Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Before news of Brett Kavanaugh‘s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Americans for Prosperity reportedly “prepared to commit seven-figures to support a nominee in the mold of Neil Gorsuch.”
And with news this morning that AFP is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign to encourage the U.S. Senate confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh, it appears the Koch-backed group wasn’t lying.
As part of a robust digital and direct mail effort in Florida, AFP-FL is committing at least six figures of that seven-figure national sum to call on voters to contact U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and tell him to vote in favor of President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court pick.
Among the campaign collateral: a new thirty-second digital ad, a website and mailers. Direct mail pieces will be sent to voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and North Dakota — all of which are states where President Donald Trump won in 2016 and have at least one sitting Democratic Senator.
“Judge Brett Kavanaugh is renowned for his demonstrated commitment to defending the Constitution and interpreting the law as written,” AFP-FL state director Chris Hudson said. “President Trump succeeded in nominating a jurist who exercises judicial restraint and doesn’t legislate from the bench, and that is exactly why Senator Nelson should confirm this nominee to replace Justice [Anthony] Kennedy.”
Watch the digital ad, a first in Sunburn exclusive, here.
Pardon us, while we attend to some housekeeping …
Jacob Ogles joins Extensive Enterprises Media — Ogles will be covering breaking news over the weekend. Most recently, he covered the big boost that Rick Scott’s Victory Fund got from oil, sports, and prison moguls. He also wrote about U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio filing a bill to woo Canadian snowbirds for longer visits. Campaigns should contact him as news breaks on Saturdays and Sundays, and to update us about canvassing, weekend rallies, and the like. Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peter Schorsch appears on ‘The Rotunda’ podcast, FiTV’s ‘Mid-Summer Primary Election Update’ — The Florida Politics publisher talks with The Rotunda’s Trimmel Gomes to share his predictions on the campaign trail, including a likely win for Gov. Scott against Sen. Nelson’s re-election efforts. “Also, is the race for Governor over for Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam? As the dark cloud from the Russia investigation continues to grow, would President Trump’s endorsement still give Rep. Ron DeSantis a boost? Schorsch also combs through the field of Democrats for the best contender.” Also, Peter sits down with Brad Swanson of Florida Internet and Television “to give a midsummer update on primary season. Hear what candidates he believes can go the distance, the Trump effect on Florida politics, and much more.”
Here are a couple of recent Schorsch hot takes:
Also, a top-of-Sunburn birthday shout-out to one of the true class acts in Florida politics: Our friend, Robert Watkins, who along with his wife Nancy, is one of the true power couples. Robert’s stewardship as a member of the board overseeing Tampa International Airport is part of the reason why @FlyTPA is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s best. Happy birthday, Robert.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@VP: Our @is now on his way home from a historic trip to Europe. And the truth is, over the last week, the world saw once again that President Trump stands without apology as the leader of the free world.
—@SenBillNelson: The president’s refusal to acknowledge that Putin interfered in our elections should alarm us all. Putin is a threat to our democracy and our upcoming election, that’s a fact. The president’s unwillingness to stand up to him and defend our nation is unacceptable and embarrassing.
—@CarlosCurbelo: Do not apologize for our country. Past presidents have tried that, and it does not go over well with most Americans including this one.
—@JoeGruters: I fully trust that our President @realDonaldTrump knows exactly what he was doing and that it is all part of America’s and his larger plan.
—@DanRather: No American president has ever appeared as a supplicant to a hostile foreign power who attacked us (an attack that the intelligence community says is ongoing). Until now.
—@HoarseWhisperer: I’m old enough to remember when Republicans banned the Dixie Chicks for criticizing America while overseas.
—@Fineout: Story about ongoing beach access fight going on in Fla. Panhandle in wake of new Fla law. Daily News reporter quotes Louisiana tourist who says they will never visit Walton County again after deputies asked them to move from their spot on the beach
—@Scott_Maxwell: The company just asked us to update our “emergency contacts” in case we’re ever gunned down in the newsroom. Happy Monday!
— TWEET OF THE DAY —
— Gus Corbella (@guscorbella) July 16, 2018
— DAYS UNTIL —
Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 1; Florida Chamber Global Florida Webinar — 7; MAKE MORE Manufacturing Summit — 14; Deadline for filing claim bills — 17; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in West Palm Beach — 16; Florida’s back to school sales tax holiday begins — 17; Republican gubernatorial debate in Jacksonville — 22; School begins in the first 19 Florida districts — 24; Start of the U.S. Open — 41; Primary Election Day — 42; NFL season starts — 42; College Football opening weekend — 44; Labor Day — 48; Future of Florida Forum — 71; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 108; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 99; General Election Day — 112; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 133; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 210; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 231; 2020 General Election — 840.
“Lawmakers call Donald Trump’s performance at news conference with Vladimir Putin ‘bizarre,’ ‘shameful’” via Lisa Mascaro of The Associated Press — House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered a strongly worded statement, saying there’s “no question” that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and noting that U.S. intelligence agencies and a House panel agreed. “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” Ryan said, in what was, for the mild-mannered speaker, akin to a reprimand. Ryan said Russia “remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.” Other high-profile Republicans also expressed dismay. “I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression,” tweeted Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona. “This is shameful.”
“Vladimir Putin must think people in Florida are dumb” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Remember that Russian simulation showing missiles raining down on Florida? Despite a very clear view of Florida, Russian President Putin today denied it was even Florida. “There was not a caption saying Florida. They could — take a more careful look at it. There was never a caption, ‘Florida,’ ” Putin told Chris Wallace of Fox News. “No, but you can see it on the map,” Wallace replied. “It was flying over the eastern coast of — no, no, no, it couldn’t be seen on the map,” Putin said. “Just take a closer look, and don’t try to scare your population with make-believe threats. And now — I’m pretty sure I can give you as a present this footage.”
— “Florida lawmakers blast Trump for not calling out Putin” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
“Nelson wants to put the ‘freeze’ on Russia” via Florida Politics — Nelson is calling on Congress “to enact additional economic sanctions on Russia for their interference in the 2016 elections, and even suggested freezing the bank accounts of some of Russia’s most senior leaders,” according to a Monday news release. Nelson, a Democrat, said in a statement: “I hope that we are going to insist that the White House enforce all of the economic sanctions that the Congress has already pushed through that the White House has been very slow to enact. And I hope this Congress is also going to enact more economic sanctions and get it to where it will really start causing a crimp in the step of the Russian leaders,” added Nelson, who faces a re-election challenge from term-limited Republican Gov. Scott. “Why not start freezing the bank accounts of some of the highest leaders?”
“NFIB backs Scott over Nelson” via the Sunshine State News — National Federation of Independent Business President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan announced the NFIB FedPAC’s endorsement at a media event in St. Petersburg: “Gov. Scott has been a true champion for small business during his time as Florida’s governor, and we believe he will continue to deliver for small business in the U.S. Senate … Gov. Scott has a tremendous record of cutting taxes for small business, saving Florida businesses more than $7 billion over the last seven years … We believe Gov. Scott will be a great U.S. Senator, and we look forward to witnessing his continued work on behalf of small businesses in Florida and beyond.”
First in Sunburn — Scott blasted for ‘shadowy, dark money’ link to NRA — Last week, POLITICO Magazine posted a deep-dive expose of OnMessage, the prominent Washington D.C.-based Republican media shop, and how it is “almost undisguisable” from Starboard Strategic, an unknown firm with nearly no presence, but one significant client — the National Rifle Association. “Well-established and well-connected, OnMessage is as transparent as Starboard is opaque,” writes POLITICO’s Mike Spies. “What the Federal Election Commission and the public do not know is that the two entities appear to be functionally one and the same.” According to a former employee, the NRA tapped Starboard to perform pro-Scott work for his Senate bid. “Scott’s chief political adviser is Curt Anderson, a partner at both OnMessage and Starboard, and Scott’s Senate campaign has signed up OnMessage as a contractor.” This questionable link between the two firms and its connection to Scott and the NRA has raised the ire of several Florida Democrats, including Congressman Ted Deutch and state Reps. Shevrin Jones and Carlos Guillermo Smith. “America’s campaign finance laws are a mess,” Deutch says. “The bar for ethical and legal conduct is laughably low, and yet, it looks like Rick Scott may have been one of several Republicans who found a way to sneak under that low bar. What’s worse is that this shady politicking is funded with gun lobby money.” Jones blasts the report as describing “potentially unlawful coordination between the NRA and Rick Scott … Scott was once again taking care of his donors and benefactors, rather than Floridians.” Smith adds: “Rick Scott let 612 days between Pulse and Parkland pass without any attempt to address gun violence. Scott has always been the NRA’s darling, but this reporting shows just how deep in bed he continues to be with the group. Yet, this is typical Rick Scott.”
“Democrats fret as Scott’s cash haul comes into full view” via Matt Dixon a politico Florida — “He’s putting up the type of numbers that can tilt the whole playing field,” said state Rep. Evan Jenne, a Democrat from deep blue Broward County. Scott has a deluge of cash support from his official campaign and from outside groups that are helping fund it. The surge to Scott’s campaign, as documented in new campaign finance reports, puts stress on national Democrats eager to knock him off. Groups like the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are fighting Senate battles in swing states across the country but will need to keep serious resources in Florida to help counter Scott’s spending. Scott’s official campaign alone raised $10.7 million, a massive quarterly haul, according to campaign finance reports filed this week. Leading the way for Scott was Ken Griffin, who heads Chicago-based global equity firm Citadel and is worth an estimated $8 billion. He leads the national finance team for New Republican, but also kicked in $5 million in personal money to the super PAC, its largest contribution.
“Scott on his wealth: ‘I don’t know how they invested the dollars’” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — “I put all my assets in a blind trust. So I don’t know how they invested the dollars,” Scott told reporters in St. Petersburg. It was Scott’s first public comment on the issue since the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reported on a windfall of up to $550 million from a single transaction, the sale of a Michigan plastics company. “I might have been the only person that did that, and I did that because I don’t want to have any conflicts,” Scott said. A reporter asked Scott if he’s “a bit out of touch” when his bottom line grew by an estimated $82 million in a single year. His reply: “Let’s look at my background. I never knew my Dad. I lived in public housing growing up. I had a wonderful mom who worked hard to make sure I could prosper. She said, ‘I want you to do well in school, I want you to be an Eagle Scout.’ She made sure I went to church a lot, and she told me I had to get out of the house to make any money.”
Happening today — The 1st District Court of Appeal will hear arguments in a dispute about whether Gov. Scott has properly complied with the state’s financial disclosure
Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will join small business leaders for an announcement, 9:30 a.m., Restaurant Equipment World, 2413 N. Forsyth Road, Orlando.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Poll shows Trump endorsement gives Ron DeSantis an edge in Florida governor’s race” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – DeSantis has opened up a 12-point lead in Florida’s Republican race for governor, according to a new independent poll that indicates Trump is the key to his success. … Among those likely voters who have a history of going to the polls, DeSantis’ lead is even bigger: 47 percent to 30 percent.
“Putnam ad blasts Ron DeSantis on Social Security, Medicare” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Putnam’s ad attempts to divide DeSantis from his main endorser — someone very popular among Republican seniors — President Trump. “Congressman DeSantis voted to cut Social Security and Medicare … That’s not what Trump wants,” Vernon Elarth of Sun City Center states in the ad. The 30-second spot, “Seniors First,” is the first ad Agriculture Commissioner Putnam launched directly attacking DeSantis (or even acknowledging him). It comes as the most recent polls show DeSantis surging dramatically in popularity since their nationally-televised debate in Orlando. In the retirement-rich Sunshine State, Putnam’s campaign is pouncing, citing three recent DeSantis budget votes, contending each could have cut Medicare or Social Security. In fact, all three measures failed.
To view the ad, click on the image below:
Florida Home Builders PAC endorses Putnam — The political action committee, which seeks to “ensure a favorable environment for the home building industry,” endorsed the Republican Putnam on Monday. Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA) President Greg Matovina said ‘it is not often when we can identify someone who understands how to balance the necessary ingredients of less regulation, a dynamic workforce, storm resiliency, a sound environment, fraud enforcement and affordability. The FHB PAC did an excellent job in their selection of candidates who demonstrate not only an understanding of critical issues to the industry but also the ability to effectuate public policy toward the fulfillment of that favorable environment.” In a statement, Putnam said he’s committed to Florida having “the skilled workforce and labor that can meet the rising demand as we develop and build in our state. That’s why my number one priority as Governor will be to strengthen workforce training … putting vocational, career and technical education back into middle schools and high schools.'”
“DeSantis camp claims offer to bring Donald Trump Jr. to The Villages was turned down” via the Villages-News.com — DeSantis won’t be at The Villages Republican Club’s meeting Wednesday to debate rival Putnam. But the Congressman would have brought Trump Jr. if “the leadership” of The Villages Republican Club had agreed to it … “We were offered a debate/forum on that date at The Villages, to which we responded that the Republican Party of Florida sanctions all debates and that we were unavailable because we were planning an event with the president’s son,” Press Secretary David Vasquez said. “The real story here is that The Villages turned down an event with the president’s son — which will now be held in Orlando.”
Assignment editors — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum will tour Orlando International Airport with SEIU 32BJ workers to learn more about their working conditions, wages and benefits, 2:15 p.m., Orlando International Airport, Terminal B, Door 12 (Departures Level by American Airlines, curbside check-in). Later, Gillum will make a major announcement, 5 p.m., 1001 N. Orange Avenue, Orlando.
“Gwen Graham is endorsed by Alex Sink” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times – Graham is now counting among her supporters the last Democrat elected to Florida’s Cabinet, former CFO Alex Sink — a name that still haunts some Democrats. “It’s an honor to have Alex Sink’s support,” Graham said in a statement Tuesday. “She has been a trailblazer for Florida women in business and public service — and I wish I were running today to serve as Florida’s second woman governor.” Sink served as the state’s chief financial officer from 2007 to 2011, the last Democrat to win a seat on the Florida cabinet. But it’s her failed campaign for governor that still frustrates some in the party.
Gwen Graham launches first ads in Jacksonville, West Palm Beach markets — Graham is expanding TV advertising beyond the I-4 corridor, where she’s been up with a heavy presence. The new ad, “Lessons,” introduces Graham as a mother, former PTA president, congresswoman and daughter of popular former Governor and Senator Bob Graham. Like previous ads, the new spot contrasts 20 years of Republican rule with Graham’s progressive priorities of restoring public schools and expanding health care. “Everything I do is through the prism of being a mom,” Graham says in the ad. “The Florida Legislature have not taken Medicaid expansion. They have hurt education. They have used the lottery to reduce funding — but we’re gonna take it back.” Among the four markets, Graham will have spent $3.85 million by the end of this week far less than self-funders Jeff Greene ($7.6 million) and Philip Levine (more than $15.6 million) — but recent public polling shows Graham within the margin of error for leading the primary.
To watch the new ad, click on the image below:
— “Philip Levine talks I-4 expansion, Visit Florida, courts” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel
“Frank White declines interview with Tampa Bay Times editorial board” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — In a letter addressed to Tampa Bay Times editor of editorials Tim Nickens, White makes it clear that he believes the opinion branch of the newspaper is one-sided and unfair to conservatives. “While I appreciate your invitation to sit before the Times Editorial Board to have my conservative views mocked and ridiculed, I respectfully decline,” the letter reads. “Just as I would not seek an endorsement from Emily’s List or the ACLU, I do not wish to receive yours.”
Assignment editors — Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Denise Grimsley will speak at the Republican Club of West Volusia’s monthly meeting, 11:30 a.m., Fans Central Station, 614 S. Alabama Ave., DeLand.
Amendment 13 backers join legal forces — The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), “the nation’s pre-eminent legal advocacy organization for animals,” said it had endorsed the friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Animal Law Section of The Florida Bar. “The voters of Florida are entitled to make the decision on whether or not to ban dog racing,” ALDF executive director Stephen Wells said in a statement. “The Florida Greyhound Association filed this litigation in a desperate move to ensure that the will of the voters is not heard.” Amendment 13, put on the November ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), aims at ending commercial dog racing in the state. In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 11 tracks. The proposal needs at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution. The ALDF also is trying to get a Florida Orca Protection Act introduced as legislation in 2019. The bill would ban the use of orca whales in theatrical performances in the state.
Committee To Support Greyhounds announces digital billboard campaign — The committee, dedicated to “preserving the tradition of Florida greyhound racing and educating Florida voters on these amazing canine athletes,” on Monday announced a digital billboard campaign called “Meet The Athletes.” The billboards are “currently located around Florida to allow voters to have a chance to ‘meet’ the hounds,” the committee said. “Each featured greyhound is a current racer whom voters can see run and race at greyhound tracks around the state.” … Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Newcome said in a statement: “As we have done from the beginning, we invite all of the public and reporters to please come to a track and see these amazing dogs in person. Watch them do what they love to do — run and race, and possibly meet a greyhound up close and personal. You will see they are truly ‘America’s Best Kept Dogs.’ ” The billboards and the latest digital ad titled “Unlucky 13” are here.
“Gus Bilirakis sends out news release inflating amount of local fundraising support” via Tracy McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — Between April and June, Bilirakis raised $355,000 for his re-election bid, “almost 90 percent of which came from Floridians,” claimed the campaign statement titled “Local Support Flowing for Bilirakis.” There is one problem: The accomplishment is utterly inflated. A review of Bilirakis’ finances shows that of the $355,000 raised in the second quarter, only 62 percent even came from individuals. The rest came from political committees, almost all out of state. When asked about the discrepancy, campaign manager Towson Fraser said he “made a mistake during the editing process.” Fraser, a longtime lobbyist, clarified he should have said about 90 percent of individual contributions, not total money raised, came from Floridians. But even that is unclear.
“Mario Diaz-Balart brings in over $500k in contributions” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Incumbent U.S. Rep. Diaz-Balart closed out his second quarter of fundraising by taking in just over $507,000, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. In total, the Republican’s campaign maintains more than $1.6 million still on hand. That’s more than quadruple the amount reported by his Democratic opponent, Mary Barzee Flores, who has just under $400,000 on hand. Expect that gap to close, however, as Barzee Flores’ totals have not yet been updated with her second quarter fundraising numbers. Barzee Flores is the only candidate in either party who filed to run against Diaz-Balart in Florida’s 25th Congressional District.
“Shady oligarch’s firm paid Dem candidate’s husband $700,000” via Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast — There’s another apparent connection between Ukrainian oligarch named Ihor Kolomoisky in American politics. A number of businesses linked to the oligarch have hired the attorney Robert Powell, the husband of Democratic House of Representatives candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Just one of those firms paid Powell at least $700,000 over two years, according to public records. Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who focuses on Russia and Ukraine, said the link is concerning, citing accusations that Kolomoisky has been involved in billion-dollar criminal schemes and contract killings. He called the ties “highly suspicious.”
“David Richardson embarking on two-day tour of Cuba” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — State Rep. David Richardson kicked off a two-day listening tour in Cuba’s capital today as he continues to campaign in the race for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. The Richardson campaign says the focus of the Havana tour is “to learn more about economic and societal developments in the wake of changes in U.S. relations with Cuba.” Richardson currently represents House District 113, which includes Miami-Dade County’s Little Havana. CD 27 also covers Miami Beach and Kendall. “A half-century of isolation did not achieve progress for the everyday Cuban, so I fully support a position of engagement with Cuban civil society,” said Richardson of his overall vision on U.S. policy toward Cuba.
“Dana Young lands firefighter support in SD 18” via Florida Politics — The Florida Professional Firefighters and Tampa Firefighters Local 754 are the latest first responder groups to endorse Young, who had previously earned the support of several other first responder groups, including five police unions. “The 25,000 men and women of the Florida Professional Firefighters and Paramedics are proud to endorse Senator Dana Young for re-election,” said Rocco Salvatori, vice president of the Florida Professional Firefighters. “She stands up for Firefighters in the Florida Senate, and we proudly stand with her.” “We as representatives of Tampa Firefighters, Local 754, take great pleasure in endorsing your candidacy for 2018 Florida State Senate, District 18,” said Tampa Firefighters President Stephen Suarez and secretary Ken Huff in a joint statement.
FMA endorses Daphne Campbell for re-election — The Florida Medical Association PAC is endorsing Democrat state Sen. Campbell in her bid for another term in Senate District 38. FMA PAC President, Dr. Mike Patete said in a statement: “The FMA PAC happily endorses Sen. Daphne Campbell for re-election. As a member of the health care team, Sen. Campbell has a deep understanding of the issues that affect the physician community. We hope to continue working with her as we strive to make Florida the best state to practice medicine.” Campbell is facing former prosecutor Jason Pizzo in the Democratic primary for the seat covering parts of Miami-Dade County.
“Florida Medical Association PAC endorses Robert Asencio” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Incumbent state Rep. Robert Asencio earned another boost in his re-election bid, pulling in support from the Florida Medical Association PAC. The group serves as the political arm of the Florida Medical Association, which advocates on behalf of the state’s medical and osteopathic physicians. “The FMA PAC proudly endorses Rep. Robert Asencio for re-election,” said Dr. Mike Patete, the group’s president. “As a member of a key health care committee in the House, we have gotten to know Rep. Asencio and worked together with him on important legislation. We hope to continue this collaboration next session.” Asencio, a Miami Democrat, represents House District 118, which covers a portion of Miami-Dade County including Tamiami and Kendall. He is on the Health Quality Subcommittee, among others.
Meanwhile … “Judge weighs campus early voting sites” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Florida elections officials were wrong to block on-campus early voting sites in Gainesville and Tallahassee, lawyers for the League of Women Voters of Florida told a federal judge. But attorneys representing the state argued there was no indication that college students — or anyone else — would have voting rights abridged due to an advisory opinion under scrutiny in the federal lawsuit filed this year by the League of Women Voters and other plaintiffs. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker gave no indication how he would rule after hearing nearly three hours of arguments in the case, which involves the state’s position about early voting locations at the University of Florida and Florida State University.
— OWNING EVERYONE IN BUZZFEED —
Republican Party of Florida chairman Blaise Ingoglia is simultaneously an enemy of the left and his own party’s establishment, but that hasn’t held him or the state’s GOP back.
A new BuzzFeed feature story depicts Ingoglia as an agent of outrage, walking readers through his controversial Sunshine Summit guests and providing contextualization to his bumpy rise to power over RPOF.
Writer Henry J. Gomez describes Ingoglia’s rule as a Trumpian microcosm. “Under Ingoglia, the Republican Party of Florida — historically a lever of the establishment machine and controlled by governors like Scott and Jeb Bush — has turned into a kind of rogue outfit more suited to the antagonistic politics of the moment.”
D’Souza: Inviting Dinesh D’Souza caused controversy, but the ensuing criticism only fueled Ingoglia. “He said he hadn’t known about D’Souza’s tweets before the invitation. Besides, he thought, D’Souza had apologized. And if that wasn’t good enough for the politically correct liberals, then all the better.”
Scott’s no-show: Ingoglia dismissed the Governor’s absence as a decision Scott made to dedicate more time to campaigning. Gomez recalls Ingoglia’s defeat over Scott’s hand-picked RPOF chair which was followed by Scott and Florida’s Senate Republicans withdrawing “their political operations and money from party headquarters in Tallahassee.”
What’s next: Whether Ingoglia seeks reelection in January depends on the upcoming election and Trump’s plans. “If the new governor wanted me to stay, and if the president asked me to stay to shepherd the party through his election,” Ingoglia told Gomez, “then it’s a different conversation.”
“Ex-supervisor in Putnam’s gun-license unit warned of ‘gross misconduct,’ sued and got $30,000 settlement” via Steve Bousquet and Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — In a whistleblower lawsuit filed in a Leon County circuit court, the former chief of the Bureau of License Issuance, Xenia Bailey, said she was threatened with retaliation for saying workers were deficient in processing licensing applications, and that her bosses told her she “worked for the NRA (National Rifle Association).” The agency denied most of Bailey’s allegations in court filings. But in a settlement signed in 2016, the agency agreed to pay $30,000, without admitting wrongdoing, including a $10,000 lump sum payment to Bailey and $20,000 for her attorney’s fees and costs. The agency’s elected leader, Putnam, announced his bid for governor six months after settling.
“Court to move forward with ‘Jane Doe’ issuing gun case” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — A federal appeals court cleared the way for considering a dispute about whether two teens can remain anonymous in a challenge to a new Florida law that raised the minimum age to buy rifles and other long guns. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a two-page document that said it “appears that this court has jurisdiction to consider this appeal,” though it said a final determination on that jurisdiction would be made later by a panel of judges who will hear the anonymity issue. The appeal stems from a ruling in May by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker that a 19-year-old Alachua County woman, identified as “Jane Doe,” could not remain anonymous as a plaintiff in a National Rifle Association challenge to the gun law.
“Native American farmer suing state over marijuana licenses” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A Destin lawyer has sued the Department of Health, saying a medical marijuana license preference for black farmers should include “Native American farmers and ranchers.” Donivon Craig Tingle filed suit in Okaloosa County Circuit Civil court last month. The suit was disclosed in a departmental “legal updates” email on Friday — the same day officials said they also will begin the process of issuing four more provider licenses now that the number of “qualified, active patients” is over 100,000 … Tingle’s not just an attorney; he says he too is a Native American farmer and was a plaintiff in another lawsuit that charged the federal government with discrimination in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Loan Program.
“Media seek Florida school shooting suspect’s statement” via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press — Media organizations asked a judge to order public release of much of Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz’s statement to investigators after the Valentine’s Day massacre that killed 17 people. Attorneys for The Associated Press and other media outlets asked Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer to allow disclosure of the statement under public records law. Attorneys for the 19-year-old Cruz wanted the entire statement suppressed, contending it would improperly influence jurors in his trial. The judge did not immediately rule. Media lawyer Dana McElroy said the only portions that should be suppressed are any comments that appear to be a substantive confession, but not the entire statement. She said Florida’s broad public records law requires that much of it be disclosed even in high-profile cases such as this.
“Customary use battle reaches boiling point in Walton County” via Annie Blanks of the Northwest Florida Daily News – The Turgeon family from New Orleans was sitting on the beach on a hot Tuesday morning watching their young children play in the sand, when they were approached by a Walton County sheriff’s deputy. The Turgeon family, who said they were confused about signage and were unaware of where the “public” beach met the “private,” was one of many caught in the crosshairs of the new customary use law that went into effect July 1. Walton County became the hotbed for customary use discussions in the state of Florida in 2016, when commissioners approved an ordinance based on the customary use concept that beach areas have been publicly accessed for as long as humanity has been around, and should therefore remain open to visitors without interference. Two weeks ago, the State Attorney’s Office said it would be unfair to prosecute trespassing cases until a court decides whether or not customary use applies on private property in Walton County.
“Is algae at head of St. Johns River tied to sludge?” via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union — Activists and politicians both pushed the state to do something about bright green, potentially toxic algae covering Blue Cypress Lake in Indian River County, where the St. Johns begins flowing more than 300 miles to Jacksonville and the ocean. “We’re seeing green algae throughout the headwaters,” said St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman, who told state officials this spring that algae-feeding phosphorus and nitrogen might be seeping into the lake from a minimally cleaned variety of sewage sludge that’s spread over nearby ranch land. State officials have pointedly not blamed the algae on sludge but said the Department of Environmental Protection and St. Johns River Water Management District will jointly study the problem in water that’s normally clean enough to drink straight from the lake. DEP put a six-month freeze on the use of minimally cleaned sludge — sometimes called biosolids or Class B sludge — at a ranch near the lake. County commissioners started discussing a six-month moratorium for the entire county last month but have moved cautiously to avoid any legal landmines.
“As political tension rises, emergency motion filed in suit over City Council replacement” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union — The Northwest Jacksonville resident suing Gov. Scott over his increasingly controversial appointment of a Mandarin Republican to represent a mostly Democratic City Council district filed a motion asking a judge to put the case on an emergency track. Political tension escalated over the issue at a news conference where the resident, Brenda Priestly Jackson, a former Duval County School Board member, and local Duval Democratic Party officials slammed Scott, as well as Mayor Lenny Curry for an appointment they said was tantamount to the disenfranchisement of the mostly black voters in Council District 10. Scott, who suspended Reggie Brown and Katrina Brown from the council last month after they were indicted on federal fraud charges, appointed Terrance Freeman as a temporary replacement for Reggie Brown, the same day Freeman said he moved to the district from his Mandarin home. Scott, who visited a Jacksonville business in District 10 while campaigning for U.S. Senate, said his appointment of Freeman “followed all the rules.”
Norman Braman gets a ‘lift’ from the state — The billionaire auto dealer has won approval from the state for an exemption from elevator regulations at his Braman Bentley Rolls-Royce Porsche dealership in Palm Beach County. Braman was granted a variance because he “demonstrated that the purpose of the underlying statute has been met and that (he) would suffer a substantial hardship if required to comply,” said a Monday notice in the Florida Administrative Register. Braman sought to be exempted from installing elevator “platform guards and bottom car clearances.” A design flaw was found only after construction, his petition said, and “current structural elements” at the dealership cost “in excess of $8 million.” The dealership tried to conform the elevator to the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines but couldn’t “due to varying elevations.” Instead, Braman had asked to use a “retractable toe guard,” a platform-type device often used for uneven floors. “No comments were received in response to the petition,” Monday’s notice said.
“Tampa provocateur charged in fracas over racist slur returns to corner, claims self-defense” via Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times — Tony Daniel is undeterred. Three days after his arrest on an assault charge, the 60-year-old race-baiting provocateur was back on the same street corner, shouting into a megaphone and holding a large sign with the same racial epithet that sparked the fracas. He said he plans to fight the charge “vigorously.” … A motorist captured the encounter on video … It initially shows Daniel holding a sign, nearly as tall as he, that says, “Homeless (N——) go back to Africa.” Standing nearby are the two women, later identified as Nayvia Tukes, 20, and Rowshana Tukes, 41, both of Brandon. When Daniel points the megaphone in their direction, the younger woman marches toward him. That’s when Nayvia Tukes slapped the sign … The video shows Daniel yanking the sign back and pushing the megaphone into her face. Police said he hit her with it. Then the older woman punched Daniel in his right eye. He lashed out at the two with the megaphone, striking Rowshana Tukes in the head, the report said. According to the report, Daniel struck the woman on the head several more times as she retreated toward her vehicle.
— BITTERSWEETNESS IN PUERTO RICO —
As Boricuas inch toward normalcy on the island, it’s difficult for them not to fear the future.
Reports Danica Coco for The Associated Press, “Lights are slowly coming on for the more than 950 homes and businesses across Puerto Rico that remain without power in hard-to-reach areas. Repair crews are sometimes forced to dig holes by hand and scale down steep mountainsides to reach damaged light posts.”
But it’s hard for some to celebrate the progress. As one source tells Coco, “If another storm comes through, we’re going to die. There’s no money left here.”
No backup: Gov. Ricardo Rossello has informed islanders that there are no backup grids in case of power loss. Some 47,000 customers lost power in July when the remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl swept through.
Turmoil at the top: Complicating things is a turnover problem at PREPA, the island’s utility authority. Coco notes that issues with finding good leadership at the utility come as it tries to prepare an island for a storm in the middle of the hurricane season.
Silver linings: Despite a sense of instability, “Puerto Ricans in the remote areas that recently had electricity restored are happy they can go back to their previous lives and no longer have to drain savings to fuel generators.”
— OPINIONS —
“Joe Henderson: Has Trump become liability for top GOP Governor wannabes?” via Florida Politics — I wonder if Putnam and DeSantis are feeling a little queasy. It was a quite the global spectacle, watching Trump all but genuflect to Russian “President” Vladimir Putin, but it had to be worse for Putnam and DeSantis right here in our little corner of the planet. Both men have been unflagging in their bro-love for Trump in the lead-up to the Aug. 28 Republican primary. DeSantis has been saturating TV with ads trumpeting his endorsement by “the big man himself” while Putnam hasn’t let that little detail derail his undying allegiance to the “commander” in chief. While that strategy may appeal to Trump’s true believers who turn out for the primary, it becomes problematic in the general election. After the President’s inept performance in his face-to-face with Putin was widely panned, even by many Republicans, close association with Trump, while always a risky election-year strategy, may be downright toxic now. That sets up a dilemma for DeSantis and Putnam.
First in Sunburn – “Personnel note: Jim Boxold named Capital City Consulting managing partner” via Florida Politics – Former Transportation Secretary Boxold, who’s been with the governmental affairs firm Capital City Consulting since January 2017, now is the firm’s managing partner. He now oversees human resources, administrative employment, firm efficiencies and processes, and workload management, the lobbying concern said in a press release. “Our firm is growing rapidly and growth requires better organization, processes and human resource management,” said Nick Iarossi, co-founder. “We are fortunate to utilize Jim’s past experience managing one of the state’s largest agencies at Capital City Consulting.”
New and renewed lobbying registrations
Lisa Aaron, Lisa Aaron Consulting: Microsoft Corporation
Mike Corcoran, Jeff Johnston, Anita Berry, Matt Blair, Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: Sharon Morrow as Personal Representative of the Estate of Thomas Morrow
Elizabeth Dudek, Greenberg Traurig: Kyra Solutions
Marty Fiorentino, Joseph Mobley, Mark Pinto, The Fiorentino Group: Uber Technologies and Affiliates
Carole Green, Capitol Strategies Consulting: The Centers
Jennifer Green, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: Uber Technologies and Affiliates
Herschel Vinyard, Foley & Lardner: Palm Beach Aggregates
— ALOE —
“Hulk Hogan returns to the WWE after a three-year suspension” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — A racial tirade caught on tape caused World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. to cut ties with Hulk Hogan in 2015. But now the WWE has decided that Hogan, who helped turn the company into the biggest wrestling promoter in the world, has done enough to prove he is a changed man. While Hogan’s role with the company has yet to be announced, WWE said it is welcoming him back. “This second chance follows Hogan’s numerous public apologies and volunteering to work with young people, where he is helping them learn from his mistake,” the WWE said in a statement announcing Hogan would be returned to its Hall of Fame, from which he’d been erased. The tan, bleached-blonde 64-year-old former grappler whose real name is Terry Bollea said he is grateful for another chance.
“A rare face-to-face encounter with the elusive Florida panther” via Carlton Ward Jr. for National Geographic — It’s taken me 20 years to get this photo. For the past two years, I have been focused on the endangered Florida panther — the last big cat in the eastern United States and a subspecies of cougar. Today, there are approximately 200 panthers — up from just 30 in the early 1990s — surviving primarily in the Everglades at the southern tip of Florida. To be recovered from endangered status, there need to be three times as many panthers distributed across a much larger landscape. I was on my way to change the batteries and cards in my camera trap when I saw a panther sitting in the dirt road 200 yards ahead of me. When the panther sat down 20 yards away and looked straight at me, I was ready. I focused on her eyes and captured the moment she gave me. A rare glimpse into the soul of wild Florida.
Happy birthday to the man who makes the trains run on time, Phil Ammann, as well as Ballard Partners’ Chris Dorworth, Joe McCann, and Juan-Carlos Planas.