discuss 21st-century jobs and all of the talent we have here in the Sunshine State.

—@RadioRickoLawton Chiles (my favorite governor to cover) actually lifted that “He-Coon” line from Congressman Bob Sikes of Crestview, who passed away in 1994.

—@SchmitzMedia: Love when flacks call conservative talk show hosts “reporters.” They are not reporters. They are commentators/media personalities. Flacks know the difference. Lumping local reporters covering issues in districts to talk show hosts is ridiculous. I have never told Mast or his spox I don’t agree with his positions.

—@RosemaryOHara14: Trying to understand Judge Scherer’s belief that shooter cannot get a fair trial — or victims won’t get justice — because of school district’s sloppiness in releasing this report. This report makes the district look sloppy. And the shooter needed help

—@JimRosicaFL: .@TDOnline‘s sole news photog has posted today that he’s leaving for the Memphis paper. Interested visual journalists should apply forthwith.

—@MikeFischerFL: The next time one of you is having a good day but I am not, I am going to throw a baseball 95 mph at you because you know, unwritten rules.

— LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —

— DAYS UNTIL —

Start of the U.S. Open — 10; Primary Election Day — 11; College Football opening weekend — 13; Labor Day — 17; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 20; NFL regular season starts — 20; First general election mail ballots go out — 36; Future of Florida Forum — 40; FSU vs. UM football game — 50; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 67; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 68; General Election Day — 81; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 95; Black Friday — 98; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 102; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 179; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 200; 2020 General Election — 809.

— TOP STORY —

Ken Detzner demands answers on hacking assertions” via the News Service of Florida — Florida Secretary of State Detzner on Thursday demanded that U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson … back up an “unsubstantiated” claim that Russians are hacking state voting systems. “We are aware of the threat and the need to stay vigilant, but if you have specific information on a confirmed intrusion of any of Florida’s voting system or databases at the state or county level, we urgently need you to disclose that information to us so we can take action,” Detzner wrote in a letter with Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux, the president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections. The letter, which requested a reply “no later than Friday,” is the latest back and forth since Nelson, the ranking member of the U.S. Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, told reporters Aug. 7 in Tallahassee that, “The Russians are in Florida’s election records” and that they had “penetrated” some voter-registration systems. When pressed, Nelson, said details of the information remained “classified.”

— CASH CROPPER —

Adam Putnam paints himself as a Florida rancher on the campaign trail and in ads run statewide.

But he hasn’t always played the role of the farmer, notes Steve Contorno for the Tampa Bay Times. He distanced himself from the archetype in 2006, telling the Tampa Tribune, “The ability to look at a tree and know what it needs, to know when it’s going to bud — a gift my father and brother have — it’s just not a gift I had.”

Still, his connections to the industry have inflated his finances, influenced his ambitions and heightened his Sunshine State appeal — while also raising questions of ethics.

Breakfast … or wake? Putnam shared his Florida First vision with more than 100 supporters during a Lake City “grassroots breakfast.” 

Land deal: Putnam contended he had nothing to do with a deal that “netted Putnam Groves $30 million on 2,000 acres appraised at $5 million,” while he was in Congress. Per Contorno: “After, his income from Putnam Groves jumped from less than $100,000 to between $1 million and $5 million.”

Looking out: His almost-decade-long tenure in Congress was marked by advocacy for Florida farmers. When he ran for Ag Comish in 2010, “Few, if any, politicians have received more financial support from Florida’s agriculture industry than Putnam.” Contorno also writes of incidents for which farms did not receive hefty penalties during Putnam’s Cabinet tenure.

Ads v reality: The Tampa Bay newspaper asked to spend a day on Putnam’s farm, prominently featured in a recent campaign ad, but the campaign denied the request.

After 2016 investigation found sexual misconduct, top Putnam staffers quickly found new state jobs” via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily News — A top lieutenant of Agriculture Commissioner Putnam quietly resigned his post in late 2016 — with $50,000 for sick and vacation paydays before a sexual misconduct investigation concluded he had an “inappropriate relationship with a subordinate employee.” A month later, former Deputy Commissioner Jay Levenstein took a $30,000 pay cut and landed in another taxpayer-funded management position with the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Levenstein, a Putnam ally who worked in his agency for 23 years, left the agriculture agency after admitting to a yearlong sexual relationship with an employee he supervised. During that time, he and the employee, Elizabeth Khan, at one point joked about another department employee’s promiscuity and about having a threesome in private conversations. The act never occurred.

Assignment editors — Putnam kicks off his ‘Florida First’ bus tour with an “Up & Adam” breakfast. That’s at 8:30 a.m., 4Rivers Smokehouse, 1600 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park.

Happening today — Health care experts will join Democratic candidates in Polk County for a discussion on improving on rural health care systems, 9 a.m., Bartow Public Library, 2150 S. Broadway Ave., Bartow.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Ron DeSantis heads to Puerto Rico to stump for Boricua votes … in Florida” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — DeSantis‘ visit underscores the importance of Puerto Rico to Florida politics this midterm, as nearly all candidates for governor and U.S. Senate — and even some for Congress — have flown to the island so often that it has become like Florida’s 68th county. “We think there is a real opportunity to pick up Puerto Rican votes for Republicans in Florida, despite what Democrats say,” DeSantis spokesman Brad Herold said, noting that Gov. Rick Scott has relatively good poll numbers with Puerto Rican voters. DeSantis plans to meet with the island’s nonvoting member of Congress, Jenniffer González, local Rep. Eddie Charbonier and “key members of the Puerto Rican legislature” … He’ll also be briefed on FEMA recovery efforts and tour local neighborhoods damaged a year ago by Hurricane Maria.

Lenny Curry endorses DeSantis” via Lindsey Kilbride of WJCT — Curry said the two align on important issues — being tough on crime and investing in youth — and he said they come from similar working-class backgrounds and want others to have the same opportunities. “Ron’s a good conservative,” Curry said. “I’ve been about disrupting the status quo locally, and I think that that’s what’s got to happen everywhere, and Ron’s going to disrupt the status quo as the governor of the state of Florida and I’m supporting him, voting for him and encouraging folks to get out and vote in the primary.” DeSantis, in turn, called the mayor “innovative.”

Assignment editors — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum: Tampa rally load time begins 9 a.m., doors open 10 a.m., the event begins 11 a.m., Armature Works, 1910 N. Ola Ave., Tampa. Media contact — Michael Starr Hopkins, michael@catecomm.com, (202) 365-2728. Orlando rally load time begins 11 a.m., doors open, 1 p.m., the event begins 2 p.m., CFE Arena Lobby, 12777 Gemini Blvd. N., Orlando. Media contact — Geoff Burgan, Geoff@AndrewGillum.com, (443) 801-1915.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn endorses Gwen Graham for Governor” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — “I believe in her because I believe she is the right candidate at the right time for this point in Florida’s history,” Buckhorn said. “Twenty years of one-party control is too much. We need a voice of reason.” Asked after why he chose Graham over her competitors, Buckhorn said simply: “Gwen can win.” Buckhorn, a twice-elected mayor, is one of the region’s most popular Democrats for leading a post-recession Tampa toward an economic renaissance. The ongoing revitalization of Tampa’s downtown, the construction of the Riverwalk and the opening of the new Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park have all occurred under Buckhorn’s watch. Graham said Tampa’s story — which Buckhorn so often likes to tell — is a  “success story we can take all across Florida.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn endorses Gwen Graham. (Image via Roberto Roldan/WUSF News).

As his praise continues to haunt, Jeff Greene insists, ‘Donald Trump can’t stand me’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — With rival Philip Levine still trying to hang Trump around his neck, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Greene lashed back again, insisting that he detests his Palm Beach neighbor, and vice versa. “Donald Trump can’t stand me,” Greene said. “I know him. I don’t have much of a relationship with him. I haven’t had lunch or dinner with him. But I’ve met him many, many times. He knows if I’m Governor of Florida I’m not going to be his friend.” Greene’s former support of the President continues to haunt, coming up as a hot topic from a professed undecided voter who challenged Greene over it during a stop in Central Florida.

Trail of lawsuits and liens surface on campaign trail for Greene” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Beyond his flood of mailers and $25 million TV ad campaign that have rocketed Jeff Greene to third place in the polls, another picture emerges of the businessman as told in lawsuits, liens and press accounts from former employees, contractors and others who did business with the developer. Liked by some and loathed by others, the 63-year-old Greene is invariably described as a headstrong micromanager, a self-assured self-made man who doesn’t hesitate to use the courts and his $3.3 billion net worth to get his way. The list of people involved in lawsuits or liens against Greene over the years runs the gamut — from Hollywood director Ron Howard to the Coca-Cola Company to a former campaign consultant to a slew of local contractors in his home county of Palm Beach. There, court records show, Greene has had at least $1.2 million in lawsuits and liens filed by 14 different contractors and companies against him since his unsuccessful 2010 Senate campaign, after which he sued the Tampa Bay Times for its tough coverage of his business dealings and another story about wild parties on his yacht.

Greene pledges to stand against bigotry, racism, hatred” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Greene said his Jewish identity triggers revulsion for the levels of tolerance Trump exhibited toward rising hate groups, and he vowed to not tolerate any bigotry, racism, or hatred in Florida if elected governor. Greene was speaking before a gathering at the Roth Jewish Family Center in Maitland, in an event organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. He sharply criticized the president’s response to the Charlottesville rallies by neo-Nazis and white supremacists last year, and since, as affronts to all, and something he felt personally. “With the president saying, ‘There’s good people on both sides,’ it made me sick to my stomach,” Greene said. “I have a very, very deep and strong Jewish identity, and I can tell you if I’m governor of Florida I would never tolerate any kind of bigotry, racism or hatred in this state.”

New Levine ad outlines ‘The Fight for Florida’ — The 30-second spot portrays Levine as someone willing to fight for Florida and is unafraid to stand up to Trump. Levine’s campaign says the spot will run across the state as part of a seven-figure buy.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —

Florida Realtors pump another $500K into Amendment 2 push” via Florida Politics — Florida Realtors pumped more cash into the committee supporting a proposed constitutional amendment that would make permanent a cap on increasing property taxes for non-homesteaded properties. Amendment 2 is for Everybody received $500,000 from Florida Realtors last week, bringing their total financial support for the initiative to $1.56 million. Florida Realtors, the state’s largest professional trade association, has pitched in all but $100 of the funds raised by the committee thus far. The week of Aug. 4 through Aug. 10 also saw the committee spend nearly $50,000, with the largest expenditure being a $16,017 payment to Denver-based Access Marketing for advertising.

Environmental group gives the green light to Sean Shaw’s AG bid” via Florida Politics — Shaw added an endorsement from Florida Conservation Voters, a nonpartisan environmental group that works to elect public officials who will protect Florida’s conservation lands. “Sean Shaw has dedicated his professional career to standing up to powerful special interests on behalf of the people of Florida,” said FCV executive director Aliki Moncrief. “He understands the devastating impact climate change and sea level rise are already having on our economy and communities, and he won’t be shy about holding polluters accountable for undermining environmental protections. “Florida Conservation Voters is proud to support Sean Shaw to be Florida’s next Attorney General,” she concluded.

Environmental group gives the nod to Sean Shaw.

Denise Grimsley endorsed by ‘Woman of the Year in Agriculture’ winners — “I am grateful that many of these strong women who have been the recipient of the coveted ‘Woman of the Year in Agriculture’ award have decided that I am the best candidate to lead the Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and have graciously lent me their support,” Grimsley said. Past award winners endorsing Grimsley: Norma Stokes, 1996; Carey Trudy, 1997; Vina Jean Banks, 1999; Marcia Lightsey, 2000; Ann Holt, 2010; Sarah Childs, 2011; Belinda Chason, 2014; Lisa Hinton, 2015; and Judi Whitson, 2016.

Happening today — Grimsley will campaign at a meet-and-greet event, 9:30 a.m., The Merchant Strategy, 1804 N. Dixie Hwy., Suite B, West Palm Beach.

Assignment editors — Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell will speak at Café con Tampa, 8 a.m., upstairs at Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.

Scott Sturgill campaign backs away from controversial blogger” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — … following a Mother Jones report that the campaign paid thousands of dollars to his affiliated companies. Jacob Engels runs an Orlando political website and is a contributor to InfoWars, the site founded by Alex Jones that was banned last week by Facebook and other social media companies for violating hate speech guidelines. Sturgill, running for the GOP nomination for U.S. Congress against state Rep. Mike Miller and Vennia Francois in the district represented by U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy paid $2,500 to the Engel’s website, called Central Florida Post, in January for “media production” and $2,000 to the affiliated company CFP Media Strategies for “cost of production,” according to Federal Election Commission reports. Sturgill spokeswoman Abigail Hirn said. “Jacob Engels has never been employed by the Scott Sturgill campaign.”

Scott Sturgill is backing away from controversial blogger Jacob Engels.

Sugar money again? David Shapiro calls out Vern Buchanan” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Shapiro, a Democratic candidate in Florida’s 16th Congressional District, is calling out Republican U.S. Rep. Buchanan over his receipt of more than $100,000 from the sugar industry in light of recent red tide and algae blooms hitting the state. The report from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group that tracks money in politics, shows Buchanan has taken $106,948 from the “sugar cane and sugar beets” industry throughout his congressional campaign career. Now, Shapiro is raising that issue for voters. He argues sugar farms have played a role in the red tide, and Buchanan hasn’t done enough to protect the state’s environment. “Florida’s water, wildlife, and way of life are under attack and our community deserves leaders with the courage to fight back — not Washington insiders like Vern Buchanan, who are beholden to special interests,” Shapiro said.

Greg Steube adds $126K, Julio Gonzalez $45K in CD 17 Republican primary” via Florida Politics — From the start of last month through Aug. 8, Steube’s campaign account received $126,636 in contributions, including $104,136 from individual donors and another $22,500 from political committees. Notable among those contributions were a pair of $2,000 checks from Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, one from his congressional campaign committee and another earmarked by him from the House Freedom Fund PAC. The spending tally for the five-week reporting period came in at $306,694. Nearly half of that total — $148,223 — was spent on direct mail campaigns and postage through Political Ink, a Washington-based firm that creates mailers for Republican campaigns and causes. Gonzalez, for his part, brought in just shy of $45,000 in outside money during the five-week stretch while shelling out $278,145, including a repayment for $30,000 of the loans Gonzalez used to juice his campaign in Q1.

Brian Mast appears on anti-Muslim radio show” via Andrew Kaczynski of CNN Politics — Mast appeared on the Right Side Patriots radio program, an online show hosted by conservative commentators Diane Sori and Craig Andresen who proudly describe themselves as anti-Muslim. The appearance was Mast’s first as a sitting congressman after he previously appeared in 2015 and 2016 as a congressional candidate, according to recaps of the show. Audio of the previous shows is not online. Neither Mast, nor the hosts, made any anti-Muslim comments the interview, which touched on his background and run for Congress. Sori and Mast mentioned they sat at the same table at a dinner hosted by former Republican Rep. Allen West of Florida. The segment following Mast’s appearance accused Muslim-American political candidates of committing “ballot box jihad.”

There was no hiding the agenda of the Right Side Patriots, at least on their Facebook page.

FiveThirtyEight gives Democrats 3-to-1 odds to flip the U.S. House” via FiveThirtyEight.com — The current forecast from Nate Silver and the team at FiveThirtyEight.com show Democrats with a 75.4 percent chance to flip the U.S. House this year. Their statistical model gives Democrats an 80 percent chance to gain between 13 and 53 seats on Election Day, with the average of the model showing a net gain of 32 seats for Democrats. Republicans currently hold a 236-193 majority with six vacant seats. As it stands, if Democrats manage to net another 25 seats this cycle, they would retake the 435-member chamber after eight years of Republican rule.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 3 —

Money flows through Jose Oliva PAC” via the News Service of Florida — A political committee led by incoming House Speaker Oliva … brought in more than $400,000 during a recent two-week period, while also spending $300,000 to back DeSantis, finance reports show. Conservative Principles for Florida raised $404,000 from July 28 through last Friday and had about $833,000 in cash on hand. The Oliva-led committee also sent $300,000 on Aug. 3 to the committee Friends of Ron DeSantis. Oliva is slated to become House speaker after the November elections. The largest contribution received by his committee during the two-week period was $100,000 from Watchdog PAC, which is tied to outgoing Speaker Richard Corcoran.

Equality Florida pledges $25k to elect Jason Pizzo, savages incumbent Daphne Campbell” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Pizzo has already earned the endorsement of Equality Florida in his race to boot state Sen. Campbell from her Senate District 38 seat. Now, the Equality Florida Action PAC is promising $25,000 in support of Pizzo’s election. The PAC plans to spend the money on a “program to turn out pro-equality voters in Miami-Dade County” to support Pizzo’s Democratic primary challenge … The group savaged Campbell over her past votes. The PAC highlighted her vote supporting a GOP-backed abortion bill in 2011, along with her opposition to a repeal of Florida’s ban on gay adoption in 2015. “We are going to use every resource we have to make sure voters in this district know that we have a clear choice between a pro-equality champion like Jason Pizzo and an anti-LGBTQ extremist,” Pollitzer added.

Jason Pizzo
Jason Pizzo gets a boost from Equality Florida. 

HD 47 primary gets uglier as Stockton Reeves mailer notes Mikaela Nix youthful arrest” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Reeves’ new mailer declares, “Mikaela Nix A record of breaking the law” and “Tallahassee doesn’t need lawbreakers trying to be lawmakers. Mikaela Nix’s judgment is too dangerous for Florida.” “Between this, the primary elections, the switched parties, don’t play like something you’re not,” he said. Nix said she has acknowledged the arrest. The mailer cites an arrest of Nix when she 18, for petty theft in Miami-Dade County. The charge was dropped, and the original arrest record expunged.

With Melissa Howard out, Tommy Gregory and Liv Coleman go head-to-head at Tiger Bay” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The matchup between Gregory, a Sarasota Republican, and Coleman, a Bradenton Democrat, presents a stark contrast: A staunchly conservative attorney and a proudly progressive college professor who are emphasizing very different visions, with Coleman bashing Trump and saying his behavior is the central issue at all level of politics, and Gregory touting Trumpian themes, such as cracking down on illegal immigration. Gregory became the GOP nominee in the District 73 race when Howard dropped out after it was revealed she lied about having a degree from Miami University and went to great lengths to deceive people, including displaying a fake diploma. Addressing the scandal in his opening remarks, Gregory said “in light of recent events it is important, maybe now more than ever, that we elect leaders that we can trust.” … “I can tell you that voters trust me,” Gregory added, touting his military background.

Florida physicians endorse Sasha Dadan in HD 83” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Dadan has earned the endorsement of the Florida Medical Association‘s political arm, as she continues her run to replace term-limited state Rep. Gayle Harrell in House District 83. Dr. Mike Patete, president of the FMA PAC, released a statement explaining the group’s choice to back Dadan, a Port St. Lucie attorney, over her opponent in the GOP primary, businessman Toby Overdorf. “Ms. Dadan has worked tirelessly for the less fortunate in our state through her advocacy efforts and work as an attorney,” said Patete. “The FMA PAC is honored to endorse Sasha Dadan in House District 83 and will lean on her experience to pass meaningful health care policies that help the patients and physicians of Florida.”

Black lawmaker says Miami Democrats have ‘lynched’ him in primary” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Suspecting that his own allies may push him out of office in a few days, an angry state Rep. Roy Hardemon is torching his political party, accusing Democratic leaders in Miami of racism and backstabbing. Hardemon said his party doesn’t like black people — “especially black men” — and claimed the chairman of the Miami-Dade Democrats recruited a Haitian-American candidate to boot him from office. This week, Hardemon went one step further, lobbing a racial accusation during a meeting of Democratic leaders in Doral. “It’s surprising to be lynched from the Democratic Party,” Hardemon said from a stage, standing next to Chairman Juan Cuba. The heated rhetoric highlights the bitterness of the primary race in House District 108, where Hardemon, the incumbent, faces two challengers for a seat in the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature, including a former vice chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Democrats.

— STATEWIDE —

Happening today — The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity releases July unemployment figures, 10 a.m.

What CFO Jimmy Patronis is reading — “Crypto Co. Hit With Default Judgment For Bilking Investors” via Law360 — A Florida federal judge entered a default judgment against Monkey Capital LLC, which a group of investors say pocketed $1.17 million worth of cryptocurrency investments meant for an initial coin offering and the launch of a private cryptocurrency exchange that never happened. U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks said the investors had sufficiently alleged violations of federal and state securities laws and Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) against Monkey Capital over the company’s solicitations of investments.

Happening Saturday — The Florida Department of Financial Services holds an auction for unclaimed property from bank-deposit boxes, 10 a.m., Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1001 North Westshore Blvd., Tampa.

Bill Galvano wants to revisit school safety” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — “As incoming Senate President of the third-largest state in the nation — a bellwether for others — I am committed to making sure our re-examination of school safety policies does not end here,” Galvano tweeted. “Some issues simply must transcend politics. The safety of our children is one.” In the 2018 session, lawmakers approved a wide-ranging, $400 million measure (SB 7026) measure that includes requiring schools to have safety officers, bolstering mental-health services and upgrading protections through school “hardening” projects. “We cannot be complacent, or think our work is done — we must continually review existing policies and encourage new ideas to keep our students safe,” Galvano continued. “Florida’s experiences and reforms should be shared and exported to other states. 6 months later, as millions of students begin a new school year, we cannot help but reflect back on that heartbreaking day. As we do, we can mark this moment as a time when grief galvanized action, and we were not immobilized by our differences.”

Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano wants another look at school safety next Session.

Happening today — The Florida Department of Health will hold a hearing about a proposed rule dealing with the application process for new medical-marijuana licenses. The Legislature ordered the new licenses following the passage of a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida, 9 a.m., Florida Department of Health, 4025 Bald Cypress Way, Tallahassee.

Alan Crotzer, exonerated after 24 years, back in jail” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Incarceration isn’t supposed to be a birthright, but it’s as if it’s become one for Crotzer. The St. Petersburg native became a cause célèbre when, in January 2006, DNA evidence led to his exoneration of robbery and rape charges after 24 years in prison. Now, records show Crotzer — who had moved to Tallahassee after leaving prison — has been in the Leon County Jail since March 21. That’s because he reportedly broke curfew, which violated his probation on a charge of possessing the drug sometimes known as “flakka.” And the 57-year-old has had successive brushes with the law since his exoneration, including an attempted murder charge in Tallahassee that was (later) dropped … At a 2015 news conference, Crotzer told reporters he wasn’t “that monster they keep trying to make me out to be … I’m not going to be that monster,” he said. “I’m trying to do the right thing.”

Former Blessed Sacrament priest Edward Jones removed following sex abuse allegation” via Jennifer Portman of the Tallahassee Democrat — Father Edward Jones was pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Crawfordville and Sacred Heart Parish in Lanark. A statement from the Diocese said the accusation against Jones stems from an incident that occurred 14 years ago when he served as Parochial Vicar at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Tallahassee. He served in the parish for four years from 2003 to 2007. The Diocese said it received the accusation Monday. “In accord with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, and our own Diocesan Policy and Protocol, an investigation was conducted to determine whether or not this accusation had the semblance of truth,” the statement said. “It has been determined that the allegation is credible, and as a result, Fr. Jones has been removed as Pastor” of the two churches he was currently serving.

What are those weird ‘blue buttons’ washing up in Destin?” via Annie Blanks of the NWF Daily News — Blue buttons, as they’re called, are commonly thought to be jellyfish but actually are a tiny colony of hydroids, small predatory creatures distantly related to jellyfish. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, porpita porpita are most commonly found in saltwater environments. Graham Northup, a curator of fish and reptiles at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, said the blue “button” in the center actually is filled with gas and acts as the home base to the series of hydrozoans, the creatures resembling tentacles that are attached to the button. “The gaseous structure allows them to float, similar to a man-o-war jellyfish,” Northup said. “They float on the surface and they’re drifters, and they kind of go with the wind and the currents and wherever the Gulf takes them, which is why they sometimes end up on the beach together.”

A ‘blue button jellyfish’ in Destin. (Image via Nick Tomecek/NWF Daily News)

Harvesting rooftops: Rayonier is in the development business” via Jason Garcia of Florida Trend — The timber and real estate company envisions its 261-acre Wildlight project as the beginning of something bigger — it owns another 25,000 acres within five miles of the project. In early 2013, Chris Corr was looking for a job. Corr, 54, comes from a long line of developers. His grandfather moved his family to Florida almost 70 years ago from Michigan and began developing the community of Apollo Beach on nearly 6,000 acres on Tampa Bay. His father finished building it; one of the community’s schools, Thomas P. Corr Elementary, is named after him. In 1992, Walt Disney Co. hired Corr to help plan and develop Celebration, Disney’s master-planned community in Osceola County. Six years later, he went to St. Joe Co., where, as chief strategy officer, he oversaw the development of some of the company’s timber holdings in Northwest Florida, including the creation of Northwest Beaches International Airport. In between, he served a term as a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives and landed a series of political appointments, including seats on the 1997-98 Constitution Revision Commission and the University of Florida’s board of trustees. Corr called Rayonier, and a few months later, the company hired him to run its real estate division, Raydient Places + Properties.

— MORE WATER WOES —

Underreported toxins in St. Lucie River algae blooms a health hazard, researchers say” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — The research by the Institute for Ethnomedicine in Jackson, Wyoming, focuses on the 2016 algae blooms in the St. Lucie River, but chides toxicity testing procedures still used today by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection during this year’s algae outbreak. Noting the DEP’s practice of sampling for toxic algae around the edge of a bloom, the study states samples should be taken in “scums or thick bloom material” to provide the “worst-case scenario” for how much toxin people can encounter. Sampling in open water with low levels of toxins, the study states, may not trigger alerts to the danger of blue-green algae, known by scientists as cyanobacteria. The study stated researchers saw people “picnicking, fishing and swimming” in algae-contaminated waters who “may experience an increased lifetime risk of liver cancer and/or (liver failure) requiring hospitalization or transplantation.”

— D.C. MATTERS —

Donald Trump threatens to sue opioid makers, says crisis is ‘warfare’” via John Fritze of USA TODAY — Trump threatened to sue drugmakers that manufacture opioids, mimicking an approach embraced by dozens of cities and states wrestling with huge increases in overdose deaths. During a Cabinet meeting, the president asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to bring a lawsuit against companies selling opioids and tasked him with looking into legal action to stop drug trafficking from China and Mexico, which he accused of “sending their garbage and killing our people.” … “I’d like us to look at some of the litigation that’s already been started with companies,” Trump told Sessions during the meeting. “Rather than just joining them I’d like to bring a federal lawsuit against those companies.” The Trump administration filed a “statement of interest” in March in a lawsuit brought by cities, states and others that have sued drug manufacturers. That filing noted the “substantial costs and significant interest” the federal government has in the epidemic.

Nelson, Marco Rubio ask Senate leaders to bring Lake Okeechobee reservoir up for a vote” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm — Nelson and Marco Rubio urged Senate leaders to schedule a vote to approve the Water Resources Development Act. The wide-ranging bill of water projects includes a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that aims to reduce discharges to the Treasure Coast and Southwest Florida. The Florida senators asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to bring WRDA up for a vote as soon as possible. “The EAA [Everglades Agricultural Area] Storage Reservoir is a critical piece of the puzzle for ending Lake Okeechobee discharges and the harmful algal blooms they help fuel,” the senators wrote in their letter. “We urge you to bring the WRDA bill to the Senate floor as soon as possible so that we can advance this key project.”

Trump’s military parade in Washington now delayed until 2019” via Courtney Kube of NBC News — “The Department of Defense and White House have been planning a parade to honor America’s military veterans and commemorate the centennial of World War I,” said Col. Rob Manning. “We originally targeted November 10, 2018, for this event but have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019.” A defense official told NBC News that the upper estimate of the cost of the parade was $92 million, a figure first reported by CNBC. The estimate had risen substantially since February when White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told Congress the price could be $10 million to $30 million.

— OPINIONS —

Tom Cotton: Reform the prisons without going soft on crime” via The Wall Street Journal — Congress and the U.S. Sentencing Commission cut prison terms for drug traffickers, gang members and other violent felons in recent years — putting more criminals on the streets. As a result, the federal inmate population has declined 16 percent since 2013 and now sits at the lowest level since 2004. This naive policy ignores the reality of recidivism. Five out of six prisoners end up rearrested within nine years, according to a recent Justice Department study. In fact, on average re-offenders are rearrested five times — and not for minor crimes. Mandatory minimums and truth-in-sentencing laws work. Rather than eliminate them, Congress should improve access to faith-based and other anti-recidivism programs in federal prisons. American families deserve safe communities and protection from drugs and crime. Criminals, especially first-time offenders who grew up in rough environments, deserve second chances — once they have done their time.

John Romano: Con artist or Florida politician? You decide” via the Tampa Bay Times — In seeking to have a constitutional amendment thrown off the ballot, a motion filed in Leon County used words such as “misleading’’ and “ambiguity’’ and “wordsmithing.’’ If, on the other hand, you explained this case to a roomful of everyday voters, I’m guessing they would have used words such as “dishonest’’ and “shady’’ and “bogus.’’ Welcome to the ballot initiative known as Amendment 8, or A Scam That Could Make A Street Hustler Blush … This was a plan to shift oversight of charter schools from local districts and hand it over to the charter-loving, and often charter-profiting, politicians in Tallahassee. And here’s what they called their proposed amendment: School Board Term Limits and Duties; Public Schools. Hmm, doesn’t that seem ridiculously sneaky?

— MOVEMENTS —

Trump taps Lawrence Keefe for U.S. Attorney post” via the News Service of Florida — Fort Walton Beach attorney Keefe will be nominated by Trump to serve as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Florida … The nomination of Keefe, a partner in the firm Keefe, Anchors & Gordon, is subject to approval by the U.S. Senate. After Trump’s announcement of the selection, U.S. Sen. Rubio … issued a statement saying he “strongly” supports the Keefe nomination. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz … worked for Keefe’s firm while serving in the Florida House, according to financial-disclosure reports filed with the state. The Northern District of Florida stretches from Pensacola to Gainesville and includes areas such as Tallahassee and Panama City.

Larry Keefe of Keefe, Anchors & Gordon.

Appointed — Eugene Lamb, Jr. (reappointed) to the Tallahassee Community College District Board of Trustees.

Personnel note: Joe Rondone leaving Tallahassee Democrat — The capital newspaper’s lone photographer announced on Facebook he was exiting the paper, where he’d been for the last four years, for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee. “It has been my absolute pleasure to live and work here over that span,” he posted. “Luckily, you’ll be left in the exceedingly capable hands of the incredible staff here at the Democrat, people I’ve been honored to call my friends and co-workers. It has been the highlight of my career to work and live in this town and I’m sure there will be a new photojournalist here soon that will share my passion for this impressive part of the world.” Rondone leaves next month. The Commercial Appeal, formerly owned by The E.W. Scripps Co., is now owned by Gannett, which also owns the Democrat.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Matt BryanDavid DanielThomas GriffinJeff HartleyLisa Hurley, Smith Bryan & Myers: Lighthouse Health Plan

Pete Buigas, Buigas and Associates: Physicians Central Business Office

Jon Costello, Rutledge Ecenia: 3M Company and Its Affiliates

Richard FideiFred Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig: Oscar Insurance Company of Florida, Swyfft

Sharon Merchant, The Merchant Strategy: City of Atlantis

Robert Schenck, The Legis Group: Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo

Chris Spencer, GrayRobinson: TLM Investment Group I

— WEEKEND TV —

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable former state legislator and columnist Paula Dockery; founder/CEO of ARC Capital Rita Ferrandino; Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet; and businessman Rob Barrow.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: a discussion of campaign finance, political action committees and whether reforms to the campaign finance process are possible or necessary. Joining Walker-Torres are Patricia Brigham, president, Florida League of Women Voters; Dan Newman, finance director, Florida Democratic Party; and Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, senior research chair and professor of law, Stetson University College of Law.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: On this week are Republican candidates for Agriculture Commissioner Matt CaldwellDenise Grimsley and Mike McCalister. A secret tape scandal pits Trump against a former aide; PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim by Trump about the GDP numbers and growth.

‘Politics on Your Side’ with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): One-on-one conversations with Gov. Scott, Tallahassee Mayor Gillum and former Congresswoman Graham. Also, a political panel with Adam Smith, political editor of the Tampa Bay Times and Zac Anderson, political reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon will speak with political consultant Beth Matuga and former Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Guests include Superintendent Addison Davis of Clay County Schools on back to school, security, and tax increase to fund school safety officers. Also appearing are Reggie Garcia, Florida clemency lawyer and author; Carlton Robinson of the JAXChamber, discussing entrepreneurial growth and JAX Bridges program for youth; Makayla Buchanan of Wexford Strategies; and Tia Robinson, a student at Nease High School.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will focus on the race for Florida Governor, including interviews with some Democratic candidates; the powerhouse roundtable will take on the week’s news.

— ALOE —

Dan Mullen hopes to avoid ‘massive swings’ as Florida rebuilds” via Mark Long of The Associated Press — Florida coach Mullen spent his first few months on the job trying to sell the program. Mullen’s goal: Energize a fan base that had grown increasingly restless since he left Gainesville nearly a decade ago. Mullen felt the results were encouraging. But all that preseason groundwork could be for naught if the Gators aren’t considerably better on the field this fall. Of course, it shouldn’t be too difficult to show improvement considering Florida is coming off its second four-win season in five years. “The lack of consistency to me is something that really is glaring,” said Mullen, pointing to two four-win campaigns and two trips to the Southeastern Conference title game. “You shouldn’t have those massive swings. … The massive swings that went on is something I’m still trying to figure out.”

University of Florida head football coach Dan Mullen.

New coach Willie Taggart confident Florida State can bounce back” via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press — Taggart’s first eight months as Florida State’s coach could not have gone much better. He has reinvigorated a team and fan base that has found itself out of contention for a College Football Playoff spot by early October the past two seasons and saw Jimbo Fisher leave for Texas A&M last December. As Florida State prepares for Taggart’s first season the biggest question is how long will Taggart’s honeymoon last. “Anybody can do really well when things are going good. It’s how you respond when you get hit in the mouth. How you respond when things get tough. To me, that’s life,” said Taggart, who previously led Western Kentucky, South Florida and Oregon. “We were one of the most talented football teams last season, but talent wasn’t the issue. We weren’t a football team that handled adversity well, and we had a lot of adversity last year. We didn’t respond well to it until the end of the season.”

Universal Orlando’s sleek, high-tech Aventura hotel debuts” via Marco Santana of the Orlando Sentinel — With Aventura’s official opening of its 600-room location, Universal will have 6,200 hotel rooms in the region. But the company will also open a total of 2,800 more rooms at two properties that sit at the old Wet ‘n Wild water-park, Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites by the end of 2020. The overall number of 9,000 remains dwarfed by Disney, which has more than 30,000 hotel rooms spread through 36 properties in the region. The doorway of the hotel underneath a bright sign that reads “Aventura Hotel” opens into a sleek, modern-looking lobby. Devices and amenities in the rooms at the 17-story structure, which sits across Adventure Way from Universal’s 2,200-room Cabana Bay Beach Resort, are controlled primarily through in-room tablet computers. These control everything from air conditioning, reading lamps and room-service orders.

Happy birthday to state Reps. Ben Albritton and Sharon Pritchett, as well as Vance Aloupis, who we hope soon joins them in the Legislature. Also celebrating today is our Kim DeFalco. And an early birthday shout out to INFLUENCE 100’er Noah Pransky of 10 News.

Last Call for 8.16.18 – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

The sandhill crane, alligator snapping turtle, and Florida bog frog have their own protections in Florida rules and regulations.

Now the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants mammals to have their own “chapter.”

The FWC announced Thursday it was considering protecting “mammals that are not on Florida Endangered and Threatened Species list or otherwise regulated.”

“No mammal chapter exists, and the proposed rule will create a mammal chapter similar to existing chapters for birds, reptiles and amphibians,” the FWC said.

The new chapter “includes species being delisted or those that were recently delisted as part of the Imperiled Species Management Plan (ISMP), species with similarity of appearance concerns, and possession limits for species that may be maintained as pets.”

There are eight kinds of mammals on the state’s ISMP. Of those, two species were “delisted”: the Eastern chipmunk and the Florida mouse.

The commission is currently scheduled to consider the draft rule and staff recommendations at a Sept. 26-27 meeting in Tallahassee.

Evening Reads

Inside a super PAC that spends on everything but winning” via Brian Slodsyko of the Associated Press

Nearly 800,00 voters have already cast ballots in Florida” via the Associated Press

Voting lawsuit remans bilingual ballots in 32 more Florida counties” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

An anomaly or a tide turning? Conventional wisdom shifting as primary election nears” via Mitch Perry of the Florida Phoenix

Ron DeSantis heads to Puerto Rico to stump for Boricua votes … in Florida” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

How Adam Putnam turned his agriculture roots in a political machine” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times

After 2016 investigation found sexual misconduct, top Putnam staffers quickly found new state jobs” via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily News

‘Putin’s puppet’: The feud between Jeff Greene and Philip Levine gets nastier” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida GOP candidates are paying firms affiliated with Infowars contributor” via Kara Voght of Mother Jones

Jacksonville’s Downtown Investment Authority will search nationwide for next CEO” via David Bauerlein of the Jacksonville Times-Union

Why does Tampa’s police station smell so much like weed?” via Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida urges vaccinations after 3 measles cases reported” via Jennifer Kay of the Associated Press

Quote of the Day

“It’s going to be a very stable picture for the Legislature, with no big changes … No surprises, up or down.” — Amy Baker, the Legislature’s chief economist, on budget looks for the future.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

Enterprise Florida will hold one in a series of trade seminars directed toward small and medium-sized firms seeking to do business in the Dominican Republic. That’s at 8:30 a.m., JaxChamber, 3 Independent Dr., Jacksonville.

GOP candidate for governor Adam Putnam kicks off his ‘Florida First’ bus tour with an “Up & Adam” breakfast. That’s at 8:30 a.m., 4Rivers Smokehouse, 1600 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park.

The Florida Department of Health will hold a hearing about a proposed rule dealing with the application process for new medical-marijuana licenses. That’s at 9 a.m., Florida Department of Health, 4025 Bald Cypress Way, Tallahassee.

Democratic candidate for governor Philip Levine will be visiting early voting sites in Central Florida. That’s at 9 a.m., Kissimmee Civic Center, 201 E. Dakin Ave., Kissimmee; and at noon, Orange County Supervisor of Elections, 119 W. Kaley St., Orlando.

The Florida Department of Financial Services will hold a preview of items that will be included in an unclaimed property auction Saturday. That’s at 9 a.m., Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1001 North Westshore Blvd., Tampa.

Tallahassee Circuit Judge John Cooper will hold a hearing in a dispute about a proposed constitutional amendment that calls for changes in the state’s education system. The lawsuit targets the charter-school part of the proposal and alleges that the ballot wording is misleading. That’s at 9:30 a.m., Leon County Courthouse, 301 South Monroe St., Tallahassee.

Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Sebring Republican running for agriculture commissioner, is slated to campaign at a meet-and-greet event. That’s at 9:30 a.m., The Merchant Strategy, 1804 North Dixie Highway, Suite B, West Palm Beach.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will release July unemployment figures at 10 a.m.

State candidates and political committees face a Friday deadline for filing reports showing finance activity through Aug. 10.

Looking Ahead

Early voting for the Aug. 28 primary elections will be held throughout the state, after starting earlier in the week in some counties.

Jacksonville Democrat Billee Bussard, seeking to unseat GOP state Sen. Aaron Bean in Senate District 4, will celebrate her 73rd birthday with a canvassing event. That’s Saturday, with canvassing starting at 9 a.m., Yulee Panera Bread, 463861 State Road 200, Yulee.

The Florida Department of Financial Services will hold an auction of unclaimed property from bank-deposit boxes. That’s at 10 a.m., Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1001 North Westshore Blvd., Tampa.

Miami Democrat James Harden, seeking to unseat GOP Rep. Daniel Perez in House District 116, will hold a campaign event. That’s Saturday, 6 p.m., MIA Beer Company, 10400 N.W. 33rd St., #150, Miami.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.16.18  

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

As usual, veteran columnist and Florida Politics’ own Joe Henderson puts the right to President Donald Trump’s wrongheaded attacks on the Fourth Estate:

“The job of the free press is to find out stuff the public needs to know, make sure it’s accurate, and then share that information with the people.

“A lot of times the mission means upsetting the powerful and those who support them. These days, it means enduring taunts of ‘fake news’ and people who believe reporters deliberately publish fiction designed to destroy, in this case, Trump and his administration.

“To some, the ‘media’ is even a faceless, soulless agent of the deep state out to ruin the country, but it is none of those things. It is the firewall that protects democracy from the scoundrels and con artists.”

Here’s the payoff: “So, that’s why Florida Politics has joined with newspapers, online outlets, and other media around the country to denounce what The Boston Globe has called a ‘dirty war against the free press.’ ”

As The Blaze explains, news outlets across the country “have agreed to participate in a national campaign orchestrated by Marjorie Pritchard, the deputy managing editor at The Boston Globe.

“The campaign will galvanize opinion writers and editorial boards to unite against President Trump’s attacks on the media … “Pritchard’s campaign (is) titled, ‘We are not the enemy of the people.’ ”

Read more of Henderson’s column here. And here are highlights from other outlets:

— Opinion editor Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register says it’s not “Attack Trump Da.” “We agree that media outlets should avoid being drawn into a feud against the president over this issue or any other,” she said, adding that they can defend the First Amendment “while remaining true to the journalistic principles of accuracy, fairness and objectivity.”

— Colleen McCain Nelson, the editorial page editor for the Kansas City Star, says editorial boards across the McClatchy chain — like the Miami Herald, the Charlotte Observer and the Idaho Statesman — are being encouraged to publish one editorial: “We want to underscore for our readers that McClatchy journalists are in fact delivering real news every day, holding government officials and institutions accountable.”

— The Chicago Sun-Times said it believed most Americans know that Trump is talking nonsense.

— In St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch called journalists “the truest of patriots.”

— The Fayetteville, N.C. Observer said it hoped Trump would stop, “but we’re not holding our breath. … Rather, we hope all the president’s supporters will recognize what he’s doing — manipulating reality to get what he wants.”

A free press needs you” via The New York Times editorial board — Criticizing the news media — for underplaying or overplaying stories, for getting something wrong — is entirely right. News reporters and editors are human and make mistakes. Correcting them is core to our job. But insisting that truths you don’t like are “fake news” is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the “enemy of the people” is dangerous, period. These attacks on the press are particularly threatening to journalists in nations with a less secure rule of law and to smaller publications in the United States, already buffeted by the industry’s economic crisis. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.

Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy” via the Tampa Bay Times — Trump attacks the media that provides fact-based, independent journalism and holds the powerful to account in communities around the nation. Trump calls journalists “the enemy of the American people.’’ He regularly refers to “fake news’’ and the “fake news media.’’ Those assaults by the president cannot be brushed aside as theatrics, particularly when some of his strongest supporters embrace them and copied by politicians in Florida and elsewhere. That’s why the Tampa Bay Times joins more than 200 newspapers throughout the nation Thursday in a rare, coordinated response to Trump’s systematic effort to discredit journalists and independent news gathering. A free press builds the foundation for democracy. Citizens depend on honest, independent media for accurate information they need about their government, their elected leaders and their institutions. That is just as important in Tampa Bay and communities across the nation as it is in Washington, and the Times takes that responsibility seriously … our goal is to inform readers and make a difference in our community. Far from being enemies of the people, we live in the same neighborhoods as our readers, eat in the same restaurants and shop in the same stores. Our kids attend the same schools, we get stuck in the same traffic jams, and we worry about hurricanes hitting home.

Trump and the enemies of the people” via David Remnick of The New Yorker — Nearly every day, Trump makes his hostility clear. He refers to reporters as “scum,” “slime,” and “sick people.” They are cast as unpatriotic — “I really think they don’t like our country,” he says. They are “trying to take away our history and our heritage.” Trump has smeared critical news organizations as “fake news,” a term gleefully adopted by PutinBashar al-Assad, and other autocrats who are delighted to have their own repressive reflexes endorsed by an American President. Trump has threatened to sue publishers, cancel broadcast licenses, change libel laws. He betrays no sense of understanding, much less of endorsing, the rudiments of American liberty. By casting the press as an “enemy,” Trump is not merely joining a long list of Presidents who have bristled at criticism. He goes much further than his predecessors, including paranoiacs like Richard Nixon … Trump’s rages are public. They are daily. And they are part of a concerted effort to undermine precepts of American constitutionalism and to cast his lot with the illiberal and authoritarian movements now on the rise around the world.

Counterpoint — “America’s newspapers just played right into Trump’s hands” via Jack Shafer of POLITICO Magazine — A spectacle will unfold as 200 or more editorial pages will heed the call sounded by Boston Globe op-ed page editor Marjorie Pritchard to run editorials opposing Trump’s unrelieved press-bashing. Most journalists agree that there’s a great need for Trump rebuttals. But this Globe-sponsored coordinated editorial response is sure to backfire: It will provide Trump with circumstantial evidence of the existence of a national press cabal that has been convened solely to oppose him. When the editorials roll off the press, all singing from the same script, Trump will reap enough fresh material to whale on the media for at least a month. His forthcoming speeches almost write themselves: By colluding against me, the fake media proved once and for all, that they are in cahoots with the Democrats and have declared themselves to be my true political opposition.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@Redistrict: After today’s changes, @CookPolitical rates 37 GOP-held seats as Toss-Ups or more vulnerable (Lean/Likely Dem), nearly double the 20 we counted in January.

@NateSilver538: A fun forecasting factoid is that if you forecast the Democrats to win the House and Republicans to win the Senate, you’re probably going to be wrong on at least one of those forecasts. On the bright side, it’s quite unlikely that you’ll be wrong about both.

@ScottforFlorida: I’m happy to welcome Princess Madeleine and her family to Florida! Just more proof that our state is the best place in the world.

@KevinCate: I know @Twitter doesn’t vote, but if it did, @AndrewGillum would win by a lot. He’s up to almost 11 million ORGANIC impressions in the last 28 days.

@SenBillNelson: The oil industry is reportedly pushing a new plan to drill closer to Florida’s coast. We’re not going to let that happen. We’re not going to let them take away the military’s testing & training range in the Gulf. We’re not going to let them drill closer to Florida’s beaches.

@FLPhoenixNews: Former Fl Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottcamp (now oil industry PR guy) told reporters today that 2010 BP oil spill “didn’t even reach the shores of Florida.” Um … what??

@Foswi: Gov. Scott put a career prosecutor in the bench who happened to be the daughter of one of his go-to litigators. Don’t blame South Florida for this. It has enough problems.

@Fineout: New head of Fla’s Office of Safe Schools says all 67 sheriffs in Florida have said the same thing: Not enough funding was provided by #FLLeg when it passed the school safety bill

@MDixon55: Been an “anal bleaching,” diploma-faking-to-the-point-the-university-had-to-chime-in kind of week in Florida politics. How’s your state doing?

@TheRickWilson: This is the highlight of my professional life. I’ve just been given the numbers for the August 26th, 2018 New York Times Book Review rankings. #EETD is #1 in hardcover+ebook total sales. It is #3 in hardcover sales.

— LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —

Early voting, mail ballots top 700,000” via the News Service of Florida — More than 26,000 people have voted early in counties where the option is already available, while nearly 700,000 have returned vote-by-mail ballots, according to numbers posted by the Florida Division of Elections. Early voting has started in 18 of the 67 counties. Of the 26,318 people who had voted early, 13,340 were Democrats, and 11,288 were Republicans. The rest of the people going to early-voting sites were registered without party affiliation or with third parties. Counties were allowed to begin early voting Monday, and all counties are required to offer it starting Saturday.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Start of the U.S. Open — 11; Primary Election Day — 12; College Football opening weekend — 14; Labor Day — 18; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 21; NFL regular season starts — 21; First general election mail ballots go out — 37; Future of Florida Forum — 41; FSU vs. UM football game — 51; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 68; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 69; General Election Day — 82; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 96; Black Friday — 99; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 103; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 180; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 201; 2020 General Election — 810.

— TOP STORY —

Oil companies ask Florida lawmakers to unlock offshore drilling” via Ben Lefebvre of POLITICO — The effort, which would potentially bring oil rigs as close as 75 miles to Florida beaches, comes just seven months after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke promised that the state was “off the table” for offshore drilling. And it could complicate Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, whose opposition to drilling off the coast has been a main theme of his decades in Congress. But the expansion would aid Trump’s effort to increase U.S. oil and gas production, in what he calls a bid for American “energy dominance.” Energy lobbyists and trade associations believe Zinke left some wiggle room in his comments, and they are trying to persuade Florida lawmakers to sign on to possible compromises, including allowing drill rigs to operate up to 75 miles off the state’s Gulf Coast, lawmakers and industry sources said. That would be down from more than 200 miles under an existing drilling moratorium.

— FIRST IN SUNBURN —

Meanwhile … Jared Moskowitz endorses Gwen Graham — State Rep. Moskowitz, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and outspoken leader for gun safety, said in his endorsement: “As students return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to begin a new school year, we must not be afraid to talk about the pressing need to pass additional common-sense gun safety. This issue is just as important today as it was on February 14 … In the days after the shooting, Gwen came to Parkland to show her support for the students, for our community and for common sense gun safety. I am proud to support her today because I know she has what it takes to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons and implement universal background checks.”

Happening tonight:

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Poll commissioned by unnamed group shows Philip Levine with slight lead on Graham” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The poll was conducted by Democratic pollster Tom Eldon, who would not say who paid for the numbers. It has Levine up 30-28 over Graham among those who say they have already voted, and 31-24 with those who expressed a high degree of interest in Democratic primaries. The poll, which used a 600-person sample and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points, has Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum coming in third and Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene coming in fourth among both groups. The poll is contrary to some recent public polls that had Graham leading the primary field. The Real Clear Politics average of polls has Graham up seven percentage points, including winning the past three publicly released polls of the race. Levine had not won a poll included in that average since mid-June when he led the field by two percentage points.

Assignment editors — Levine will visit early voting sites in Miami Beach and Tampa, 12 p.m., Miami Beach City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach; 4:30 p.m., Cyrus Green Center, 2101 East Dr., Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tampa. Later, Levine will speak at the Political Salsa 2018, hosted by the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida, 8 p.m., Acacia Banquet Hall, 1865 N Ecknolockhatchee Trail, Orlando.

Here’s what we would have asked if Andrew Gillum didn’t scrap the editorial Board Q&A” via the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board — The list of questions we had prepared for Gillum was similar to those the other four Democratic candidates for governor answered (even Greene, who entered the race in its very late stages, found time to sit down with our editorial board). We would have asked Gillum about his proposed $1 billion corporate tax increase. His views on the environment. The impact of his $15 minimum wage on employment. Where he falls on the ideological spectrum. And other general policy questions. Then, as we did with the other candidates, we would have tailored questions to his campaign. Admittedly, this particular candidate provides the most fodder for our questioning, partly because he has a long, detailed record as mayor of the city whose name appears on our flag. And partly because, to be perfectly frank, the mayor has been a bit of a lightning rod during his tenure.

Gillum puts progressive ‘chance’ ad on TV” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Gillum is launching his “Chance” commercial — citing progressive causes from gun control to abolishing and replacing ICE, ending “Stand Your Ground” to impeaching Trump … The TV buy will be limited, as is Gillum’s campaign fund, with an initial five-figure purchase to place the commercial on TV in West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Tampa … The campaign seeks to tie in with the Tallahassee mayor’s rallies set for Friday in Tampa and Orlando with progressive Democratic lion U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

 

Hospitality union launches ad bashing Graham on megamall” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Florida’s major labor union for hospitality workers, UNITE HERE, is launching a new television and internet commercial attacking Graham over her family’s involvement in the American Dream Miami megamall. The 30-second spot, “Mega Mall Millionaire Gwen Graham,” from the union’s political action committee, charges that she has a $14 million stake in her family company, which is selling land for the controversial mall being planned in Miami-Dade County. “While Gwen and her family make millions, Florida will be stuck with poverty wage jobs, endangered wildlife, and massive traffic congestion,” a narrator charges in the ad. And it charges that would be happening even though she is campaigning on improving wages and protecting the environment.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

 

Can a billionaire’s private school become a model for public education in Florida?” via David Smiley and Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — Billionaire developer Greene is an unconventional Democrat running an unconventional campaign for Florida governor. So, naturally, his ideas on how to change Florida’s vast public education bureaucracy stem from an unconventional place. Standing in a former West Palm Beach car dealership that he converted two years ago into a schoolhouse, Greene explains how the future of Florida’s schools lies in shrinking class sizes, replacing letter grades with detailed evaluations and adopting the latest technologies. After all, he says, those are some of the reasons The Greene School is a model for the rest of the state. “It’s not that difficult to make changes in education,” Greene says matter-of-factly — even though he was so underwhelmed by the state of Palm Beach County schools two years ago that he went ahead and built his own.

Assignment editors — Greene will be in the Orlando and Sarasota areas for campaign events: 9 a.m., breakfast with local leaders of the Jewish community, Roth Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando, 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland; 12:30 p.m., lunch with church leaders, Chef Eddie’s Restaurant, 595 W. Church St., Orlando; 4 p.m., private event at the Mote Marine Lab, 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota; 5:15 p.m., Lido Key Beach walk, 400 Benjamin Franklin Dr., Sarasota; 6 p.m., Hispanic Democratic Caucus meet-and-greet, Darwin Evolutionary Cuisine, 4141 S. Tamiami Trl., Sarasota.

Democrats tell Florida mayors they support local rule” via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press — Businessman Greene, former U.S. Rep. Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Gillum and former Miami Beach Mayor Levine all told the Florida League of Mayors they support “home rule” — the idea that cities should have more power to regulate activities within their borders. Over the last two decades, Republicans have controlled both the Legislature and the governor’s mansion and have banned cities from enacting ordinances in several areas, including guns, the minimum wage and plastic containers. All criticized the Legislature and Gov. Scott for not fully funding a law enacted after February’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre that requires all public schools have at least one police officer, armed guard or armed staff member on campus whenever they are open. Millions of those costs have fallen to school districts and cities. The two Republican candidates, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, and Democratic businessman Chris King were invited to speak but had scheduling conflicts.

Outlier: New poll has Florida GOP gubernatorial primary in statistical tie” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — New polling has Putnam in a statistical dead heat with DeSantis in Florida’s GOP gubernatorial primary, numbers contrary to recent polling that has had DeSantis pulling away. The poll has DeSantis ahead by 2 points, 40-38, which is within the margin of error, with 16 percent of the poll’s 558 likely Republican primary voters undecided. That’s well within the poll’s 5.2 percent margin of error. “It seemed as if [DeSantis] had all the momentum, and this race was all over but the shouting, as they say,” University of Central Florida political science professor Aubrey Jewett told Orlando’s My News 13, which commissioned the poll. “But it appears that it actually much closer.”

Adam Putnam meets with Panhandle-area law enforcement at 98 Bar-B-Que in Santa Rosa Beach.

Assignment editors — Putnam hosts a North Florida grassroots breakfast, 8:30 a.m., The Landing Family Restaurant, 3445 US-90, Lake City.

GOP governors sink money into Florida ads” via the News Service of Florida — The Republican Governors Association funneled $2.45 million into the state … The association sent the money Aug. 2 to Florida Facts, which was formed in July as what is known as an “electioneering communications organization.” Also on Aug. 2, Florida Facts paid $2.25 million to California-based Target Enterprises, LLC for placement of television ads and other services. Florida Facts also paid $100,000 to Maryland-based OnMessage, Inc., a media and consulting firm that has done work for outgoing Gov. Scott. The Florida Facts organization shares a Washington, D.C. address with the Republican Governors Association, records show

Ashley Moody wins new round of straw polls — Republican Attorney General candidate Moody notched three more straw poll wins: the Tampa Chamber of Commerce Hob Nob, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Hob Nob, and the DeLand Chamber of Commerce & Orange City Alliance Political Hob Nob. Moody also won the South Lake County Hob Nob the day before. “As former judge Ashley Moody travels the state, her conservative message is resonating with Republicans and business leaders across the state as evidenced by the overwhelming number of straw polls won at the local and regional levels,” said campaign manager Nick Catroppo. “Whether at Republican executive committees, Hob Nobs, political rallies or chambers of commerce, when Ashley Moody’s name is on the ballot, voters support her years of experience as a business attorney, prosecutor, and judge in her bid to become Florida’s next Attorney General.”

Ryan Torrens strikes back, sues Sean Shaw for libel” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Democratic candidate for Attorney General Torrens has countersued primary opponent Shaw for libel, saying Shaw injured his “reputation in the legal profession and as a candidate for public office.” Shaw sued first last month to have Torrens kicked off the ballot, alleging the Tampa lawyer only qualified to run because of an “illegal campaign contribution” to pay the qualifying fee. Torrens later said it was a self-loan — his wife had written the check from their joint account. Torrens lodged the counterclaim in his answer to Shaw’s complaint, filed Tuesday in Leon County Circuit Civil court. Both men are lawyers. “By erroneously raising these false claims (in his lawsuit), my opponent falsely and frivolously challenged my integrity as a professional and as someone aspiring to public office, and that of my wife,” Torrens said in a statement.

Nikki Fried lobbying, GOP donations questioned by activists in Agriculture Commission primary” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — At various points from 2012 to 2016, Fried was registered to lobby for HCA, the hospital chain founded by GOP Gov. Scott that paid a $1.7 billion fine to settle Medicaid fraud allegations under his watch. She also was registered for Walt Disney Co., which liberal activists have bashed for paying low wages to employees; Dosal Tobacco, Duke Energy and other companies. “They say you’re defined by the company you keep, and Nikki Fried has long chosen to keep company with the rich and powerful over workers,” said Fred Frost, Florida campaign lead for the Communications Workers of America. “As someone running in a Democratic primary at a moment when we need real Democrats now more than ever, she has some real explaining to do about how her past choices and what they say about her values in a year where we need a blue wave in deeds and not just words.” Fried, 40, is a Broward County resident who lobbied for the Colodny and Fass law firm, which has dozens of clients in the corporate world. She says she was a junior lobbyist at the firm, which registers all of its lobbyists for all its clients.

—“Charlie Crist, Lois Frankel endorse Fried for Agriculture Commissioner” via Florida Politics

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —

Realtors plow money into property tax measure” via the News Service of Florida — Florida Realtors put another $500,000 into an effort to pass a constitutional amendment that would extend a property-tax cap for commercial and other non-homestead properties, according to a finance report posted on the state Division of Elections website. Florida Realtors contributed the money to a political committee known as Amendment 2 is for Everybody, bringing to the total contributed by the group to $1.56 million. The Legislature placed the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

As deep-sea drilling issue bubbles, ‘explore offshore’ to make affirmative case” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The American Petroleum Institute believes there’s a case to be made for expanding offshore drilling. And API offshoot “Explore Offshore,” billed as a “bipartisan coalition,” is poised to make that argument. The group, rolled out just hours after POLITICO reported an industry interest in drilling within 75 miles of shore, has some star power associated with it. Former Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson is national co-chair. State co-chairs are likewise known quantities, in former Puerto Rico Sen. Miriam Ramirez and former Florida Lieutenant Gov. Kottkamp. Kottkamp and Ramirez both offered enthusiastic advocacy for drilling, with Kottkamp noting the importance of lobbying local elected officials.

Former Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp.

Greg Steube leads Julio Gonzalez by 23 points in new CD 17 poll” via Florida Politics — The poll, conducted by WPA Intelligence, found the first-term state Senator with a 39-16 percent lead over Venice state Rep. Julio Gonzalez, with 5 percent favoring Charlotte County activist Bill Akins and 40 percent undecided. The survey also measured name ID for Steube and Gonzalez, and found the former was known by nearly four-fifths of voters in the district and was seen favorably by a margin of 41-17 with the remainder not offering their opinion. About three-quarters of voters were familiar with Gonzalez, an improvement of 28 points since July 16, but his favorability has risen along with his recognition. He was underwater 19-33 in favorability.

Website calls Republican Congressional candidate a ‘criminal,’” via Meryl Cornfield of the Sun Sentinel“The website ‘javiermanjarresforcongress.com‘ isn’t what you’d think. It’s an attack on Republican Congressional candidate Javier Manjarres paid for by the committee of one of his primary opponents, Nicolas Kimaz. The site claims Manjarres is a ‘criminal’ and an ’embarrassment to the party.’ Manjarres, who runs the conservative blog Shark Tank, has been involved in several court cases but has never been convicted of a crime. In fact, the charges — including attempted murder — were dropped by prosecutors or the court.

Democrats eager for a blue wave admit Carlos Curbelo is beating them” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — With two-and-a-half months until Election Day, polling from Republicans and Democrats shows Curbelo with a lead over his likely Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in a district that Hillary Clinton won by more than 16 percentage points over Trump, and Curbelo isn’t running television ads yet. A poll released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, an organization that seeks to elect Democrats to the House of Representatives, shows Curbelo with a seven-percentage-point lead over Mucarsel-Powell among 500 likely voters. The DCCC touted their poll, which was conducted a month ago, by arguing that the race became tied after voters heard basic biographical information about Curbelo and Mucarsel-Powell.

Dana Young endorsed by Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce” via Florida Politics — “Senator Dana Young has the full endorsement of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and its statewide membership,” said Julio Fuentes, founder and president of FSHCC. “Senator Young’s leadership has benefited not just her constituents in her Tampa district, but Floridians across the state. “Our chamber is very selective when it comes to endorsing candidates for office, but in Senator Young’s case, we were impressed with how she represented a diversity of interests and diversity of people,” Fuentes continued. “Dana Young has our support for re-election to the Florida Senate. We look forward to working with her on behalf of thousands of Hispanic business owners across the state.”

Save the date — Young fundraises in her re-election bid to Senate District 18. Wednesday, Aug. 22, 5 p.m., Palma Ceia Golf & Country Club, 1601 S. MacDill Avenue, Tampa. Information/RSVP with Kristin Lamb at kristin@FLFStrategies.com or (850) 339-5354.

Mike Alvarez rolls out new digital ads in HD 62 primary” via Florida Politics — Tampa Democrat Alvarez has launched a new digital ad campaign that contrasts his record against that of his chief rival in the Democratic primary for House District 62, School Board member Susan Valdes … one half of the ad featuring a full-color shot Alvarez and a caption saying he “hired people from our own neighborhoods,” and the opposite half featuring a red-tinted picture of Valdes and a caption saying she “fired people to protect her political career.” The Alvarez campaign said the Valdes portion of the ad relates to a lawsuit filed by a former Hillsborough Schools employee who said she was fired after refusing to go along with an effort by Valdes’ to get one of her friends a district job. The Alvarez campaign also highlighted Valdes’ role in closing the school district’s construction department to avoid questions on shoddy work performed by campaign donors she steered contracts to.

Tampa Democrat Mike Alvarez’s new digital ad campaign that contrasts his record against that of Susan Valdes.

New poll: Nick DiCeglie trouncing Berny Jacques in HD 66” via Florida Politics — The new survey out of St. Pete Polls found DiCeglie, also the chair of the Republican Party of Pinellas County, with 44-30 percent lead over Jacques, the first-in candidate in the race to replace term-limited Rep. Larry Ahern. Quite a few of those polled, 42 percent, say they’ve already sent in their ballots. Among that crowd, DiCeglie’s lead inches up to 51-34, with the balance undecided. The remaining 58 percent of voters — those who plan to vote but haven’t done so yet — still favor DiCeglie, though by a tighter margin.

Happening today — The League of Women Voters of Lee County hosts a candidate forum in House District 79 with Republicans Matthew Shawn Miller of Alva and Spencer Roach of North Fort Myers, who are competing in the primary to replace term-limited state Rep. Matt Caldwell. The forum begins 6 p.m., North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 North Recreation Parkway, North Fort Myers. The GOP primary winner will face Democrat Mark Lipton of North Fort Myers.

He was an H.S. band director; she was a student. Then they got married. Now he’s running for Pasco School Board” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Before Kenneth Mathis launched his candidacy for the Pasco County School Board, he was under investigation into whether he had a sexual relationship with a student while serving as the band director at Land O’ Lakes High School. A review of Mathis’ personal file reveals he was under investigation in 2015 after a new teacher hired by the district told officials she’d had an inappropriate relationship with Mathis. Amarilys Barbosa was a member of the high school band from 2003-2007, the same period Mathis served as band director. Mathis told investigators the relationship between the two never turned physical until years after she graduated. However, uncovered messages exchanged by the two reference an intimate relationship dating back potentially to her time in high school. On Dec. 6, 2012, the two discussed a maturation of their current relationship in a lengthy online conversation, which included one revealing exchange: Barbosa: “I think we needed the four years apart to get us where we are now … I just didn’t feel this way the first time around.” Mathis: “Was I your sex toy?” Barbosa: “Sometimes I felt that way”

— ENDORSEMENT ROUND-UP —

Expanding on its slew of endorsements released on Saturday, the Miami Herald editorial board is recommending Levine as the Democratic option for voters on Aug. 28 because “he will be an assertive and clear-eyed leader for South Florida” as well as the entire state.

In the Republican primary, the South Florida newspaper is backing DeSantis, noting that Republicans “can vote with confidence that he will represent their interests.”

In state Senate District 38, the Herald is supporting Democratic challenger Jason Pizzo in his quest to unseat incumbent Democrat Daphne Campbell, writing the election gives voters a chance to “tell this compromised politician [Campbell] that her time is up.” In the Democratic primary for SD 36, the Herald is backing Julian Santos “for the financial experience in state government that he brings.”

In the battle for state House District 89, The Palm Beach Post is recommending Democrats pick Ocean Ridge Mayor James Bonfiglio, noting “he would raise teachers’ salaries by taxing legalized marijuana and sports betting.” The Post is backing Matt Spritz for the Republican nod in the same race, citing his belief that “constituents want action on the opioid crisis, beach renourishment and business issues including property taxes and the commercial real estate tax.”

— HATERS GONNA HATE —

A majority of Republicans think the media is the “enemy,” according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

Of the Republicans surveyed, 51 percent agreed “the media is the enemy of the people rather than an important part of democracy.” The GOP respondents were the only ones to feel that way, with 31 percent of the same sample dissenting.

Meanwhile, a broader swath of American voters (65 percent) indicated that the “media is an important part of democracy.”

Impending doom? Trump’s criticism of the media concerns 44 percent of American voters, according to the same poll. They believe it could “lead to violence.” Fifty-two percent did not feel the same way.

Bipartisan fretting: Democrats felt the criticism could lead to violence 76 — 21 percent. Republicans vice versa 80 — 14 percent.

Twitter-in-chief: “American voters say 66 — 26 percent that Trump should stop tweeting from his personal Twitter account,” according to Quinnipiac. “Republicans are divided as 44 percent say tweet and 47 percent say stop.”

— STATEWIDE —

Cost to protect Rick Scott rises to $2.5 million” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Protecting Gov. Scott cost the state $2.5 million last fiscal year, up from $2.3 million the year before. That’s according to a new report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The combined cost to guard the governor, First Lady Ann Scott, their family, and the Governor’s Mansion and grounds was roughly $3.25 million in 2017-18, up more than a quarter-million dollars from 2016-17 ($2.99 million). The Annual Report of Transportation and Protective Services also shows individual costs for 37 protective details for “visiting dignitaries.”

Scott and wife invested in parent company bidding on Tampa high-speed rail” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Scott said in June he believes a high-speed rail line from Orlando to Tampa is a good idea and, in a quiet testament to his confidence in the project, he and his wife last year invested at least $3 million in a credit fund for All Aboard Florida’s parent company, Fortress Investment Group, according to recently disclosed financial documents. The Scotts’ investment in Fortress Secured Lending Fund — the credit and lending division — produced at least $150,000 in income last year, according to Rick Scott’s 2018 federal financial disclosure report. He was required to file the report last month to run for U.S. Senate.

State urges justices to allow dog racing measure” via the News Service of Florida — Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office filed a 44-page brief urging the Florida Supreme Court to allow a proposed ban on greyhound racing to go on the November ballot. The brief urged justices to overturn a ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers, who said the proposed constitutional amendment included misleading language and should not go before voters. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case Aug. 29. “This (Supreme) Court has long maintained that the amendment process is ‘the most sanctified area in which a court can exercise power,’ and a proposed amendment should be submitted to the electorate unless its ballot language is ‘clearly and conclusively’ defective,” Bondi’s office said in the brief. “Because the ballot language at issue in this case fully informs the electorate of the proposed amendment’s chief purpose and is not misleading, Florida’s voters have a right to consider its merits and cast their vote.”

SunPass customers can see toll charges in account in real time” via Jessi Minneci of WFLA-AM — The Florida Department of Transportation cleared the backlog of transactions caused when the vendor Conduent failed to transition customers to a new centralized system properly. The agency says it fined Conduent nearly $800,000 in damages. Later this week, FDOT will announce the process for SunPass users to get reimbursed for overdraft fees caused by Conduent’s failures.

Florida Board of Education supports funding flexibility as it discusses budgets” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Though they wondered where they might find the money for any added expenses, board members stressed the need to increase teacher salaries to keep them in the schools and fight back a growing shortage. They also noted the importance of meeting the full price tag schools face as they work to become more secure, as mandated after the February school shooting in Parkland. The actual numbers seemed elusive, several on the board observed. They asked for more detailed information, so they could home in on a figure to ask lawmakers to target. And then they should get out of the districts’ way, and let them make decisions, they suggested. “Flexibility is something we should have for districts,” said vice chairman Andy Tuck, a former Highlands County School Board member.

State audit: Ineligible kids get private-school scholarships anyway” via Diane Rado of Florida Phoenix — Some Florida students who weren’t eligible for private-school scholarships got the money anyway, due to “human errors” and outdated information used to calculate awards, a new state audit shows. The nonprofit Step Up for Students, Inc., acknowledged concerns and made a variety of fixes, in part saying that “appropriate corrective actions were taken with individual team members,” according to responses provided in the audit released earlier this month by Florida’s Auditor General office. The auditor general report concluded that Step Up “over awarded” scholarships by about $420,000 for 248 students in 2015-16 and 2016-17. In other words, “If done correctly, those kids would have received $420,000 less over the two-year period,” said Patrick Gibbons, public affairs manager at Step Up. Another 32 students receiving scholarships were “under awarded” by $53,589, according to the auditor general report.

Parkland students start school year with tightened security” via Kelli Kennedy of The Associated Press — Some say they still won’t feel protected despite $6.5 million in security enhancements, including 18 safety monitors, new classroom locks, and upgraded video surveillance. All the students wore lanyards with IDs around their necks as they walked past a heavy police presence, in what has become their new normal. Volunteers greeted them with German shepherds, and a helicopter hovered overhead as a throng of media watched from across the street. Three school resource officers, three security specialists, and a dozen campus monitors will be on patrol. They’ll be keeping watch at new fences and gates at the beginning and end of the school day, keeping out all but staff and students wearing ID badges. At Stoneman Douglas, the tributes to victims have been removed, replaced with a single statue of an eagle hugging a heart.

Students arrive at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school on the first day of school.

With vacation rentals now legal in Orlando, city offers amnesty period to rogue listers” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A new city ordinance took effect essentially legalizing vacation rentals in the City Beautiful. And now the city is trying to get the word out that rogue property owners who had been illegally running vacation rental homes have an amnesty registration period through October 1 to become legit under the new law. The new city ordinance requires full registration, an issue that’s been at the heart of state debates at the Florida Legislature the past three years, where proponents of vacation rentals have been pushing for rollbacks of local ordinances specifically targeting them, while cities and counties have argued they should have the ability to self-govern. Orlando’s law also applies within all residential zoning districts, but only for properties that are rented for 30 days or less; provided that the leased portion of the home is 50 percent or less of the total number of bedrooms in the residence, that there is only one booking at a time and that the owner lives on-site and is present when hosting guests. Orlando charges $275 for an initial registration fee. The city has opened a beta website for online registrations and information on rental homes.

Mayor to female commissioner: You make a living off anal bleaching. It’s a #MeToo moment, she says” via Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — When Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London said “sphincter bleaching is a very up and coming business,” during the City Commission’s budget discussion, he may have been right. But whether he thought anal bleach had anything to do with public safety budgets — the topic being discussed — remains unclear. Why London thought it relevant, much less appropriate, to accuse a female commissioner of making her living from bleaching her own anus is even more baffling. “Was it getting my sphincter bleached, is that what I earned my income for?” London said to Commissioner Anabelle Lima-Taub, as the two exchanged personal attacks. “No that would be you.” … “Even if I was doing that for a living, that’s not appropriate,” Lima-Taub said. “For the sitting leader of a city to speak this way was completely inappropriate.”

— INCONVENIENT TRUTH —

The red tide plaguing Florida’s Gulf Coast isn’t an anomaly — it happens almost every year.

But this time around, it looks pretty bad, as evidenced by the images of fish, manatees, sea turtles and dolphins washing up on shore.

Could it be linked to climate change? In a new Washington Post storyAngela Fritz points to the affirmative.

Rising sea levels: Fritz notes the phenomenon linked to warmer global temperatures creates more shallow, warmer water along Florida’s coast. “As places such as Tampa, Miami and Charleston, S.C., lose shoreline, the ocean gains more shallow, warm water along the coast, and a larger area of highly favorable breeding ground for algae.”

More fuel: Increased CO2 levels gives plants and algae more power. Fritz writes, “Rapid growth is possible with higher levels of CO2, ‘especially toxic blue-green algae that can float to the surface of the water,’ according to the EPA.”

But: The “main culprit” of the algae blooms, Fritz contends, is “allowing nitrogen-rich material such as fertilizer to run off into natural water sources.”

— HAPPENING TODAY — 

Rick Wilson to come home for book signing at Tallahassee’s Midtown Reader” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — GOP strategist Wilson from 6 p.m. — 7:30 p.m. will be at Midtown Reader in Tallahassee to read from, discuss details and sign copies of his new nonfiction work, “Everything Trump Touches Dies.” Wilson, a regular guest for cable news and radio broadcast networks known for his fiery rhetoric, could attract a large crowd. Sally Bradshaw, owner and operator of the Midtown Reader, told us, “based on feedback, we’re expecting it to be a crowded event.” Calling Wilson “bright, clever and provocative,” Bradshaw said his popularity transcends the political spectrum because he’s a “truth teller.” A Tallahassee resident, the event could be a homecoming of sorts for Wilson, as he’s been busy racking up national media appearances. Released last week, “Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever” is a comprehensive and disparaging dissection of American politics in the age of Trump as told by a lifelong conservative, prolific Republican ad man and early leader of the ‘Never Trump’ movement.

— OPINIONS —

Martha Haynie: Adam Putnam, Frank White should rescind endorsements from anti-LGBT hate group” via Florida Politics — Putnam’s campaign has come under fire over his support from the National Rifle Association … Now that he has accepted the endorsement of the anti-LGBT Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC), Putnam can add “proud hate group sellout” to his resume. White, a Republican candidate for Florida Attorney General and anti-abortion hard-liner, was also endorsed by the FFPC after receiving an A+ on their legislative scorecard. His acceptance of FFPC’s endorsement is tantamount to declaring legal war on LGBT Floridians and a woman’s right to seek an abortion. The FFPC and its leader John Stemberger have a long history of attacking the LGBT community with false claims and junk science. The Florida Family Policy Council is an offshoot of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as a hate group whose “specialty is defaming gays and lesbians.” And with the acceptance of FFPC’s endorsement, Putnam and White aren’t just declaring themselves opponents of abortion — they’re making clear that as Governor, Florida’s entire LGBT community would be treated as second-class citizens.

Carol Dover: Take action to protect Florida’s tourism industry” via Florida Politics — Our state’s largest industry is in danger as a result of the algal blooms caused when the federal government releases water from Lake Okeechobee into our rivers and estuaries. Gov. Scott has taken incredible steps in securing millions of dollars in state funding for repairs to the Herbert Hoover dike and billions for Everglades restoration projects. But the bottom line is that Gov. Scott, the SFWMD and Floridians cannot stop the algal blooms or minimize the damage to our environment and economy on our own. The federal government must take immediate and decisive action to help Florida. The federal government should immediately fully fund their half of the state-federal partnership for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. To date, the state has contributed more than $2.3 billion, but the federal government has contributed only $1.3 billion … the plan is still sitting in Congress, waiting on approval. Without Congressional approval, this key project is on hold, and the Lake Okeechobee discharges continue.

— MOVEMENTS —

Florida Virtual School hires law firm to investigate complaints; general counsel Frank Kruppenbacher resigns” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — FordHarrison, a labor and employment law firm, was hired to make sure FLVS complies with the state’s whistleblower’s act, which protects public employees from retaliation if they report wrongdoing at their workplaces. FordHarrsion, which had some preliminary discussions with FLVS officials, in a letter to the chairman of the school’s board of trustees said the school is “in receipt of multiple employee complaints, which if substantiated,” might be within the scope of Florida’s whistleblower’s law. “FLVS must conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of the allegations and take appropriate action,” the letter said. That same day, the board also accepted Kruppenbacher’s resignation. When asked about the investigation, Kruppenbacher said, “I’m not commenting at all about the virtual school.”

Florida Virtual Schools general counsel Frank Kruppenbacher makes a hasty exit.

Personnel note: Devin Galetta now deputy comm’s to CFO Jimmy Patronis” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Galetta now is deputy communications director to Chief Financial Officer Patronis, reporting to Anna Alexopoulos Farrar … Galetta started at the Department of Financial Services when he was still in college at Florida State University, working as an administrative assistant, according to his LinkedIn page. He later became a Marketing and Communications Specialist there, before leaving in 2014. Galetta also has been Assistant Director of Media, Communications, and Marketing for FSU Libraries. He also was the state Health Department’s Media and Marketing Manager before a brief, recent run as the agency’s interim communications director.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Elizabeth Dudek, Greenberg Traurig: Oscar Insurance Company of Florida

RJ Myers, Suskey Consulting: Innocence Project

Drew Preston: Associated Industries of Florida

Shireen Sackreiter: Accenture

— ALOE —

Floridians are leading the call for an NFL boycott, study shows” via Florida Politics — According to a new study from SportsBetting.ag, the offseason has done little to placate the most vocal among that crowd, many of whom live in the Sunshine State. The online sports betting outfit found more than 75,000 geotagged tweets calling for a boycott — they sussed them out through the presence of hashtags such as #BoycottNFL, #BoycottTheNFL, and #BoycottNFLsponsors — and plotted them on a map of the United States. The final results showed Florida had the highest volume of boycott-related tweets, with Maine, Mississippi, Arizona, Nevada rounding out the top-5.

Weekend hours for Capitol’s observation deck?” via WCTV Eyewitness News — Tallahassee resident Scott Sutor says the Florida Capitol’s 22nd floor, known as the Observation Deck, should be open on weekends. Currently, the entire Capitol building is only open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sutor wrote a letter to Gov. Scott on August 7, hoping to get the hours changed. In it, he says: “So that visiting family and friends will be able to see the beautiful view from the 22nd floor … A lot of people come here on the weekend, either for a sporting event, a convention, anything. If they want to go to the Capitol on the weekend, (they can’t) today. Maybe in the future,” he said. Sutor says it would benefit tourism in the capital city, as well as make it more convenient and enjoyable for residents and visitors.

Jack Dorsey says he’s rethinking the core of how Twitter works” via Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin of The Washington Post — Dorsey said he was experimenting with features that would promote alternative viewpoints in Twitter’s timeline to address misinformation and reduce “echo chambers.” He also expressed openness to labeling bots — automated accounts that sometimes pose as human users — and redesigning key elements of the social network, including the “like” button and the way Twitter displays users’ follower counts. “The most important thing that we can do is we look at the incentives that we’re building into our product,” Dorsey said. “Because they do express a point of view of what we want people to do — and I don’t think they are correct anymore.”

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to:

That’s right; it’s Robert “Hawk” Hawken‘s birthday.

Also celebrating today are Matt Choy, the City of St. Pete’s Ben Kirby, and Rockie Pennington.

Last Call for 8.15.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

No, a Skokie, Illinois-based company that bills itself as America’s “leading bitcoin ATM operator” hasn’t had a change of heart about coming to Florida.

The backstory: GPD Holdings LLC, which does business as CoinFlip, earlier this month filed a request with state financial regulators.

It sought what’s known as a “declaratory statement” on whether a “bitcoin ATM operator is required to register as (a) state money transmitter” under state law.

Then, on Monday, it withdrew the request. But that was only “to edit it,” a company representative said Wednesday.

Cryptocurrency is online money, “decentralized digital currency beyond the reach of banks and governments,” as Fortune magazine once defined it. Bitcoin is perhaps the best-known cryptocurrency.

It relies on a network of users to log and verify transactions without oversight from a central authority. But it’s that same decentralization and lack of oversight that can lead to fraud.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis in June rolled out a re-election campaign platform that includes “regulating and rooting out fraud” in the cryptocurrency market.

Later, he announced Ken Lawson, CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, as his new “cryptocurrency adviser.” The role is an unpaid consulting position; Lawson remains full-time at VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s public-private marketing tourism agency.

GPD Holdings operates cryptocurrency ATMs throughout the Midwest and in California, Nevada, Colorado, Texas, Tennessee and North Carolina, according to its website.

Evening Reads

Democrats eroding GOP’s turnout edge in midtermsby Steve Shepard of POLITICO

From super rich to debt-ridden, Florida candidates reveal net worth” via Diane Rado of The Florida Phoenix

Poll commissioned by unnamed group shows Philip Levine with slight lead on Gwen Graham” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Poll: Republicans give Ron DeSantis a slim lead over Adam Putnam” via Erin Murray of Spectrum News 13

Labor union launches ads targeting Gwen Graham over the American Dream megamall” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

Democratic race for Attorney General gets bogged down in lawsuits” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida Virtual School hires law firm to investigate complaints; general counsel Frank Kruppenbacher resigns” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel

At Stoneman Douglas, anxiety and hope come with first day of school” via Susannah Bryan of the Sun Sentinel

Judge blasts Sun Sentinel for publishing confidential information in Parkland school shooting case” via Rafael Olmeda of the Sun Sentinel

New videos of FIU bridge collapse released — with clear view of workers’ actions” via Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald

Ex-judge loses legal fight against Bar, JQC officials” via the News Service of Florida

A mayor accused a female commissioner of bleaching her butthole. Her response: #MeToo” via Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald

Seminole commissioners unanimously reject controversial River Cross project” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel

Quote of the Day

“It was Gov. Scott who worked to have Florida taken off the table for oil drilling.” — Rick Scott for Senate spokeswoman Lauren Schenone, commenting after oil interests launched a new PR push for offshore drilling.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam will join supporters for a North Florida “grassroots breakfast.” That’s at 8:30 a.m., The Landing Family Restaurant, 3445 U.S. Route 90, Lake City.

Enterprise Florida will hold two in a series of trade seminars directed toward small and medium-sized firms seeking to do business in the Dominican Republic. That’s at 8:30 a.m. Florida SBDC at the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business, 1101 Channelside Dr., Suite 210, Tampa. Also, 2:30 p.m., 800 North Magnolia Ave., Suite 1100, Orlando.

The Revenue Estimating Conference will update estimates of general revenue, which play a key role in funding schools, health programs and prisons. The conference periodically updates the estimates, which lawmakers use in making budget decisions. That’s at 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.

The Florida Defense Support Task Force, which works to protect and expand military installations in the state, will hold a conference call. That’s at 9 a.m. Call-in number: 1-800-501-8979. Code: 1869945.

The League of Women Voters of Lee County is hosting a candidate forum in state House District 79. That’s at 6 p.m. North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 North Recreation Parkway, North Fort Myers.

The Florida Democratic Party’s “Rural Tour” is stopping in Citrus County. That’s at 6 p.m., George Washington Carver Center, 555 NE 3rd Ave., Crystal River.

New Florida Vision PAC is hosting a texting event “to reach voters through their phones” for the Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum. That’s at 6:30 p.m., Buffalo Wild Wings, 20505 S. Dixie Hwy., Cutler Bay.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 8.15.18

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Two years ago, the little girl pictured on the left entered Pre-K. Today, she heads to Kindergarten. And our hearts will never be the same.

Ella’s such a big girl now, so aware of her surroundings and the world at large. She amazes us with her curiosity … her bravery … her compassion … her intelligence.

I suppose we’re no different than any parents who have stopped and wondered: How did we get so lucky to have this amazing child enter our lives?

That’s what we’ve found ourselves doing again and again this summer. Whether it be at a fancy dinner or just hanging around the kitchen, this fierce young woman never ceases to dazzle us.

But now, she’ll be gone for as much of the day as she will be awake at home. That hurts our hearts.

At our wonderful, dare I say idyllic, little school, there is a “Boo Hoo Breakfast” for all of the parents of Kindergarteners. The school bulletin reads, “This casual gathering is a great way to get connected with your fellow Kindergarten parents and share a few tears or a few cheers!!”

I don’t know about the cheers. But if anyone wants to know who the couple in the corner is with tears streaming down their faces, that will be Michelle and me.

Boo Hoo Hoo indeed.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@PeterStrozk: Stunned and humbled by the extraordinary outpouring of support already received from thousands of fellow everyday citizens taking time to fight for our country and our shared American ideals. Thank you.

@PBump: How would the board of a company react if the CEO told them that he hadn’t fired an unqualified employee who was disliked by coworkers because the employee constantly praised him?

@LearyReports: Most expensive Senate race in the U.S.: Florida ($40.5 million in ads so far) Most expensive gubernatorial race in the U.S.: Florida ($88.6 million) – Per Advertising Analytics, published by NBC News.

@CahnEmily: Inbox: Sanders is campaigning for Andrew Gillum in #FLgov. Another silly decision given that Gillum is in third and unlikely to win, which will just hurt Bernie’s political capital more

@SenRubioPress: I welcome the decision of @UofNorthFlorida to close its Confucius Institute. There is growing & well-founded concern about these Chinese Communist Party-funded Institutes. I continue to urge other FL universities to follow suit.

@RepTedDeutch: 6 months ago today, students fled in horror as a gunman killed 17 people & injured 17 at MSD. Since then, grieving families have honored their loved ones’ memories by fighting for safer schools & student-survivors have inspired a movement. Our community remains proudly #MSDStrong

@BillGalvano: As incoming Senate President of the third-largest state in the nation – a bellwether for others – I am committed to making sure our re-examination of school safety policies does not end here. Some issues simply must transcend politics. The safety of our children is one. We cannot be complacent, or think our work is done – we must continually review existing policies and encourage new ideas to keep our students safe. Florida’s experiences and reforms should be shared and exported to other states. 6 months later, as millions of students begin a new school year, we cannot help but reflect back on that heartbreaking day. As we do, we can mark this moment as a time when grief galvanized action, and we were not immobilized by our differences. #NeverAgain

@Conarck: Flagler sheriff celebrates incarcerating record numbers of people in his county. Reminder: the vast majority of people in jail have not been convicted of a crime yet and would not be there if they weren’t poor.

@BrettDoster: Honorable and smart move by Melissa Howard. She just saved her and her allies massive pain and emotional embarrassment over the next 10 days. Congratulations on the primary win @TommyGregoryFL.

@RyanB1001: So I type CentralFloridaPolitics.com into my browser and what do I get? A #Russian webpage! Don’t tell me there’s no Russian interference in #Florida! They’ve taken over Central Florida Politics!

— LATEST VOTING FIGURES —

Who added more Florida voters — Republicans, Democrats or NPAs?” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Florida’s electorate has grown more Hispanic and less partisan since the 2016 presidential election, new voter registration statistics from the Florida Division of Elections show. The number of Florida voters who register with minor parties or with no party affiliation has increased 4.2 percent since 2016 while Democratic registrations have dipped 0.8 percent and Republican registrations have increased 1 percent. Democrats in Florida and elsewhere have touted a ‘blue wave’ backlash against President Donald Trump in this year’s midterm elections, but the party has seen a minor ebb in registrations in Florida.

Analysis: Democrats get registered voter gains in South Floridavia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics Democrats are pushing to flip two, three or even four seats from South Florida Republicans this November. And updated voter roll information shows that in three of those four districts, Democrats earned net gains from the GOP in terms of voter registration changes from 2016 to 2018. Surely party vote share ahead of the August primaries doesn’t tell the whole story. But if it has any predictive value, Democrats should be feeling better than their GOP counterparts overall in these major races that could help decide control of the U.S. House.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Start of the U.S. Open — 12; Primary Election Day — 13; College Football opening weekend — 15; Labor Day — 19; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 22; NFL regular season starts — 22; First general election mail ballots go out — 38; Future of Florida Forum — 42; FSU vs. UM football game — 52; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 69; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 70; General Election Day — 83; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 97; Black Friday — 100; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 104; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 181; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 202; 2020 General Election — 811.

— TOP STORY —

Conflicts of interest cloud Frank White’s Attorney General bid” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics – As Republican Frank White’s campaign for Attorney General heads into the final two weeks of the primary, questions arise on how the longtime auto executive will handle oversight of his own industry. Since the Attorney General’s office received more than a dozen complaints against auto magnate Sandy Sansing‘s chain of auto dealerships, where White is general counsel and chief financial officer, criticism will likely grow. … Alan Jay Wildstein, chairman of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association, put out a special alert to organizations members saying White’s candidacy marks an “historic opportunity” to elect the first car dealer to serve as Attorney General in state history. “In his role as one of our chief regulators, he will be available and knowledgeable on industry affairs and statewide policies impacting dealers,” Wildstein wrote. And later in the piece: “Supporting Frank would have obvious advantages for every dealer in Florida due to the myriad of challenges facing the industry today.” The call to action went into no great detail about said challenges. But a look at complaints filed against various Sansing companies through the Attorney General’s Office may offer a glimpse at potential conflicts that may arise for White.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Rick Scott on Bill Nelson: ‘If he does have classified information how did he get it?’” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Gov. Scott on Tuesday continued to question the motive and origin of Sen. Nelson‘s vague warning over Russian hacking. “If he does have classified information how did he get it? I don’t think he’s entitled to it, and why would he release it to a reporter? … If it’s not true, then why didn’t he just come and say it’s not true?” Scott said after a Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee. “From my standpoint, we’re in the middle of a primary election, people are voting, absentee ballots are out, early voting has started in some places and people need to know the facts. And I don’t think he’s been transparent.” There is still no word from the Department of Homeland Security or the FBI in response to a letter Secretary of State Ken Detzner sent Friday asking for any information about Nelson’s claim, despite Detzner setting a Monday deadline. Nelson has stuck by his comments … He attributed that warning to the heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee but has not elaborated. Those officials have neither confirmed nor contradicted Nelson and said Florida needs to be cognizant of threats. Sen. Marco Rubio, also a member of the committee, has echoed that.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Assignment editors The Florida League of Mayors, in coordination with the Florida League of Cities and Leadership Forum, will hold a forum for the Democratic gubernatorial candidates. That’s at 2 p.m., The Diplomat Beach Resort, 3555 South Ocean Dr., Hollywood.

Bernie Sanders to rally for Andrew Gillum this Friday” via Dan McAuliffe of Florida Politics – The Gillum campaign announced late Tuesday that the Senator from Vermont will join Gillum at two rallies on Friday — less than two weeks away from the Aug. 28 primary. The first of the rallies is set to take place in Tampa, where Sanders and Gillum will speak to voters at 11 a.m. in Armature Works — Gathering Room. In the afternoon, the two will head to Orlando for a 2 p.m. rally at the CFE Arena at UCF. Sanders endorsed Gillum at the beginning of the month, christening him as the progressive option for Florida voters.

Andrew Gillum passes again on Democrat editorial board meeting with governor candidates” via Jeffrey Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat– Mayor Gillum has opted not to meet with the Tallahassee Democrat’s editorial board, making him the only Democratic candidate for governor to forgo an appearance. Gillum was scheduled to come before the editorial board on July 31, but his campaign canceled hours before the event for an unspecified scheduling conflict. Geoff Burgan, Gillum’s campaign spokesman, promised in an email that day to reschedule. He again vowed to reschedule in a follow-up call with the Democrat on Aug. 9. But after another call and email from the Democrat, Burgan emailed on Monday to call it off. He didn’t offer an explanation. “Unfortunately we’re not going to be able to reschedule, and I understand you have deadlines to meet,” he said. “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get this set back up for us.” Democrat Executive Editor William Hatfield emailed Burgan back … “So disappointed – personally but also for the many voters that use these interviews to help learn more about the candidates and issues.”

Assignment editors Gillum will campaign across South Florida: 11 a.m., AARP Miami Chapter monthly meeting, Charles Hadley Park, 1350 NW 50th St., Miami; 12:45 p.m., Kings Point Democratic Club, 7620 Nob Hill Road, Tamarac; 6 p.m., Gillum for Governor volunteer rally, 4325 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation; 8 p.m., live national Sirius XM radio interview with Joe Madison on “The Black Eagle.”

Jeff Greene insight into Donald Trump: ‘Weird, narcissistic, nutcase” via Anthony Man of the Sun Sentinel – … the billionaire Democrat running for Florida governor, was unsparing Tuesday in his criticism of another billionaire who went into politics, President Donald Trump. “I can’t stand this guy. I mean I never liked the guy when I first met him,” Greene said. “I would be at my table, and he would come over all the time,” he said, explaining that Trump didn’t engage in normal conversation. He said Trump wouldn’t engage with his fellow billionaire, instead addressing a regular comment to Greene’s wife. “He would always like point to me and say ‘your husband is really smart’ and then he’d walk away or say ‘beautiful wife,’ and I was thinking ‘This guy is weird.’” Greene said. “This is a guy who is unwilling to engage in any kind of conversation, he is so insecure.”

Jeff Greene puts more money into Governor’s race” via the News Service of Florida – Greene loaned another $4.35 million to his gubernatorial campaign in late July and early August, bringing the total to more than $22 million, according to a new finance report. Greene, a billionaire investor, had loaned $22.45 million to the campaign as of Aug. 3 and had received $2,315 in contributions. The campaign had spent $22.43 million, the report shows.

New Philip Levine ad about disabilities, ‘heart’” via Scott Powers of the Tampa Bay Times – With one television commercial, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is managing to highlight his own efforts to help people with disabilities, bash President Trump for mocking them, and accuse Gov. Scott of being heartless. The new 30-second TV commercial “Sabrina” launching today, also offers a counter to Democratic rival Gwen Graham’s announcement that she’s won the endorsement from the Democratic Party’s Disabilities Caucus. The ad focuses on a woman named Sabrina Cohen, a Miami-area advocate for people with disabilities and founder of the Sabrina Cohen Foundation. She explains a car accident took away her ability to walk when she was 14, and she praises Levine for his efforts when he was Miami Beach mayor, and calls him someone with “heart.”

Adam Putnam to head out on ‘Florida First’ campaign tour” via Florida Politics – The Putnam campaign for Governor on Tuesday announced a “statewide tour of Florida with at least one stop planned in every major region of the state” … “Over the next two weeks I will be making stops in communities across our great state and sharing my vision to make Florida the launchpad for the American dream,” Putnam said … The Florida First statewide tour will kick off Wednesday and continue through Saturday, Aug. 25. Planned stops include, but are not limited to Santa Rosa Beach, Panama City, Lake City, Winter Park, Ormond Beach, Jacksonville, Fruit Cove, Clearwater, Brandon, Dade City, Bradenton, Sarasota, North Port, Moore Haven, West Palm Beach, Miami, The Villages, Sanford, and Temple Terrace.

Putnam says Ron DeSantis has ‘no working knowledge of our state’ — It’s becoming increasingly likely that U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, not Putnam, will be the GOP nominee for Governor in the fall. And Putnam has had it with the Trump-backed Congressman. In filter-free rant Tuesday, Putnam repeated his attack that DeSantis’ campaign is “being run out of a TV studio” before going on a tirade highlighting what he says is a lack of preparation for the job he seeks. … DeSantis “really has no plan, no vision, no agenda, no knowledge, no working knowledge of our state. And it would be tragic to have the CEO of the third largest state being, doing on the job training during the first two years.” … Putnam is joined by a few others who have made similar public assertions, though they aren’t his fellow Republicans — they’re the news outlets he’s largely kept at arm’s length during his campaign. As one major paper put it, “DeSantis shows little understanding of state policy or of the challenges facing this state.” Meanwhile, Team DeSantis has moved to making major campaign hires as it preps for the general election.

Bob Buckhorn eager about lieutenant governor’s race. If he’s tapped, Reddick would take mayor’s seat” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times – Mayor Bob Buckhorn is sounding more and more like a serious candidate for lieutenant governor, especially when he speaks about the prospect himself. “There’s nobody who has the track record that is as good as mine,” Buckhorn said in an interview Tuesday, speaking of progressive causes like LGBT issues, the environment, unions and family leave, while also noting his history of working across the political aisle. A Buckhorn candidacy also raises the prospect that he’ll be leaving the mayor’s job in September, eight months before his term ends — elevating City Council Chairman Frank Reddick to the position and giving Tampa its first African-American mayor. “It would be good for the city to bring about the diversity that we all talk about,” he said. “And it may encourage other African Americans to seek the office.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —

New Sean Shaw ad highlights push for gun control legislation” via Ryan Nichol of Florida Politics – The 15-second spot echoes Shaw’s previous promises to reform the state’s approach to gun violence as Attorney General. Shaw said he would not defend the state’s current pre-emption policy on local gun laws and would challenge federal immunity for gun makers, courtesy of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. He has also proposed a gun violence task force to be installed on day one of his stint as Attorney General.

Click on the image below to watch the video:

Assignment editors Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Denise Grimsley will attend AgNet Media’s Citrus Expo at 8:30 a.m., Lee Civic Center, 11831 Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers. She’ll also be at the Citrus and Agriculture Industry Celebration, 5:30 p.m., Florida Gulf Coast University Alico Arena, 12181 FGCU Lake Parkway East, Fort Myers.

Former Supreme Court justice challenges constitutional amendments” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead is challenging six proposed constitutional amendments on grounds they violate voters’ First Amendment rights. Anstead, who served on the Supreme Court 1994-2009, on Tuesday filed a petition … against Secretary of State Detzner, Florida’s chief election officer. The court did not immediately accept jurisdiction but later Tuesday asked Detzner to respond to the petition “no later than 5 p.m. (next) Monday.” Anstead is challenging six of the eight amendments placed on the ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), because each one “bundles independent and unrelated proposals in a single ballot question.”

Marsy’s Law effort gets $6M boost” via the News Service of Florida – A national group seeking to pass a Florida constitutional amendment that would expand crime victims’ rights has provided another $6 million infusion to the campaign. The California-based Marsy’s Law for All Foundation contributed the money July 30 to the Marsy’s Law for Florida political committee, according to a newly filed finance report. That brought to $24.35 million the amount the foundation has sent to the committee. Supporters of the proposal, which has become commonly known as “Marsy’s Law,” argue it would establish a series of rights for crime victims, including the right to be notified of major developments in criminal cases and the right to be heard in the legal proceedings. The proposed constitutional amendment is part of a broader national movement that stems from the 1983 death of a California woman, Marsy Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by an ex-boyfriend.

Florida Amendment 8 challenge stems from policy disagreement, not wording problems, secretary of state argues” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times A special counsel to the state Attorney General’s Office contends that an effort to remove Amendment 8 from Florida’s November ballot fails to meet the “heavy burden” required to interfere with the “sanctified” amendment process. The League of Women Voters has argued that the proposal, which includes three education-related matters, has a misleading title and summary, and fails to inform voters of its true effects. The amendment seeks to impose school board term limits, embed civics education in the constitution, and allow lawmakers to establish an alternate public school authorizer that is not subject to school board oversight. “Amendment 8 suffers from none of these defects, and this Court should reject Plaintiffs’ attempt to interfere with the amendment process, which attempt stems primarily from their disagreement with Amendment 8 as a matter of policy,” wrote attorney Blaine H. Winship, representing the secretary of state’s office.

Justices agree to decide ballot fight on county offices” via the News Service of Florida – The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously agreed to take up a challenge to a proposed ballot measure that has drawn opposition from some counties. The appeals court pointed to a “question of great public importance” that it said needs “immediate resolution by the Supreme Court of Florida.” The measure, known as Amendment 10, would make the five local constitutional offices — sheriff, tax collector, supervisor of elections, clerk of the court and property appraiser — mandatory and require elections for the offices in all 67 counties. It would also prohibit charter counties from abolishing or modifying those offices. Challenges filed in Leon County circuit court argued that the ballot language and summary were misleading and that, as a result, the proposal should not go to voters.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 3 —

Greg Steube hits Julio Gonzalez for touting non-existent Rick Scott endorsement” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Gonzalez has been pushing an online ad backing up his campaign for Florida’s 17th Congressional District that features Scott praising the Republican lawmaker and insinuating Gonzalez is his pick in the primary race to fill the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney. … If it weren’t clear enough by the lack of endorsement-style language, the Associated Press puts to rest any lingering doubts: “Scott’s campaign manager, Jackie Schultz, said Scott hasn’t endorsed in the race.” … Steube campaign seized on the misrepresentation in a Tuesday campaign email hammering Gonzalez. “Gonzalez … has been falsely touting the support of Governor Rick Scott in an effort to boost his failing campaign,” the email read, citing the AP report. … “This is the latest attempt to mislead the voters from a campaign that is desperately trying to revive itself,” said Alex Blair, Steube’s campaign manager. “…they are trying to mislead voters about Governor Scott’s support.” … Team Steube then alleged the ad was a violation of a state law that says it is illegal to claim an endorsement without the written permission of the person or organization.

New endorsements signal Al Lawson momentum in re-election bid” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Lawson continues to demonstrate momentum as early voting continues in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, with two key endorsements conferred upon him Tuesday. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund endorsed Lawson, calling him a “strong supporter of women’s health and … a dedicated advocate for Planned Parenthood health centers and the people they serve.” He also received the backing of the Florida Times-Union, the hometown paper of Lawson’s primary opponent, former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. The paper lauded Lawson’s “no-drama approach,” saying there’s “no compelling reason” for Jacksonville voters to “abandon the incumbent.”

Spotted: Carlos Curbelo inThe five most competitive House races in the midterms” via Axios – The 2018 midterms battlefield is changing every week, and this list shows the uphill battle Republicans will face if they want to keep control. There are a lot of close races, but these ones are especially close, and some haven’t gotten the attention that analysts say they deserve … Florida’s 26th district: It went for Clinton by 16 points in 2016 despite keeping Republican Rep. Curbelo in office for the last four years. A majority of the district’s residents are Hispanic, and both Curbelo and his likely Democratic challenger, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, have Hispanic heritage.

Retailers recommend George Gainer for re-election” via Florida Politics — The political arm of the Florida Retail Federation is backing Panama City Republican Sen. George Gainer in his bid for a second term in Senate District 2. … “Senator Gainer’s knowledge of what it takes to run a small business as well as his support for retailers during his time in the Senate are just two reasons we’ve chosen to endorse his campaign,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “We look forward to him continuing to work in support of Florida’s business community and the retail industry in his return to the Florida Senate.” … The FRF nod comes after Gainer’s re-election bid had already picked up an endorsement from the Florida Realtors PAC, the political arm of the state’s largest professional trade association. … Gainer faces Fort Walton Beach Democrat Mary Jeanne “Gigi” Gibson in the general election for the Republican stronghold.

Assignment editors The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FSHCC) will host a press conference to announce its endorsement of Republican Dana Young’s re-election to Senate District 18. That’s at 10 a.m., La Teresita Restaurant, 3248 W. Columbus Drive, Tampa.

Chip LaMarca says his numbers poke holes in Democrats’ HD 93 poll” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics The campaign of Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca hit the House Victory polls for being based on an online tally compiled by a company that’s only been around for a year. It’s end result: Democratic contender Emma Collum with a 2-point lead over LaMarca, a Republican, in House District 93. A live dial poll of 300 respondents conducted by Voter Opinions and sponsored by a pro-LaMarca political committee showed LaMarca with a 6-point lead over Collum. More recently, another live dial poll of commissioned by the Republican Party of Florida and conducted by McLaughlin & Associates showed LaMarca’s lead expanding to 9 points over Collum.

House candidate Terry Power lives in $500K home but applied for food stamps” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics – The Republican who’s challenging state Rep. Jamie Grant for his House District 64 seat lives in a $500,000 home but applied for food stamps, according to recent tweets. The account known as Enforce Current Laws (@FirstWivesFirst) revealed the information. For his part, Power said he had been blocked by the same account. “If it’s anything related to my ex-wife re-opening my divorce two days after I filed for the Florida House, I’ll be litigating the matter in court, not in the media,” Power told one of our reporters. But Power reportedly was denied food stamps “b/c his income was too high.” Moreover, Power’s ex-wife has moved for contempt proceedings against him related to their divorce.

Florida Medical Association PAC endorses Matt Spritz – FMA PAC, “Florida’s leading advocate for electing pro-medicine candidates to office,” on Tuesday endorsed Spritz, a Republican, in his bid for House District 89. “We worked with Matt as a legislative aide on the opioid legislation this past session and look forward to continuing working with him on health care issues as a member of the Florida House,” said FMA PAC President Dr. Mike Patete. HD 89 includes parts of Palm Beach county. It’s an open seat being vacated by term-limited Rep. Bill Hager, a Boca Raton Republican. Spritz graduated Phi Beta Kappa with high honors from Emory University in 2005, after which he attended NYU Law School.

Anthony Rodriguez wins Central Florida endorsements for HD 118via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics Rodriguez, a Kendall business owner and Republican candidate for House District 118, has earned the support of several current House members as he tries to oust sitting Rep. Robert Asencio. The Republican Delegation of Central Florida announced its support of Rodriguez, running unopposed in the HD 118 GOP primary. The group is made up of state Reps. Bob Cortes, Scott Plakon, David Santiago, Danny Burgess, Jason Brodeur, Bobby Olszewski, Rene Plasencia, Mike LaRosa and Jennifer Sullivan.

Activists launch effort to light a spark for medical marijuana” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics Florida medical marijuana activists announced the formation of a new money group aimed at legalizing the drug for medicinal use nationwide. The organization, called “Empowering Wellness,” was formed in part by longtime Florida activists Eric Stevens and Ben Pollara. The pair worked on Florida’s medical marijuana campaigns in both 2014 and 2016. The group was formed as a coalition of more than 30 state and national organizations which support federal legalization. “Empowering Wellness is going to do whatever we can to help move the needle forward on medical marijuana policy in Washington, D.C., and here in Florida,” Stevens said. 

— STATEWIDE —

State debt reduction called ‘sea change’ ” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida –Florida has reduced debt that helps finance initiatives like roads, schools and environmental projects by more than $7 billion over the past eight years, according to a new report from the state Division of Bond Finance. The debt amount dropped from $28.2 billion in July 2010 to $21 billion through June 30, Ben Watkins, director of the bond finance agency, told Gov. Scott and Cabinet members Tuesday. That represented a 25 percent reduction. The debt reduction, which came as Scott pursued a policy of limiting state borrowing, was “unprecedented,” Watkins said, because it reversed a long-term trend of annual borrowing by the state.

Assignment editors Gov. Scott will join Florida manufacturers to highlight the Manufacturers Association of Florida’s endorsement of his campaign for U.S. Senate. That’s at 9:30 a.m., Florida Machine Works, 86412 Gene Lassere Blvd., Yulee; and 3:35 p.m., Eco Glass Production Corp., 9101 NW 87th Ave., Medley.

State launches investigation into SunPass failures, fines contractor $800K” via Noah Pransky of WTSP 10 – Florida’s Office of Inspector General will launch an investigation into the state’s SunPass failures … The state also announced the first fines to contractor Conduent: $800,000 for damages. “I’m going to continue to hold the FDOT accountable, and I know they’re holding the vendor accountable,” Scott said. FDOT also announced Tuesday its massive backlog of tolls – which reached nearly 200 million in July – has finally been cleared. But major customer service problems continue to linger due to unexpected and inexplicable charges on some accounts.

How America’s foreclosure capital (Ft. Myers) came back from the dead” via Lydia DePillis of CNN Money – Whenever he wants to see his old house, Nezam Juman walks to the edge of his waterfront property and peers around the river’s bend. Juman worked as a mortgage originator. In 2007, the housing bust hit like a bomb going off, and all of a sudden nobody was buying. It was a fate that befell one out of ten homeowners in Lee County. The county had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country between 2008 and 2013 … In one zip code, 42% of properties went into foreclosure. But nothing can keep Florida down for long. Unlike rust belt towns that saw their already-weakened industrial bases snuffed out in the recession, Florida’s drivers are warm winters, the beach and low taxes.

This is why Mike Carroll is leaving –Mother of girl killed in Miami Beach previously investigated by DCF” via Amanda Batchelor of ABC 10 – The mother of a 3-year-old girl who was killed last week in Miami Beach was previously investigated by the Florida Department of Children and Families, a DCF spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday. According to the DCF report from August 2017, someone reported that Skylar Hartley‘s mother was using heroin. The DCF investigation was soon closed with no signs of substance misuse. Now, a year later, the boyfriend of Skylar’s mother is being held in jail without bond on accusations that he killed the little girl last week. “The tragic loss of Skylar is heartbreaking and our condolences are with her loved ones,” DCF Secretary Carroll said in a statement. “DCF has opened a child death investigation and will conduct a thorough review of the prior investigation which closed with no indicators.

— LINES IN THE SAND —

The beach woes in Walton County continue. 

Now, beachgoers and vendors in Destin are battling over shore access. This follows the kerfuffle caused by HB 631, which resulted in some members of the public being asked to leave beaches in the county or face possible trespassing charges. 

Writes Annie Blanks for the Northwest Florida Daily News, “What’s more, beach chair vendors are increasingly testing the limits of the beach-going public, in some cases violating city ordinances by putting their chairs too close to shore and restricting people from sitting in front of them.” 

The law: “Beach vendors shall not block or impede in any manner the right of pedestrian access seaward of a line 20 feet above the mean high water line.” 

The breach: Vendors peddling beach chairs “are increasingly setting up well within the 20-foot space,” writes Blanks. She notes that there also have been reports of similar vendors setting up shop in off-limits areas. 

Impact?: The aggressive nature of the vendors could lead to fewer tourists opting to visit the shores of Destin. Writes Blanks, “With the city’s public beach accesses only a few dozen feet wide at best, and with beach chair vendors bullying members of the public off the beaches they likely have a legal right to be on, elected officials fear they are facing a crisis as the battle over the beach becomes more and more personal.”

— PROBLEMATIC SOLUTION —

When landmark opioid legislation moved through the 2018 Legislative Session, some doctors — specifically those who dealt with trauma patients — expressed worry that patients who needed scripts could be hurt by new mandatory limits. 

But now that the law is active, others in the medical profession are feeling some of the negative effects. 

Notes the Orlando Sentinel, “Almost all medications that are classified as Schedule II through V drugs, including steroids; anti-seizure medications; stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin and ADHD medications; Ambien and Xanax are included in the law.”

Understanding: Doctors who don’t prescribe opioids don’t have to worry about prescription limits, but they do have to update a prescription drug monitoring database. “Local health systems have launched massive education campaigns for their staff and patients about the new law, emphasizing mostly limitations on opioid prescriptions, to prepare the patients for what they should expect when they see their doctors.”

Numbers: One surgeon told the Sentinel he estimates a “$750 loss because of the patients he can’t see” as a result of spending time updating the database. 

Skepticism: “The laws do service to reduce opioid prescription, but the ultimate goal is to reduce overdose deaths and laws like HB21 are unlikely to do that,” said Dr. Joanna Starrels, associate professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

— OPINIONS —

America’s debt has exploded. Why does no one care?” via Robert Rubin in the Washington Post  Substantive fiscal policy work is essential, but all the good policy thinking in the world won’t matter unless the politics works. Without good politics, the policies won’t be implemented. And the politics of fiscal discipline have not been effectively addressed by too many of those who are deeply concerned about our country’s economic future — including me.

Lessons From Parkland shooting: School safety must transcend politics” via Bill Galvano in Newsmax – … [N]othing in my life prepared me for the experience of visiting the crime scene at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School just 48 hours after the shooting occurred – imagining the terror, consoling the grieving, knowing that something had to be done, and it was for us to figure it out – fast. Florida’s 60-day legislative session was past the midpoint when the horrendous shooting occurred. The incredibly courageous, articulate, and intelligent young people who endured the shooting quickly channeled their grief and anger into advocacy and action. Their lives will be forever changed, and not just by the tragedy, but by the life lesson that raising your voice matters. At a time when many young people are cynical about whether our political institutions and the machinery of our government can effect change in polarized times, they saw it happen before their very eyes and they were part of it.

— LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS —

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Chris Carmody, Christopher Dawson, Katie Flury, Robert Stuart, GrayRobinson: City of Groveland, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections

Christopher Coker, Coker Consulting: Palm Beach Habilitation Center

Georgia Lorenz, Seminole State College of Florida

Kim McDougal, GrayRobinson: City of Hollywood

David Ramba, Allison Carvajal, Thomas Hobbs, Ramba Consulting Group: Indian Trail Improvement District

— ALOE —

Tampa to host 6th annual Florida Autonomous Vehicles Summit” via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – The summit runs November 27-28 at the Marriott Waterside Tampa. It showcases the latest autonomous vehicle technology including completely self-driving cars, shuttle and even large trucks as well as semi-autonomous vehicles equipped with things like lane assist and real time traffic information. It also feature electric vehicles. As the Tampa Bay region faces mounting transportation issues including constant congestion in key corridors and an overall lack of transit access, local elected officials and thought leaders are looking to the future of autonomous vehicle technology as a possible answer to what has proven to be a daunting problem. “The world is moving to shared, electric, and self-driving. The implications of this shift will have profound impacts on both government and industry,” said State Senator Jeff Brandes …  “The Florida Automated Vehicles Summit provides Florida’s policy makers and transportation leaders to interact with experts in this field.”

We need this in Florida – Kiwi’s robots deliver food to hungry Berkeley students” via Brian Heater of TechCrunch – The robots have become a familiar sight to anyone who’s spent any time on the U.C. Berkeley campus recently. Unlike countless hardware startups, who spend years incubating and iterating products, Kiwi’s team couldn’t wait to take to the east bay to test their product in a real world setting. According to cofounder and CEO Felipe Chavez Cortes, the company has already fulfilled more than 10,000 orders with its team of delivery ‘bots. It’s a differentiator in an increasingly crowded world of delivery robots, for whom testing on city sidewalks has presented a host of issues. In December of last year, San Francisco went so far as banning delivery ‘bots from city streets for fear of a robotic sidewalk takeover.

Happy birthday belatedly to the smartest person I met last month, Gary Hunter of Hopping Green & Sams. Celebrating today is one of my Top 5 favorite Pinellas County Commissioners, Ken Welch.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons