Influence Archives - Page 5 of 504 - Florida Politics

Garrett Richter, Willie Meggs named to Ethics Commission

Former state Sen. Garrett Richter and retired State Attorney Willie Meggs were named to the state’s Commission on Ethics, the Governor’s Office announced Thursday night.

Richter, 68, is President and Chief Executive Officer of First Florida Integrity Bank.

The Naples Republican served two terms in the state Senate, 2008-16, rising to President pro tempore under then-Senate Presidents Don Gaetz and Andy Gardiner. He served in the House from 2006 to 2008.


In the Senate, Richter also chaired the Banking and Insurance, Ethics and Elections, and Gaming committees.

He served in the U.S. Army and Air Force Reserve and was awarded a Bronze Star and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, a news release said.

Richter fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning Sept. 27 and ending June 30, 2020.

Meggs, 75, is the former elected top prosecutor for the state’s 2nd Judicial Circuit, which includes Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties in North Florida.


One of his last cases involved the sexual assault allegation against then-Florida State football quarterback Jameis Winston.

First elected in 1985, the Tallahassee Democrat decided not to seek re-election in 2016. He also was a sheriff’s deputy, Tallahassee police officer, and served as president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association.

He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning Sept. 27 and ending June 30, 2019.

Both appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

Personnel note: Disney makes two stellar hires in Tajiana Ancora-Brown and Jose Gonzalez

Adam Babington, Vice President for External Affairs for Walt Disney World, continues to make The Mouse a force to be reckoned with in the influence world.

The company tapped Tajiana AncoraBrown, most recently chief of staff for the Department of Revenue, as director of external affairs in July.

That covers strategic communications, issue management, and overseeing the philanthropy budget.

Then, he more recently brought on Jose Gonzalez, most recently a vice president for state affairs at Anheuser-Busch InBev, as director of government and industry relations.

Gonzalez will manage the state and local lobby team and the political budget.

Adrianna Sekula and Leticia Adams, already well known to Florida Politics readers, will remain in their respective roles and report to Gonzalez.


Ancora-Brown came to state government from PR. She’s been Director Of Communications for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and Deputy Director of Policy in the Executive Office of the Governor under Gov. Rick Scott.

She received her undergraduate degree from Florida State University and an MBA from the University of Miami School of Business.


Gonzalez has previously worked for Associated Industries of Florida, serving as Vice President for Governmental Affairs for nearly a decade.

He has undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Florida.

Greyhound track fights gambling amendment

Melbourne Greyhound Park has put $145,000 into a political committee fighting a proposed constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in Florida.

The Brevard County greyhound track contributed $50,000 last week to a committee known as Don’t Lose Your Control, Inc., bringing to $145,000 the track’s contributions since early August, according to a report posted on the state Division of Elections website. The committee has not received other contributions.

Don’t Lose Your Control is at least the third PAC formed to fight what will appear on the November ballot as Amendment 3. The other committees, Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3 and Vote NO on 3, had combined to raise more than $4.1 million as of Sept. 14, reports show.

Amendment 3, which is backed by Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, would change the Florida Constitution and give voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state.

If approved, it would require voter approval of casino-style games in the future and effectively reduce the power of the Legislature and governor to decide gambling-related issues. It would need support from 60 percent of voters in the November election to pass.

Rick Scott recognized with ‘Spirit of Free Enterprise’ award

The Florida Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday recognized Gov. Rick Scott with its “Spirit of Free Enterprise” award for his “laser-focused” effort to bring jobs to Florida and boost the state’s economy.

“I said earlier today that if Florida was a stock, I would buy it,” Florida Chamber CEO Mark Wilson said, adding that he was curious whether Scott’s exit after two terms in the Governor’s Mansion would impact his outlook.

Scott, who is challenging incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the fall, was introduced as the “next U.S. Senator from the state of Florida” when he walked out to a standing ovation at the Chamber’s 2018 Future of Florida Forum.

“That’s a real honor,” Scott said. “First off, I don’t get to travel much with my wife, so I’m happy she could be here.”

Scott, often referred to as the “jobs governor,” touched on several stats and metrics achieved during his tenure in Tallahassee, from the state’s bounce back from the job losses brought about by the Great Recession to the rising rankings of Florida’s public universities.

“For any Gators out there, the University of Florida is the eighth-best public university,” he said. “For the Seminoles, Florida State is in the top-25 and five of our universities are in the top-100.

“Years ago these are things that people were saying about California. Now people are saying all these things about Florida,” Scott said.

The Chamber has given out the Spirit of Freedom award only once before, to Wayne Huizenga Sr., in 2010. Huizenga, a businessman and co-owner of several South Florida professional sports franchises, died this year at the age of 80.

“I did quite a bit of business with Wayne Huizenga,” Scott said. “When I called him up and told him I was going to run for Governor years ago, he just laughed. ‘Why would you do that to yourself.'”

Huizenga’s son, Wayne Huizenga Jr., was alongside Scott on the stage and said he knew his father was “a big fan looking down from heaven.”

Scott also gave a bit of a call to action for his Senate campaign.

“People say it’s all about money. It’s not,” Scott said, encouraging the crowd at the Florida Chamber event to get involved in the 2018 elections.

Mark Wilson: Florida is changing, and so are its challenges and opportunities

The Florida Chamber of Commerce kicked off the 2018 Future of Florida Forum with a presentation from its CEO, Mark Wilson, outlining the current climate of Florida and how it could change over the next decade.

“Florida is changing. Our economics, our demographics and our politics are all changing, and these changes bring both opportunities and challenges,” Wilson said. “… ’Last year, I said ‘If Florida was a stock, I would buy all of it that I could.’ I’m not going to do that this year, I want you to tell me.”

Wilson then covered the top-level findings the Florida Chamber’s “Florida 2030” research project, which it bills as a “once-in-a-decade, multimillion-dollar research project.”

Today, the Chamber’s research shows, Florida’s economy is the 17th largest in the world, and it’s outpacing the national growth rate by a full percentage point. It’s also creating one out of every 11 jobs in the country and adding 1,100 residents a day.

“If we’re adding 1,100 people a day, how are we doing that?” he asked. “Are people coming from California? Are people coming from New York? Are people coming from Brazil? Yes.”

The Sunshine State has also begun transitioning from an economy primarily based on tourism and construction to the 20th-most-diverse in the country.

Despite those encouraging trends, Wilson noted that growth and change weren’t heading to every corner of the state – 17 of the state’s 67 counties had a declining population last year, while major the metros in the I-4 corridor and South Florida have continued having explosive growth.

By 2030, Florida will have an additional 5 million residents; many of those new Floridians will be under 55 years old, the Chamber says. To support them, the state will need to create another 1.7 million jobs.

Wilson emphasized that the Chamber is nonpartisan but is “unapologetically pro-business.” How elections shake out in 2018 and the future will have a major impact on the state’s future, he said.

“California is 2,700 miles and only one vote away,” Wilson said. “We have billionaires from out of state that want Florida to be like California, New York or Illinois.”

Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round

With a tip of the hat to LobbyTools, here are the latest movements — both on and off — of the legislative merry-go-round.

Off: Sandra Stovall is no longer staff directory for the Senate Committee on Health Policy.

Off and on: Reynold Meyer, former Deputy Chief of Staff on Policy, replaces Cheri Vancura as Chief of Staff to Senate President Joe Negron.

Off: Bobby Harris is no longer assistant to the House Clerk.

On: Cameron Pennant went from program support to legislative research assistant in the House Office of the Majority Leader.

Off: Samuel Gilot stepped down as a program analyst in the House Minority Leader office.

On and off: Jeff Armstrong replaced Steve Godwin as acting staff director in the office of the House General Counsel.

Off and on: Jason Welty is no longer a budget specialist with the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. Sean Smith moved from budget analyst to budget specialist on the committee’s staff.

On and off: Whitney Hall replaced Tracy Sumner as policy chief for the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Hall previously served as an attorney for the House Judiciary Committee.

Off: Matthew MacNamara is no longer an attorney for the House Judiciary Committee.

Off: Tracy Sumner has stepped down as policy chief for the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

On and off: Lisa Larson replaces Erin Juszczyk as the new administrative lead in the House Rules & Policy Committee.

Off: Lindsey Locke is no longer administrative support for the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee in the House Commerce Committee.

Off: Emily Bland is no longer a communications assistant for the House Majority Office.

Off and on: Kevin Hoeft has moved from administrative support to legislative analyst for the House Education Committee.

Off: West Gregory and Ronni Moore has stepped down as attorneys for the House Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee.

Off: Joseph Endicott is no longer legislative assistant to Sen. Aaron Bean.

Off and on: Alexis Mansolo has stepped down as a legislative assistant and Joshua Goergen has become the new district secretary for Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto.

Off: Steven Richardson is no longer legislative assistant to Sen. Rob Bradley.

Off: Karina Pereira is no longer secretary to Sen. Gary Farmer.

On: Jerome Maples has returned as Sen. Audrey Gibson‘s district secretary.

On and off: Cameron Bradley is a new district secretary to Sen. Dorothy HukillMichael Strynkowski has stepped down as Hukill’s legislative assistant.

Off and on: Amelia Johnson Smith is no longer district secretary to Sen. Debbie MayfieldAdrienne Cronebaugh is her new legislative assistant.

On: Nazbi Chowdhury is a new legislative assistant to Sen. Bobby Powell.

On: Ashley Cacicedo and Jessica Celona are new legislative assistants for Sen. Kevin Rader.

On: Chelsea Olivera is a new legislative assistant for Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez.

Off: Matthew Alford has stepped down as a legislative assistant to Sen. Linda Stewart.

On and off: Iman Sandifer has replaced Dan Horton as the new legislative assistant for Sen. Annette Taddeo. Crystal Morales has joined her office as district secretary.

On: Alexis Andres is the new district secretary for Rep. Joseph Abruzzo.

Off: Eired Eddy has stepped down as a legislative assistant for Rep. Larry Ahern.

On and off: Cyrus Calhoun replaced Navael Fontus as district secretary for Rep. Ramon Alexander. He previously was a legislative assistant for Rep. Wengay “Newt” Newton.

On: James Befanis is has gone from executive secretary to district secretary for Rep. Thad Altman.

On: Katelyn Norman has joined Rep. Loranne Ausley‘s office as district secretary.

Off: Silvia Castellanos has stepped down as a legislative assistant to Rep. Bryan Avila.

Off: Jack Harrington has stepped down as a legislative assistant for Rep. Michael Bileca.

Off: Sydnie Tiseo has stepped down as a legislative assistant to Rep. Jason Brodeur.

On: Daniel Leon is a new legislative assistant in Rep. Danny Burgess‘ office.

Off and on: Sarah Goldman has left Rep. Kathleen Peters’ office to join Rep. Ben Diamond‘s office as district secretary. Mariah McQueen and Amanda McNichols are no longer Diamond’s district secretaries.

Off: Maddie Dawson has stepped down as executive secretary to Rep. Byron Donalds.

Off: Robert Bogle has stepped down as a legislative assistant to Rep. Bobby DuBose.

Off: Justin Gendler has stepped down as executive secretary to Rep. Katie Edwards.

Off and on: Chesten Goodman has stepped down as a legislative assistant to Rep. Jay Fant, becoming a new legislative assistant to Sen. Bean.

On and off: Melissa Thompson replaced Charles Smith as a legislative assistant to Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen.

Off and on: Bryan Vallejo has stepped down as a legislative assistant to Rep. Joe Geller. Joel Ramos moved from senior executive secretary to legislative assistant.

Off: Joshua Aman has stepped down as district secretary for Rep. James Grant.

Off: Derick Tabertshofer is no longer legislative assistant to Rep. Shawn Harrison.

On: Melissa Thomas is a new district secretary for Rep. Lawrence McClure.

Off: Kassie Satterly has stepped down as a legislative assistant to Rep. George Moraitis.

On: Michelle Grimsley is the new legislative assistant to Rep. Newton.

Off and on: Christina Castillo is no longer legislative assistant to Rep. Jeanette Nunez. Maria L. Evora moved from executive secretary to legislative assistant. Denise Irvine is the new district secretary.

Off: Samuel Wagoner has stepped down as a legislative assistant to Rep. Bobby Payne.

Off: Daniel Leon is no longer legislative assistant to Rep. Daniel Perez.

Off: Kathy Gilland has stepped down as senior executive secretary to Rep. Scott Plakon.

Off and on: Kristie Johnson has replaced Doniel Wolfe as district secretary for Rep. Mel Ponder.

Off: Taylor Ferguson is no longer legislative assistant to Rep. Jake Raburn.

Off: Anna DeCerchio has stepped down as a legislative assistant to Rep. Paul Renner.

Off: Sarah Johnson is no longer legislative assistant to Rep. Emily Slosberg.

Off: Josh Barnhill is no longer legislative assistant to Rep. Charlie Stone.

On and off: Sara Lynn Ard is a new legislative assistant and Aline Guy is district secretary for Rep. Jennifer Sullivan. Morgan Hatfield is no longer Sullivan’s executive secretary.

Off: Colton Curry is no longer legislative assistant to Rep. Jackie Toledo.

On and off: Rachel Witbrach is a new district secretary for Rep. Frank White. Charles Withers has stepped down as White’s executive secretary.

On: Sabrina McLaughlin is the new district secretary for Rep. Jayer Williamson.

Kayser Enneking

Kayser Enneking bounces back in SD 8 money race

Gainesville Democrat Kayser Enneking bested Republican Sen. Keith Perry for the second reporting cycle in a row in the race for Alachua County-based Senate District 8.

Enneking, a physician, raked in nearly $51,000 in hard money during the first two weeks of September, replenishing her campaign account after a primary battle that became costly in the final weeks of August.

The weekly reports covering the same stretch for her affiliated political committee, Florida Knows Excellence, saw it tack on another $33,500. Adding in the $84,000 in receipts between Sept. 1 and Sept. 14 brings Enneking’s overall fundraising total to $644,000.

Donors of note include Fort Lauderdale Sen. Gary Farmer, who provided another $25,000 in support via his Floridians for Ethics, Accountability and Responsibility committee and $2,500 from Avera & Smith, the law firm of 2016 SD 8 Democratic nominee Rod Smith, a former state Senator and FDP chair.

Spending far outstripped fundraising, however, with a slate of broadcast, cable and digital media buys eating away $160,000 in campaign funds. Enneking also funneled another $50,000 in committee cash to the Sen. Audrey Gibson-chaired Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

The two accounts had a combined $130,000 banked on Sept. 14.

Perry’s early September haul measured in at $53,350, with $29,350 in receipts heading to his campaign account and the remaining $24,000 collected through his political committee, Building a Prosperous Florida.

His donor sheet included a pair of $10,000 checks from a political committee tied to state Rep. Ben Albritton, who is set to cruise in his bid to succeed Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley in SD 26. Also checking in was Working Together For Florida PAC, the fundraising arm of Naples Sen. Kathleen Passidomo.

Perry spent about $30,000 during the two-week reporting period, with the bulk of those funds paying for campaign staffers and a handful of event sponsorships.

SD 8 covers all of Alachua and Putnam counties as well as the northern half of Marion County. It is one of a handful of districts that became more favorable to Democrats after the Senate map was redrawn ahead of the 2016 elections.

Despite Democrats holding an 8-point lead in voter registrations in the redrawn district, Perry scored a comfortable victory two years ago as the seat was narrowly carried by President Donald Trump.

A recent poll of the race found Perry up 49-38 percent over Enneking, though much of that gap was attributable to her comparatively weak showing among the Democratic base, which is expected to improve before the Nov. 6 general election.

That poll also found former Gainesville City Commissioner Charles Goston pulling 5 percent support for his unaffiliated run despite his lack of on-the-ground campaigning for the job.

Sean Shaw

Personnel note: Sean Shaw for AG brings on Julia Gill Woodward, Shellie Levin

Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw has brought on longtime Gwen Graham staffer Julia Gill Woodward and Alex Sink for Governor alumna Shellie Levin as senior finance consultants for his statewide bid for Attorney General.

Woodward, a graduate of Florida State University, was Graham’s campaign manager during her 2018 bid to become Florida Governor, which fell short by a couple points in last month’s primary election.

Prior to the 2018 run, Woodward worked on Graham’s successful 2014 campaign to oust of former U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland from the old 2nd Congressional District. Following that victory, she followed Graham to Washington DC to serve as her chief of staff during her single term in Congress.

Before her work for Graham, Woodward spent a year as the deputy campaign manager and the finance director for Keith Fitzgerald’s 2012 congressional bid. She also served stints as the statewide political director for Loranne Ausley’s CFO bid and the deputy finance director for the Florida Democratic Party.

Also joining Team Shaw’s is Levin, an attorney whose political beginnings date back to 1997, when she began working for EMILY’s List, a national group that helps elect pro-choice Democratic to public office.

In 2010 she joined former CFO Alex Sink’s gubernatorial campaign, serving as deputy campaign manager where she was tasked with restructuring the finance team that ended up raising more than $40 million for the statewide campaign.

In the years since, the Nova Southeastern law school alumna has worked under the banner of Shellie Levin Solutions, with a client roster that has included EMILY’s List, America Votes and Floridians for Solar Choice, which was unable to get its own preferred ballot imitative before Florida voters two years ago but was a staunch opponent of the failed amendment pushed by Consumers for Smart Solar.

The new hires come about a week after Shaw announced his general election finance committee, which includes more than 20 members, including Sink, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and St. Petersburg state Rep. Ben Diamond as well as numerous Florida attorneys.

Shaw, who served as insurance consumer advocate under Sink, easily won the Democratic nomination for Attorney General in the Aug. 28 primary election and now moves on to face Republican nominee Ashley Moody, a former prosecutor and circuit court judge.

As of Sept. 14, Shaw held a cash lead in the statewide race with a combined $637,000 in campaign and committee dollars at the ready, though he trails in overall fundraising. Moody expended most of her funds in her bruising primary against Pensacola Rep. Frank White and had about $156,000 between her two accounts on Sept. 14.

The general election is Nov. 6.

Heather Fitzenhagen keeps well ahead of Parisima Taeb in fundraising

Incumbent state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen reported a modest increase in dollars in early September, but still holds a hefty cash advantage over Democratic challenger Parisima Taeb.

Fitzenhagen, a Fort Myers Republican representing Florida House District 78 since 2012, pulled in just $1,400 in early September, less than $200 more than the $1,242 raised by Taeb in the same time. But the incumbent holds about $95,211 in cash on hand to the Democrat’s $18,776. And she’s hosting a fundraiser at Bell Tower Shops in South Fort Myers today.

Fitzenhagen recently sat alongside Republican gubernatorial candidate during a meeting at Florida Gulf Coast University where he spoke with academic leaders about red tide.

Taeb, meanwhile, has served on roundtables on the subject of algal blooms put together by Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the region. The medical doctor has been part of a Democratic trio of candidates campaigning heavily in Southwest Florida on science issues at a time when both red tide and blue-green algae deliver a brutal hit to the region’s ecosystem and economy.

But Fitzenhagen remains a leader within her own party. She claimed the Civil Justice committee in the Florida House last session and would enter her last term in the state House before term limits force her retirement.

Earlier this year, DeSantis considered Fitzenhagen as his running mate before instead tapping Jeanette Nuñez. And like DeSantis she earned the endorsement of the Everglades Trust earlier this year.

Neither Fitzenhagen nor Taeb faces primary challenges this year. Thus far, Fitzenhagen spent more than $148,000 on her re-election, while Taeb has spent more than $5,000.

Since her election to the district in 2012, Fitzenhagen has never faced a Democratic candidate on the November ballot. In 2012, she defeated Independent Kerry Babb with 67 percent of the vote to his 33 percent.

Taeb, a Fort Myers physician, earned media attention this year as one of multiple Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School graduates running for office in the wake of a national shooting at the school in February.

Republican Donald Trump won this House district with 53 percent of the vote over Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 42 percent.


Spencer Roach outraises Mark Lipton, still trails in cash

Republican candidate Spencer Roach in September has significantly outraised Democratic opponent Mark Lipton in the open race to represent Florida House District 79. But the Democrat still holds an advantage as far as cash on hand.

Roach pulled in $10,665 in the last two-week filing period, while Lipton raised just $880 in that time. Still, Lipton to date has $47,666 in cash on hand, while Roach holds $42,776.

The two North Fort Myers attorneys compete this November in Florida House District 79, an open seat vacated by Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell

That’s mostly because Roach, a former JAG officer, faced a primary opponent in Air Force veteran Matthew Shaun Miller, who he defeated in the Aug. 28 Republican primary.

Roach enjoys Caldwell’s endorsement and the support of U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney.

Lipton, meanwhile, boasts some of the strongest party credentials one can find in the district. He chaired the Bay County Democratic Party for two years and attended the 2016 Democratic National Convention as a delegate.

Lipton last week announced plans to get a campaign video broadcasting on area television stations.

Roach, for his part, has promised to run a clean, grassroots campaign in the district and says he won’t take anything for granted in the right-leaning district, especially in the current political climate—not to mention he’s running in a district devastated by blue-green algae.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump won in this district with 56 percent of the vote to Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton’s 40 percent.

In the same election, Caldwell took 51 percent of the vote to win re-election over Democrat John Scott, who took just 38 percent. Miller in that election ran with no party affiliation and took about 11 percent of the vote.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons