Peter Archives - Florida Politics

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 8.14.18

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

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

Good morning. Let’s begin the day with two scoops.

(Yes, that is a weird gif, but it works!)

The first is a big get for the Gwen Graham campaign.

Fresh off a nod from Jimmy Buffett, Graham is following up with an endorsement of a different sort, though no less impressive: former Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner.

“For too long, too many Floridians have been left behind by their governor and the politicians in Tallahassee. Our communities have been forgotten, our voting rights have been attacked and our civil rights weakened,” Joyner said. “Enough is enough. In 2018, we are going to reverse the trend and elect a Democrat who will fight for all Floridians — and that governor will be Gwen Graham.

Joyner served in the state Legislature for 16 years beginning in 2000, though her impressive CV includes becoming the first black attorney in Polk County, the first black female attorney in Hillsborough County and the longest practicing black female lawyer in Florida history. … “Senator Arthenia Joyner is a living legend and trailblazer. She has dedicated her life to fighting for Florida families — and it is an honor to have her support,” Graham said.

The second scoop is veteran communications pro Stephen Lawson is joining the Ron DeSantis campaign.

From “rapid response director” on Gov. Rick Scott’s 2014 campaign, to Enterprise Florida, to the to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, to VISIT FLORIDA, Lawson has worked in several positions quite a bit over the last four years.

On Monday, he made another jump: Communications Director for DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaign.

DeSantis campaign manager Brad Herold made the announcement Monday evening, saying that the campaign would be making a load of hires ahead of the Aug. 28 Republican primary contest, where DeSantis holds a major polling advantage and is eating away at the cash advantage of his lone opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“I’m proud to have a seasoned communications professional like Stephen join our team as our campaign continues to build momentum,” Herold said. “Stephen’s experience helping reelect Governor Scott shows he knows how to communicate a strong, conservative, winning message to voters across Florida. We look forward to continuing to share Ron’s vision for making Florida the best state in the country as its next Governor.”


@RealDonaldTrump: While I know it’s “not presidential” to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!

@BrianStelter: Even with all this media attention, Omarosa’s book still has not cracked the top 10 on Amazon’s best-selling books page. Right now it’s at #17… Bob Woodward’s ‘Fear’ is at #11, and it’s not out for another month…

@Fineout: Before campaign stop in Gadsden County @SenBillNelson says he will likely meet with SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the next 2 weeks. Still has not made up his mind. Says he votes for who he thinks “will enforce the law.”

@Scott_Maxwell: Now I love me some @JimmyBuffett I have the 2-disc “Meet me in Margaritaville” in my car & Landshark in the fridge. But man, with his recent guv endorsement track record (McBride, Sink, etc.), it’s more like “Why Don’t We Get Endorsed … and Get Screwed.”

@AnaCeballos_@Adamputnam‘s political committee weekly campaign finance report shows he has raised a little over $54,000, the lowest weekly total since the 2018 election cycle began.

@MDixon55: Dems (more than one) have been sending these emails all cycle not realizing the degree to which reporters giggle at the idea of spox people (spoxes?) telling them how to ask questions

@CarlosGSmith: Some relief for the fam of #MarkeisMcGlockton, but the fact his murderer was able to use ‘Stand Your Ground’ to avoid arrest for so long is absurd. We all know he’s still gonna try to use SYG as a get outta murder free card to avoid trial.

@SShawFL: Neither of the two major Rs running to replace Scott, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Ag Comm. Adam Putnam, commented on the arrest, nor did current Attorney General Pam Bondi or the two R candidates vying to succeed her, Pensacola state Rep. Frank White and Ashley Moody…

@MarcACaputo: This isn’t to say the law is perfect. But part of the problem in this Stand Your Ground case is the Tampa Bay Times favorite sheriff just so happened to share its incorrect bias against the law and didnt charge the shooter. But the prosecutor today set that straight by charging

@MearKat00: To every Floridian who is standing on a street corner waving a campaign sign in 1000° weather with 110% humidity… I salute you.



Start of the U.S. Open — 13; Primary Election Day — 14; College Football opening weekend — 16; Labor Day — 20; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 23; NFL regular season starts — 23; First general election mail ballots go out — 39; Future of Florida Forum — 43; FSU vs. UM football game — 53; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 70; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 71; General Election Day — 84; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 98; Black Friday — 101; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 105; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 182; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 203; 2020 General Election — 812.


Democrats more positive about socialism than capitalism” via Gallup Attitudes toward socialism among Democrats have not changed materially since 2010, with 57% today having a positive view. The major change among Democrats has been a less upbeat attitude toward capitalism, dropping to 47% positive this year.

— “Democratic socialism is a scam” via Giancarlo Sopo for Quillette


Where is Bill Nelson?” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Nelson (did) several events in the Panhandle (Monday), we’re told, after initial publication of this item. The campaign says Nelson was doing ad production work on Friday and Saturday. Nelson has remained out of public view since raising alarms about Russian hacking last Wednesday. His campaign isn’t responding to reporters and Nelson hasn’t commented except for a statement released from his Senate office just before 5 p.m. Friday. “I and several of my Senate colleagues are trying to make sure Florida officials are aware of the ongoing Russian threat so they take the steps necessary to safeguard our elections. It’s unfortunate that some Florida officials would try to use this issue for personal, political gain,” Nelson said.

Nelson’s narrow lead with Florida Latinos worries Democrats” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida Nelson holds a narrow 44-41 percent lead over Gov. Rick Scott among Latino voters in Florida’s Senate race, according to a new poll that’s raising fresh concerns among Democrats that the incumbent is in a dicey position with a core group of voters he needs to carry by bigger margins. The poll of 400 Florida Hispanics, commissioned by a coalition of Democratic-leaning Latino outreach groups, showed Scott topped Nelson among Cuban-American voters, who tend to vote Republican, by 24 percentage points. But Nelson’s advantage over Scott among voters of Puerto Ricans, who tend to vote Democrat, was smaller: 7 points. For Democrats, those numbers are a problem for Nelson because a Republican who wins as much of the Hispanic vote as Scott is taking usually wins statewide in Florida. Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the survey by 40-33 percent. Still, they say, there’s time. But it’s running out.

Jobs, jobs, … endorsed: Gov. and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Rick Scott nabbed an endorsement from the Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) at an event in Pensacola


Ron DeSantis, Matt Gaetz to campaign with Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida’s top two Trump supporters in Congress will campaign Saturday alongside Rep. Jim Jordan, who is making a push to be House speaker. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is running for re-election, and Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Trump-backed candidate for governor, will make three stops in the Panhandle: Pensacola, Navarre and Destin. They’re calling it the Freedom Tour. Jordan has been embroiled in a controversy over whether he knew about sexual abuse of Ohio State wrestlers by a team doctor while he was an assistant coach there years ago. Jordan denies knowing anything. Last week, former wrestler Mark Coleman told CNN he no longer stands by his previous statement that Jordan must have known.

Happening today  DeSantis and CD 27 hopeful Bruno Barreiro will speak during a meeting of the Miami Young Republicans,  6:30 p.m., Cubaocho Museum, 1465 S.W. Eighth St., Miami.

Adam Putnam pushes ‘Florida First’ message in new ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Putnam is out with a new TV spot, pushing his “Florida First” message as the GOP primary race for Governor nears a close. The 30-second ad, titled “God’s Country,” features several iconic images of the state as Putnam narrates what he views as the strengths of the state. “In Florida, anything is possible,” Putnam begins. “We launched a man to the moon. Our beaches bring the world to our doorstep and our farms feed the nation. The sunshine is bright in Florida because this is God’s country.” Putnam then pivots to his vision for Florida under his leadership. “Together we’ll make Florida the launchpad for the American Dream, cutting taxes and keeping government out of our way; ensuring our kids are career-ready; and attracting new industries. For me, it will always be Florida First.”

Gwen Graham seeks Parrothead vote with Jimmy Buffett endorsement” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Graham is going after votes in Margaritaville: Musician and environmentalist Jimmy Buffett says he’s backing Graham’s gubernatorial campaign. The campaign announced the endorsement by Buffett on Monday. “Like her dad, Gwen will put the interests of everyday Floridians first,” Buffett said in a statement. “She has a heart for people and a passion for the Sunshine State. “She’ll protect our precious natural environment, ensure we have strong public schools and affordable health care. It’s been too long since we have had a Governor for all the people.” Buffett has been a staple in Florida since moving to Key West in the 1970s.

Philip Levine: Jeff Greene attacking me because he doesn’t have a record” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times – Levine on Monday said television stations should take down an “absolutely wrong” attack ad from the campaign of Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene. But he wouldn’t say if he would sue stations that don’t remove them. “We’ve got to get through this primary,” Levine said. “We want to win the primary. I want to win the governorship and we’ll deal with it at that point.” Levine sent a cease and desist letter to the television stations airing the campaign commercial. Greene’s campaign yesterday defended the ad.”We never claimed the images were from Biscayne Bay,” Greene spokeswoman Claire VanSusteren told the Miami Herald. Levine responded: “There should be truth in advertising.” “Unfortunately when you don’t have a record, and you want to tear someone else’s record down, but you’ve actually never done anything in that field and you resort to tactics that are untruthful and borderline fraudulent,” Levine said.

Assignment editorsLevine will be visiting political “hob nobs.” The event is 4:30 p.m., Tampa Convention Center, 333 S. Franklin St. A Lakeland event is 6:30 p.m., Rocking H Ranch, 2200 Ewell Road.

Matt Caldwell’s gun rights ad draws NRA rebuke” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida – An NRA-endorsed candidate for agriculture commissioner is “retooling” an ad after the gun-rights group said he made a “mistake” in assigning a failing grade to a primary opponent. Marion Hammer, the National Rifle Association’s longtime Florida lobbyist, requested that the endorsed candidate, Matt Caldwell, apologize for the ad against Republican primary opponent Denise Grimsley. Caldwell’s campaign recently sent out a print ad that assigned to Grimsley a “D” grade … But the gun-rights group … actually gave Grimsley, a state senator from Sebring, a grade of “B” that year, according to Hammer. “In order to avoid confusion, I asked my team to retool the ad this weekend, but we will not back down from the clear contrast between ourselves and our opponents when it comes to defending the Second Amendment,” Caldwell said in the statement.

Denise Grimsley announces more endorsements – The Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner on Monday added to her list of backers from the Legislature. They now include Sens. Dennis Baxley, Aaron Bean, Anitere Flores, George Gainer, Rene Garcia, Dorothy Hukill, Debbie Mayfield, David Simmons, Kelli Stargel, and Reps. Sam Killebrew, Cary Pigman, Elizabeth Porter, Charlie Stone and many former lawmakers, including former House Speakers Allan Bense, Dean Cannon, Larry Cretul and H. Lee Moffitt. “With my diverse background raising cattle, growing citrus, helping people, running a business and managing a budget, paired with my dedication to solving problems that face Florida, I know I am the most qualified and best candidate in this race, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue my work serving Floridians as their Commissioner of Agriculture,” Grimsley said in a statement.

Felons’ rights drive gets major financial boost” via the News Service of Florida – A political committee leading efforts to pass a constitutional amendment about restoring felons’ voting rights received nearly $7 million in contributions during a week-long period in late July and early August, a new finance report shows. The committee Floridians for a Fair Democracy raised $6,988,054 from July 28 to Aug. 3 and had almost $7.1 million in cash on hand at the end of the period. The largest contribution, $3.4 million, came from the American Civil Liberties Union. But the committee also received six-figure checks from nine donors across the country. The proposal, which would require approval from 60 percent of voters to pass, comes after years of political and legal fights about restoring the rights of felons who have served their sentences.

Ballot measure on county offices goes to Supreme Court” via the News Service of Florida – The 1st District Court of Appeal on Monday forwarded the dispute to the Supreme Court, pointing to a “question of great public importance” that it said needs “immediate resolution by the Supreme Court of Florida.” The dispute stems from a proposed constitutional amendment that the state Constitution Revision Commission placed on the Nov. 6 ballot. The measure, known as Amendment 10, would make the five local constitutional offices — sheriff, tax collector, supervisor of elections, clerk of the court and property appraiser — mandatory and require elections for the offices in all 67 counties. It would also prohibit charter counties from abolishing or modifying those offices. While it is somewhat unusual for the appeals court to quickly pass cases to the Supreme Court, it took a similar step last week in a dispute about a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at banning greyhound racing at Florida dog tracks.


Al Lawson leads Alvin Brown by 22 points, according to new poll” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — If the election in Florida’s 5th Congressional District were held today, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson would cruise to victory, according to a St. Pete Polls survey of the race released Monday. A survey of 445 likely Democratic primary voters shows Lawson with 50 percent of the vote, with opponent Alvin Brown at 28 percent. The balance of voters are undecided. The margin of error is 4.6 percent. … Lawson has strong leads of 15 percent and up among all surveyed demographics with appreciable data: whites and blacks, men and women, and every age cohort. … Among those who already voted (13 percent), Lawson is up 52-42; among those yet to vote (87 percent), Lawson’s lead balloons to 49-26. … The winner of the primary election will face Republican Virginia Fuller, a first-time candidate without an appreciable campaign infrastructure.

Darren Soto gets nurses’ backing – National Nurses United, the nation’s largest registered nurses organization, endorsed the Orlando-area Democratic congressman on Monday. Soto is seeking re-election to his 9th Congressional District seat. He was described in the organization’s press release as someone who “embodies nurses’ values of caring, compassion and community.”

Neil Combee takes lead in CD 15 Republican primary, poll shows” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Combee isn’t leading by double digits, as a recent poll commissioned by his campaign showed, but he does have an outside the margins lead in the Republican primary for Florida’s 15th Congressional District. … According to a new survey from St. Pete Polls, Combee has the support of nearly 36 percent of likely primary voters followed by Dover state Rep. Ross Spano at 30 percent. … Combee’s 6-point lead mainly comes from running up the score among the two-thirds of Republicans who said they plan to vote but haven’t cast their ballot yet. Among the third who have already voted, his lead over Spano shrinks to 36-35 percent … Spano’s slippage compared to past polls can likely be attributed to the “mild cardiac event” he suffered late last month … though he’s recovered, the health scare kept him grounded from campaigning for at least a week during the critical leadup to primary Election Day. He has since come back to the campaign trail at full force, announcing his first 30-second TV spot on Friday.

Julio Gonzalez releases video deposition in malpractice case” via John Kennedy of the GateHouse Capital Bureau Gonzalez, an orthopaedic surgeon, is not personally named in the suit and initially opposed release of the deposition in the case involving John Green, a patient who died in 2015. Green’s widow, Ruth, is suing the Orthopaedic Center of Venice and Dr. Tracy Ng for alleged malpractice after her husband suffered an infection and died following treatment for a broken arm. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported on the case over the weekend and Gonzalez – in releasing the deposition – blasted the paper for coverage and accused his Republican primary rival, state Sen. Greg Steube of Sarasota, of planting the story.

Labor unions back Lauren Baer in CD 18via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Baer is touting a series of endorsements from labor unions as she continues to campaign for Brian Mast‘s seat in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. Baer already earned the backing of the AFL-CIO Florida chapter. Now, at least eight other unions have thrown their support behind the Baer campaign. Those organizations range from local to international representation and show strong support of Baer’s campaign as she competes with former Navy JAG Pam Keith for the Democratic nomination. “At a time when workers’ rights are increasingly under assault, I am proud to have the endorsement of the Florida AFL-CIO and a growing list of unions, representing workers from every segment of the economy,” Baer said.

Spotted: CD 18 candidate Pam Keith inFemale veterans run for US Congress in record numbers to solve America’s ‘leadership crisis” via The Daily Telegraph of London – Keith defended troops who were court-martialed … The candidates are part of a new wave of female veterans who want to be on Capitol Hill after the 2018 mid-terms in November. Currently just four of the 535 sitting senators and congressmen are women who served in the military. But in this cycle no fewer than 32 have ran for office … For Ms. Keith, a 49-year-old former naval lawyer, having a military background could help women political candidates smash through the stereotypes that still hold sway today. She spent much of the 1990s as a naval judge advocate, defending sailors who were facing everything from expulsion to discrimination cases. Now running for Florida’s 18th district, she hopes her background can avoid the gendered slurs that Hillary Clinton, the former Democratic presidential candidate, faced in 2016.


Internal poll gives Robert Doyel a 5-point lead over Kelli Stargel in SD 22” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — Retired Circuit Judge Robert Doyel has the largest competitive edge of any of the six Republican-held Senate seats specifically targeted by the Florida Democratic Party, according to a recent internal survey. … FDP’s internal poll numbers show Doyel has a higher name recognition in his district than any other Democratic Senate candidate in a targeted race at 54 percent … The internal survey also shows Doyel with a 5-point advantage over incumbent Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel, 45-40 percent, giving him the heretofore largest lead among the six contested races… The Winter Haven Democrat is running for Senate District 22, which covers northern Polk County and southern Lake County. … In addition to SD 22, the state party is targeting Gainesville-based SD 8, Pinellas and Pasco-based SD 16, Tampa-based SD 18, St. Petersburg-based SD 24 and Hialeah-based SD 36.

Jeff Brandes up big in first SD 24 poll since Lindsay Cross tagged in” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics – Knocking off St. Pete Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes was always a long shot, and the first measure of the race since Lindsay Cross subbed in for Carrie Pilon shows those slim chances dwindling further. According to a new survey from St. Pete Polls, Brandes has the support of nearly 39 percent of Senate District 24 voters, giving him a better than 2-to-1 lead over Cross, who was the pick for an even 19 percent of those polled. With 42 percent of voters undecided, there’s room for growth for both candidates. Brandes is a known quantity to 59 percent of SD 24 voters, and they find him favorable by a margin of 39-20. Cross, meanwhile, is known by just 27 percent of the district and those who offered their opinion gave her a somewhat lukewarm 21-16 favorability rating.

Orange Republicans pick George Chandler to run in HD 48” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Chandler, 62, of Orlando, is the county Republican’s choice as the replacement candidate for Scotland Calhoun, who initially filed in June to run for the post but withdrew two weeks ago after officials learned she is too young to qualify, not turning 21 until next spring. If all goes well, Chandler will enter the Nov. 6 election battle with incumbent Democratic state Rep. Amy Mercado of Orlando. The latest voter registrations show the district is strongly Democrat: 47 percent of registered voters are Democrats; 17 percent are Republicans … He is a real estate agent, and a former officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and for the U.S. Department of Justice, who had, as a young man, served in the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry.

— “LGBTA group endorses Karen Skyers for HD 61” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Melissa Howard admits to lying about degree but says she won’t quit race” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune Howard admitted Monday that she lied about having a degree from Miami University, apologized and declared she intends to stay in a race that has drawn national attention after it came out she was displaying a fake diploma and had gone to great lengths to deceive people about her college credentials. “I would like to apologize to my family and my supporters for this situation,” Howard said in a statement. “It was not my intent to deceive or mislead anyone. I made a mistake in saying that I completed my degree. What I did was wrong and set a bad example for someone seeking public service. I am staying in the race and intend to win and lead by example from now on.” Howard did not address the question about how she obtained a diploma stating she has a degree in marketing from Miami University, a degree the school doesn’t even offer. Howard’s admission means there is now no question the diploma is a fake, but it’s unclear who forged the document.

FMA PAC endorses Michael Grieco in House District 113 – The Florida Medical Association PAC (FMA PAC) Monday endorsed the Democrat in his race for HD 113. “Grieco has a proven record of working hard for his constituents and we look forward to working with him to enhance and improve health care for Florida patients,” said Dr. Mike Patete, FMA PAC President. Grieco said, “As the son of an MD and a longtime member of both the Mount Sinai and Nicklaus Children’s Hospitals Foundations, I promise to not let the medical community down in Tallahassee.” HD 113 is in Miami-Dade County. It’s an open seat currently held by state Rep. David Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat running for Congress.  

Happening tonight:


Gov. Scott declares state of emergency because of red tide outbreak in Southwest Florida” via Chad Gillis of the News-Press – The declaration will provide funding and resources for Sarasota, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee … A strong red tide has lingered along the Southwest Florida coast since October, at times stretching from Tampa Bay to the Florida Keys. It has killed manatees, hundreds of sea turtles and an untold amount of fish measured in the millions of pounds. Lee County will receive $900,000 in grants for cleanup, bringing total red tide grant funding for Lee County to more than $1.3 million. Mote Marine Laboratory will receive $100,000 to help with animal rescues and VISIT FLORIDA will receive $500,000 to create an emergency grant program to help communities promote tourism. Biologists and scientists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also will be available to assist in cleanup and animal rescue efforts, according to a news release by the governor’s office.

A hurricane may be only way to get rid of red tide, expert says” via Nicole Rodriguez of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – The killer menace, which has turned the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico into a soft-drink brown hue and transformed pristine white sand beaches into ghastly graveyards of rotting sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and whale sharks in recent weeks, doesn’t look like it will loosen its grip on the area, scientists say. A major weather system — such as a hurricane — could potentially rid Southwest Florida of the persistent bloom … The tropics, however, remain quiet, and U.S. forecasters say the Atlantic hurricane season may be less active than they previously predicted, thanks to cooler waters in the Atlantic Ocean, stronger wind shear and drier air — all factors that suppress storms.


Economists find good news for schools, bad news for Medicaid via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – State economists on Monday found millions of extra dollars for the state’s public schools, but also a $29 million shortfall in takings from tobacco taxes and a landmark legal settlement with the tobacco companies. The Revenue Estimating Conference projected that $128.4 million would remain unspent at the end of this fiscal year … That means the Legislature will start out in the black when setting school spending priorities for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, said Amy Baker, coordinator for the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research. On the other hand, the outlook for Medicaid — the primary recipient of the tobacco money — “is not good news. It’s showing that they actually have a projected hard deficit,” Baker said.

Happening today – The Florida Elections Commission will consider a proposed legislative budget request and a legislative recommendation, 9 a.m., 1st District Court of Appeal, 2000 Drayton Dr., Tallahassee.

How prosecutors decided to charge Michael Drejka, shooter in controversial stand your ground case” via Kathryn Varn and Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times – The case is likely to hinge on whether Drejka did, in fact, have reasonable fear for his life when he shot McGlockton, who had shoved him to the ground upon seeing Drejka yell at his girlfriend. The first filing offers a window into why prosecutors believe Drejka did not have reason to pull the trigger, noting his “confrontational” approach and the distance between him and McGlockton, who had turned away when Drejka pulled out his gun. As investigators continued looking into the case, they heard from another man, Richard Kelly, who said Drejka had threatened to shoot him in the same parking lot over the same handicap-reserved spot months before. They also learned of two police reports, which did not lead to any arrests but involved people accusing Drejka of showing a gun in road rage incidents.


Six years ago, he represented the parents of Trayvon Martin. Today he’s advocating for those who were close to Markeis McGlockton, the man gunned down in Clearwater last month.

Attorney Benjamin Crump is described by peers as “the real deal” when it comes to advocating for civil rights, both in the court of law and the court of opinion.

“Ask people who know him best, and they will tell you Crump’s ascension is rooted in a moral conviction to vigorously oppose racial injustice,” writes Dan Sullivan for the Tampa Bay Times.

Spotlight: When Crump takes a case like Martin’s or McGlockton’s, he wages two fights. “Ben realized that there are two courtrooms,” another attorney tells Sullivan. “And he knew that the media can be used to force the courts to do something.”

Sharpton’s words: “I thought when we lost Johnnie Cochran, in my lifetime we’d never see the likes of that again,” Sharpton said at a recent rally with Crump. “But I’ve been all over the country and Benjamin Crump is the Johnnie Cochran of our generation.”

Worth noting: At the rally Sullivan attended, he observed, “Some fans bore the image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But not all of them. Some instead carried a picture of Crump.”


Immigration cases tossed in fallout from high court ruling” via Amy Taxin of The Associated Press – Immigration courts from Boston to Los Angeles have been experiencing fallout from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that has caused some deportation orders to be tossed and cases thrown out, bringing more chaos to a system that was already besieged by ballooning dockets and lengthy backlogs. Since the decision was issued in June, immigration attorneys have been asking judges to throw out their clients’ cases. Some immigration judges have refused to issue deportation orders for immigrants. And in a recent case in Washington state, a Mexican farmworker had an indictment for illegally re-entering the country tossed out. It isn’t clear how many people’s immigration cases could be affected. Some immigration judges have denied attorneys’ requests, but others in states including Tennessee, New Jersey and California have granted them.

New coalition plans seven-figure campaign aimed at Puerto Rican voters” via Ed O’Keefe of CBS News – Critics of the Trump administration’s response to the hurricanes that ravaged Puerto Rico last year are launching a seven-figure campaign to mobilize displaced Puerto Rican voters ahead of the midterm elections – and planning big demonstrations in New York and Florida to mark the anniversary of Hurricane Maria. The events are part of a new project launched by the Latino Victory Project (LVP), a liberal group that supports Latino Democratic political candidates and works to register and mobilize Latinos to vote, and Power 4 Puerto Rico (P4P), an upstart organization that has spent the last year working to draw more attention to the stunted recovery on the island.

Marco Rubio looks for his place in Trump’s Republican Party” via Lisa Mascaro of the Associated Press The once-rising star used to be criticized for being in too much of a hurry, but now he’s hunkered down in the Senate with nothing, it seems, but time. … [P]eople who have observed Rubio during his career see a more mindful, even liberated, politician who no longer carries the weight of being “The Republican Savior,” as Time magazine once called the charismatic young son of immigrants. Instead, the 47-year-old is keeping his head down and doing the grunt work of governing, answering head-on the criticism that he was more flash than substance as a candidate.

Spotted: Rubio inA Tea Party movement to overhaul the Constitution is quietly gaining steam” via Time – Most supporters of a convention of states say the process is necessary for states to wrestle power back from Congress and the courts … The Constitution notes that three-quarters of all states must ratify any amendments proposed at a convention … Republican skeptics mainly worry that gun rights enumerated in the Second Amendment could come under siege. Democrats are concerned largely about how constitutional tinkering might affect issues like abortion and immigration … On the other side, the movement for a convention of states has won major endorsements from Republican leaders and conservative personalities across the country, including … Rubio, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

Assignment editors – The Marion County Children’s Alliance and the Marion County Heroin/Opioid Task Force will host an opioid crisis roundtable, with special guest U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Marion County Sheriff’s Office Jail/Visitation Administration Building, 3300 NW 10th St., Ocala.


Joe Henderson: What’s reasonable? ‘Stand Your Ground’ trial may provide answer” via Florida Politics – Under the heading “justifiable use of force,” it says deadly force is permissible if a person “reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.” But state Sen. Dennis Baxley, a long-time champion of gun rights and the NRA, told Politico, the law uses a “reasonable-person standard. It’s not that you were just afraid.” I imagine Drejka’s attorney will have a different take. A “reasonable person” might conclude Drejka was scared out of his wits. And the twist to SYG now is that prosecutors will have to prove that wasn’t true, no matter what the video shows or seems to show. That is exactly what backers of that law had in mind when they pushed it through the Legislature in 2017.


Personnel note: Amanda Gorman joins Adams St. Advocates – The Tallahassee-based governmental affairs and business development consulting firm announced her hiring on Monday. Most recently, Gorman was at the Department of Management Services in the Legislative Affairs office. Before that, she was a campaign fundraiser for Gov. Scott’s re-election and later served nearly three years in his administration. The Tallahassee native is a graduate of Florida State University with a master’s degree in Applied American Politics and Policy, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Affairs, with a focus in Philosophy. Claudia Davant, president of Adams St. Advocates said “Amanda’s impressive background and experience in both the government and private sectors will tie in nicely with the forward-thinking advocacy services we offer our clients.”

— ALOE — 

Happy birthday to John Konkus and Meredith Stanfield.

Last Call for 8.13.18 – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

The Florida Elections Commission will consider a “recommended final order” that Brian Pitts’ Justice-2-Jesus organization be stripped of its political committee status.

The matter is on the agenda for the panel’s Tuesday meeting in Tallahassee. Pitts is a longtime legislative critic, well known in The Process for his appearances at committee meetings over the years.

Records show Pitts asked for a hearing after the Division of Elections’ decision “to cancel Justice-2-Jesus’s registration as a political committee for failing to pay a civil penalty.” That was for not filing campaign finance reports.

An administrative law judge in January 2016 found “willful violations of the Florida Election Code,” imposing a $7,000 fine that still has not been paid.  

Because of that, “the Commission concludes that the Division may proceed with final cancellation … of Justice-2-Jesus,” a draft order reads.

Meantime, Pitts recently returned to Twitter after a seven-month hiatus. He told Florida Politics back in March that multiple cases of legislative misconduct had taken a toll on him, and “it was time for a sabbatical.”

Pitts, who chairs the St. Petersburg-based committee, has told commissioners in a filing he can’t pay the penalty and disagreed with the commission’s recommendation in his usual all-caps style.


The committee hasn’t raised a cent since 2008, when it took in $1,150. That money is the group’s only funds, which it’s still sitting on. It reported no other contributions since 2007, and no expenditures.

Evening Reads

1. “Rick Scott issues emergency order on Red Tide algae bloom” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times

2. “Report of election site hacking rankle Florida officials” via the Associated Press

3. “An 11-year-old changed election results on a replica Florida state website in under 10 minutes” via Michael Regan of PBS

4. “‘Where’s the blue wave?’ Voter data show Florida Democrats aren’t surging” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

5. “Democrats make big gains in Seminole, Osceola and Orange; Republicans flip Volusia and Polk” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

6. “Ron DeSantis: I’ll kick Adam Putnam’s keister in South Florida” via Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel

7. “Adam Putnam’s cash dries up as gubernatorial star fades” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

8. “Bob Buckhorn or Shevrin Jones for Gwen Graham’s Lieutenant Governor” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

9. “Matt Caldwell’s gun rights ad draws NRA rebuke” via Dara Kam and Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida

10. “‘Dammit Dana’: Janet Cruz slams Dana Young over lead in schools” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times

11. “House candidate Terry Power lives in $500K home but applied for food stamps” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

12. “Melissa Howard apologizes for lying about degree, will stay in race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

13. “Toyota dealership inspired by #MeToo likely discriminated against men, state says” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald

Quote of the Day

“Like her dad, Gwen will put the interests of everyday Floridians first. She has a heart for people and a passion for the Sunshine State.” —Jimmy Buffett, in a Monday endorsement of Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet will take up a series of issues at a regular meeting. That’s at 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol.

The Florida Elections Commission will take up numerous issues, including a proposed legislative budget request and a legislative recommendation. That’s at 9 a.m., 1st District Court of Appeal, 2000 Drayton Dr., Tallahassee.

Enterprise Florida will hold one in a series of trade seminars. That’s at 9 a.m. Hyatt Regency Coral Gables, 50 Alhambra Plaza, Coral Gables.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch will visit the Pride Center in Wilton Manors, attend a district office opening in Coral Springs and take part in a Moms Demand Action town hall on gun violence. That’s at 10 a.m., Pride Center at Equality Park, 2040 North Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors. Also, office opening at 4 p.m., Coral Springs City Hall, 9500 West Sample Road, Coral Springs. Also, town hall at 6:30 p.m., Marriott-Heron Bay, 11775 Heron Bay Blvd., Coral Springs.

The Florida Development Finance Corp. Board of Directors is slated to meet and receive presentations from Classical Preparatory Charter School, Inc. and Waste Pro USA, Inc. That’s at 2 p.m., 156 Tuskawilla Road-Suite 2340, Winter Springs. Call-in number: 1-646-741-5292. Code: 1114882779.

Democratic candidate for Governor Philip Levine will be visiting political “hob nobs.” A Tampa event is 4:30 p.m., Tampa Convention Center, 333 S. Franklin St. A Lakeland event is 6:30 p.m., Rocking H Ranch, 2200 Ewell Road.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and Congressional District 27 candidate Bruno Barreiro are slated to speak during a meeting of the Miami Young Republicans. That’s at 6:30 p.m., Cubaocho Museum, 1465 S.W. Eighth St., Miami.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 8.13.18

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

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

The story of the weekend is not one of fake news, but of a fake diploma.

House District 71 candidate Melissa Howard is being accused of lying about graduating from college and using a fake diploma.

Miami University in Ohio told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that Howard attended the school but never graduated. The school also says the diploma she produced is counterfeit, saying it doesn’t match those issued in 1994.

Her educational background was first questioned last week by the website Florida News Online. She called the accusation false and said she went to Ohio to get the diploma at her mother’s house. After she posted a photo of the diploma, the website took down its story, but the university then said her claim was false.

Florida News Online is a relatively new site and is published by David Bishop, a familiar name to anyone who has followed Florida politics over the last decade. He’s currently a lobbyist for a handful of clients and is still on the payroll of former Sen. Jack Latvala‘s political committee.

Before that, he was a deputy secretary for the Florida Lottery. And before that, he had the unenviable job of directing communications for then-Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

That Bishop’s Florida News Online scooped POLITICO Florida, Florida Politics, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and the rest of Florida’s political media on what may the down-ballot story of the 2018 election cycle is a testament to the ever-changing shape of the news and information landscape.

As a matter of fact, I thought our outlet — which on Friday had acquired the letter from Miami University debunking Howard’s education credential — was so far ahead on this story that we could let the story wait until Saturday morning.

However, by the time I tweeted out what I thought were the latest updates on this story (including the fresh angle that Howard’s husband, Ian, had had a “cardiac event” on Friday night), Bishop had beat us to the punch.

Bishop texted me Saturday morning that he appreciated #FlaPol giving him the credit for the story. But how could I not? I remember when was the new kid on the block, fighting with the rest of the press corps for appropriate credit for the stories we broke.

And just to show you how much life has a way of coming around full circle, guess who was the senior legislative staffer who in 2010 signed off on my first application for a Capitol press badge?

That’s right: David Bishop.

Prominent Republicans call on Howard to quit race amid degree scandal” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Former Manatee County GOP Chair Donna Hayes, who helmed the party for a decade and has endorsed Howard’s opponent, said Sunday that Howard should immediately withdraw from the race. “That’s a very deceptive falsification that she made,” Hayes said, adding: “It makes the Republican Party look very loose and look like they have no principles.” Former Manatee County Commissioner Jonathan Bruce also urged Howard to quit the race. But the Republican Party of Sarasota put out a statement that did not condemn Howard’s actions and indicated she would have the party’s support if she wins the primary. “We’re not prepared to comment on the House 73 primary at this point in time,” the statement said. “We will let the primary process complete on Aug. 28. We look forward to supporting the nominee after the primary.”

— “What if Melissa Howard still wins?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics


@dlb100b: I’ll be on @GMA tomorrow morning between 7-7:30 discussing the Melissa Howard fake diploma story.

–@RealDonaldTrump: Democrats, please do not distance yourselves from Nancy Pelosi. She is a wonderful person whose ideas & policies may be bad, but who should definitely be given a 4th chance. She is trying very hard & has every right to take down the Democrat Party if she has veered too far left!

@AlexBurnsNYT: If you’d told me a year ago that a trial lawyer who’s famous on TV would be running against Trump in 2020, making this case verbatim, I would’ve guessed Gov. @JohnMorganESQ of Florida

@DavidFrum: Obama/Bush/Clinton/ etc. would have already visited California, toured as near disaster as feasible. Press conference in Sacramento w governor. National attention to those who have lost homes, etc etc etc. Trump might as well borrow Melania’s “I dont care Do U?” jacket

@DWSTweets: This somber anniversary is a time to honor the life of Heather Heyer and spread some of the love that she preached. We can never be silent in the face of bigotry and hate.

@Fineout: @AndrewGillum finally gets public matching money to help with his campaign for governor. Gillum on Friday got a check for more than $436k. Don’t know why he did not seek to get the money when it first became available. So far taxpayers have given $4.5 million to 9 candidates

–@RosemaryOHara14: Unlike the other three candidates, you don’t get the sense that @denisegrimsley sees the job of Agriculture Commissioner as a steppingstone to higher office. Rather, it speaks to her core.

@GusCorbella: Sad state of affairs at the @AMCTheatres at the “Centre of Tallahassee.” Dirty, messy concessions, bathrooms in disrepair. Hope the new movie theaters popping up around town will give them some competition and get them to straighten up and fly right.

@MearKat00: If you listen very closely, you will hear the sound of the earth crying because soon humans will be selling Pumpkin Spice Lattes again.

@IdrisElba: my name’s Elba, Idris Elba.


Early voting begins in some counties – Early voting for the Aug. 28 primary elections begins today in some counties before going statewide on Aug. 18. Among the counties where early voting will start Monday is Miami-Dade, the most heavily populated in the state.

Assignment editors — Gubernatorial candidate  Andrew Gillum and Miami-Dade leaders Councilwoman Felicia Robinson, Councilman David Williams, Commissioner Betty Ferguson, and School Board Member Dr. Steve Gallon will kick off the first day of Early Voting in Miami-Dade County. That’s at 6:45 a.m. North Dade Regional Library, 2455 NW 183rd St, Miami Gardens.


Start of the U.S. Open — 14; Primary Election Day — 15; College Football opening weekend — 17; Labor Day — 21; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 24; NFL regular season starts — 24; First general election mail ballots go out — 40; Future of Florida Forum — 44; FSU vs. UM football game — 54; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 71; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 72; General Election Day — 85; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 99; Black Friday — 102; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 106; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 183; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 204; 2020 General Election — 813.


Rick Scott demands Bill Nelson back up claims that Russia hacked Florida voting systems” via Patricia Mazzei of the New York Times — Cryptic comments from Nelson this week alluded to a secret Russian plot to tap into Florida’s election systems. “They have already penetrated certain counties in the state, and they now have free rein to move about,” the Democratic senator told The Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday. He declined to elaborate or offer any proof. A day earlier, he had described details as “classified.” On Friday, Scott … accused his opponent of scaremongering and demanded that he back up his claims with evidence. “Either Bill Nelson knows of crucial information the federal government is withholding from Florida election officials, or he is simply making things up. So far, no one seems to know what Nelson is talking about.” … before Nelson’s comments, there had been no indications of any successful meddling this year. … Nelson’s comments prompted worried voters to contact some of the state’s 67 elections supervisors. … “Everyone wants to know what we’re doing to secure the elections,” said Paul Lux of Okaloosa County, president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections. He noted that Florida voters cast paper ballots, and the attempted 2016 breaches targeted voter registration databases, not election tallies.

Scott left St. Lucie River without meeting with the public so he could campaign” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm – There were no “security concerns” that kept Scott from addressing the public or media on a toxic algae boat tour of the St. Lucie River Friday, his office admitted Friday evening. Instead, there were “timing issues,” his staff said. Scott was scheduled to be in Tampa in two hours for a campaign event in his election bid to unseat Nelson. “Due to timing, the governor was unable to speak with media as he did when he toured the algal blooms in the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers in July,” spokesman John Tupps said in an email to TCPalm. “He remains focused on this problem.” … Before Scott’s office admitted what a staffer called “an honest mistake,” a former Treasure Coast congressman had stronger words during a news call organized by the Florida Democratic Party. “If you are uncomfortable about a situation and know you are wrong about something, you probably don’t want to answer questions on it,” Democrat Patrick Murphy said, referring to Scott’s gutting of the Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District. … A spokeswoman for Scott’s campaign said Democrats are overreacting. “Leave it to the Democrats to focus on the governor’s schedule instead of real solutions to improve our environment,” Press Secretary Lauren Schenone said.

Scott rules Florida’s airwaves, but Bill Nelson is about to respond” via Ledyard King of USA Today – After months of being overpowered on the Florida airwaves by Scott, Nelson is about to start punching back. The Democrat and his political allies have reserved about $42 million in broadcast, cable and satellite television ad buys in the state’s 10 markets from August through Election Day—more than twice the $17.4 million Nelson’s side spent on TV spots prior to August. Scott and independent groups supporting him so far only have $18.3 million queued up for the general election campaign. But by November, he is expected to be outspending Nelson by a wide margin. “It’s the Scott playbook,” said Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes Senate campaigns for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “We saw him do it in two gubernatorial contests. There’s no reason to think he’s going to shift strategies at this point. And despite the help Nelson will get from outside groups … they’re not going to be able to match him dollar for dollar.”

Assignment editors — Scott will join Florida manufacturers for an announcement. That’s at 9:45 a.m. Central time, Threaded Fasteners Inc., 3839 Hopkins St., Pensacola.


New poll shows Michael Waltz breaking away in Republican field — A new survey from St. Pete Polls, conducted Aug. 10, shows Fox News personality Michael Waltz is the pick for 40 percent of likely Republican primary voters in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, which covers a stretch of Florida’s east coast from southern St. Johns County to New Smyrna Beach. Following in a distant second was businessman John Ward at 21 percent support with former state Rep. Fred Costello taking third at 16 percent. The remaining 23 percent were unsure which of the three candidates would get their vote. Ward’s massive lead held firm among the 23 percent of Republicans who said they had already voted in the election, as well as the 77 percent who said they hadn’t cast their ballot yet but planned on doing so. The trio are running to succeed current CD 6 Congressman Ron DeSantis, who is running for Governor. The St. Pete Polls survey had a sample size of 528 and a margin of error of 4.3 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

Gayle Harrell leads Belinda Keiser 48-26 in fresh SD 25 poll — Despite being massively outspent by Keiser University vice chancellor Belinda Keiser, a new poll shows state Rep. Gayle Harrell with a commanding lead in the Republican primary for Senate District 25. The St. Pete Polls survey, conducted Aug. 8, found Harrell with 48 percent support among voters who said they had either already cast a ballot or that they planned to vote in the Aug. 28 election. Keiser, who has juiced her campaign with $925,000 in candidate loans, was the pick for just 26 percent of those polled, with a slightly higher share saying they were still unsure which of the two candidates they would vote for. … Another piece of good news for Harrell: Voters who know about her tend to like her. About 51 percent of Republicans offered their opinion on the term-limited state representative, handing her a plus-13 in favorability. … Keiser, the poll found, holds a double-digit lead when it comes to name ID, but there weren’t too many fans of the Broward Republican. Of the 65 percent of Republicans who gave their opinion, she scored a minus-16 in favorability.


Ron DeSantis adds another $1M as Adam Putnam’s money machine slows to a crawl” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics – DeSantis, whose chances surged following an endorsement from President Donald Trump, brought in more than $1 million between July 28 and Aug. 3. Putnam, meanwhile, brought in $191,901. DeSantis’ cash mostly came in from this time around, with his campaign receiving $399,031 and his affiliated political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, adding $635,100. Putnam’s comparatively anemic campaign haul included an $81,170 matching funds disbursement, nine max checks and just over 300 contributions overall. Both the campaign and committee reports are tiny compared to the numbers Putnam has pulled down throughout most of his campaign. The last time Florida Grown raised less than $54,250 was the week before the Election Day 2016, when Putnam was not on the ballot.

Happening today – DeSantis, joined by Republican Attorney General hopeful Ashley Moody and Ag Commish candidate Mike McCalister, will likely attend a meeting of the Palm Beach County Trump Club. That’s at 7 p.m., Palm Beach Kennel Club, 1111 North Congress Ave., West Palm Beach.

A GOP candidate denounced Trump’s comments about sexually assaulting women and insulting Gold Star parents. Now he’s paying for it” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post

Jeff Greene plays instigator as Florida’s Democratic primary for governor gets ugly” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald – The relative kumbaya that was the Democratic primary for Florida governor is dead and buried … After spending much of June and July promoting a softer image from the one he portrayed during his 2010 U.S. Senate run, Greene has pivoted since absentee ballots went out late last month and thrown his millions into attacks against Gwen Graham and Philip Levine. Greene, who’s poured more than $18 million of his own money into his campaign, spent the past week blasting Graham on TV over her connection to the American Dream Miami mega-mall. On Friday he took aim at Levine, unleashing a commercial across the state that attacks the former Miami Beach mayor’s sea-rise platform by comparing his city’s vaunted flood pumps to open sewers … The ad stretches and misstates some of the facts, and led Miami Beach’s top administrator to issue a rushed memo Friday explaining that the city “does not have sanitary sewer outfalls to Biscayne Bay” … Levine’s campaign began running its own statewide commercial highlighting Greene’s flattering statements about Trump following his election as president. … “They’ve hit rock bottom and they’re starting to dig,” said Steven Vancore, a Democratic strategist who is not involved in the governor’s race.

Biscayne Bay is a ‘latrine,’ Greene says. But the images he points to are from Russia” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald – Levine’s campaign expects to challenge a new “misleading” attack ad that uses stock footage of polluted waters from around the globe to question the former Miami Beach mayor’s environmental record. The commercial, paid for by Greene’s gubernatorial campaign, begins by comparing an image of Greene’s opponent — “This is Philip Levine” — to an image of Biscayne Bay — “This is a latrine.” Unflattering newspaper headlines then flash on the screen as especially putrid images of polluted water are seen in the background. The problem, Levine’s campaign points out, is that those images are not from Biscayne Bay. Christian Ulvert, a senior Levine adviser, slammed what he called a “false narrative” being perpetuated by Greene, and said the campaign expected to challenge the commercial with TV stations. He said using foreign images to prove a point can potentially mislead voters.

Greene not likely to drop out” via Diane Rado of the Florida Phoenix — It isn’t likely that Greene will get out of the race for Florida governor, despite demands from the Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women, which is expressing concern by allegations in a 2013 police report. The recently-surfaced report obtained by CBS Miami states that a former hotel cocktail waitress in Palm Beach told police she was “smacked on the arm” by the owner – Greene – who asked her to turn the music down. … “I haven’t seen any indication that he (Greene) is even acknowledging it,” said Florida NOW president Terry Sanders. … Greene’s spokeswoman, Claire VanSusteren, said on Twitter that “this is a coordinated attack on Greene over political ads he ran on Graham’s poor environmental record. Nothing more, nothing less. The police report speaks for itself. No injury, no sex, no violence, no fighting words.”

Assignment editors: Chris King is holding a fundraising reception. That’s at 6:30 p.m., Acropolis Greek Taverna, 3023 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa

Frank White ad sees sheriffs tout him as a ‘conservative we can trust’” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics —  Attorney General candidate Frank White is rolling out a new TV ad Monday saying he, not fellow Republican Ashley Moody, has a record county sheriffs can trust. The 30-second ad, titled “Florida Sheriffs Support Frank White,” apes a recent ad by Moody by bringing in some backup from the county sheriffs who have endorsed his campaign — Moody, a former circuit court judge and prosecutor, has the support of 90 percent of Republican county sheriffs and current Attorney General Pam Bondi, which she touted in an ad released last week. Thanks to studio magic, White’s handful of sheriff backers produced the same effect in the new spot. Click here to watch the ad.

Denise Grimsley adds dozens of local endorsements for Ag. Commish bid” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics – Grimsley expanded her list of backers in her statewide bid for Agriculture Commissioner with a bulk endorsement from three dozen local elected officials from all corners of the state. The additions came in from mayors across the I-4 corridor, from Temple Terrace to Melbourne; school superintendents stretching from Gulf to Hendry; tax collectors in from the Panhandle to the Treasure Coast; school board members from Duval on one end of I-10 to Okaloosa on the other; county clerks spanning from Suwanee to Martin; and county commissioners from the Florida-Georgia line in Baker to Miami-Dade. … In addition to those 34 pols, Grimsley added another pair to the already well-stocked quiver of county sheriff endorsements: Hamilton County Sheriff J. Harrell Reid and former Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton. For those keeping score at home, that makes for 36 sitting county lawmen.


Disney, Seminoles sink $10 million into gambling amendment” via the News Service of Florida – Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida continue upping the ante as they try to pass a constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in the state. Disney and the Seminole Tribe each contributed $5 million on July 30 to the political committee Voters In Charge, which is leading efforts to pass the constitutional amendment in the November general election, according to a newly filed finance report. The committee had about $20 million in cash on hand as of Aug. 3.

Casino stakes anti-Amendment 3 group with $525K” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics – The political committee fighting against a proposed constitutional amendment to limit gambling expansion brought in $525,000 from the parent company of Miami’s Magic City Casino. The committee, Vote NO on 3, received the check from West Flagler Associates on July 31. That stack is the only contribution the committee has reported since it was formed early last month. Vote No on 3 spent nearly all of that cash shortly after the it cleared by way of a $523,600 radio buy through Miami-based IGT Media Holdings on Aug. 3.

Seriously, who cares? –Mike Huckabee endorses Florida’s proposed greyhound racing ban” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — The former governor of Arkansas, who lives in Santa Rosa Beach, submitted his official endorsement Wednesday afternoon through the campaign website, said Carey Theil, executive director of national anti-dog-racing group GREY2K USA. … The campaign announced last week an endorsement — first reported by Florida Politics — by Lara Trump, daughter in-law of Republican President Donald Trump. The city of Hallandale Beach, which sits in the deeply Democratic Broward County, voted unanimously Aug. 1 to offer its endorsement. The Hallandale Beach resolution formalizing the endorsement notes a statewide survey by McLaughlin & Associates predicting the ban will receive support from 70 percent of voters if it appears on the November ballot.

— “7 questions with Lindsay Cross, the Democrat running for Florida Senate District 24” via Cathy Salustri of Creative Loafing

Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge ‘seriously’ considering a state Senate bid” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – Desloge said Friday his gut is telling him to run for the Florida Senate, but his mind isn’t there yet. “I’m not opening a campaign account, I’m not announcing or anything, but I’m getting enough questions from people who say, ‘Are you interested in this?’ So I want to let people know I’m seriously leaning that way,” Desloge, a Republican, told the Tallahassee Democrat on Friday … Rep. Loranne Ausley …  already has filed to run for the Senate District 3 seat currently held by Sen. Bill Montford, who is term-limited in two years. “Desloge is definitely the strongest Republican candidate who could run,” said Matt Isbell, Democratic political consultant and owner of MCI Maps, which analyzes voting trends and results for candidates.

House candidate Anna Eskamani featured in the ‘The Atlantic’ magazine” via Xander Peters of Orlando Weekly – The story, which highlights young progressive candidates across the country, touches on how the 2018 midterms helped harvest a new generation of leaders out of progressive groups and community organizations nationwide, and how they’re now stepping up and running for office. Harkening back to the 2010 midterms, The Atlantic’s David Graham compares the potential 2018 Democratic blue wave to the Tea Party’s run almost a decade ago, in which the conservative movement managed to capture the U.S. House and control of 20 state legislative chambers. From The Atlantic:  Eskamani is 28, the same age as the newly minted progressive star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Like Ocasio-Cortez, who cut her teeth as an organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign, Eskamani is not a political newcomer.

Vito Sheeley fined for sloppy financial record” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — State House candidate  Sheeley this month got slapped with a fine from the Division of Elections for sloppy financial reporting. The St. Petersburg Democrat blamed the issue on a transition to a new campaign treasurer but doesn’t believe the hiccup will deter his attempt to defeat incumbent state Rep. Wengay Newton this month in state House District 70. … “I was going through a situation where a new treasurer wasn’t up to date on what to file,” Sheeley told Florida Politics … Bureau of Election Records Chief Kristi Reid Willis sent a letter outlining that records due to the state on July 13 did not get filed until July 30. Sheeley was fined $748.45, a levy he must pay from personal funds and not his campaign account. … Newton said voters should take note of the oversight. “Somebody wants to represent you in Tallahassee with $88.7 billion in taxpayer resources and money,” Newton said, “but he can’t even keep a campaign account straight.”


The Miami Herald released its list of primary endorsements on Saturday. Republican top-ballot picks include DeSantis for Governor, Moody for Attorney General and Matt Caldwell for Agriculture Commissioner. Top-tier Democratic picks from the newspaper include Levine for Governor, Sean Shaw for Attorney General and Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner. Read the endorsement list in its entirety here.

The Palm Beach Post editorial board recommends voters back Graham in the Democratic primary for Governor “for her principled, pragmatic approach that will be indispensable in working with a Republican-dominated Legislature to produce laws and policy that work for all Floridians.” In the Democratic primary for Attorney General, the Post recommends Shaw for his “wide experience.” In the Republican primary for Attorney General, the Post recommends Moody, “who appears to be better at keeping her eye on the ball when it comes to how the AG’s office can best serve Floridians rather than President Donald Trump.” In Congressional District 20, the Post recommends Democratic primary voters pick incumbent Alcee Hastings, writing that “Hastings remains one of the key voices for Democrats in Congress on issues ranging from immigration to foreign affairs to health care.”

The Sun Sentinel is backing Fried in the Democratic primary for Agriculture Commissioner, noting Fried is “high-energy, focused and solutions-driven.” On the Republican side of the Ag Commish race, the Sentinel is backing Grimsley. Calling her “the next Pam Bondi,” the Sentinel is recommending Republican voters pick Moody in her bid for Attorney General. On the Democratic side, the Sentinel recommends Shaw.  In the Democratic race for CD 22, the Sentinel recommends voters pick incumbent Ted Deutch. On the Republican side, the Sentinel recommends Javier Manjarres, “a flawed but savvy political operative who makes his living producing a blog called Shark Tank.”


According to the data gurus at FiveThirtyEight, women are having greater success than men in Democratic primaries this year.

Data collected on Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate, House and Governor show that “women have won 65 percent (90 of 138) of decided open Democratic primary races featuring at least one man and one woman.” Though that’s excluding races featuring a Democratic incumbent.

Authors at FiveThirtyEight note that the women sampled on average have more experience than their male counterparts, which could help explain the data, although, “even looking only at candidates with previous experience as elected officials, women are still outperforming men.”

Race?: Twenty-four percent of nominees were identified by FiveThirtyEight as nonwhite. But, “nonwhite candidates had a winning record of 28 percent in open Democratic primaries.”

LGBTQ?: The win rates for LGBTQ candidates and candidates who did not disclose their sexual orientation have so far been nearly identical.

Military?: “In open Democratic primaries so far this year, veteran status doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in how a candidate performs.”


On the side of power: Attorney General Pam Bondi stands immediately to the right of President Donald Trump after discussing prison reform with governors and state attorneys general at his New Jersey golf club last week.

Good riddance – Mike Carroll quits as head of Florida’s child-welfare agency” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Carroll, Secretary of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), will quit his post effective Sept. 6, Gov. Rick Scott‘s office announced Friday. “Mike embodies the ideals and mission of the Department … and has devoted nearly three decades to improve and change the lives of Florida’s vulnerable children and families,” the governor said in a statement. “Mike’s tenure as secretary is the longest in DCF’s 21-year history,” he added. Carroll was appointed in December 2014. “Many of these kids have cracks … they’re broken, they’re in pieces,” he once told a Senate committee. “We’re charged as a state agency to put those pieces back together. And we aren’t always able to do that. And that’s the most tragic thing about our work.”.

FDLE closed Jack Latvala case without gathering new info” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau — Documents released this week in the now-closed investigation into the sexual harassment and corruption claims against Latvala show that state investigators did not expand their review beyond the information provided to them by the Senate, stopping short of interviewing new witnesses or soliciting additional documents before they cleared the veteran lawmaker of wrongdoing. Leon County State Attorney Jack Campbell chose not to file corruption charges against Latvala, 66, on July 26, after receiving the Florida Department of Law Enforcement report … The state agency spent six months reviewing the evidence, questioning Latvala and McLeod under oath, and delaying release of its findings to address last-minute questions by Campbell’s office. … The report noted that no other witnesses came forward voluntarily to corroborate [LauraMcLeod‘s allegations but, the documents show, FDLE also did not subpoena witnesses … the FDLE report excluded several text messages McLeod provided … “We could have talked to other people, that’s true, but there was nobody we needed to talk to to further clarify the issue,” [Campbell] said. “I was very comfortable with the information.” … But, Campbell said, he was limited by the narrowly drawn state law … “I leave it to the Legislature whether they want to make sexual harassment a crime,” he said. “Right now, the only thing we’ve got is bribery.”

State has spent $2M on legal bills for medical marijuana” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – As it defends a slew of cases over medical marijuana, the state of Florida has spent close to $2 million on outside lawyers. Nearly all of that went to one firm. Records reviewed last week show at least $1.9 million approved by the Department of Health (DOH) going to two law firms – mostly Vezina, Lawrence & Piscitelli, but also Shutts & Bowen … Meantime, medicinal cannabis advocates – including Orlando attorney John Morgan – have called on Gov. Rick Scott to drop appeals of cannabis-related rulings that went against the state. That includes a case that Morgan backed, challenging the state’s ban on smoking medical marijuana.

School districts defying hazy rules on the use of medical marijuana for students” via Keona Gardner of TCPalm – School districts across Florida continue to defy state law with their policies of banning students’ use of physician-recommended medical marijuana. Districts in Brevard, Collier, Indian River, Lee, Martin and St. Lucie counties, for example, say they simply are complying with federal law, which still classifies all marijuana, whether medicinal or recreational, an illegal drug. Florida Statutes require every school district to write a policy for how it will allow administration of medical marijuana. At the same time, the Florida Constitution … exempts schools from providing “any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana.” “State law doesn’t trump federal law,” explained Mitchell Teitelbaum, general counsel of the Manatee County School District, who has led workshops on the issue for the Florida School Boards Association and the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.

“Judge sides with Florida GOP in absentee ballot dispute with Broward County” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The declaratory injunction, ordered Friday, prevents Broward County Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes from opening the mail-in ballots in secret or before the county’s three-member Canvassing Board meets to determine the ballots’ validity. The board can begin meeting on Monday to handle absentee ballots, more than 75,000 of which have been cast in Broward ahead of the Aug. 28primaries. … The ruling is the second major loss for Snipes’ office in court this year. In May, a judge criticized her office for breaking the law by destroying ballots too soon in the 2016 congressional primary between Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova. Snipes earlier won a federal case concerning voter-roll maintenance. Broward has nearly 1.15 million voters, second only to Miami-Dade’s voter population of nearly 1.4 million.”

Justices block execution in Miami-Dade murder” via the News Service of Florida – The Florida Supreme Court has indefinitely put on hold Tuesday’s scheduled execution of Death Row inmate Jose Antonio Jimenez, convicted of killing a 63-year-old woman nearly 26 years ago in Miami-Dade County. A unanimous order by the court, issued Friday evening, did not give a reason for granting the stay of execution requested by Jimenez’s lawyer, Marty McClain. …  In a motion for a stay of execution filed this week, McClain raised several issues, including the fact that he discovered 80 pages of records related to the investigation into the Oct. 2, 1992, death of Phyllis Minas that the North Miami Police Department had not previously provided to Jimenez’s lawyers. McClain was first given access to all of the records — more than 1,000 pages — on July 30, just two weeks before his client, who maintains his innocence, was scheduled to be executed. … “Mr. Jimenez has found, to his mind, surprising and downright shocking information contained in the previously unseen notes,” McClain wrote in a five-page motion filed in Miami-Dade County circuit court Friday. “It appears that the notes of Detective Ojeda, the lead investigator, and Detective Diecidue if not lied, endeavored to deceive when they were deposed by Mr. Jimenez’s trial counsel.”

In South Florida, $2.1 million no longer makes you ‘wealthy.’ Here’s the new benchmark” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald – In its latest Modern Wealth Index study, brokerage giant Charles Schwab found that area residents now say it takes $3.1 million to be considered “wealthy.” That’s up from South Florida’s 2017 benchmark, which was placed at $2.1 million. To be considered financially comfortable in 2018, South Florida respondents said, takes $1.5 million. (That question was not asked last year.) Nationally, Schwab respondents said it takes $2.4 million to be considered wealthy, and $1.4 million to be considered financially comfortable. The 2018 study, which surveyed approximately 500 South Florida residents in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro region, found that only 42 percent of respondents feel “financially stable.” Fifty-eight percent said they live paycheck-to-paycheck. Both are about even with Schwab’s national averages.


Blue-green algae bloom in St. Lucie River 10 times too toxic to touch, DEP tests show” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm – A blue-green algae bloom in the St. Lucie River estuary contains toxins 10 times the level considered hazardous. The Aug. 2 sample taken at Central Marine on the river’s north shore in Stuart contained the toxin microcystin at a rate of 110 parts per billion, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The only bloom with a higher toxicity so far this year was sampled July 5 at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam, the conduit for Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River. That sample contained microcystin at a level of 154.38 parts per billion. Microcystin, a common toxin produced by blue-green algae, can cause nausea and vomiting if ingested and rash or hay fever symptoms if touched or inhaled.

‘It’s like a bad nightmare’: Florida water crisis slams wildlife, hurts businesses” via Chad Gillis and Laura Ruane of the Naples Daily News – A particularly strong red tide has gone from lingering to lethal in the past two months, killing hundreds of sea turtles, manatees and likely a whale shark. Beaches have been largely empty in recent weeks, and the local economy is feeling the strain. But how long will those impacts from this red tide last, and what will the coming tourism season look like? More than 3 million people used paid lodgings in Lee County last year, with occupancy rates and rental charges peaking during winter high season. Chris Davison is vice president/general manager at the Gulf-front Island Inn on Sanibel … he estimated he’d lost $125,000 in canceled reservations since July 29. Is Davison worried about high season? “Absolutely.”

Meanwhile …Rising seas, rising prices… rising risks” via Dinah Voyles Pulver of GateHouse Media – As Scott Yurchison shows potential buyers waterfront properties on the Atlantic Ocean or Indian River in New Smyrna Beach, the real estate agent fields questions about amenities, schools and nearby services. He rarely gets a question about rising sea levels. … most clients aren’t asking how high the nearby waters might rise before their 30-year mortgage is paid off. “People are asking. Is everybody asking? No,” said Yurchison. “In our society today, people don’t look long-term.” … Waterfront property listings can’t keep up with the demand in Miami Beach, even though the city is spending hundreds of millions to stem the incoming tide by raising streets, installing pumps and building better sea walls. … Similarly, county property appraisers across the state from the Panhandle to Daytona Beach said they haven’t seen any downward trend in waterfront prices or values. … “Realistically, I don’t think people are going to be taking this seriously until water is up around their ankles,” Volusia County property appraiser Larry Bartlett said. … At a speech to a regional association for responsible development last year, Bartlett invited his listeners to imagine what will happen in the community when people realize, “Wow, we’ve got to get out of here because the water is just staying.” The response? “Crickets.”


Although the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooter is in custody, the damage is far from done.

Kyle Laman, 15, was fortunate to survive the shooting, but it still haunts him. He is reminded of the massacre daily from the scars on his foot where he was shot.

The Washington Post’s Sarah Kaplan and photojournalist Matt McClain spent some time with Laman and his family after the tragedy. In a new feature, they depict the Laman family’s struggle to return to normalcy.

The injury: Kyle walks today, although the privilege was nearly taken away from him. “The bullet severed the major vessels that carry blood to the foot, as well as his tibialis anterior tendon, which contracts to lift the foot off the ground. Had it struck any deeper, it would have hit bone and ‘exploded his foot.’”

Camera shy: Kyle dissents from some of his high profile classmates, and isn’t seeking a spotlight in the aftermath. “I like guns,” he tells WaPo. “I like shooting at things. But, like, targets. Not people.”

Compelled to testify: Amid the Laman family’s desire to bring back the status quo, Kyle will likely need to give witness testimony at Nikolas Cruz’ trial. “I want him to die,” he tells WaPo.


State leaders culpable in algae crisis” via The Gainesville Sun editorial board —While focusing on job creation, Gov. Rick Scottforgot that Florida’s natural environment is essential to its economy. He is learning that lesson the hard way during the state’s ongoing algae crisis. Red tide now spans more than 100 miles of Florida’s Gulf coast, killing marine life and sickening coastal residents and visitors … At the same time, blue-green algae is causing similar devastation from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers … the green slime coating waterways is nothing short of an environmental catastrophe. The response by Gov. Scott, who is now running for the U.S. Senate, is to belatedly throw money at the problem and shift the blame. He wants voters to forget that during his two terms in office, the state has fought federal water protections and slashed funding for its own environmental and water-management agencies. …  the state has taken a hand-off approach to regulating the pollution from farms, fertilized home lawns and faulty septic tanks that are fueling the problem. … To be sure, Scott isn’t solely responsible for worsening environmental problems in Florida. … It is incumbent upon voters to educate themselves on the candidates’ environmental records before casting ballot in upcoming elections. Voters must elect officials who make environmental protection a priority long before devastating algae blooms force the issue

John Romano: Two years later, politicians still ignoring Florida voters on medical marijuana” via the Tampa Bay Times – Time after time, the courts have said Florida overstepped its authority by limiting the intent of the constitutional amendment. In the most recent case, a circuit judge said on Aug. 2 that lawmakers erred by trying to limit the number, and organizational structure, of dispensaries. Of course, none of this is surprising. Medical marijuana is a billion-dollar industry, and there is no way that lobbyists and politicians were not going to get a thumb on the scale. Back when the Legislature was first drawing up these rules, Sen. Jeff Brandes … warned his colleagues that they were stifling the marketplace and inviting litigation. “The Legislature has got to get involved because this issue is too important to have all of these questions sitting out there,’’ Brandes said. “There are a lot of people who thought medical marijuana would be available in a certain manner when they voted, and it hasn’t turned out that way.”

Gary Yordon: Start of football season brings back memories — good and terrifying” via the Tallahassee Democrat –This was no ordinary season. For the first time in the history of college football, a coach would be wearing a wireless microphone. I was a producer at WFSU-TV and the guy who came up with this big idea. Bowden was the perfect person to pull off such an ambitious project. He was charming, funny and brilliantly colloquial. Then Auburn happened. Bowden tried fake punts, trick plays, anything to plug the leak. Nothing FSU did worked. Not because they weren’t well designed plays. Everything FSU did for those five minutes failed because the Auburn coaches heard every play Bowden was calling. It seems our new technology was broadcasting Bowden on FM radio. On 94.6, to be exact.


Tom Rooney throws his hat in the ring for Palm Beach County judge” via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News – Five-term Congressman Tom Rooney, who surprised Republican Party leaders by announcing in February he wouldn’t run for re-election, has applied for a county judgeship in Palm Beach County. … Rooney and 31 other applicants are scheduled to interview with the Judicial Nominating Commission Aug. 27. The JNC then will send, at most, six names to Gov. Rick Scott and the governor will make the final decision for appointment. … In a telephone interview Friday, Rooney, 47, told Sunshine State News, “I’ve been thinking about this for a while, trying to prepare for life after Congress. And then a few weeks ago this vacancy came up. … I think it would be a great fit for me,” he explained. “I love being in court. I used to be a prosecutor. I thought about joining a law firm, but I like the autonomy of being a judge.”

Judge will soon reach decision in challenge to Gov. Scott’s City Council appointment” via Christopher Hong of Florida Times-Union – A judge said on Friday that he will soon make a decision on the legal challenge of Gov. Rick Scott’s controversial appointment of Terrance Freeman to replace City Councilman Reginald Brown, who was suspended after being indicted on federal fraud charges. Attorneys for Brenda Priestly Jackson, a local attorney who filed a lawsuit that argues Freeman cannot legally serve on the council because he wasn’t a resident of the Northwest Jacksonville district when Scott appointed him, argued their case before Circuit Judge Waddell Wallace III. Jackson’s suit says that Freeman’s term began the day Scott appointed him last month, and that Freeman, a Republican who owns a home in Mandarin, hadn’t fulfilled the requirements necessary to claim residency in the mostly Democratic district. Brown, along with every other council member to represent the district, is a Democrat. Freeman’s attorneys have asked Wallace to dismiss the case, saying it should be up to the City Council, not a court, to decide whether he’s eligible.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Brian BautistaJames McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: Tallahassee Corporate Center C/O Hall Investments

Amanda Bowen, Nancy D. Stephens & Associates: American Architectural Manufacturers Association, Fenestration Manufacturers Association

Robert Hosay, Foley & Lardner: HealthSmart Holdings

Georgia McKeown, Johnson & Blanton: City of Oak Hill

Will McKinleyErik Kirk, PooleMcKinley: General Dynamics Information Technology

Diana Padgett: Florida School Nutrition Association

Craig Schorr: AllianceBernstein

— ALOE —

Parker Solar Probe launches from Cape Canaveral” via Marco Santana and Mark Skoneki of the Orlando Sentinel –United Launch Alliance sent the $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe into the night sky, setting it on a voyage that will bring it within 3.8 million miles of our Solar System’s star at the highest speeds ever attained by a human-made device. The Delta IV Heavy lit the sky over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on time at 3:31 a.m., engulfing the launch pad with flames as it slowly took flight. Eugene Parker, the 91-year-old retired University of Chicago physicist whom the probe has been named after, said he was excited after watching his first in-person launch. “All I can say is, ‘Wow, we are in for some learning for the next several years.’ ”

The best meteor show of the year is coming to a sky near you” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald – According to NASA’s meteor expert Bill Cooke, the fireball-rich Perseids are on the way, with best viewing on the nights of Aug. 11-13 this year, he told The Perseid meteor shower is an August treat every year because the Earth passes through a trail left by the 16-miles-wide comet of dust, ice, rock and organic material called the Comet Swift-Tuttle … The Comet Swift-Tuttle is the largest solar system object to pass close to the Earth repeatedly, according to NASA. How large? According to NASA, twice the size of whatever killed off the dinosaurs. But don’t worry. The Comet Swift-Tuttle isn’t going to crash into the Earth any time soon, if at all, NASA says.

Happy birthday from the weekend to Rep. Matt Caldwell. Celebrating today is the great, brilliant Erika Donalds.

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Charter chalks a win

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Charter chalks a win

The Leon County School District suffered a bruising defeat this week when an appeal panel unanimously recommended the state overturn the county’s decision to block a new charter school from setting up shop in the county.

The Charter School Appeal Commission, composed evenly of traditional public and charter school representatives, recommended the State Board of Education reject the county board’s previous denial of Tallahassee Classical School. The proposed charter now has the green light to operate.

Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna faced a ‘bruising defeat’ over a new charter school. (Image via Tallahassee Democrat)

The School Board blocked the proposed charter earlier this year, fearing the school would further exacerbate the issue of segregated student populations in the county.

But the appellate panel found that the district did not provide enough substantial evidence to turn down Tallahassee Classical.

The county initially argued the proposed charter’s plans for student recruitment — particularly for enrolling students with disabilities and getting a student body representative of the district’s demographics — along with its tentative transportation plan were not suitable.

But the panel unanimously agreed that each concern raised by the county was not well-founded, essentially determining the school board’s concerns were baseless. Tallahassee Classical has contended that the board blocked the school for political reasons.

In a brief interview after the hearing, Leon Superintendent Rocky Hanna told Florida Politics the district’s initial rejection of Tallahassee Classical likely raised awareness of the issue of segregation, if nothing else.

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t fighting for traditional public schools, and I always will,” Hanna said. Adding that if — or when — the school begins operating in the county, he said the district will “welcome (it) into our community.”

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

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

Take 5

State seeks to substantiate ‘hacking’ claim — After Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson told reporters this week that Russian operatives have “penetrated” election systems in Florida, Secretary of State Ken Detzner penned a letter to Sen. Richard Burr, chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence, requesting knowledge of the alleged hackings. Nelson, when speaking with a Tampa Bay Times reporter, said his knowledge of the hacks stemmed from the committee. In the letter, Detzner wrote that the state has no current information supporting Nelson’s claim. Counties this week finalized submissions requesting federal election security grants to beef up election systems. The awards were approved by the state Joint Legislative Budget Commission and Gov. Rick Scott in July.

Judge strikes parts of pot law — A Tallahassee judge ruled this week that major provisions in a 2017 law implementing medical marijuana are unconstitutional. Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson struck the law’s following requirements: Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers grow, process and sell own marijuana; limits on the number of marijuana providers that can be licensed by the state; and special categories of licenses. The challenge, raised by Florigrown, a company that was denied the chance to become a treatment center, sought a request for a temporary injunction, although that was denied. “The denial of the request for a temporary injunction will allow the department to continue to work to implement the law so Floridians can have safe access to this medicine,” said Department of Health spokesman Brad Dalton. State Sen. Rob Bradley, the budget chief and chief architect of the law, said, “I’m confident that our appellate courts will uphold (its) constitutionality.”

Supreme Court to weigh dog racing ban — The Supreme Court unanimously agreed to consider whether a proposed amendment to end greyhound racing can appear on the ballot in November. The lawsuit, filed by attorneys opposing the ban, argues the proposal, known as Amendment 13, should be kept off the ballot because it would be misleading to voters. In July, a Tallahassee judge sided with the attorneys. The state appealed the lower court ruling last week, and both parties requested an appellate court allow the case to ‘pass through’ to Supreme Court consideration, noting that time was of the essence: Mail-in ballots must, by law, be sent to voters by Sept. 22. An appellate court agreed this week to allow the Supreme Court to take up the case, and the high court accepted it a day later. Justices have scheduled arguments for Aug. 29.

Early voting ballots mount — Just more than half a million Floridians already have voted ahead of the Aug. 28 primary election, and Republicans appear to be leading the pack. Of the 510,155 ballots returned by Friday morning, 238,051 came from registered Republicans, with Democrats returning 198,631, according to data published by the state Division of Elections. Independent voters returned 71,507 as of the same date and voters belonging to other parties sent back 1,966 ballots. In total, 925,192 have been mailed out to Democrats, 836,223 to Republicans, 446,124 to independents and 9,965 to third-party voters.

‘Stand Your Ground’ session fails — A Democratic push to reconvene the Legislature to workshop Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law fell short this week after not gaining enough support between members of the state House and Senate. The call for a special session was sparked by the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton in the parking lot of a Clearwater convenience store. Pinellas County law enforcement did not pursue charges against the shooter, saying he acted within the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law. Democratic members called for lawmakers to be polled on whether they should return to Tallahassee to revisit the controversial law. Although lawmakers had until noon Friday to vote on the special session, it became clear that the three-fifths support threshold could not be met Thursday. Republicans overwhelmingly opted not to return to the capital city. Between the state House and Senate, 77 members voted against the idea, with 48 voting in support. Thirty-one members did not respond to the poll, nor confirm receipt, according to data recorded by the Florida Department of State.

Scott tours algae-plagued area; offers more aid

Gov. Scott toured the St. Lucie River Friday, following-up immediately afterward by announcing an additional $700,000 is coming to help Martin County handle an ongoing toxic algae outbreak.

According to the Governor’s office, that money is coming from a $3 million grant approved after he declared a state emergency over the algae crisis in July.

On the water: Senate President Joe Negron (at left) joined Gov. Rick Scott on the St. Lucie River to see the algae outbreak caused by Lake Okeechobee water releases by the feds.

Scott was joined on his tour by retiring state Senate President Joe Negron, of Stuart. Last month, the Governor toured the algae-affected Caloosahatchee River on the west coast of the state.

Earlier this week, Scott announced an additional $400,000 would be heading to Lee County to clean up impacts related to red tide, for $1.1 million in grant funding.

“I am using my executive authority to provide additional funding to allow communities in Lee County to better clean our waterways,” Scott said in announcing the money for Lee. “We will continue to implement real solutions to help our local communities deal with both the algal issues caused by federal water discharges from Lake Okeechobee and this year’s red tide bloom. I encourage more local governments to apply for this important funding.”

New state land honors veterans

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is expressing the state’s gratitude toward wounded vets with a large chunk of state land that will bear the name “Purple Heart Tract.”

Putnam made the announcement Tuesday, which was National Purple Heart Day. The tract is a 4,500-acre portion of the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest.

“As Americans, the brave men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces have secured our freedom and liberty,” Putnam said.

The Florida chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) hosted its 3rd Annual Purple Heart Day Banquet this week in the historic Fort Harrison.

“More than 1.9 million service members have been wounded or died defending our country, and this Purple Heart Tract is one way we can appreciate our nation’s heroes and honor them in perpetuity.”

The tract is designated as part of the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s trail program. Established in 1992, the program seeks to honor award recipients with transportation routes and monuments.

The news accompanied Putnam’s hosting of the second-annual Operation Outdoor Freedom Purple Heart Day event at Camp Prairie. The camp provides “guided hunts, fishing trips, canoe tours and other outdoor recreational activities free of charge.”

Scam targets Florida Blue customers

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is warning Floridians of a current telemarketing scam that appears to be disproportionately targeting seniors covered under Florida Blue.

According to a news release, Blue Cross and Blue Shield customers nationally have filed several complaints about scammers peddling “experimental pain relief cream” instead of pain medication.

The callers are allegedly prompting consumers to hand over information about their identity. In some cases, the scammers also are attempting to fraudulently charge Blue Cross and Blue Shield for their “bogus” creams, according to Patronis’ office.

“Florida residents are most likely to report being the target of fraud and identity theft,” Patronis said in a statement. “Anyone that provides prescription medication to you without a medical doctor directly involved in your personal care is committing fraud.

“Preying on seniors and some of our most vulnerable population is shameful, and we must do everything possible to warn Floridians about this scam.”

Instagram of the Week

FAU students who lost the opportunity to walk on stage and collect a diploma when a “credible threat” caused Tuesday’s ceremony to be canceled took part in special commencement ceremony at FAU’s Kenneth R. Williams Administration Building Thursday afternoon, August 9, 2018. They included: 1) 81-year-old Nicoletta Sorice, who earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Language and Linguistics. “Nicoletta has inspired her fellow Owls with her passion for learning and her enthusiasm for life,” FAU President John Kelly said. 2) Natasha Taimkij, 26, who earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. “You can tell they really care about their students,” she said of FAU officials. 3) Ripu Kunwar, who is seen posing for a photo making the “owl eyes” sign with FAU President John Kelly. Kunwar earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Geosciences. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post) #bocaraton #palmbeachcounty #fau #graduation #graduate #diploma

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Amendment 8 heading to court

The state Constitution Revision Commission this spring decided to put a proposal on the November ballot that would impose eight-year term limits on school-board members and would require the Legislature to take steps to better promote civic literacy in schools.

Sounds simple enough.

But next week, Tallahassee Circuit Judge John Cooper will hear arguments about whether he should block the proposal, known as Amendment 8, from going on the ballot because of a dispute about another part of the measure.

The League of Women Voters of Florida filed a lawsuit seeking to block Amendment 8. The group contends ballot language doesn’t adequately inform voters that one part of the proposed constitutional amendment is designed to open the door to more charter schools in the state.

Erika Donalds is defending Amendment 8, which is headed to Circuit Court.

The growth of charter schools, which are public schools typically operated by private groups or companies, has spawned numerous political and legal battles in recent years.

But Constitution Revision Commission member Erika Donalds, a Collier County school board member, defended the proposal during a debate in April. She said the revision would allow the Legislature to offer more educational choices, such as charter schools, to students and their families.

“The Legislature should not be encumbered by unfair and antiquated constitutional language that has been used to block parental choice and protect the education monopoly,” she said.

Cooper is scheduled to hear arguments on Friday.

School lunch guidelines announced

Income eligibility standards for free and discounted school lunches for the upcoming school year have been released.

Announced by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services this week, the federal income guidelines apply to the entire country and are valid until June 30, 2019.

The matrix is ordered by income and household size. For example, to be eligible for reduced-price school meals, a household of four could not have a yearly income of more than $46,435. For free meals, the same size household’s income cannot exceed $32,630.

According to FDACS, each school should have a copy available to go over with interested parties. The guidelines also can be found here.

State encourages Floridians to review coverage — before it’s too late

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier and CFO Patronis are reminding citizens to double-check their insurance policies as the peak of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season approaches.

Jimmy Patronis wants your family to be secure; check your hurricane insurance policy, now.

“We are almost 30 days from the one-year mark since Irma, and this should serve as a reminder that flood policies typically take 30 days to take effect,” Patronis said. “Now is the time to review your current insurance policy and get flood insurance if you don’t have it.

“Remember, flooding isn’t just a coastal concern but a statewide issue.”

Patronis has been working with OIR to expand private flood insurance. Between June 2017 and March, eligible private flood insurance providers in Florida increased from 20 to 26, a 30 percent jump from the previous reporting period, according to OIR.

Saying “complacency is not an option,” Altmaier advised: “Floridians must review their insurance policies, understand their coverages, and make the necessary adjustments to ensure they are adequately covered.”

State recognizes Main Street Bartow

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced this week that Main Street Bartow in Polk County is the August 2018 Florida Main Street Community of the Month.

The Florida Main Street Program, administered by the Division of Historical Resources under the Florida Department of State, encourages economic development via historic preservation initiatives that facilitate the revitalization of Florida’s downtowns.

Communities that participate in the program are eligible to receive the designation, which recognizes development achievements.

“Main Street Bartow is an exemplary program,” said Secretary Detzner. “With one of the longest standing Main Street programs in Florida, downtown Bartow continues to thrive with constant growth, investment and additional businesses moving to the area.”

“There is a lot happening in our downtown,” said Bartow Main Street Executive Director Linda Holcomb. “More new businesses have moved in recently, and several are in the process. We have also seen an increase in attendance at our downtown events.”

Old Polk County Courthouse, Bartow. (Photo via the Florida Department of State.

Teacher rally set for next Sunday

As K-12 educators across the state gear up for incoming students, two South Florida lawmakers will host them and interested parties at the Red for Education Teacher Rally Aug. 19, the Sunday before the first day of the 2018-2019 school year in Miami-Dade County.

Announced in June by Rep. Shevrin Jones, a West Park Democrat, and Miami Democratic Rep. Nicholas Duran, the rally is set to take place at the Betty T. Ferguson Community Center in Miami Gardens.

Guest speaker: Broward County Public School Superintendent Robert Runcie.

A number of politicians are expected to attend, including all five Democratic candidates for governor: Gwen Graham, Jeff Greene, Andrew Gillum, Chris King and Philip Levine.

In announcing the event in June, Rep. Duran said: “In our fight to improve Florida’s education system, it is essential that we provide a venue where teachers, students, parents, and the rest of the community can gather together to request better efforts to ensure our public schools are equipped with the adequate resources to provide high-quality education for all our children.” \

“Our schools are being starved out by these poorly thought out mandates and dangerous funding levels,” said Rep. Jones. “We will not continue to tolerate this blatant disregard for the growing needs of Florida’s schools.”

Howard to lead FMA

The Florida Medical Association has installed Dr. Corey L. Howard as its 142nd president.

Howard, the founder of Howard Health & Wellness in Naples, has been active in leadership at FMA since 2007. He is a graduate of the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and is board-certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology.

New FMA President Dr. Corey Howard.

“We congratulate Dr. Howard as he takes the helm as President of the Florida Medical Association,” said FMA CEO Timothy J. Stapleton. “His strong leadership and demonstrated advocacy for our physicians, patients and issues will further strengthen the FMA as Florida’s premier voice of medicine.”

FMA, which acts as the advocacy arm for physicians and medical professionals in the Sunshine State, boasts “more than 22,000 members on issues of legislation and regulatory affairs, medical economics and education, public health, and ethical and legal issues,” according to its website.

Howard officially assumed the presidential post last week during FMA’s annual meeting at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando. Dr. Ronald F. Giffler is president-elect and will assume Howard’s position next year.

Reminder: Crab trap closures underway

The first of two scheduled 10-day blue crab trap closures in August began Friday.

That means recreational and commercial blue crab traps should be removed from specified state waters along Florida’s Atlantic coast.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, those waters include “Brevard through Palm Beach counties from Aug. 10-19, and from all state waters from the Georgia-Florida line through Volusia County Aug. 20-29.”

Closed: The first 10-day Florida crab trap closure begins this week.

The St. Johns River system waters are excluded in both of these closures.

FWC conducts these closures to “identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from the water,” according to the agency. Closure lengths are subject to change.

Lost or abandoned crab traps are dangerous to underwater ecosystems because they can continue to trap — and kill — fish and crabs when gone unchecked. They can also damage habitats and interfere with boating traffic. While the closures are ongoing, fisherman can still collect crabs “with other gear, such as dip nets and fold-up traps,” according to FWC.

FSU Student Bar wins top award

For the seventh time since 2008 and the second consecutive year, the Florida State University College of Law Student Bar Association (SBA) received the National Achievement Award from the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Law Student Division.

The award, honoring the best SBA in the nation, is also known as the SBA of the Year Award and was presented at the ABA annual meeting in Chicago.

From left: incoming SBA President Cecilia Orozco, 3L Representative Brandon Sapala, Vice President Hillary Thornton.

“It recognizes the efforts of an SBA organization to create a better environment for law students and a more positive image of the legal profession,” a news release said. “Top law schools from around the nation competed for the award.”

During the 2017-2018 academic year, SBA’s programming included a Mental Health Week, a Diversity Week and a panel discussion on alcohol awareness to provide information on resources available to law students and lawyers.

Students were also able to network with attorneys and judges and to give back to the community through SBA events, such as the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, raising more than $1,600 to benefit the American Cancer Society.

“We are thrilled that the work of our Student Bar Association has again been recognized at the national level,” said Dean Erin O’Connor.

Social media campaign honors lineworkers

To celebrate Florida Lineworker Appreciation Day (Aug. 26), the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) and Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) will recognize lineworkers from around the state this month in a new social media campaign called “Celebrating our Hometown Heroes.”

Photos and biographical information about lineworkers from Florida’s 34 public power communities will be featured on both organizations’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

Florida Lineworker Appreciation Day goes social.

Members of the public are encouraged to participate in the campaign by sharing the “Celebrating our Hometown Heroes” graphics, creating their own social media posts about their experiences with lineworkers and using the hashtags #ThankALineman, #LineLife and #LineworkerAppreciationDay.

“Lineworkers are the front lines of reliability,” said Jacob Williams, FMPA General Manager and CEO. “The work they do requires incredible skill, focus and commitment to safety. We created this campaign to show how much we appreciate the work they do.”

Public power lineworkers not only serve their own communities but have volunteered to serve others across the state and country.

“Hurricane Maria was incredibly destructive, leaving Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands almost completely without power for months,” said Amy Zubaly, FMEA Executive Director.

“Our lineworkers immediately answered the call for help, traveling to the Caribbean to assist, many of whom stayed for months at a time and were away from their families during Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s this kind of selflessness and sense of duty that our lineworkers exhibit every day on the job.”

Call before you dig

Happy National 811 Day! On Aug. 11, regulators at the Florida Public Service Commission are reminding everyone to call 8-1-1 before digging any holes in the ground, to avoid damaging buried power or gas lines.

Remember, call before you dig!

More than 20 million miles of utility lines are buried underground nationally, and digs can cause damage practically everywhere, ranging from backyards to major construction sites, PSC Chairman Art Graham warned.

In fact, it happens every six minutes.

“Calling 811 has the potential to reduce frustrating service outages while saving time, money, and, most importantly, lives,” Graham said. “No matter how large or small the project, we urge you to call 8-1-1 first.”

Solar company wins PSC’s OK

A second solar energy company has won Public Service Commission approval to offer equipment leases to customers in Florida.

The commission concluded that Vivint Solar Developer LLC’s 20-year, fixed-payment, residential solar equipment lease does not constitute not a retail sale of electricity.

In other words, the company doesn’t qualify as a public utility, subject to PSC oversight.

Vivint Solar Developer is the second solar energy company to get approval from the PSC.

“As solar becomes more affordable and therefore more attractive to residential customers, the PSC supports ways to continue to ‘prime the pump’ for renewable energy adoption,” PSC Chairman Art Graham said. “This (decision) helps provide more residential solar options for Florida’s ratepayers.”

Sunrun Inc. secured a similar PSC clearance in April.

Some content this week provided by The News Service of Florida, republished with permission.

Capitol Directions


Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.10.18

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

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

ICYMI: “Divided we prosper — in Tallahassee, at leastby Peter Schorsch via Tallahassee Democrat — The gift ban may be good government, but it’s bad for … business. And what’s really been bad for Tallahassee business is one-party rule.

Downtown Tallahassee — the heart of Florida’s political body — is dead. It’s so dead that the closest high-end restaurant — one that features a steak named after a local lobbyist — closed its doors.

It’s so dead that the city closed off an entire block of Adams Street and that doesn’t seem to have messed up anyone’s way to work.

With elections for Florida Governor, Cabinet members, and the Legislature in less than three months, what the good people of Tallahassee should be praying for is … gridlock.

That’s right, the answer to the prayers of so many Tallahassee businesses is divided government.


@RealDonaldTrump: Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida is doing a fantastic job and has my complete and total Endorsement! Tough on Crime and Borders, Ted was really helpful on Tax Cuts. Vote all the way for Ted in the upcoming Primary — he will never let you down!

@VP: The time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield where America’s best & bravest will be called to deter & defeat a new generation of threats to our nation. The time has come to establish the US Space Force.

@CahnEmily: Resolved: SPACE FORCE must always be capitalized, because SPACE FORCE is super exciting!

@MarcoRubio: I urge my fellow Floridians in #BrowardCounty to vote for @rpetty for School Board. No one has worked harder or will be a more effective advocate on the issue of school safety. I have seen firsthand his passion & drive. He was a driving force behind

@BallardFirm: Follow @BallardWeather for real-time weather updates from the heart of Downtown Tallahassee! The WeatherSTEM system will provide a source of downtown weather conditions even in the event of widespread power and/or internet outages.

@Jack: I think Twitter is the closest thing we have to a global consciousness. And I believe the world needs that right now.

@ChrisLatvala: Almost 46,000 Pinellas voters have cast a ballot thus far. 46% of them have been from Republicans and 38% from Democrats. #BlueWave

@NewsBySmiley: Only took the City of Miami 11 months to respond to my records request from September regarding documents related to the tower cranes that fell in Hurricane Irma

@Blaskey_S: Update: @DaphneCampbell called the police on me for “threatening behavior” at this event. Last time I checked, asking questions at a public forum was allowed. Don’t worry guys, cops didn’t think the complaint was credible.

@justice2jesus: We’re off to month of primary elects sadly with no statesmen in sight, only politicians. There is a big difference. Service vs. selfish

@GNewburn: Florida decided radical criminal justice transparency actually wasn’t all that radical, and now we have a model for the rest of the country. This one’s going to spread everywhere, and it’s entirely to @ChrisSprowls’ credit.

@PollackHunter: I am so proud that the Parkland families were able to come together on an issue today to show we can be united and work together to defeat @browardschools August 28th by electing new board members. The news conference worked out great.

@Scott_Maxwell: YOU ARE SUCH A SOCIALIST PUPPET!! #MAGA AND BENGHAZI!! AND GRUBER AND BILL AYERS!! AND #MAGA AGAIN, YOU PINKO SNOWFLAKE!! (Sorry, the @orlandosentinel turned off its online-comment section yesterday … and I was feeling nostalgic.)



Start of the U.S. Open — 17; Primary Election Day — 18; College Football opening weekend — 20; Labor Day — 24; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 27; NFL regular season starts — 27; First general election mail ballots go out — 43; Future of Florida Forum — 47; FSU vs. UM football game — 57; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 74; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 75; General Election Day — 88; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 102; Black Friday — 105; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 109; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 186; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 207; 2020 General Election — 816.


Florida wants to help bullied kids — unless they’re gay” via Rebecca Klein of HuffPost — A new anti-bullying program in Florida sounds so good on paper. The first of its kind in the nation, it gives public money to kids who have been victims of bullying and helps them attend private school. The only problem is, not all victims are welcome. For some private schools participating in the program, LGBTQ students need not apply. The Florida Hope Scholarship Program, a voucher program launching this school year, gives up to around $7,000 to individual students who have reported instances of bullying to help them attend a participating private school. However, a HuffPost analysis of private schools that have signed up to participate in the program shows that many of these schools enact their own form of state-sponsored bullying ― by refusing to admit LGBTQ students or outlining punishment for students in same-sex relationships. Nearly 70 schools had signed up to participate in the program … Of these schools, at least 10 percent have zero tolerance policies for LGBTQ students.


Bill Nelson too old for office, GOP super PAC suggests” via News Service of Florida — A Washington-based super PAC backing Republican Senate candidates dispensed this week with what had been more subtle campaign hints aimed at U.S. Sen. Nelson’s age. In a news release titled “Bill Nelson Tragically Forced to Admit His Memory Is Failing,” the Senate Leadership Fund pointed to Nelson saying a day earlier that he couldn’t recall a 2010 letter he wrote to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about delaying the implementation of water-quality standards for Florida lakes, springs and other waterways. “It’s time for Bill Nelson’s caretakers to keep better tabs on the Senator’s whereabouts and public statements so that he is not embarrassed into admitting he’s no longer dealing from a full deck,” Senate Leadership Fund spokesman Chris Pack said.

The Senate Leadership Fund released a new video of a recent “NBC Meet the Press Daily” segment, which points to a pair of “unforced errors” from Nelson. One error was Nelson criticizing Gov. Rick Scott for asking the EPA to hold off on higher water quality standards — a position they both shared. Later, the three-term Senator said he “didn’t recall doing that.” Nelson also later claimed “the Russians penetrated some Florida voter registration systems,” but providing no proof to back up a major accusation. Meet the Press Daily host Chuck Todd said that in this Senate race, a prime opportunity for the Republicans to pick up the seat, Nelson needs to play “error-free ball” against Scott.

To view the video clip, click on the image below:

Ken Detzner questions Nelson’s claim of election hacking” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Florida Secretary of State Detzner wants clarification from the U.S. Senate on Nelson’s comments to reporters that Russians have “penetrated” some voter-registration systems. Detzner sent a letter to Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr requesting that federal officials share with his agency any “relevant, classified information about current and potential threats.” “Additionally, if you, Senator Nelson or any federal agency, government official or elected official has information that verifies that ‘the Russians are in Florida’s elections records,’ I urge immediate transparency and cooperation in sharing that information so that we can take action to protect our elections,” Detzner wrote. Detzner said he’s been advised by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that they had no information backing Nelson’s claim.


Will Parkland parents sway Florida governor race with endorsements?” via the Miami Herald — Despite standing alongside political figures at rallies and public appearances, Parkland activists have for the most part avoided endorsing any particular candidates for office, even those who have supported them since the beginning … the strategy has largely been to endorse policy over policymaker. Fred Guttenberg and Manuel and Patricia Oliver — the parents of two students who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — broke that mold as they appeared in TV ads for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine, the first ads in the race to feature Parkland parents. “I decided not to stay out of it,” said Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was among the 17 students and faculty killed during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. “I know he is committed to an issue that is more important to me than anything.”

Ron DeSantis has list of 9 running mates, considers pre-primary pick” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The congressman’s shortlist, provided anonymously to POLITICO by two top Republicans connected to the campaign, include three Spanish speakers, four people of color, four women, two former prosecutors, a sheriff and two appointees of Gov. Rick Scott, whose management style DeSantis likes. DeSantis’ spokesman, Brad Herold, would neither confirm nor deny the names on the list. But he acknowledged the campaign is already looking past the primary against Adam Putnam, who has steadily trailed DeSantis in polls after President Donald Trump endorsed the congressman and then held a rally for him last week in Tampa.

Five-year-old police report surfaces against Jeff Greene” via Jim DeFede of CBS Miami – A former cocktail waitress at Jeff Greene’s West Palm Beach resort said the billionaire, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, “smacked her on the arm” to get her attention because the music at the hotel was too loud, according to a 2013 police report obtained by CBS Miami. … According to the incident report, the episode allegedly occurred on December 28, 2012, at approximately 5 pm at what was then known as the Omphoy Beach Resort. The waitress, Lisa Ann Thomas, who was 24 at the time, “said Jeff Greene walked up to her and `smacked her on the arm’ and said, `can you turn down the music.’”

Claire VanSusteren, communications director for the Greene campaign, issued the following statement: “It’s unfortunate that the Republicans are bringing such a non-story into the political bloodstream in an attempt to weaken Jeff’s campaign. As can be read in the police report, this is simply a case of an employee having a bad day.” … “Jeff was having dinner with his wife and children three days after Christmas,” the statement continues. “The music was loud and the guests at the next table were having a hard time getting the staff’s attention to ask them to turn down the volume. As the owner of the hotel, Jeff walked up to the former employee, tapped her on the arm, and asked her to turn down the volume. As you can read in the report, the former employee was ‘offended’ by Jeff’s actions – but did not have any injuries, did not think he intended to physically hurt her, and confirmed that no fighting words were spoken. Jeff wishes this former employee all the best.”

Chris King launches ‘fearless’ bus tour — Democratic gubernatorial candidate King is launching his “Fearless for Florida” statewide bus tour, where he will lay out the stakes of this election. “With less than three weeks until Floridians head to the polls, we’re hitting the road to speak hard truths about Florida’s broken criminal justice system and troubled history of institutional racism,” King said. “In our state, there are laws and policies designed intentionally or indifferently to create a different set of opportunities for communities of color —— and until we recognize that and address them, Florida cannot truly thrive.” Tour stops include Escambia, Bay, Leon, Duval, Alachua, Marion, Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota, Lee, Collier, Monroe, Broward, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Volusia, Osceola and Orange counties.

Get on the bus: Chris King launches his “Fearless for Florida” statewide bus tour, stops planned in 20 counties.

Assignment editors — Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. will campaign with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine, 2 p.m., 646 W. Colonial Dr., Orlando.

Sean Shaw promises task force on gun violence ‘on day one’ ” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Shaw, a Democratic candidate for Attorney General, said if elected he will convene a “statewide gun violence working group” on his first day in office. He made the announcement at a Thursday news conference. “Your voices will be heard,” he said, standing outside Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Plaza-level office in the Capitol. He was flanked by members of Moms Demand Action, a gun-control group. “Your concerns will be addressed,” he added. “And I’ll take action.”

Patrick Murphy endorses Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner” via Florida Politics — The attorney and medical marijuana lobbyist picked up another endorsement for bid in the Democratic primary for Agriculture Commissioner on Thursday, this time from former Congressman Patrick Murphy. “I’m supporting Nikki because I know that she is dedicated to promoting the Democratic values we share like protecting Florida’s environment and natural resources, standing up for consumers, and ensuring our state’s agriculture industry has a dependable partner in the Cabinet,” Murphy said. Murphy represented Florida’s 18th Congressional District from 2013 to 2017. He’s been on the sidelines since 2016, when he unsuccessfully challenged Republican U.S. Sen Marco Rubio’s re-election bid. He joins former state CFO Alex Sink and 21 Democratic members of the Florida Legislature, among others, in backing Fried’s primary bid.

For Fried, cannabis a key to the AG race — and public policy” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Florida Politics caught up with her in Jacksonville, just hours before two heavyweights, John Morgan and Alex Sink, were to host an Orlando fundraiser for her. Fried noted that this “institutional support” is “tremendous,” from “leaders … beacons in the party,” especially Morgan, who has been “so instrumental to the passage of medical marijuana” in Florida, and who backs a cannabis adult-use legalization amendment in 2020. We stayed on the cannabis subject for some time, with Fried making the most explicit argument any statewide candidate has about the connection of cannabis policy to myriad other systemic issues in the state. Fried notes that Christian Bax, Gov. Scott‘s point man for implementing cannabis policy, seemed purposefully inept. “Christian … not a good bureaucrat by any stretch of the imagination” seemed to be “taking orders from Gov. Scott,” Fried said.

Assignment editors — Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley will address the Florida Realtors Convention, 12:30 p.m., Rosen Shingle Creek, 9939 Universal Blvd., Orlando.


Trump bump for Ted Yoho, as President endorses North Florida Congressman” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Yoho scored a key endorsement on Thursday in Republican primaries, that of President Donald Trump. … Yoho, who is a member of the House Freedom Caucus with Trump’s chosen gubernatorial candidate, Ron DeSantis, is running for his fourth term in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District — an inland North and Central Florida district running from Orange Park to Ocala. … he is up against Republican insurgent Judson Sapp in the primary … As of the end of June, Yoho had over $430,000 on hand, comparing favorably to Sapp’s $133,012 bankroll. Trump’s endorsement may not move the needle in this race, which has had no indication of being particularly close; however, rest assured the President will find a way to take credit for victory.

Nancy Soderberg releases first TV ad in District 6 race” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The ad, “Hurdles,” highlights “the obstacles Soderberg overcame, both in her national security career and her battle to keep health care after being diagnosed with a pre-existing condition,” her campaign said in a statement. The ad cites her work as Deputy National Security Advisor under President Bill Clinton, which included negotiating peace in Northern Ireland and counterterrorism. “I helped bring Northern Ireland’s opposing sides together to secure peace,” Soderberg says in the ad. “I was one of the first to say, ‘Let’s get bin Laden.’” She also talks about being denied health insurance because of her diabetes. “Let’s bring both parties together to deal with hurdles like unaffordable health care, protecting Social Security and Medicare. Hurdles don’t faze me. I’m about solutions.”

To view “Hurdles,” click on the image below:

Poll puts Neil Combee up big in CD 15 primary” via Florida Politics — The Strategic Government Consulting poll, conducted Aug. 7 and Aug. 8, the Auburndale Republican is the pick for 31 percent of primary voters while Dover state Rep. Ross Spano, who had a double-digit lead in an early July measure from St. Pete Polls, is in a distant second place with 17 percent support. The other three GOP contenders — Lakeland contractor Sean Harper, Brandon agribusinessman Danny Kushmer and Lakeland mental health practitioner Ed Shoemaker — showed up in the low single digits. Despite the strong showing for Combee, two-fifths of Republican voters said they were still undecided three weeks out from the Aug. 28 primary election.

Kayser Enneking pitches health care experience in first TV ad” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Gainesville physician Enneking, a Democrat, started hitting TV with a new ad backing up her campaign to oust incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry in Senate District 8. The ad features footage of the anesthesiologist in operating rooms, waiting rooms and living rooms while pitching her as a candidate who can bring health care solutions to Tallahassee. … “Health care in Florida is in crisis. Politicians had years to fix this, but nothing’s gotten better. It’s time to try something different.” … Enneking, outfitted in scrubs, takes over after the intro. “I never thought I would get into politics. I’ve spent my whole life taking care of people,” she says. “I’ve decided to run for the state Senate because we need someone who can fix our health care system, defend our environment and protect our public schools.” … Enneking is the leading Democrat running for SD 8, which covers all of Alachua and Putnam counties as well as the northern half of Marion County. … the district is a top target for both parties in the fall.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Daphne Campbell keeps calling the cops on reporters” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times — Today, she pulled another classic Campbell move and called the cops on Miami Herald reporter Sarah Blaskey for “threatening behavior,” which apparently amounted to asking Campbell questions in public. Blaskey, who has reported critically on Campbell and recently nailed the state senator for likely living outside her district, had been covering a debate today between Campbell and Jason Pizzo. Blaskey tweeted that the cops, naturally, didn’t find Campbell’s claim even remotely credible. That’s at least the second time in recent months the state senator has dialed 911 to report journalism in progress. Earlier this year, Campbell called Miami Shores Police because Rise News reporter Rich Robinson was filming her in public. Miami Shores police also found that Robinson had done nothing wrong.

—“Florida Senator knew I was a journalist doing my job. She called the police anyway” via Rich Robinson of

Campbell continues to claim nonexistent endorsement from Aventura pol” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Campbell lists Aventura City Commissioner Robert Shelley (whose name is misspelled in her materials) on a campaign flyer issued to voters in Senate District 38. You can see his face among a list of others who have endorsed Campbell’s campaign. The problem is: He’s backing her opponent Jason Pizzo in the SD 38 Democratic primary. And this isn’t the first time Campbell has made this claim. It turns out both the Pizzo and Campbell campaigns had received a signed letter from Shelley’s office indicating his support. After contacting Shelley directly, he said the letter to the Campbell camp must have been sent in error, and that he was actually endorsing Pizzo.

No word if Daphne Campbell called 911 after this interview.

Happening Saturday — Democrat Bobby Powell will hold a canvassing event in his re-election bid for Senate District 30, 9:30 a.m. — 4 p.m., 2715 N. Australian Ave., Suite 103, West Palm Beach.

Medical marijuana advocates start their own PAC” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics Gary Stein, a medical marijuana historian and advocate, has opened his own Florida fundraising panel to support pro-marijuana candidates and influence legislation. Clarity PAC was officially registered Wednesday as a nonprofit corporation and political committee, state records show. Its mission: “To advocate for full legal access to medicinal cannabis and the responsible adult use of cannabis, and to help create and pass legislation supporting that topic.” It hasn’t yet posted any contributions or expenses. Among its backers: Tampa strip club mogul, free speech fighter and medical marijuana patient Joe Redner.

All For Transportation launches sales tax referendum campaign, plans 7-figure fundraising goal” via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — As of Thursday, the group has 89 days to convince voters there is enough incentive to improve transit and transportation in the county to warrant a tax hike. The group didn’t say what the campaign fundraising goal is but said it would be more than organizers raised for Greenlight Pinellas in 2014. That transit referendum failed, despite raising more than $1.1 million. The increased funding would pay for road improvements including congestion relief and traffic calming, road safety and improved transit access. The group has a steep climb. Hillsborough voters overwhelmingly rejected a similar proposal in 2010 and the issue tanked at Pinellas polls in 2014.

Mailer slams GOP candidate for posing with a smiling Obama. But he’s a wax Obama.” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — It comes from an anonymous committee that’s sending mailers attacking Todd Marks in his Republican primary race against Aakash Patel in the race for Hillsborough County Commission District 7. The mailer shows a photo of Marks with Charlie Crist, now a Democratic Congress member but a Republican governor when it was taken. There’s also a photo of Marks with someone the mailer calls “Barrack Obama.” That would be Barack Obama, but if you look closely, you can tell it’s actually a wax figure. When he stopped laughing, Marks told the Tampa Bay Times he had posted the photo on his Facebook page after a visit to a Las Vegas wax museum and denied he’s friends with Obama — in wax or in the flesh.

Todd Marks is getting heat for appearing next to a wax Obama. (Image via the Tampa Bay Times)


In the statewide race for Agriculture Commissioner, the Palm Beach Post editorial board is backing the two female candidates in both primaries. In the Republican race, that’s Grimsley, “who brings the most varied background and who outlines the most detailed plans,” according to the Post. For the Democrats, that’s Fried, who “brings energy, intelligence and a bevy of fresh ideas.”

Sun-Sentinel editorial writers recommend Republican voters in Congressional District 23 back Carlos Reyes, calling him the “best suited to challenge” incumbent Democrat Debbie WassermanSchultz. In the Democratic primary for CD 20, the paper is backing incumbent Alcee Hastings, noting his troubled past but adding, “We find his behavior lamentable, and an embarrassment, but not so egregious that we deny him the endorsement we believe he has earned.” In CD 24, the paper recommends Democratic voters pick incumbent Frederica Wilson, calling her an “an able and energetic representative.”


Gov’s office gloomy on slot tax revenues — The Seminole Tribe of Florida is adding 1,300 slot machines at Hard Rock Hollywood Hotel & Casino, and economists at the Governor’s office say the platoon of new one-armed bandits will yoink slot jockeys away from their usual haunts — the pari-mutuels that pay state taxes. In all, Gov. Scott’s office estimates the new fruit machines will lead to a $29.9 million dip in slot tax revenues. That’s would be a major dip from the $196 million in slot tax revenues expected for the current year. While most at the revenue estimating conference expected some loss from the new slots, some at the revenue estimating conference said those figures were likely too pessimistic. Office of Economic and Demographic Research coordinator Amy Baker said the expansion is “not going to come anywhere near this impact.” While the Seminoles don’t pay slot taxes, they do make millions in payments to the state in exchange for the exclusive right to offer casino-style games statewide. When it comes to slot machines, the Seminoles have exclusivity outside the borders of Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Casino firm sinks money into fighting gambling measure” via the News Service of Florida — The operator of Miami’s Magic City Casino has spent $525,000 on trying to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in the future. West Flagler Associates, Ltd. contributed the money July 31 to a political committee known as Vote NO on 3 … That was the first contribution to the committee, which formed earlier in July. The report also shows the committee paid $523,600 last week to IGT Media Holdings Inc. for a radio ad. The proposed constitutional amendment, which will appear as Amendment 3 on the November ballot, has been backed by millions of dollars from Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Seminole Tribe of Florida bans plastic straws in its state casinos” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — Seminole Gaming, the tribe’s gaming arm, announced its Florida casinos will no longer offer plastic straws beginning Sept. 1. Effective the same day, Seminole-run casinos will eliminate plastic takeout bags in favor of paper ones. “Seminole Gaming has a long history of sustainability programs, and we are pleased to add more earth-friendly straws and to-go bags to the list,” said Tracy Bradford, senior vice president of purchasing, in a release. “As the gaming operation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Gaming is proud to help make a difference in conscientious sustainability practices — it’s the right thing to do.” Customers can request “durable, earth-friendly” straws instead, Seminole Gaming said. The no-plastic-straw policy applies to all six of the tribe’s Sunshine State casinos, including the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

Marine life are literally choking on discarded plastic.

State moves forward on marijuana licenses — Health Department officials will hold a workshop Aug. 17 to take input on the application process for new medical marijuana licenses. The workshop, announced Thursday, will deal with one license earmarked for a black farmer who was a member of litigation dealing with discriminatory lending practices and four other licenses for applicants seeking entry into the state’s highly restricted market. A new law required health officials to give preference for two licenses to applicants who own facilities that were used to process citrus, the subject of at least one lawsuit. Because of litigation regarding the citrus preference, the department is holding off on accepting applications for the remaining two licenses. The measure requires health officials to grant four licenses after at least 100,000 eligible patients have enrolled in a statewide database, a benchmark that was recently surpassed.

Families of Parkland victims call for entire Broward School Board to be replaced” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The families of several victims of February’s shooting in Parkland made their boldest call for action yet Thursday, asking for the entire Broward County School Board to be replaced in elections later this month. “The current school board has failed to properly prepare the county’s 234 schools for the upcoming school year,” said Tony Montalto, a member of the group Stand With Parkland that was created in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Montalto’s daughter Gina was one of 17 people killed in the attack. “The constant reversals of policy positions continue to leave our county’s students and teachers at risk and clearly show there is no unified plan to keep them safe,” Montalto added.

Hillsborough school district didn’t reveal lead findingsvia The Tampa Bay Times — The Hillsborough County School District didn’t tell parents for more than a year that it was discovering high levels of lead in some schools’ drinking water, a Tampa Bay Times investigation found. The district announced the results last week — three days after the Times began asking teachers and principals whether they knew about the lead levels in their classrooms. By then it had ignored for 16 months federal recommendations that said it should disclose the testing. It still hasn’t released the vast majority of test results, including more than 70 tests showing lower levels of lead that researchers say still can be dangerous for children.

In Belleair shore, beach owners don’t even want sea turtles trespassing” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times — In the tiny but affluent Pinellas town of Belleair Shore, the question of beach access has sparked a somewhat different dispute. Instead of just humans, some Belleair Shore residents want to give sea turtles the boot too. Town Commission members are complaining about spotting marked sea turtles nests on their beachfront land — nests that they said had all been put there, without permission, by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. “They relocated 400 eggs onto private property and didn’t tell us,” Deputy Mayor Deborah Roseman said in an interview. “We learned about it by going out and seeing all these roped off areas on private property.” David Yates, the CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, suggested the two commissioners may want to check their property deeds — and also their math. Before moving any nests to Belleair Shore, he said, his turtle team reviewed county property records to ensure they were on public land. “We’re not trying to violate someone’s property rights,” Yates said.

Cities, counties look to prevent bear-human conflicts” via the News Service of Florida — Collier, Lake, Marion, Seminole, Volusia and Walton counties and the cities of Apopka and Mount Dora have collectively applied for $935,181 from the “BearWise” funding program, which has $500,000 available for grants. “This funding will help residents secure their trash and eliminate the primary reason why bears spend time in neighborhoods,” David Telesco, who leads the commission’s Bear Management Program, said in a prepared statement. The grants are expected to be awarded in October. A preference in the selection process is that a community enact a “BearWise” ordinance, which requires residents and businesses to bear-proof trash containers. Lake, Orange, Santa Rosa and Seminole counties have enacted such ordinances, while Apopka is in the process of enacting an ordinance. If enacted, Apopka would join Fort Walton Beach as the only municipalities in the state with such an ordinance. With roughly 4,000 black bears estimated to live in Florida, the Legislature designated the money for the fiscal year that began July 1.

SunPass problems: Lawmaker calls for removal of FDOT secretary” via Noah Pransky of WTSP — As a flood of backlogged SunPass charges are pushed onto customers’ accounts, creating a flood of customer service problems, one state lawmaker is asking the governor to remove FDOT Secretary Mike Dew for his “lack of accountability and transparency” regarding the 70 days of SunPass disruptions. State Rep. Kristin Jacobs, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott after she says Dew ignored a series of three letters she had sent dating back to July 17. Scott has also failed to indicate how he would hold his own department responsible, or what kind of penalties the state may impose on the two contracting firms hired to supervise the project, HNTB and Atkins.


Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will tour the St. Lucie River and areas where there are algal blooms caused by the harmful federal water releases from Lake Okeechobee. He will also announce additional funding for impacted areas, 8 a.m., Sunset Marina and Anchorage, 615 SW. Anchorage Way, Stuart.

Toxic blue-green algae blooms in St. Lucie River targeted by Martin County” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — Martin County plans to start two algae-fighting projects — one to get rid of blooms and one to keep them from reaching the St. Lucie River — as soon as Monday. By Friday, the county expects to receive a $700,000 state grant, part of $3 million set aside for algae cleanup assistance to counties affected by the blooms. “I don’t think we’ll need that much,” said John Maehl, Martin County ecosystem manager, “but we want to make sure we have enough money to get us through the end of the rainy season. I expect we’ll be getting discharges for a while.” To get rid of blooms in confined spaces such as marinas: Boats use nets to concentrate the bloom, and then vacuums — either on a boat or on shore or both — suck the algae into large bags in roll-off dumpsters; the bags will have filters to allow water out but keep the algae mass and toxins inside; once the water is no more than 30 percent of the volume, the bags are hauled to a landfill by the contractor.

Red Tide is spreading through Southwest Florida. (Image via Andrew West/The News-Press)

What travelers should know about Florida’s red tide outbreak” via Nancy Trejos of the Naples Daily News — What is being called the worst toxic algae bloom in years has been killing turtles, manatees, dolphins, and other marine life. It is also creating respiratory and gastrointestinal issues for humans. Many of Florida’s popular west coast beaches from Tampa Bay to Sarasota to Naples are practically deserted as the red tide emits toxic gases. Larry Brand, professor of marine biology and fisheries at the University of Miami, says it’s difficult to tell why this particular outbreak has been so bad, but Hurricane Irma last year and a particularly rainy fall and winter have contributed to the outbreak. Brand says it is also hard to predict how long the outbreak will last but that it will most likely go through the rainy season, which can extend into November. His advice … “If people want to go to the beaches, go to the east coast.”

Nelson, Scott play blame game with red tide, toxic algae” via Evan Donovan of WFLA — Sen. Nelson and Gov. Scott are playing the blame game with Florida’s current devastating environmental issues. States are responsible for regulating their waterways, and Tampa Bay Waterkeeper Andy Hayslip said there’s no doubt Florida isn’t doing a good enough job.” Absolutely, we are seeing a lack of enforcement on behalf of state regulatory agencies,” said Hayslip. Nelson said Wednesday the blame rests squarely on Gov. Scott. “Gov. Scott signed a law that abolished the periodic inspection of leaking septic tanks. Now you put all that together, and ultimately that’s what you’re gonna get.” On Thursday, Gov. Scott’s campaign fought back. “It’s ridiculous for Bill Nelson to try to blame Gov. Scott for an issue that’s been neglected by the same federal government Nelson has been a part of for decades,” said Lauren Schenone, Scott’s campaign press secretary.


What we know about Trump’s proposal to punish immigrants who receive public benefits” via Nora Gámez Torres and Brenda Medina of the Miami Herald — “The first thing that people need to know is that there isn’t a final proposal that we have seen yet,” said Mark Greenberg, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), based in Washington D.C. The official proposal would require a period of time for comments and discussions, and could take months to go into effect, he said. “For anyone who is currently considering applying for citizenship, it is important to understand that there is not a new rule, that the standards have not changed and, while the government is considering making changes for the future, they are not in effect now,” Greenberg said. An NBCNews report said legal immigrants could be denied permanent residence and citizenship if they or their relatives have received any public assistance through programs such as Obamacare, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps — or tax credits. If approved, the new policy would redefine what is considered a “public charge” as well as the criteria that government officials must follow in order to make decisions on immigration status.

If Donald Trump succeeds in his latest plan to scale back legal immigration, it will take a while to go into effect. (Image via Time)

Remaining counties file for federal elections security grants” via Florida Politics — The last of Florida’s 67 counties now have submitted applications for federal election security grants, which qualify them to receive $14.5 million on top of the $19 million already secured, Gov. Scott announced. “As we approach the 2018 election season, there is nothing more important than ensuring the security and integrity of Florida’s elections,” the governor said in a written statement. Scott announced approval of the initial 49 grant applications in July. The announcement came one day after Sen. Nelson asserted that Russian operatives have breached elections systems in some counties ahead of the midterm elections. He did not identify which ones, and elections officials have said they could not confirm Nelson’s claim.

Trump’s tariffs on Canadian newsprint hasten local newspapers’ demise” via Catie Edmondson and Jaclyn Peiser of The New York Times — Surging newsprint costs are beginning to hurt publications like The Gazette in Janesville, Wisconsin, the hometown paper of the House speaker, Paul Ryan, which has long felt a mandate to punch above its weight. The paper, with a newsroom staff of 22, was the first to publish the news in 2016 that Ryan would support the presidential candidacy of Trump. And while its editorial board has endorsed Ryan countless times, the paper made national news when it chided him for refusing to hold town halls with his constituents. Now, with newsprint tariffs increasing annual printing costs by $740,000, The Gazette has made several cuts to its staff and is using narrower paper, reducing the number of stories published every day. “We’re all paying a huge price,” Skip Bliss, publisher of The Gazette, said of the tariffs’ effect on the industry. “I fear it’s going to be a very difficult time. I think there’s probably going to be some casualties.”


Jeremy Ring: Setting the record straight on business background” via Florida Politics — Appointed Chief Financial Officer and seafood restaurateur Jimmy Patronis lied about using taxpayer resources for his campaign and now he’s lying about my business background. Let’s set the record straight. I’m an entrepreneur. My opponent isn’t. I’ve started businesses. He hasn’t. I’ve helped to pioneer industry. I’ve started organizations, grown organizations, and led organizations. I’ve dealt with personnel challenges, written business plans, worked in mergers and acquisitions, raised capital, invested my own capital, and had shareholder responsibility. I’ve been held to strong corporate governance standards, negotiated countless deals with countless clients. I’ve held significant roles in publicly traded companies and private companies; large companies and small companies. Patronis, if he ever started a business, would know what all of that truly means. He doesn’t and hasn’t. Not everyone is handed a business and not everyone is handed a position to oversee the state treasury. Qualifications matter, as does honesty. Right now, I am questioning both for the current appointed CFO.


Former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker backs driverless vehicle technology” via Bill DeYoung of — Baker has been added to the Advisory Board of California-based Coast Autonomous, a company that makes experimental, self-driving electric vehicles for cities looking to ease their mass transit woes. “Cities matter,” Baker said in a statement released by Coast. “We are at the beginning of an enormous wave of change that will improve the daily lives of people living in cities around the world. Properly focused on the pedestrian, self-driving vehicles will make cities more user-friendly, safe, comfortable, productive and interesting.” Baker is Coast’s Senior Advisor on Urban Deployment. The shuttle system, he predicted, “will be the future of autonomous technology.”

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Matt Bryan, Smith Bryan & Myers: Lighthouse Health Plan

Kevin Cabrera, Nelson Diaz, Southern Strategy Group: Tom Thumb Food Stores

Dean Cannon, Kim McDougal, Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services

Don DeLoach, DDGov Consulting: ThoughtSpot

Chris Dudley, James Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Tallahassee Corporate Center C/O Hall Investments

Scott LaGanga, Kristin Parde: Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Christopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: F. Philip Blank


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

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with La Gaceta publisher Patrick Manteiga, Tampa Bay Times Government and Politics editor Michael Van Sickler, Tampa Bay Times staff writer Caitlin Johnson and Jeff Lukens, vice chair of the Hillsborough County GOP Executive Board.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: Will discuss financial literacy and whether it should be a mandatory part of the school curriculum. Joining Walker-Torres are State Sen. David Simmons; state Reps. Kamia Brown and Byron Donalds; Tom Eisenhuth, financial advisor, vice president of The Flagship Group; Anna Ryan, Education Director, M.Ed., Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay; and Ashanti Lee, student, Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: This week’s show will discuss the latest from Tallahassee with Spectrum News reporter Troy Kinsey; Agriculture Commissioner candidates David Walker and Nikki Fried. PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim about the deficit.

Sunday Morning Politics with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): State Rep. Dr. Julio Gonzalez, who is running for Florida’s 17th Congressional District, and state Sen. Darryl Rouson, on the effort to change Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon will speak with businessman DeVore Moore.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: U.S. Rep. Al Lawson and Rick Mullaney, of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute.

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

— ALOE —

Happy birthday to defender of the greyhounds (as well as Dayton’s boss), Mr. Jack Cory. Also celebrating today is sharp Dem, Josh Karp, and CFO candidate Jeremy Ring. 

Last Call for 8.9.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

The Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign announced endorsements Thursday from 25 Florida veterinarians and five Florida veterinary clinics.

“Common injuries for greyhounds to experience while racing includes spinal, neck and limb fractures,” said Dr. Sy Woon of Royal Palm Beach. “Further, state records show that a gentle greyhound dies every three days at a Florida racetrack.

“To end this unnecessary suffering, I am asking my friends, family and my clients to vote ‘yes’ on 13.”

Joining them were nine musicians, artists and authors, including singer-songwriter Henry Gross, the campaign said.

According to his bio, Gross is a “founding member of the doo-wop revival group Sha Na Na who left to go solo, releasing what became his solid gold single “Shannon” in 1976.

The campaign is promoting passage of Amendment 13, placed on the ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission.

The measure would outlaw wagering on live dog racing in Florida. Amendments need at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution.

A Tallahassee judge ordered the measure struck from the November ballot after a legal challenge from greyhound owners and breeders, but that ruling is on a fast-track appeal at the state Supreme Court.

Evening Reads

Nothing bodes well’: Lackluster election results spark debate over Donald Trump’s midterm role” via Bob Costa and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post

Blue wave? As Florida primary ballots are mailed in, Republicans more engaged via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Facing Bill Nelson’s warning, Homeland Security says it hasn’t seen ‘any new compromises’ by Russians” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeff Greene says he sold his oil, energy investments as feud with Gwen Graham escalates” via David Smiley and Lawrence Mower of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times

Sean Shaw promises task force on gun violence ‘on day one’” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

For Nikki Fried, cannabis a key to the AG race — and public policy” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Donald Trump endorses Ted Yoho ahead of Florida primaries” via Max Greenwood of The Hill

Three candidates pursue Republican dream of ousting Debbie Wasserman Schultz from Congress” via Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel

‘They should be fired:’ Parkland parents call for gutting Broward school board” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald

Florida county tries unconventional approach to deal with massive teacher shortage” via CBS News

Quote of the Day

“There is no accountability. There’s no leadership. We don’t want this to happen to other schools. We don’t want this to happen to any other children.” — Parkland parent Max Schachter, whose son Alex was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, calling for the entire Broward County School Board to be replaced in this year’s election.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which is helping spearhead a proposed constitutional amendment to restore felons’ voting rights, will start a two-day conference. The proposed amendment, which will appear on the November ballot as Amendment 4, would automatically restore the rights of most felons after they have served their sentences. That’s at 9 a.m., Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Dr., Orlando.

The Florida Department of Children and Families will help host a meeting that is part of an effort to better coordinate behavioral-health services. The meeting is an outgrowth of an executive order signed by Gov. Rick Scott that called for better collaboration with law-enforcement agencies. That’s at 10 a.m., Redlands Christian Migration Association Building, 551 West Cowboy Way, LaBelle.

Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Denise Grimsley will speak at the Florida Realtors convention. That’s at 12:30 p.m., Rosen Shingle Creek, 9939 Universal Blvd., Orlando.

Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. will join Democratic candidate for Governor Philip Levine in a Central Florida canvass. That starts at 2 p.m., 646 West Colonial Dr., Orlando.

State candidates and political committees face a Friday deadline for filing reports showing finance activity through Aug. 3.

Looking Ahead

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which is helping spearhead a proposed constitutional amendment to restore felons’ voting rights, will continue a two-day conference. The proposed amendment, which will appear on the November ballot as Amendment 4, would automatically restore the rights of most felons after they have served their sentences. That’s Saturday, 9 a.m., Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Dr., Orlando.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham is expected to raise money during an event at a private residence in Leon County. That’s Saturday, 2 p.m., 1333 Peacefield Place, Tallahassee.

Florida Republican Chairman Blaise Ingoglia is expected to be among the speakers during the Lake County Republican Party’s Lincoln Reagan Dinner. That’s Saturday, 6 p.m., Lake Receptions, 4425 North Highway 19-A, Mount Dora.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.9.18

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

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


— Who won? Neither candidate scored a knockout punch. Adam Putnam tried to attack early but didn’t succeed in highlighting policy differences between him and poll-leader Ron DeSantis. They’re both Republican. They both support Donald Trump. They both love the Second Amendment. And DeSantis has a big lead in the polls with less than three weeks left before the Aug. 28 primary. So, you’d have to say DeSantis won by not losing.

— Set your GPS: Putnam tried hard to stress his Florida roots, noting, “I don’t need a GPS to get around the state.” It seemed like a glancing blow, though, that had basically no impact on the debate stage and likely will have the same at the ballot box.

The final bow: Adam Putnam and Ron Desantis duke it out in the last GOP gubernatorial debate before the Aug. 28 primary.

— The big man himself: Putnam clearly has been staggered by Trump’s endorsement of DeSantis, a point amplified last week at a rally in Tampa. DeSantis has run ads touting that endorsement, referring to Trump as “the big man himself.” Putnam was left to lament, “I wish he hadn’t put his thumb on the scale of a Florida campaign.”

— GOP health care plan: Don’t get sick: Pressed directly if they believed health care is a basic right, Putnam stuck his foot deeper into the abyss than DeSantis. Putnam after trying to tap-dance around the question, responded, “It is not a right for all.” DeSantis hemmed and hawed with a talking point quote that probably would make a less damaging sound bite in November, responding, “I think people should have the right to pursue the type of health care they want.”

— Was anyone paying attention anyway: In some markets, particularly Tampa Bay, you had to really want to watch this. It was not available on regular TV; you had to search it out online. With early ballots going out and opinion polls hardening, was this debate the political equivalent of a tree falling in the forest? Could be.


With a hat/tip to Kevin Donohoe:

“A career politician with A.D.D.”: DeSantis on Putnam: “Ron DeSantis has run for three offices in three years. That’s a career politician with A.D.D.”

“Seinfeld candidate”: Putnam on DeSantis: He’s a “Seinfeld candidate” running a campaign “about nothing.”

“Trump card”: Putnam on DeSantis: “The Trump card is the only card you have.”

“Errand boy”: DeSantis on Putnam: “Adam is the errand boy for U.S. Sugar, he’s going to stand for them.”

— “A face on a milk carton”: DeSantis on Putnam during the 2016 presidential race: “Never showed up to a single rally — you could have put his face on a milk carton. No one knew where he was.”

— “Casino owners and pornographers”: Putnam on DeSantis’ billionaire backers: “My opponent’s contributions have come from casino owners and pornographers on the West Coast.”

— “You can put everything he knows on a sticky note”:Putnam tweeted, “You can put everything @RonDeSantisFL knows about water on a sticky note and still have room for your grocery list.”


@RealDonaldTrump: As long as I campaign and/or support Senate and House candidates (within reason), they will win! I LOVE the people, & they certainly seem to like the job I’m doing. If I find the time, in between China, Iran, the Economy and much more, which I must, we will have a giant Red Wave!

—@SteveSchale#PinkWave rising in Florida 61% of absentees cast so far in Democratic primary are from women. 60% of those cast by people with no midterm primary history are from women.

@ScottforFlorida: .@SenBillNelson you are embarrassing yourself and our state. There is no justification for you attacking my wife. Ann is an incredible person. After 46 yrs in office, why can’t you say anything positive about yourself? Let’s keep this race about our records and plans for FL.

@Daniel_Sweeney: I’m so old, I remember when Rick Scott released an ad attacking Carole Crist for not releasing her taxes in 2014

—@AGGancarski: My post-debate thoughts: Putnam won. Some great lines. Not sure if this had the reach of the first debate. Ultimately they agree on most things except sugar industry. On Medicaid, charter schools, Guns, cannabis, et al: no real difference.

—@Fineout: Some of the words tossed around tonight in GOP debate from Florida – “pornographers” “errand boy,” “unicorns and rainbows” “he’s lying” “attacking me with fake news” “put it on your sticky note.” “They are playing hide the ball.” “It may sound good in a Harvard economics class.”

—@LMower3: The weirdest part of tonight’s debate was how @adamputnam thinks it’s a bad thing to be compared to the greatest sitcom of all time. #Seinfeldcandidate

—@SContorno: As much as Republican candidates use the “liberal media” as a punching bag, an astounding amount of the fodder in tonight’s debate came directly from stories published by the @TB_Times, @PolitiFact and other news outlets.

—@MarcACaputo: Sheldon Adelson spox hits back at Adam Putnam for attacking Ron DeSantis over taking “casino” $: “that was sort of a foolish remark to make. He’s probably just jealous… as desperately as his campaign tried to get money from the Adelsons I’m surprised he made an issue of it”

—@MoteMarineLab: Mote Stranding Investigations Program recovered four deceased dolphins. Two were recovered last night and two this morning. Mote staff will conduct necropsies on all four dolphins to investigate their cause of death. Thank you to all who helped report these animals!

—@SteveLemongello: By the way y’all, the @orlandosentinel has turned off comments on our stories. My condolences to the one guy who had a screaming Rick Scott as an avatar and posted MAGA! under every story



School begins in the first 19 Florida districts — 1; Start of the U.S. Open — 18; Primary Election Day — 19; College Football opening weekend — 21; Labor Day — 25; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 28; NFL regular season starts — 28; First general election mail ballots go out — 44; Future of Florida Forum — 48; FSU vs. UM football game — 58; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 75; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 76; General Election Day — 89; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 103; Black Friday — 106; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 110; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 187; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 208; 2020 General Election — 817.


First on #FlaPol —Group backing gambling amendment plans $30M ad buyvia Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The political committee behind a proposed constitutional amendment limiting gambling plans a $30 million ad buy to promote the measure’s passage. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) public files document some of the purchase. John Sowinski, chairman of Voters In Charge, which is behind the “Voter Control of Gambling” amendment, on Wednesday confirmed the total buy … The committee is sitting on nearly $10 million in cash-on-hand, according to campaign finance records listed on the Division of Elections website Wednesday. Sowinski said those numbers do not reflect contributions that came in the last 10 days, which he did not disclose.


Florida teachers’ union backs Bill Nelson — Pointing to his unwavering support of public schools and public education employees, the Florida Education Association along with the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers endorsed Nelson’s re-election bid. Nelson met with current and retired educators and support personnel at the Hillsborough Teachers Union Hall to discuss the importance of public education funding, teacher pay and supporting our students to invest in the future of Florida. With the new school year beginning, they talked about challenges and about funding for school safety, educating immigrant students, and other issues facing Florida educators and schools. “Nelson knows and appreciates the value of our public schools and public school educators,” said Florida Education Association President Joanne McCall. “We stand with Bill Nelson because he has been a steadfast supporter of our students, teachers, support staff and schools, and has fought for funding for programs to assist some of Florida’s most vulnerable students.”

In a Tampa news conference, Bill Nelson receives the endorsement of the Florida Education Association for his re-election bid.

Democratic PACs hitting Rick Scott on Medicaid, pre-existing conditions” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA Action PAC are launching a new $1.1 million digital ad campaign to blanket the internet with a new advertisement hitting Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gov. Scott for refusing to expand Medicaid in Florida and charging that he opposes mandatory insurance coverage of people with pre-existing conditions. The 15-second ad, “Worry,” is running statewide in both English and Spanish versions. The ads will run across a broad range of platforms including Facebook, Google, YouTube and Pandora, as well as on online news platforms such as CNN, The New York Times, Univision and Telemundo.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Assignment editors — Democratic state Sen. Victor Torres and state Reps. Amy Mercado and Carlos Guillermo Smith join K-12 education leaders for a news conference to discuss Gov. Scott’s “horrible record on education,” 11 a.m., outside of the Orange County Public Schools building, 445 W. Amelia St., Orlando.


Gwen Graham’s affiliation, albeit somewhat remote, with the planned American Dream Miami megamall project evolved into a campaign issue seemingly overnight last week. 

Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene released television ads attacking Graham for her “family ties” to the project, and she responded with ads attacking Greene for going after Bob Graham, writes Lawrence Mower for the Tampa Bay Times. 

Diving into Graham’s alleged connections with the project, Mower notes, ”the Graham Companies own part of the land where it would be built, and the company plans on building a mixed-use project on 300 acres south of the mall. Both the mall and the Grahams’ commercial project received zoning approval by Miami-Dade County commissioners in a 9-1 vote in May.” 

Graham’s stake: “The family company, founded decades ago, is Graham’s greatest source of wealth. She owns nearly $14 million in company stock, and she made $830,000 in income last year from the company, according to her most recent financial disclosure.” 

The problem: Environmental interests oppose the mall, including the Everglades Trust, which endorsed Graham earlier this week. 

But: It doesn’t appear that environmental organizations fear Graham having a future conflict of interest. The director of the Everglades Trust told Mower, “we now know Gwen Graham has nothing to do with the project.”

Greene says he sold his oil, energy investments as feud with Graham escalates” via David Smiley and Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Greene sold off the oil and energy investments that have become a flashpoint in his campaign to become Florida’s next Governor. Greene, who listed $3.3 billion in assets this summer, did not provide a list of what he said he has sold, or any documents detailing the transactions. But he said in a statement that he had unloaded his stock in companies that were the source of criticism aimed at him hours earlier by Democratic front-runner Graham, with whom he’s engaged in an increasingly contentious feud over the last week. Graham’s campaign blasted Greene over his investments in Exxon Mobil Corp., Hess Corp., Blackburn Partners, Tujunga Partners, KinderMorgan, California Resources Corp., Ness Energy, Occidental Petroleum Corp., and Quantum Energy Partners — all companies involved in energy and oil and listed by Greene as sources of secondary income.


Ron DeSantis poll shows him leading Adam Putnam by 20” via Adam Smith of Tampa Bay Times — Despite Republican gubernatorial candidate Putnam and his allies spending about $10 million on negative TV ads criticizing DeSantis, the northeast Florida Congressman has opened up a 20-point lead on the agriculture commissioner, the poll found. The Aug. 5-7 live call survey of 600 likely primary voters (MoE +/- 4%) by North Star Opinion Research showed DeSantis reaching the key 50 percent mark for supporters, with 50 percent backing him and 30 percent supporting Putnam. The poll was conducted after Trump’s widely publicized campaign rally for DeSantis in Tampa. “We are leading in every media market, including Adam Putnam’s home media market of Tampa,” said DeSantis campaign manager Brad Herold hours before the two candidates hold their second televised debate.

Heard on the radio: DeSantis discussing campaign for Governor — DeSantis joined Chris Ingram at News Talk Florida Tuesday to “discuss his campaign and what he stands for as he runs against Putnam.” The 14-minute-long conversation can be heard here.

Assignment editors — Putnam will join supporters at the Republican Party of Palm Beach County’s 17th Annual Lobster Fest, 6:30 p.m., The Polo Club of Boca Raton, 5400 Champion Blvd., Boca Raton.

Happening today — The five Democrats running for Governor will attend a town-hall forum, 8 p.m., Jacksonville University, Terry Concert Hall, 2800 University Blvd. North, Jacksonville.

Sit-in: Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum sits on the floor of the Governor’s Office waiting area after a ‘Stand Your Ground’ press conference.

Graham sees film biz woes as symptom of ideology malaise” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — After hearing out leaders of Florida’s struggling film industry, Graham pledged to help as governor and said she blames ideological thinking in Tallahassee for driving away much of Florida’s former movie business. “It’s a philosophical problem. That’s what it is. That’s what it is!” Graham said. “That’s what it is in all these areas when you talk about health care, the education system. These have become ideological tools for state government. And that’s not your job.” She continued: “Your job when you’re provided the opportunity to do what’s right, and to help the state, is to not be influenced by ideology. And it makes me so angry.”

Philip Levine goes on another round of attacks against Donald Trump” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — “Levine vs. Trump: Round 2” targets Trump over multiple past controversies, contrasting Levine’s actions against those of Trump. “Trump ridicules people with disabilities, locks up the children of immigrants and makes demeaning women his personal punching bag,” begins the ad’s narrator. “As mayor, Philip Levine pioneered breakthroughs for the disabled, earned a perfect score for human rights and took on the president by defending the DREAMers. Round 2: Levine, because he’ll never stop fighting intolerance.” As the name suggests, the ad is the second of its kind from Levine. The first version focused on Trump’s gun policies and his support of the NRA.

To view the ad, click on the image below:


Happening today:

Assignment editors Sean Shaw, the Tampa state Representative and Democratic candidate for Attorney General, plans a 10 a.m. Thursday news conference in the Capitol to “make a major policy announcement regarding gun violence in the state of Florida.” Members of the media interested in covering the news conference are asked to RSVP to by the close of business on Wednesday.

NOW endorsing Darren Soto — The National Organization for Women Political Action Committee is endorsing Soto in his re-election campaign for Florida’s 9th Congressional District. The battle in the heavily Democratic district, which includes eastern Polk, southern Orange and all of Osceola counties has been between Soto and his predecessor, former Congressman Alan Grayson. NOW Political Director Linda Berg cited Soto’s, “dedication to feminist issues” for drawing the endorsement.

David Shapiro puts pop quiz to voters in new ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Get your pencils ready, class. Shapiro has dropped a new campaign ad as he continues his challenge to incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in Florida’s 16th Congressional District. In the ad, titled “Quiz,” Shapiro uses a multiple-choice quiz to help highlight his goals should he make it to the halls of Congress. “Washington politicians have failed the test when it comes to protecting Florida families,” says Shapiro to the camera, as an on-screen graphic gives Congress an F rating in their representation of Florida.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

National Home Builders back Greg Steube for Congress — The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is endorsing state Sen. Steube‘s campaign for Florida’s 17th Congressional District. NAHB represents more than 140,000 members involved in home building and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction. Members include the Charlotte-DeSoto Building Industry Association and the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association, who gathered to formally endorse Steube and jointly present him with a campaign contribution. “Greg Steube believes that small businesses are the backbone of our economy and that housing is critical to a strong and prosperous nation,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel. “We are proud to endorse Greg Steube for Congress because he knows that a robust housing industry is key to a thriving national economy.”


Scoop –Poll: Bob Doyel slightly edges incumbent Kelli Stargel in Senate District 22” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — The poll shows a preference of 45 percent for Doyel to 40 percent for Stargel with 15 percent undecided if the election were held today. With a margin of error of 4.9 percent, however, the results are just barely out of a statistical tie. Asked if they wanted to re-elect Stargel or someone else, the poll said 33 percent of the voters want Stargel re-elected, 39 percent said they they’d vote for someone else and 28 percent said they didn’t know. The district breakdown is 42 percent Republican to 38 percent Democrats.

Internal poll shows Jason Pizzo up on Daphne Campbell in Senate District 38” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Two years after winning her northeast Dade state Senate seat in a six-way scrum with just 31 percent of the vote, Campbell was down double digits to her challenger in Florida’s 38th district as absentee ballots went out in the mail late last month. That’s according to an internal polling memo by Pizzo‘s campaign. Pizzo’s polling found that he was running with 36 percent support to Campbell’s 19 heading into August. Outside of the normal qualifiers we offer about internal polls, there’s a big caveat for Pizzo, and it’s not the 4 percent margin of error for the survey of 350 voters: Nearly half of voters queried remained undecided.

Happening today:

Orange Co. Republicans seeking replacement to run against Amy Mercado” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orange REC Chair Charles Hart said he has circulated notices to county Republicans and REC members asking anyone interested in running to send in resumes and letters and prepare to meet with him and State Committeewoman Kathy Gibson. “We’re keeping an open mind; we don’t have a front-runner,” Hart said. Scotland Calhoun withdrew after party officials concluded she wasn’t eligible since Calhoun would not turn 21 until the spring.

Sketchy stroll: State House candidate filmed nabbing opponent’s flyers” via Florida Politics — A supporter of Madeira Beach attorney Ray Blacklidge was canvassing when he and other volunteers noticed something fishy going on — the flyers they were leaving at front doors were going missing, only to be replaced by materials backing the campaign of Blacklidge’s primary opponent, St. Petersburg attorney Jeremy Bailie. The canvassers had noticed Bailie was on the same route, and after finishing his knock list, he decided to do some recon by doubling back and ducking in some bushes, smartphone in hand. His espionage bore fruit — Bailie himself was pulling a door-to-door switcheroo … a video of the dirty deed has been posted to Facebook and YouTube, where it has since garnered more than 3,300 views. In a comment on that Facebook post, the man who captured the video said this wasn’t the first time Blacklidge’s campaign materials had gone missing.

Judicial candidate filed campaign paperwork too late, appeals court says via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — An appeals court has blocked Clay County judicial candidate Lucy Ann Hoover from appearing on the ballot because she filed her paperwork too late. “We recognize that the public policy of Florida generally favors letting the people decide the ultimate qualifications of candidates,” the 1st District Court of Appeal concluded Wednesday … “However, absent special circumstances, public policy considerations cannot override the clear and unambiguous statutory requirement that all of the candidate’s qualifying paperwork must be received by the filing officer by the end of the qualifying period.” The court upheld a trial judge in the 7th Judicial Circuit, who heard the case because it originated with a motion filed by incumbent Clay County Judge Kristina Mobley. Gov. Scott placed her on the bench in 2015.

Fort Myers attorney says he was told to get out of State Attorney race or face charges” via Michael Braun of — Candidate Chris Crowley said he was told by a representative of the 10th Judicial Circuit that campaign violation charges against him would be dropped if he quit the 20th Judicial Circuit’s state attorney race. A day after spending a few hours in jail when he was arrested in what he now claims is a case of “dirty politics at its worst,” Crowley said his own attorney, Ron Smith, was witness to the request that he quit the race or be charged. “He accompanied me the whole time, when Jerry (Hill) sat there, along with the state attorney for the 10th circuit,” Crowley said in a media briefing on the steps of the Lee County Courthouse. “But it was Mr. Jerry Hill who said ‘you must get out of this race or we’re going to indict you with a grand jury.’” Hill is an assistant state attorney with the 10th circuit.

Happening today — The Republican Party of Palm Beach County holds its annual “Lobster Fest.” Speakers include U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, 6:30 p.m., The Polo Club of Boca Raton, 5400 Champions Blvd., Boca Raton.


TCPalm is backing Teri Pinney in the Republican primary for state House District 84, noting her willingness to compromise and “reach across the aisle.” Pinney faces Mark Gotz. In the Democratic primary for House District 84, the newspaper recommends voters pick Delores Hogan Johnson “for her expertise in education and her decades of local activism.” Hogan Johnson faces three other Democratic hopefuls on Aug. 28. In the Republican primary for House District 83, TCPalm is supporting Toby Overdorf, acknowledging the depth at which he responded to environmental concerns.

The Palm Beach Post is backing incumbent Congressman Brian Mast in the Republican primary for Congressional District 18, saying he “makes no apologies for his support of a ban [of assault weapons], nor should he.” In the Democratic primary for CD 18, the Post recommends Lauren Baer, she “is careful to tie any national issue — such as health care — directly to the residents living there,” writes the Post’s editorial team.

In the Democratic primary for state House District 81, the Post is backing Tina Polsky, saying she is “more likely to succeed” in a Republican-controlled Legislature. In the competitive primary for state Senate District 25, the Post recommends Belinda Keiser, writing, “For GOP loyalists, Keiser checks off the boxes that should earn their primary vote: pro-business; law-and-order; A-rating from the National Rifle Association.” In the Democratic primary for Senate District 30, the Post is backing incumbent Sen. Bobby Powell, noting that “his experience and relationships established while in the state House helped the first-term senator snag the vice chairmanship of the influential Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development.”


Spotted: Pam Bondi on “The Ingraham Angle” Bondi appeared on Laura Ingraham’s show to “criticize the Left’s culture of resistance,” a news release said. “Bondi highlighted the economic boom Florida has experienced because of President Trump. She specifically noted record-low Hispanic unemployment at 4.5 percent.” Quote: “I don’t understand why (the Left) would not root for the success of America because when you do it’s rooting for the success of all of us.”

To view Bondi’s appearance, click on the image below:

Florida inmates spent $11.3 million on MP3s. Now prisons are taking the players.” via Ben Conarck of the Florida Times-Union — In April last year, the Florida Department of Corrections struck a deal with JPay. The private company, spearheading a push to sell profit-driven multimedia tablets to incarcerated people across the country, would be allowed to bring the technology to every facility in the nation’s third-largest prison system. But there was a catch. Inmates had already been purchasing electronic entertainment for the last seven years — an MP3 player program run by a different company: Access Corrections. For around $100, Access sold various models of MP3 players that inmates could then use to download songs for $1.70 each, and keep them in their dorms. More than 30,299 players were sold, and 6.7 million songs were downloaded over the life of the Access contract, according to the Department of Corrections. That’s about $11.3 million worth of music. Because of the tablets, inmates will have to return the players, and they can’t transfer the music they already purchased onto their new devices.

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New ‘Stand Your Ground’ hearing rejected in shooting case” via the News Service of Florida — Adding to divisions about the effect of a 2017 legislative change, a South Florida appeals court rejected arguments that a man convicted of manslaughter should receive a new hearing under the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law. The 2017 legislation shifted a key burden of proof in “stand your ground” cases from defendants to prosecutors. But a ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal and rulings by at least two other appellate courts have split on whether the change should apply retroactively to defendants whose cases were pending at the time the legislation took effect. The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to take up the retroactivity issue in a Miami-Dade County case from the 3rd District Court of Appeal, though justices have not scheduled arguments. The ruling from the 4th District Court of Appeal in a Palm Beach County case agreed with the conclusion from the 3rd District Court of Appeal that the 2017 change should not apply retroactively. The 2nd District Court of Appeal, however, took the opposite stance in a Hillsborough County case.

Father blames ‘stand your ground’ in son’s parking-lot death” via Errin Haines Whack of The Associated Press — Michael McGlockton is convinced that two things killed his son in a Florida parking lot last month: The man who pulled the trigger and the state’s polarizing “stand your ground” self-defense law. Markeis McGlockton, 28, died a few yards from his children and girlfriend at a store in Clearwater after a confrontation over a parking spot that reignited the debate over the law. The local sheriff said that under “stand your ground,” Michael Drejka was justified in the killing. Michael McGlockton said that if the law didn’t exist, his son might have gone home the night of July 19, or Drejka might have been arrested. Instead, McGlockton said, he buried his firstborn while the killer walked free. “No law should be able to protect somebody to the point that they kill somebody on the street and they can lay in the bed the same night,” McGlockton said. “To me and my family, that’s a slap in the face. (Drejka) would’ve thought twice before he pulled the trigger. With the law, he knew that he could hide behind that.”

Michael McGlockton holds a photo of his son, Markeis McGlockton.

Records show road rage, gun threats in stand your ground shooter’s past” via Kathryn Varn and Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — Since 2012, according to records and interviews, 47-year-oldDrejka has been the accused aggressor in four incidents. Investigators documented three cases in police reports. The other was not shared with authorities at the time but involved the same handicap-reserved parking spot outside the Circle A Food Store near Clearwater and another shooting threat. Two involved allegations of Drejka showing a gun. In another, a trooper accused him of aggressive driving and cited him after a crash when Drejka braked hard in front of a woman driving with two children. Drejka has not spoken publicly in the weeks since he shot and killed McGlockton. No one has spoken much about him, either. Not family. Not neighbors. Not lawyers. Drejka remains, in many ways, an enigma to the public.

Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission continues a two-day meeting, 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

Four dolphins found dead off Venice, is red tide to blame?” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — According to Mote Marine Laboratory, two dead bottlenose dolphins were recovered on a beach in Venice. A third dead dolphin was recovered from the Intracoastal Waterway near Snake Island and the fourth was recovered from Caspersen Beach. Two of the dolphins are male, one is female and the fourth’s sex is unknown. Mote staff will conduct necropsies on the four marine mammals to find out the cause of death. All four were moderate to severely decomposed, which complicates the efforts, Mote says. These may be the first dead dolphins reported in Sarasota-Manatee since the start of the red tide bloom. More than 80 manatees have died this year from red tide.

Are oysters the key to battling red tide in Florida?” via Mark Young of the Bradenton Herald — One oyster filters between nine and 50 gallons of water a day, according to Sandy Gilbert, CEO of START, which launched the Gulf Coast Oyster Recycling & Renewal program a little more than a year ago. The organization was started in 1995 during another massive red tide bloom in Manatee County and has been working to restore the county’s shellfish population. “Clams and oysters are an important part of our ecosystem,” Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, told the county commission. “They are little creatures that are part of a bigger plan, and we believe, part of the solution to help with red tide.” About 280 volunteers have been working this past year bagging oysters and placing them along the Manatee River and in strategic locations in Sarasota Bay and Robinson Preserve.

What Richard Corcoran is reading —Tallahassee Classical goes before charter appeal commission” via Ashley White of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee Classical School, whose charter application was denied by the Leon County School District this spring, takes its case to a higher authority … The seven-person Charter School Appeal Commission will hear the appeal beginning 9:30 a.m. at the Florida Department of Education, 325 W. Gaines St. Both the school district and charter school are expected to present their cases. The commission will then make a recommendation whether to deny or grant the appeal. After the recommendation, the appeal will go to the State Board of Education, which makes the final decision. “The state board must consider the commission’s recommendation in making its decision but is not bound by the recommendation,” according to Florida Statute 1002.33.


The shadow rulers of the VA” via Isaac Arnsdorf of ProPublica — Three Mar-a-Lago members — Ike Perlmutter, the chairman of Marvel Entertainment; Bruce Moskowitz, a Palm Beach doctor; and a lawyer named Marc Sherman — together make up an informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the Department of Veterans Affairs. None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government. Yet from a thousand miles away, they have leaned on VA officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans. They have remained hidden except to a few VA insiders, who have come to call them the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd.” Documents reveal a previously unknown triumvirate that hovered over public servants without any transparency, accountability or oversight. The Mar-a-Lago Crowd spoke with VA officials daily, the documents show, reviewing all manner of policy and personnel decisions. They prodded the VA to start new programs, and officials traveled to Mar-a-Lago at taxpayer expense to hear their views. “Everyone has to go down and kiss the ring,” a former administration official said.

Donald Trump shakes hands with Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire, and the CEO of Marvel, right, before signing an Executive Order on “Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection” at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

White House head of communications for Hispanic media, Helen Ferre, makes quiet exit” via David Adams of Univision – Aguirre Ferré, 60, who is the daughter of Nicaraguan parents, has not spoken publicly about her departure, which was confirmed to Univision by Mercedes Schlapp, the White House director of Strategic Communications. Her unannounced exit from the White House comes in the midst of the immigration crisis over Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, but Aguirre Ferré has not publicly expressed any reservations about its impact on immigrant families. In fact, she defended the policy and never gave any sign of her loyalty wavering. At a Latina Leaders Summit in June she said; “I support the President’s efforts in securing the border and I support the President’s efforts in ensuring that the laws are enacted properly.”


Booting Infowars’ Alex Jones from social media wasn’t wrong, but it could be dangerous” via Cathy Young for the Tallahassee Democrat — To state the obvious: There are no constitutional issues involved, since the First Amendment protects speech only from intervention by the government. Some, including Rep. Steve King, have argued that since today’s big tech companies wield virtual monopoly power in the marketplace, they should be treated as public utilities when it comes to speech — an ironic stance that puts conservatives in the position of calling for more government regulation. Meanwhile, free speech champions such as attorney and blogger Ken White warn that any attempt to treat social media platforms as “public forums” where First Amendment principles should govern will lead to pernicious government intrusion. But what if Jones was subjected to a more radical deplatforming — and what if it was the start of a slippery slope? At least one politician, Rep. Chris Murphy, seemed to advocate exactly that, tweeting that “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies” and that sites like Facebook and YouTube “must do more than take down one website.” When calls for internet companies to restrict objectionable speech turn into political pressure, it should be worrying even to those who shed no tears for Jones. What happens if the Jones purge is followed by a more far-reaching ideological crackdown — targeting, for example, sites like Breitbart or The Federalist? The likely result will not be to silence the right, but to fracture the internet.


Appeals court keeps Clay judicial hopeful off ballot” via the News Service of Florida — A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal rejected arguments by Lucy Ann Hoover, who sought to run against Clay County Judge Kristina Mobley. Hoover scurried May 4 to meet a noon qualifying deadline for the race, according to the ruling. But a required financial-disclosure document was not notarized at the county elections supervisor’s office until 12:12 p.m. — 12 minutes late. The elections supervisor initially qualified Hoover as a candidate on the basis that she was in the supervisor’s office before the qualifying deadline, according to the appeals court. But Mobley challenged the qualification, and a circuit judge ruled Hoover should not be on the ballot.

Financial regulator pick pushed back” via the News Service of Florida — Kristin OlsonScott’s Cabinet aide, said the governor’s office continues to review applicants for the job of commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation and another position as inspector general of the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. “Our office needed more time to review those candidates, so they’ll be on the next Cabinet agenda,” Olson said. The Cabinet meets only two more times this year after next Tuesday’s meeting: Sept. 11 and Dec. 4. Scott and the Cabinet — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis — in June agreed to name Pam Epting as acting commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation and to reopen the application process after interviewing five applicants. An additional 20 applications were submitted following the June meeting. Epting was the deputy commissioner of the office and is not among the applicants to replace former Commissioner Drew Breakspear, who resigned under pressure from Patronis.

— ALOE —

’Every minute matters’: Disney die-hards race to hit 49 rides in one day” via Nancy Coleman of The Wall Street Journal — For an elite group of Disney superfans, doing it all in one day requires months of planning. Challengers dart from the Mad Tea Party to Space Mountain while braving the Florida heat, swarms of tourists and the occasional broken toe. Runners map out detailed routes in hopes of joining the few dozen who have ever completed the grueling race. To endure the 20-plus-mile day, some train by hitting the treadmill, Rollerblading or running in quarter-mile sprints to imitate racing between rides. There is no grand prize, only celebrity status among other admiring fans. Runners compare the challenge to a giant jigsaw puzzle with constantly moving pieces: Depending on the day, parks officially open as early as 7 a.m. and close as late as 1 a.m. Some ride times are around 20 minutes long, others are just two minutes. Waiting times vary widely, some rides have a notoriously slim operating window, and hopping between parks could take around a half-hour. The resort covers nearly 40 square miles.

Brothers Reagan (foreground) and Ryan Wagoner on the Astro Orbiter during a ride race at Disney World. (Image via Reagan Wagoner/WSJ)

Magic leap launches its first product” via Haley Britzky of Axios — Priced at $2,295, the Magic Leap One Creator Edition is an augmented reality headset that “brings digital content to life here in the real world with us,” per the company’s news release, by superimposing computer-generated effects over the user’s surroundings. Magic Leap has spent years raising billions of dollars from investors without a product to show for it. Now, the company will face its first real test as reactions roll in. CNBC reporter Todd Haselton, who was invited to test out the headset, writes the “experience with the goggles … was like a computer-generated 3D world with real depth.”

Happy birthday to one of the best in The Process, the FHCA’s Emmett Reed, who is at home walking the halls of power AND fun locales vacationing with his family. He’s also a two-time member of the INFLUENCE 100. Also celebrating today is House candidate Rebekah Bydlak and Hillsborough Co. Commissioner Sandy Murman.

Last Call for 8.8.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

An administrative law judge recommended Wednesday that a Miami-Dade school bus driver be reinstated and get back pay after his unpaid suspension for restraining “a violent student.”

Judge Robert L. Kilbride ruled that driver Livingston Wint, a 15-year employee with no prior disciplinary record, “had to reasonably control and restrain a very unruly and disruptive (middle school) student.”

That student had caused “an emergency situation (by) triggering the exit window alarm” while the bus was moving. The incident happened in October 2017.

As captured on cellphone video taken by other students, Wint went back to close the window when “the male student (first) rose up slightly … and punched Wint in the stomach several times.”

In laying hands on the student to defend himself, the school board had argued Wint violated school board policies and standards of ethical conduct.

But Kilbride said Wint didn’t break any state laws. And where the school board’s rules may contradict the law, “they are invalid and not controlling.”

The “physical action (Wint) took to protect himself and the other students from a violent and unruly student was not only authorized but required by the statutes under the circumstances,” Kilbride wrote.

In fact, “had (Wint) done nothing and allowed the situation to escalate, he would have been accused of ignoring his obligations under” law, the judge said.

“There is not just cause to terminate (his) employment. To do so would be contrary to the law.”

Evening Reads

The shadow rulers of the VA” via Isaac Arnsdorf of ProPublica

Bill Nelson: The Russians have penetrated some Florida voter election systems” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Nelson, Rick Scott spar over Ann Scott’s loan to blind trust accountant” via Mat Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Scott staffer takes impromptu meeting with Andrew Gillum, clergymen on ‘Stand Your Ground’” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics

Ron DeSantis poll shows him leading Adam Putnam by 20” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeff Greene pumps another $4.5 million into gubernatorial campaign” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Gwen Graham sees film biz woes as symptoms of ideology malaise” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Denise Grimsley details policy proposals in new e-book” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

Ted Deutch slams Marco Rubio for endorsing candidate he says ‘cruelly attacked’ grieving Parkland dad” via Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel

Internal poll shows Jason Pizzo up on Daphne Campbell” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald

Florida locals taxing themselves to cover shortfalls from state cuts in education and transpiration funding” via Mitch Perry of the Florida Phoenix

Quote of the Day

“The lobbyists and politicians who oppose Amendment 3 have fought us at every turn, because they don’t want voters to have a voice.” — Voters in Charge chair John Sowinski, on the proposed constitutional amendment requiring “voter control” of future gambling expansions. He’s planning a $30 million media buy to promote its passage.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will continue a two-day meeting. That’s at 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

The Revenue Estimating Conference will discuss “fiscally constrained” counties at 8:30 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.

The Florida A&M University Board of Trustees will meet after holding committee meetings. Committees start at 8:30 a.m., with full board at 11 a.m., FAMU College of Law, 201 Beggs Ave., Orlando.

The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board will meet at 9 a.m., district headquarters, 3301 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach.

The Revenue Estimating Conference will consider what are known as “outlooks” for certain trust funds. That’s at 9:30 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)

The Republican Party of Palm Beach County will hold its annual “Lobster Fest,” with speakers expected to include Ben Carson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That’s at 6:30 p.m., The Polo Club of Boca Raton, 5400 Champions Blvd., Boca Raton.

The five Democrats running for Florida Governor are expected to take part in a town-hall forum in Jacksonville. That’s at 8 p.m., Jacksonville University, Terry Concert Hall, 2800 University Blvd. North, Jacksonville.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.8.18

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

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

There’s been a lot of talk about whether Gov. Rick Scott will topple U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the fall. Ditto for the race to replace him in the Governor’s Mansion. Lost in the shuffle, perhaps, are the dozens of down-ballot races only a small amount of voter outreach and an even smaller amount of public polling has taken place.

But a new series of polls for state House races in the Orlando and Miami metros could change that conversation tout suite. Those surveys, commissioned by the Florida Democratic Party’s state House campaign arm, show the party is well positioned to flip four Republican-held seats, two of them open and two of them held by GOP lawmakers running for re-election.

The most shocking of the bunch was the measure for HD 30, which straddles the border of Orange and Seminole counties and is currently held by Altamonte Springs Republican Rep. Bob Cortes. If the election were today and voters had to choose, they’d ditch the incumbent and vote in Orlando Democrat Brendan Ramirez by 7 points.

Shocking: If the election were today, Orlando Democrat Brendan Ramirez would win HD 30 by 7 points.

More than a third of voters are undecided in that poll, but the 36-29 margin comes despite Ramirez facing two Democratic primary challengers and having spent only $5,250 getting his message out to the voters.

The same situation is playing out down in South Florida, where voters in three GOP-held districts said they preferred a Democratic candidate over an unnamed Republican.

In HD 93, a rare Republican oasis in deep-blue Broward County, Emma Collum holds a 2-point lead over Chip LaMarca; Democratic candidate Cindy Polo leads Republican Frank Mingo outright, 32-29 percent; and in HD 120 voters are leaning toward third-term Republican Rep. Holly Raschein but said if they had to pick today, they’d elect Democratic nominee Steve Friedman despite him not actively campaigning in the district.

If those polls hold, Floridians could be sending a lot more than a new Governor to Tallahassee.

First in #Sunburn — “Progressive group sending backup to state Senate battlegrounds” via Florida Politics — Progressive advocacy group For Our Future Florida announced it would pitch in on the efforts to flip the state Senate, starting with the seats held by Republican Sens. Keith Perry and Dana Young. … Perry’s Gainesville-based SD 8 and Young’s Tampa-based SD 18 are top targets for the Florida Democratic Party in 2018. … “All Florida has to show for Keith Perry and Dana Young’s time in Tallahassee is millions funneled out of our public schools leaving our state one of the worst for K-12 education in the country and nearly one million low-income residents blocked from accessing health care through Medicaid,” said For Our Future spox Blake Williams. “Working Floridians deserve representatives like Kayser Enneking and Janet Cruz who will look out for their best interests, advocate for the middle class, and fight for affordable health care.” … the group said its state Senate campaign program would focus on persuasion and mobilization and would include a vote-by-mail program layered into the field campaign.


@MattGaetz: Every person covering, supporting, working 4 and donating 2 @adamputnam knows that the race against @RonDeSantisFL is over. 20 points down w 20 days to go. Time to acknowledge reality, stop the false negative ads, and unite the party behind Ron!

@Scott_Maxwell: I think a fate worse than hell would be to be reincarnated as a DSCC or NRSC “spokesperson.” To have to crank out that kind of dribble and pablum every day would be a fate worse than even Dante could’ve imagined.

@Fineout: In question about @ScottforFlorida and GOP allies continually saying the 75-year-old @SenBillNelson is out of touch or confused Nelson lays down challenge to Scott: “Anytime he wants to have a contest about push-ups or pull-ups, then we’ll see who’s not up to it.”

@MarcACaputo: If you’re concerned with Trump calling the media “the enemy of the people,” you should be outraged at the assault on the press in FL’s 2nd largest (& most Democratic) county where the school board wants a judge to punish a newspaper for writing the truth about district failures

@CarlosGSmith: This afternoon, I am calling DIRECTLY on @JeffGreeneFL to donate $25M to @FlaDems w/out preconditions. When u came outta nowhere to run for Senate in 2010, u promised millions in FDP support, got ur ass handed to u & disappeared for 8 yrs. 2018 is the same bribe, different year.

@SchmitzMedia: Greene, who’s spent thousands running attacks on Gwen Graham, says he “can’t say anything bad” about the other candidates.

@MichaelKruse: At 1,740, the @splcenter‘s list of public Confederate memorials is 237 entries LONGER than it was in 2016, it says here in @USATODAY.



School begins in the first 19 Florida districts — 2; Start of the U.S. Open — 19; Primary Election Day — 20; College Football opening weekend — 22; Labor Day — 26; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 29; NFL regular season starts — 29; First general election mail ballots go out — 45; Future of Florida Forum — 49; FSU vs. UM football game — 59; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 76; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 77; General Election Day — 90; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 104; Black Friday — 107; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 111; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 188; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 209; 2020 General Election — 818.


Entering the final three weeks before the Aug. 28 primary election, Republican gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam will tangle Wednesday night in a televised debate in Jacksonville. DeSantis, a Northeast Florida congressman, and Putnam, the state agriculture commissioner, also debated in late June at the Republican Party of Florida’s “Sunshine Summit” in Kissimmee. Wednesday’s debate will be held at 8 p.m. at Jacksonville University’s Terry Concert Hall. It will be broadcast by WJXT Channel 4 in Jacksonville and will be shown on a network of stations across the state.

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Rick Scott invested in firms that did business with Venezuelan regime” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — “Any organization that does business with the Maduro regime cannot do business with the state of Florida,” Scott said in Miami last summer. But Scott and his wife Ann held substantial investments as recently as last year in three firms that have done business in Venezuela: Goldman Sachs, Invesco and BlackRock. That’s according to the 125-page financial disclosure statement Scott filed on July 27 as a U.S. Senate candidate. It’s the most complete accounting of Scott’s finances since he last opened his blind trust in 2014, and includes Ann Scott’s investments, which are not required to be disclosed under Florida ethics laws. According to the July 27 statement, the Scotts received stock dividends or capital gains income of between about $345,000 and about $1.8 million in the past year from their investments in the three Wall Street firms.

Bill Nelson ad: Florida’s algae crisis is made by Scott” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The new 30-second video, “Algae,” begins with images of putrid, green waters, dead fish and animals, and declares: “Florida’s algae bloom crisis is a man-made problem, made by this man Rick Scott.” Scott’s campaign declared that it is ridiculous for Nelson to try to blame Scott “for an issue that’s been neglected by the same federal government Nelson has been a part of for decades.” Nelson’s new video includes quotes from opinion pieces published in the Miami Herald and the Orlando Sentinel, and from Florida Conservation Voters, all explicitly blaming the two-term governor for the crisis that has erupted again this summer with massive amounts of polluted water released from Lake Okeechobee feeding devastating algae blooms on Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts. “This problem has a name: Gov. Rick Scott,” the Herald’s editorial is quoted. “He’s rolled back every common-sense safeguard in the books,” quoting Florida Conservation Voters.

To view the new ad, click on the image below:

Scott ad accuses Bill Nelson of cutting Medicare when he voted for Obamacare” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The 30-second spot, “Unfair,” will be playing on television and in digital internet advertising. It charges Nelson with supporting Medicare cuts and helping put Medicare in financial straits because he voted yes on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in 2009. The commercial doesn’t actually mention the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, only citing the bill number and vote number. The commercial contends the vote led to a cut of $716 billion from Medicare. It is an allegation that Republicans have been charging, and Democrats refuting, since the Affordable Care Act was first approved in December 2009, though the exact number of the alleged cuts has varied. By 2012 Republicans were consistently citing $716 billion. That year PolitiFact sought to check the claim and rated it “Mostly False.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:


Nelson: Scott is ‘silly’ about debate refusal claims” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Democratic U.S. Sen. Nelson said Scott’s claims that Nelson refuses to debate him are “silly.” Nelson spoke with reporters in Tallahassee on Tuesday, before a ceremony at the Tallahassee Veterans Affairs Health Care Center to name the facility after Marine Corps Sgt. Ernest “Boots” Thomas. “Obviously, it’s to my advantage to debate him,” the incumbent senator said of Scott, his GOP challenger and the state’s term-limited governor. “I’m going to wait until after the primary. What he’ll do is, he’ll (suggest) a bunch of debates, and then he’ll start backing out on them.”

Assignment editors — Nelson and Congresswoman Kathy Castor will join the Florida Education Association and American Federation of Teachers for a significant campaign announcement, noon, Hillsborough Teachers Union Hall, 3102 N. Habana Ave., Tampa.


Ron DeSantis gets money from previous Adam Putnam political donors” via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily — The shift in political contributions started July 26, just three days after Donald Trump announced he would rally with DeSantis in Tampa. So far, DeSantis has seen more than $54,000 from first-time donors that once supported and gave money to Agriculture Commissioner Putnam, a candidate who is backed by most of the state’s biggest GOP donors. This is also the latest sign that the three-term congressman, with the help of Trump, is cementing himself as the front-runner in the primary race. The four most recent polls analyzed by RealClear Politics show Putnam is trailing DeSantis by an average of 11 points, with about 25 percent of GOP voters undecided.

Donor migration: Money is moving from former front-runner Adam Putnam to new favorite Ron DeSantis.

Jeff Greene plows more money into gubernatorial bid” via the News Service of Florida — Greene loaned $4.5 million to his campaign between July 21 and July 27, bringing the total to $18.1 million. He had received $1,355 in contributions and had spent nearly $17.83 million as of July 27. Much of the spending has gone to advertising-related costs.

Gwen Graham separates from the pack according to new Associated Industries poll” via Florida Politics — Associated Industries of Florida’s numbers show Graham started the month with a 35 percent support — the highest mark in any poll to-date and a massive increase from the 24 percent share she held back in mid-July. Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Palm Beach billionaire Greene don’t take second-place, either. That honor goes to “not sure,” which polled at 23 percent. Graham’s increased lead seems to be coming from those heretofore undecided voters, who made up 31 percent of primary voters just three weeks ago. As their share shrunk 8 points, Graham’s support increased 11. Those other three points appear to have come from Levine, whose support dropped by two points as he rejoined the scrum at the bottom of the race. Levine, Greene, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum are bunched up in the low teens, according to AIF, which did not measure support for Central Florida businessman Chris King, who often shows up in single digits in most polls.

Greene, Graham escalate fight over mall project” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — Greene and Graham have released dueling TV ads and campaign statements over a massive mall project planned for a 175-acre Miami-Dade parcel that includes land owned by a company founded and controlled by Graham’s family. Greene and another Democratic candidate, Winter Park businessman King, brought up the American Dream Mall during a televised debate in Palm Beach Gardens last week, noting that environmentalists oppose the project because it’s relatively close to the Everglades. Greene followed up with a 30-second TV ad that began airing over the weekend, criticizing “Graham’s mall” and concluding with the words “How can Florida trust her?” on the screen. Graham responded with an ad of her own today that shows her canoeing with her father, former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. “A billionaire opponent is attacking me personally — even falsely attacking my dad, Bob Graham. It’s disappointing,” Graham says in the ad. The ad notes that the Everglades Trust endorsed Graham.

Graham ad decries ‘billionaire opponent’ attacking her and her father” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Graham is responding to an attack ad from Greene by launching a new television commercial touting her environmental record and decrying “false negative advertising.” Her 30-second spot, “Trust,” features footage of Graham and her father kayaking together. It also touts endorsements from “respected environmentalists.” The ad is a rebuttal to one Greene launched last week after the statewide Democratic debate. That ad sought to paint Graham and her family’s business, the Graham Companies, as threats to the environment, particularly to the Everglades, because the company is providing some of the land needed for the new mega-mall being developed in Miami. Greene’s commercial notes that environmental groups have roundly opposed the mall for its potential impact on traffic and the Everglades watershed.

To view Graham’s ad, click on the image below:


Assignment editors — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum joins attorney Benjamin Crump and the family of Markeis McGlockton for a rally against Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law, 11 a.m., Bethel Baptist Church, 224 N Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Tallahassee.

Sean Shaw sews up more endorsements in Democratic AG primary” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Among Shaw’s newly announced endorsements are from; the National Association of Social Workers; the Broward County Democratic Black Caucus; the Broward Teachers Union; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 177; Invisible Broward #Resist Group; and the Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County, Local 2928 of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Florida Medical Association endorses Denise Grimsley — The Florida Medical Association PAC (FMA PAC) is endorsing Republican Grimsley in her bid for Agriculture Commissioner. FMA PAC President, Dr. Mike Patete said in a statement: “Denise Grimsley has a proven record as a friend of medicine throughout her tenure in the Florida Legislature. Her career as a nurse certified in trauma, her work in serving as administrator at two hospitals, her deep background in agriculture and fiscal policy make Denise Grimsley the only choice for Commissioner of Agriculture.”

Happening today — Former state Sen. Jeremy Ring, and Democratic candidate for Florida chief financial officer, will appear at a meeting of the Gold Coast Tiger Bay Club, 11:30 a.m., City Fish Market, 7940 Glades Road, Boca Raton.


37 Congressional Black Caucus members endorse Al Lawson’s re-election, as Alvin Brown reels” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — “I am honored to have the endorsement of so many of my colleagues in the CBC,” Lawson said. “They understand, as I do, the importance of fighting against some of the unfair policies of this current administration, protecting affordable health care for all Americans, protecting voting rights, ensuring access to a quality public education, and strengthening marginalized communities all across the nation.” Lawson’s endorsements include prominent names, some with connections to Democratic opponent Brown’s political past. One such, CBC chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond is an especially notable endorsement given that Richmond campaigned for Brown in Jacksonville in 2015 when he lost his re-election bid for Mayor.

Jose Oliva, Florida Family Action backing Fred Costello for Congress — Florida Family Action praised Costello’s conservative credentials in its endorsement for Florida’s 6th Congressional District. According to a statement: “An endorsement indicates a vetted and recommended candidate based on 1) conservative voting record, 2) personal interviews or knowledge of the candidate, and/or 3) thorough research showing a conservative background, training, and experience. Endorsement indicates a very high likelihood of confidence that this candidate will govern and vote as a conservative.” Costello also earned the endorsement of Florida House Speaker-designate Oliva, who said: “Fred Costello represents the very best of our party and our ideology. It is my pleasure to endorse him for Congress.”

Andrew Learned pitches ‘Medicare for all’ in first CD 15 ad” via Florida Politics — The 15-second spot, titled “Human Right,” features the Navy veteran shaking hands with his would-be constituents and throwing shade at U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as he vows to support the aforementioned health care solution championed by independent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The short script for the ad: “In Congress, I’ll fight for ‘Medicare for All,’ because health care is a human right,” Learned says. “We need to protect our health care from Republican attacks. I’m Andrew Learned Democrat for Congress — it’s time for a new generation of leadership.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:


David Shapiro owns stock in three companies he publicly denounced in op-ed” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Shapiro, a Democratic candidate in Florida’s 16th Congressional District, issued some tough talk back in February when he took his Republican opponent to task in an op-ed for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. In that piece, Shapiro criticized incumbent CD 16 Rep. Vern Buchanan and fellow Republicans for their passage of last year’s tax bill. Shapiro called out three companies in particular for their failure to protect workers following the bill’s passage: Walmart, AT&T and Kimberly-Clark. A financial disclosure report filed with the U.S. House of Representatives shows Shapiro bought between $1,001 and $15,000 of stock in each of those three companies. In that article, he blasted all three companies for firing workers following the tax cut, despite promises by Walmart and AT&T to provide bonuses to their employees.

Carlos Curbelo pitches bipartisanship in CD 26 ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Curbelo is out with a new ad and a message of bipartisanship as he tries to hold onto his seat in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. The 15-second ad, titled “Solutions,” is a straightforward spot. It features Curbelo in front of a plain, white background. “We have to work across the aisle to get big things done in Washington, D.C,” he says in the ad. “So I will never apologize for reaching across the aisle and working with all of my colleagues in favor of the solutions that the American people really need.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:


Debbie Mucarsel-Powell goes up on TV” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat who came to the U.S. from Ecuador as a teenager with her mother and three older sisters, is using the ad to introduce herself to Florida’s 26th district, which stretches from West Dade to Key West. “I came to this country from Ecuador at 14, searching for a better life,” she says in the ad. “With hard work, I found it. So, I’ve always worked to give back. As associate dean at FIU [Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine], I helped those who couldn’t afford health care get it.” Mucarsel-Powell’s campaign said it made a “six-figure ad buy” on cable this month, with plans to continue running ads through the fall.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:


David Richardson calls to abolish ICE in Spanish-language ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Richardson, a Democrat running for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, is out with a Spanish-language TV ad hitting one of the more controversial topics this campaign season: Abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Richardson calls for the end of the organization in the ad, titled “ICE,” arguing it’s done more harm than good. A statement from the Richardson campaign released along with the ad says ICE is responsible for “abusing detainees, dividing families, and harassing Dreamers.” In the ad, filmed in front of ICE headquarters, Richardson proposes diverting ICE’s funding toward a nationwide Medicare-for-all program. “I’m a courageous progressive, and that means I don’t shy away from an issue I’m passionate about when the Democratic establishment gets nervous,” said Richardson in a statement.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:



Florida Family Action releases ‘Voters’ Tools’ for primary — The Christian conservative association, headed by Orlando attorney John Stemberger, is offering candidate endorsement sheets for state and federal office, a judicial candidate online voter tool, selected county voter guides, a Legislative Scorecard for 2017-18, and a Constitutional Amendment Guide, which will be available after Aug. 29 for the Nov. 6 general election. “So much is at stake for the future of our state, and I hope that you will be a good steward of your power and influence by being faithful to vote,” Stemberger said in an email. The tools are online here.

Mike Beltran inflated his NRA grade, scoresheet shows” via Florida Politics — Lithia Republican Beltran has been touting an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association in his campaign to succeed exiting Rep. Jake Raburn in House District 57, but a look at the gradebook shows that’s a misrepresentation. Contrary to communications from his campaign, including a mailer that went out to HD 57 voters, the NRA says it rates the 34-year-old attorney as an “AQ” candidate. Per the NRA, an “AQ” rating means the following: “A pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on the candidate’s responses to the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire and who does not have a voting record on Second Amendment issues.”

Mike Beltran (shown with Gus Bilirakis) may have fudged his “A” rating from the NRA.

Kubs Lalchandani has skipped voting in more than a dozen elections” via Florida Politics — Since registering to vote in Miami back in 2006, Lalchandani has skipped out on 15 elections. Many of his no-shows were for special elections, though he also skipped out on the regularly scheduled Democratic primaries for the 2008, 2010 and 2012 election cycles. Though Lalchandani cast a general election ballot in presidential election years, he also failed to turn up during the 2010 general election, which saw Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink lose to then-candidate Rick Scott by 61,550 votes — only a handful of ballots in each Florida precinct would have turned the tide of that race. It’s unknown whether Lalchandani’s absences at the polls are due to a lack of motivation, or due to him being away at one of his out-of-state properties — per a foreclosure suit, he maintained addresses in Lakewood, Ohio, and New York City until 2011.

Rob Panepinto’s new Orange County Mayor ad focuses on jobs, housing” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The 30-second ad, “Vision,” picks up where his first commercial left off, first providing a human-side for the Winter Park entrepreneur, with shots of him and his family, and then a brief outline of his vision for the county. He quickly moves through his messages: “We must foster a diverse economy with higher-wage jobs,” he says while walking across a factory floor. “Encourage local business growth. Create more affordable housing. And improve public safety in our neighborhoods.” Panepinto is going up against Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings and Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke in the Aug. 28 mayoral election.

To view the ad, click on the image below:


A school board campaign gets rough: ‘Let’s meet face to face … big boy!’” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — A former Pasco County high school student has received a menacing Facebook message from an account bearing the name of School Board candidate Kenny Mathis. The student had joined former classmates in sharing social media recollections of Mathis’ hot temper while he was a Pasco music teacher, and suggested he had no place on the board. He soon received an apparent physical threat via Facebook Messenger from an account containing Mathis’ name and photo. “Let’s meet face to face!!! Say what you have to say big boy!” the message said. The sender quickly followed up with, “I have that paddle ready,” and commented the two could meet anywhere, any time. “It will be worth it,” the message said. Asked about the messages, Mathis denied writing them. He alleged someone else had done it using a fake Facebook account that mimicked his.

Facebook political argument ends with Tampa man shot in buttocks” via Patty Ryan of the Tampa Bay Times — Call it extreme unfriending. It happened Monday night in Tampa, leading to the arrest of Brian Sebring on charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and carrying a concealed firearm. Alex Stephens was the victim, police said, though he may have had a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric. Sebring told officers Stephens threatened him. “After receiving several explicit messages and threats, the defendant responded to the victim’s home to confront him reference the messages,” a police account said. When Sebring arrived — wearing the Glock in a holster on his waistband — he honked his horn and waited by his truck for Stephens to appear. Stephens came out of the home and charged toward Sebring, police said, and that’s when Sebring fired two shots with the Glock. “The victim ran away and the defendant fled the scene,” police said.


Supreme Court to take up greyhound racing ban” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Justices scheduled arguments in the case on Aug. 29 and set a rapid-fire series of deadlines for the parties to file briefs … The court is moving quickly, at least in part, because ballots for the Nov. 6 general election will start going out in September. The Florida Constitution Revision Commission this spring approved placing the proposed racing ban on the ballot. The measure, one of eight proposed constitutional amendments approved by the commission, would ban commercial greyhound racing in the state after Dec. 31, 2020. But the Florida Greyhound Association, which represents breeders, owners and trainers, filed a lawsuit arguing that the proposal, known as Amendment 13, should be kept off the ballot because it would be misleading to voters. Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers last week agreed with the greyhound association, prompting the state to appeal.

Scott, Cabinet eye protecting ranch land” via the News Service of Florida — Scott and the Cabinet will be asked next week to spend $5.5 million to help limit future development on nearly 2,500 acres of ranch land in Highlands County. The proposal, which will go to the Cabinet Aug. 14, seeks to add the Sandy Gully property to the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, which through the use of “conservation easements” restricts future development but allows owners to continue using land for such things as agricultural operations. The program, favored by Agriculture Commissioner Putnam, has been used 38 times in the past eight years, accounting for more than 47,000 acres across the state being put into conservation easements. The family-owned Sandy Gully land, originally a dairy operation, transitioned to a cattle operation in 2002.

What CFO Jimmy Patronis is reading — “CFTC chair says the agency is ‘falling behind’ on blockchain” via Lexology — The chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has said that his agency is “falling behind” on blockchain technology and that now is not the time for the agency’s jurisdiction of the cryptocurrency market to be increased. Speaking at a congressional hearing before the House Committee on Agriculture, Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo said that the CFTC was limited in its ability to test emerging technologies and systems … “The best model that I like to point to is in the 1990s when a Democrat White House and a Republican Congress worked together around this new thing called the internet and took a ‘first-do-no-harm’ approach,” he said. “Regulation came slowly and let the technology evolve. I think we need to stay close to it, we need to be careful, but I think we can allow it to develop a little bit before we run in with regulation.”

J. Christopher Giancarlo, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. (Image via Ron Sachs/Zuma Press)

Happening today — Aides to Gov. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Putnam and state Chief Financial Officer Patronis will meet to discuss issues in advance of an Aug. 14 Cabinet meeting, 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol.

State economists lower forecast for tobacco tax revenues, settlement payments” via Florida Politics — During a meeting of the Revenue Estimating Conference, state economists said many smokers are smoking less, and some are switching to “e-cigarettes” for their nicotine fix rather continuing with traditional cigarettes — an important distinction since the liquid used in “vaping” isn’t taxed in Florida. In addition to sales tax, Florida levies a $1.34 excise tax on each pack of cigarettes sold in the state, well below the national average of $1.69 per pack. The January estimate put Florida’s 2017-18 revenues from cigarette taxes at $1.07 billion, reflecting a $13.3 million reduction from the prior forecast. Through July, tobacco tax collections are another $19 million short of forecasts for the year and those present at the REC meeting were all bearish when updating their collections estimates, positing negative growth of between 2 percent and 2.5 percent for coming fiscal years — the conference went with the middle number, 2.25 percent. Though cigarette taxes were down, tax revenues for “other tobacco products” such as smokeless tobacco and cigarillos were.

Rob Bradley says medical marijuana law will be upheld” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Despite a Tallahassee judge declaring significant parts of the state’s medical marijuana law unconstitutional, the law’s chief architect said he was confident the law would be affirmed. “The trial court ruling injected unnecessary uncertainty into the emerging medical marijuana marketplace,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican. “I’m confident that our appellate courts will uphold (its) constitutionality.” In 2017, lawmakers passed and Gov. Scott signed the measure (SB 8-A) into law to implement the state’s medicinal cannabis constitutional amendment, passed by 71 percent of voters the year before. Bradley was the primary sponsor. In recent months, however, judges have been chipping away at the law.

FAU cancels graduation ceremony after threatening note is found taped to bathroom mirror” via Tonya Alanez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A staff member found the small sticky note at about 4:15 p.m. in the Business Building. “It was a threat specific to our graduation tonight,” said Chief of Florida Atlantic University Police Sean Brammer. “It would hurt the investigation if I told you the specifics of the note. We took it seriously and canceled the ceremony.” Florida Atlantic University announced the cancellation via Twitter shortly before 5 p.m. “The Student Union is being evacuated due to what law enforcement considers a credible threat,” the tweet said.

Canceled: After a ‘credible threat,’ FAU is postponing its summer commencement.

Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission start a two-day meeting, 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise. It is expected to take up issues such as school hardening.

Appeals court rules against embattled cab companies” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — The emergence of businesses such as Uber and Lyft has “threatened the viability of traditional taxicab companies worldwide,” a federal appeals court said … But that doesn’t mean cab companies in Miami-Dade County should receive compensation after a 2016 ordinance cleared the way for Uber and Lyft drivers to hit the streets. A panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a class-action lawsuit filed by cab companies that contended the Miami-Dade ordinance amounted to an unconstitutional taking of property because of its effect on “medallions,” which have long served as a valuable license for cabs to operate. The limited number of medallions traded for about $340,000 by 2014 … The lawsuit against the county, in part, alleged that the cab companies should receive compensation because the ordinance allowing competitors such as Uber and Lyft reduced the value of the medallions. But a federal district judge rejected the arguments, and the panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court agreed.

Techno-blunder? Lawyers say they can’t view files in their own cases” via Florida Politics — Court-appointed attorneys in Pinellas and Pasco counties are complaining they’re blocked from seeing key documents in the very cases they’re supposed to be defending. The Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel for the 2nd District filed a petition last week asking for online access to documents … The petition says being to read such documents “is necessary in order to see what has been filed in the court file, find contact information for our clients or other parties, know the history of the case, quickly obtain clearer copies of some documents, check for conflicts, and investigate and prepare for hearings when time is of the essence.” The office seeks a court order granting its attorneys the ability to see documents they need to prepare cases, including “medical and mental health records.”

Jacksonville City Council checks into local vacation rental tax losses” via Ryan Benk of WJCT — Late last month, the council auditor issued a report concluding the city could have collected as much as $366,000 in extra taxes last year if it agreed to a deal offered by Airbnb in 2016. But according to the report, the offer from the so-called “peer-to-peer rental company” didn’t provide a clear way for the city to recoup past tourist development and convention development taxes. It’s also not clear, whether Airbnb would have agreed to city audits. “It is difficult to find a solution for the auditing rights aspect since the city would likely want to retain audit rights, and it is not clear if the … companies would be open to allowing the city’s auditing rights requirements,” the report read. In other words, agreeing to a taxing schedule in the future may mean giving up some regulatory oversight.

Orlando City Hall will be the first government building in Florida to have ‘all-user’ bathrooms” via WTSP — Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer made the announcement, saying it is part of making Orlando “more inclusive.” It is not considered “gender neutral” because it also hopes to include people with disabilities. The city is working to come up with a representative sign for the door. Dyer says he hopes it will “increase accessibility for transgender people and those with disabilities.” The stalls will be larger to accommodate wheelchairs and will be single stalls with longer doors for privacy. City hall is aiming to have the restrooms finished by the end of the month.

Cost pegged at $43M to mothball Duke Energy nuke plant” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — The Public Service Commission essentially closed the books on Duke Energy Florida’s $43 million plan to finish ‘decommissioning’ of its Crystal River 3 nuclear power plant — but only after spending the better part of an hour debating two procedural points. In the end, the commission voted 3-2 to attach to the plan a copy of a settlement agreement between Duke and the Office of Public Counsel and allow Duke to sit out formal nuclear-decommissioning proceedings next year. Duke will still have to participate in “true-up” proceedings, meaning the company must account for the way it spends the money and return any unspent funds to ratepayers.


Florida districts tasked with figuring out how to staff police or armed guards at every operating school are running out of time to finish their homework ahead of the upcoming school year.

An Associated Press survey “found all campuses will be covered when they reopen this month, but many districts are having difficulty funding the program and finding enough applicants,” writes AP journalist Terry Spencer.

“Now every school must have armed protection whenever it’s open. In districts that won’t have full staffing in place when classes start, local law enforcement agencies are filling gaps by taking officers off the street or paying overtime.”

In Palm Beach: There aren’t enough applicants to fill the needed amount of school resource officers, so local law enforcement is pitching in.

Common approach: Of the 67 counties, 45 are opting to exclusively use armed law enforcement on campus instead of armed volunteers within the staff or outside safety specialists. “The other 22 districts are supplementing officers with “guardians” — armed civilians or staff. They are vetted, receive 132 hours of training and must attain a higher score on the state firearms test than rookie police officers.”

Worth it?: Spencer notes, “Having an armed guard on campus doesn’t guarantee safety. The deputy at Stoneman Douglas didn’t confront the shooter who killed 17 people. Ten were killed in May at a Texas high school where two school officers exchanged fire with the suspect before he surrendered.”


Now the Trump administration wants to limit citizenship for legal immigrants” via Julia Ainsley of CBS News — The Trump administration is expected to issue a proposal in coming weeks that would make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens or get green cards if they have ever used a range of popular public welfare programs, including Obamacare, four sources with knowledge of the plan told NBC News. The move, which would not need congressional approval, is part of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller‘s plan to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year. Details of the rule-making proposal are still being finalized, but based on a recent draft seen last week and described to NBC News, immigrants living legally in the U.S. who have ever used or whose household members have ever used Obamacare, children’s health insurance, food stamps and other benefits could be hindered from obtaining legal status in the U.S.

Stephen Miller is behind the latest to attempt to curtail legal immigration.

New details about Wilbur Ross’ business point to pattern of grifting” via Dan Alexander of Forbes — It is difficult to imagine the possibility that a man like Ross, who Forbes estimates is worth some $700 million, might steal a few million from one of his business partners. Unless you have heard enough stories about Ross. Two former WL Ross colleagues remember the commerce secretary taking handfuls of Sweet’N Low packets from a nearby restaurant, so he didn’t have to go out and buy some for himself. One says workers at his house in the Hamptons used to call the office, claiming Ross had not paid them for their work. Another two people said Ross once pledged $1 million to a charity, then never paid. A commerce official called the tales “petty nonsense,” and added that Ross does not put sweetener in his coffee.

Marco Rubio to oppose 836 extension into Kendall due to Everglades concerns” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Rubio will ask federal agencies to oppose the 836 expressway expansion into West Kendall, a major roadblock for Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the Miami-Dade County Commission after they gave preliminary approval for the 14-mile highway in June. The Republican senator’s alignment with environmentalists, who say the highway would damage the Everglades and cause urban sprawl, could affect the project’s progress due to federal land swaps from the Department of Interior that are needed before construction can begin. “As a lifelong resident of Miami-Dade County, I know the residents of West Kendall need a solution to their traffic woes. But a solution to this problem cannot come at the expense of Everglades restoration,” Rubio said in a statement.

Rubio’s paid-leave plan shows how conservatives can embrace working-class families” via Samuel Hammond of the National Review — Last week, Rubio introduced the Economic Security for New Parents Act, a paid-parental-leave plan. A companion bill is expected from Missouri Congresswoman Ann Wagner when the House returns to session in September. And while the two bills differ in some subtle ways, they share a key innovation: Both allow those with a newborn infant or newly adopted child to transfer Social Security retirement benefits from the future to the present. In the Rubio bill, parents who take the minimum leave of two months would delay their retirement by about three months … in some ways the most stunning thing about the Rubio-Wagner plan is how it reinforces the social-insurance function of Social Security, marking a clear deviation from previous Republican privatization efforts.

Democrats hold rally to spotlight health care, which they hope will be a key 2018 issue” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — Prominent state party officials including U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist and Kathy Castor held a rally in St. Petersburg’s Williams Park to underscore the differences between Republican and Democratic health care policy proposals. “Here in America, health care is a right, it’s not a privilege for the wealthy few,” Castor said before about 200 supporters. “It’s something that everyone deserves.” Despite the strong turnout of local Democrats, the star of the event was a Congressman from out of town. Rep. Joe Kennedy III gave a rousing speech to the crowd of local progressives about the importance of voting for Democrats in 2018. “Every November, the nation’s eyes turn to Florida,” Kennedy, who’s a member of perhaps the most famous family in the history of American politics, said. “What happens in Florida is so much bigger than just Florida. It means the future of health care for millions of people across this country.”

Assignment editors — Crist visits the Boley Centers’ St. Petersburg office to announce a U.S. Department of Labor grant award of $420,240 for their Homeless Veteran’s Reintegration Program, 10 a.m., Boley Centers, 445 31st St. N., St. Petersburg.

Happening today — Crist will hold a roundtable discussion with veterans and representatives of the cannabis industry to talk about medical-marijuana issues, 11 a.m., Surterra Wellness Center, 10761 Ulmerton Road, Largo.


Only one other president has ever acted this desperate” via William Ruckelshaus for The Washington Post — Trump is acting with a desperation I’ve seen only once before in Washington: 45 years ago when President Richard Nixon ordered the firing of special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. Nixon was fixated on ending the Watergate investigation, just as Trump wants to shut down the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. A lesson for the president from history: It turned out badly for Nixon. In fact, in some ways, Trump is conducting himself more frantically than Nixon, all the while protesting his innocence. Nixon fought to the end because he knew that what was on the tape recordings that the prosecutor wanted would incriminate him. We don’t know what Trump is hiding, if anything. But if he is innocent of any wrongdoing, why not let Mueller do his job and prove it?

Temperince Morgan: Where land funds are needed most” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — On June 15, Judge Charles Dodson issued a ruling regarding Amendment 1, the Water and Land Legacy constitutional amendment. The Nature Conservancy is concerned that this ruling could impact funding for critical conservation efforts like management and restoration of existing state lands, Everglades restoration and other important water-quality improvement projects … we strongly support appropriating funds from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) to acquire conservation lands and easements on properties identified through the Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands Protection programs. Funds must also support land management, restoration and improvements on both existing and newly acquired state-owned conservation lands. We believe the narrow scope of the judge’s recent ruling may preclude the Legislature from spending LATF money on conservation land that the state purchased before 2015, as well as on Everglades restoration and springs protection.


New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Brian BallardKatherine San Pedro, Ballard Partners: North Broward Hospital District d/b/a Broward Health

Travis Blanton, Johnson & Blanton: Chrysalis Health

Stuart Brown, SKB Consulting Group: The Integrity Group

Mark Kaplan: University of Florida

McCall Johnson: Recurrent Energy

Courtney Larkin: Florida Bankers Association

Drew Preston: Associated Industries of Florida

Lane Stephens, SCG Governmental Affairs: PanCare of Florida


A good rule of thumb: Take advice from someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Fitting that Airbnb — a company that’s business is vacation — is offering a few summer safety travel tips ahead of Labor Day, the vacation-rental powerhouse’s busiest weekend.

In releasing the advice, Airbnb acknowledged its partnerships with important state leaders, including Gov. Rick Scott, CFO Jimmy Patronis and the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Part 1: Airbnb reminds its guests to finalize their itineraries and always have a backup plan before leaving, keep communications and transactions exclusive to Airbnb platforms, and always do a safety check at each home.

Part 2: The vacation rental group also suggests travelers always remain alert in public, crowded areas, research weather and traffic warnings, and reach out if anything goes awry.

From FDEM: “Time and again, Airbnb and their hosts have proved an important asset in our state’s emergency response and recovery efforts,” said Wes Maul, head of FDEM. “I’m extremely thankful not only for our continued partnership, but for their dedication to helping Florida’s families.”

— ALOE —

Florida’s 2018 back-to-school sales tax holiday weekend was a success” via Ly’Nita Carter of — The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) said early indications suggest this year’s back-to-school sales tax holiday weekend was a success. North Florida saw an influx of Georgia residents crossing the border to take advantage of the duty-free items. FRF told Channel 3 News the sales crowds were large, but manageable. Last year saw more than $33 million saved statewide. The average savings was a little more than $50 per person.

Coral Gables just became the first city in Florida to allow scooters on its streets” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald — Coral Gables launched a test program with Spin, a San Francisco-based dockless scooter company, to allow the two-wheelers on its city streets. “There’s a lot of traffic around Miami these days,” said City Commissioner Vince Lago, who led the initiative to bring the scooters to the city. “They’re gonna help.” According to Spin, it’s the first time a company has received formal approval to operate shared scooters in the State of Florida. The agreement comes on the heels of the City of Miami’s July decision to temporarily bar all scooter companies until it can hammer out new rules for the vehicles, which are growing in popularity across the country. Coral Gables, too, had issued cease-and-desist letters to multiple scooter companies. But Lago said Spin had been scrupulous about working with the city and foregoing a “rogue” release of its vehicles without formal permission. That cooperation led to the approval.

Coral Gables First Florida town to allow scooters on surface streets.

Getting your caffeine fix is cheaper at Starbucks and McDonald’s” via David Wexner of — McDonald’s coffee is by far the cheapest cup of coffee. But, before you convert to the McCafe, take a look at the varying caffeine levels in each brand. (For reference, the Mayo Clinic advises that individuals should not consume more than 400 milligrams, “roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee,” in a day … with nearly 130 milligrams of pure performance per dollar, 7-Eleven coffee looks to be the savviest bet for pure caffeine fiends. At just under 125 milligrams of per dollar, Starbucks is the next best bet, with McDonald’s at 121 coming close behind. Dunkin’, which barely cracked 100, came in last.

Happy birthday to my friend, Slater Bayliss, a true gentleman who makes it all look so easy that, sometimes, we forget just how hard he works. Also celebrating today are state Sen. Jose Javier RodriguezBill ColettiYolanda Jackson, Motorola’s Jay Malpass, and Pam Olsen.

Last Call for 8.7.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente wants to be a U.S. Senator so badly, he’s running in several states, including Florida. For instance, he’s running in Washington state, which has a primary election today.

Remember: Washington state is entirely vote-by-mail; no precincts are even open on Election Day. Washington is also a ‘Top Two’ primary state, where all candidates run in the August primary, and the Top Two advance to November, regardless of party affiliation.

Ballots are only required to be postmarked today, not received. Counting ballots can go on for two weeks, and often does in close races.

There are no third parties on the November ballot, forcing a choice between the two remaining candidates.

And there are — egads — 29 candidates vying for the Top Two slots in today’s Washington primary, including incumbent Democrat Maria Cantwell, elected with Florida’s Bill Nelson in the Class of 2000.

But there’s another Florida connection here, as always, as Rocky is the lone GOP challenger to Gov. Rick Scott for the Senate nomination.

Will he step down from Florida if he wins in Washington? If he stays and wins the Aug. 28 Florida primary, what will he do?

A request for comment with the De La Fuente campaign is pending.

Evening Reads

43% of Republicans want to give Donald Trump the power to shut down media” via Sam Stein of The Daily Beast

Why the Ohio special election won’t tell us much about November” via Charlie Cook of the National Journal

Closed primary shuts out 3.5 million Florida voters” via Glenna Milberg of

As federal government eyes shutdown fight, Ron DeSantis backs Donald Trump’s threads” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times

Republican candidates for governor get in dust-up over Clearwater ‘Stand Your Ground’ shooting” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Gwen Graham separates from the pack according to new Associated Industries of Florida poll” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Sheriffs slam Frank White in new Ashley Moody ad” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

As bouts with killer algae rose, Florida gutted its water quality monitoring network” via Jenny Staletovich of the Miami Herald

Former Wrigley Co. CEO helps Surterra land $65M for expansion efforts” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Hurricane Irma’s cost goes river-deep for JaxPort” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union

Rising water temperatures have sharks moving north away from Florida” via Joyeeta Biswas of WPLG

Quote of the Day

“Any time he wants to have a contest about pushups or pullups, we’ll see who’s not up to it.” — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, responding to a question on whether the Rick Scott campaign’s comments about his being ‘out of touch’ and ‘confused’ were its way to telegraph he’s become too old for the job.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which was created by the Legislature after the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 people in Broward County, will start a two-day meeting. That’s at 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

The Florida A&M University Board of Trustees will hold a retreat that will include discussion of an assessment of President Larry Robinson and discussion about “key issues facing the university.” That’s at 8:30 a.m., FAMU College of Law, 201 Beggs Ave., Orlando.

Aides to Gov. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis will meet to discuss issues in advance of an Aug. 14 Cabinet meeting. That’s at 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist will hold a roundtable discussion with veterans and representatives of the cannabis industry to talk about medical-marijuana issues. That’s at 11 a.m., Surterra Wellness Center, 10761 Ulmerton Road, Largo.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum joins attorney Benjamin Crump and the family of Markeis McGlockton for a rally against Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law. That’s at 11 a.m., Bethel Baptist Church, 224 N Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Tallahassee.

Former state Sen. Jeremy Ring, a Democrat running for state chief financial officer, is slated to speak to the Gold Coast Tiger Bay Club. That’s at 11:30 a.m., City Fish Market, 7940 Glades Road, Boca Raton.

U.S. Sen. Nelson and Congresswoman Kathy Castor, both Democrats, will join the Florida Education Association and American Federation of Teachers for a major campaign announcement. That’s at noon, Hillsborough Teachers Union Hall, 3102 N. Habana Ave., Tampa.

Republican gubernatorial candidates Putnam and Ron DeSantis will hold a final televised debate before the Aug. 28 primary. That’s at 8 p.m., Jacksonville University, Terry Concert Hall, 2800 University Blvd. North, Jacksonville.

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