Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
A top of Sunburn, welcome to the world greeting to Olivia Grace Logan, the beautiful daughter of Katie Ballard and Brian Logan, born Sunday at 10:07 a.m. Mom says everyone is doing well and is so in love.
A top of Sunburn scoop important to those in the legislative process: House Speaker-designate Jose Oliva has named Carol Gormley, a highly regarded health care expert and legislative staffer, as his chief of staff. Read more about the hire here.
Florida Internet & Television (FiTV) will hold its second annual 2018 Florida Internet & Television Conference, known as “FITConFL.”
Formerly known as the Florida Cable and Telecommunications Association’s Annual Meeting, it’s been reimagined and redesigned to facilitate leading policy and industry discussions for the evolving internet and television industries, the organization said in a news release.
“On the heels of Florida’s historic 2018 statewide election, FITCon Florida will give you the opportunity to join Florida’s top industry leaders to receive updates on recent state and federal legislative & regulatory policy developments impacting our industry; learn the state of telemedicine and meeting consumer demand for connectivity; hear from experts on meeting workforce challenges; explore what’s next for connected cities; and much more,” it said.
Florida House members Randy Fine, Jason Fischer, Jamie Grant, and Mike La Rosa,allwith backgrounds in state technology and innovation policy, will each moderate a panel with industry leaders to discuss issues critical to the internet and television industry.
In addition to panels, the conference will feature keynote speaker Phil McKinney, CEO of CableLabs, who will “reveal new and coming developments in robotics, cybersecurity, AI and the cloud.”
The two-day conference starts Thursday at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@SamStein: TRUMP: “If you buy a box of cereal — you have a voter ID”
—@MarcoRubio: What is crooked cannot be made straight, and you cannot count what is not there. Ecclesiastes 1:15
—@MarcEElias: You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. Exodus 23:1
—@ScottForFlorida: I recused myself from certifying results on the Elections Canvassing Commission in 2014, and I will do so again this year. This is nothing new. Bill Nelson is confused and doesn’t even know how Florida works- I have no role in supervising/ overseeing the ongoing recount process.
—@Fineout: Right now the U.S. Senate is scheduled to convene on Jan. 3, 2019. Scott’s term as governor does not end until the following week. By law, he cannot serve 2 offices at same time. Yet Scott — who has declared himself the winner in race — has not turned in resignation letter
—@SteveBousquet: Florida reports 3,688 mail ballots rejected so far in 45 counties, and 93 rejected provisional ballots. Figures from state Division of Elections. Sen. Bill Nelson, trailing Gov. Rick Scott by 12,562 votes in Senate race, wants these votes to count. The list came out in court.
—@Daniel_Sweeney: .@BrowardVotes reports that machine recount will be completed early in the morning Thursday. Consensus among the lawyers and election observers in the room is an 11:30 a.m. over/under.
—@MDixon55: Boy, would have been cool if we could have hammered out all these apparent “disenfranchising” laws, you know, before the election.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 3; Elections Canvassing Commission meets to certify official General Election results — 5; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 5; Thanksgiving — 7; Black Friday — 8; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 12; Partial government shutdown — 22; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 27; 116th Congress convenes — 49; Florida’s Inauguration Ceremony — 74; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 89; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 110; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 114; Iowa Caucuses — 445; 2020 General Election — 719.
— RECOUNT —
“Judge to decide on allowing late voter fixes for bad signature ballots” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — County election officials are largely winging it when they determine whether a signature on a mail or provisional ballot doesn’t match what’s on file for a given voter, an attorney for Bill Nelson‘s re-election campaign and Florida Democrats told a federal judge Wednesday. “There are defects inherent in the process,” attorney UzomaNkwonta said to Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, mentioning an absence of handwriting standards to guide county canvassing board members, who ultimately make the call on whether a signature doesn’t match. But Mohammad Jazil, who represents Secretary of State KenDetzner, Florida’s chief elections officer, said Nelson’s solution was untenable: Lifting the state’s deadline to still allow voters to prove they are who they say they are. “If we start changing the rules midstream, it undermines” people’s faith in the electoral process, Jazil said. Walker did not rule from the bench at the end of the nearly five-hour hearing; he also did not give a timeline for his decision.
“Ballot signature battle draws judge’s ire” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — “I’m being asked to rewrite the election code of the state of Florida, one piece at a time,” U.S. District Judge Walker groused during a five-hour hearing about the state’s process for handling mismatched signatures on mail-in and provisional ballots. Voters whose mail-in ballots come in after the deadline — or who cast provisional ballots on Election Day — aren’t afforded the same opportunity. And county canvassing boards, which decide whether ballots are legitimate, handle the mismatched signatures differently, lawyers for Nelson and the Democrats argued during the hearing. It was not immediately clear when Walker will rule on the ballot-signature issue … 45 of Florida’s 67 counties have rejected 3,668 ballots due to mismatched signatures, according to Maria Matthews, director of the state Division of Elections.
“Federal judge considers more time for voters with rejected ballots” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — A federal judge likely will not toss the state’s policy on signatures used to validate mail-in and provisional ballots, but he was also uneasy about offering at least 4,000 people another month to defend votes rejected by county canvassing boards. Walker held short of ruling from the bench after a four-hour hearing in Tallahassee federal court. Lawyers for Nelson’s campaign and the Florida Democratic Party Executive Committee asked Walker to delay the state’s ongoing recount by a month to allow thousands of voters to plead cases before county canvassing boards. But lawyers for Scott believe the Legislature should address the state’s signature verification policy next year.
“Judge schedules hearing on Caldwell’s challenge in tight Ag Commissioner race” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – A state judge has scheduled a hearing for Thursday on former Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell‘s lawsuit claiming possible illegal conduct in Broward County’s vote-counting process. Caldwell declared victory late on election night, but Democrat Nikki Fried took the lead two days later as votes in Broward and Palm Beach counties still were being counted. She leads in the unofficial results by 5,326 votes, or .06 percent, as a machine recount is continuing. Caldwell sued on Nov. 9 and filed an amended complaint on Nov. 11 alleging past misconduct by Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes.
“Federal prosecutors reviewing altered election documents tied to Florida Democrats” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Florida Department of State last week asked federal prosecutors to investigate dates that were changed on official state election documents, the first voting “irregularities” it has flagged in the wake of the 2018 elections. The concerns, which the department says can be tied to the Florida Democratic Party, center around date changes on forms used to fix vote-by-mail ballots sent with incorrect or missing information. Known as “cure affidavits,” those documents used to fix mail ballots were due no later than 5 p.m. on Nov. 5 — the day before the election. But affidavits released on Tuesday by the DOS show that documents from four different counties said the ballots could be returned by 5 p.m. on Thursday, which is not accurate. DOS officials have repeatedly told the media that the monitors they sent to Broward County saw no election fraud. It wasn’t until Tuesday that the office revealed publicly that it had turned over information to federal prosecutors. The information was sent on Nov. 9 by Bradley McVay, DOS’ interim general counsel, who asked that the altered dates be investigated.
“Marco Rubio dials down tone in official comment on Florida recount” via Florida Politics — “I’m not against the recount. A recount is mandated by law and should happen. The recount should happen, and every legal vote should be counted, but what we should not see happen here is that somehow lawyers are able to find federal judges that change Florida election law after the election, go in and basically order the state of Florida to ignore its own laws,” Rubio said. “You cannot change the rules of the game after the game in order to win, because that would be stealing an election and that would be unacceptable.” In terms of tone, however, Rubio shows a moderation in his official persona that he has not exhibited in media appearances, including television and social media.
“Joe Henderson: Pam Bondi puts ‘bully’ back in bully pulpit” via Florida Politics — She basically has turned the job into a partisan political weapon with her demand for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate alleged and unspecified “voter fraud” in South Florida. Bondi said in a letter on Sunday she was “deeply troubled” by the “announcement” allegedly from FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen “that you will not pursue any investigation or inquiry into clearly documented irregularities in the conduct of election officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties in the 2018 election.” Swearingen shot back that he was “deeply troubled” by Bondi’s letter because, he wrote, “I have made no such announcement.” The implication of Bondi’s original letter … Without saying it out loud, what she really meant is that buster, Scott better win this election, and it’s Swearingen’s fault if Nelson finds enough votes in the recount to change the result. That, folks, is what weaponizing the Attorney General office looks like. It is putting the “bully” in Bondi’s bully pulpit.
Instead of saying every legal vote should be counted in Florida, Republicans have adopted a strategy to discredit the process.
“Last week she worked for a Democratic campaign. Now she’s applying at Costco.” via Molly Redden of HuffPost — The boom-and-bust nature of campaign life is part of what makes a career in politics so unsustainable for so many. At the end of each midterm election, up to 20,000 people suddenly lose their jobs. The luckiest staff members are hired as congressional aides or legislative assistants. Consultants return to their corporate and advocacy clients. And the rest scramble to figure out what’s next. No good data exist to measure the effect of these boom-and-bust cycles on the efficacy of campaigns themselves. Nearly everyone acknowledges that the job is not sustainable for the workers; it’s why campaign work is so often described as “a young person’s game.” But, over the course of the election, many campaign workers argued that the inability to retain people of talent and experience leads to weaker campaigns. People of color, who tend to lack the safety net of their white peers, say the lack of stability is also part of why campaigns are so homogenous.
— STATEWIDE —
“Citizens avoids major hit in Michael” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Citizens had 3,189 claims as of Wednesday from the monster storm, and estimates that it will end up with $142 million in paid losses and expenses. Damage to mobile homes has accounted for more than half of Citizens’ claims. The Citizens claims and estimated losses are only a fraction of the overall tab for insurers after Michael. As of Friday, insurers had reported 119,160 claims from the storm with total estimated insured losses of $2.94 billion, according to the state Office of Insurance Regulation website. Claims numbers and estimated losses have steadily increased. As an example, they were at 115,423 claims and $2.6 billion in estimated losses as of Nov. 6. The Citizens numbers offer a rough glimpse, however, of how most homes in some of the counties sustained damage. Citizens had 378 personal-lines policies in Gulf County as of Sept. 30 and had 343 claims from the county. Similarly, Citizens had 257 personal-lines policies in Jackson County and had 216 claims. Citizens’ business is most heavily concentrated in South Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
“Parkland shooter’s internet history riddled with searches about other mass shootings” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida — Nikolas Cruz researched countless mass shootings and weapons, frequented porn sites and read about homicidal urges before killing 17 people on Feb. 14, according to a presentation during a Parkland Commission meeting. Sprinkled throughout these troubling searches were inquiries typical for a teen boy, such as how to get a girlfriend or how to not be afraid of girls. At one point, Cruz searched for a therapist to cure his homicidal thoughts. “The only thing I can really get from it is he was obsessed with [committing a school shooting] and it was playing over and over in his head,” said commissioner Melissa Larkin-Skinner, a licensed mental health counselor. “Maybe some part of him wanted help.” Commissioners have until Jan. 1 to compile a report to Florida lawmakers that likely will shape school safety, mental health and other policies for next school year.
Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission continues a four-day meeting with topics including testimony by Broward County schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and possibly former Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson, 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.
“Pam Bondi, prosecutor in ‘Stand Your Ground’ clash” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Bondi is seeking to block Miami-Dade County’s top prosecutor from getting involved in a Florida Supreme Court case and supporting arguments that a 2017 change to the “stand your ground” self-defense law is unconstitutional. Bondi’s office filed a document opposing a request by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle to take a friend-of-the-court position in the case. Fernandez Rundle has asked the court for permission to “adopt” the position of the League of Prosecutors-Florida, which argues the controversial 2017 change is unconstitutional. The newly filed document said Bondi is Florida’s chief legal officer and that she — and not the state attorney — represents the state in such cases. It said granting Fernandez Rundle’s request would “serve no purpose other than to circumvent Florida law, which grants the attorney general, not the state attorney, the authority to speak for the state in its appellate courts.”
Happening today — The Capital Tiger Bay Club will discuss the 2018 elections, with panelists expected to include Republican strategist David Johnson, Democratic strategist Steve Schale and Brian Burgess, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Capitolist, 11:30 a.m., Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Matt Gaetz, Democratic ally back veterans’ marijuana bills” via Colin Young of the News Service of Florida — Gaetz joined with U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts to prepare three bills that seek to learn more about how veterans use cannabis, to prepare better medical-marijuana education for providers and to protect the benefits of veterans who use marijuana. “Our veterans are seeking alternative options to opioids and we should be supporting their desires not to be addicted to painkillers. Let’s not kid ourselves, people are using marijuana — including our veterans,” Moulton said. “We have an obligation to regulate it and make it as safe as possible.” One bill, according to Moulton’s office, would amend and codify an existing VA policy to protect a veterans’ benefits if they discuss their medical use of marijuana with providers. Moulton’s office said: “not all health care providers respond in a standard way and veterans still fear and experience repercussions of some kind.”
Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will be on Capitol Hill to testify about his concerns over the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s potential negative economic impact on Florida’s produce industry. Putnam will be before the U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, D.C.
— OPINIONS —
“The real Florida recount fraud” via The New York Times editorial board — In Florida, no one has offered evidence of widespread election fraud, and the recount is mandated by law and was ordered by the Florida secretary of state. Yet Scott said of Nelson, the three-term Democratic Senator he’s hoping to unseat, “Senator Nelson is clearly trying to commit fraud to try to win this election.” Sowing doubt in the integrity of the recount is part of a Republican strategy that involves lawyers and operatives on the ground, much like what happened in the 2000 election, and a preview of what’s likely to happen leading up to the 2020 election. For all the fact-free doomsaying about rigged elections, democracy did remarkably well last week. For that we do have evidence: National turnout was the highest ever for midterm contests in the modern era, states made the franchise more accessible for millions and gerrymandering took a hit at the ballot box.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Chris Hudson moves up to AFP national post” via Florida Politics — Hudson, state director for Americans For Prosperity-Florida, will now become AFP’s vice president of State Government Affairs. Hudson has been the group’s top Florida operative since 2014. Skylar Zander, AFP-FL’s deputy director and chief legislative architect will become interim state director. Hudson’s new role will be to drive national policy priorities “across the 36 states where AFP has had a permanent presence” according to a statement released Wednesday. Americans For Prosperity is the key political arm of the Koch Network; AFP-FL is its signature grassroots organization. “I’ve learned a lot over my four years with the Florida Chapter,” Hudson says. “I’m looking forward to sharing those lessons with our teams across the country to help drive significant policy victories that promote the principles of a free and open society by reducing barriers, so all Americans can achieve their highest potential.”
Personnel note: Hannah Kaplan Plante joins Step Up for Students — She’ll be the organization’s new Manager of Legislative Affairs. Kaplan Plante has over six years of legislative and political experience, both in the private sector and in government. She graduated Florida State University with a degree in Political Science and International Affairs, while working as an intern for Sen. Bill Montford’s re-election. She continued to work in his Senate office as an executive assistant. She later got her master’s degree in Applied American Politics and Policy at FSU. Kaplan Plante worked for the Farm to School Program at the Florida Department of Agriculture before moving to the Florida Chamber of Commerce. There, she worked on both the political team and governmental affairs team. Most recently, she was a member of the governmental affairs team, working on a variety of issues including education.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Keith Arnold, Brett Bacot, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Bruno Home Performance, PCE Systems, The Simmons Group Consulting,
Kaitlyn Bailey, Edward Briggs, Kaitlyn Gardner, Natalie King, Ronald Pierce, RSA Consulting Group: Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA), United Way Suncoast
Megan Fay, Christopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies
Jeff Greene, Jeff Greene & Associates: Green Roads West
Hannah Plante: Step Up for Students
Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA)
— ALOE —
“Disney parks chief talks Guardians coaster, Skyliner gondolas at IAAPA” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — Bob Chapek, the head of Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products division, made several announcements about upcoming additions to Walt Disney World at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo. Chapek emphasized how Disney parks are challenging their own rules to avoid becoming complacent, including on ride technology. The Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster currently under construction at Epcot was cited as one example, with Chapek calling it a “storytelling coaster,” where the ride vehicles will not always face forward but instead focus on action happening around the track. “You’ll be fully immersed in the story from the minute you launch,” Chapek said. The other announcement was narrowing the opening window for the Disney Skyliner system. Now set to open in fall 2019, this gondola system will offer guests at four Disney hotels (Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, Pop Century and the under-construction Riviera) another transportation option to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. “Riding the Disney Skyliner will offer guests a whole new way to experience Walt Disney World with unique vistas only available from the sky,” Chapek said. “You’ll definitely want to have your cameras out.”
“Legoland Florida shares more news about new rides coming this spring” via Marco Santana of the Orlando Sentinel — It was a closer look into the 7-year-old theme park’s plans for the expansion, which officials have said represents Legoland Florida’s biggest investment since its debut. The announcement, which also included confirmation of a previously revealed on-site hotel, came at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions show being held in Orlando. Lego Movie World will feature three major rides: Unikitty’s Disco Drop, Masters of Flight and Battle of Bricksburg. The Disco Drop is a swift drop tower based upon the ruler of the fictitious Lego kingdom that elevates passengers before jolting them with a swift drop, spins and other movements. Battle of Bricksburg is a water ride that where riders will protect the Lego world from alien invaders using water cannons. Masters of Flight will place riders in a triple-decker couch as it soars through scenes based on The Lego Movie’s world. “We are lucky to have a strong intellectual property,” said Keith Carr, project director for Merlin Magic Making. “It helps us as we create the storylines.”
Happy birthdayto Wayne Bertsch, Trimmel Gomes, the Chairman Evan Power, Rodney Barreto (who I should have named a winner in my post-election list of Winners and Losers for all the money he raised for the Ron DeSantis campaign), and Max Steele.
As of Last Call’s deadline, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker was still questioning attorneys in Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s lawsuit on ballots with mismatched signatures.
Nelson and the Democratic Executive Committee Of Florida want the deadline extended so voters have more time to fix invalidated provisional and mail-in ballots by proving they voted.
The Democrats’ attorneys are seeking a court order from Walker, telling the state to then accept those late ballots that are “cured.”
A Wednesday hearing expected to last two hours was at four hours and counting by late afternoon, with an increasingly cantankerous Walker throwing off a series of bon mots.
He first corrected his earlier comparison to election-related lawsuits increasing like Tribbles, a reference to an episode of the original “Star Trek” in which small alien creatures reproduce like rabbits.
“I should have said the lawyers are multiplying like Tribbles,” he said.
Later, he got testy when one lawyer tried to make a point that fatigue in election officials results in errors being made: “I can assure you the most tired person in the room is me, let’s move on.”
He referred to parts of Florida election law reminding him of his grandfather’s expression, “like hunting squirrels with a bazooka.”
And after a suggestion that signatures made electronically are the same as those made with pen on paper, he threw up his hands: “I feel like my head’s being shoved into a cow patty.”
“Andrew Gillum got more votes than any other Democrat in statewide history … Presidential-level support. The Democrats did all we think they could’ve done.” — Quentin James, founder of Collective PAC, dedicated to getting African-Americans elected.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
Florida Internet & Television (FiTV) will hold its second annual 2018 Florida Internet & Television Conference, known as “FITConFL.” That’s at 8 a.m., Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, 14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane, Orlando.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will continue a four-day meeting in Broward County. That’s at 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.
The Florida Defense Support Task Force, which works on issues related to military bases in the state, will meet in Brevard County. That’s at 9 a.m., Courtyard by Marriott Cocoa Beach, 3435 North Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach.
The Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Retirement Plan Committee will hold a conference call at 10 a.m. Call-in number: 1-866-574-0995. Code: 833028115.
The Florida Supreme Court is expected to release its regular weekly opinions at 11 a.m.
Sen. AaronBean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, will take part in an event in which the Fraternal Order of Police and the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation will dedicate 53 automated external defibrillators to local police departments. That’s at 11 a.m., Fraternal Order of Police lodge, 5530 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville.
Capital Tiger Bay Club will host a discussion about the 2018 elections, with panelists expected to include Republican strategist DavidJohnson, Democratic strategist SteveSchale and BrianBurgess, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Capitolist. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee.
County elections officials face a 3 p.m. deadline to submit results of machine recounts from the Nov. 6 general election. Those recounts would be required in races where candidates were separated by 0.5 percent or less in preliminary returns.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will be on Capitol Hill to testify about his concerns over the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s potential negative economic impact on Florida’s produce industry. That’s at the U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, D.C.
It has been a year since former Florida Democratic Party Chair Stephen Bittelresigned his post due to allegations over bizarre sexual behavior.
With a half-dozen FDP employees and consultants describing him as misogynistic and demeaning and sharing sordid stories about him having fake breasts on his desk and asking employees about their sexual proclivities. The scene was ugly, and it came during the peak of the still-roaring #MeToo movement.
The creep show that is Stephen Bittel is still roaring, too.
As reported by the Miami New Times, a new complaint filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court alleges the real estate billionaire sexually harassed a female employee by describing his sexual partners’ pubic hair and his pornography preferences, offering to take her on a lingerie shopping spree.
To top it all off, there was some unwelcome touching: He grabbed and fondled her feet on his private jet.
Filing the disturbing 27-page lawsuit is 34-year-old Andrea Molina, who worked for five years as director of acquisitions for Bittel’s real estate firm, Terranova. Combined with the FDP staffers who came forward last year, seven people have accused Bittel of misogynistic and demeaning behavior.
To be clear, Stephen Bittel has the right to his day in court. He has a right to be heard and, if falsely accused, the right to public vindication.
But when there’s this much smoke — and there’s about as much smoke here as there is in Southern California right now — it is a fair presumption that there’s at least a little fire.
With that, how can an organization with such a political and (now) public face as the Donor Alliance continue to allow Bittel to be a leading part of its team?
How can these good people — and this is not the place to name names — continue to affiliate and associate with a man who was so publicly ousted from the Chair of his own party and is now facing more ugly accusations?
With his name and his money being associated with several related political committees, nobody can easily claim he is not part of that group.
This is the post-Harvey Weinstein era. The post-Bill Cosby era. The post-Kevin Spacey era. The post-Louis CK era. If 2017 could be boiled down to two words: “Time’s Up.”
And when it comes to the Democratic Donor Alliance’s relationship with Bittel, there’s only one move. Tell him his time is up and to not let the door hit ‘ im on the way out.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Good tidings came early.
This year’s social media-based benefit for Tampa’s Metropolitan Ministries — “Recount The Turkeys” — raised more than $17,000 and 850 turkeys for needy families.
It’s the fourth year in a row former House Speaker WillWeatherford has partnered with Florida Politics to help raise money for the charity during the holiday season.
Several Florida politicians answered Weatherford’s call to make sure no family goes without a holiday meal this Thanksgiving. Among those donating were Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Senate President-designate Bill Galvano, Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and Lauren Book, former Speakers Richard Corcoran, Steve Crisafulli, Dean Cannon, Larry Cretul, John Thrasher, and Tom Feeney, House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
“Once again, it’s nice to see that some things aren’t partisan,” Weatherford said. “I am glad that the season of Thanksgiving can still bring people of different backgrounds and politics together to help those in need …
“God bless Metropolitan Ministries and all the great work they do!”
“This has been the quickest, most efficient and most impactful Florida recount,” added Tim Marks, President/CEO of Metropolitan Ministries. “Thank you Peter, Will and your network of leaders for helping us #BringHope for at-risk families.”
P.S. Happy 39th birthday to our great friend, Speaker Weatherford.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@ATompkins: One thing that is missing in the whole @CNN and @Acosta press credential story. The Secret Service has narrow and specific criteria for denying credentials. And it has nothing to do with rudeness and microphones. I believe CNN will/should win this lawsuit hands down.
—@realDonaldTrump: When will Bill Nelson concede in Florida? The characters running Broward and Palm Beach voting will not be able to “find” enough votes, too much spotlight on them now!
—@MaggieNYT: Ted OLSON, who Trump praised in one of his Fla tweets and who Trump tried repeatedly to hire for his own personal legal team (Olson said no), is repping CNN in suit against the White House re Acosta hard pass.
—@MarcoRubio: Incompetent law breaking election officials lead to chance for lawyers to steal an election Dem lawyers aren’t here to make sure every vote is counted. They’re here to get as many votes for their client as possible counted & get as many votes for opponent as possible thrown out
—@MDixon55: We have reached the “is an x in an oval a vote” point in #FloridaRecount
—@ElizabethRKoh: Re: Bay County ballots, elections supervisor Mark Andersen tells me he still intends to include emailed/faxed ballots in his count to the state, though decision is up to the county canvassing board, meeting Thursday 4 p.m. Board includes him, a judge and county commission chair.
—@Fineout: On a conference call with reporters set up by Scott campaign — U.S. Rep. @FrancisRooney said it sounds “pretty ridiculous” that the Bay County elections supervisor allowed people to email their ballots
— @PatriciaMazzei: No one warns you in journalism school that one day you will be on the floor of a county elections office, scarfing down Trinidadian curry while a recount is underway, TV cameras are on and lawyers are running around
—@APStyleBook: We don’t say “preheat the oven to 350 F.” Instead, we just heat the oven. You’re getting it up to temperature, so you’re heating it. This applies whether you’re making turkey for a crowd or just throwing in a frozen pizza. We won’t judge.
—@MadisonSocial: Executive decision was made today- March 9 is the 3rd Tallahassee Wine Mixer and the $35 unlimited wine sampling ticket will include a shirt. Also, VIP tickets this year will include one-hour early entry and unlimited charcuterie
— DAYS UNTIL —
Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 4; Elections Canvassing Commission meets to certify official General Election results — 6; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 6; Thanksgiving — 8; Black Friday — 9; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 13; Partial government shutdown — 23; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 28; 116th Congress convenes — 50; Florida’s Inauguration Ceremony — 75; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 90; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 111; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 115; Iowa Caucuses — 446; 2020 General Election — 720.
— RECOUNT —
“Florida recount update: Machine recounts underway. Some counties might not finish in time” via John McCarthy of the Tallahassee Democrat — Saturday’s preliminary totals showed Gov. RickScott leading the incumbent Democrat by 0.15 percentage points in the Senate race, Republican former congressman Ron DeSantis ahead of Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by 0.41 points in the governor’s race and Democrat Nikki Fried in front of Republican Matt Caldwell by 0.06 percentage points in the agriculture commission race. By law, the recounts must be completed by 3 p.m. Thursday. But as of Tuesday, it was unclear whether all of the state’s 67 counties would meet the deadline. In Miami-Dade, the state’s largest county, election officials began doing the prep work of separating the first page of ballots — which contains all of the contested races — last week when it became obvious the recounts would be coming. That allowed the county to start the recount Saturday.
“Early recount total show little change” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Recounts wrapping up in small and mid-sized counties are showing few changes to initial results in the races for Governor, U.S. Senate and Agriculture Commissioner. But bigger counties still have until Thursday afternoon to complete the state-mandated recount process. In Leon County, where elections officials completed running more than 140,000 ballots through tabulating machines, the candidates in the major statewide races all lost several votes. Recounted numbers in Citrus County found two additional votes each for DeSantis, Scott and Caldwell. In Alachua County, Nelson’s lead over Scott among county voters grew by 26 votes. Gillum, down by 33,684 in the unofficial statewide numbers, gained 12 votes in Alachua County in his race with DeSantis. And Fried, up 5,326 votes statewide on Saturday, gained 26 votes in Alachua County.
“Tallahassee becomes ground zero for recount battles in federal court” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — As of Tuesday morning, there were three legal actions filed in the U.S. District Court’s Northern District. By the end of the day, a flurry of other cases was on the docket, bringing the total to seven. And all of them are landing on the desk of Chief Judge Mark Walker, who has ruled against Gov. Scott several times in astringent, colorfully worded opinions. The legal actions deal with a range of legal issues from mismatched signatures to vote-by-mail deadlines to whether Gov. Scott — a candidate for U.S. Senate — should recuse himself from the recount process. Four of the suits were brought by Nelson or entities acting on his behalf, including the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and VoteVets, a political committee that represents military veterans.
“’Magic words,’ consistency rule targeted in Bill Nelson’s recount lawsuit” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — The federal lawsuit, filed in Tallahassee, takes aim at two specific standards — one called the “magic words” requirement and the other called the “consistency” requirement — and says they violate First Amendment free speech rights and 14th Amendment equality protections. Nelson’s suit says the rules passed by the Florida Department of State unconstitutionally disenfranchise voters and aren’t consistent or fair. For instance, voters who mistakenly circle their choice of candidate but then bubble in their choices in other races won’t have their vote counted. But voters who mistakenly circle their candidate of choice and either don’t vote in other races or fail to bubble-in their choice in those other races will have their votes counted. The so-called “consistency” requirement unfairly disadvantages one class of voters over another, the suit says.
“Nelson sues for extension; Chuck Schumer calls for Rick Scott recusal” via Ledyard King of USA TODAY — With a Thursday deadline looming, Nelson’s campaign has filed a federal lawsuit to extend the unevenly conducted statewide recount of his re-election race. The lawsuit seeks to give elections officials in each of Florida’s 67 counties adequate time to finish “a legally mandated and accurate recount,” according to the senator’s campaign. A hearing could be held as early as Wednesday. “Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, we should all be able to agree that the goal here is to have a complete and accurate count of all lawful ballots and to ensure that count is done accurately,” Marc Elias, the lead lawyer for Nelson’s recount efforts, told reporters on a conference call. Nelson’s campaign filed the lawsuit in federal court in Tallahassee only hours after he joined Senate Democratic Leader Schumer at a Capitol Hill news conference and demanded Scott withdraw from any oversight role of the state’s election recount.
“Schumer sees Nelson victory after recount” via Burgess Everett of POLITICO Florida — Schumer and Nelson laid into Scott for making claims of “voter fraud” and charging that Democrats want to “steal” the election from him. And Schumer was characteristically sunny about Nelson’s prospects despite being behind by a significant margin before the recount. “Republicans know that if this recount is conducted fairly and thoroughly that Sen. Nelson has an excellent chance of being reelected,” Schumer said. “If this is done fair and square, we believe Sen. Nelson has an excellent chance, a much greater than half chance of being reelected.” The two senators took no questions, but a Democratic official said that they believe a number of ballots discarded by machines in Democratic areas will help boost Nelson in a hand recount.
“Donald Trump tries to crank up the pressure: ‘When will Nelson concede in Florida?’” via Rebecca Morin of POLITICO Florida — “When will Bill Nelson concede in Florida? The characters running Broward and Palm Beach voting will not be able to ‘find’ enough votes, too much spotlight on them now!” the president tweeted. The president, without evidence, has repeatedly accused Democrats of “election theft” in that Senate race and has said the election should be called in Scott’s favor.
“Scott’s team has no interest in seeing recount deadlines extended” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Speaking for Scott, Republican U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney insisted the recounts must proceed by law, a reference to the fact that Florida law requires the machine recounts to complete by Thursday, and for completion of the anticipated hand recount for the U.S. Senate race by Sunday. He was backed by Tim Cerio of GrayRobinson, one of the lawyers on the Scott campaign, who said that everything Scott’s campaign is doing in court is seeking to make sure current laws are followed. “I think it would be absolutely outrageous that once again in this country that we would ignore law,” Rooney said.
“Scott won’t commit to certifying recount results if he loses, top adviser says” via Aaron Rupar of Vox — Scott’s senior campaign adviser, Brad Todd, repeatedly refused to commit to certifying the results of Florida’s U.S. Senate election, during CNN interviews, if Scott ends up losing in a recount to Nelson. “You talk about having to make a decision — the governor has a decision to make,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo said to Todd. “Is he going to do that [certify the results] or will he recuse himself, because of his own conflict in this?” “The governor respects the process. He respects the law in Florida,” Todd said. “Even if he loses?” Cuomo interjected. “He’s not going to lose unless they steal it from him in court,” Todd replied. “The governor is going to be the senator.”
“Scott’s campaign sues Hillsborough County supervisor of elections” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections is not allowing elections observers to stand in the physical room where recounts are taking place, Gov. Scott alleged in a lawsuit. Instead, they’re being forced to watch the recounts from an adjacent room through a transparent window. Scott’s lawyers — in conjunction with lawyers from the National Republican Senatorial Committee — say that’s a violation of state law. Under Rule 1S-2.031(2) and (3) of the Florida Administrative Code, the lawsuit alleges, representatives for the Scott campaign — as well as the campaigns of any of the other candidates in races that are undergoing recounts — should be allowed into the room where any recount is taking place. If a judge were to find in favor of Scott, the SOE would be forced to allow campaign representatives into the same room as the recount.
“Amid recounts, Scott claims victory, sets trip to Washington” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — Scott isn’t waiting to declare victory and “make Washington work” — a key slogan and platform of his campaign. “We won the election,’’ Scott told The Washington Post. “I’m looking forward to being up there. … I’ve got a very specific agenda I’ve put out of what I want to accomplish.’’ Part of Scott’s visit will include orientation for freshman members of Congress, but so far there’s no word on which committees he’ll sit on. Meanwhile, he and his team are continuing their campaign to get Nelson to throw in the towel.
— MORE RECOUNT —
“Matt Caldwell doesn’t want to win recount by ‘legal loophole’” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Caldwell says he thought it was mathematically impossible for him to lose the Florida Agriculture Commissioner race when he declared victory a week ago. He was up 40,000 votes and believed about five Broward County precincts and a maximum 33,000 votes remained untabulated. Now he’s 5,326 votes behind Democrat Nikki Fried and wants to know how that happened. “I think voters deserve a straight answer,” Caldwell said. “Where did 80,000 votes come from?” For Caldwell, though, getting a full accounting of all votes will be essential even if he ends up losing the election. “I have zero interest in winning this election on a legal loophole,” he said.
“Jim Bonfiglio recount lawsuit ‘removed’ to federal court” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the Palm Beach County canvassing board, and Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Bucher were listed as defendants. Detzner now argues the lawsuit belongs in federal court, filing what’s known as a “notice of removal.” The Secretary of State noted Bonfiglio’s concerns that the Palm Beach County may not complete a recount of the HD 89 race before the deadline under Florida law. Bonfiglio’s arguments come down to claims that his rights under due process and equal protection provisions in the U.S. Constitution are being violated. Thus, Detzner argues, a federal court is the proper venue for the case. In his lawsuit, Bonfiglio highlighted comments by Bucher that Palm Beach may not be able to complete all of its recounts by the deadline of Thursday at 3 p.m. The Democrat demanded that deadline is extended.
“Florida’s effort to find noncitizen voters had slim results” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press — The results of the Scott administration’s push did not come anywhere close to finding that many noncitizens. Spurred on directly by Gov. Scott shortly after he was elected governor, the state began looking to see if there were ineligible voters on the rolls. An initial list that was not widely distributed turned up nearly 182,000 people, but state officials called the list obsolete and did not use it. State officials instead whittled it down and gave the names of more than 2,600 voters to local election supervisors who were asked to check them. Voters who did not respond to supervisors could ultimately be removed from the rolls. After checking the names against the federal database, the Florida Department of State in September 2012 identified 207 ineligible voters.
“As recount politics heat up, two election officials are the targets of online harassment” via Craig Timberg and Beth Reinhard of The Washington Post — Several pro-Trump Facebook pages and one Twitter account posted the home address and phone number of the Broward County election supervisor who has been the target of blistering criticism from the president and other Republicans amid highly politicized vote recounts. Posting the home address of Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes — a tactic called “doxing” — often is a step toward harassment of people in the public spotlight and is prohibited by Facebook, Twitter and most other online platforms. Facebook confirmed it had removed personal information about Snipes after the incident was reported to the company. It also confirmed a similar incident involving Palm Beach County’s Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, whose home address and phone number also were posted on a Facebook page.
“’It is time to move on’: Brenda Snipes talks about leaving elections post in Broward” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — “I think I have served the purpose that I came for, which is to provide a credible election product for Broward,” she said. The decision isn’t final, she said, because she still has to talk to her family about it. Snipes’ announcement came after a reporter asked her response to a tweet from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who appointed Snipes, calling for her removal from office. “There is no question that Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes failed to comply with Florida law on multiple counts, undermining Floridians’ confidence in our electoral process,” Bush tweeted.
Assignment editors —State Sen. Lori Berman, Rep. Bobby Powell, and FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo will hold a “Count Every Vote” news conference to discuss the latest efforts of the recount in Palm Beach County, 11:15 a.m., Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office, 240 S Military Trail, West Palm Beach.
Assignment editors — The Win Justice coalition and elected officials will join voters outside of the Broward Supervisor of Elections office to tell stories of disenfranchisement, unreasonable signature rules, and misinformation that led to the inability to cast a ballot, 11:15 a.m., Broward Supervisor of Elections, 1501 NW. 40th Ave., Lauderhill.
— CONCENTRATED CHAOS —
The Florida recount might be just the tip of the iceberg for bad news in Broward County.
Writes MichaelGrunwald for POLITICO Magazine: “Once again, America’s eyes have turned to Broward County, Florida. And once again, America’s eyes are rolling.”
Among the area’s unique attributes: Perennial ballot office issues, the Parkland shooting and subsequent revelations of governmental inadequacy, a disproportionate share of political scandals and a resident by the name RogerStone, currently a reported subject of Special Counsel RobertMueller’s probe.
No surprise: It was anticipated that Broward Supervisor of Elections Snipes might mess things up again. “In recent years, her office has sent out mail-in ballots that were missing a constitutional amendment, improperly opened ballots in private, and illegally destroyed ballots from Wasserman Schultz’s 2016 congressional race.”
Who’s to blame?: Maybe not the Democratic Party, per se, but a lack of political competition. “I’ve watched the Democrats in Broward get very comfortable with power,” a former Dem operative tells Grunwald. “There’s no accountability, because there’s no competition.”
Stranger than fiction: The Parkland tragedy and the Broward ballot snafu collided this week “when it came out that NikolasCruz, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas gunman, registered to vote while awaiting trial in the Broward County Jail.” “My editor would never let me get away with this stuff,” a local fiction writer tells Grunwald. “She’d say: ‘Come on. Crazy is OK, but this is too crazy.’”
— EPILOGUE —
“Court backs Ryan Torrens in qualifying dispute” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — A panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned a ruling in a lawsuit that contended Torrens had improperly qualified for the ballot. The lawsuit, filed by Torrens’ Democratic opponent for Attorney General, Sean Shaw, led to a messy end to their primary-election campaign. The lawsuit alleged that Torrens had written a $4,000 check in his wife’s name to his campaign account. Shaw argued that the check was improper and had been used in June to cover Torrens’ election-qualifying fee. Individual donors, other than candidates, are limited to contributing $3,000 in statewide races. Just days before the Aug. 28 primary, Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers agreed with Shaw and disqualified Torrens as a candidate. A three-judge panel of the appeals court rejected Gievers’ decision and said in a footnote that the case was not moot because of “potential incidental consequences that may arise out of the trial court’s decision in this case.”
“Does Adam Hattersley victory signal inroads for Democrats in east Hillsborough?” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — One of the biggest surprises of Election Day for local politicos was the election of Democrat Hattersley to state House District 59 over Republican Joe Wicker. “Particularly western Brandon has been moderating for years and the conservative base eroding,” said state Sen. Tom Lee who also once represented much of the area. Hattersley was an ideal candidate for such a district: a moderate, a nuclear submarine and Iraq deployment veteran, former Naval Academy instructor and small-business owner from the military enclave of Riverview. Moreover, the election “was a bloodbath for Republicans in Hillsborough County,” with a Democratic turnout boosted by numerous black and female Democrats on the ballot, Lee said.
“Tampa’s mayoral race will be the next election pivot” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — So far the field includes a wealthy philanthropist, two Tampa City Council members, a former police chief, a former Hillsborough County Commissioner, a small business consultant, and a community activist. David Straz, whose namesake graces Tampa’s performing arts venue, is self-funding a campaign with coffers padded well beyond that of any other candidate. His spending could be a game changer in a race in which he would otherwise likely not be very competitive. Far behind in the money race is former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor. Castor has raised far more than any other candidate, except Straz. She’s in a crowded class of political superstars who, together, will give Straz a run for his money. Tampa City Council member Harry Cohen has raised just shy of $100,000 for his campaign. That haul includes a $1,000 contribution from former Tampa Mayor Sandra Freedman and another from her husband, Michael Freedman.
— STATEWIDE —
“Ousted Democratic chairman allegedly propositioned female employee, called himself a ‘sapiosexual’” via Jessica Lipscomb of the Miami New Times — Stephen Bittel, a real estate billionaire who enjoyed a short reign as head of the Florida Democratic Party before resigning in disgrace last fall, sexually harassed a female employee by describing his sexual partners’ pubic hair, describing his pornography preferences, offering to take her shopping for lingerie, and touching her toes on his private jet, according to a new complaint filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. The allegations were described in a disturbing 27-page lawsuit filed Friday by 34-year-old Andrea Molina, who worked for five years as director of acquisitions for Bittel’s real estate firm, Terranova. Bittel resigned last November following six former Florida Democratic Party staffers and consultants described him as misogynistic and demeaning. Though the women did not accuse Bittel of inappropriately touching or threatening them, they described a pattern of behavior that created a hostile environment for female employees. Molina’s lawsuit adds more credibility — and detail — to the women’s complaints.
“Ron DeSantis names transition staff members” — The latest staff members were James Blair, director of policy; Chris Clark, director of recruiting; Drew Meiner, director of operations; Amanda Emmons, director of scheduling; Ben Gibson, general counsel; Dave Vasquez, press secretary; and Claire Whitehead, assistant to Casey DeSantis, the wife of DeSantis. Blair is a longtime adviser to House Speaker Richard Corcoran; Clark served as chief of staff to former Senate President Don Gaetz; Meiner is a former deputy campaign manager for operations for the DeSantis campaign; Emmons is a former staff assistant for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio; Gibson is a former deputy general counsel to Gov. Scott; Vasquez is a former campaign manager for state Rep. Bob Cortes; and Whitehead is a former appointments analyst and regional representative for Scott.
“Scott, Cabinet poised to take up FPL projects” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Scott and the Cabinet released an agenda for a Nov. 20 meeting that includes proposed “certification” of FPL’s plan for a 1,200-megawatt plant in Broward that has drawn opposition from the Sierra Club. Under state law, Scott and the Cabinet serve as a siting board that has authority to decide whether power-plant projects should move forward. Administrative Law Judge Cathy Sellers in July issued a 129-page recommended order that urged Scott and the Cabinet to approve certification for the natural-gas plant, which would replace two older generating units at what is known as FPL’s Lauderdale site in Dania Beach and Hollywood. The Sierra Club raised a series of objections, focusing heavily on greenhouse-gas emissions that would come from the new plant.
Jimmy Patronis’ office won’t weigh in on pot farm fire control — The State Fire Marshal’s Office, headed by CFO Patronis, this week declined to offer an opinion on whether to exempt a proposed “marijuana grow and processing facility” from the state’s fire code requirements. Dale E. Fey Jr., Fire Marshal at The North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District, had filed a petition for what’s known as a “declaratory statement,” used to get an interpretation of a statute, rule, or order from a state agency. Patronis’ office declined, saying it “lacks authority to issue the requested declaratory statement.” The property in question, in Immokalee, is registered to Oakes Farms Tomato Repack LLC, which wanted to claim an “agricultural exemption … to avoid complying with Fire and Life Safety codes.” A Department of Health spokesman has said it wasn’t “a proposed facility of any current MMTC (medical marijuana treatment center), but may be a location not yet submitted, or a location of a proposed MMTC applicant.” Oakes Farms did not respond to a request for comment.
“Four people knew what happened in a room at a Florida psychiatric hospital. One is dead.” via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald — Surveillance video captured what happened at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 12 in the moments before a developmentally disabled man broke his neck at a Panhandle psychiatric hospital: one staff member shoved the resident into his room. Two other employees quickly followed. They remained in the room for several minutes. It’s what happened inside Reginald Schroat’s bedroom that remains a mystery. After the three staffers left his room, the 40-year-old man summoned help, saying he could no longer move his legs. Surveillance cameras are not allowed inside living quarters at the state-operated Florida State Hospital. That means only four people know what happened inside Schroat’s room that day. And one of them is dead, the victim of a broken neck. “It’s wrong,” said Ethel Siegler, Schroat’s mother. “Something is very fishy there.”
“Department of Health gets win in trauma case” via the News Service of Florida — A state appeals court sided with the Florida Department of Health in a long-running dispute about proposed rules for determining whether trauma centers should be allowed to open — though a law passed this year mostly made the issue moot. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned a 2017 decision by Administrative Law Judge Garnett Chisenhall, who tossed out the proposed rules. The case is part of years of legal battles involving the hospital industry and the Department of Health about opening trauma centers in various parts of the state. The actions focused heavily on a law that limited the number of trauma centers statewide to 44 and divvied up trauma centers among 19 regions.
“Teresa Jacobs wraps up 16-year run with Orange County government” via Steven Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — A small stack of tissues close by, Jacobs dabbed tears from her eyes occasionally during Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, her last after an eight-year run holding the mayoral gavel. The meeting, also the last for three other exiting board members, was filled mostly with routine county business, including two proclamations, some advisory board appointments, a briefing about other Florida governments pursuing lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies for the opioid crisis and land-use and rezoning matters. Jacobs, who created a task force several years ago to address the deadly opioid crisis in Central Florida, suggested the board wait and let the next commission decide if the county should pick a legal fight with drugmakers. “As late as we are in the hour of my term, I feel like it would be inappropriate to make a decision about moving forward,” said Jacobs, who in August was elected Orange County School Board chair, a term that begins Nov. 19.
“Pot on the go: Central Florida’s first drive-thru dispensary opens in East Orlando” via Kyle Arnold of the Orlando Sentinel — Curaleaf is bringing its second Central Florida dispensary to 775 N. Semoran Boulevard in a former Chase Bank location. It will be the second drive-thru dispensary in the state for Curaleaf. Customers can either phone in orders or place them online. “It’s there for ease of access,” said Vinit Patel, Curaleaf’s regional dispensary operations manager. “Of course, we want first-time customers to visit us inside.”
“NASCAR offers to acquire the owner of Daytona International Speedway” via Patrick Thomas of The Wall Street Journal — The offer values the owner of the racetrack — home of the Daytona 500, the most prestigious NASCAR race — at $1.85 billion. NASCAR offered to buy the outstanding shares of publicly held International Speedway Corp. for $42 per share, about 7.5 percent more than the shares’ closing price on Friday. The deal also would combine NASCAR and International Speedway into a privately held entity owned by the France family, which controls both companies. The offer by NASCAR is pending approval by shareholders who own most of the common shares of International Speedway that the France family doesn’t own.
“Snubbed by Amazon: Lack of LGBTQ protections hurt Florida, group says” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Online retail giant Amazon won’t be setting up its new headquarters in any Florida city. Why? Equality Florida is pointing to the absence of statewide nondiscrimination policies for the LGBTQ community. Under current state law, it’s still legal to discriminate against LGBT individuals in employment, housing and public accommodations. In a USA TODAY analysis of cities that didn’t make the cut, the publication faulted Miami’s transportation network, along with Florida’s lack of uniform LGBTQ protections. “The reality is the patchwork quilt of municipalities with full protections next to ones with none is unacceptable,” said Nadine Smith, who heads Equality Florida, the state’s leading LGBTQ rights organization.
Happening today — The Miami Herald will host a Florida Priorities Summit, which will include a series of panel discussions about solving policy issues facing the state. Among the participants will be state Rep. Holly Raschein of Key Largo, who will take part in a discussion about environmental issues, and state Sen. Anitere Flores of Miami and Florida College System Chancellor Madeline Pumariega, who will take part in a discussion about education issues, 8 a.m., University of Miami, Donna E. Shalala Student Center, 1330 Miller Dr., Coral Gables.
Assignment editors — Six local Collier County leaders will be recognized at the Naples Chamber of Commerce 2018 Excellence in Industry Awards, with a ceremony where former state CFO Alex Sink will be the keynote speaker, 8 a.m., Silverspot Cinema — Naples, 9118 Strada Pl. #8205, Naples.
Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission continues a four-day meeting in Broward County. Topics include a presentation on the cellphone content and internet searches of alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz, 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.
Happening today — The Florida Elections Commission begins a two-day meeting to interview candidates to become the commission’s executive director, 9 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
Happening today — The Broward County legislative delegation will hold an organizational meeting ahead of the 2019 Session, 6 p.m., Broward College, Bailey Hall, 3501 S.W. Davie Road, Davie.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“For Trump, even disaster response is colored in red and blue” via Matt Viser and Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post — As California has convulsed in tragedy — a mass shooting and an outbreak of wildfires that included the deadliest in the state’s history — the president has not only offered little comfort; he has also heaped on criticism. He’s blamed the forest fires on “gross mismanagement,” threatened to withhold federal payments and instructed officials there: “Get Smart!” The disparity in the responses to red states and blue states is one that continues to exacerbate the nation’s partisan complexion, injected now even into natural disasters.
“Florida recount gives Pam Bondi a new shot at Trump’s inner circle” via Annie Karni and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Since the midterms, she has been serving as one of Trump’s point people on the ground there, remaining in frequent contact with the president and giving him personal updates. With a major cabinet shuffle underway — Trump is looking for replacements for both his Attorney General and his Homeland Security secretary — Bondi’s name is being talked about again. “He trusts her,” said Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser who lives in Florida. “They’ve always had an excellent personal rapport. She’s got a good TV presence; she’s very telegenic and that’s important to the president.”
“Matt Gaetz photographed with Proud Boy in ‘Pepe the Frog’ shirt” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times — The lawmaker, frequent Fox News guest and former InfoWars fan, represents Florida’s 1st Congressional District way up in the Florida Panhandle, which makes it all-the-more bizarre that Gaetz showed up at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office to videotape himself yelling at cops and investigating some random trucks outside the building. It was all part of what insiders have told Politico appears to be a coordinated Republican effort to, without evidence, accuse Democrats of election-rigging. But along the way, Gaetz — who is on Gov.-elect DeSantis’ “transition team” — stopped for a selfie with a dude in a Pepe T-shirt and Proud Boy hat.
“Charlie Crist backs Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — “Pelosi‘s pledge to be a transitional leader for House Democrats, focused not only on our legislative agenda, but on ushering and mentoring our next generation of leaders to carry our efforts forward for the longer run, is also a prudent and wise approach,” Crist said. Crist, who won re-election last week, declined to support Pelosi’s bid for another run at the speakership during his campaign, though he didn’t rule it out. “Before that’s an issue, we have to win back the majority,” Crist told the Times in September.
“Vern Buchanan lays out plans for lame duck session” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — First, he wants to see a reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Trust, which expired at the end of September. Since the expiration of federal funding, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition estimates national parks have lost out on more than $107 million. Of course, Buchanan also wants to ensure funding for red tide research, some of which may end up happening in his district at Mote Marine Laboratory. Buchanan and Democratic Delegation co-chair Alcee Hastings backed a $100-million research package earlier this year that would fund red tide study. Buchanan sponsored the Thin Blue Line Act, aimed at increasing criminal penalties for cop killers. The bill passed the House but hasn’t passed the Senate yet. Buchanan would like the pill to get to the president’s desk before a new Congress gets sworn in. The same goes for the Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act, another bill he worked on with Hastings.
“Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ted Deutch condemn latest Hamas attacks on Israel” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News — With southern Israel under attack from rockets being shot from Palestinian controlled Gaza, the two South Florida congressional representatives who lead the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee expressed their support of that key American ally. Retiring U.S. Rep Ros-Lehtinen took to Twitter to weigh in on the attacks. “I support Israel’s right to defend herself from attacks by Hamas and other Gaza terrorist groups,” she wrote. “These rockets are falling on innocent Israeli communities and I urge responsible nations to condemn these terrorists and help put a stop to their bloodshed.” She was joined by U.S. Rep. Deutch who has often allied himself with Ros-Lehtinen in recent years on Middle Eastern issues. Deutch also took to Twitter to blame Hamas for the latest round of attacks.
“Ex-congresswoman’s hearing plan for February” via the News Service of Florida — A federal appeals court has rescheduled a hearing in a challenge filed by former Congresswoman Corrine Brown after she was convicted in a charity scam. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week scheduled the arguments on Feb. 1 in Atlanta, according to an online docket. The court had earlier indicated it would hear the case in December but scrapped that schedule. Brown, 72, filed an appeal after she was convicted last year on 18 felony counts and sentenced to five years in prison.
Happening today — Former Congressmen David Jolly and Patrick Murphy will speak at a Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce breakfast event about “Why Gridlock Rules Washington and How We Can Solve the Crisis,” 7:15 a.m., Palm Beach Gardens Marriott, 4000 RCA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens.
— OPINIONS —
“Joe Henderson: Bay County voters show need for expanded options” via Florida Politics — It’s wonderful that while dealing with the catastrophe wrought by Hurricane Michael, more than 140 Bay County voters did their civic duty and found a way to cast a ballot in this election. And then, alas, their votes need to be disqualified. They were submitted by email or fax, and that’s not allowed under Florida law. Look, I get it — this was an extraordinary circumstance and Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Anderson was doing what he could to help those citizens regain a piece of normal by allowing them to vote. But the votes have to be cast within the rules, and those weren’t. I have a suggestion going forward, though: change the rules. At least seriously explore alternatives to traditional ballots. No, I’m not saying to let Fred from the hardware store send a fax or drop off a Post-it Note with some names scribbled on and call that his ballot. I am saying it’s time that Florida revisits the way elections are conducted and tabulated (yeah, I’m looking at you, Broward County) and get with the times.
“Dan Backer: Americans spend more on Thanksgiving than election 2018” via Florida Politics — When it’s all said and done, America will spend roughly $3 billion on Thanksgiving dinners this year. That’s a whole lot of white meat and cranberry sauce — not to mention food comas. All in all, we’re talking well over $20 billion spent by advertisers and their customers in a sliver of late November. Election 2018 was even cheaper. The 2017-2018 election cycle — the most expensive midterm ever — cost a mere $5 billion over two years, a drop in the ocean compared to America’s Turkey Day shopping sprees. Is “money in politics” really so evil? Ads for Jeeps, Big Macs and Harry Potter spin-offs flood our airwaves to a much, much larger extent, with nary a peep from the Left. Only when the content has to do with border security or tax cuts — and not end-of-year lease deals — do liberal Democrats throw a hissy fit.
“Sarah Catalanotto, Laura Hampson: After hurricane, air medical services was rural lifesaver” via Florida Politics — When Hurricane Michael ripped through our state last month as the third most powerful hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States, it left a trail of destruction and devastation in its path. Unlike Hurricane Irma last year, this storm hit predominantly rural areas, leaving already resource-strained communities in a state of even greater need. While the process of rebuilding will take months and many hands, we must recognize those who helped lessen the hurricane’s deadly impact and assist those who needed it most. Often overlooked, air medical providers and the flight crews who operate each aircraft are exactly those people. The bottom line is that air medical services are an increasingly important part of providing high-quality and timely access to health care for many rural residents, but the ultimate responsibility falls on every Floridian to recognize the benefits of these services and ensure that they remain available for the patients who need them.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Lauren Book honored at Glamour Magazine ‘Women of the Year’ ceremony” via Florida Politics — State Sen. Book was recognized “for her efforts to increase education and awareness of child sexual abuse prevention” at Glamour Magazine’s 2018 Women of the Year summit and awards ceremony in New York City. The Plantation Democrat on Monday received the L’Oreal Paris/Glamour “Heroes Among Us” Award, presented by actor/advocate AmberHeard, at the Monday ceremony … Book shared “her experience surviving childhood sexual abuse” and how it “propelled her to create positive change for others by working to prevent abuse and help survivors heal.” “It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to stand alongside these brave, powerful and outspoken women who have used their voices and actions to become agents of change,” Book said in a statement.
Personnel move: ACLU of Florida announces new executive director — Dr. Micah Kubic, a “distinguished scholar, community leader and nonprofit administrator,” replaces retiring executive director HowardSimon, the organization said Tuesday. He starts in January. Kubic has been executive director of the ACLU’s Kansas affiliate for the last three years. “Under his tenure, the Kansas ACLU affiliate successfully led campaigns to protect voting rights, and advance criminal justice and racial justice reforms,” a news release said. “I am thrilled to come stand side by side with tens of thousands of ACLU supporters in Florida to do that work,” Kubic said. He also has been Legislative Director for the City Council in Kansas City, Missouri. Kubic has an undergraduate degree from George Washington University, and a master’s degree in political science and doctorate in Black Politics from Howard University.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Matt Bryan, David Daniel, Thomas Griffin, Jeff Hartley, Lisa Hurley, Jim Naff, Teye Reeves, Smith Bryan & Myers: Modern Canna Science
Jonathan Kilman, Paul Lowell, Jon Yapo, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: Insikt, Florida Chiropractic Association, Walgreen Company, Lyft, Starsky Robotics
Timothy Stanfield, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: PCE Systems, The Simmons Group Consulting
“Orlando Sentinel shakes up top: Nancy Meyer, Julie Anderson in; Avido Khahaifa out” via Scott Powers of Orlando rising — The Orlando Sentinel has moved former publisher Meyer back as publisher of the newspaper and also of the Sun-Sentinel, and named Anderson as editor-in-chief, ending the run of Avido Khahaifa in both positions. Meyer has been serving as general manager of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. She will now hold that post plus the publisher’s title at both papers. This is Meyer’s second time around as publisher of the Orlando Sentinel; she was the paper’s publisher in 2015-16, before being dismissed and replaced in that position by Khahaifa. She went to work for the USA Today Network, and Tribune Publishing brought her back in March, making her general manager for the company’s Florida papers. Anderson has been serving as editor-in-chief at the Sun Sentinel since March 1, and now will hold that post at both papers.
Strategic Digital Services launches new website — The company, which bills itself as “Florida’s leading digital agency for advocacy, corporations, and campaigns,” debuted the new site this week at choosesds.com. “We think it’s pretty innovative and smart — like the team that makes up SDS,” said Joe Clements, who heads the firm with Matt Farrar. Aside from founding SDS, they created Bundl, an app that coordinates political contributions. And the dynamic duo also produces the “Of Record” podcast to “drill down on the latest in digital media.” An episode with Florida Politics publisher Schorsch is here.
— ALOE —
“A look around IAAPA 2018” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — If you walk into the Orange County Convention Center this week, you’d forgiven for thinking you’re in an indoor theme park and arcade rather than a trade show. Tuesday was the first day the show floor was open at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) expo, with companies ranging from popcorn vendors to carnival ride operators to roller coaster designers shopping their wares to more than 35,000 professionals working in the theme park industry from over 100 countries. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment attracted the most attention as it hyped up 11 rides opening across its parks in 2019. Several of those are coming to Orlando — particularly the re-themed attractions in its Sesame Street area — but at the booth for Orlando-based Skyline Attractions, the focus is on the Tidal Twister roller coaster coming to SeaWorld San Diego next year.
“SeaWorld: adding more rides is ‘new strategy with a lot of energy to it’” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — As SeaWorld Entertainment’s monthslong upswing continues, the company is trying to position itself into 2019 by opening nine new attractions at its parks across the country. SeaWorld’s senior vice president of attractions Mike Denninger spoke about the company’s aims, while in the background workers constructed the full-scale buildings that will make up Sesame Street land at SeaWorld Orlando, another one of the new projects in the mix next year. “This is a new strategy with a lot of energy to it,” said,” Denninger said. He declined to say how much SeaWorld Entertainment is spending on the new rides other than it is significant and “one of our biggest years of investment.”
“New film says the Miami Herald’s Gary Hart story transformed journalism. Did it really?” via Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald — How much of this is your fault, Tom Fiedler? Like the 2014 book it’s based on, journalist Matt Bai’s “All The Truth Is Out,” the film argues that Fiedler and the Herald changed the ground rules of journalism in a fundamentally awful way by staking out the Capitol Hill home of former Colorado Sen. Hart to see if he was spending a cozy and wifeless weekend with a woman who would soon be identified as 29-year-old model and bit-part actress Donna Rice. “The finest political journalists of a generation surrendered all at once to the idea that politics had become another form of celebrity-driven entertainment,” wrote Bai, “while simultaneously disdaining the kind of reporting that such a thirst for entertainment made necessary.” Fiedler himself agrees that something changed in journalism and perhaps politics too after the Hart story. “My two cents is that our story was part of an evolution in journalism, not a revolution,” he said.
“’Game of Thrones’ returns in April 2019 — here’s what we know so far about the final season” via Elahe Izadi of The Washington Post — How long will this season last? The final season will just be six episodes long, which also makes it the series’ shortest. Seasons 1 through 6 of the show each had 10 episodes, while Season 7 had seven episodes. But the final season will also have longer-than-normal episodes, clocking in at 80 minutes each. Source material, please? Just like Seasons 6 and 7, the show writers don’t have the benefit of drawing upon George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. What should we expect, plot-wise? Entertainment Weekly went on set and revealed some basic plot points: In a callback to the start of the series, we’ll see a procession into Winterfell, but it’ll be with Daenerys and her army as they all hunker down for the threat north of the Wall. Also, Sansa is not happy about the whole Jon-bending-the-knee-to-a-Targaryen thing. Also, we’re expecting to finally get that big faceoff with the Army of the Dead, and a throwdown that made “Battle of the Bastards,” according to actor Peter Dinklage, “look like a theme park.”
“Start of stone crab season in Cortez is worst in recent memory” via Tim Fanning of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Theories abound, but one thing is for sure: The current stone crab season is off to one of its worst starts in recent memory for the oldest active fishing village in Florida. It’s that bad. “There’s nothing. There’s no crabs around because it’s all dead,” said John Banyas, a fourth-generation fisherman from Cortez. “The latest from our 400-trap haul was only 4 pounds, a record low in these local waters,” said Banyas. To harvest the 1,200 pounds of stone crab for the seventh annual Cortez Stone Crab & Music Festival, which continues Sunday, Banyas had to go as far north as Crystal River and Hernando Beach. “Except for the blue crab, nothing you’re eating here this weekend is local, I can tell you that,” said Banyas, who is also the founder of the festival.
Happy birthday to the brilliant Karen Cyphers, Brittney Metzger, the super sharp Debbie Millner, and Victoria Elliott York.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Yet another federal lawsuit has been filed the aftermath of the 2018 midterm election in Florida.
Miami attorney Benedict P. Kuehne, on behalf of eight registered voters in Florida, filed suit late Tuesday afternoon against Secretary of State KenDetzner, the state’s chief elections officer; Division of Elections director MariaMatthews; and supervisors of elections in 15 counties.
The complaint? He wants the court to “compel Florida elections officials to comply with their required duties to preserve election ballot materials for a period of twenty-two (22) months following every federal election.”
“Florida elections officials are not preserving digital electronic ballot images for the Nov. 6, 2018, general election, which includes a federal election for U.S. Senate and U.S. congressional elections,” he wrote.
“Because of the scheduled statewide recounts commencing as soon as Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, the unpreserved digital ballot images are in danger of being obliterated and overwritten by the tabulation of recounted ballots.”
More to the point, some counties are saving the digital images, he says, but others aren’t and “such disparate treatment violates voters’ right to equal protection” under the U.S. Constitution.
The case has been assigned to Senior U.S. District Judge RobertHinkle.
The Daily Business Review reported last week that Kuehne “was “monitoring (election) litigation for Democratic Agriculture Commissioner candidate NikkiFried.”
Kuehne’s an old pro at election-related litigation. He “represented Vice President AlGore and the Gore/Lieberman Recount Committee as trial co-counsel in the 2000 election recount trial and appeals” to the Florida Supreme Court, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and U.S. Supreme Court, his bio says.
“When will BillNelson concede in Florida? The characters running Broward and Palm Beach voting will not be able to ‘find’ enough votes, too much spotlight on them now!” — President Donald Trump, tweeting Tuesday.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
State lobbyists face a Wednesday deadline for filing reports showing their compensation from July 1 through Sept. 30.
Former Congressmen David Jolly and Patrick Murphy will speak at a Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce breakfast event about “Why Gridlock Rules Washington and How We Can Solve the Crisis.” That’s at 7:15 a.m., Palm Beach Gardens Marriott, 4000 RCA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens.
Former Florida CFO AlexSink will be keynote speaker at the Excellence In Industry Awards, presented by The Naples Chamber, recognizing Collier County businesses and individuals that “exemplify innovation, economic diversification and community enhancement.” That’s at 8 a.m., Silverspot Cinema — Naples, 9118 Strada Place-#8205, Naples.
The Florida Priorities Summit will include a series of panel discussions about solving policy issues facing the state, with Rep. HollyRaschein, a Key Largo Republican who will take part in a discussion about environmental issues, and state Sen. AnitereFlores, a Miami Republican, among others. That’s at 8 a.m., University of Miami, Donna E. Shalala Student Center, 1330 Miller Dr., Coral Gables.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission continues a four-day meeting in Broward County. That’s at 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.
The Florida Elections Commission will start a two-day meeting that will include interviewing candidates to become the commission’s executive director. That’s at 9 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.
The Florida Retail Federation will hold a media conference call to release a holiday shopping forecast. That’s at 11 a.m. Call-in number: 1-877-868-6863. Code: 841132.
Chief U.S. District Judge MarkWalker will hold a hearing in a lawsuit challenging a Florida law that requires elections supervisors to toss out provisional and mail-in ballots if voters’ signatures don’t match the ones on file. That’s at 1 p.m., United States Courthouse, 111 North Adams St., Tallahassee.
The Florida League of Mayors will host a community service project, the kickoff event for League President Matthew Surrency’s “Mayors Serve Local” initiative. That’s at 1:30 p.m., Osceola Council on Aging, 700 Generation Point, Kissimmee.
The Revenue Estimating Conference will analyze “Article V” revenues, which are used to help fund the court system. That’s at 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.
The Florida Venture Forum, in partnership with Space Florida, will hold a Florida Aerospace Capital Forum, to “broaden the spectrum of early-stage Florida-based aerospace companies and entrepreneurs.” That’s at 1:30 p.m. Guidewell Innovation Center, 6555 Sanger Road, Orlando.
Professor Emeritus of Political Science Bryon Shafer of the University of Wisconsin-Madison will present “Interpreting an Era of Partisan Volatility: The 2018 Elections in Context” as part of the Florida State University College of Social Sciences and Public Policy’s Anderson-Ashby Lectureship on Public Policy Journalism. That’s at 5 p.m., FSU Claude Pepper Center Broad Auditorium, 636 W. Call St., Tallahassee.
The Broward County legislative delegation will hold an organizational meeting as it begins to prepare for the 2019 session. That’s at 6 p.m., Broward College, Bailey Hall, 3501 S.W. Davie Road, Davie.
As we approach a season of gratitude for our loved ones and good fortune, we are forgoing the usual Sunburn to ring in this year’s “digital” benefit for Tampa’s Metropolitan Ministries.
Apropos as any name can be, this year’s drive is called “Recount The Turkeys.”
Metropolitan Ministries plans to help 20,000 families this holiday season, but right now, its stocks are low. The charity needs donations — now — to make sure everyone who wants one has a Thanksgiving meal.
That’s why we’re raising turkeys.
Former House Speaker WillWeatherford has challenged Florida Politics publisher PeterSchorsch to help raise money for half of the 500 turkeys to give to needy families this Thanksgiving.
So we’re putting out the word, starting a campaign on social media to raise funds under the hashtag, #RecountTheTurkeys.
Weatherford should have no problem raising his half of the turkeys, so we’re calling on his favorite “speakers” for help. And we’re also looking for friends of #FlaPol to add their names to the effort too.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
U.S. Sen. BillNelson isn’t “follow(ing) the basic rules of the road” — the legal road, that is.
That’s what attorneys for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) told a federal judge Monday, objecting to Nelson’s request for a court order.
As counties re-tally the votes in the race between him and GOP Gov. RickScott, Nelson’s pending lawsuit seeks to get Chief U.S. District Judge MarkWalker to order ballots with mismatched signatures counted toward the total.
Rejecting ballots because of signatures is unconstitutional because it uses a “demonstrably standardless, inconsistent, and unreliable signature matching process,” Nelson’s complaint says.
It results in “the disproportionate rejection of (vote-by-mail) and provisional ballots cast by ethnic and racial minorities, as well as young, first-time voters,” it adds.
GrayRobinson attorneys Andy Bardos and George Levesque, representing the NRSC, counter that Democrats complained two years ago about mismatched signatures and got a fix — a 2016 court order by Walker, and a 2017 state law that requires voters to be told of a problem with their mail-in ballots and be given a chance to fix it; that is, to come in and prove they are who they say they are.
The “issue could easily have been raised in the prior suit — or at any point over the past two-plus years. But it was not,” Bardos told the court.
Nelson “waited until three days after the election to do so on an ‘emergency’ basis in a transparent effort to upset the outcome of the race for the United States Senate and other offices … These tactics are impermissible,” he said.
Bardos added that Nelson and the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida, the other plaintiff, “seek to force all 67 Florida counties to immediately halt or change the machine recounts … and to require them to consider ballots that were excluded based on a signature mismatch after an opportunity to cure.
“Yet they cannot demonstrate irreparable harm since they cannot identify a single voter who was unable to utilize the ability to cure.
“Moreover, they ignore the strong public interests counseling against an injunction, including the undeniable fact that an injunction at this point in time would throw the canvassing process into chaos by changing the rules long after Election Day.”
A hearing in the case is set before Walker at 1 p.m. Wednesday — the day before machine recount results are due to be reported to the state.
Breaking news this evening — Governor-elect Ron DeSantis announced “key staff recruited to lead his transition operations.”
James Blair, Director of Policy: “The longtime adviser to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Enterprise Florida board member will serve as Director of Policy for the transition efforts.”
Chris Clark, Director of Recruiting: “The longtime adviser to Gov. Jeb Bush and former Chief of Staff to Senate President DonGaetz will serve as Director of Recruiting for the transition.”
Drew Meiner, Director of Operations: “The former Deputy Campaign Manager for Operations of the DeSantis campaign and recent Deputy District Director for DeSantis’ Congressional office will serve as Director of Operations for the transition.”
Amanda Emmons, Director of Scheduling: “The former staff assistant for U.S. Sen. MarcoRubio and DeSantis campaign aide will serve as Director of Scheduling for the transition team.”
Ben Gibson, General Counsel: “Former Deputy General Counsel to Gov. RickScott and current Partner at Shutts & Bowen will serve as General Counsel to the DeSantis transition.”
Dave Vasquez, Press Secretary: “The former campaign manager to Rep. BobCortes and longtime DeSantis communications aide will serve as Press Secretary for the transition team.”
Claire Whitehead, Assistant to Incoming First Lady: “The former appointments analyst and Regional Representative for Gov. Scott will serve as assistant to Incoming First Lady Casey DeSantis.”
“The real story should be that little Bay County was able to get a greater voter turnout than in the last gubernatorial race, even given the fact we had a Category 4-plus hurricane hit.” — Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen, after admitting accepting vote-by-mail ballots by fax machine and email, despite an executive order explicitly prohibiting the practice.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will start a four-day meeting in Broward County. Among the topics will be a presentation about 911 calls on the day of the shooting. That’s at 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.
Sen. AaronBean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, is scheduled to speak to third-grade students from Fernandina Beach Christian Academy during a field trip. Later, he will speak during a Leadership Nassau Youth Government Day. That’s at 9:50 a.m., Nassau County Commission chamber, 96135 Nassau Place, Yulee; and 11 a.m., Hilliard Town Hall, 15861 County Road 108, Hilliard.
The Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida will host a discussion about the 2018 elections, with speakers expected to include Susan MacManus, a distinguished professor emeritus at the University of South Florida, and Dan Smith, a professor and chairman of the Department of Political Science at the University of Florida. That’s at 6 p.m., University of Florida, Pugh Hall Ocora, Gainesville.
The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a hearing in Miami-Dade County on a five-year transportation plan. That’s at 6 p.m. Hilton Garden Inn, 1695 N.W. 111th Ave., Sweetwater.
Last Tuesday’s election results reinforced a political reality many Floridians have had trouble getting their heads around: The Sunshine State is a red state, not a purple one.
It’s been twenty years since JebBush defeated the hapless BuddyMcKay as part of the GOP winning the trifecta in state government: control of the Governor’s Office, the House and the Senate.
Other than Barack Obama‘s statewide wins in 2008 and 2012, Alex Sink‘s single term as CFO in 2007-11, and Bill Nelson‘s re-elections, Florida Democrats have been wiped out at the ballot box.
For a few hours last week it appeared possible that, with Nelson losing to Scott and the other results in the gubernatorial and Cabinet races, there would not be an elected statewide Democrat in Florida.
However, the tortuously delayed counting of ballots in Broward and Palm Beach County eventually put NikkiFried ahead of MattCaldwell in the Agriculture Commissioner race.
For Democrats, this is more than a consolation prize.
Facing an existential crisis, Florida Democrats have every reason to wring their hands, if not fold up shop. They are the Washington Generals to the GOP’s Harlem Globetrotters, losing, again and again, no matter what the political environment.
The Democrats’ losses this cycle are so bad that it probably has national Democrats strongly considering revising, if not abandoning, their plans to win the state during the 2020 presidential campaign.
With swing states like Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia tilting more to the left, Democrats don’t need Florida to win the presidency, whereas it is almost impossible for a Republican to win the Electoral College without it.
Why waste the time and money on trying to win Florida in 2020 when reallocating those resources to other, more winnable states is a safer proposition?
As the results came in last Tuesday evening, I thought Democrats were ready to abandon Florida going forward. But that analysis now seems premature nearly a week later.
There have been so many narrative-busting updates to the instant analysis of election night that tomorrow CNN will broadcast “Election Night in America Continued.”
And while that blue wave did not reach Florida’s shores, there are enough silver linings that the Democrats should be able to muster the temerity to ask Lucy to hold the football for them one more time.
— Obviously, Fried’s win over Caldwell is the most blatant revision to last Tuesday night’s narrative.
In fact, the Democrats will not be shut out of statewide office. And while losing Nelson is a devastating setback, in the long-run, it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise because it creates a leadership vacuum many Democrats will rush to fill (am I the only one looking forward to the second round of Scott vs. Crist in 2024?)
Also, Fried’s winning gives Democrats, particularly those in Tallahassee, someone to rally around. Fried, who earlier this year was working the fourth floor of the Capitol as a lobbyist, is now the most important Democrat in the state. She’ll be expected to headline every Kennedy-King dinner for the next two years. She’ll be the party’s chief fundraiser. She’ll be the Democratic nominee’s point person in 2020. She is the Democrats’ Princess Leia in the rebellion against the Empire.
— Amendment 4’s passage, which provides that many ex-felons should have their voting rights automatically restored once they’ve completed the terms of their sentences, is the biggest game-changer in the modern history of Florida politics. Period.
No, not all of the 1.4 million Floridians who this Amendment impacts will run to the local Supervisor of Elections office and register to vote, but — and only with millions of dollars in voter registration efforts — hundreds of thousands will be able to vote in the 2020 election.
And no, not all of them will automatically vote Democrat, as some would have you believe. But Democrats will pull a plurality of these voters. How many? Dare I say that if something like Amendment 4 had been in place before this election, we’d be talking about the re-election of Sen. Nelson and the upcoming inauguration of Andrew Gillum.
— Amendment 1’s defeat, which would have increased the state’s homestead exemption by $25,000, is a welcome relief to big counties and cities, many of which are the only places Democrats still hold any governing sway.
If there is any bright spot for Florida Democrats postelection, it’s the Florida House, where the donkey picked up as many as seven seats (and are recounting in two more).
Democrats won in different parts of the state with a diverse slate of candidates, cutting into the near-super majority the Republicans once held. Whoever led the Democrats to victory in these races should be given the keys to the party’s headquarters.
Make no mistake, winning the Ag. Commissioner race and a handful of state House seats, while pinning future hopes to the mass registration of ex-felons, is not where Florida Democrats expected to be at the end of 2018. But they, like their national brethren, are undeniably in better shape today than they were a week ago.
There’s just enough fight left in them to soldier on until 2020.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Logic testing and hardball tactics marked the start of Florida’s first statewide recounts in 18 years.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign filed two new lawsuits Sunday, one demanding law enforcement impound and secure voting machines, tallies and ballots in Broward and Palm Beach counties any time they were not actively in use. Democrats decried the move as akin to “Latin American dictators.” But Attorney General Pam Bondi wants officials taking a hard look at election irregularities in the Democratic counties and referring potential infractions to the Office of Statewide Prosecution.
Another lawsuit demanded any votes tabulates in Palm Beach County after Saturday’s reporting deadline to the state for an initial ballot count get tossed from official totals. That initial tabulation of votes shows Scott with a 12,562-vote lead on Democrat Bill Nelson. The 0.15-percent margin of victory easily falls within the 0.5-percent trigger for a statewide recount.
“Sen. Nelson is clearly trying to commit fraud to try and win this election,” Scott told Fox News Sunday.
But Nelson countered: “If Rick Scott wanted to make sure every legal ballot is counted, he would not be suing to try and stop voters from having their legal ballot counted as intended.”
Meanwhile, Palm Beach County supervisor Susan Bucher told CNN “it’s impossible” her county will meet a Thursday deadline to complete a machine recount, something on-the-ground election observers from both parties confirm.
That’s bad news for any votes at the bottom of the pile. Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell tells Florida Politics that whatever’s ready when the deadline comes must stand.
“Florida law clearly states that if a county does not submit their results by the deadline then the results on file at that time take their place,” she says.
Meanwhile, the race for Governor remained squarely in recount range as well, but unlikely to flip with Republican Ron DeSantis leading Democrat Andrew Gillum by 33,684 votes or 0.41 percent. DeSantis maintained a steady hand this weekend, even as Gillum retracted his concession. The Republican called election results “clear and unambiguous” but has filed no litigation.
As for one Democrat leading a statewide contest, Agriculture Nikki Fried declared victory, boasting just a 5,326-vote or 0.06 percent lead over Republican Matt Caldwell, who has his own litigation pending.
Meanwhile, candidates in state Senate District 18 and in state House districts 26 and 89 quietly wait for recounts to conclude respectively in Hillsborough, Volusia and, yes, Palm Beach counties.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: Trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida! We are watching closely!
—@DavidHogg111: Crazy that Trump is talking more about Broward County now than when 17 people were shot and killed here.
—@TowsonFraser: Broward County, you’re why we can’t have nice things in Florida! My social media feed is supposed to be full of people complaining about Christmas decorations in stores, not politics!
—@TedDeutch: Congratulations to @nikkifried on your big win! It’s about time Floridians had a leader responsible for our firearm permitting process who is committed to our safety and following the law, rather than following NRA marching orders!
—@Redistrict: Staggering: if every uncalled race breaks as I expect, House Dems’ class of 61 freshmen would include *35* women & just 19 white men. By contrast, Republicans’ class of 31 would include 29 white men & just *one* woman.
—@ida_v_e: My sister’s opponent @StocktonReeves has yet to call @AnnaForFlorida to congratulate her on an incredible & hard-fought victory, though he & the @FloridaGOP were more than happy to spend $500K+ on false attack ads & claims of “restoring civility” in politics.
—@MDixon55: How is everyone holding up as the first @JeffAtwater-less election cycle in decades comes to an end?
—@EmilyDuda7: I know you all think FSU lost last night. but they’re still tallying up the points down in Broward so really we won’t know who won for another 2 weeks.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 6; Elections Canvassing Commission meets to certify official General Election results — 8; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 8; Thanksgiving — 10; Black Friday — 11; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 15; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 30; 116th Congress convenes — 52; Florida’s Inauguration Ceremony — 77; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 92; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 113; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 117; Iowa Caucuses — 448; 2020 General Election — 722.
“’It’s impossible’ to finish recount by deadline, Palm Beach County election supervisor says” via Gregory Krieg of CNN — The election overseer for a critical county in Florida confirmed what observers in both parties had begun to predict: There is no way Palm Beach County’s machine recount will be finished by the Thursday deadline. “It’s impossible,” said Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. The prediction came as a rare point of agreement between Democrats and Republicans in the state, who have engaged in a tense fight since Tuesday’s election brought tight margins in statewide races. Sarah Revell, the communications director for the Florida Department of State, told CNN’s Ana Cabrera that if a county does not submit its results by the deadline, “then the results on file at that time take their place,” she said.
Questions linger about legitimacy of Broward ballots” via Lulu Ramadan of the Palm Beach Post — Broward elections chief Snipes delivered the county’s vote totals to the state officials ahead of the noon deadline Saturday, but accusations that the results included “illegal” votes suggests more criticism and doubt is on the horizon. No sight better captured Florida’s election frenzy than the dueling protests outside the Broward County elections warehouse, and the equally contentious battles happening within it. William Scherer, an attorney for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott, called into the question the legitimacy of election results in Broward County, a Democratic stronghold. At issue were 205 provisional ballots Snipes accepted despite the fact that at least 20 of them were deemed ineligible by the Broward County Canvassing Board. Snipes did not say how the ineligible ballots ended up in a pool of tabulated votes, or exactly how many there were. She had a choice, she said, to reject all 205 ballots or accept them.
“Rick Scott wants cops to ‘impound’ voting machines, Democrats call him a dictator” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Scott wants recount efforts in Palm Beach and Broward counties handled like a crime scene, arguing in court filings that past election mishaps in those counties warrant the involvement of law enforcement. His latest legal efforts have sparked intensified sniping between Republicans, who want voting machines in counties with histories of election problems protected, and Democrats, who say Scott is acting like a “Latin American dictator.” Scott asserts that election officials in Palm Beach and Broward counties can’t be trusted with voting equipment in large part because of past election woes associated with Broward County Supervisor of Elections Snipes and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.
“Scott’s monitors agree with state cops: no Florida voter fraud” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Gov. Scott asked state law enforcement to investigate Broward County election officials because of potential “rampant [voter] fraud,” even though monitors from his own administration say they have seen none in that county. “Our staff has seen no evidence of criminal activity at this time,” Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell wrote in an email. That assessment, which was first reported by the Miami Herald, jives with that given by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which said … it has also seen no allegations of fraud.
“Scott continues election fraud claims but offers no evidence on Fox News” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — Scott continued to make the claim even though his own staff at the Secretary of State’s office confirmed that they have not found “any evidence of criminal activity at this time,” and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it isn’t investigating any suspected fraud. Because of mismanagement problems during previous elections at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office, the state had official observers deployed there during the election, and that was before it became clear the U.S. Senate race, as well as the races for governor and agriculture commissioner, were so tight it triggered an automatic recount under Florida law. Scott asked several times in the Fox interview about where “93,000” votes came from in Broward and Palm Beach counties in the days after election night. Nelson’s legal team has said that the increase comes simply from all votes being counted up until the noon Saturday deadline for all supervisors of elections to produce unofficial results.
“Advocacy groups tell Scott he should remove himself from recount process” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The League of Women Voters Florida and Common Cause sent letters to Scott calling on him to “immediately relinquish authority and remove yourself from any person or agency responsible for the processing and counting of ballots from the Nov. 6 general election.” The two groups said Scott improperly threatened “a show of force” by asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate vote counting in Broward County.
“Senate campaign chief: Scott ‘right to be upset’ with vote in Florida” via Brett Samuels of The Hill — Sen. Cory Gardner, the head of the GOP Senate campaign committee, attacked Florida election officials in the middle of a heated Senate race between incumbent Nelson and Scott. Gardner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that there is evidence officials violated the Florida state constitution in Tuesday’s midterm elections. “I understand Gov. Scott’s frustration, that there are people who are breaking the law, violating the constitution in Florida in Broward County, in Palm [Beach County]. And so I think he’s right to be upset,” said Gardner, who is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
“Pam Bondi rips FDLE over elections investigation” via the News Service of Florida — In an unusual move, Bondi publicly criticized Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen for not pursuing an investigation into alleged irregularities in the handling of election ballots in Broward and Palm Beach counties. An FDLE spokeswoman said Friday that the agency was working with the Florida Department of State “and will investigate any allegations of criminal activity or fraud. We do not have an active investigation at this point.” Bondi wrote in her letter to Swearingen that she was “deeply troubled” and that his “duty is not limited to investigating allegations made by the secretary of state.” She also said FDLE had pointed to a lack of a written complaint in deciding not to pursue an investigation.
“Judge rebukes Palm Beach County elections head over duplicated ballots” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Circuit Court Judge Krista Marx said Palm Beach County elections chief Bucher should have submitted improperly completed ballots to the county’s Canvassing Board, instead of allowing her staff to make decisions on voter intent and fill out duplicate ballots to feed through machines. “Everything I have says the Canvassing Board must make the determination not your staff members. … The language is unambiguous that it is for the canvassing board to make the determination,” Marx said.
— MORE RECOUNT —
“Donald Trump accuses Democrats of ‘election theft’ in Florida Senate race” via Caitlin Oprysko of POLITICO Florida — Trump’s unloading began Friday morning as he spoke to reporters while leaving for Paris. … As Trump prepared to board the transatlantic flight, he told reporters that there “could be” intervention by the federal government. “All of a sudden they’re finding votes out of nowhere,” Trump claimed, noting that Scott’s lead in the Senate race has been narrowing with each batch of votes reported by the two heavily Democratic counties. In a tweet posted aboard Air Force One, Trump called the snafu “an embarrassment to our Country and to Democracy” and asked why elections officials there “never find Republican votes.” “[Scott] easily won but every hour it seems to be going down, I think that people have to look at it very very cautiously,” he said, following up on Twitter by appearing to joke that the issues in Florida — and a similar controversy in Georgia’s still-undecided Governor’s race — could be attributed to Russian interference.
“Florida can (re)count on Elizabeth Warren” via Joe Battenfeld of the Boston Herald — Warren sent a fundraising appeal to her supporters, urging them to donate to help Democratic Sen. Nelson’s bid for a recount … “Bill Nelson will need an army of volunteers and lawyers to make sure every vote is counted fairly,” she wrote. “And Bill Nelson’s campaign has already spent every penny it could to get people to the polls on Tuesday. Will you dig deep one more time to support Bill Nelson’s campaign?” Warren is hoping the answer is yes, but her motives seem less than selfless. She’s eager to help out Nelson and Florida Democrats to gain important brownie points in the party for her own expected White House campaign.
“Jemele Hill says she was almost kept from voting in Orlando over a tweet” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Hill, a former Orlando Sentinel sportswriter who has owned a home in Orange County for years, wrote in an article in The Atlantic that when she showed up at her polling place, “I found that I had been kicked off the registered-voter roll.” After being allowed to fill out a provisional ballot, Hill wrote she was later called by a Supervisor of Elections office staffer who told her a tweet she had written a few days earlier “had been brought to their attention.” “I had written that I had recently moved to Los Angeles, but was returning to Florida for early voting so I could vote for Andrew Gillum …” Hill wrote. “Being a journalist means signing up for life as a nomad. I’ve lived in three different cities this year alone. I’ve lived in six different cities over the course of my 21-year career in journalism.”
— THE TRANSITION —
“Ron DeSantis calls election ‘clear and unambiguous’ ahead of recount” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “With the election behind us, it’s now time to come together as a state as we prepare to serve all Floridians,” DeSantis said in a video statement. “Since Tuesday night, that is what I have been doing and that is what I will continue to do in the days and weeks ahead as I prepare to take office as the 46th Governor of the State of Florida.”
“Here’s what we could expect DeSantis to do for Florida’s environment” via Eve Samples of the Tallahassee Democrat — “I am not a liberal environmentalist, and I’m never pretending to be,” he said Sept. 11 during a campaign stop when he toured a toxic algae-infested in Cape Coral. Like Teddy Roosevelt, he said, he sees the environment as “way of life.” Liberals are more “ideological” about the environment, DeSantis said. DeSantis’ 12-point plan promised he would advocate for Florida lawmakers to pass legislation that bans fracking “on day one” of his job as governor. The new governor can advocate all he wants, but bills to ban fracking died in 2016, 2017 and 2018 in the Florida Legislature. DeSantis’ plan called for centralizing enforcement of water quality standards so all efforts fall under the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Now, some of that work falls to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
“House budget chief Travis Cummings optimistic about DeSantis era” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — For DeSantis loyalists and Northeast Florida partisans both, the Cummings appointment is good news. He said he was “excited and fortunate” to be chosen, noting that while Northeast Florida is “well-positioned,” he has a holistic view regarding money for school safety and the environment in what otherwise will be a “pretty tight budget year.” One focus will be recovery from this year’s devastating Hurricane Michael. “The Panhandle continues to suffer,” Cummings noted. And after three straight years of catastrophic storms, the state will have to further refine plans regarding tropical weather emergencies. Cummings, entering year seven in the House, also will look for ways to increase school safety, a process began in earnest last year with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Act.
“Andrew Gillum rescinds concession in Governor’s race” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — “I am replacing my words of concession in an unapologetic call that we count every vote,” Gillum said Saturday. Gillum blasted claims of fraud made by President Trump, Gov. Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio in the days after the Nov. 6 election. “We heard a chorus of voices — a chorus counting for the ending of counting in this process,” Gillum said. “What is their excuse for that? I’m not sure.”
>>>The Associated Press has retracted its decision in the Governor’s race: “The Associated Press is retracting its call in the race for Florida governor. The AP had declared Republican Ron DeSantis the winner over Democrat Andrew Gillum.”
“What the Florida midterms tell us about paying for our economic priorities” via Graham Brink of the Tampa Bay Times — 1. For now, we’re OK with taxing ourselves. It’s a good time to vote on a tax increase. The economy is chugging along. Unemployment is low. Consumers remain fairly confident about the future. 2. But we aren’t so fond of Tallahassee politicians taxing us. Voters easily passed Amendment 5, which will require the Legislature to muster a two-thirds supermajority if it wants to impose, approve or raise state taxes or fees. 3. Enough of us were feeling bullish to forgo a tax break. Amendment 1 would have increased the homestead exemption by an additional $25,000, saving many homeowners about $200 to $350 a year depending on the value of their home and where they live. Of the 12 proposed constitutional amendments, it is the only one that failed.
“Just a middling turnout by South Florida voters would have turned election” via Fred Grimm for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Some 42.6 percent of Broward voters were no-shows. In what progressives billed as the most important midterm election in memory, an opportunity to repudiate the mendacity and bigotry and sexism and reactionary politics of the Trump regime, 503,000 voters from the most progressive county in Florida couldn’t be bothered. Only Miami-Dade managed a more dismal showing. In a county where 53.8 percent of the population is foreign-born after a campaign season turned rancid by the denigration of immigrants, 618,000 Miami-Dade registered voters still decided they had more pressing issues than attending to their civic obligations. The election turnout in Miami-Dade was depressing. In Broward, it was downright disgraceful.
“Did missing South Florida absentee ballots turn the tide?” via Tony Doris of the Palm Beach Post — State elections data indicate hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots mailed out were not returned, more than enough to have made the difference in Florida’s 2018 midterm election, where margins were so slender the governor’s and senator’s races are headed for recounts. The number of absentee ballots not returned was much higher than in the 2014 or 2016 general elections. And the data show that played to the benefit of Republican candidates, especially in heavily Democratic Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. In those South Florida counties, 174,649 ballots sent to Democrats weren’t returned. That’s 91,038 more than those not returned by Republicans. The three counties accounted for 86 percent of the statewide gap of 105,283 between Democratic and Republican vote-by-mail ballots not returned.
“Constitution panel ‘vindicated’ by Tuesday votes” via the News Service of Florida — It was the first time a ballot slate from the constitutional panel won full approval from voters, despite controversy over the combining of multiple issues in single ballot measures. This year’s panel also achieved ballot success while being the first commission to face a requirement that constitutional amendments receive approval from 60 percent of voters. That requirement was put in place in 2006. Former Senate President Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who served on the 37-member commission, said Tuesday’s outcome validated the work of the panel. “I think that does give a convincing answer to the many editorial boards around the state who trashed the CRC and criticized the way that it did business,” Gaetz said. “Our form of government is based on trusting the people and their ability to make choices at the ballot box. And apparently, that trust was affirmed by the constitutional amendment decisions that the voters
“How vote to end greyhound racing won and what comes next” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — The National Greyhound Association, the racing industry’s trade group, claims it passed because voters were “misled into supporting a measure that not only will cost thousands of jobs in the state, but one that opens the door for future campaigns to force the radical animal rights agenda on the people.” But the Yes on 13 campaign had something voters apparently found compelling: state reports of the dogs being injured or even dying on the track and in some cases the video footage to prove it. Florida’s 11 active dog tracks will have until Jan. 1, 2021, to phase out their live greyhound racing. They’ll still be able to race horses, if their tracks can accommodate the event, and they’ll still be able to have wagering on simulcast races from other tracks, including from dog tracks in the five remaining states where the practice is still active and legal.
“’Girl rescued at sea’ now riding high toward Democratic-controlled Congress” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — With Tuesday’s convincing re-election victory in a moderate district, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy finds herself as a potential rising power in the upcoming Democratic-controlled 116th Congress, especially if the party’s moderates try to take power. Murphy eased into office as a centrist and began appealing to the Republicans’ chamber-of-commerce wing, all the Republican vows to take back CD 7 started falling away. On one hand, Murphy has not endorsed the speakership bid of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and should she return to the speakership, Murphy’s lack of loyalty could cost her. On the other hand, Murphy has become a key member of so many centrist-Democratic and bipartisan groups, including the Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democratic Coalition, on both of which she co-chairs subcommittees, that her available vote in the speakership race could be a valuable get, worth negotiating for.
“After contentious election, Ed Hooper lays out Senate priorities” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — One of the Republican’s top priorities is reducing distracted driving. There have been several efforts in recent years to make texting while driving a ticketable offense. The Legislature approved making distracted driving a secondary offense in 2013. Hooper also wants to focus on education improvements including increasing funding for public education. In a detraction from some in his party, Hooper doesn’t agree that charter schools, which are often run by for-profit entities, should share half of the public school funding for school maintenance. Charter schools educate just 10 percent of Florida’s public school students. He does support maintaining Florida’s tax credit scholarship. That program allows businesses and individuals to deduct money from their taxes for making contributions into a fund that provides scholarships for low-income students to attend private school. Hooper also said he wants to crack down on fraudulent and rampant assignment of benefit claims in the insurance industry and reduce the cost of flood insurance for property owners.
“Hillsborough now firmly blue” via Charlie Frago and Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — Voters not only elected their first majority Democrat commission but also the first majority female board since 2004. And the county that overwhelmingly rejected a transit referendum in 2010 enthusiastically backed not one, but two new taxes for schools and transportation. Once considered a bellwether county, pundits say Hillsborough is now firmly blue. The shift is the result of a burgeoning young population in urban areas like downtown Tampa and Seminole Heights, and the spread of suburbs into once Republican strongholds in the east and south of the county. “We’re living in a Democratic county,” said Republican political consultant Anthony Pedicini, whose two commission candidates, Republican Todd Marks and Commissioner Victor Crist, both lost heavily in countywide races. The shift in Hillsborough’s politics was evident up and down the ballot.
“Gaming journalist Nick Sortal wins city council seat in Plantation” via Howard Stutz of CDC Gaming Reports — Sortal, a contributor to CDC Gaming Reports, was elected to the City Council in Plantation on Tuesday. Sortal is considered one of the most knowledgeable journalists on Florida gaming matters, tribal gaming, and regional casinos. He took a sabbatical from writing his once-a-week commentary back in July to campaign full-time for the Group 5 seat left vacant by the death of the previous councilman. Sortal won the two-person race by 279 votes — 14,580 to the 14,301 votes collected by TimothyFadgen. He will be sworn in Nov. 16 and will serve the remaining two years of the term. “I’m ready to hit the ground running,” Sortal said.
“Danny Burgess, Bobby DuBose plan 2020 re-election bids” via the News Service of Florida — Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican who easily defeated unaffiliated candidate David “TK” Hayes, opened a campaign account to run again in Pasco County’s House District 38, according to the state Division of Elections website. Similarly, DuBose, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat who was unopposed this year, opened a campaign account to seek another term in Broward County’s House District 94. Last week, Miami Democrat James Bush III, who was elected in the August primary, opened an account to run again in 2020 in Miami-Dade County’s House District 109, according to the Division of Elections website.
— STATEWIDE —
“Agriculture industry takes a big hit in hurricane” via the News Service of Florida — Florida’s agriculture industry suffered nearly $1.49 billion in damages from Hurricane Michael, with timber growers the hardest hit, the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said … estimated the economic losses for the timber industry at $1.3 billion, a figure the Florida Forest Service projected shortly after the storm. The rest of the numbers mostly align with figures presented by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in late October. Those numbers projected that nearly 1 million acres of crops such as cotton, nuts and vegetables, along with beef, dairy and other animal products, were damaged across 25 counties. In the department’s report, cotton damages were estimated at $49.9 million, cattle at $43 million, peanuts at $23 million and nurseries at $16 million.
ICYMI — “Prosecutors drop case against exonerated death-row inmate Clemente Aguirre-Jarquin” via Michael Williams of the Orlando Sentinel — Aguirre-Jarquin spent nearly 15 years behind bars — including 10 on death row — for the 2004 stabbing deaths of Cheryl Williams and Carol Bareis in Altamonte Springs. The decision by State Attorney Phil Archer’s office to drop the case came two years after the Florida Supreme Court overturned Aguirre-Jarquin’s conviction based on repeated confessions to the crimes by Samantha Williams, Cheryl Williams’ daughter and Bareis’ granddaughter — and days after new testimony surfaced that undermined her alibi. Aguirre-Jarquin walked out of a detention facility Monday afternoon, hugging members of his legal team and supporters. But his future remains unclear. (T)he U.S. Department of Homeland Security placed an immigration hold on the undocumented Honduran immigrant. He was released on bond.
Must read: “Starving for help: A search for mental health care ends tragically at the Putnam County Jail” via Ben Conarck of the Florida Times-Union — Gregory Allan Futch was physically and mentally ill when he was taken into custody by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. When the deputies came, Vicki Futch expected them to take her mentally ill son to the hospital. She’d been in touch with a captain from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office about her son, trying to arrange an escort. But Greg was in a particularly agitated mood that day in late January. He became violent and struck Vicki, 80, across the face. Feeling as if she were out of options, Vicki Futch texted the captain again, but a deputy responded instead. He noted a mark on Vicki’s cheek, arrested Futch, and booked him into the county jail … Futch spent the next two weeks suffering in jail. Medical staff there logged behavioral and physical health episodes with regularity but were unable or unwilling to provide relief for Futch. By the time he was taken back to the hospital, Futch, at 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighed 100 pounds. Two days before he was arrested, he weighed 154 pounds, according to medical records. Futch died on Feb. 17.
“Mass murderer Nikolas Cruz registered to vote in jail. A Parkland parent is enraged” via David Neal of the Miami Herald — Andrew Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack, one of the 14 students Cruz confessed to murdering on his Feb. 14 rampage, tweeted his fury, referring to Cruz by his Broward County court case number: “I’m sick to my stomach. 18-1958 murdered 17 students & staff, including my daughter Meadow. Yet in July, Broward Sheriff @ScottJIsrael let people into the jail to get him & other animals registered to vote. The Despicable Democrats have no shame. Can’t let them steal this election.” Cruz registered on July 25 as a Republican, according to online state records. He used the address of the Broward County Jail, 555 SE First Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Cruz remains eligible to vote in Florida.
Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will begin a four-day meeting which will include a presentation about 911 calls on the day of the shooting on February 14, 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.
“Felony theft threshold in Florida is lower than other states, bringing stiffer punishments” via Gal Tziperman Lotan of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida has the second-lowest threshold for felony theft in the country: Stealing anything worth more than $300 is felony grand theft. Only New Jersey’s is lower, at $200. And the threshold goes up as soon as you cross the Florida line: $1,500 in Georgia and Alabama, and $1,000 in Mississippi and Louisiana. The national median is $1,000, according to a 2018 Pew Charitable Trusts study. Once a person crosses the felony threshold, punishments become much more severe. Felony grand theft of $300 to $5,000 can get a defendant up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, according to state law. It also means a lifelong record as a convicted felon.
“Marco cop cashed in personal time, bought condo after using other officers’ donated hours” via Devan Patel of the Marco Eagle — In an email to the City Council and city manager earlier this year, former Sgt. Micheal Vogel, who retired on May 10, made allegations of impropriety against current Sgt. Mark Haueter among a number of complaints lodged against the police department. Haueter, who required medical procedures two years ago to combat a form of mouth cancer and missed weeks of work, received 521 donated hours from officers, including Vogel, after Police Chief Al Schettino solicited donations in August 2016, public records show. “[…] These hours were donated by other officers and civilian employees for his cancer surgery,” Vogel wrote. “If he didn’t need them anymore they should have been saved for others or returned the hours back to the officers and civilians who graciously donated them. Instead, he cashed them in for his personal gain. I know for a fact that he used the donated time before using his own personal leave.” The practice is found in most state agencies, counties and cities in Florida where it is explicitly written that an employee must exhaust all of his or her personal leave hours before donated hours can be used.
“State gives final approval to double-digit workers’ comp rate cut” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — State regulators gave the final OK for a 13.8 percent decrease in Florida’s average workers’ compensation insurance premiums. The change takes effect Jan. 1. “Workers’ compensation insurance is a critical operating cost for business owners, and the 13.8 percent rate decrease approval will allow employers to support Florida’s families better, visitors and labor force,” Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said. “This most recent decrease marks approximately $454 million in savings for employers and can help facilitate additional cost savings for the communities they serve,” he said.
— D.C. MATTERS —
Stephanie Murphy honors Florida WWI veteran in American cemetery in France — Congresswoman Murphy placed a wreath at an American cemetery in Paris at the gravesite of First Lieutenant Louis Alexander Torres, a Florida native who lost his life in World War I. Torres served in the U.S. Army’s Quartermaster Corps and died on Sept. 1, 1918. Murphy traveled to Paris to commemorate 100 years since the end of World War I and to represent Florida in a bipartisan delegation who are meeting with French officials and private sector leaders. Said Murphy, whose family was rescued by the U.S. Navy when she was a baby and who worked as a national security specialist at the Department of Defense: “On behalf of a grateful nation and all freedom-loving people, thank you to America’s veterans and your families for your service to this nation and may God bless you all.”
Happening today — U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, will hold a news conference about the exit of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the effects on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, 10:30 a.m. Federal Courthouse, 701 Clematis St., West Palm Beach.
— OPINIONS —
“Fire Brenda Snipes” via the National Review editorial board — The supervisor of elections in Broward County does not deserve to be within a thousand miles of any election office anywhere in these United States. She should be fired at the earliest possible opportunity. This year alone, Snipes has been reprimanded by the courts twice: once, in May, for illegally destroying ballots during the 2016 Democratic primary, in violation of both state and federal law; and again, in August, for illegally opening mail-in ballots in secret. How long, we wonder, does it take to establish a pattern? It should be clear by now that Broward County has a systemic problem with its management of elections. On present evidence, if Brenda Snipes is to be removed from her role, it will once again be because the governor cries “Enough.” When Ron DeSantis takes office in January, he should fire Snipes. And when he has done that, he should insist that Broward County take a good, hard look in the mirror, the better to ask how long it wishes to remain a den of blustery incompetence, or worse.
“Tim Canova: I warned Rick Scott about Broward’s election swamp” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — For two years, I have been warning that the Broward Supervisor of Elections office is a swamp of corruption. I’ve been urging Gov. Scott to fire Supervisor Brenda Snipes, clean out the office and start criminal investigations. I’m sure Gov. Scott now wishes he had heeded those warnings. I warned that if she were kept in office, there would be more official misconduct in elections. None of our law enforcement agencies — the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Attorney General or the U.S. Attorney for South Florida — were interested in starting criminal investigations. Sadly, I no longer trust any election result reported in Broward County. There needs to be an investigation of every election that’s taken place here.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Barry Richard — Gillum’s recount lawyer — takes leave from firm” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Richard, the veteran Tallahassee attorney now representing Democratic candidate for Governor Gillum during the gubernatorial vote recount, has taken a leave of absence from his law firm. That firm, Greenberg Traurig, adopted a leave policy for its attorneys taking on any matter “that might be controversial or disruptive,” Richard told Florida Politics Sunday morning. “The policy is, you take a short leave of absence and then return to normal,” he added. “It’s really not a big deal … This is probably going to be over next week.”
— ALOE —
“Watching TV or going online? Veterans help make it happen.” via Florida Politics — One in ten people employed by Florida’s internet and television industry are U.S. military veterans, according to a new mini-documentary produced by the Florida Internet & Television. Timed for a Monday release, the video helps commemorate Veterans Day. “You may know the members of Florida Internet & Television for our cutting-edge technology, our high-speed broadband, and all the ways we entertain and connect you,” says FIT President and CEO Brad Swanson, who introduces the video. “But what you may not know is our recruitment to recruiting, hiring and retaining military veterans.” The four-minute video tells the story of five vets — each employed by companies like Comcast or Charter Communications — and highlights the corporate support for military veterans and their families, through such benefits such as guard and reserve leave time, tuition assistance, military concierge services, and technician apprenticeships.
What Michelle Todd is reading — “UCF Knights to host ESPN College GameDay, face off with Cincinnati in prime-time” via Iliana Limón Romero of the Orlando Sentinel — The Knights’ (9-0, 6-0) matchup with Cincinnati (9-1, 5-1) is set to kick off at 8 p.m. Saturday and air nationally on ABC. The game will determine the winner of the American Athletic Conference’s East Division title. ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who has irked UCF fans with his criticism of their ability to compete for a College Football Playoff semifinal bid, helped announced the decision via video posted on the College GameDay Twitter account. “If you look at the slate of games, there’s one game that really stands out. And this fan base has been waiting for the last two years to recognize their program and bring College GameDay to Orlando. And this is the week that it happens,” Herbstreit said before touting the accomplishments of UCF and Cincinnati.
She said “Yes!” — Congratulations to Helen Boyer and Evan Ross on their engagement.
Happy birthday from the weekend to Rep. Bob Rommel, Pinellas Commissioner Pat Gerard and the incredible Samantha Sexton. Celebrating today is former L.G. Jeff Kottkamp, our good friend Taylor Biehl, my paisan Rep. Nick DiCeglie, Shawn Frost, and Lindsay Harrington.
When using high-speed broadband or watching something on various screens, American veterans play a big role in making all that happen.
One in 10 people employed by Florida’s internet and television industry are U.S. military veterans, according to a new mini-documentary produced by the Florida Internet & TelevisionIndustry. Timed for a Monday release, the video helps commemorate Veterans Day.
“You may know the members of Florida Internet & Television for our cutting-edge technology, our high-speed broadband, and all the ways we entertain and connect you,” says FIT President and CEO Brad Swanson, who introduces the video. “But what you may not know is our commitment to recruiting, hiring and retaining military veterans.”
As Florida continues toward its goal of being the most veteran-friendly state in the nation, FIT member companies like Comcast and Charter Communications have been proactive in recruiting and welcoming vets. This is important, as former service members often find it difficult to get quality jobs after leaving the military.
“Soon, America will have nearly 2 million veterans under the age of 34 who served in post-Sept. 11 conflicts,” says a statement on the FIT website. “Despite having years of experience in the world’s most technologically-advanced military, many struggle to find gainful employment in the civilian world. Worse, the veteran employment rate consistently ranks above the overall unemployment rate for other workers.”
The four-minute video tells the story of five vets — each employed by companies like Comcast or Charter Communications — and highlights the corporate support for military veterans and their families, through such benefits as guard and reserve leave time, tuition assistance, military concierge services, and technician apprenticeships.
“Nobody does more for veterans than the internet and television industry,” added former Veterans Florida Executive Director Bobby Carbonell.
Carbonell, who now serves as Innovation Program Officer at the Air Force National Guard, is one of the featured vets in the mini-doc.