Peter Schorsch, Author at Florida Politics - Page 7 of 246

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,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been 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.

Sunburn for 6.8.17 – Split-screen madness; Med. marijuana in play; Rick Scott to D.C.; Blockbuster ACLU report; Gator vs. plane

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

What time is too early to make popcorn?

As fascinating as Florida politics is, even in what is supposed to be the slow time of late spring, it will be difficult for aficianados not to keep one eye on Sunshine State politics and another on events transpiring Thursday in D.C. and beyond.

FBI director James Comey will recount a series of conversations with President Donald Trump that he says made him deeply uneasy and concerned about the blurring of boundaries between the White House and a law enforcement agency that prides itself on independence.

Corey’s testimony begins at 10 a.m., although some bars in Washington D.C. are opening early so those in the District can tie one on this morning.

“They really should declare a national holiday, since no work is going to get done,” Sally Quinn is quoted in this New York Times story by Michael Grynbaum and Katie Rogers.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, polling stations across Britain opened for national elections amid heightened security Thursday. The election was supposed to be dominated by Britain’s pending departure from the European Union, but voters are anxiously aware of the threat the country faces from international terrorism following attacks in London and Manchester.

Of course this is a newsletter about Florida politics and it promises to be a fascinating day in the Capitol.

So make sure you have a fresh set of batteries in your TV remote control as you prepare to scroll through The Florida Channel, Fox News, and BBC throughout this extraordinary day.


When it comes to medical marijuana, lawmakers are getting another puff of the pipe.

The Legislature appeared to reach an agreement on a deal to implement the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment, announced Wednesday they would include an implementing bill in the Special Session call.

The agreement came just hours before the start of a planned three-day special session, and ended weeks of will-they-or-won’t-they speculation about medical marijuana.

“Our constitutional duty is to ensure the availability and safe use of medical marijuana in the manner prescribed by Florida voters,” said Sen. Rob Bradley, who filed the bill (SB 8A) just before the Special Session started. “This patient-first legislation will expand access to this medicine, while ensuring safety through a unified regulatory structure for each component of the process from cultivation to consumption.”

Senate President Joe Negron talks to Sen. Rob Bradley on the Senate rostrum Friday, May 5, 2017 at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Photo credit: Phil Sears

The bill, among other things, calls on the state to license 10 new growers this year, in addition to the seven that are already licensed under existing state law. It also requires four licenses to be issued for every 100,000 patients who register with the state’s medical marijuana registry.

While earlier negotiations broke down over how many dispensaries each grower could have (reminder: the Senate wanted caps; the House didn’t), the proposed legislation includes caps on dispensaries. Growers would be capped at 25 dispensaries; however, they would be able to add five dispensaries for every 100,000 patients. Those caps would sunset in 2020, unless of course the Legislature were to act.

In return for caps on dispensaries, the House appears to have received one of its priorities — making medical marijuana and marijuana delivery devices exempt from sales tax.

The House Health and Human Services Committee voted 15-1 to approve the bill, sponsored by Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, on Wednesday. The Senate Health Policy and Appropriations committees are set to take up the bill Thursday.

— “Rick Scott expands special session call to include medical marijuana” via Florida Politics

— “Medical marijuana bill would add more licensed growers” via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“Are vaping and smoking the same? Ray Rodrigues won’t say” via Florida Politics – As the medical marijuana implementation bill winds its way through the Special Session, some lawmakers still are grappling with whether smoking medicinal cannabis is the same as ‘vaping’ it. Before the Health and Human Services Committee approved the House bill (HB 5A), members asked bill sponsor Rodrigues, the House Republican Leader from Estero. “Are we allowing smoking?” asked Rep. Thad Altman, an Indialantic Republican. Nope, said Rodrigues, just vaping—short for vaporizing.

— “Jeff Brandes files strike-all amendment” via Florida Politics

John Morgan: I’m still suing the Legislature” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Where there’s no smoke, there’s a John Morgan lawsuit. Morgan—attorney, entrepreneur and main backer of Florida’s medical marijuana amendment—Wednesday said he still plans to sue the state despite lawmakers brokering a deal to include implementation of the measure in this week’s Special Session. Mainly, Morgan’s hair’s on fire that Florida doesn’t allow smokeable medicinal cannabis. Morgan first said he planned to sue last month. “Done is better than perfect and this is far from perfect,” he said in a statement to “I will be suing the state to allow smoke. It was part of my amendment.”

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Mystery mailers from Illinois target Joe Negron” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Voters in Negron‘s Treasure Coast-Palm Beach district are getting mailers from a newly formed Illinois-based PAC criticizing Negron’s role in an education bill that’s closely identified with House Speaker Corcoran … The mailer from a group called SunshinePac from Evanston, Illinois, criticizes HB 7069 and focuses on Negron rather than Corcoran. SunshinePac was formed May 25 as a federal committee, according to Federal Election Committee records. It is headed by John Hennelly, a former Florida director for the Service Employees International Union who’s now a consultant with the liberal Chicago-based firm Democracy Partners. “What has politician Joe Negron been up to in Tallahassee this Session? Making backroom deals and our schools are paying the price,” says one side of the mailer, which shows a picture of Negron and Corcoran but doesn’t identify the House speaker.

“House, Senate divide grows as lawmakers begin Special Session” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Lawmakers made little progress Wednesday toward narrowing the gap between the House and Senate on the major funding issues – education and economic development – that drove Gov. Scott to call a special session. With only two days remaining in the scheduled three-day session, lawmakers must quickly find compromise on policy fights that have been made more complicated since the regular 60-day session ended early last month. State Sen. David Simmon, R-Altamonte Springs, summed up the vibe at the Capitol best when he all but said Friday’s scheduled final day is flexible. “These three days here, they’re an artificial deadline for all of us,” he said. “They’re a real deadline, but they’re one that we can work around.”

Lawmakers will likely have to extend session but will Senate Republican fundraiser be in the way?” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – With the Senate insisting that any budget agreement follow the 72-hour cooling off period, the House Republican leadership agreed to go along, even though they read the constitutional waiting period as not applying to the budget bills they will be passing this session. House leaders asking for in return … telling the Senate it wants them to come back to finish their work Tuesday, June 13 — same day the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has scheduled its annual golf fundraiser in California. The traditional golf fundraiser, often held at the prestigious Pebble Beach golf course, moved this year to Torrey Pines, the swanky municipal course situated along the cliffs of San Diego … The bad news for Senate Republicans is that the fundraiser is scheduled for June 12-13. Sen. Rob Bradley said the fundraiser should have no impact on the Special Session.

“House panel clears Special Session infrastructure, job training bill” via Florida Politics – The House’s main budgeting panel cleared one of the bills planned for the Special Session dealing with tourism promotion, job training and public infrastructure. The Appropriations Committee, on a unanimous vote, OK’d the measure (HB 1A). Among other things, it creates the $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, and awards $76 million to and imposes accountability and transparency measures on VISIT Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency.

Great profile on Jeff Clemens: “U2 by UV drummer makes noise in state Senate, too” via Ben Crandell of


Rick Scott, Lenny Curry to attend White House event with Donald Trump” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – With the Special Session underway in Tallahassee, Scott will be at the White House for a “listening session” on infrastructure with President Trump. He will join a number of governors and state, local and private sector leaders “who are interested in working together to improve our nation’s infrastructure” … Also participating in the White House event is Jacksonville Mayor Curry and Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge.

Governor and Cabinet to take up environmental land-acquisition priorities” via Florida Politics —The newest project on the state’s priority list for conservation land buys is a 4,700-acre spread in eastern Alachua County, containing valuable wildlife, water, and plant resources, but also largely given over to pine harvesting. That’s if Gov. Scott and the Cabinet approve an updated Florida Forever work plan during a meeting scheduled next week. Sitting as the Board of Trustees of State lands, Scott and the Cabinet also will review the Florida Forever land-buy priority list and five-year plan for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. … New to that plan is Lochloosa Forest, assessed at nearly $5.3 million … containing flatwoods, swamps, and marshes, with Hatchet and Bee Tree creeks flowing through.

Carlos Smith: Since Pulse, Rick Scott has done nothing for LGBTQ community” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising –The openly-gay Orlando representative wondered whether Scott would, and whether he should, attend next Monday’s memorial ceremonies in Orlando for the 49 people who were murdered and 53 people who were wounded that night … “He’s done nothing. And he should be held accountable,” Smith said of the governor … he watched Scott evolve with exposure to Pulse families and survivors and become more understanding and sensitive – but then, devolve over ensuing months, to the point that Scott once again did not acknowledge the gay community when he talked about Pulse in his opening address to the Florida Legislature. Smith said Scott now is in an awkward position regarding Pulse, the same position he was in a year ago. Smith said the governor had appeared at the massive Pulse vigil held at Lake Eola Park June 19, 2016, asked if he should speak, was advised that he might be booed, and so did not speak. “Why would he be booed? Because the LGBTQ community knows that he’s done nothing for us,” Smith said.

Sarah Palin accidentally bashes Florida Republicans in Paris accord meme” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO FloridaPalin took a strong stand in support of Trump’s decision to withdraw from a global warming agreement, warning her Facebook readers with a meme that intoned, “Don’t be Fooled! The Paris Climate Accord is a SCAM.” However, the picture the former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential nominee used — featuring well-dressed people celebrating — was pure fake news …  it depicts a group unlikely to support either the idea of man-made climate change or the Paris accord: highly conservative Republican members of the Florida House of Representatives on the chamber floor. Palin deleted the post after Politico reported her error.

“Labor relations panel will hear complaint against Sarasota Herald-Tribune” via Florida Politics – A Florida-based division of the National Labor Relations Board will hold a hearing on a complaint against the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that the paper’s leadership intimidated and threatened “reprisals” if newsroom employees voted to form a union. The hearing is Aug. 21 in Tampa. Last September, the Herald-Tribune’s newsroom staff voted to unionize under the NewsGuild-CWA by a vote of 22-16. Among the allegations, the complaint said publisher Patrick Dorsey in August “created an impression among employees that their union activities were under surveillance.”


A new investigation from the American Civil Liberties Union found Florida officials didn’t provide the public with timely or trustworthy information during the 2016 toxic algae bloom that impacted Treasure Coast communities.

The report — published Tuesday and titled “Tainted Waters: Threats to Public Health and the People’s Right to Know” — looks at state’s record of transparency when it comes to disseminating information about the public danger to the public’s health posed by the algae flor.

Algae blooms from excess nutrients in the waterways are common and becoming more common in developed countries. Photo credit: EPA.

John Lantigua, an investigative reporter with the ACLU of Florida’s, investigated the state’s response to the algae outbreak. Lantigua, a Pulitzer Prize winner reporter, conducted his research with the help of local residents, scientists, media and state employees willing to cooperate.

The report found state scientists testing the river and estuary water for toxins did so in places where the algae was the thinnest, as opposed to along the shores and inlets where algae accumulates and where people interact with the water interacts the most. It also notes that local officials and groups complained that a task force created by statute to try and mitigate the effects of algae infestations has not been funded since 2001.

“Open government means people have a right to be informed about what public officials and employees are doing, and that information is particularly crucial when it comes to public health issues,” he said. “What we found was a lack of urgency and transparency on the part of the state in reporting information about the crisis, caused by the release of tainted waters from Lake Okeechobee.”


In the final part in a series looking at online education, Jessica Bakeman with POLITICO Florida looks at how the fierce rivalry between the University of Florida and Florida State University hasn’t entered the online education arena.

Bakeman writes that as the two preeminent universities plan for the future there has “been surprising little between the longtime rivals.”

According to the report, the University of Florida, aided by the Florida Legislature, “has undertaken an aggressive expansion of distance learning, billing itself as an international hub, while Florida State has resisted pressure from state officials to grow its non-traditional offerings, preferring to see itself as a physical destination for students.”

Those differences, Bakeman notes, could have a disproportionate effect on how online education evolves and whether the state meets its goal of having thousands upon thousands of undergraduate students taking nearly half their courses virtually by 2025.

University of Florida now counts 31 percent of its undergraduate programs delivered online. But Bakeman reported that the path hasn’t always been a smooth one. More than a year ago, the school ended its multi-million dollar contract with Pearson after the company failed to attract enough students from outside the Sunshine State. At FSU, the school’s reluctance to embrace online education has “put the school in conflict with Gov. Scott and the State University System’s board of governors,” reports Bakeman.


“Andrew Gillum ‘slams’ Special Session” via Florida Politics – Tallahassee Mayor Gillum issued a brief statement calling this week’s Special Session “a complete embarrassment to our state.” Gillum also took a swipe at an education policy bill (HB 7069) Gov. Scott is considering that, among other things, could funnel more money to privately-managed charter schools. The session “was called with a total lack of transparency, and thanks to HB 7069, Floridians’ tax dollars are almost certainly about to enrich for-profit charter school executives,” Gillum said in the statement.

Alex Diaz de la Portilla faces foreclosure on out-of-district home” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald – On campaign filings for the District 40 state Senate race, Diaz de la Portilla lists two addresses: a mattress company that belongs to his father and a five-bedroom West Miami home facing foreclosure. Both lie outside the district he is running to represent, a large swath of Southwest Miami-Dade County. According to the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser, Diaz de la Portilla and his ex-wife jointly own the West Miami home. In April, Wells Fargo filed a notice in county court seeking to foreclose on the home … Diaz de la Portilla listed the home as being worth $603,357 in a financial disclosure form. Diaz de la Portilla said the foreclosure was a necessary step toward modifying the loan on his home following a divorce.

Democrat who switched parties too late withdraws from state Senate race” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald Steve Smith signed an oath when he qualified as a candidate for the state Senate last week saying he’s been a registered Democrat for a year. Not quite. Florida law requires anyone qualifying as a party candidate to state in writing that they have not been a member of another party for a full year before qualifying. Smith … registered as a Democrat June 10, 2016, less than a year before he and six other candidates qualified May 30 — 12 days short of a year — for the District 40 seat left vacant by former Sen. Frank Artiles. Hours after a Miami Herald story went online Tuesday about the apparent violation, Smith he withdrew his candidacy, saying he did not want to jeopardize the Democratic Party’s chances to turn the seat blue and his own political aspirations down the road. “It is what it is,” he said.

Bobby Olszewski qualifies by petition for HD 44 special election” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Republican Bobby Olszewski has become the first qualified candidate for the special elections set for later this year to fill the vacant seat for House District 44 in western Orange County. Olszewski’s campaign said it collected more than 400 petition signatures and on Wednesday the Orange County Supervisor of Elections certified 370, enough to put him on the ballot. The primary election is scheduled for Aug. 15, with the final election on Oct. 10. “I couldn’t be more thankful to our great volunteers who helped us reach this goal with our voters in record time,” Olszewski stated in a news release. “My volunteers and I will out and about in our community throughout this election looking to bring our hometown, conservative principles to Tallahassee.”


Donald Trump nominates Stetson law professor to veterans appeals court” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times Trump has nominated a Stetson University law professor to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Michael P. Allen is director of the Veterans Law Institute and was a civil trial attorney in Boston before joining Pinellas County-based Stetson.

“Personnel note: Stephen Lawson moves to VISIT FLORIDA” via Florida PoliticsLawson has left the post of communications director for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. He has become vice president of Government Relations for VISIT Florida. He announced the job change in an email. Lawson has been making the rounds of Gov. Scott’s administration, previously serving as communications director for Enterprise Florida, the public-private economic development organization.

Sachs named as agency of record for JMI – The James Madison Institute, Florida’s premier free-market think tank, named Sachs Media Group as its Agency of Record. Under the leadership of newly appointed president Michelle Ubben, Sachs Media will elevate JMI’s profile in Florida and nationally by providing public affairs and strategic communications services in support of JMI’s initiatives. JMI is led by president/CEO Dr. Bob McClure, who was named one of INFLUENCE Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Florida Politics.

AppointedDaniel Waters and Marielle Kitchener to Big Cypress Basin Board.

AppointedAdrian Alfonso to the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc.

New and renewed lobby registration: Bob Harris, Messer Caparello: West Coast University

— ALOE —

9 TV shows set in Florida but not Miami, like ‘Claws’ in Manatee County” via Caitlin O’Connor of the Tampa Bay Times – I Dream Of Jeannie … Maj. Tony Nelson and Jeannie called Cocoa Beach home. Second Noah … Tampa got its moment in the spotlight in this short-lived mid-’90s series about a family with a tendency to take in kids and stray animals. Fresh Off the Boat … ABC’s hit sitcom features a Taiwanese family moving from Washington, D.C., to Orlando around 1995. The Glades … This A&E show about an FDLE detective was set in fictional Palm Glade somewhere in, well, the Everglades and filmed around South Florida. Siesta Key … A reality series filmed around Sarasota County’s popular beach destination is set to premiere July 19 on MTV. Bloodline … Netflix’s recently concluded family thriller was set and filmed in the Keys. American Horror Story … 2014-15’s Freak Show season was set in Jupiter in 1952, following the lives of members of, well, a freak show. Cougar Town …  Courtney Cox & Co. were on the prowl in fictional Gulfhaven, nicknamed “Cougar Town,” somewhere around Venice and Sarasota on the map.

Florida, Florida State on the winning end of baseball’s June Madness” via Bob Sparks of Florida Politics –Both Florida and Florida State have provided significant contributions to this year’s mayhem, which saw nearly half of the 16 seeded teams and regional hosts go down to defeat. Four others, including the Gators and Seminoles, had to bounce back from losses. No team among the 64 tournament teams had to climb the mountain faced by Florida State. The Madness struck in the first game, when FSU inexplicably lost to fourth-seeded Tennessee Tech, 3-1. The Gators were moving along nicely in their regional until Sunday night. They had the opportunity for a three-game sweep, but the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, earned a reprieve with a 6-2 win. Florida restored order Monday with a 6-1 regional-clinching win, but it was 0-0 in the sixth inning.

Orlando gator killed on runway at executive airport” via Paul Brinkmann of the Orlando Sentinel – An 11-foot alligator was reportedly killed at 2 a.m. June 1 … A spokeswoman for the airport, Carolyn Fennell, confirmed that the incident occurred last week. She said there was some damage to the private plane but didn’t have details about that. “Fish and Wildlife Service said it was a 500-pound alligator,” Fennell said. The executive airport is 3 miles from downtown Orlando and is governed by Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which also governs Orlando International Airport. It covers about 1,000 acres, near several lakes, including Lake Underhill.

NASA announces new astronaut class, and one is from Florida” via Marco Santana of the Orlando Sentinel – The class of 12 astronauts will start a two-year training program in August. One candidate, Frank Rubio, 41, hails from Florida. He graduated from Miami Sunset Senior High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York The rest of the 2017 class: Kayla Barron of Richland, Washington; Zena Cardman of Williamsburg, Virginia; Raja Chari of Cedar Falls, Iowa; Matthew Dominick of Wheat Ridge, Colorado; Bob Hines of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Warren Hoburg of Pittsburgh; Jonny Kim of Los Angeles; Robb Kulin of Anchorage, Alaska; Jasmin Moghbeli of Baldwin, New York; Loral O’Hara of Sugar Land, Texas; Jessica Watkins of Lafayette, Colorado

Happy birthday to Chris Hand and PSTA’s Brad Miller.

Does Jack Latvala keep falling for the banana-in-the-tailpipe trick so he can be CFO?

“You’re not gonna fall for the banana in the tailpipe? It should be more natural, brother. It should flow out, like this – ‘Look, man, I ain’t fallin’ for no banana in my tailpipe!’ See, that’s more natural for us.” — Axel Foley

It’s been more than thirty years since Eddie Murphy played the part of Detroit police detective Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop, but there are several scenes which are just as funny today as they were in 1984. Who can forget Bronson Pinchot‘s cameo as Serge? Or Murphy’s performance in the hilarious “Super Cop” scene (co-stars John Ashton and Judge Reinhold can be seen holding back laughter as Murphy delivers his monologue.)

And, of course, one of the funniest running jokes throughout the movie is the ‘banana in the tailpipe’ gag.

Early on in the movie, Murphy/Foley sneakily shoves his banana (technically three of them) into the tailpipe of a patrol car trying to tail him. Hijinks ensue.

Although its debatable if this trick actually works in real life, the scene was so popular and has become such a part of pop culture that it’s an expression we use when we think someone is trying to pull something over on us.

To that end, why does state Senator Jack Latvala keep falling for the banana-in-the-tailpipe trick when it comes to Gov. Rick Scott and the vetoing of the local budget projects Latvala holds so dear?

Last week, the Governor axed roughly 400 projects worth nearly $410 million that were placed in the budget by Republicans and Democrats. As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, this is, at least, a partial indictment of Latvala’s work. Many of the vetoed projects, such as several construction projects at the University of South Florida, are local initiatives Latvala personally shepherded into the budget.

This is yet another year during which Scott — the new reigning champ of gubernatorial budget vetoes — has axed hundreds of millions of dollars in member projects. When Scott did so in 2015, Latvala said that “the governor has declared war on the Legislature.”

This was after Latvala ‘pledged his devotion to Scott for months’ (Steve Bousquet‘s words, not mine). Just as Latvala was ‘devoted’ to Scott this year (Latvala appeared with Scott at a press conference last month when the Governor talked openly about vetoing large chunks of the veto).

In other words, after each legislative session, Scott puts a banana in Latvala’s tailpipe.

So why, beyond party loyalty, does Latvala remain ‘devoted’ to Scott?

One theory for Latvala’s continued fealty is that he has a better chance at being at being appointed Chief Financial Officer than some might think. Most news stories speculating as to who Scott may choose center around former state Sen. Pat Neal, state Rep. Joe Gruters, and former Rep. Jimmy Patronis.

Doesn’t Chief Latvala make as much, if not more, sense than any of those picks?

Not getting too upset about a few budget vetoes is a small price to pay for a (possibly) nine-year place in the Florida Cabinet.

Lawmakers agree to tackle medical marijuana during Special Session

Lawmakers reached agreement early Wednesday, hours before the start of this week’s Special Session, to include medical marijuana implementation in the call.

After broke this news, the Florida Senate announced that Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, would “file legislation to implement Article X, section 29 of the Florida Constitution, which allows the use of marijuana by patients with debilitating medical conditions. The Senate will consider the bill during this week’s Special Session.”

The agreement calls for 10 new growers to be licensed this year, in addition to the seven that already hold a state license under an existing, limited cannabis program. Five new growers would be added for every 100,000 patients, Sen. Bill Galvano, who was involved in negotiations, told the Tampa Bay Times.

As for a cap of on the number of dispensers each grower can open, the magic number is 25. Under the proposed legislation, the cap on dispensaries will sunset in 2020.

Funding for medical marijuana research at the Moffitt Cancer Center is also expected to be included in the legislation.

At a brief floor session Wednesday, House Republican Leader Ray Rodrigues of Estero told members the Senate bill appeared to “match up” with the House’s position. He expected a bill on the House floor by Thursday.

The Senate bill, released later Wednesday, tracked the reported highlights.

“This legislation demonstrates fidelity to the Constitution by implementing the amendment passed by the voters last November,” Senate President Joe Negron said in a release. “The bill will also further the work the Legislature has done over the past few years to pass legislation authorizing the medical use of marijuana and other developing medications for our fellow citizens who are suffering from serious medical conditions and illnesses.”

The 2017 Legislative Session ended without a bill to implement the state’s medical marijuana constitutional amendment. An implementing bill gives guidance and instructions to state agencies on how to enforce state law.

In this year’s regular session, ended in May, lawmakers failed to agree on a bill related to the medical cannabis constitutional amendment passed in 2016. Just over 71 percent of statewide voters approved the measure.

The two chambers this year came to an impasse over the number of dispensaries, with the Senate moving to 15, “five times the original cap of three in an earlier version of the Senate bill,” Negron explained in a recent memo.

But the House “responded by setting its dispensary cap at 100 and providing a deadline for issuing new licenses of more than a year from now. Obviously, the Senate was not in a position to accept this House proposal. The medical cannabis bill then died,” Negron wrote.

The state in 2014 legalized low-THC, or “non-euphoric,” marijuana to help children with severe seizures and muscle spasms. THC is the chemical that causes the high from pot.

The state later expanded the use of medicinal marijuana through the “Right to Try Act,” which includes patients suffering intractable pain and loss of appetite from terminal illnesses.

Dave Aronberg takes himself out of consideration for U.S. Attorney

After a news report listed him as one of six candidates in the running for U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, two-term Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg has taken himself out of consideration.

“I’m honored that my name was mentioned, but I withdrew from consideration,” Aronberg, 46, told Florida Politics Wednesday morning. “I am committed to the important work being done in our community and eager to continue my service in Palm Beach County.”

Before becoming Palm Beach state attorney in 2012, and re-elected without opposition in 2016, Aronberg served in the Florida Senate from 2002-2010. In the Senate, he focused on criminal justice and consumer protection issues, helped pass major identity theft and port security legislation, as well as worked to close loopholes in Florida sex offender laws.

After an unsuccessful bid to succeed Bill McCollum as Attorney General – a race ultimately won by Republican Pam Bondi. In 2010, Aronberg became Special Prosecutor for Prescription Drug Trafficking as Bondi’s “Drug Czar.”

In April 2016, Aronberg declined to prosecute Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s former presidential campaign manager, for battery. Police charged Lewandowski for grabbing the arm of former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields at a campaign news conference in Florida.

“After reviewing the video recording there is no reasonable doubt Mr. Lewandowski pulled Ms. Fields back as she was attempting to interview Mr. Trump,” Aronberg told reporters at the time.

Aronberg also convened a three-month grand jury investigation in 2016 — one of the first in the nation — looking into corruption in drug treatment centers which uncovered evidence of sexual abuse, human trafficking, forced labor and insurance fraud. The Florida Legislature allotted $275,000 to Aronberg, where he produced a 37-page report on how government agencies respond to corruption, recommending 15 sweeping changes to improve ways to prevent the exploitation of people suffering from opioid addiction.

With Aronberg out of the running, five candidates remain in the race for U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Florida:

Roy Altman is a 35-year-old federal prosecutor, who over six years handled hundreds of criminal cases, including the conviction of the killer of a postal worker. As a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Law School, Altman clerked for federal appeals court Judge Stanley Marcus. Altman is a partner at the Miami law firm Podhurst Orseck. According to the Miami Herald, several insiders see him as the leading candidate.

John Couriel, 39, specialized in economic and major criminal cases at the U.S. attorney’s office before becoming a partner at the Kobre Kim law firm. He also mounted two unsuccessful campaigns for the Florida Legislature. Couriel is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. The Miami Herald called him the front-runner in the race until Trump’s advisers learned Couriel voted for Jeb Bush in the Florida primary and predicted Hillary Clinton would win his Republican-leaning district by “quite a bit.”

Jon Sale is a 73-year-old former federal prosecutor in New York and Miami and co-chair of the white-collar defense and compliance practice for the Broad and Cassel law firm. Sale, who attended the University of Pennsylvania and NYU Law School, served as an assistant special prosecutor for the Justice Department in the Watergate case. The Herald notes Sale is also close friends with Trump confidant and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, making him a likely Trump pick.

Jose Felix “Pepi” Diaz, a 37-year-old state lawmaker from Miami and land-use attorney with Akerman LLP. The University of Miami and Columbia Law School graduate appeared on Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice” in 2006. While knowing Trump personally, Diaz is not considered a strong contender, says the Herald.

Frank Ledee is a 53-year-old veteran prosecutor in the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, most recently as head of the gang prosecution and gun violence units. Ledee also serves as the office’s liaison to the U.S. attorney’s office. Gov. Rick Scott appointed Ledee to the South Broward Hospital District Board in 2016. He holds his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Barry University and has his law degree from Nova Southeastern University.

Sunburn for 6.7.17 – Special Session already not so special?; There’s a bear in the election woods; David Richardson aims for D.C.; op-eds galore

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


Special Session hasn’t even started yet, and stuff’s already starting to blow up.

Take House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s Tuesday evening reaction to the Senate’s filed bills on education, economic development and tourism marketing.

“We stand with the Governor in his commitment to increase funding for our K-12 public schools and creating more jobs,” he said.

“But instead of addressing jobs, honoring the will of the people in passing medical marijuana, or taking care of our public school children, the Senate President wants a massive property tax increase, wants to weaken accountability provisions for VISIT FLORIDA and Enterprise Florida (EFI), and wants to raid reserves to give to hospital CEOs.  

“Needless to say, the House is not raising taxes, not softening accountability rules, and not borrowing against reserves to pay for corporate giveaways,” Corcoran added.

“And without question the House will not allow funding for our schoolchildren to be held hostage to pork barrel spending and special interest demands.”

In the words of Ron Burgundy: “Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast.”

Before that, Senate Appropriations chair Jack Latvala dropped a bomb when, in a memo, he said bills filed during the Special Sesh would fall under the constitutionally-mandated 72-hour cooling off period.

Staff came to that conclusion by researching session precedent going back to 1993, Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said.

If a bill gets amended, however, that would reset the clock, pushing back the end of session beyond Friday.

Later, the House filed HB 3A on the Florida Education Finance Program. But the House’s bill statement said the cooling off period does not apply.”

“It is not general in application; does not resemble the constitutionally required format and scope of a general appropriations bill described by Article III, section 19(b); does not meet the definition of a General Appropriations Bill in Joint Rule 2; and meets the general appropriations exemption applicable to supplemental appropriations provided in Joint Rule 2,” the statement said.

In other words: Pass or fail, we ain’t staying. (We won’t even mention the lack of medical marijuana in the call as of Tuesday night.) So let’s quote another great movie line, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy (week).”

– “Uh oh: Florida lawmakers’ special session in jeopardy before it even begins” via Michael Auslen, Mary Ellen Klas and Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald

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Special Session gets underway today – The schedule starts with a House floor session at 12:30 p.m. and a Senate session at 1 p.m. The House Appropriations Committee then meets at 2 p.m., with the Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee convening at the same time. The Senate Appropriations Committee is slated to meet at 4 p.m. The following day, the Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to meet again at 10 a.m., with the full House going into session at 10:30 a.m. The Senate follows with a floor session at 2 p.m. Finally, both chambers meet on the floor on Friday, with the Senate starting at 10 a.m. and the House going in at 10:30 a.m. All meetings and times are subject to change.

Special Session rules — The team at LobbyTools put together a handy guide to get you up-to-date about what you need to know before the Legislature gavels in. When it comes to committee meetings, meetings need to be noticed two hours in advanced; committee amendments shall be filed no later than one hour before the committee. Senate rules require the Special Order Calendar to be published two hours in advance, but House rules don’t special a Special Order Calendar publishing deadline. The Senate deadline for floor amendments for bills on the Special Order Calendar is 5 p.m., or 2 hours after the calendar is announced. House floor amendments must be approved two hours before a floor session. And when it comes to fundraising, the rules of a regular session apply: Members of the Legislature aren’t permitted to solicited, be solicited or accept any contribution during special session

“Joe Negron: Senate will consider veto overrides” via Florida Politics Senate President Negron told members in a Tuesday memo he expects “a proposal to override the veto of some university and higher education funding.” The Stuart Republican also left the door open for medical marijuana implementation to be added to the call, saying he had made no deal “limit(ing) the subject matter to the issues listed in the Governor’s proclamation” … Legislative negotiators are reportedly close to striking a deal regarding marijuana dispensary caps, limiting the number of retail locations, that hamstrung lawmakers during this year’s regular session that ended in May. Introducing marijuana legislation would require a two-thirds vote.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala talks with Senate President Joe Negron during early discussion of the budget on the final day of the extended 2017 Legislative Session at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Photo credit: Colin Hackley.

“Jack Latvala: ‘Cooling-off’ period applies to Special Session bills” via Florida Politics Latvala is telling fellow senators that funding bills will be subject to the state’s constitutionally-mandated “cooling off” period. That potentially means, if the bills are amended, that lawmakers could be stuck in Tallahassee past Friday, when the session is scheduled to end. The Clearwater Republican, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a memo that he and Senate President Negron—an attorney—had “reviewed relevant legal precedent and accepted the advice of our professional staff regarding the application of the 72-hour cooling off period.” A House spokesman wasn’t immediately available for comment Tuesday.

Rene Garcia: I’m ‘not comfortable’ with more K-12 funding without changing HB 7069” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – The Hialeah Republican told President Negron in a letter that he’s “not comfortable supporting any compromise” on increasing K-12 funding for 2017-18 that does not also address a controversial education policy bill that awaits Gov. Scott‘s approval. García was one of three Senate Republicans to vote against HB 7069 when it narrowly passed the Senate on the final day of the 2017 regular session. “While my career has reflected a passionate commitment to school choice and local autonomy, I find it difficult to support adjusting the Florida Education Finance Program while failing to address the erosion of Florida’s commitment to public education that is contained in HB 7069,” García said.

Medical marijuana activists ‘cautiously optimistic’ Legislature will take it up in Special Session” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Key players in the issue like Orlando attorney John Morgan said that they believe Negron was worried the seven original growers would have an unfair advantage over other MMTCs — but said those fears were irrational since the dispensaries would end up beating out each other in the long run anyway. “Joe [Negron] is misguided because I don’t think you should cap dispensaries,” Morgan told SSN. “Competition takes care of everything in a capitalistic society, [but] these lawmakers are not capitalists. They are people who have lived at the public trough their whole lives.” If legislators can’t work out an agreement over medical cannabis, it will be up to the Department of Health to figure out how to regulate the state’s medical marijuana industry before July 3.

Morgan, who supports lifting MMTC caps, said he was hopeful lawmakers would work out some kind of agreement, one way or the other, but trashed legislators for toying with the will of Florida voters. “They have never done anything besides go up there and play board games like it’s a Monopoly game and it’s not real,” he said. “At the end of the day, the cream will rise to the top. They’re fighting something that doesn’t need to be fought about.”

“Some lawmakers bowing out of Special Session” via Florida Politics At least eight House members and one senator won’t be attending some or all of this week’s Special Session, set for Wednesday-Friday. The June meeting is conflicting with some lawmakers’ plans, including one whose brother is getting married out of state. A list, as of Tuesday afternoon, showed lawmakers asking for and receiving excused absences for part or all of the three-day session, with reasons given.

DSCC goes after Scott over special session — The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is out with a new ad hitting Gov. Scott over the upcoming three-day special session. The video features clips of recent media reports talking about the special session, and the governor’s request for money for economic incentives. The 60-second spot also highlights concerns over a sweeping education bill, as well as the governor’s vetoes for higher education, road construction projects. Scott is widely expected to run for U.S. Senate in 2018. Click on the image below to watch the clip.

Assignment editors: Rep. Shevrin Jones and FEA President Joanne McCall will hold a press call to discuss the special session at 11 a.m. Interested media should RSVP to Johanna Cervone at for dial-in information.

Split appeal court upholds Gov. Scott’s 2015 veto of firefighters’ $2,000 raise” via Florida Politics — The Governor’s constitutional authority to veto budget line items trumps a state law requiring him to bow to the Legislature when it resolves labor collective bargaining impasses, a divided 1st District Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday. … “The Florida Constitution clearly articulates the governor’s authority to veto the (budget), or specific appropriations therein. It authorized him to veto the raise appropriation here,” the court said. “That appellant’s members possess constitutional collective bargaining rights does not alter the governor’s constitutional authority with respect to the GAA.” … The dispute involved Gov. Scott’s veto of a $2,000 raise the Legislature OK’d for members of … the Florida Forest Service for the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2015. In a dissent, Judge Bradford Thomas wrote that upholding the raise would not “significantly impair the governor’s general veto authority and properly harmonizes conflicting provisions of organic law.”

Governor’s veto threatens Appleton Museum of Art” via Joe Callahan of the Ocala Star-Banner – College of Central Florida officials were in crisis mode in the wake of Gov. Scott’s decision to veto $1.5 million in state funding the college was counting on to operate the Appleton Museum of Art. CF President Jim Henningsen and his staff met multiple times to discuss options to keep the prestigious museum open beyond June 30, which is the end of the 2016-17 fiscal year. Henningsen hopes to get approval from the family of the museum founder, Arthur I. Appleton, to use $1.5 million of the museum’s $19 million endowment to keep the museum open for one more year, through June 30, 2018. “We are trying to reach the family to see if they will approve the money, and then we can lobby the legislature to get the Appleton funded in next year’s budget,” said Henningsen, adding that if no state funding can be acquired next year then the museum may have to be closed.

“Scott’s vetoes could impact Luna archaeology efforts” via Joseph Baucum of the Pensacola News-Journal – The University of West Florida’s excavations of the Don Tristan de Luna settlement in East Pensacola Heights could be impacted by Gov. Scott‘s $410 million cuts to the Legislature’s $83 billion proposed budget. The governor slashed $4.1 million to the university, of which $1.1 million would have gone to the university’s archaeology program. Since 2015, researchers and students from the program have conducted several digs and tests of the Luna site, arguably the oldest established European multi-year settlement in the United States. “We realize it has not been an easy year and we thank ​our legislative partners for all of their efforts,” said UWF President Martha Saunders. “The archaeology program is an active program, so we are concerned about the impact on the students currently enrolled. We are committed to doing everything we can to minimize any disruption.”

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will present the Medal of Merit to Airman David Barba and Aviation Boastswain’s Mate Andrew Miller at 9 a.m. at Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville. The two sailors are being awarded for their courage and selflessness assisting victims following an incident in Times Square earlier this month. Media interested in attending should arrive at the pass and decal parking lot by 8:15 a.m. for security check in. For additional questions, contact William Austin, Mayport Public Affairs Officer, at 904-629-7145 or

Assignment editors – Aides to Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet will meet at 9 a.m. in the Capitol’s Cabinet meeting room in advance of the scheduled June 14 meeting.

Meanwhile … “Trouble getting sake in Florida? Law could soon change for the better” via Laura Reiley of the Tampa Bay Times – State law officially defines wine as a beverage fermented from grapes, berries or other fruit. Made from fermented rice, sake … often has been erroneously lumped with liquors, typically distilled from grains. Restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, and other places allowed to sell and serve wine and beer, but not liquor, have often shied from sake, fearing legal problems. House Bill 689, passed by the Legislature in the 2017 Session but awaiting action from Gov. Scott, would finally clarify that sake is indeed a wine, making it servable and sellable anywhere other wines and beers are sold.


At least 3 Florida counties targeted by Russian hacking attempt” via Steve Bousquet and Adam Playford of the Tampa Bay Times – At least three Florida elections offices got malicious emails days before the 2016 presidential election that a classified federal report says were part of a Russian cyberattack that aimed to hack into their computers. Election supervisors in Citrus, Clay and Pasco counties got the emails, but they did not open them. It’s unclear whether the cyberattack was successful anywhere else in Florida. A secret intelligence report by the National Security Agency described two efforts by a Russian military intelligence unit, the G.R.U. to disrupt the presidential election.

State officials say voting system was secure in 2016” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Florida’s online elections databases and voting systems remained secure in 2016 … despite what appears to be confirmation that a phishing email was sent to state elections offices  and news reports indicate that federal officials believe the Russians were behind it. “The Florida Department of State participated in an informational call with the FBI related to elections security at the end of September 2016, said Sarah Revell, spokesperson for the agency that oversees Florida’s elections system. “But there was no indication of a Florida-specific issue.” She denied there were any successful hacking attempts from the phishing emails investigated by the National Security Administration.

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Perry Thurston backs Gillum for Governor — Thurston, the chairman of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, announced Tuesday he was endorsing Gillum’s gubernatorial bid. “As Governor, we can trust Mayor Gillum to be a fierce advocate for our community on so many issues – from addressing climate change, to ensuring healthcare is accessible to the most medically-needy in our state, to protecting public education from for-profit charter schools and their friends in the Legislature,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to helping him ‘Bring It Home’ for Florida!” 

Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle considering statewide run in Florida” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald — Rundle is mostly interested in the possibility of running for Governor but didn’t rule out running for Attorney General, said State Rep. Joe Geller, an Aventura Democrat who organized the meeting at her home Memorial Day weekend. While multiple Democrats have filed to run for Governor, no well-known Democrat has announced a bid for attorney general. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, a Democrat, is considering running for Attorney General. (Gov. Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, both Republicans, are term limited.) Fernandez Rundle had no timeline for making a decision, Geller said.

– “Jail inmate scalding death haunts Miami-Dade prosecutor’s plans to run for governor” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

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Matt Caldwell raises more than $100K for Agriculture Commissioner bid in May” via Florida Politics — The North Fort Myers Republican raised $101,1575 for his 2018 agriculture commissioner bid during a 20-day period in May, his campaign said Tuesday. While Caldwell filed to run for the statewide office May 1, he did not begin fundraising until after the 2017 Legislative Session ended. Caldwell will report ending the month with $100,458 cash on hand, according to his campaign. His political committee, Friends of Matt Caldwell, will report raising $712,825 since January. “I am truly humbled by the outpouring of support we have received and what we have been able to accomplish in our first month,” said Caldwell in a statement. “When we announced our campaign, I said this would be a grassroots endeavor.”

Now a CFO candidate, Jeremy Ring to publish a book on Yahoo experience” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — Former state Senator Jeremy Ring, the only official candidate in the 2018 race to be Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, has just completed a book about his experiences working as a founding member of Yahoo. Ring said Monday he plans to publish his book this fall. “We Were Yahoo” will describe how the Silicon Valley-based company changed the world twice, Ring told a couple of dozen supporters who gathered to learn more about him at an appearance at the University Club in downtown Tampa. “The first time on the way up it pioneered the entire digital information age, and everybody knows that, but on the way down the major missteps of that company allowed Facebook and Google to grow and mature and become the companies that they were,” he said.

Assignment editors: Ring will address the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans annual conference at 11 a.m. at The Florida Hotel & Conference Center, 1500 Sand Lake Road in Orlando.

Democrat running for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s open seat drops out” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Miami businessman Scott Fuhrman, who jumped into politics last year and took on longtime Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, announced Tuesday that he’s suspending his campaign for Ros-Lehtinen’s open congressional seat in 2018. Fuhrman said a lack of support from donors was the primary reason behind his decision. “Running these campaigns costs an exorbitant amount of money, it’s really insane,” Fuhrman told the Miami Herald. “I spent over a million dollars of my own money in 2016 and this year. I couldn’t really get the support among the Democratic donor community without having to put in a huge amount of my own money in the race.”

Legislature’s financial sleuth, David Richardson, to run for Ros-Lehtinen’s seat” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – “I’m ready for it,” Richardson said. “The most important thing is that anyone working Washington has got to work in a bipartisan way and, for the last five years, I’ve demonstrated I’ve been able to get things done in the minority.” Richardson, 60, entered a race that is already crowded with both Democrats and Republicans … He starts with a strong base as his Democratic state House district is enclosed entirely within Congressional District 27, is 60 percent Hispanic and leans Democratic. “Ileana Ros-Lehtinen because of her tenure has been amazing and exceptional with constituent services,” he said. “I really believe she could have won in 2018.” Richardson said he has been considered a run for Congress for some time but expected Ros-Lehtinen to retire in 2020. Her unexpected announcement that she will retire in 2018 after 35 years in office, accelerated his timeline.

— Flashback to May 10: “David Richardson preparing for run in CD 27” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

“Daisy Baez hit with residency complaint” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — A Coral Gables voter said he has filed a complaint against state Rep. Daisy Baez, accusing the Democrat of violating a Florida requirement that lawmakers live in the districts they represent. Christian Rodriguez asked House Speaker Richard Corcoran to investigate Baez’s residency, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by the Miami Herald. Though it is dated May 29, the House had yet to confirm receipt as of Tuesday, more than a week later. “Baez is ineligible to represent the district in the Florida House of Representatives and should be removed immediately upon a finding that she either never established her permanent residency within House District 114 or she relinquished her permanent residency,” the complaint says.

Two Republicans, one Democrat qualify for HD 116 race — State records show two Republicans, Jose Mallea and Daniel Anthony Perez, and one Democrat, Gabriela Mayaudon qualified to run for the seat. Democrat Ross Hancock, who previously filed to run for the seat, has withdrawn from the race, according to state records. Mallea and Perez will battle it out for their party’s nomination in the July 25 primary. The winner will face Mayaudon in the Sept. 26 general election. Diaz, a Miami-Dade Republican, resigned his seat effective Sept. 26 to run in the Senate District 40 special election to replace Sen. Frank Artiles. Artiles, a Miami-Dade Republican, resigned in April amid scandal.

— “Missing penny almost costs House candidate” via Florida Politics

– “Invisible Pasco’ activist Linda Jack to challenge Amber Mariano in House District 36” via Florida Politics

– “House candidate Berny Jacques wins another local elected official’s endorsement” via Florida Politics


After a seemingly rule-less meeting, constitution panel adopts rules” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Rules — addressing such matters as who will appoint committees, how proposals will move through committees, whether Florida’s Sunshine laws will cover everything — emerged from a sometimes chaotic debate in Orlando at a meeting that Chair Carlos Beruff adjourned suddenly after he got what he apparently wanted. By a 20-11 vote, the commission adopted a proposal from Gov. Scott-appointee Brecht Heuchan that largely adopts, as a base, the rules used by the previous state Constitution Revision Commission in 1997-98, with a few changes Heuchan said were the desires of a rules work group that had met. With that, Beruff closed down discussion or consideration of dozens of other proposals, including some amendments and then adjourned the meeting. He promised that the other suggestions would be taken up at later meetings, but made contradictory statements about whether they would be considered by the full commission, or by a rules committee, which he would be able to appoint and control. But the rules package didn’t address everything that everyone wanted, and opponents mounted challenges.

“Supreme Court will hear Florida A&M hazing appeal” via Florida Politics – The justices have decided to consider an appeal from Dante Martin, convicted in the 2011 hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion. A date for oral arguments is not yet set. “Florida’s hazing statute criminalizes the type of conduct that—though physically grueling, perceived as brutal to many, and unappealing to most—is nonetheless protected under the federal constitution,” his initial brief said. Martin and Champion were both members of the school’s famed “Marching 100” band. Champion, 26, succumbed to internal injuries after a brutal beating ritual with fists, mallets and drumsticks in a band bus that was parked outside a game in Orlando. According to the AP, “the case brought into focus the culture of hazing in the band, which was suspended for more than a year while officials tried to clean up the program.” Martin, now 30, was sentenced in 2015 to 6 years and 5 months in prison on felony manslaughter and hazing charges, according to the Department of Corrections website. He is currently serving time in the Wakulla Work Camp.

National, local politics infuse union fight over panhandle county’s teachers” via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – With Alabama on its northern border and the Gulf of Mexico along its southern coast, Santa Rosa County is deep red. Even many of its teachers — a traditionally left-leaning group — didn’t want to be associated with the state and national unions’ efforts to boost Democrats. So, leaders voted to leave in late 2015. The Tallahassee-based Florida Education Association has since helped form a competing local union there and is challenging the now-independent Santa Rosa Professional Educators for the rights to collectively bargain contracts with the school district. SRPE’s leaders say the state union is coming after them out of fear that other, bigger chapters will follow their lead. Several unions from around the right-to-work state have indicated their interest in breaking away as well, the group’s president and attorney claim.

Deal for David Beckham’s Miami soccer stadium land gets approval” via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press – In a 9-4 vote Tuesday, Miami-Dade County commissioners decided to allow Miami Beckham United to buy 3 acres of county land, the final piece in a nine-acre plot on which a 25,000-seat soccer stadium is planned. It’s a big win for the English soccer icon, who has spent four years – and counting – trying to bring Miami an expansion MLS franchise. “Miami is ready,” said Tim Leiweke, one of the partners in Beckham’s group. “We are committed. And the city and the county have now taken the necessary steps for us to control our own destiny for a privately financed, world-class soccer stadium for Major League Soccer. Beckham’s group will pay just over $9 million for the three-acre plot. It has already paid $19 million for the other 6 acres needed, and Leiweke said he’s hopeful a team could start playing in the stadium in 2020.

Injured Orlando Predators player loses workers’ compensation claim on appeal” via Orlando Rising — A former Orlando Predators player can’t recover workers’ compensation benefits because nobody from the Arena Football League ever signed his employment contract, the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday. Bryon Bishop attempted to claim benefits for an injury sustained during a tryout to rejoin the now-defunct team following a hiatus. A judge of compensation claims had ruled that he was entitled to them under his contract with the league. A three-judge appellate panel … cited the lack of a signature by a league representative in reversing the compensation judge. Only Bishop and a team representative had signed. The contract term was Feb. 1-Aug. 31, 2013.

Workers’ comp judge ordered to reconsider $20K attorney fee agreement” via Florida Politics — A state appeals court criticized a judge of compensation claims for denying a $20,000 attorney fee award because of unsubstantiated claims that the parties had colluded. The 1st District Court of Appeal ordered Judge John Lazzara of Tallahassee to conduct a proper evidentiary hearing in the matter. … The case involved a claim for hearing loss by Jose Delgado against City Concrete Systems Inc. and FCCI Insurance Co. The parties had agreed upon the fee award, but waited until May 2016, after the Florida Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated Castellanos v. Next Door Co. ruling on attorney fees, to file it with the judge. … The court criticized Lazzara’s seven-page order “that assumed certain unestablished facts and strongly suggested that the attorneys engaged in collusion to commit fraud.”

“Personnel note: David Mica Jr. named interim head of Florida Lottery” via Florida Politics Mica Jr., the Florida Lottery‘s chief of staff, has been named interim secretary while Gov. Scott searches for a full-time replacement, an agency spokeswoman said Tuesday. Mica was officially appointed as interim on Friday, according to Lottery spokeswoman Connie Barnes. The vacancy was created by the departure of former Secretary Tom Delacenserie, now president and CEO of the Kentucky Lottery.

Sabal Trail pipeline protesters accept probation deal” via Katie Pohlman of the Ocala Star-Banner – Two protesters who crawled 250 feet into a piece of the Sabal Trail pipeline in February will receive 12 months of probation each. Karrie Kay Ford, 29, of Gainesville, and Nicholas Segal-Wright, 26, of Lake Worth, entered no contest pleas to a misdemeanor trespassing charge. Ford also entered a no contest plea to resisting a law enforcement officer. The two have to complete 30 community service hours and pay a joint restitution of $7,183 to Sabal Trail Transmission at a rate of $200 a month each during probation. They will have to decide how to pay the remaining amount after the year has passed. Both are prohibited from returning to any land or property that Sabal Trail Transmission owns or has interest in.


Orlando workplace shooter John Neumann Jr. showed ‘pattern of abuse’ court injunction says” via David Harris of the Orlando Sentinel — A former Fiamma co-worker wrote in 2014 court filings that John Robert Neumann Jr. was a “danger to our community” and showed a “pattern of abuse” that was known among other employees. … Carlos Rodriguez filed two injunctions against Neumann in May 2014 that highlighted an ongoing dispute — one for stalking and another for repeat violence. Rodriguez wrote that Neumann started verbally attacking him and “spitting in my face.” … Deputies were called to the business after Rodriguez accused Neumann of assaulting him, but no charges were filed.”

Company ‘heartbroken’ after workplace shooting near Orlando killed 5” via Emily Shapiro of ABC News — After a “disgruntled” ex-employee returned to his former workplace near Orlando, Florida, shooting and killing five people, the company said it is “heartbroken,” calling the attack “unspeakable.” … Fiamma, which is part of an Italian company that manufactures awnings and accessories for RVs, said in a statement, “The Company is heartbroken following the unspeakable attack upon our loved ones and employees. In these dark hours we ask for thoughts and prayers for all the victims of this tragedy and their families.”

Sheriff: Workplace shooting left 2 teens parentless” via The Associated Press — As families of five people killed in a workplace shooting in Florida deal with their shock and grief, a local sports league is raising money for the children of one of the victims – two teens who had already lost their mother nine years ago. Kevin Clark was a “wonderful man and an absolutely amazing, supportive and wonderful father” to his 14-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son, the local Pop Warner league said Tuesday in its fundraising appeal. … The Lake Howell Pop Warner league said Clark’s 14-year-old daughter was a cheerleader in the league, and his 18-year-old son played football in the league for several seasons. The fundraising appeal says Clark was a big supporter who “could often be found snapping pictures on the sideline during game days.”

Friend: Orlando victim feared workplace shooter would seek revenge over firing” via Troy Campbell of WKMG — A friend of Fiamma shooting victim Robert Snyder (said) …  that Snyder warned others of the gunman’s behavior prior to the shooting. It was Snyder who personally fired John Robert Neumann Jr. in April, said Lillian Crouch, who has been on a billiards team with Snyder for about three years. …. Crouch said Snyder told her at the time of Neumann’s firing that he feared Neumann would return for revenge.

— “Orlando workplace shooting victim Kevin Clark was devoted dad, passionate photographer” via Beth Kassab of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Orlando workplace shooting victim Robert Snyder was skilled billiards player, ‘awesome’” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Orlando workplace shooting victim Brenda Montanez was ‘like a ray of sunshine’” via Gal Tziperman Lotan of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Orlando workplace shooting victim Kevin Lawson was husband, father who loved motorcycles” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Orlando workplace shooting victim Jeff Roberts had been married nearly 37 yearsvia Gal Tziperman Lotman of the Orlando Sentinel


Steve Hayes: Tourism industry in jeopardy with House Bill 1A” via Florida Politics – As I watched Gov. Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, and Speaker Richard Corcoran announce their plans for a special session to discuss tourism funding, I felt hopeful for the fate of Florida’s tourism industry. However, my optimism faded when I read the strict VISIT Florida provisions tucked inside House Bill 1A. Of course, I am deeply appreciative of our lawmakers’ willingness to rethink the issue of VISIT Florida’s funding, but I am concerned the severe restrictions still hinder VISIT Florida’s ability to help smaller communities compete in the increasingly aggressive tourism promotion industry. VISIT Florida must be able to operate to keep tourists, and revenue, flowing into the Sunshine State. Restoring its funding to $76 million is certainly a critical component to ensuring our tourism industry continues to flourish, but the bureaucratic red tape proposed by HB 1A counteracts the increased budget.

Pat Neal: look to Colorado — cutting visit Florida funding would be disastrous” via Florida Politics – To gauge just how disastrous major cuts to VISIT Florida would be, one must look to Colorado. Keep in mind that Colorado has a more diversified and equitable share of its gross domestic product among different industries, and is not quite as reliant upon the tourism industry alone for its revenues. So, presumably, the effects of defunding tourism marketing programs in Florida would be even more drastic than those seen in Colorado. In 1993, an obscure provision in the state law allowed for the funding of the state’s tourism marketing mechanisms to expire. This meant that Colorado became the first state to essentially eliminate its funding for tourism marketing. The effects were fairly immediate and more drastic than could have been anticipated. The elimination of their $12 million tourism marketing budget manifested in a 30 percent decrease in Colorado’s share of the domestic tourism market. In terms of dollars, this constituted a contraction of Colorado’s tourism revenue by $1.4 billion annually.

Timothy Stapleton: fighting the opioid epidemic in the exam room via Florida Politics – It’s up to all of us to come together as a community to fight this rampant problem at every level: education, prevention, treatment and recovery services. Physicians can effect positive change by staying educated on best practices and effectively communicating with their patients about treatment protocols for pain management. There is an inherent risk in prescribing highly addictive medications, particularly for patients suffering from severe chronic pain. Physicians have a duty to consider the risks versus clinical effectiveness of prescribing opioids and communicate those risks and benefits clearly and honestly to their patients. Physicians have an obligation to educate their patients while developing treatment goals. Treatment does not end when a prescription is written: An open line of communication is necessary to make appropriate clinical decisions and detect signs of opioid dependence.

John Sowinski: Gambling lobbyist finally admits it – casinos prey on customers” via Florida Politics Marc Dunbar … wears the hats of a lawyer, lobbyist and investor. And so, call it a Freudian slip or just a moment of candor, it was interesting to hear someone from the inside let us all in on how the industry views its customers – as prey. This came out in a recent interview … In it, Dunbar discussed the state’s longstanding rejection of Vegas-style resort casinos — something the industry has sought in this state for decades. Because of that prohibition, he said, “you arguably have the kind of gambling that you don’t want to have, the kind that preys primarily on your constituents, as opposed to the tourists.’’ It’s an interesting argument to make to state lawmakers – fleece the tourists to spare your voters. Perhaps it would be an argument some might buy if there was any validity to it. But it’s a fake choice. Casinos do indeed prey on customers. And the most effective method they have for doing so is with high-tech, digital slot machines. Researchers have documented that these machines create a fast-paced, immersive environment in which gamblers lose track of time and losses.


How not to lobby the Florida Legislature via J.D. Alexander‘s Facebook page:

New and renewed lobby registrations: Lisa Aaron, Lisa Aaron Consulting: Commvault Systems; David Ramba, Allison Carvajal, and Evan Power, Ramba Consulting Group: Surgical Care Affiliates

“Personnel note: Beth Vecchioli rejoins Carlton Fields” via Florida Politics Vecchioli will be Senior Director for Government Consulting and co-Chair of the firm’s Property and Casualty Regulatory Group in its Tallahassee office. Previously, she was senior policy advisor and a member of Holland & Knight’s Florida Government Advocacy Team. “This is like coming home for me,” Vecchioli said. She was formerly with Carlton Fields for 9 years, serving as a government consultant from 2003-12. At Carlton Fields, she’ll advise clients in the areas of insurance regulation, lobbying, and financial services. Her client roster includes insurers, reinsurers, mortgage brokers and lenders, as well as national computer companies. She was a senior manager and regulator at the Florida Department of Insurance and Office of Insurance Regulation for more than 10 years.

“Personnel note: Joshua E. Doyle selected as head of Florida Bar” via Florida Politics Doyle, a Tallahassee-based special agent for the FBI, will be taking the reins from John F. “Jack” Harkness, Jr. as the next executive director of The Florida Bar, according to a Tuesday press release. Harkness, who’s been with the Bar for 37 years, will shift to an “ongoing consulting role.” They’ll start a six-month transition in July. The Bar is charged with regulating the state’s 104,000 licensed attorneys. Doyle, 37, who has spent seven years with the bureau, previously was a lawyer-lobbyist for Metz, Husband & Daughton in Tallahassee, including serving as outside legislative consultant to the Bar, the release said. Leading the Bar “is his dream job,” said name partner Jim Daughton. “It’s the only job he would have left the FBI for.”

AppointedJanet Price to the Governing Board of the St. Johns River Water Management District.

— ALOE —

Florida woman let snake bite baby as learning opportunity” via The Associated Press – A Florida woman is under investigation after apparently posting a video on Facebook showing a red rat snake biting her 1-year-old daughter. The woman … has no regrets for “introducing” the girl to the snake, which she found in the driveway of her home near Sebring … the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. The woman says, “people are too sensitive” … the snake bit her and her son several times and “didn’t leave a mark.” She thought it was a good opportunity to “introduce” the girl to the snake without her getting hurt.

Universal announces Fast & Furious – Supercharged to debut next spring” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Fast & Furious – Supercharged will include a simulated 120-mph car race through the streets of Los Angeles with the Fast & Furious crew of Dom Toretto, Hobbs, Letty and Roman. The 3D attraction replaces Disaster!, an earthquake adventure that closed in 2015. The newest ride will feature Universal’s new Virtual Line system, which is being used at Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon and the Volcano Bay water park. Guests can select a time to ride in advance to avoid queues for the attraction, which will include an exhibit of show cars.

Happy birthday to Rep. Jason Brodeur and Thomas Grigsby.

Andrew Gillum, um, meets his match in Kathy Fernandez-Rundle

In the pantheon of bad campaign launches, it would be hard to match Andrew Gillum’s email-gate rollout from hell.

However, on Monday, we witnessed worse.

Somehow, Gillum’s been out done.

It is fair to say that Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle’s not-so-subtle trial balloon was a sh**-the-bed moment.

Why was it so bad?

Well, yes, thank you very much for someone disclosing – seemingly without permission – the names of the attending consultants. Some amazingly talented people were there, but,come on, it was very poor form to out people who haven’t signed up yet. But we’re all big boys and girls, so we will call that a minor error, but an error nonetheless.

On to the major error.

If you are going to let out a little string on the kite, it’s probably best to have at least worked out the BIGGEST STORY surrounding your candidate. Namely, the very recent protest by MEMBERS OF YOUR OWN LOCAL PARTY because you refused to prosecute some pretty bad actors. For reference, see paragraph 5 in the Miami Herald article referencing the non-rollout, non-announcement announcement.

I do not have a position on whether or not State Attorney Rundle should have at least made an attempt at prosecuting prison guards who left a man in scalding hot water for an hour and a half – I’ll let those with law degrees scuffle over that one. But someone in Run-Rundle-Run camp should have had the sense to raise a hand and say, “Um, guys…this is going to be in paragraph 5 of the Miami Herald story.”  Someone pushing this story to various news outlets should have put a little more thought into this one. The protest-from-her-own-party tale is barely a month old, so it’s not like anyone could have possibly missed it.

Shouldn’t someone have tied up those loose ends or have her take a clear and defensible stance? No comment doesn’t cut it when you are teasing a statewide run.

This IS a Democratic primary after all, and having Black Lives Matter and your local party calling you a scoundrel really is a problem.

Oh well. At least Tallahassee’s Mayor can feel better.

Personnel note: Beth Vecchioli rejoins Carlton Fields’s insurance regulatory practice

Welcome back, Beth Vecchioli.

The veteran lobbyist has rejoined the firm of Carlton Fields to serve as a Senior Director — Government Consulting. In this position, Vecchioli will serve as co-chair of the firm’s property and casualty regulatory group.

Before joining Carlton Fields, Vecchioli served as a senior policy advisor and member of Holland & Knight’s Florida government advocacy team.

A former member of Carlton Fields for nine years, serving as a government consultant from 2003-2012, Vecchioli advises clients in the areas of insurance regulation, lobbying, and financial services matters. She has extensive experience in the regulation of all types of insurance, reinsurance, and specialty insurance products.

“Beth has a skill set that will directly support our growing insurance practice,” said Steven J. Brodie, co-chair of Carlton Fields’ insurance industry group. “Her extensive regulatory and lobbying experience will be a tremendous asset as we continue to grow our national platform.”

Vecchioli also assists companies in obtaining licensure and in resolving regulatory issues in Florida and many other states. She also helps clients resolve regulatory disputes pertaining to investigations, disciplinary actions, examinations, and accounting disputes.

Her client roster includes insurers, reinsurers, mortgage brokers and lenders, as well as national computer companies.

As a senior level manager and regulator at the Florida Department of Insurance/Office of Insurance Regulation for more than 10 years, Vecchioli brings to Carlton Fields the benefits of her significant government relationships.

“This is like coming home for me,” Vecchioli said. “The strength of Carlton Fields’ bench in the insurance space is so attractive, as is its national reach. I’m excited about the leadership role that I will have and I look forward to continuing to build our insurance practice and take it to new heights.”

A frequent speaker on the latest trends affecting insurance regulation and legislation, Vecchioli has been a member of many professional and community organizations, including the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists, Tallahassee Habitat for Humanity, the Florida Workers’ Compensation Joint Underwriting Association, American Cancer Society, and the March of Dimes.

House candidate Berny Jacques wins another local elected official’s endorsement

The endorsements keep coming for state House candidate Berny Jacques.

A week after receiving the support of Largo City Commissioner John Carroll, the first-time candidate today announced that Seminole City Coouncilmember Roger Edelman is backing his campaign.

“I believe Berny has a good understanding of the issues and concerns we are now facing in Tallahassee, and has the necessary qualifications and desire to get the job done,” said Edelman in a release. “Based on that and the fact that he is a resident of Seminole, I am endorsing him in his bid for election.”

Jacques, 29, is running for the seat currently occupied by Larry Ahern, a Republican who will is term-limited from running again in 2018. House District 66 includes parts of Clearwater, Largo, Seminole and Belleair.

“I’m honored to have the support of a great community leader like Councilbember Edelman,” Jacques said. “He will make a great partner in making sure that there are great economic opportunities for the residents of our city.”

In addition to Carroll and Edelman, Jacques is also being backed by Seminole Councilmember Trish Springer, Largo Commissioner Jamie Robinson, and the Pinellas County Young Republicans.

Jacques is an attorney working for the St. Petersburg law firm of Berkowitz and Myer. He previously served as assistant state attorney in Pinellas County.

Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee Chair Nick DiCeglie told SPB in March that he was also going to enter the GOP race for HD 66, but he has yet to file.

Jacques has raised more than $40,000 since entering the contest in late March.

Would it really be so bad if lawmakers didn’t take up pot during special session?

What!? No medical marijuana in the call for a Legislative Special Session? OMG!

Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Would it be so awful if lawmakers returned and did not take up medical marijuana? Now, don’t get me wrong. I think they should. If they don’t, the Florida Department of Health will be left to develop emergency rules. The Board of Medicine will tinker. The current crop of licensees will continue to produce and sell products. The courts may (or may not) get involved, but probably not in time this year to make a difference.

But, just for a minute, let’s step back from the edge and walk through this scenario.

Right now, licensees are opening dispensaries at a fairly brisk pace – Trulieve is likely to open two in the next two weeks alone. As of this writing, there are about 12,000 patients in the registry (not 20,000 as reported in the Herald-Tribune this weekend). That’s about a six-fold increase since March! Wow!

And when lawmakers meet this week will they take up medical marijuana?

Senate President Joe Negron must agree to increase the caps on dispensaries to ensure a deal. During the regular session, he was dug in at five dispensaries per licensee. Will he be willing to move toward the House position and increase the number of dispensaries five or ten fold to get a deal? Unlikely. Negron doesn’t like to cave to the House.

What we do know is if they don’t reach a deal by close of business Tuesday, there likely won’t be a medical marijuana bill during the Special Session.

From this vantage point, it looks a lot like the functional equivalent of status quo for at least another year.

Is that really so bad? Is either scenario much different?

Before the pro-Amendment 2 folks light me up (not the worst pun ever), hear me out. Seriously take a knee for a second. Under either scenario, does the world look much different if they do or do not include medical marijuana in the call?

Don’t ply me with “their sacred duty” arguments because I agree. They should figure this out. But with almost 100 percent certainty, if they include it and they pass something, it is hard to see how or why it will make much of a difference in the near or even midterm.

The patient registry is growing briskly. Competitive fires are burning across the state as licensees are scrambling to grab market share and get to market quickly (that IS what you said you wanted) and with each passing day, a growing number of patients are receiving medical cannabis as treatment. Last I checked, the world hasn’t ended.

But here’s another truth: nobody (especially the ardent pro-Amendment 2 folks) is going to be happy or even satisfied if they include medical cannabis in the call and pass something that is almost certainly going to be a compromise.

So it won’t be the end of the world if the lawmakers don’t tackle pot this week.

Sunburn for 6.6.17 – Graham trumps King; Ashley Moody’s BFF; WTF CRC?; Deal on pot for Special Session?; Rosanna Catalano’s new gig; Prayers for Orlando

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

Good morning from … Madeira Beach. That’s right, after 26 days, we’re back home and likely not leaving again for a very long time. As wonderful as our adventure was, there truly is no place like home. Let’s begin this edition with a scoop from the campaign trail.


Gwen Graham has only officially been in the race for governor for about a month, but her campaign is reporting she has raised more than $2.25 million, surpassing the $2 million raised by rival Chris King.

According to her campaign, Graham raised $1.5 million in May — $430,000 to her official campaign account and more than $1 million toward Our Florida Political Committee, the political committee backing her 2018 run. The combined total raised between the campaign and political committee is now $2.25 million, according to her campaign.

“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support we’ve received from Floridians across our state. Florida families understand that after almost twenty years of Republican rule in Tallahassee, we’re running out of time. Too many families are struggling to get by, too many children are at risk of losing their future, and too much of our land and water is threatened,” she said in a statement. “As governor, I will renew our promise to public education, build an economy that works for every Floridian, and fight to protect our environment.”

The King campaign said Monday it had passed the $2 million mark in total contributions in May, and raised $212,000 during the one-month period, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

May fundraising numbers weren’t immediately available for Democrat Andrew Gillum.

Campaign finance reports covering the month of May are due to the Division of Elections by June 12.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Libertarian candidate Joe Wendt entering 2018 U.S. Senate race” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Wendt, 32, has claim to fame in the Libertarian Party of Florida, having finished second with 43 percent of the vote in a 2012 Soil and Water Conservation District race in Hillsborough County, one of the best showings ever for a Libertarian in any Florida election. This time he wants to shoot statewide, focusing on incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and his expected Republican opponent, Gov. Rick Scott in the 2018 election. “I’m realistic, but I think I can do well,” Wendt said. …  He also may be looking at a potentially major candidate for a primary within the Libertarian Party: right-wing political fire-breather, consultant, and author Roger J. Stone Jr. The consultant to President Donald Trump’s campaign is a registered Libertarian, and he’s been subject to rumors this year, as well as in 2016, that he would seek office himself, in Florida. They’re rumors that Stone himself apparently likes to stoke, including in a Draft Roger Stone for Senate Facebook page that includes pictures of him in front of Roger Stone for Senate signs, and no one is quite certain if he’s serious.

Wendy Davis backs Graham for Governor — The former Texas state senator threw her support behind Graham during a Ruth’s List event in Orlando over the weekend. “She has shown compassion, grit, and a determination to work for all Floridians. I am proud to endorse Gwen Graham for Governor of Florida,” said Davis in a statement. “When I took to the floor of the Texas State Senate to filibuster a bill that would restrict vital women’s health care access, and then ran for Governor of Texas, I did so because someone had to take a stand. Now I’m proud to be standing with Gwen as we chart the future of values we care about.” Graham, a former U.S. representative, said as Florida’s first female governor she would make Florida “one that respects women and gives them the support they need to be successful.”

Assignment editors: Gillum will meet with the Puerto Rican Leadership Council at 9 a.m. at the Center for Peace Islamic Society of Central Florida, 1021 N. Goldenrod Road in Orlando. Gillum will then highlight protecting seniors’ healthcare and retirement benefits during remarks to the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans Annual Conference at 11 a.m. at the Florida Hotel & Conference Center, 1500 Sand Lake Road in Orlando.

Pam Bondi to back Tampa’s Ashley Moody to succeed her as Attorney General” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times — Bondi said on Monday that Moody is her preferred successor, and the candidate she will support in the 2018 race. “I’ve known her most of her life,” Bondi said. “I don’t think there could be a more qualified candidate for attorney general in the entire state of Florida. I whole-heartedly support Ashley and I’m proud of her for wanting to sacrifice so much for our state.” … Moody served as a circuit judge in Hillsborough for 10 years before abruptly resigning in April. …. Last week, Moody filed to run for the office with the state Division of Elections. She is expected to officially announce her candidacy Tuesday. The other candidates are Republican State Representative Jay Fant of Jacksonville and Democrat Ryan Torrens of Tampa . “No one will outwork Ashley Moody in this race,” Bondi said.

“Mitch Berger may run for Attorney General if Jack Seiler doesn’t” via Amy Sherman of the Miami HeraldMitchell Berger, a prominent Democratic donor, says he will consider running for Florida Attorney General if Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler decides not to run. “If he says ‘no’ I will certainly think about it,” Berger said. “I’m trying to get Jack to do it. He would be the right person — he would have my support if he is going to do it.” Berger founded Berger Singerman law firm in 1985 and lives in Fort Lauderdale. He has hosted several fundraisers for national candidates including Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Happening Thursday — Annette Taddeo hosts fundraiser at The Biltmore Hotel — Taddeo’s campaign is hosting a fundraiser at 6 p.m. at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. The event host committee, according to the campaign, features a “growing list of supporters who are excited about picking up a key state Senate seat in Miami-Dade and are enthusiastically behind Annette’s campaign.” The host committee, according to a copy of the invitation, includes Rep. Charlie Crist, David Geller, Chris Korge, and John Morgan. A few lawmakers who were expected to attend were taken off the invite because of the special session, said Christian Ulvert, Taddeo’s political consultant, in an email accompanying the invitation. Lawmakers can’t fundraise during session. Taddeo is one of three Democrats vying to replace Artiles, who resigned earlier this year amid scandal, in Senate District 40. Democrats Ana Rivas Logan and Steve Smith are also running for their party’s nomination. On the Republican side, Alex Diaz de la Portilla and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz are running. The special primary is July 25, with the special general election on Sept. 26.

Alex Diaz de la Portilla’s sole income source: Firm he founded, paid $900K for work on brother’s failed race” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Republican state Senate candidate made all his income last year through a political consulting firm he founded the same year it was paid nearly $1 million for work on his brother’s failed state Senate run. Díaz de la Portilla said his firm, First Stone Management, which he started in January 2016, earned income from other sources in addition to his brother’s campaign and committees associated with the race. He said that money was from private sources and would not discuss it further because it is “proprietary and confidential.” He would only say that his firm was paid from outside sources for things like advertising and mailers. … “Work was done for multiple clients,” he told POLITICO Florida. “90 percent was flow-through to everything from TV to US Post office. All the mediums used in political communication.”

Bob Buckhorn crosses party lines to help Shawn Harrison’s bid for re-election” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – As Harrison already begins looking forward to getting re-elected next year, he’s getting assistance from one of the biggest Democrats in the region, Buckhorn. “I support people who support the City of Tampa and our legislative issues,” Buckhorn told in a text message. “He never forgot what it was like to be a local elected official and has been a voice of reason in a political party that has made local government a target. It seems to me that we are all better served when our elected officials care more about their community that their political issues.” Harrison has voted against the majority of his party in a few notable cases, such as when he supported a hybrid version of Medicaid expansion a few years ago. He also supported economic incentives for Enterprise Florida, a position Buckhorn backed and which earned him the public rebuke of Gov. Scott at an appearance at MOSI early this year.

Save the date: Shawn Harrison to host June 29 fundraiser — The Tampa Republican is kicking off his 2018 re-election campaign with a fundraiser at the Tampa Theatre. The event is hosted by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Rep. Jose Oliva, and Rep. Chris Sprowls, according to a copy of the invitation. 

More legislative hopefuls file to run in 2018 LobbyTools’ Legislative IQ reports several candidates filed to run for legislative seats in 2018. Democrat Bob Doyel, a former circuit judge, has filed to run against Sen. Kelli Stargel in Senate District 22. Republican Michael Cantu has filed to run against Democratic Rep. Patrick Henry in House District 26. Cantu, who unsuccessfully ran in 2014 and 2016, is a former professional musician and a graduate of the University of Central Florida. Three Republicans have filed to replace House Speaker Richard Corcoran in House District 37. Bill Gunter, a pastor at Redeemer Community Church, has filed to run for the seat. Gunter won the GOP primary to replace Mike Fasano during a 2013 special election, but ultimately lost to Amanda Murphy. Elle Rudisill, an assistant state attorney for the 6th Judicial Circuit in Pinellas and Pasco counties, also announced she planned to run. George Agovino filed to run for the seat earlier this year. Corcoran can’t run for re-election because of term limits. Democrat Carmelo Garcia filed to run against Rep. Sam Killebrew, a Winter Haven republican, In House District 41. In 2016, he briefly ran in Florida’s 9th Congressional District. Democrat Tony Munnings has filed to run against Rep. Cary Pigman in House District 55. Munnings has previously filed to run for office, but failed to qualify in the last two election cycles. Democrat David Poulin droped out of the House District 56 race, leaving two Republicans — Melony Bell and Jeff Mann — vying to replace Rep. Ben Albritton, who can’t run again because of term limits. Democrat Jeffrey Solomon has filed to run in House District 115. Solomon, a South Florida chiropractor, has run in House District 115 three times before. He challenged Rep. Michael Bileca in 2012 and 2016, and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in 2010.


You could call it the wild west of the Florida Constitution.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has been operating without an agreed upon set of rules since March, when the uniquely Florida committee convened for the first time in 20 years.  

Since then, the 37-member committee has been touring the state, hearing from Floridians interested in everything from restoring voting rights for non-violent felons to seceding from the union — plus plenty of people have been sounding off about the rules, or in this case the lack thereof.

That could all end today when the full commission meets at the University of Central Florida’s FAIRWINDS Alumni Center to consider — and likely vote on, the rules of the 2017-18 commission. But with dozens of amendments and substitute amendments on the agenda, don’t expect it to be a short and peaceful meeting.

Some background: Commission Chairman Carlos Beruff, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott, has proposed rules that would, among other things, limit the full committee’s power to override committees; allow private meetings between committee members; and give Beruff the power to send proposals back to committees after another committee amends it.

Those rules have drawn the ire of watchdog groups, and even some of the members of the commission. While a working group was formed to offer up suggestions, members of the working group — including Sen. Tom Lee, appointed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and former Sen. Don Gaetz, appointed by Senate President Joe Negron — have indicated they aren’t in favor of the rules as written.

Lee filed an amendment last week to adopt the 1997-98 commission rules. Gaetz and Rich Newsome, who was appointed by Corcoran, have co-sponsored the amendment.

Gaetz has filed several amendments, including one that would allow two or more commissioners to meet to discuss commission business, as long as the meeting is “publicly noticed by the Secretary of the Commission on the Commission’s website with at least three hours’ notice and is held in a meeting room in the Capitol Complex approved for such purpose.”

The full commission meets at 9 a.m. at the University of Central Florida’s FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, 12676 Gemini Blvd. N. in Orlando. The meeting is open to the public and will be live-streamed on


“‘Progress’ on getting marijuana in Special Session but ‘no deal’ yet” via Florida PoliticsLegislative leaders working behind the scenes are getting closer to putting medical cannabis implementation into the call of this week’s Special Session. One senator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “some progress” had been made but there was “no deal” as of Monday afternoon. When this week’s Wednesday-Friday Special Session was announced last Friday, it only included plans to fund education, tourism marketing and economic development. That’s despite dozens of lawmakers, including House Speaker Corcoran, who have said the Legislature needs to pass implementing legislation this year for the state’s constitutional amendment on medical marijuana.

Bill filed detailing student funding for Special Session” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – Many of the specific amounts that House PreK-12 Appropriations chairman Manny Diaz proposed remain the same from measure to measure. Those include spending levels for school recognition, exceptional student education, safe schools, supplemental academic instruction, instructional materials, classroom supplies, student transportation and digital classrooms. Under Diaz’s bill, the base student allocation would rise $43.24 over the fourth calculation from 2016-17, to $4,203.95. That amount is $70.31 higher than the BSA lawmakers initially adopted this spring. The Diaz proposal also would decrease school districts overall required local tax effort by more than $1.5 million from the original budget. Lawmakers passed a bill calling for $7,605,379,015. HB 3A would set the required local effort at $7,603,850,013.

New economic development bill gives governor $85 million grant fund with few strings attached” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The agreement, between House Speaker Corcoran and the governor, and signed off on by Senate President Negron last week, paved the way for Scott to sign the $83 billion budget … and call for a three-day special session … In calling back legislators, the governor directed them to add $215 million in K-12 funding to the budget, restore $75 million to the tourism marketing agency, Visit Florida and create an $85 million grant program within the Department of Economic Opportunity. If they pass the bills, many expect the governor to sign Corcoran’s priority legislation, HB 7069. The economic development bill proposed by the House, HB 1A, will regulate how taxpayer money is used for economic development. The bill says that DEO and Enterprise Florida will “identify projects, solicit proposals, and make funding recommendations to the Governor, who is authorized to approve” them.

“Rick Scott defends record-setting budget vetoes” via Gary Fineout of The Associated PressScott‘s veto total – which was about 14 percent of the entire $82.4 billion budget – included the main state account that goes to public schools. But the governor also vetoed roughly 400 projects worth nearly $410 million that were placed in the budget by Republicans and Democrats. Some counties that are home to top Republican legislators – including Miami-Dade, Pasco and Pinellas counties – had a long list of budget vetoes. Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, who had several projects vetoed, tweeted out that “we won’t stop fighting for the worthy projects Floridians need, want and deserve.” During a stop in Panama City, Scott maintained that his vetoes did not target any legislators who had upset him this year. “We look at every line to see whether it’s good for Florida families,” Scott said.

Bill watch – Gov. Scott was presented with 25 bills on Monday. He has until Tuesday, June 20 to act. As of Monday, 93 bills were on the Governor’s desk. Monday’s bills include SB 128, a procedural fix to the state’s “stand your ground” law; SB 436 on “religious expression in public schools,” and SB 494, which would allow more people wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in Florida to receive compensation for their time behind bars.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will highlight security funding for Jewish Day schools during a press conference at 9 a.m. at Brauser Maimonides Academy, 5300 SW 40th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. He’ll then highlight the funding during a press conference at noon at Orlando Torah Academy, 8651 Commodity Circle in Orlando.  

“Mike Dew named Secretary of Florida Department of Transportation” via Florida PoliticsAs expected, Gov. Scott named Dew, the Florida Department of Transportation‘s chief of staff, as its next Secretary, effective immediately … first told readers that Dew had received a call from the Governor’s Office telling him the job was his. Dew, who put in for the top spot the morning of the deadline to apply, was Scott‘s external affairs director in 2011-12. He bested the other finalists: Florida Transportation Commissioner Ron Howse and former FDOT assistant secretary Richard Biter. The position became open when former Secretary Jim Boxold resigned in January to join Tallahassee’s Capital City Consulting firm.

— Flashback to May 17  – “Mike Dew is a shoo-in for Transportation Dep’t’s top job” via Florida Politics

P.S. Look for Dave Mica, Jr. to be named interim Secretary of the Florida Lottery.


Assignment editors: First Lady Ann Scott will make her first stop on her 2017 Summer Literacy Adventure at 10 a.m. (CDT) at Eden Gardens State Park, 181 Eden Gardens Road in Santa Rosa Beach. Scott is expected to read to students from The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast during her visit. 

Happening tonight – Marco Rubio, F. Rooney expected to join President Trump for dinner — President Donald Trump has invited a half dozen members of Congress to dinner at the White House, according to POLITICO. Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Francis Rooney, a Naples Republican and the former ambassador to the Holy See, are among those expected to attend the outreach dinner. Also on the invite list, according to POLITICO, Sens. Cory Gardner, Tom Cotton, and Todd Young, and Rep. Lee Zeldin.

“New deal? Gretna asks court to reconsider slots ruling” via Florida PoliticsLawyers for a North Florida racetrack have asked the state’s Supreme Court to rehear argument in a case over whether pari-mutuels can add slot machines in counties that passed referendums allowing them. Gretna Racing filed a motion for rehearing late Friday, court dockets show … Last month, the court unanimously ruled against the track, meaning that gambling facilities in Gadsden County’s Gretna and in seven other counties that passed referendums allowing slots cannot offer them … The track’s 12-page motion counters, in part, that the justices “misapprehended” case law on counties’ home rule authority.

“No Casinos responds to criticism it’s ‘misinformed’ about casino gambling” via Florida PoliticsThe state’s anti-gambling expansion group is pushing back against comments it’s “misinformed” about casino gambling not being a “meaningful attraction for Florida tourism.” Steven Norton, a longtime gambling executive and consultant, linked to Nick Sortal’s Friday column for the Miami Herald in Norton’s Monday email roundup of the gambling scene in the South … In his own commentary, Norton points to Las Vegas: “It’s not just the gaming, but the entire experience… you will find many potential visitors who will not vacation at a resort unless casino gaming is available.” … But Paul Seago, No Casinos’ executive director, pointed to a report commissioned by the Legislature in 2013 — the same one mentioned in the Herald column — concluding that “even if destination casinos were built, 95 percent of the revenue would be derived from locals.”

Regulators reject Duke request to make customers pay more” via Florida Politics — State utility regulators refused to let Duke Energy Florida add $4.70 to customers’ bills effective July 1 to cover rising fuel costs. The Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates investor-owned utilities, voted instead to make the utility wait until this fall to propose a fuel-cost adjustment. Any increase would begin to take effect July 1 next year. That could mean a steeper increase next July 1, when a separate $4.25 boost tied to the coming online of a new natural gas-fired generating plant in Citrus County. The utility plans to retire one of its coal-burning generators. But it would allow a truer picture of Duke’s actual fuel costs for the year, the commissioner reasoned. “(Duke) wanted to smooth it out, and the commission said, No, we’d rather just look at it all in the upcoming hearing in the fall, and see it there are offsets. And maybe we can look at your projections and see whether you are projecting something wrong,” Deputy Public Charles Rehwinkel said.

Cover-up at Port Richey P.D.?” via Noah Pransky of WTSP – Following a whistleblower’s tip, 10Investigates launched a four-month investigation into the Port Richey Police Department, where officers allegedly accessed personnel records to remove detrimental discipline and evaluations: an apparent violation of several Florida state criminal statutes. Research included numerous records requests and interviews with officers, former officers, and several with current police chief, Gerard DeCanio … not only had dozens of disciplinary documents gone missing from both police department and city HR records, but also a lack of appetite from DeCanio to launch an internal investigation or ask for outside help to get to the bottom of how the records – which are required to be retained by state law – disappeared. DeCanio insisted the problems happened before he re-joined the department October as chief.


Sheriff: Fired worker kills 5, then self as sire approached” via Terrance Harris and Mike Schneider with the Associated Press — A lone gunman returned with a semi-automatic pistol to the Orlando awning factory where was fired in April and methodically killed five people on Monday, then killed himself at the sound of an approaching siren, the Orange County sheriff said. Sheriff Jerry Demings identified the shooter as John Robert Neumann Jr., a 45-year-old Army veteran who lived alone and did not appear to be a member of any type of subversive or terrorist organization. The shooting began at about 8 a.m. after Neuman slipped through a rear door into the cavernous factory, an area that stretches across more than two football fields where awnings are stitched together for recreational vehicles. “My experience tells me that this individual made deliberate thought to do what he did today. He had a plan of action,” the sheriff said. “We have information that at least one of (the victims), he had a negative relationship with. He was certainly singling out the individuals he shot.”

Orlando shooter came in knowing who he wanted to kill, not to kill” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said John Robert Neumann Jr., 45, whose hometown has not yet been disclosed, slipped in through a rear door of Fiamma and encountered a new employee, a temporary employee, who was not working there when Neumann was fired a few weeks ago in April. “He pointed a firearm at her and told her to get out of the business,” Demings said. … In a matter of a few minutes, Neumann had killed Robert Snyder, 59, Brenda Motanez-Crespo, 44, Kevin Clark, 53, Jeffrey Roberts, 57, and Kevin Lawson, 47, at the Fiamma facility on Forsyth Road, just north of the Hanging Moss Road intersection in east Orange County.

 Orlando shootings: WFTV anchor turns personal” via Hal Boedecker of the Orlando Sentinel — Coverage of the Orlando shootings Monday morning took an unusually personal turn for WFTV-Channel 9 anchor Nancy Alvarez. She relayed that she was hearing from a childhood friend — a pal who said that her father-in-law was among those shot. The WFTV anchor told her friend that she loved her but acknowledged that few details about what happened were then available. … As viewers waited for confirmation of what had happened, Alvarez also dropped the anchor veneer. She said she was sick of all the violence and cited an incident last week when a man brandished a fake gun at Orlando International Airport. “This isn’t Orlando,” she said. She said the community would come together.

— “Orlando shooter: Who is John Robert Neumann Jr.?” via Christal Hayes of the Orlando Sentinel

Florida leaders react to the Orlando shooting:

— U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson: “The city of Orlando, which is still healing from the Pulse massacre, has seen too much violence this past year. We must do more to address mental health issues in this country.”

— Gov. Scott: “Over the past year, the Orlando community has been challenged like never before. I have been briefed by our law enforcement officials on this tragic incident and Ann and I are praying for the families who lost loved ones today. I ask all Floridians to pray for the families impacted by this senseless act of violence. I will remain in contact with the Orlando law enforcement community throughout the day as more information is made available.”

— Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam: “In the wake of today’s shooting in Orange County, my prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, first responders and the entire the Central Florida community.”

— Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum: “My deepest sympathies go out to the victims’ families and friends after today’s tragedy in Winter Park. It has been a difficult year for the Orlando area – one punctuated by the worst mass shooting in American history and a tragedy where two law enforcement officers lost their lives. But the community has rallied together to stand united in love and solidarity, and in the wake of today’s mass shooting, I pray they find the strength to continue to do so. We must do more to stop Florida’s epidemic of gun violence – not simply send our thoughts and prayers in the wake of lost lives.”

— U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy: “I’m incredibly saddened by the news of this morning’s tragic shooting in Orlando. My heart breaks for the families and co-workers affected, and I join all Floridians in praying for a quick recovery for those injured and for the families who lost a loved one. The Orlando community is also grateful to our first responders for their speed, bravery, and professionalism, especially the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. I am incredibly thankful for their dedicated public service. “Orlando has endured far too much heartbreak over the past year, and it’s especially important we remain united and supportive of one another. This senseless act of violence happened just one week away from the anniversary of the Pulse attack, only adding to our community’s collective grief. In these difficult moments, we must continue to find strength in one another. We are Orlando strong and Orlando united.”

— U.S. Rep. Darren Soto: “Our thoughts & prayers are with the victims of #ForsythShooting. I encourage public to support law enforcement investigation.”

— Sen. Linda Stewart: “Orlando business shooting is not terrorist attack. Mental Health issues more likely, again a continued need for more help.”

— Rep. Jason Brodeur: “Hug your family. Be vigilant. Local Family Help Line: 407-679-0100. Ext. 3087.”

— Rep. Chris Sprowls: “My heartfelt prayers to the families & victims of the shooting in Orlando. A big thank you to first responders who contained the situation.”

— Rep. Jennifer Sullivan: “Praying for the families effected in the Orlando shooting. My heart is grieved at the thought of yet more loss.”

— Rep. Frank White: “Thoughts and prayers for those affected in today’s tragic shooting in Orlando.”

— State Attorney Aramis Ayala: “A sad day in Orlando. My most sincere condolences to the families impacted. Much respect and honor to Orange County Sheriff’s Office and first responders.”


Darryl Paulson: In defense of politics” via Florida Politics – How did politics fall from “the greatest and most honorable adventure,” to ranking below cockroaches? Polarization, hypocrisy and corruption are three primary factors associated with the decline of politics. Compromise is seen as weakness and an evil … Politics has made important contributions to our nation. In fact, our nation would not exist if it was not for the political efforts of those who opposed the tyranny of the Crown. Without politics, we would not have our constitution, over which they were great divisions. We would not have ended slavery and kept the nation united without politics. We would not have triumphed over the horrors of fascism in World War II or communism in the Cold War without a united political effort. Those who denigrate politics and politicians do so at their own peril.

Joe Henderson: Tallahassee gets Special Session, the public gets the bill” via Florida PoliticsScott got what he wanted. Corcoran got what he wanted. What everyone else got was a take-it-or-leave-it deal that smacked of smoke-filled rooms and quid pro quos. Even Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, who chairs the Senate’s budget panel on tourism and economic development, was left out of the conversation. That led to this cynical tweet from Republican state Senator and possible gubernatorial candidate Jack Latvala: “It’s a shame the House wouldn’t negotiate during the regular session. Now we have to spend $60-70k a day on a special session.” Write that on the tombstone for this Legislative Session. Corcoran really, really wanted more money for those “Schools of Hope” charters that would otherwise have gone to public schools. Assuming lawmakers go along to get along, Corcoran wins. Scott wins. And what do we, the people, receive? As always, we get the bill.


Appointed Virginia Johns to the Governing Board of Suwannee River Water Management District; Clifford Newsome to the Calhoun County School Board; Jaime Weisinger and Brandon Tucker to the Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District and John Henslick to the Governing Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Appointed – Judge Eric Roberson to the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court; Gregory G. Groger to the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court and Thomas James Coleman to the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court.

“Personnel note: Rosanna Catalano joins Capitol Access” via Florida Politics Attorney Catalano is joining Capitol Access, a government relations firm in Tallahassee. “We are excited about this new relationship,” said Jerry Paul, founder and managing member of the firm. “Ro’s experience, professionalism, and high-energy personality are a perfect fit for Capitol Access and the clients we serve.” Catalano has been executive director and chief administrative officer for the Florida Elections Commission, according to a press release. She also was assistant general counsel at the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration.

New and renewed lobby registrations: Brett Heuchan, The Labrador Company: AltMed LLC; Richard Heffley, Kelly Horton, Heffley & Associates: FFT Technologies

On this week’s edition of The RotundaTrimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, features the Orlando Sentinel’s Gray Rohrer reporting on the art of the backroom deals leading to Governor Rick Scott’s official call for a special session. Plus, President Donald Trump finds an unlikely ally in a former Executive Director of the Florida Democratic Party. Gomes also interviews Barney Bishop who says many other Blue Dog Democrats are standing in support of Trump and his calls for Tax Reform.

— ALOE — 

Collector charged in theft of Star Wars items in California” via Kristen Bender of The Associated PressSteve Sansweet, the owner of the largest privately owned collection of Star Wars memorabilia in the world, said he feels lucky he found out about the theft of $200,000 worth of prized vintage action figures from his California nonprofit museum before it was too late. About 120 pieces were stolen between 2015 and 2016 by a friend who stayed at the compound four times during that period, Sansweet said. The sprawling collections are set up on shelves and are not behind glass or under lock and key. About 100 of the stolen items have been recovered, he said. Police arrested Carl Edward Cunningham, 45, of Marietta, Georgia, and in March, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office charged him with felony grand theft.

Happy birthday to Reps. Charles McBurney and Jeanette Nunez.

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