Peter – Page 3 – Florida Politics

The coming Andrew Gillum vs. Ron DeSantis general election

Anyone else have the sinking feeling that Florida political pundits will wake up the day after the primary election and be forced to offer their best impressions of Vizzini from “The Princess Bride”?

“Inconceivable,” they will all exclaim, just as the Sicilian criminal mastermind did after the hero Westley bested Vizzini’s giant (lovingly played by Andre the Giant) and his Spanish swordsman (Mandy Patinkin before he got all serious for “Homeland”).

The pundits will double-check the headlines, slap their foreheads, and say it again and again: “Inconceivable.”

How did DeSantis, the derpish, one-trick pony upend the $50 million machine of Adam Putnam?

How did Gillum, the scandalized, cash-strapped not-strong mayor finish ahead of a billionaire (Jeff Greene), a mega-millionaire (Philip Levine), a multi-multi millionaire (Chris King), and the scion of the Graham family (Gwen Graham)?

If the election were today, no, DeSantis would probably not beat Putnam, nor would Gillum finish first in the five-way Democratic primary. Right now, the cone of certainty projects a Putnam vs. Gra’m-vine general election.

And while it’s possible that DeSantis will edge out Putnam or Gillum will win the Democratic nomination, the prospect of both of these upsets occurring is, well, inconceivable. 

Except the idea of DeSantis and Gillum emerging from the primaries is much less inconceivable than it was only a month ago.

On the Republican side of the aisle, it feels like the last quarter of a football game and Putnam is ahead by more than a touchdown. Can DeSantis close the gap while Putnam barrages him with television and digital ads?

For its part, Team DeSantis feels very confident. It believes it handily won the first debate between the two candidates, which was broadcast on Fox News.

President Donald Trump, who is as popular with Republicans as Pope Francis is with Jesuit priests, has doubled-down on his endorsement of the Ponte Vedra Republican.

Over the weekend, two polls, including internal numbers from the DeSantis campaign, provided shocking results. A survey from Remingtion Research Group on behalf of the Tenth Amendment Project has DeSantis up 17 points over Putnam. The internal poll pegged DeSantis at +19.

“Same poll shows the U.S. up by 2 goals in the World Cup finals,” tweeted Democratic strategist Steve Schale.

Certainly both surveys should be taken with shakers of salt, but they will drive the narrative that the race has turned in DeSantis’ favor.

All DeSantis has to do now is hope that POTUS schedules a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds for about the same time as when early voters begin to receive their ballots.

Gillum’s path to victory is steeper, albeit simpler, than DeSantis’. He just needs black voters to turn out at their traditional performance levels and hold on to 80 percent of them. Add to them some of the Bernie Bro crowd and that should be just enough to hold off Graham in this cycle of the female candidate.

To his credit, Gillum’s not just playing the race card. In fact, the hand he’s playing from is filled with progressive trump cards. On issue after issue, Gillum seemingly barrels over his opponents to stake out the most progressive policy position.

He’s also heads-and-shoulders the best retail pol in the Democratic bunch. He has outshined his opponents at the candidate forums and debates and all the other places on the campaign trail. As the Miami Herald’s David Smiley noted during Gillum’s speech at the Florida Democratic Party’s annual gathering, “If elections were decided by applause, Gillum would be in good shape.”

Until recently, Gillum didn’t have the money to communicate to black voters that he was a black candidate. But that was before billionaire Tom Steyer and his Next Gen America organization stepped in with its commitment of at least a $1 million for Gillum’s campaign. That’s on top of however much George Soros has given and will give to Gillum.

And that’s what Gillum and DeSantis have in common: They are both heavily depending on figures perceived as bogeymen by the opposing party.

DeSantis has Trump.

Gillum has Steyer, the most prominent progressive calling for Trump’s impeachment.

DeSantis’ second home is a set on Fox News. Gillum has probably made more appearances on MSNBC than the rest of the Democratic field combined.

DeSantis wants to spread the message of #MAGA to Florida.

Gillum wants to make the state ground zero for #Resist.

If DeSantis and Gillum emerge from the primaries to square off against each other, it will be the basest of general elections the Sunshine State has likely ever seen.

But if DeSantis and Gillum have something in common it is that both candidates are who the opposing party wants to run against.

Increasingly, it looks like each side will get their wish.

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Suspensions in suspense

A bill seeking to narrow the state’s practice of suspending driver’s licenses didn’t get very far during the 2018 Legislative Session.

But the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Jeff Brandes, promises it will be back next year, when nuanced support from the courts will accompany it.

This week, a federal judge in Tennessee ruled unconstitutional a state law that suspends driver’s licenses for those who do not pay court costs. The judge claimed the statute is “not merely ineffective; it is powerfully counterproductive.”

Jeff Brandes looks to clean up Florida’s policy on driver’s license suspensions.

Brandes’ 2018 bill would’ve prohibited suspending someone’s driver’s license for various offenses unrelated to driving — including failure to pay court costs. However, it did not address suspensions for those who fail to pay child support.

When asked about the ruling, the St. Petersburg Republican told us he was “excited” and said it should “wake up the states to the fact that the feds are recognizing the harm this does to an individual.”

While he’s sure he’ll sponsor the bill again next year, he’s unsure how it will fare against the Legislature because the state government built systems upon revenue from license suspensions and renewals. Still, he said, the ruling “helps our side of the conversation.”

Scott McCoy, senior policy counsel at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that the ruling should stand as a “cautionary tale” for Florida. SPLC supported Brandes’ bill.

“The evidence is there to show that it isn’t an effective way to get someone to pay that debt,” McCoy said. Policy problems aside, he added: “If that system is unconstitutional in Tennessee, that can be a real problem in Florida as well.”

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Drew WilsonDanny McAuliffeJim Rosica and Peter Schorsch.

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

Take 5

Mammoth ad buy planned for Marsy’s Law— Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment creating a ‘crime victims’ bill of rights’ this week announced a $17 million ad buy to promote its passage. The total statewide ad buy will start mid-September and go into much of October and include Spanish language ads. The measure, also known as Marsy’s Law for Florida, was put on the November ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission. It must get no less than 60 percent approval to be added to the constitution. The amendment creates constitutional rights for victims or their surviving family members to attend and be heard during certain court proceedings and to “full and timely restitution,” among other provisions. At least six other states have enacted a Marsy’s Law. In Florida, the amendment has been backed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott; Democratic state Sen. Lauren Book, a sexual abuse survivor; and law enforcement and victims groups across the state.

Feds expedite Herbert Hoover dike repairs— The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this week it would tap into supplemental funding to fund dozens of projects across the country, including the rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike around the waters of Lake Okeechobee. To fast-track the project, the Corps will take $514 million from a $141 billion supplemental spending package signed into law by the president in February. Upon completion of the improvements, the Dike is expected to be able to contain more water safely, meaning the Corps will have to discharge less to surrounding estuaries. The news follows a report from TCPalm this week that blue-green algae bloom covers 90 percent of Lake Okeechobee.

After glitch, Sunpass resumes collections — The Florida Turnpike Enterprise’s SunPass system began posting this week what’s come to be more than 100 million transactions that made up a temporary backlog as the state updated its network through a contracted vendor earlier this month. The system had been down 22 days longer than anticipated, forcing some to question whether Floridians would be hit with an excessive amount of tolls to pay in a short period. After being prompted by the public and at least one member of the Legislature, the Florida Department of Transportation announced last week it would waive all late fees. Noah Pransky of WTSP first reported news of the delay in June.

Report reveals more gun permitting issues— Records released by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services detail a 2012 investigation showing that 48 employees made mistakes issuing concealed carry permits or other gun-related licenses. While the investigation began in 2012, some of the employees responsible for the mistakes had worked at the agency before Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam took office in 2011, reported The Associated Press’ Brendan Farrington. Putnam, now running for governor, has come under scrutiny after a newspaper last month reported that an employee under his watch failed to conduct a necessary background check on 291 concealed carry permit applicants. Agency inspector general Ron Russo said: “These IG reports show that we learned of a problem, evaluated it thoroughly, took action to hold employees accountable and implemented checks and balances.”

New safety requirements as back-to-school dates loom— Students in 19 districts go back to school Aug. 10, according to the Florida Department of Education. But many counties don’t expect to have the necessary amount of school safety officers in all of its elementary schools at that time. Following the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 dead, the Legislature rapidly passed a school safety package that, among other things, requires all schools to have an armed person on campus. Florida schools, which generally operate on a 180-day school year, are projected to serve nearly 2.85 million students in the new academic year.

Scott spends Fourth in Kuwait

Gov. Scott spent Independence Day abroad this year with members of the Florida National Guard in Kuwait.

And while Scott was thousands of miles away from home, that didn’t stop him from bringing a few Sunshine State tokens of remembrance to present to the soldiers.

Rick Scott headed to Kuwait on July 4 to visit Florida troops.

According to his office, the Governor brought with him “coffee from Lucky Goat of Tallahassee, Buddy Brew of Tampa and Social Grounds of Jacksonville, as well as fresh orange juice from Sun Harvest Citrus of Fort Myers and Key lime pie cookies from Kristi’s Key Lime Cookies of Naples” to the Middle Eastern country.

“While these brave men and women are serving their country thousands of miles from home, I am sure they are missing the local flavors of Florida,” Scott said. “I am proud to be in Kuwait and to share these products from great Florida businesses with our troops. It is important that we all do what we can to honor our active duty military, veterans and their families.”

While visiting Camp Buehring, Scott also presented the Governor’s Medal of Merit to four stationed soldiers: First Sergeant Raul Rodriguez, Staff Sergeant Christopher Crites, Sergeant Darius Williams and First Lieutenant Jessica Garey.

Bondi thanks legislators for opioid bill

A sweeping package tailored to curb the state’s opioid epidemic drew praise from Attorney General Pam Bondi this week.

The legislation (HB 21), among other things, provides for three-day limits on opioid prescriptions for acute pain. The bill’s provisions came into effect in July.

Attorney general Pam Bondi is thanking lawmakers for their work on the opioid crisis.

Bondi, who’s made a point of targeting the state’s drug crisis during her tenure as Attorney General, thanked the House bill sponsor Rep. Jim Boyd, along with Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who sponsored the legislation in her chamber. She also lauded Gov. Scott for signing the bill into law.

“We continue to fight the national opioid crisis claiming 175 American lives every day, and these new limits on prescription painkillers will help bolster our efforts,” Bondi said in a prepared statement.

As the state’s top cop she also advised doctors to be “on notice” for the new restrictions that she says “will be strictly enforced.” She asked patients who are prescribed more than the allotted limit to contact her office.

Instagram of the Week

The Week in Appointments

Broward County Court

Gov. Rick Scott appointed Phoebee R. Francois. Francois, 50, of Sunrise, is a general magistrate/hearing officer for the 17th Judicial Circuit in Broward County. She received her bachelor’s degree from Temple University and her law degree from St. Thomas University School of Law. Francois fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Claudia Robinson.

Florida Transportation Commission

Scott appointed Julius Davis. Davis, 49, of Tampa, is the president and chief executive officer of VoltAir, Inc. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Florida. He succeeds Donald Ellington for a term ending Sept. 30, 2021. This appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

Florida Rehabilitation Council

Scott announced two reappointments and one appointment to the Council. M. Ann Robinson, 61, of Tallahassee, is the intake manager for Disability Rights Florida. She is reappointed for a term beginning July 2 and ending June 30, 2020. Patrick Cannon, 35, of Tallahassee, is a sales associate for Helzberg Diamond Shops, Inc. He is reappointed for a term beginning July 2 and ending June 30, 2022. Allison Flanagan, 46, of Tallahassee, is the director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. She succeeds Aleisa McKinlay and is appointed for a term beginning July 2 and ending at the pleasure of the Governor.

FDACS sends firefighters west

Florida is lending a helping hand to a few states west of the Mississippi as they battle large blazes under the hot summer sun.

The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced this week it would deploy a team of 20 people to fight the Winter Valley Fire in Oklahoma.

Florida is sending 20 firefighters to Oklahoma to fight a series of massive wildfires.

As well, “29 single resources have been assembled from around the state to assist with wildfire suppression in Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, Utah and New Mexico.” FDACS oversees the Florida Forest Service.

In announcing the dispatch, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam pointed to the skill of Florida’s wildfire combatants.

“Our wildland firefighters are exceptionally well-trained, and we are ready to support suppression efforts out west in any way we can,” said Putnam. “I applaud their selfless dedication to protecting our fellow Americans.”

Florida Forest Service Director and State Forester Jim Karels cited high amounts of rainfall in Florida and an overall low risk of wildfire as justification for sending forest firefighters outside the state. The news, however, follows last week’s blaze in the Franklin County town of Eastpoint, where the fire consumed 36 homes and another four were damaged.

Dog-racing ban garners support

The Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign Friday announced endorsements from 22 local animal shelters. The group is promoting passage of Amendment 13, put on the November ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC).

The proposal, which needs no less than 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution, aims at ending commercial dog racing in the state. In Florida, 12 tracks still conduct live dog racing.

Tampa Republican Dana Young is among the advocates for a ban on greyhound racing from Protect Dogs – Yes on 13. (Image via USF News)

“These organizations serve as animal welfare first responders throughout the state, from the Panhandle to Key West,” the campaign said in a statement. “They rescue homeless animals, save lives, and provide an invaluable service to both animals and people in every community.”

The local animal shelters who announced endorsements include some local Humane Society chapters, Justin Bartlett Animal Rescue, Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, and the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

State could get new area code

State regulators are expected next Tuesday to approve a new telephone area code for Central Florida.

The Public Service Commission will meet in Tallahassee to consider several items, including “implementation of the 689 area code overlay in the existing 407/321 area code,” an agenda shows.

Staff is recommending “that the Commission lift its suspension of the implementation plan for the 689 overlay (and) also recommends that the Commission direct NANPA to notify the Commission of the proposed implementation date for the 689 overlay once it has been determined.”

NANPA is the North American Numbering Plan Administration. John Manning, its senior director, has said 407 numbers will run out within 12 months, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The 407 area code serves Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and parts of Lake and Volusia counties. New numbers in the 321 area code are exclusively in Brevard County.

Nominations sought for Folk Heritage Awards

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced that the department is seeking nominations for the 2019 Florida Folk Heritage Awards. The annual awards recognize individuals who have made exemplary contributions to Florida’s traditional culture.

Florida State Folklorist Amanda Hardeman.

“Each year, the Florida Folk Heritage Awards seek to honor and recognize excellence in folk and traditional arts and the community impact of Florida’s tradition bearers,” Detzner said. “The Florida Heritage Awards reaffirm our state’s unique cultural heritage by acknowledging distinguished Floridians for their skills and accomplishments in the traditional arts.”

Nominees should be individuals whose art or advocacy has embodied the best of traditional culture in their communities.

Folklife includes a wide range of creative forms such as art, crafts, dance, language, music and ritual. These cultural traditions are transmitted by word-of-mouth and demonstration, and are shared within community, ethnic, occupational, religious and regional groups.

For more information, contact State Folklorist Amanda Hardeman at (850) 245-6427. For guidelines, award policies and previous winners, visit this website. Nominations must be postmarked no later than Oct. 1, 2018, and mailed to Florida Folklife Program, Bureau of Historic Preservation, 500 South Bronough Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250. Nominations can also be emailed to folklife@dos.myflorida.com.

56-acre peninsula to be conserved

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection this week announced the permanent protection of the 56-acre Coral Creek Peninsula as an addition to Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park.

The Conservation Foundation worked with DEP to acquire the property through the Florida Forever program. The state’s acquisition will enhance management of the natural resources on both the land and the adjoining state park lands.

Callie DeHaven, director of DEP’s Division of State Lands.

“The Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park has been a land acquisition priority since 1972,” said Callie DeHaven, director of DEP’s Division of State Lands. “The Coral Creek Peninsula purchase is a great example of Florida Forever dollars being used to ensure the vitality and integrity of our spectacular state parks.”

This parcel is within the boundaries of the northern half of Charlotte Harbor. “Adding this vital land to the park will ensure it is also managed for the health and diversity of its natural communities while benefiting the adjoining public lands and significant waterways,” the DEP said.

The 46,000-acre preserve buffers more than 100 miles of the shoreline of Charlotte Harbor National Estuary and over 80,000 acres of aquatic preserves. The variety of habitat supports more than 100 invertebrate species, 200 fish species, and 150 species of shore and wading birds.

Environmentalists cheer Pruitt resignation

Scott Pruitt, the troubled head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, resigned this week following a seemingly endless cascade of reports of extravagant purchases on the taxpayer’s dime and other activities unfit for a public official.

The controversial figure’s voluntary step-down drew pointed praise from Environment Florida, a grassroots advocacy organization that fights against issues like climate change and water pollution.

Scott Pruitt’s exit brings joy to environmentalists.

“It took an endless stream of ethical lapses for Scott Pruitt to lose his job, but he should never have had that position in the first place, nor kept it as long as he did, given his actions to undermine core environmental protections for our air and water,” Environment Florida State Director Jennifer Rubiello said in a prepared statement, citing parent organization Environment America’s initial opposition to Pruitt’s appointment in December 2016.

“Presidents don’t always get a ‘do-over’ so soon after appointing cabinet secretaries who fail to properly serve the American people,” Rubiello continued in the statement.

Then she invoked a history lesson for POTUS to consider.

“We call on the president to remember that conservation is part of being conservative. And we implore him to honor the bipartisan history of environmentalism from Republicans Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon through modern administrations by nominating a true protector of the environment — so that his children and grandchildren, as well as ours, can inherit an Earth worth inheriting.”

Marijuana advocates plan protest

Advocates of medical marijuana have been approved to protest on the steps of the old Capitol in Tallahassee, according to the Department of Management Services.

Marijuana advocate Gary Stein will host “CannaFight Tonight” next Wednesday at noon, an online calendar of Capitol events shows.

Joe Redner’s pot appeal sparks protest for cannabis legalization.

It will be a “public protest of the state’s appeal” of two cases: Tampa strip club mogul Joe Redner’s circuit court win to grow and juice his own medicinal cannabis, and plaintiffs backed by Orlando attorney John Morgan that won a decision allowing them to smoke medical marijuana.

Both have been challenged by the state’s Department of Health, which regulates the drug through the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, and reports to Gov. Scott.

Local officials recognized for home rule advocacy

Ensuring their advocates’ work didn’t go unnoticed, the Florida Association of Counties last week awarded county commissioners for their efforts during the 2018 Legislative Session.

The honors were presented at the 2018 FAC Annual Conference and Exposition. The award recipients were recognized for their work to protect and facilitate home rule.

Chip LaMarca is recognized for his work to protect home rule.

“County officials are uniquely positioned to achieve positive change within their counties,” said Ginger Delegal, FAC Executive Director. “During the state legislative session, they can use their position to provide insights on how a policy might impact their communities. We appreciate all of the commissioners who came to Tallahassee to advocate on behalf of home rule.”

Taking home the president’s Commitment to Service Award, reserved for those who go above and beyond in their service to local governments, was Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca. Indian County Commissioner Bob Solari and Levy County Commissioner Bob Meeks took home the Marlene Young Award, presented to officials who show exemplary leadership and commitment to FAC’s mission.

FAC offered the Presidential Advocate recognition to dozens of other local officials for their work alongside FAC.

In Leon County, commissioners Bryan Desloge and Nick Maddox were recognized.

Leon County’s public services among the best in nation

What’s Leon County doing right?

A lot of things, according to the National Association of Counties, or NACo. The group awarded the Big Bend county 10 times this year, recognizing the area as a benchmark for public service metrics like personnel management, employment and training, infrastructure, and energy and sustainability.

What is Nick Maddox’s secret for making Leon County work so well?

If NACo’s awards are any indication, then Leon County’s training on topics like sexual harassment and diversity in the workplace is strong; the county took home awards from NACo in those categories. Many other training programs and initiatives spearheaded by the county were awarded. The group also recognized other efforts, such as the county’s sidewalk prioritization.

“We are so proud to see our local County services and programs continue to receive national recognition as benchmarks for effectiveness and innovation,” said Leon County Commission Chairman Nick Maddox. “Our citizens can be proud of the many County programs that touch their lives every day.”

Since 2013, Leon has took home NACo hardware 56 times, meaning its systems and practices stand as shining examples for other local governments to follow.

“Our now more than 50 national awards recognize talented and innovative County employees who engage citizens on the challenges and opportunities that face our community,” said Leon County Administrator Vincent S. Long. “Earning distinguished national awards like these speak to our organizational culture and our commitment to public service and excellence.”

Tallahassee crews deploying to Eastpoint

City of Tallahassee crews will deploy to Franklin County to assist with recovery needs following the devastating fire that burned more than 950 acres in the neighboring community of Eastpoint June 24.

Crew members from the city’s Underground Utilities and Public Infrastructure will depart Monday (July 9), bringing with them dump trucks, excavators and other equipment and supplies to assist with debris cleanup of the 36 homes that were destroyed during the fire.

More than 950 acres were lost in the Eastpoint fire.

“Tallahassee is a community that cares,” Mayor Andrew Gillum said in a statement. “Our residents immediately began collecting donations and delivering supplies to our neighbors in Eastpoint and the City of Tallahassee offered a lending hand with recovery efforts.

“I am extremely proud of our crews for dedicating their time and energy to helping those in need, and of our entire city for lending a hand when it was needed most.”

Also, crews will bring with them food, clothing and other items that have been donated by city employees.

Eastpoint fundraiser successful, Proof says

In its latest email newsletter, Tallahassee’s Proof Brewing Co. said its July 2 fundraiser for victims of the Eastpoint fire took in $2,200.

“Many residents lost their homes in the fire that happened June 24,” the brewery said.

Proof Brewing Company reaches out to help victims of the Eastpoint fire.

The event was made possible with the help of Tallahassee Beer Society, Eastpoint Brewing Company, Oyster City Brewing Company, The FRLA, Willie Jewells BBQ, Shell Oyster Bar and Barber’s Seafood.

All money collected goes to the Franklin Promise Coalition.

“Thank you to all that participated, and to those who helped made it happen!” Proof said.

Capitol Directions

 

Marsy’s Law backers plan big ad buy to sway voters

Seventeen million dollars.

$17,582,462.50, to be precise.

That’s the total statewide ad buy — starting mid-September and going into much of October, and including Spanish language ads — to sway voters for a proposed constitutional amendment creating a ‘crime victims’ bill of rights.’

That measure, also known as Marsy’s Law for Florida, was put on the November ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission. It must get no less than 60 percent approval to be added to the constitution.

The amendment creates constitutional rights for victims or their surviving family members to attend and be heard during certain court proceedings and to “full and timely restitution,” among other provisions.

Here’s the backstory: Marsalee ‘Marsy’ Nicholas of California was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

“Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer,” according to the national Marsy’s Law website. “The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail.

“In an effort to honor his sister, Nicholas — co-founder of Broadcom Corp. — made it his mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.”

At least six other states have enacted a Marsy’s Law, including California, Illinois, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Montana.

In Florida, the amendment has been backed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott; Democratic state Sen. Lauren Book, a sexual abuse survivor; and law enforcement and victims groups across the state.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.6.18

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

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

Seventeen million dollars.

$17,582,462.50, to be precise.

That’s the total statewide ad buy — starting mid-September and going into much of October, and including Spanish language ads — to sway voters for a proposed constitutional amendment creating a ‘victims’ bill of rights.’

That measure, also known as Marsy’s Law for Florida, was put on the November ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission. It must get no less than 60 percent approval to be added to the constitution.

The amendment creates constitutional rights for victims or their surviving family members to attend and be heard during certain court proceedings and to “full and timely restitution,” among other provisions.

To watch the Marcy’s Law for Florida video supporting National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (featuring state Sen. Lauren Book), click on the image below:

Here’s the backstory: Marsalee ‘Marsy’ Nicholas of California was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

“Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer,” according to the national Marsy’s Law website. “The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail.

“In an effort to honor his sister, Nicholas — co-founder of Broadcom Corp. — made it his mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights. He formed Marsy’s Law for All in 2009, providing expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide.”

At least six other states have enacted a Marsy’s Law, including California, Illinois, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Montana.

In Florida, the amendment has been backed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott; Democratic state Sen. Lauren Book, a sexual abuse survivor; and law enforcement and victims groups across the state.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@RealDonaldTrump: I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this. The Senate confirmed Deputy at EPA, Andrew Wheeler, will on Monday assume duties as the acting Administrator of the EPA. I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!

@RepLoisFrankel: Pruitt was corrupt and unethical — not to mention, he showed a blatant disregard for environmental protections, putting the health of millions of Americans at risk. His resignation was long overdue.

@CarlosCurbelo: Finally. Actually he did a horrible job. He was a disaster and an embarrassment from day one, and the country is far better off without him.

@MarcoRubio: So this is the great deal we have on #ZTE? They replace board members with new directors hand-picked by the controlling shareholder who in turn is backed & controlled by the #China government. Why are we allowing them to continue to play us like this?

@AnaNavarro: Sign from a store in Miami: “In this store, talking about politics is not allowed. If you want to talk about politics, go to @VersaillesMiami on 8th St & 37th Ave.”

@Speaks2ya: Jaws is the most American 4th of July movie because it’s the one in which an elected official acting on behalf of business interests allows several of his constituents to be literally eaten alive by a problem he was warned about

— DAYS UNTIL —

Florida Chamber Environmental Permitting Summer School — 11; MLB All-Star Game — 11; Florida Chamber Global Florida Webinar — 18; MAKE MORE Manufacturing Summit — 23; Deadline for filing claim bills — 26; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in West Palm Beach — 27; Republican gubernatorial debate in Jacksonville — 33; Start of the U.S. Open — 52; Primary Election Day — 53; College Football opening weekend — 55; NFL season starts — 53; Future of Florida Forum — 82; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 109; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 110; General Election Day — 123; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 144; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 223; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 242; 2020 General Election — 851.— TOP STORY —

Funding to fast-track Herbert Hoover Dike repairs is a ‘go’” via the Sunshine State News — The Office of Management and Budget will issue $514 million for expedited rehabilitation. These funds are part of the $141 billion supplemental funding package that Appropriations colleagues helped to secure after the 2017 hurricane season and wildfires. Both Florida Republican Congressmen Tom Rooney, a senior Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, and Mario Diaz-Balart, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Everglades Caucus and a senior member of the House Committee on Appropriations, have been particularly responsible for pushing the Dike funding through. Rooney’s office says the money will allow the Corps of Engineers to complete the Dike’s rehabilitation by 2022-2023.

Bill Nelson visits South Florida to see impact of blue-green algae” via Jaclyn Bevis of NBC-2.com — Nelson said things are already moving near the LaBelle area to create the C-43 reservoir which will store water, especially needed on the western coast during the dry season. He also previewed a possible announcement from the Army Corps of Engineers of an early completion date for improvements to the Herbert Hoover Dike. The improvements make it possible for the Lake to hold more water safely. The dike is now expected to be finished in 2022.

Bill Nelson talks algae, Herbert Hoover Dike repairs.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Rick Scott’s latest ad: ‘Nelson toes the party line’” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — “How much does Bill Nelson toe the party line? Nelson voted with Hillary Clinton 89 percent … With Obama, 98 percent …,” a narrator says. The ad attempts to undercut one of Nelson’s go-to selling points, that he is a common-sense politician who can cross party lines. Nelson is a reliable party vote — like Scott assuredly would be if elected — but scorecards over the years have shown he’s less fixed than some other Democrats.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Another big ad buy for New Republican PAC – The PAC supports Republican Gov. Scott’s bid for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Nelson. It’s bought another $771,000 in TV advertising, bringing its total investment in the race to $5.3 million, the National Journal reports. Matson Media, LLC, of Columbia, S.C. handled the buy, FEC records show: “Purpose of Expenditure: MEDIA PLACEMENT.”

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Democrats seize on Adam Putnam’s past praise of Pruitt” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — “A reminder that Putnam is one of his biggest supporters in Florida,” said Democratic spokesman Kevin Donohoe. In a guest op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel from January 2017, when Donald Trump first appointed Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Putnam wrote Pruitt “has the experience, understanding of the law and courage to get this out-of-control federal agency back on track.” Criticizing the Obama administration’s “egregious, overstepping regulations,” Putnam wrote, “this nightmare is almost over.” … “With Scott Pruitt in charge, we can finally unravel the mess of the EPA, and begin developing and implementing thoughtful policies that will make measurable improvements to our natural resources and unleash an energy revolution that will bring jobs and higher wages to Americans,” Putnam wrote.

Red, white and blue: Republican candidate for Governor Adam Putnam spent Independence Day walking in Lynn Haven’s 4th of July parade.

Andrew Gillum releases video on ‘real morality’ in immigration — The Democratic candidate for Governor dropped a minute-long video on YouTube Thursday. “As the Department of Health and Human continues to struggle to identify children inhumanely separated from their parents at the border … Gillum released a new video from a rally in South Florida where he demanded justice for these children,” the campaign said. Gillum spoke at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, June 24. “We don’t rip children from the arms of their parents,” Gillum says in the clip. “And we ought to have an immigration system in this country that acknowledges that asylum-seekers come to the United States to get a better life.”

To watch the ad, click the image below:

Ashley Moody says technology may change fight on crime” via the News Service of Florida — Q: If elected, is there anything that you want to change about the way the office is currently run? Moody: “I can tell you a priority that might change some of the things we do, as crime evolves and technology evolves at the same time, our crimes get a lot more complex and harder to identify. And so, ensuring that we have investigators that are trained in the areas that we need them to be experts in, and ensuring that our labs are able to keep pace with the technology as it evolves — and I’m not just talking about the rape kits that get a lot of attention — we certainly need to catch those up. But there’s all other types of forensic evidence and forensic tests that we can test for now. … (So) I would want to focus on that, and make sure that we’re keeping pace with our resources, and our recruiting reflects where crime is now.”

Jimmy Patronis bolsters fundraising lead in CFO race” via the News Service of Florida — Patronis picked up about $88,000 in contributions during the first three weeks of June, as he continued to build a fundraising wall against Democratic challenger Jeremy Ring. With about $3.2 million in cash on hand in his campaign account and political committee as of June 22, the three-week haul included $10,000 from California-based Zenith Insurance Co., $5,000 from the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and $5,000 from Introdynamics Group, a health care company from Brooklyn, N.Y. … Patronis’ contributions were broken into $54,800 raised for his campaign account and $32,900 for his political committee Treasure Florida. Patronis, who is unopposed in the Republican primary and will face Ring in the November general election, also received a $78,084 in-kind contribution to his committee from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The donation is listed as covering the cost of lodging and entertainment on June 15.

Assignment editors — Congressional candidate Ross Spano will host a “Rally for Our Rights,” in Lakeland, 2 p.m., Vets Army & Navy Surplus, 819 N Florida Ave. The rally is a direct response to the March for Our Lives Bus Tour, which the Dover Republican says is “targeting Floridians’ Second Amendment rights.”

Vern Buchanan’s haul rises, posts $640K for Q2” via Florida Politics — “Vern’s independence and effective record of achievements fighting for seniors, children, veterans and middle-class families are why so many in Southwest Florida are proud to call him their congressman,” said Max GoodmanBuchanan’s campaign manager … his fundraising total beats his Q1 haul by $170,000. The campaign said it had about $2.5 million on hand at the end of the quarter.

David Richardson gets Democratic Progressive Caucus supportvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Richardson has added more ammo to his case that he’s the progressive choice in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, with the endorsement of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida (DPCF). The group is a chartered caucus of the Florida Democratic Party which works to promote progressive candidates throughout the state. “David Richardson has been a relentless champion for working families in the Florida Legislature, and we are confident that he will continue to put their interests first when he’s elected to Congress,” DPCF President Susan Smith said. “I am proud to be recognized for my progressive bona fides,” Richardson said.

First in Sunburn – Carrie Pilon, Democratic challenger to Jeff Brandes, withdraws from race for SD 24 – Citing the health problems of a close family member, Pilon, a well-regarded Democrat trial lawyer, is exiting the race for Senate District 24. “These health issues, unfortunately, have made it impossible for me to continue forward and give the campaign the attention that it deserves, while also being able to provide the support my family needs.” Pilon’s announcement comes despite her raising $150,000 for her bid and receiving a slew of endorsements, mostly from other Democrats. Polling showed that SD 24 is winnable for a Democratic candidate, especially in this election cycle. The local Democratic Party will have the opportunity to select a replacement for Pilon and, according to her campaign, has already identified several potential candidates.

Save the date:

– CAMPAIGN DIFFERENT –

Apple shook the world in 1997 with its “Think different.” ad series, and now, more than 20 years later, it’s the advertisement of a person that’s having a similar effect.

“Doors,” the three-minute-long touching introduction of Texas congressional hopeful Mary Jennings Hegar, is being heralded as the most-viral campaign ad of 2018, according to Amanda Whiting of the Washingtonian.

The creative mind behind the commercial, Cayce McCabe of Putnam Partners, “may have just made the first ‘come here, you’ve got to see this,’ huddle-around-the-same-monitor spot of the 2018 electoral season. It’s definitely the most viral, with more than 2.5 million views on YouTube and a passel of Hollywood retweets,” writes Whiting.

To watch Hegar’s viral “Doors,” click the image below:

 

Tailored for virality – McCabe wanted the ad to go viral. He found the candidate was just as helpful as the message. “These new people who have these really dynamic life stories, who come from non-traditional backgrounds and are not politicians. They make for just great visual video content because they have such powerful stories.”

Going south – The ad does go negative, but it does so in a different manner than what’s a staple for attack ads. “We don’t have the spooky images and the scary music and the dark-colored graphics and everything that people are used to in a negative ad,” McCabe told Whiting.

Perfect timing? – At more than three minutes, the ad is too long for television — and too long in general. But, notes McCabe, the ad was released as the country reckoned with a child separation policy at the border. “When someone shares a video like this, it gives you a little bit of hope. It’s the type of thing that people want to pass around and say, ‘Have you seen this?’… I think part of this has to do with the moment that we’re in.”

— STATEWIDE —

[Jimmy Patronis] to black applicant: How many kids do you have? By how many different mothers?” via CD Davidson-Hiers of The Florida Phoenix — Erwin Jones, an African-American man, was standing before the governor and Cabinet on June 14 when Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Patronis asked him how many children he had and “how many different mothers to those children?” … He was in Tallahassee that day to get permission from Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet, sitting as the Executive Clemency Board, to get back his civil rights — to vote, sit on a jury, or run for public office. The arbitrary public questioning about Jones’ family status is an example, advocates say, of the deeply flawed process felons face when seeking official clemency to restore their civil rights … Richard Greenberg, a Tallahassee attorney with 28 years of experience representing people seeking clemency, said he was surprised to hear Patronis (also) question applicants about their church attendance: “I don’t think I’ve heard anyone else ask that question. It seems totally irrelevant.”

What Mike Carroll is reading —She struck down gay adoption ban and handled notorious juvenile cases. Now she’s retiring” via Adiel Kaplan of the Miami Herald — Judge Cindy Lederman’s legacy stretches far beyond bears. During her 25-year tenure as a juvenile court judge, including a decade as the court’s top judge, she’s ruled in some of the most important cases to pass through, including that of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson, a child lost and apparently killed, and her decision to strike down the state’s gay adoption ban. Lederman has also led a movement to introduce science into the courtroom. Collaborating with child development experts, she transformed the Miami-Dade children’s court. Lederman’s reforms spread around the state and the model she built has been replicated across the country. Lederman’s last day will be December 21. When asked if she’ll miss it, she answered no, then, immediately, yes.

Retiring Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman. (Image via Law.com)

What Fred Piccolo is reading —Democratic legislators weigh in on #AbolishICE” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Calls to stop the agency began as a distant battle cry of the far left, but amid recent turmoil … pushes to disband ICE have gained somewhat-mainstream traction among staunch opponents of the country’s immigration laws. Florida Politics reached out to several Democrats in the state Legislature, including both minority offices, for their takes. Orlando Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said he supports “the abolishment and restructuring of ICE in its current form” — the strongest statement against the agency provided to Florida Politics. State Sen. Linda Stewart, also of Orlando, criticized the agency’s current state, but stopped short of calling for its abolishment. In the House, Rep. Nicholas Duran, a Miami Democrat, also stopped short of calling to abolish the agency. He instead suggested Congress suspend ICE’s nonessential activities — like its widely-criticized raids — “until ICE’s policies are reviewed, and a new framework can be put in place.” Both Duran’s and Stewart’s comments reflect what some higher-ticket Florida Democrats have been saying.

SunPass problems: State awarded contractor millions more while unprocessed tolls mounted” via Noah Pransky of WTSP — As problems continued to mount for the Florida Turnpike Enterprise’s SunPass system and a backlog of toll transactions grew to more than 100 million, the state didn’t hit its troubled contractor with penalties; instead, it kept awarding contractor Conduent more money … More than a dozen change orders have increased a $287 million electronic tolling contract to $343 million, including what appears to be more than $20 million for extensions and delays in getting the new, consolidated customer service system (CCSS) functional. 10Investigates has reported how Conduent — and its former parent company, Xerox — have had major problems with its electronic tolling systems in at least five states. Yet Florida awarded the lucrative contract to the firm in 2015 anyway. The state has steadily increased the value of the deal since then.

Harassment, unpaid money feature in lawsuit against citizens insurance” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — A convoluted defamation lawsuit against Citizens Property Insurance Corp., involving a dispute over reimbursement of expenses and a harassment accusation by a female employee, has landed in Leon County after a transfer from Miami-Dade. Citizens sought the transfer on the ground that lawsuits against the state-sponsored insurer of last resort are supposed to be litigated in Tallahassee, spokesman Michael Peltier said. The plaintiff is Terry Houthoofd, described in the complaint as a former worker in Citizens’ Jacksonville office. He had sought damages of more than $15,000 in the 11th Judicial Circuit of Miami-Dade. But Houthoofd never worked directly for Citizens, Peltier explained, but rather for NCA Group, a vendor providing adjuster and inspection services.

Judge cancels trial in dog-racing ban case — The Tallahassee judge assigned to a lawsuit over a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit betting on greyhound racing won’t be holding a bench trial. Circuit Judge Karen Gievers has instead set a final hearing on competing motions for summary judgment on July 26 because the case can be decided solely on questions of law, not of fact, she said in a recent order. (Summary judgments allow parties to win a case without a trial.) Gievers also will allow the pro-amendment Committee to Protect Dogs and the Animal Law Section of The Florida Bar five minutes of argument each. Amendment 13, put on the November ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), aims at ending commercial dog racing in the state. In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 12 tracks. The suit was brought by the Florida Greyhound Association, which opposes the constitutional change.

Koch Brothers take aim at Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-funded group, issued a news release criticizing Buckhorn‘s advocacy to have an Ybor City census tract made eligible for an economic opportunity zone designation. “The only ones who will benefit from this lopsided deal are crony politicians and the Rays’ ownership. The audacity of the team to insist that they will only pay for $150 million of a potentially $800 million project is emblematic of the entitled mentality that drives these corporate welfare schemes. Taxpayers deserve better,” the release stated. The tax breaks were created through Trump’s tax-cut legislation late last year.

Bob Buckhorn, AFP-FL’s newest target.

Pinellas beach mayors want to take back power over short-term rentals” via Tracy McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — A state law prevents cities from regulating the length of time people can rent out vacation homes in residential neighborhoods. But a group of Pinellas County beach mayors is brewing a grassroots movement to bring the Legislative Delegation to a roundtable discussion this summer and demand a bill be filed next year giving oversight back to cities. Indian Rocks Mayor Cookie Kennedy has fielded steady complaints from residents. Her City Commission is expected to vote on an ordinance in August that’s a workaround for cracking down on short-term rentals, requiring them to register with the city, have a 24 — hour emergency contact posted outside, issue rental agreements with all occupants’ information and post noise and trash rules in the home. North Redington Beach Mayor Bill Queen, whose city has a 90-day rental minimum in residential zones, said he fears if the Legislature doesn’t act now, the tourism industry will pressure lawmakers to restrict cities further and revoke grandfathered ordinances like his.

Students in Florida school district to get free meals” via The Associated Press — Thanks to Hurricane Irma, all students in one Florida school system will qualify for free breakfast and lunch through 2022 … the federal Community Eligibility Provision program that offers meal assistance in low-income areas covered 17 of Hernando County’s 25 schools last year. But because the area was deemed a disaster area after the 2017 storm, all schools there will now qualify for the free program. And that’s regardless of students’ individual economic needs. School district food and nutrition services director Lori Drenth says after Irma, the county’s households qualified for a short-term assistance program. Those enrollment numbers led to a spike in the percentage of students getting free meals. She said the “artificially high” count allowed the district to offer free meals to everyone.

—D. C. MATTERS —

Defending Trump, threatening shutdowns: What 5 years in Congress tell us about Ron DeSantis.” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — There’s no denying that the voting record of DeSantis reveals an uncompromising advocate for smaller government who’s worked to shrink the institution he serves while emboldening an executive branch led by Trump. After five years on Capitol Hill, he’s a top member of a renegade Republican caucus that’s become Trump’s top defender from the Russian investigation. And in every budget standoff except one, DeSantis voted to shut down the government rather than agree to a major spending package. He’s introduced several long-shot bills to eliminate a pay raise for nonmilitary federal employees, impose a 5-year lobbying ban on former employees of Congress or the executive branch, and proposed constitutional amendments to create Congressional term limits and a prohibition on Congress for exempting itself from its own laws. Legislatively, DeSantis hasn’t left much of a footprint. None of the bills he’s introduced as the original sponsor has become law.

Ron DeSantis’ record gives a few hints about what to expect.

Brian Ballard to lobby on behalf of 9/11 victims” via POLITICO — Ballard and Syl Lukis registered recently to lobby for the law firms Kreindler & Kreindler and Anderson Kill P.C., both of which represent the families of 9/11 victims. Family members of 9/11 victims have sued the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for damages. Such lawsuits were allowed under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which Congress passed in 2016, overriding a veto from President Barack Obama. (The fight over JASTA itself generated a significant amount of lobbying.) A judge recently denied Saudi Arabia’s motion to dismiss the case and the plaintiffs are now in limited discovery. In an interview, Jim Kreindler, who represents the victims’ families, said his firm hired Ballard to help convince the Trump administration to declassify FBI documents related to the 9/11 attacks. “Only the president can declassify the thousands of documents that will reveal both Saudi Arabia’s role and our government’s cover-up,” he said. Documents will “help the families in their suit against Saudi Arabia.”

— OPINIONS —

Florida’s race for Governor highlights flaws in campaign finance system” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — This year’s race for governor in Florida is on pace for an record in spending, thanks in part to six- and seven-figure contributions from out-of-state moguls, the state’s most powerful corporations, business lobbies and three candidates themselves — a billionaire and two millionaires. Is this really the best way to choose Florida’s top public servant? Florida law limits contributions to political candidates in statewide races to $3,000, but there are no caps on giving to political committees that campaigns set up to cover advertising and other expenses. Florida voters tried to create an alternative to campaigns dominated by special interests and other big-money contributors, and level the playing field for candidates who aren’t millionaires or billionaires, by approving a public-financing system for gubernatorial and Cabinet races 20 years ago. But legislators undermined the system in 2005 by more than tripling the spending limit for statewide races. The cap for candidates for governor is now $27 million.

Florida’s political cockroaches return to wreak havoc in primary elections” via the Treasure Coast’s Editorial Board — In 2016, write-in candidates closed primary elections in 20 state House and Senate races, disenfranchising 1.6 million voters, according to the Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau. Now, two years later, the slimy creatures are at it again. Only Democrats will be allowed to vote in the primary for state Senate District 30 in Palm Beach County, where Sen. Bobby Powell will face fellow Democrat Rubin Anderson. All Florida voters are allowed to cast ballots in a primary race when candidates have no opposition outside the party. However, a write-in effectually closes the primary to all voters except those of the same party as the main candidates. It’s unconscionable voters still are being turned away from primary elections because of this egregious provision in state law.

— MOVEMENTS —

The ‘Florida Phoenix’ news operation soars into Tallahassee” via Florida Politics — A new online state-news website — “The Florida Phoenix” — launched Thursday in Florida’s capital. The nonprofit Phoenix “will cover state government and politics with a staff of four journalists located at the Florida Press Center in downtown Tallahassee,” according to a news release provided to Florida Politics. They include Editor-in-Chief Julie Hauserman, an award-winning former reporter for the Tallahassee bureau of the then-St. Petersburg Times, now Tampa Bay Times. The site, which will be “free of advertising and free to readers,” is backed by the Washington, D.C.-based New Venture Fund, a “public charity that supports innovative and effective public interest projects,” its website says. The Phoenix is “part of a national effort to fill the void caused by corporate news operations cutting their state capitol bureaus,” the release said.

Staff of The Florida Phoenix, including former Florida Politics reporter Mitch Perry. (Image via Twitter)

Doug Holder and Rob Schenck welcome Patrick Bell to The Legis Group” via Florida Politics — Bell has lobbied Florida state government for over two decades, with experience representing local governments, community colleges and private businesses. “I have been impressed with how fast the business has grown,” Bell said of The Legis Group. “I have known Rob and Doug since they were first elected into the Florida House and have always respected their work ethic and integrity. I look forward to the challenge of helping to grow the firm.” Schenck added: “It’s a huge honor for Patrick to join our firm. He brings a tremendous amount of experience and expertise that will be invaluable as the Legis Group continues to grow.”

Former Congressman David Jolly joins Shumaker Advisors” via Frances McMorris of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Jolly is joining Shumaker Advisors as executive vice president and principal. “This is a long-term commitment to each other; to take on the big projects in this community,” said Ron Christaldi, president and CEO of Shumaker Advisors, a prominent business lawyer at Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick and co-chair of the Tampa Bay Rays 2020 effort. “The challenge we have is there is so much opportunity. We’re trying to figure where the best bang for the buck is, the best opportunity to have an impact,” Christaldi said.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Robert Boyd, Sachs Sax Caplan: Zaner-Bloser

Hayden Dempsey, Greenberg Traurig: Erickson Living

Ashley Stacell, Capitol Strategies Consulting: The Centers

Eileen Stuart, Hopping Green & Sams: National Marine Manufacturers Association

— WEEKEND TV —

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues that affect the area’s citizens.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei host a roundtable with political columnist William March, Democratic advocate Laila Abdelaziz, Tampa Bay Times reporter Steve Contorno, and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion on the “farm-to-table” trend and what protections or guarantees are in place for Florida consumers. Joining Walker-Torres are state Sen. Dennis BaxleyLaura Reiley, Tampa Bay Times food critic; Kathleen Blake, chef/owner, Rusty Spoon; and Emily Rankin, chef/owner, FL & Co. at the East End Market.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: This week’s show will discuss the latest from Tallahassee with capital reporter Troy Kinsey, and Ashley Moody talks about her bid for Attorney General. PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter rates a claim by gubernatorial candidate Graham.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon speaks with Bob McClure from The James Madison Institute.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests: George Maxey, executive director of the Edward Waters College New Town Success; Daniel Conrath political science professor at Florida State College Jacksonville; and House District 11 candidate Joe Zimmerman.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg hold a roundtable to discuss the upcoming U.S. congressional races.

— ALOE —

It’s ‘Recreation and Parks month’ in Florida” via Florida Politics — “People from across the world come to Florida to enjoy our state’s natural beauty,” Gov. Scott said in a statement. “I encourage all Floridians and visitors to take advantage of our 175 state parks.” Family-friendly activities during Recreation and Parks Month at state parks include: Beach Exploratory Walk, July 6, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach; Beach Cleanup, July 7, 8 a.m. to noon, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park; Kayaking the Mangroves, July 7, 10 a.m., Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park; An Evening Under the Stars, July 7, 7:15 to 11 p.m. Central time, Big Lagoon State Park.

Stop driving past Shell world in the Florida Keys. It’s a national treasure.” via Connie Ogle of Miami.com — The massive store — 18,000 square feet of Florida realness — sits on the median at Mile Marker 97-and-a-half on the Overseas Highway. You may fear that those tacky souvenirs that have made Florida infamous fill the shelves. Those things do exist at Shell World, because they have to. This is Florida. But they are only part of the story. Founder and owner Jim Waterman opened the shop in a gas station across the street in 1972, originally called Jimmy’s American Gas and Gifts. It became Shell World in 1977 and moved to the current space in 1984. Its second location at Mile Marker 106 closed in June. But that’s OK, because there is literally every Florida thing you could want here at Mile Marker 97-and-a-half. And Shell World is perfect for every budget. Some items cost as little as a quarter. Others will set you back more than $5,000.

Wanting something Florida? Shell World Key Largo has it!

Happy birthday to state Reps. Joe Gruters and MaryLynn Magar, as well as Susanne Dudley. Early birthday wishes to smart political guy Jordan Connors.

There’s an easy fix for St. Pete, Tampa fireworks problems

The rockets offered no red glare.

The bombs did not burst in the air.

After a wide band of afternoon thunderstorms drenched Tampa Bay on Wednesday, fireworks displays in St. Petersburg and Gulfport did not go off as planned, while the show in Tampa was cut short.

The City of St. Petersburg pulled the plug on the Fireworks Across the Bay Celebration due to “technical difficulties,” officials posted on social media. Needless to say, that deflated the enthusiasm of thousands of spectators hoping for a grand finale to their Independence Day celebrations.

Across the bay, fireworks over the Tampa Riverwalk garnered bad reviews online, reports the Tampa Bay Times. It was the same case on July 4 last year, when a computer glitch interrupted the grand finale, leaving the show’s audience underwhelmed.

Here’s where it’s appropriate to insert a “you had one job” meme. After all, we’re talking about fireworks.

These pyrotechnic devices have been around for more than 1,200 years (thanks Wikipedia!), dating back to the 9th-century Chinese Tang dynasty.

The art and science of fireworks haven’t changed much since then. You put some sort of combustible material in a paper or pasteboard tube, you launch or mortar the tube into the sky, it explodes, and everyone goes, “Oooh! Ahhhh!”

However, here in Tampa Bay — just 90 miles from Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios, where, each night at each park, there is a perfectly orchestrated fireworks show — the folks hired by city officials are as proficient as lighting a fuse as Wile E. Coyote.

Here’s an idea for next year: Have St. Petersburg and Tampa officials hire experts to put on their July Fourth festivities?

And by experts, I don’t mean bringing in a company like Pyrotecnico, the outfit hired to stage Tampa’s 2017 show. I mean real experts.

These experts were everywhere in my neighborhood last night. Up and down the streets, from their backyards and their boat decks, there were dozens of folks who clearly have expertise in lighting off fireworks. Undoubtedly, there are several of these living near you.

None of these experts seemed to experience any “technical difficulties” lighting off their fireworks, which they have spent the better part of the last year stockpiling. They suffered no computer glitches.

As for rain dampening their moods, the wet stuff only seems to encourage them.

What’s amazing about these pyro-magicians is that, unlike the companies hired by the cities, they start their shows DAYS in advance of July Fourth and are likely to continue them well into this weekend. If you have young children or howling dogs, too bad. This is ‘Merica, and you have no right to stop the illegal firing of fireworks most often acquired via deceit.

So for 2019, city boosters and officials should save some money and do a cattle call for every fireworks enthusiast to come downtown and light off as much stuff as they can as soon as the sun goes down. The organizers will still pay for the fireworks, but the hard part — you know, the Wile E. Coyote part — will be left to the experts.

That, or we can just hire Tampa-based political consultant Anthony Pedicini, who, along with his family, is as good as lighting up the sky as he is lighting up one of his political opponents.

Just look at the arsenal the Pedicinis assembled:

Is this enough fireworks to put on a decent show?

Sunburn for 7.4.18 — Happy Independence Day!

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

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

Happy Independence Day. Be safe out there, Florida Man and Woman.

Like most of you, we’re taking off today, so we won’t be working on a Sunburn for tomorrow. The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics will return to inboxes on Friday.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS — 

@FLGovScott: Grateful for the service of @FLGuard Troops from Avon Park, FL and all our troops deployed.

—@RonDeSantisFL: Great to have @seanhannity and @mattgaetz with me on the trail yesterday — two strong Conservatives supporting me in my run for governor.

—@JimmyPatronis: Cryptocurrencies are being used to finance human trafficking and drugs. I want to bring transparency to this unregulated industry in FL. My opponent profits on crypto & opposes my reforms. He’s looking out for his own wallet. I’m looking out for yours!

@RepValDemings: I hope this administration understands that this is nothing to be proud of, we will absolutely regret this being part of our history. We’re separating families, caging children, and forcing children to represent themselves in immigration court? Immoral. Malicious. Vile. Wrong!

—@DeFede: I understand there are times @RepDWStweets makes it hard to support her. But there is something very sad that in toady’s world of politics where we want leaders to show courage, her decision to defend someone she thought was being discriminated against would be used against her.

—@SenatorGainer: I am eternally grateful to be afforded the privilege of celebrating this wonderful country I call home. God Bless America.

— FACTS ABOUT THE FOURTH — 

As you celebrate July Fourth, keep in mind, it was July 2 which got the shaft. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress of the 13 American colonies voted to formally separate from Great Britain (New York abstained). On that occasion, John Adams, a future president of the renegade United States, wrote to his wife, Abigail, “The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.” Continued Adams, “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” It was not to be.

A bunch of troublemakers, led by some showoff named Thomas Jefferson. 

Two days later, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence written by a showoff named Jefferson. (Psst! Look over here!) Ahem … The rest is history. So Happy Independence Day, otherwise known as the Fourth of July. Just remember, it’s Adams who eventually got the HBO miniseries.

—“Independence Day comes only once a year, or does it?” via Brent Batten of the Naples Daily News

Getting the facts straight about the Founding Fathers” via PolitiFact — Invoking the Founding Fathers on Independence Day to celebrate our nation’s birth is a fine thing to do. Invoking them to score political points? Watch out. Take, for example, a Facebook post about Benjamin Franklin that circulated in May, a post that was actually aimed at making fun of tea party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. The meme quotes Bachmann as saying, “This country could use a president like Benjamin Franklin again.” Of course, Franklin was never president. And we think Bachmann knows that, as well, because she never actually said the quote. We rated the fabricated Facebook meme Pants on Fire. It’s not just claims on social media. Pundits and politicians get things wrong time and time again when they use the Founding Fathers to support their political views. Over the years, PolitiFact has found numerous errors about what the Founding Fathers supposedly said or did, especially when it comes to constitutional issues and civil rights.

— “Fathers in chief via Tevi Troy of the Weekly Standard

— “The 7 most badass Founding Fathers” via Dave Forsmark of PJMedia.com

— “5 forgotten Founding Fathers” via Daniel Holzel of Mental Floss

— “4 more forgotten Founding Fathers” via Erik Johnson of Mental Floss

Even George Washington had to fight fake news” via Angie Drobnic Holan of the Tampa Bay Times — Forged letters from before his presidency claimed to show in his own words that he privately sympathized with the British monarchy and thought the American cause was doomed. The letters also suggested that Washington thought Americans weren’t ready for democracy. The letters were clever forgeries, but they dogged Washington. They circulated in pamphlets, during both the American Revolution and Washington’s presidency — until Washington grew tired of hearing about them and issued an adamant fact-check of his own. Whoever forged the letters worked to make them believable, including details about Washington’s life as a Virginia farmer. The letters were immediately recognizable as fakes to Washington’s inner circle.

The truth about Paul Revere’s ride brought to you by the Florida Medical Association — “The FMA wishes Sunburn readers a happy Independence Day! We hope you’ll celebrate safely. We also encourage all Floridians to thank our nation’s Veterans and their families for protecting the freedoms upon which our country was founded.” — FMA Executive Vice President Timothy J. Stapleton. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out this fascinating Paul Revere factoid involving a doctor (on message!) — a young physician was most likely the only Patriot who reached Concord during the famous “midnight ride” of Paul Revere.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow got a lot wrong in the “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”

The History Channel tells us that “Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1861 poem about Paul Revere’s ride got many of the facts wrong. For one thing, Revere was not alone on his mission to warn John Hancock, Samuel Adams and other patriots that the British were approaching Lexington on the evening of April 18, 1775. Two other men, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, rode alongside him, and by the end of the night as many as 40 men on horseback were spreading the word across Boston’s Middlesex County. Revere also never reached Concord, as the poem inaccurately recounts. Overtaken by the British, the three riders split up and headed in different directions. Revere was temporarily detained by the British at Lexington and Dawes lost his way after falling off his horse, leaving Prescott — a young physician who is believed to have died in the war several years later — the task of alerting Concord’s residents.”

10 U.S. historical facts to rain on any July 4 party” via Florida Politics — Every party has a pooper, that’s why some people go to Fourth of July parties armed with trivia that casts doubt on conventional wisdom — especially in American history. When partygoers are lighting fireworks, exclaiming “Isn’t America beautiful?” these historical fact checkers rain the truth on their parade. Here are 10 “truth firecrackers” to liven up (or put a quick end to) any Independence Day festivities: 1. Baseball, the “All-American” sport, likely came from England; 2. Apple pie is British, too; 3. The melody of the American national anthem comes from an old English drinking song; 4. The Pledge of Allegiance was created for one reason — to sell more flags; 5. Canadians own the Mall of America; 6. Bald eagle screeches are much weaker than the iconic sound, which is actually from the red-tailed hawk; 7. Settlers didn’t tame the American frontier, it was already pretty tame; 8. Hot dogs on the Fourth? Lewis, Clark and the “Corps of Discovery” ate over 200 dogs during the trip; 9. Speaking of wieners … President Lyndon Johnson would frequently pull his out his own “Johnson;” and 10. Independence Day is actually July 2 (see above).

 TOP STORY — 

Concealed weapon permit review finds mistakes in Florida” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — A 2012 internal investigation found that 48 Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services employees made mistakes while issuing concealed weapon permits and armed security guard or similar licenses. One employee resigned during the investigation, one was fired and others received suspensions or written reprimands. In all, two concealed weapons permits and one armed security guard license were revoked … (Adam) Putnam … was criticized last month after acknowledging that the agency revoked 291 permits awarded in 2016 and 2017 and fired an employee last year. The Putnam campaign said the problem discovered in 2012 started under a previous administration and he took steps to fix it.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL — 

Of course he did — “Marco Rubio helps raise money for Donald Trump super PAC” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Rubio took another step toward his embrace of President Donald Trump by speaking at a ritzy fundraiser for the biggest Trump super PAC. Rubio spoke at a recent America First Action event at Trump International Hotel here, where guests paid $100,000 to get in and $250,000 for VIP access.

Fracking appears to be out: Group gets Ron DeSantis to voice support for ban” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Following DeSantis’ rally in Tampa, he shook hands with members of the crowd, and that’s when Food & Water Action volunteer Ginger Goepper asked him if he supports a ban on fracking in Florida. “Yeah, yep, yeah,” DeSantis replies, as shown in a video the group released. Last month Goepper asked Putnam if he opposed fracking. Putnam replied a bit more loquaciously, “We don’t need to be fracking in Florida. Our geology, our limestone, we do not need to be fracking in Florida for oil and gas. It is just not the right spot.”

Gwen Graham tops Democratic rivals in outside contributions, but not June fundraising” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Graham’s campaign is reporting it raised $152,291 and her independent committee brought in another $481,350 during the just-posted campaign finance reporting period of June 1-22. Graham’s campaign hailed that total as more than all four of her Democratic primary opponents raised from supporters combined during the same period. her Democratic rivals Jeff GreenePhilip Levine, and Chris King all bolstered their campaigns with big personal checks that Graham’s campaign is discounting because they’re not donations from supporters. As a result, in the end, each of them brought in far more money in the 22-day period than Graham managed. Second, while rival Andrew Gillum did not raise much at all from June 1-22, his Forward Florida independent political committee cashed contributors’ checks totaling $451,000 just in the next three or four days.

Spotted: Graham on MSNBC — The campaign sent out an email blast Tuesday: “NBC News’ Ali Vitali covered Gwen on the campaign trail as she built affordable housing on a Workday with Habitat for Humanity and at a Ruth’s List conference, where women from across the state spoke about their passion to elect a woman governor to stand up to Donald Trump.” Watch by clicking here.

 

Assignment editors — Graham join state Sen. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg to march in Florida’s largest Fourth of July Parade, 10 a.m., 101 E. Lumsden Road, Brandon.

Assignment editors — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine will be participating in the 59th annual Key Biscayne 4th of July Parade, 10:45 a.m., 107-1 Fernwood Rd.

Adam Putnam attack ads funded by dark money group with ties to mega-donor Joe Ricketts” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm — The Tenth Amendment Project paid for an attack ad linking Putnam to U.S. Sugar Corp. donations and toxic blue-green algae bloom in Treasure Coast waters in 2016. The TV ad is running in Tampa, but is not scheduled to run on any stations in the Treasure Coast/West Palm Beach or Fort Myers/Naples media markets. Those communities bear the brunt of Lake Okeechobee discharges that cause the blooms. Unlike election campaigns and political action committees, nonprofits aren’t required to divulge their donors — hence the term “dark money” — but the Tenth Amendment Project has at least one visible tie to TD Ameritrade founder and Chicago Cubs owner Ricketts, who has supported DeSantis in the past.

Assignment editors — Putnam will celebrate Independence Day at the Lynn Haven 4th of July Parade, 9 a.m. Central time, A.L. Kinsaui Park, 1146 W. 5th St., Lynn Haven.

’Cow cuddling?’ Denise Grimsley talks agritourism at Polk Tiger Bay” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — Who would pay $300 to hug a cow? Enough people to save the family farm, state Sen. Grimsley told a luncheon of the Polk County Tiger Bay Club. Agritourism will be a key component of her policies to save Florida agriculture if elected Agriculture Commissioner, the Zolfo Springs Republican said. “I had a constituent tell me she had some people coming to her ranch and pay $300 to cuddle a cow,” she said when asked by a club member about agritourism. “I had never heard of that before, but when you think about it, this is part of how you bring prosperity back (to small farms and rural communities). There are people in Miami or Tampa who may never have seen a farm or where their food comes from.”

Assignment editors — Grimsley will participate in the annual Naples 4th of July Parade, 10 a.m., beginning at Broad Avenue South and ends on 8th Avenue South and 8th Street South in downtown Naples.

Money flows in GOP Attorney General race” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody continues to post six-figure contribution totals, while her opponent in the Republican primary for attorney general, state Rep. Frank White, has started to dig into his campaign treasury to pay for ads, new finance reports show. On the Democratic side of the race to replace term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi, state Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa maintains a big lead in the fundraising contest over Ryan Torrens, a lawyer from Hillsborough County.

Darren Soto, Alan Grayson set for two CD 9 debates” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Soto’s campaign announced Tuesday it was committing to a Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida Aug. 2 debate, and a Spectrum News 13 Aug. 8 debate. The Tiger Bay forum, open only to members of the club, is a noon event. The Spectrum forum is set for 7 p.m. and would be broadcast by that cable TV company’s 24-hour news channel. In addition, Soto’s campaign said he would be participating in the upcoming July 16 Polk County Progressive Democratic Caucus candidate forum, and a July 31 forum being arranged by several organizations including the League of Women Voters of Florida.

Latest GOP poll in Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s district shows potential for three-way race” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — A third poll conducted in recent weeks in the GOP primary to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen shows television journalist Maria Elvira Salazar with a double-digit lead but the potential for Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro and songwriter Angie Chirino, the daughter of Cuban pop sensation Willy Chirino, to make the primary competitive if they run to Salazar’s right on guns. The poll conducted on behalf of Chirino’s campaign on behalf of Big Data Polling shows Salazar with a 10 percentage point lead over Barreiro, with Chirino close behind Barreiro in third. Salazar took 26.5 percent support among 531 likely GOP primary voters in a poll conducted from June 22 to 25. Barreiro received 16.8 percent while Chirino received 13.3 percent support in the poll, which was conducted in English and Spanish with a four percent margin of error.

Belinda Keiser sinks another $200,000 into Senate race” via the News Service of Florida — In a sprint to replace outgoing Senate President Joe Negron, Republican Keiser loaned another $200,000 to her campaign last month, bringing to $700,000 the amount she has put into the race … Keiser also had raised an overall total of $76,165 as of June 22 and had spent $343,274. Keiser, state Rep. Gayle Harrell and Democrat Robert Levy are running to replace Negron in Senate District 25, which includes Martin, St. Lucie and part of Palm Beach counties. Harrell had raised $69,285 and loaned $100,000 to her campaign as of June 22, while spending a total of $12,863, a finance report shows. Levy had raised $13,650 and loaned $150,000 to his campaign while spending a total of $70,150.

Where does she live? A Miami lawmaker’s bizarre attempt to reside in her district” via Sarah Blaskey and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — State Senator Daphne Campbell, longtime owner of a five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom home inconveniently located outside the community she’s represented as a member of the Florida House and Senate, has been difficult to find at home over the last 30 months. More accurately, her home has been difficult to find. That’s until late June, when she switched her voter registration to this small, pink house in North Miami Beach. It’s one of at least four addresses she’s listed over the last six years after a statewide redrawing of House districts placed her own home outside the boundaries and forced her into a series of temporary residences. The extent to which she has actually lived at any of them is questionable.

Whoops! Aventura pol says Campbell endorsement was by mistake” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Campbell announced Monday that she had earned four new endorsements from South Florida commissioners in her run for re-election. Now, it appears one of those endorsements was sent out in error. Aventura Commissioner Robert Shelley says he is not backing Campbell’s re-election in Senate District 38, but is instead supporting her opponent, Miami attorney Jason Pizzo. After Florida Politics reported on Campbell’s announcement Monday, the Pizzo campaign produced a signed letter that showed, in fact, Shelley had endorsed Pizzo’s campaign back in April. We reached out to the Campbell campaign to get a response, and it turns out they too had a signed letter from Commissioner Shelley from June indicating his support for her SD 38 bid. Shelley spoke to Florida Politics to clear up the confusion, saying his letter of support to the Campbell campaign was likely sent out due to some sort of miscommunication between the two offices.

Assignment editors — Democrat Jennifer Webb, who is running for House District 69, will be walking in the Kenneth City/Pinellas Park Independence Day Parade, 10 a.m., starting at northbound 62nd Street between 46 and 54th. Later, her group will be walking in the Gulfport Independence Day Parade, 6 p.m., starting at the Gulfport Public Library, 5501 28th Ave. S.

Assignment editors — Democrat Emma Collum, running for House District 93, is celebrating Independence Day with a parade of volunteers, 8:30 a.m., Lauderdale by the Sea Town Hall, 4505 N. Ocean Drive.

Primary election changes proposed” via the News Service of Florida — The proposals, sponsored by the committee Florida Fair and Open Primaries, would seek open primaries in which all voters would be able to participate and would create a “top two” system … Under such a system, the two candidates receiving the largest numbers of votes in each open primary would move on to the general-election ballot. The earliest the proposed constitutional amendments could go before voters would be 2020. Also, Florida Fair and Open Primaries would need to submit at least 766,200 petition signatures to get each measure on the ballot.

— NON-FOURTH NEWS — 

Rick Scott in Kuwait to visit Florida troops for Independence Day” via the Space Coast Daily — Gov. Scott is meeting with servicemen and women, and military officials. He will also be bringing these troops some reminders of home this Independence Day. “It is an honor to celebrate our country’s Independence Day with the brave men and women who are currently serving and protecting our freedom.”

Snack time: Gov. Rick Scott brought “reminders of home” to Florida National Guard and Army Reserve troops deployed in Kuwait: Coffee from Lucky Goat of Tallahassee, Buddy Brew of Tampa and Social Grounds of Jacksonville; fresh orange juice from Sun Harvest Citrus of Fort Myers, and key lime pie cookies from Kristi’s Key Lime Cookies of Naples, his hometown.

Flags at half-staff to honor victims of Maryland newspaper shooting” via Florida Politics — Gov. Scott has ordered flags at half-staff to honor the victims of the June 28 shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. The order was effective immediately on Tuesday till sunset. The U.S. and state flags will “be flown at half-staff at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout the State of Florida,” Scott said. Earlier Tuesday, President Trump directed the U.S. flag to “be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its territories and possessions” until sunset. That proclamation came after the mayor of Annapolis said his request to Trump to lower flags had been turned down.

Florida consumer sentiment decreases in June” via the University of Florida — Consumer sentiment among Floridians dropped 1.9 points in June to 98.3 from a revised figure of 100.2 in May, according to the latest University of Florida Consumer Survey. The five components that make up the index declined. The last time a drop across all five components happened was in August 2016. Perceptions of personal financial situation now compared with a year ago decreased one point from 92.9 to 91.9. Consumer confidence declined across all five components. Although Floridians overall are more pessimistic, all Floridians do not share this sentiment. For women and respondents 60 and older, consumer confidence increased slightly, and for respondents with income under $50,000, confidence remained unchanged in June. Despite the decline in confidence, the economy is doing well overall.

Fewer hurricanes expected this season, according to latest forecast” via David Fleshler of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project now calls for four hurricanes this year, compared to 10 last season and a sharp reduction from the university’s April forecast. The probability of a direct hit to the eastern United States stands at 22 percent, compared to the average of 31 percent. Since hurricane season began June 1, the forecast said, the Atlantic Ocean has developed unusually cold temperatures, depriving developing hurricanes of fuel and the atmospheric instability necessary for their formation. And the likelihood has increased of an El Niño, the warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean that creates high-altitude winds that tear apart would-be tropical cyclones, the rotating storm systems that can strengthen into hurricanes.

Ex-Dem IT staffer slammed by Donald Trump pleads guilty to bank fraud” via John Bresnahan of POLITICO Florida — Imran Awan — the former House Democratic IT consultant at the center of conservative conspiracy theories that were even promoted by Trump — pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one felony count of federal bank fraud. Criminal charges against his wife, Hina Alvi, will be dropped as part of the plea deal between Awan and the Justice Department. Awan’s attorney and DOJ agreed to a recommendation of probation for Awan, although that will not be final until U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan sentences him on Aug. 21. Despite an extensive investigation by federal agents, Awan and Alvi were not found to have any ties to a foreign intelligence agency targeting Congress or to be involved in a criminal ring that stole equipment from Democratic lawmakers. There had been numerous stories in conservative publications over the past two years suggesting Awan, Alvi and other family members who worked with his IT firm engaged in a host of potentially illegal activities. But no such charges were ever filed against him or his family members, the Justice Department acknowledged in the plea agreement.

Appellate court calls out ‘abuse of discretion’ in medical marijuana case” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — An appellate court delivered the equivalent of a judicial smackdown Tuesday following its decision last month to reinstate a delay on the effect of a lower court’s ruling that medical marijuana can be smoked in Florida. A unanimous three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal (DCA) issued a 5-page order calling Circuit Judge Karen Gievers‘ ruling to allow patients to smoke pending appeal “an abuse of discretion.” The state’s appeal after Gievers’ decision had placed an automatic stay, or hold, on the ruling pending review. Gievers lifted that stay. She found that the ban — written into state law — violates the constitutional amendment on medicinal cannabis, passed by 71 percent of voters in 2016. But the appellate judges said the smoking plaintiffs “have not shown that compelling circumstances exist to support the order vacating the stay in this appeal,” nor have they “sufficiently demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits.”

Jackpot: New casino permitted for downtown Miami” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Downtown Miami is getting a brand-new casino. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates gambling in the state, late Tuesday issued what’s known as a “summer jai alai” permit for a new facility to be built on roughly a full city block along Biscayne Boulevard. The permit was granted to West Flagler Associates, controlled by South Florida’s Havenick family. They operate Magic City Casino in Miami and Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Racing & Poker in Bonita Springs. Pari-mutuels, particularly in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, covet such permits because at a minimum they allow a facility to open a cardroom and offer simulcast betting. The permit comes more than a year after the 1st District Court of Appeal reversed a denial of West Flagler’s permit application and ordered its reinstatement.

— A FLORIDA FOURTH — 

Florida was off center stage in American Revolution despite some important events via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News — As the nation celebrates the 240th anniversary of independence this Fourth of July … Floridians can look back at the strange and almost entirely forgotten role their state played in the American Revolution. A Spanish colony for almost 200 years, the English gained Florida at the Treaty of Paris in 1763, which ended the Seven Years War. People in the U.S. call it the French and Indian War. Dividing the peninsula into East Florida and West Florida, the British attempted to develop plantations in their new holdings, but generally used the Floridas for military purposes. The strong military presence helped ensure that the Floridas would not join the 13 colonies to the north in rebelling against George III. … rebellious Americans looked at the Floridas as a threat since the British could launch attacks into Georgia and South Carolina from the south. Colonists loyal to the British crown fled to the Floridas and helped form military units, like the East Florida Rangers, to fight against the American forces. While they did not play a leading part in the American Revolution, Florida and Floridians provided some dramatic moments. James Grant, who served as governor of East Florida from 1764 until 1771, played a crucial part in British successes in capturing New York, and would capture St. Lucia from the French later in the war. American prisoners were held in St. Augustine — including Arthur Middleton and Edmund Rutledge, two South Carolinians who signed the Declaration of Independence. One recent Florida politician with a keen interest in his state’s role in the American Revolution was longtime U.S. Rep. Charles E. Bennett … Who represented the First Coast in Congress from 1949 until retiring in 1993. Bennett wrote a number of books on the Revolution, including a book on battles as well as a biography of Robert Howe with Donald Lennon.

Assignment editors — The Vietnam Veterans of America Big Bend Chapter 96 host a reading of the Declaration of Independence by an actor dressed as Ben Franklin, 8 a.m., Old Capitol front steps, Tallahassee.

Adam Putnam: Be mindful of our forests this Fourth of July” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Since January, more than 1,500 wildfires have burned approximately 89,307 acres of Florida land. To Ag Commish Putnam, that’s cause for concern this Independence Day. While he expects Floridians to use fireworks on Wednesday, he is encouraging them to do so with care. “While recent rainfall has lowered wildfire risk across the state, Floridians and visitors should keep a few safety tips in mind while enjoying fireworks and cookouts with friends and family this Independence Day,” Putnam, who also oversees the Florida Forest Service, said in a prepared statement. Among the recommended precautions: light fireworks away from debris and vegetation; always have a water source available; aim fireworks properly; discard used fireworks in water; and report fires to 9-1-1.

DCF reminds families to stay safe while celebrating Independence Day” via Florida Politics — DCF offers a few family safety tips to keep in mind … Use good judgment when going boating. Make sure every passenger uses flotation devices and children are always secured by an adult while on a vessel. There should always be an unimpaired adult actively watching children playing around or swimming in pools. Be sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying and always follow all safety instructions. When lighting fireworks, including sparklers, always have water handy, such as a hose or bucket. Use your grill well away from your home and deck, and out from under branches or overhangs. If you attend a large event, plan ahead by determining a safe place to meet in case your family gets separated.

Florida wildlife officials urge safety, beacons for July Fourth weekend boating” via Florida Politics — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) urges boaters to use caution while boating on this busy holiday. Inattentiveness or improper lookout cause many boating accidents. During this weekend, boaters can expect to see an enhanced law enforcement presence and increased messaging about safe boating practices. Beginning July 1, Floridians have another great reason to buy and register an emergency locator beacon. Gov. Scott and the Florida Legislature have instituted discounted vessel registration fees for anyone who owns a recreational vessel equipped with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or a Personal Locator Beacon.

How to be July 4 ‘beach hero,’ give space to nesting shorebirds, sea turtles” via Florida Politics — Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding the public to help protect beach-nesting shorebirds and sea turtles by giving them space and keeping personal fireworks off the beach. Please respect shorebird and sea turtle areas that are posted to protect these vulnerable species, but remember not all nests are posted. July is also a busy time for sea turtle nesting on Florida beaches, and female sea turtles can become disoriented and fail to lay their eggs if disturbed by bright lights, loud noises and people getting too close to them. Sea turtle hatchlings, also vulnerable to disturbance, are beginning to emerge this month.

— ROCKETS RED GLARE — 

Fireworks! The science and psychology of fireworks via PBS — NOVA presents the colorful history of pyrotechnics and reveals how high-tech firing systems are transforming public displays into a dazzling, split-second science. Here’s what you’ll find online: Name That Shell … Watch video clips of fireworks bursting in air and find out how well you know your chrysanthemums from your peonies, your roman candles from your palm trees. Anatomy of a Firework … Where you see brilliant light and vivid color, a pyrotechnician sees a successful lift charge, black powder mix, time-delay fuse, bursting charge and other essential ingredients. Pyrotechnically Speaking … Dr. John Conkling, adjunct professor of chemistry at Washington College and former executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, describes what it is about fireworks that gets him, well, all fired up. On Fire (Hot Science) … This virtual laboratory lets you explore the basics of combustion, including how a fire ignites, what a flame is made of, and how burning molecules rearrange themselves.

Florida’s bizarre fireworks law still in place” via Florida Politics — It’s almost Independence Day, which in Florida means: Time to scare some birds. Although you can buy fireworks in the state, they’re not actually legal here. Indeed, The Tampa Tribune once called fireworks sales in Florida an “institutionalized charade,” leading one lawmaker to call for “more freedom (and) less fraud.” Retail sales are allowed only because of a 62-year-old loophole in the law, the only known one of its kind in the country. That allows “fireworks … to be used solely and exclusively in frightening birds from agricultural works and fish hatcheries.”

Counting the days: Bob Buckhorn will watch his last fireworks as Tampa’s Mayor this Fourth of July.

A wink, a nod and a boom” via Michael Bates of the Citrus County Chronicle — Most people know buying fireworks is a wink-wink, nod-nod proposition. The seller agrees to use the explosives for arcane applications like scaring birds on their farm or signaling railroad trains. The seller has the purchaser sign a “restricted fireworks verification” agreement, absolving themselves of any legal ramifications, and the latter goes on his or her way. The vendors know not all — in fact, almost none — will follow the law, and the customer knows they know it. Don’t look for the legal loophole permitting the sale of Florida fireworks to go away anytime soon. Most people seem happy with the way things are. While the county prohibits most tent sales, such as the ones automobile dealers used to set up in parking lots, it has an exception for seasonal sales for July 4 and New Year’s Eve fireworks, as well as Christmas trees. The county has issued eight temporary permits, at $190 each, to fireworks vendors this month.

Apparently, a lot of birds and animals need to be frightened away on the Fourth of July.

—“Floridians traveling across state lines for fireworks” via WEARTV.com

Get smart fast — “Hold my beer and watch this! July 4 fireworks light up ER via Andrew Bryant for Florida Politics — The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) … uses a sample of hospitals across the U.S. to estimate nationwide totals for ER visits involving an injury associated with consumer products. Based on these data, a whopping 179,730 Americans have visited the ER for fireworks-related injuries since 1997 … a shocking two-thirds of these visits occur on or just after one day of the year: July Fourth. Comparatively, Independence Day sees nearly seven times as many fireworks-related injuries as New Year’s Eve each year … based on the data, we can infer that most injuries involve lighting mistakes. Over 20 percent of all hospital visits due to fireworks include an injury to the hand, and another 12 percent involve an injury of the fingers. The head also sees as a fair amount of action with 20 percent of all fireworks-related ER visits relating to the eyes, 12 percent to the face area, 3 percent to the ear, and 2 percent to the head. Less than 1 percent of reported injuries involve the “pubic region,” though this stat may not be of much comfort to the estimated 319 men who experience such an injury each year. The age distribution of these injuries is a lot younger than this title would imply: two-thirds of fireworks injuries occur in those under the legal drinking age of 21, with a peak age of 13. While it is unclear whether the victim was the firework-setter or an innocent bystander, men make up about 72 percent of all ER visits for fireworks injuries. This trend generally holds across all age and demographic groups.

—“Months of planning, effort go into city’s annual July Fourth extravaganza” via Sheldon Gardner of the St. Augustine Record

Jimmy Patronis: 5 fire safety tips for Fourth of July — 1. Monitor children and pets. Never allow children or pets to play with sparklers and always provide adult supervision. 2. Light one sparkler at a time. Never attempt to ignite more than one sparkler at a time. Move away once they are lit and never attempt to reignite. 3. Be prepared. Always have a fire extinguisher or a water hose on hand and soak used sparklers before throwing them away. A sparkler can reach temperatures of more than 1,200 degrees. To put that in perspective, glass melts at 900 degrees. 4. Abide by all local laws and ordinances. Check with your county or city officials for ordinances or burn bans in your local community. 5. Attend public firework shows. Many local governments make significant investments to put on professional fireworks shows. Consider attending one in your area instead of lighting your own.

Florida Forest Service reminds revelers to use fireworks responsibly” via the Tallahassee Democrat — Individuals should always check local laws before using fireworks. Local fire and police departments and the State Fire Marshal’s Office can also provide guidance. Floridians celebrating with fireworks or campfires should follow these safety tips: Light fireworks in a cleared area free of vegetation or dry debris. Clear debris from around campfires, grills and all fire sources. Remove debris from any location where fireworks could land. Always have a water source available. Aim fireworks away from people, homes and wooded areas. Discard used fireworks in a bucket of water. Never leave a fire unattended and make sure it is completely out before leaving it.

Get smart fast — “Hold my beer and watch this! July 4 fireworks light up ER via Andrew Bryant for Florida Politics — The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) … uses a sample of hospitals across the U.S. to estimate nationwide totals for ER visits involving an injury associated with consumer products. Based on these data, a whopping 179,730 Americans have visited the ER for fireworks-related injuries since 1997 … a shocking two-thirds of these visits occur on or just after one day of the year: July Fourth. Comparatively, Independence Day sees nearly seven times as many fireworks-related injuries as New Year’s Eve each year … based on the data, we can infer that most injuries involve lighting mistakes. Over 20 percent of all hospital visits due to fireworks include an injury to the hand, and another 12 percent involve an injury of the fingers. The head also sees as a fair amount of action with 20 percent of all fireworks-related ER visits relating to the eyes, 12 percent to the face area, 3 percent to the ear, and 2 percent to the head. Less than 1 percent of reported injuries involve the “pubic region,” though this stat may not be of much comfort to the estimated 319 men who experience such an injury each year. The age distribution of these injuries is a lot younger than this title would imply: two-thirds of fireworks injuries occur in those under the legal drinking age of 21, with a peak age of 13. While it is unclear whether the victim was the firework-setter or an innocent bystander, men make up about 72 percent of all ER visits for fireworks injuries. This trend generally holds across all age and demographic groups.

Flashback — Man loses hand to fireworks in early July 4 celebration” via The Associated Press — … it happened Thursday night at a Leesburg home. The firework was attached to a wooden stake designed to be planted in the ground and had a foil-covered ball inside that explodes after launch. Witnesses told police that Brett Demascio lit the fuse, but the spark went out. He then picked up the foil-covered ball in his left hand, lit the shortened fuse and attempted to throw it. An incident report says the firework exploded early, tearing off most of the man’s hand. Demascio was airlifted to an Ocala hospital. No criminal charges were immediately filed.

Child safety group: Sparklers, fireworks are better left at home” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — The safest way to celebrate Independence Day is by leaving the fireworks displays to professionals. That’s according to Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping children out of harm’s way. “We know fireworks are fun and young kids look adorable holding those sparklers. Unfortunately, fireworks can cause serious injuries to children, including devastating burns and other injuries,” a news release from the organization reads. “Attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals. If you plan to use fireworks, make sure to follow these tips to keep your kids as safe as possible.”

’We want you to be around for the Fifth of July’: Officials warn about holiday gunfire” via Rebecca Ellis of the Miami Herald — In 1997, Rev. Jerome Starling was making his way back from the Miami Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade with his 5-year-old niece, Rickia Isaac, when she was killed by a stray bullet to her forehead. Every year since, Starling has held a news conference before New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July, imploring revelers to celebrate with fireworks — not gunfire. “He never stops,” says Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, a Miami-Dade School Board member. But, she says, “It’s almost as if nobody’s listening.” Bendross-Mindingall, Sterling, and others gathered at a news conference to drive home a fundamental law of physics to their audience: “What goes up will always go down,” says Miami Gardens Police Maj. Robin Starks. “It takes 21 years of begging and pleading,” said Starling. “I have to continue to bury them.”

— ‘MERICA — 

Disney World to livestream Fourth of July fireworks show” via Ashley Carter of Bay News 9 — Disney World will livestream “Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky” from the Magic Kingdom … The patriotic-themed show includes music and colorful displays on Cinderella Castle. The broadcast begins at 9:10 p.m. ET. The stream will be included in a new post on the Disney Parks Blog minutes before the fireworks begin.

Watch this video dedicated to the 4th of July and produced by the Majority Office of the Florida House:

Poll: On the 4th, what symbolizes the best (and worst) of America? It depends whom you ask” via Susan Page and Merdie Nganza of USA TODAY — A new USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll about patriotism finds an overwhelming majority of those surveyed say they are proud to be Americans. But they split almost down the middle, 42 percent to 39 percent, when asked whether they are proud of America right now. This year, a holiday that is designed as a moment of national unity also underscores the country’s deep divisions and the broad dissatisfaction with its government. A long-term trend toward partisanship and the superheated presidency of Trump have sharpened a debate over what defines America and what it means to be patriotic. In the survey, most say they are proud to be Americans, although Republicans feel that way more strongly (90 percent) than Democrats (61 percent). There is no consensus when asked about the country’s current course, though: 71 percent of Republicans but just 22 percent of Democrats said they are proud of America right now.

Misunderstood ‘patriotic’ songs for the Fourth of July” via Maeve McDermott of USA Today — “Born in the USA,” Bruce Springsteen: Perhaps the most famous song to be widely mistaken for a patriotic anthem, Springsteen’s famous 1984 single has been used by political candidates from Presidents Reagan to Trump. Yet, listen past the song’s booming chorus, and its lyrics tell the story of a young American kid sent against his will to fight in Vietnam, only to return home to a country arguably as hostile. “Fortunate Son,” Creedence Clearwater Revival: The song has been similarly treated as a patriotic working-class anthem, but listen past its star-spangled opening lines — “Some folks are born made to wave the flag / Ooh, they’re red, white and blue” — for John Fogerty‘s anti-establishment storytelling about how the poor were sent to fight and die in Vietnam while the wealthy were spared. “This Land Is Your Land,” Woody Guthrie: It wasn’t intended as such when the singer-songwriter, irritated by radio stations playing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” on a constant loop, wrote the song in 1940.

Feeling unpatriotic about this year’s dumb midweek Independence Day? Spain has a long-weekend solution: The puente.” via Rachelle Hampton of Slate — The puente — or bridge — weekend is a beloved Spanish tradition that entails canceling work or school on the day between a holiday and a weekend. If a holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, the preceding Monday or following Friday are absorbed into a long puente weekend. Spanish puente weekends are officially condoned and don’t require workers to take any of their paid time off. Other European countries have their own versions of the puente, including the French faire le pont (making a bridge) and the German Brückentag (bridge day). And while most bridge weekends are a result of holidays falling on a Tuesday or Thursday, it’s easy to imagine a supersized U.S. model that wouldn’t require workers to show up in the fits and starts we’ll be experiencing this week — especially for a holiday that is as ostensibly important to our government as Independence Day. Puente. It should become the new American way.

The case for a Fourth of July Seder” via Alan Burdick and Eliza Byard of The New Yorker — Independence Day should be restful, yes, but it could also be more purposeful. What the Fourth of July needs, we think, is a Seder. For those unacquainted with it, the Seder is the meal served at the beginning of Passover, the Jewish holiday that recalls and celebrates the flight of the Israelites from bondage in ancient Egypt. It is a ceremony replete with symbolic foods (bitter herbs, invoking the bitterness of slavery; matzo, the bread of affliction) and ritual acts (hand-washing, blessings over wine). It’s also an adaptable holiday, responsive to its audiences through the ages and to changing historical tides. What would a good Fourth of July Seder look like? One core ritual, easily carried out in ten minutes, should be to read the Declaration of Independence out loud. It’s a declaration; let’s declare it. And one more thing: a proper Seder requires that you invite a stranger to your celebration, someone who is wandering alone in the desert, beyond the borders of your community. That shouldn’t be hard to find.

The Statue of Liberty” via Miss Cellania of Neatorama.com — The story of the statue begins with the American Civil War. When fighting broke out in 1861, the rest of the world watched with rapt attention: Could the grand experiment in democracy survive? The United States had been an inspiration to the French, who were locked in a cycle of extremism, swinging between bloody democratic revolutions and imperial autocracy. When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated April 15, 1865, the French were crushed. More than 40,000 grieving citizens contributed to a fund to award Lincoln’s widow a gold medal … It was in this climate, in the summer of 1865, that a group of prominent Frenchmen were discussing politics at a dinner party given by Edouard René de Laboulaye, a prominent historian and law professor … He proposed that France give America a monument to liberty and independence in honor of her upcoming centennial. After all, tens of thousands of Frenchmen had just contributed to a medal for Mary Todd Lincoln-how much harder could it be to pony up for a statue? Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, an up-and-coming sculptor … wanted his monument to be just as inspiring, and his sketches leaned on the popular imagery of the time-broken chains, upheld torches, crowns meant to represent the rising sun … Bartholdi didn’t want “Liberty Enlightening the World” to be just a tribute to American freedom. The statue had to send a pointed message to France that democracy works. It didn’t take long for Bartholdi to perfect his vision for the sculpture. Getting the statue actually built, however, was another matter … Given the statue’s message, backing from the French government seemed unlikely … Laboulaye had an idea: What if he and Bartholdi pitched the project as a joint venture between the two countries? As a show of their shared friendship, France could provide the statue and America the pedestal … Bartholdi’s workmen started by creating a 4-foot model. Then they doubled the size. Then they quadrupled it to create a 38-foot-tall plaster model. The workmen then broke down the structure into 300 sections, taking each piece and enlarging it to precisely four times its size. The result? A full-scale model of the final statue — in pieces! On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was finally ready. New York held its first-ever ticker tape parade for her unveiling. And while hundreds of thousands cheered from Manhattan, only 2,000 people were on the island when she was finally opened to the public — a “tidy, quiet crowd,” an officer on duty told The New York Times.

— OPINION — 

Uncle Luke: Philip Levine should be Florida’s next Governor” via Luther Campbell for the Miami New Times — Levine is going to be the next governor of Florida. And the Democratic Party is running scared because Levine doesn’t need the liberal money machine to win. That’s why I am endorsing him. The good ol’ boys of the Republican Party don’t want to face Levine, either. He will knock out Putnam or DeSantis, two Trump wannabes who don’t have the charisma to win the governor’s race. That’s because Levine has the guts to bet on himself. From his own pocket, he’s contributed about one-third of the $8.7 million raised by All About Florida, the political action committee paying for his TV ads across the state. Levine has used his media advantage to take on Florida’s most dangerous special interest group, the National Rifle Association, and position himself as the most progressive leader on the ballot. When politicians have to count on other people’s money to get elected, they are beholden to special interests … Once he takes control of the state capitol, Levine is going to outsmart and outplay all the racist North Florida crackers who have kept us down for so long.

Blake Dowling: Happy Fourth of July” via Florida Politics — Our nation and our state are both the greatest in the land. We have so many to thank for this, our armed forces, first responders, law-abiding citizens that vote, the media, government employees, athletes, the business community, even rock-n-rollers and anyone involved in The Process. But before we can thank the citizens, and today’s leaders, we must look to where it all began. Let us look to the past, as it took a lot of guts, courage (and a little luck) for us to become the best nation on earth. Thomas Jefferson presented the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in the days before July 4, 1776. The full Congress debated and changed the document on July 2 and July 3. On July 4, the wording was ratified and ready to roll. However, the final copy of the Declaration of Independence wasn’t officially finalized until two weeks later; it wasn’t signed until Aug. 2. Although the anniversary was celebrated each year, did you know that the Fourth of July did not become an official holiday until 1941? Be safe as you head out to celebrate our Independence Day and enjoy all the freedoms that our great nation has to offer thanks to the courage and sacrifice of so many.

Joe Henderson: This wonderful place called America belongs to all of us” via Florida Politics — It’s perfectly fine for everyone to bask in a love-of-country glow on the Fourth because — and this important — no group or individual has a copyright on patriotism. I think some folks forget that. Conservatives generally claimed exclusivity on patriotism a long time ago, and unfortunately, liberals and even moderates let them do it. So, that’s how we get all this rubbish about how only ultrapatriotic conservatives can represent the “true” America. That just ain’t so. Actually, this kind of robust division could be just what the Founding Fathers had in mind. Ultimately, we are governed by laws that stipulate what can or can’t be done, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some rootin’ tootin’ arguments about what those laws should be. I wish we looked at each other that way more often because those values can bring us together more than the forces of division can tear us apart. So light up the grill. Put on the burgers and hot dogs. Scoop the potato salad. Or don’t.

Classic column — All fired up for the Fourth via Dave Barry — This year, why not hold an old-fashioned Fourth of July Picnic? Food poisoning is one good reason. After a few hours in the sun, ordinary potato salad can develop bacteria the size of raccoons. But don’t let the threat of agonizingly painful death prevent you from celebrating the birth of our nation, just as Americans have been doing ever since that historic first July Fourth when our Founding Fathers — George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Bob Dole and Tony Bennett — landed on Plymouth Rock. Step one in planning your picnic is to decide on a menu. Martha Stewart has loads of innovative suggestions for unique, imaginative and tasty summer meals. So you can forget about her. “If Martha Stewart comes anywhere near my picnic, she’s risking a barbecue fork to the eyeball” should be your patriotic motto. Because you’re having a traditional Fourth of July picnic, and that means a menu of hot dogs charred into cylinders of industrial-grade carbon, and hamburgers so undercooked that when people try to eat them, they leap off the plate and frolic on the lawn like otters. Dad should be in charge of the cooking, because only Dad, being a male of the masculine gender, has the mechanical “know-how” to operate a piece of technology as complex as a barbecue grill. To be truly traditional, the grill should be constructed of the following materials: 4 percent “rust-resistant” steel; 58 percent rust; 23 percent hardened black grill scunge from food cooked as far back as 1987 (the scunge should never be scraped off, because it is what is actually holding the grill together); 15 percent spiders … After the traditional visit to the hospital emergency room, it’s time to gather ’round and watch Uncle Bill set off the fireworks that he purchased from a roadside stand operated by people who spend way more on tattoos than dental hygiene.

— MOVEMENTS — 

Spotted: Former U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire on Fox Business — He was commenting on an ongoing ethics investigation into U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt. Altmire also brought up Attorney General Pam Bondi being heckled by protesters at a Tampa showing of a Mr. Rogers documentary. “When you move politics in that direction, when it becomes so ugly, that really turns off the independent voters and the swing voters that the Democrats are going to need to retake the House,” Altmire said. The Keystone State native, known as a centrist Democrat, represented western Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District. He has since written a book, “Dead Center: How Political Polarization Divided America and What We Can Do about It.” Watch by clicking here.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Allyce Heflin, Southern Strategy Group: Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County, Florida State College at Jacksonville Foundation

Lawrence Gonzalez, Law Office of Lawrence A. Gonzalez: Electrolysis Society of Florida

Danny JordanSamuel VergheseDon YaegerJeanette Yaeger, One Eighty Consulting: HVJT Consulting on behalf of Dell Technologies

Paul MitchellMonte Stevens, Southern Strategy Group: CertiPay PEO Solutions

Jenna Paladino, Paladino Public Affairs: IMCS Group

— ALOE — 

AAA: July 4th holiday will inspire record travel” via Jim Abbott of DailyCommercial.com — A record-breaking number of Americans, roughly 46 million, will travel for the upcoming July 4th holiday … running from Tuesday through Sunday, July 3-8. In Florida, nearly 2.4 million residents will travel during the holiday weekend, according to AAA. That’s a 6.3 percent increase over the 2017 holiday and represents nearly 142,000 more travelers than last year. On the highways, nearly 2.1 million Floridians will take a road trip, an increase of 121,000 over the same period in 2017, which equals a 6.2 percent jump. By air, AAA estimates that 184,000 Floridians will fly to a destination, a 7.7 percent increase that represents 13,000 more air travelers than last year. Also in Florida, nearly 137,000 Floridians will travel by train, bus, or cruise ship, a 6 percent increase that’s a growth of roughly 8,000 more passengers over last year.

Consumers to spend a little less on food for Fourth of July this year due to it falling on Wednesday — The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) expects total spending nationally of $6.9 billion is still the second-highest on record and per person expenditure of $75.35 is a record … $6.9 billion on food for cookouts and picnics, down slightly from last year’s record of $7.1 billion as fewer people say they will turn out for the Wednesday holiday … over 216 million Americans (87 percent) plan to observe Independence Day, down slightly from last year’s 219 million (88 percent). Nearly 153 million (62 percent) are planning a cookout or picnic, spending an average of $75.35 per person, a record topping last year’s $73.42. Other Independence Day celebrations include fireworks or a community celebration (106 million) and attending a parade (30 million). Fourth of July is also a favorite time for traveling with 31 million planning to head out of town. That’s down from last year’s 33 million, and 25 percent said higher gas prices would affect their plans, but the decline in travel could also be related to the timing of the holiday.

Spending may be down, just a little, for a Wednesday Independence Day.

Eight American sparkling wines for a festive Fourth of July” via Megan Krigbaum of Bloomberg — Winemakers in the past few years have embraced a style of sparkling wine called pétillant naturel (pet-nat), in which wines finish in the bottle, without the usual addition of yeast and sugar for a second fermentation. A much quicker and cost-efficient process, it’s allowed smaller producers to gain a toehold in the sparkling wine market, too. Since there’s never been a better moment to drink some fizz from the States, here are eight quality bottles to pop off your Fourth of July: 2017 Bonny Doon La Bulle Moose de Cigare; 2017 Broc Cellars Chenin Blanc Pétillant; 2017 Birichino Pétulant Naturel Malvasia Bianca; NV Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay; 2013 Onabay Vineyards Blanc de Blanc; 2015 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs; 2013 Under the Wire Alder Springs Pinot Noir Sparkling Rosé; 2013 Soter Mineral Springs Brut Rosé.

Independence Days from across the multiverse” via Katharine Trendacosta of i09.gizmodo.com — Where there’s society, there’s a foundation story. And where there’s government, there’s a holiday to instill patriotism and pride. So here are the ways fiction has commemorated independence from an oppressor, the end of a Civil War, or just the day certain documents were signed and the current government came into existence: First Contact Day, Star Trek … First Contact Day is (will be? Stupid time travel.) April 5, 2063. On that day, Zefram Cochrane pilots Earth’s first warp-capable ship, drawing the attention of a Vulcan ship. Colonial Day, Battlestar Galactica … OK, so this one is a celebration of the conclusion of what were surely long diplomatic talks. Empire Day and Republic Day, Star Wars … What the galaxy far, far away lacks in creative naming, it makes up for in quantity. If you are Empirically inclined, there’s Empire Day. If you’re a fan of the Republic, there’s Republic Day. Unification Day, Firefly … The Unification Day marks the day the Alliance defeated the Browncoats in the Unification War. Freedom Day, Futurama … Now, it’s never explicitly stated that Freedom Day marks some sort of founding, but it’s pretty heavily based on the Fourth of July, is celebrated by/on Earth, and is particularly celebrated in the Earth’s capital of Washington D.C. Honorable Mentions … Creator’s Day, Discworld … Skynet Becomes Self-Aware, Terminator.

Happy birthday to our friend, James Kotas, of Darden. Also celebrating is state Rep. Barbara Watson.

Last Call for 7.3.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

First, a program note: Last Call will be on break till next Monday. We wish a safe and happy July 4 holiday to all our readers.

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office is advising a small Miami-Dade town that discussions of school “security system plans” generally could be held in secret under the state’s Sunshine Laws.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Ellen B. Gwynn wrote an “informal” opinion, dated Tuesday, for the Town of Bay Harbor Islands.

The opinion follows a Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Broward County, that left 17 dead, including 14 students.

Florida law provides for public records and open government meetings, save for a long line of exemptions.

Overall, “public meetings and records related to security systems and/or security system plans are confidential and exempt,” Gwynn said.

“The Town must decide on a case-by-case basis whether a proposed discussion would ‘relate directly to’ a security system,” Gwynn wrote, quoting statute. “Each proposed discussion will involve a new set of facts that the government must evaluate, adhering closely to the statutory language.”

The town attorney said officials there wanted “to discuss the Town’s security system plans for the school facilities” and wanted those meetings to “be closed to the public, and the records produced from such meetings … kept free from public access or disclosure,” the opinion explained.

Bay Harbor Islands and the Miami-Dade School Board “are parties to a Joint Use Agreement that allows the School Board to use certain Town property, and the Town to use certain facilities of the Ruth K. Broad Bay Harbor K-8 Center.”

“Simply stated, during school hours, the School Board is required to provide the security of the outdoor and school facilities. During non-school hours, the Town is required to provide the security of the outdoor and school facilities,” the opinion said.

Gwynn offered that “there is very little case law dealing with records that relate to security systems and security system plans,” and “the question of exemption from public meetings has not been addressed by any court.”

But she also noted a Florida Supreme Court opinion: “When in doubt, the members of any board, agency, authority or commission should follow the open-meeting policy of the state.”

The full opinion is here.

Evening Reads

Concealed weapon permit review finds mistakes in Florida” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press

Bill Nelson says he wants to debate Rick Scott but won’t say when” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Ex-Dem IT staffer slammed by Donald Trump pleads guilty to bank fraud” via John Bresnahan of POLITICO Florida

This could be the year that a woman wins Florida’s Governor’s seat” via MSNBC

Adam Putnam attack ads funded by dark money group with ties to mega-donor Joe Ricketts” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm

Fracking appears to be out: Group gets Ron DeSantis to voice support for ban” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Abolish ICE? No, say these two vulnerable Florida Democrats” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

 “Contractor claims shady deal by chief of hurricane recovery funding” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida

Florida’s year-round daylight saving time law on hold in Congress” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

Fisherman catches brick of marijuana off the coast of Florida” via Caitlin O’Kane of CBS News

Quote of the Day

“More freedom, less fraud.” — state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, arguing for a change to state law that allows people to buy fireworks only if they agree to use them to scare birds “from agricultural works and fish hatcheries.”

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

State offices will be closed because of the Independence Day holiday.

The Vietnam Veterans of America Big Bend Chapter 96 will conduct a reading of the Declaration of Independence by an actor dressed as Ben Franklin. That’s at 8 a.m., Old Capitol front steps, Tallahassee.

Republican candidate for Governor Adam Putnam will take part in a 4th of July parade in Bay County, his campaign announced. That’s at 9 a.m. Central time, A.L. Kinsaul Park, 1146 West 5th St., Lynn Haven. Media who plan to attend should email meredithb@adamputnam.com to register.

Emma Collum, a Democratic candidate for House District 93, will take part in a 4th of July parade in Broward County. That’s at 10 a.m., starting at Town Hall, 4505 N. Ocean Drive, Lauderdale by the Sea.   

Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Denise Grimsley will participate in the annual Naples 4th of July parade. That’s at 10 a.m. The parade begins on Broad Avenue South and ends on 8th Avenue South and 8th Street South in downtown Naples.

Democratic candidate for governor Gwen Graham will march in Brandon’s annual 4th of July Parade with state Sen. Darryl Rouson and supporters. That’s at 10 a.m., 101 E. Lumsden Rd., Brandon.

Former Miami Beach mayor and Democratic candidate for Governor Philip Levine will be participating in the 59th annual 4th of July parade in Key Biscayne. That’s at 10:45 a.m., 107-1 Fernwood Rd., Key Biscayne.

Looking Ahead

The Florida Supreme Court is scheduled to release its weekly opinions Thursday, 11 a.m.

The Agency for Health Care Administration has scheduled a meeting about the repeal of rules for clinical laboratories. That’s Thursday, 2 p.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.

Staff members for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will hold “mobile” office hours in Volusia County. That’s Thursday, 2:30 p.m., Ormond Beach Library, 30 South Beach St., Ormond Beach.

The Suwannee River Water Management District will hold a meeting to discuss a water-supply assessment. That’s Thursday, 6 p.m., district headquarters, 9225 County Road 49, Live Oak.

The Agency for Health Care Administration has scheduled a meeting about a rule involving bone marrow transplantation. That’s Friday, 9 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.

The Agency for Health Care Administration has scheduled a workshop about updating Medicaid reimbursement schedules and billing codes. That’s Friday, 1:30 p.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.3.18

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

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

Because we took a few days off during #AreTheSchorschesOnAnotherDisneyCruise?, we won’t begrudge our rivals at POLITICO Florida mailing it in just because one of them is on #CaputoVacation.

That said, we begin the morning, with two first-on-#FlaPol items …

The first is about how the Sunshine State is dominating Maverick PAC’s Future 40 list.

Four of the Sunshine State politicos making the 2018 list should be familiar to the Tallahassee crowd: AT&T Florida Vice President Governmental Affairs and Policy J.C. Flores, Anheuser-Busch Companies Region Vice President for State Affairs Jose Gonzalez, RightNOW Executive Director Bettina Inclan and former Volunteer Florida CEO and current Director of AmeriCorps Chester Spellman.

Also making the list were Nicole Gomez, Chief of Staff to the City of North Miami Beach Mayor and Commission; Alexander Gray, Special Assistant to the President for the Defense Industrial Base at the White House Office of Trade & Manufacturing Policy; Audrey Henson, the founder and CEO of College to Congress; and Roy Milan Schultheis, an entrepreneur who started a financing and real estate company, while simultaneously working as chief strategist and partner at a business consulting firm.

The second item is about Sean Spicer making a pair of visits to Florida for new book tour.

Spicer’s book, “The Briefing: Politics, the Press, and the President,” is set for release later this month. Spicer is scheduled to hold a book signing in The Villages on August 9 at the Barnes & Noble in Lake Sumter Market Square. Then, on August 10, Spicer will sit down in West Palm Beach at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches.

The new book is set to detail Spicer’s time as press secretary, “shedding new light on the headline-grabbing controversies of the Trump administration’s first year,” according to a release promoting the book tour.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@DTOhi: President Donald Trump has denied Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley’s request to lower flags to half-staff to honor the @capgaznews victims.

@KlasfeldReports: NEW: The government received more than 1.3 million of Michael Cohen‘s files not designated as privileged, partially privileged or highly personal today. The Trump Organization is reviewing the 22,633 remaining files, with a deadline of Thursday.

@ForecasterEnten: So from what I can tell based off an average of live interview of polls over the last month that yes, 2018 would be the largest gender gap on record since at least 1958 for a midterm election.

@BradHerold — Over 800 people in Sanibel this morning to see ⁦@SeanHannity⁩, @RonDeSantisFL and ⁦@MattGaetz⁩. Only thing getting barbecued today is ⁦@AdamPutnam⁩’s record.

@JeffWeinerOS: Today in Very Florida News: an incident report from a local law enforcement agency just arrived, informing that an alligator trapped a 15-year-old girl in a tree, so a deputy shot it with an AR-15.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 5; MLB All-Star Game — 14; Deadline for filing claim bills — 29; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in West Palm Beach — 30; Start of the U.S. Open — 55; Primary Election Day — 56; College Football opening weekend — 58; NFL season starts — 56; Future of Florida Forum — 85; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 112; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 113; General Election Day — 126; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 226; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 245.

— TOP STORY —

Bill Nelson expects to oppose Trump’s Supreme Court nominee” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — “Obviously I have to wait and see who the nominee is, but if, as President Trump has suggested, he’s going to have a litmus test — and he said this over and over — on Roe V. Wade, then I’m not going to be voting for some justice who’s going to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Nelson said following a Tampa news conference with local environmental advocates. Abortion is not the only key issue Nelson worries about with a new Supreme Court justice. “How about upholding the Affordable Care Act that has given health insurance and health care to 23 million people in this country that never had it before?” Nelson said.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Rick Scott charges Nelson with being Democratic ‘rubber stamp’ on judicial votes” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — A new ad, “Rubber Stamp,” levies the charges related to judicial votes, asserting that “President Obama nominated more than 300 judges … Nelson did not vote against a single one.” The ad deems Nelson to be “a complete party line politician … a rubber stamp for party leaders [who] voted against Supreme Court Justice [NeilGorsuch.” … “Bill Nelson’s voting history shows that he puts partisan politics before Floridians, even when it comes to something as important as judicial nominations,” said Lauren Schenone, press secretary for Scott for Florida.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

 

Nelson: Feds must provide answers about reuniting migrant children with parents” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — “We are deeply concerned by reports of chaotic attempts to reunify parents and children that have been separated at the border,” read a letter to the head of the Department of Health and Human Services signed by Nelson and other Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. “To help us better understand the current status of reunification efforts, as well as your agencies’ plans to improve and hasten reunification, we request that you provide us with the following information by July 6, 2018, with weekly updates and briefings on your progress until all families are reunited.”

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Sean Hannity brings star power to Governor’s race” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — “I want people like Congressman [RonDeSantis, they are the people who have delivered, please help them,” the Fox News host told a crowd of nearly 500 at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott as he kicked off a string of three Florida appearances with DeSantis. Hannity brings some star power to the race and could give DeSantis — who has been trailing in the polls and in fundraising against Adam Putnam — a badly needed boost. According to Ad Week, Hannity had the largest audience of any cable news host in May, with 3.3 million viewers on average. While Hannity offered general praise for DeSantis, he mostly focused on the national political climate and rallying Republicans to get out and vote in November.

Tweet, tweet:

 

Putnam, Ashley Moody top another Central Florida straw poll” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — This poll was taken Saturday evening among 191 attendees of the Red White & Blue BBQ hosted by three Central Florida Republican women’s clubs: Republicans in Action, Orlando Republican Women Federation, and the Winter Park Republican Women Federation. Putnam easily topped Republican gubernatorial primary rival U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis 125-40, with Bob White and Bruce Nathan each picking up a few votes. Former Circuit Court Judge Moody beat state Rep. Frank White 115 to 41 among top Republican candidates for the Florida Attorney General’s job. Those preferences and margins are consistent with the straw polls conducted last week by the Casselberry Chamber of Commerce and the Seminole Republican Executive Committee.

First on #FlaPol —George Soros’ quarter-mil benefits Andrew Gillum political committee” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Gillum has the help of two prominent billionaires, with one of them (Soros) again in late June ponying up $250,000 to Gillum’s Forward Florida political committee. This is the second quarter-million contribution made by Soros to the committee; he has given $700,000 total since the beginning of the campaign cycle, with Alex Soros giving an additional $50,000. Soros’ support shows that Gillum, whose campaign has been bottom-of-the-pack in terms of fundraising throughout much of the 2018 cycle, is enjoying timely help from left-wing billionaires just as voters begin to pay attention.

PolitiFact Florida: Gillum’s largely accurate attack on Philip Levine’s record” via Allison Graves of PolitiFact Florida — Under Levine, Miami Beach “passed a resolution to ban assault rifles, which was not enforceable and never enforced. He passed a resolution to raise the minimum wage, which actually no one got the benefit of because it was not enforced,” Tallahassee Mayor Gillum said June 9 in a debate. Gillum’s claim is largely accurate. He could have been more precise in describing the legislative action Miami Beach took, but his general idea for both initiatives is accurate. The assault weapon “ban” that Levine talks about was a symbolic resolution, not an actual ban. And the minimum wage increase was struck down before taking effect in 2018. We rate this claim Mostly True.

Bob Graham endorses Sean Shaw for Attorney General” via Florida Politics — Graham, Florida’s former Governor and U.S. Senator, on Monday endorsed state Rep. Shaw to be the next Attorney General. The two Democrats appeared at a news conference in Miami. Graham mentioned Shaw’s father, the late Florida Supreme Court justice Leander J. Shaw Jr., as a “pillar of the legal profession in Florida.” He appointed Shaw, who went on to become the state’s first black chief justice, to the court in 1983. His “service on our state’s Supreme Court was a model in what it means to use the law as our great equalizer,” Graham said in a statement. “Sean Shaw is the embodiment of the values his father put into action each day … I am proud to endorse him to be Florida’s next Attorney General because I know he will put those values into action by fighting for common sense gun safety legislation, smart criminal justice reforms, and more resources to fight the opioid epidemic.”

Family ties: Surrounded by local faith and community leaders, former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham endorsed Sean Shaw to be Florida’s next Attorney General at a Monday news conference in Miami. Graham had appointed Shaw’s dad, the late Leander J. Shaw Jr., to the state Supreme Court in the 1980s; his daughter Gwen also is running for governor this year.

Assignment editors — U.S. Rep. Al Lawson holds an open house at his campaign headquarters, 4:30 — 7 p.m., 1680 Dunn Avenue, Jacksonville.

An early voice in the ‘abolish ICE’ movement, congressional candidate Chardo Richardson sees profile bump” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Richardson just got credit from The New York Times for helping start the movement to abolish ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and he’s gotten an endorsement from the new progressive hero Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “People are finally ready for change. They’re ready to stop corporations from controlling legislation,” Richardson told the Orlando Sentinel after her victory. “If anybody had the ability to win, it was her. And I’m feeling the same here.” The two are members of Brand New Congress, a liberal group that is taking aim at centrists such as U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy. Ocasio-Cortez appeared alongside Richardson at the University of Central Florida last year, where they discussed DACA.

Tweet, tweet:

 

Florida’s top labor union endorses Lauren Baer” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Florida’s chapter of the AFL-CIO is endorsing Democrat Baer in her bid to unseat one-term GOP Rep. Brian Mast in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. The AFL-CIO is the largest federation of unions in the country. The Florida chapter represents more than 500 local labor unions, ten councils, and more than one million union members, retirees and their families in the state. “Lauren Baer is committed to fighting for workers’ rights,” said Pat Emmert, president of the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast AFL-CIO. “She has the right experience and approach that is required to get things done for workers. Lauren understands that everyone is better off when workers are treated fairly and with respect.”

Alan Grayson puts up ‘Dump Trump’ billboard for CD 9 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The former Democratic congressman seeking to win his seat back in Florida’s 9th Congressional District is putting up billboard’s declaring, in huge writing, “DUMP TRUMP,” as a campaign slogan. At least one has appeared, on U.S. Highway 27 in Polk County, featuring Grayson’s picture and the message: “VOTE FOR ALAN GRAYSON AUG. 28 PRIMARY.” It could attract angry Democratic voters in a primary election who might otherwise not be doing much to compare Grayson with his August 28 Democratic primary opponent, incumbent U.S. Rep. Darren Soto.

New TV ad urges Carlos Curbelo to find a solution for families separated at the border” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Equity Forward Action, a group that seeks to protect access to abortions and reproductive care, is running a television ad in Miami Republican Rep. Curbelo‘s district, urging him to find a solution for families separated at the border. The weeklong, six-figure ad-buy begins today and will run in English. “The U.S. government separated thousands of children from their families,” the ad said. “At every turn, Congressman Curbelo has failed to deliver results. Now we need him to act. Families need to be reunified. Call Congressman Curbelo, tell him to help clean up this mess and hold the administration accountable.” Curbelo tried to pass an immigration bill in the House of Representatives this week that allowed families to be detained together at the border, but the measure failed after all Democrats and nearly half of House Republicans voted against the bill for different reasons.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

 

—“Humane Society legislative fund endorses Curbelo” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

First in Sunburn — Florida retailers endorse Ed Hooper for SD 16 — The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) PAC is endorsing Hooper, a Republican and former member of the Florida House, in the race for Senate District 16, a Pinellas/Pasco County seat formerly held by Jack Latvala. “As a member of the House, Representative Hooper supported legislation that enhanced Florida’s job creation efforts, including our retail industry,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. “As a Senator, we know he’ll continue this effort and work toward ways to make Florida the best state for business.” As a legislator, Hooper focused on reducing taxes and ensuring Florida has the right economic environment for small businesses to flourish, Shalley added. As a state Representative, he was named Deputy Majority Whip and has helped secure billions of dollars in tax relief.

Janet Cruz raises $61K, refunds $10K in June” via Florida Politics — Cruz raised just over $31,000 for her campaign account and another $30,000 for her political committee, Building the Bay PC, during the reporting period ending June 22. Those contributions were offset by about $2,500 in spending and a further $9,300 in refunded contributions. Before Cruz filed for SD 18 in mid-April, she was a candidate for the District 1 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission. She raised nearly $66,000 for the campaign before quitting and moving about $63,000 in unspent funds to her Senate campaign. Those refunds are due to a state campaign finance law that requires candidates to offer prorated refunds to their donors if they switch from one race to another. Since filing for SD 18, 13 donors have asked Cruz for their money back, a dozen of them in June.

South Florida pols back Daphne Campbell’s re-election bidvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — As state Sen. Campbell tries to fend off a tough primary challenge from Miami attorney Jason Pizzo, her campaign announced a new round of endorsements from four city commissioners. Commissioners Robert Shelley of Aventura, Anthony DeFillipo of North Miami Beach, Maxwell Chambers of Miramar and Luciano L. Suarez of West Miami all say they’re throwing their support behind the incumbent. They add to the list of local officials backing Campbell as she fights to hold onto her Senate District 38 seat.

Teacher union backs Jason Pizzo for SD 38” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The state’s largest teacher union is backing Miami attorney Pizzo over incumbent Sen. Campbell in the Democratic primary for Senate District 38. “On behalf of the 140,000 members of the Florida Education Association, we applaud Jason Pizzo’s decision to seek public office. FEA chose to endorse his candidacy as a recognition of his advocacy for teachers and support professionals, as well as his support for neighborhood public schools in Florida,” said FEA President Joanne McCall. … The FEA endorsement comes a few days after Pizzo landed the endorsement of the United Teachers of Dade. Other unions backing his campaign include AFSCME and the Florida AFL-CIO … “For the state of Florida to realize its greatest potential, we must support our educators and school staff so that they can deliver on the promise of a better future,” Pizzo said. “With FEA’s support, we add a trusted partner in the fight to raise teacher pay and provide them the tools and resources they need to shape the next generation of leaders.” … Pizzo was the second-place finisher in the 2016 Democratic primary for SD 38, taking 24 percent of the vote to Campbell’s 31 percent. … The pair were the only candidates to qualify for the ballot in SD 38, meaning all voters, regardless of party affiliation, will get to vote in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary.

Wyman Duggan closing in on Tracye Polson in HD 15 money race” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Polson brought in $3,647 to her campaign account, which now has roughly $115,000 on hand; the account of her political committee added another $800, pushing that tally to $14,000 on hand. Polson still leads the money race, but on the strength of his best reporting period since Oct. 2017, Duggan is closing in. Duggan brought in $13,800 to his campaign account in June (pushing the total near $121,000 on hand), driven by establishment support from J.B. Coxwell, W.W. Gay, and CSX Transportation. Running behind Duggan and Polson: the two other Republicans in the race.

—“Clay Yarborough maintains money lead in HD 12 re-election bid” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

—“In HD 16, incumbent Jason Fischer expands money lead over Democratic challenger” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

— SIGN OF THE TIMES —

Democratic federal lawmakers from the mostly blue state of Massachusetts have noticed an extreme uptick in intern applications. 

And, writes James Sullivan for The Boston Globe, that could mean more than an excess of coffee and copies on Capitol Hill. 

Per Sullivan, “These young people, part of a generation formerly considered largely unengaged politically, appear primed for action.”

‘No surprise’: A Pew Research Center survey “found that the president’s approval rating is lower among millennials than Generation X’ers or baby boomers.” Similarly, the Harvard Public Opinion Project reported recently that young voters could increase turnout by nearly 30 percent this midterm, compared to 2014. 

The offices: U.S. Representatives Katherine Clark, Joe Kennedy III, Seth Moulton, Jim McGovern and Bill Keating all reported a surge in intern applications. Likewise for Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey. 

Florida connection: Young, wide-eyed students aren’t just looking to work on the Hill. One source in the story works for HeadCount, a group aiming to register young voters. The Parkland survivors who recently launched a two-month tour around the U.S. will coordinate with HeadCount. 

— STATEWIDE —

Scott orders money for homelessness preventionvia Florida Politics — Gov. Scott says he instructed “the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) to file a budget amendment to redirect funding for homelessness prevention services.” Scott announced the move in a Monday news release. “The Florida Legislature provided DCF spending authority in the FY 2018-19 budget, but did not provide dollars needed to fund these important services,” the news release said. “DCF has identified $3.1 million in funding that may be redirected to help fill this gap — a process which requires legislative approval through the Legislative Budget Commission.” “While it’s concerning that that this funding was not provided in this year’s budget, I am proud that DCF will be able to redirect money to combat homelessness,” Scott said in a statement. “I encourage the Legislature to quickly approve this budget amendment that will fund programs that served nearly 13,000 Floridians last year.”

Scott awards final batch of ‘job growth’ dollars” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Scott’s office announced more than $16 million from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund would be set aside for six applicants, with the largest amount, $5.5 million, going for water, sewer and roadway improvements to assist the Florida Crossroads Commerce Park in Marion County. The state’s 2017-2018 budget year ended Saturday. And with the new fiscal year starting Sunday, a second pool of $85 million immediately became available to Scott and — depending on how much he uses — his successor after Scott leaves office in January.

Rick Scott makes money moves.

Pam Bondi up, Carlos Lopez-Cantera down in new wealth report” via the News Service of Florida — With much of her wealth in her home and a condominium, Attorney General Bondi reported a net worth of $1.84 million as of the end of 2017, according to a financial-disclosure report filed last week. Bondi’s net worth was up from about $1.7 million at the end of 2016. Her only reported income was $128,871 from the state. Lt. Gov. LopezCantera had a net worth of $8 million at the end of 2017, down slightly from a year earlier, according to a newly filed financial-disclosure report. A large part of Lopez-Cantera’s assets came from stakes in real estate partnerships in Miami-Dade County. He also reported a $1 million residence in Coral Gables. His $124,256 in state pay was by far his largest source of income during the year.

Latvala prosecution decision will likely come next week” via Florida Politics — The capital area’s top prosecutor said Monday a decision whether to press charges in the Latvala investigation wouldn’t come till next week at the earliest. A spokesperson for State Attorney Jack Campbell said Friday a decision could have come as early as this week. Campbell called Florida Politics Monday morning to say he was now “getting deeper” into the 90-page report. “I am off the Fourth and taking off Thursday and Friday, so I can promise I will not offer an opinion before then,” he said. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has delivered its findings to Campbell, the chief elected prosecutor for the 2nd Judicial Circuit, which includes Tallahassee. Latvala, a former state Senator from Clearwater, was under investigation for months following complaints of sexual misconduct that led to his resignation from office in December.

Teachers union sues over contentious education bill” via Florida Politics — The Florida Education Association (FEA) is asking a court to declare unconstitutional the Legislature’s controversial education bill that could lead to some teacher unions across the state being decertified. Among other things, HB 7055, which took effect July 1, expands the use of voucher-like scholarships to send more public-school students to private schools. But it also “unfairly targets teachers unions — and teachers unions alone — for decertification as local bargaining agents,” the association said in a news release. Its suit, filed in Leon County Circuit Civil court, names members of the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission as defendants because they are charged “with implementing and enforcing the provisions” of the law.

State finally makes progress on 32nd day of SunPass disaster” via Noah Pransky of WTSP — Sources in Tallahassee confirm the Florida Department of Transportation is close to fixing its broken SunPass tolling system. The Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) has slowly started processing a backlog of approximately 100 million toll transactions … larger numbers of transactions are likely to start posting after the July 4 holiday. The electronic tolling upgrade, designed to consolidate many of the state’s large tolling authorities on a single billing system, was supposed to last from June 6-11. However, the state’s chosen contractor, Conduent, had failed to get the system to work properly the entire month.

Families of 17 killed in Stoneman Douglas Shooting to receive $400K each” via NBC Miami — The Broward Education Foundation and the Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund Steering Committee announced they would begin disbursing the money on July 16. The $10.5 million was raised through the official GoFundMe set up after the Feb. 14 tragedy and includes gifts from nearly 37,000 individuals, companies, foundations and organizations. In addition to the money paid to the 17 victims’ families, $1.63 million will go to each of the people injured by a gunshot. Another 434 people who were in the 1200 building when the shooting happened will receive $2,500, and 1,048 who were on campus but not in the building will each receive $1,000.

80 percent of Lake Okeechobee smothered in blue-green algae bloom” via Ed Killer of TCPalm — A European satellite orbiting the Earth captured images showing the algae bloom has grown to encompass nearly all open water on the 730-square-mile lake. “As you can see, the bloom has gotten worse and is more intense,” wrote Michelle Tomlinson, an oceanographer with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency distributing the imagery. “We estimate that 80 percent of the lake is covered on June 29, based on the pixels visible in the imagery.” The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said the algae tested in the lake is toxic with microcystin … the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would suspend discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the C-44 Canal for nine days, which began June 30.

NOAA satellite images show Lake Okeechobee is nearly 80 percent covered by a cyanobacteria bloom. (Image via NOAA)

Relocation of Confederate general statue receiving some pushback” via Sasha Cordner of WFSU — A new law took effect allowing a statue of civil rights activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune be placed in National Statuary Hall, replacing Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith. To get that change over the finish line during the 2018 Legislative Session, the Florida legislature directed the Department of State to make sure Smith’s statue got a proper home that was open to the public … the Lake County Historical Society and Museum won the right to relocate Smith’s statue. Not everyone from St. Augustine agrees with Lake County winning the bid … Tom Graham is the Historic St. Augustine Research Institute Coordinator for Flagler College. He’s also a member of the Confederate Monument Contextualization Advisory Committee in St. Augustine. Graham had hoped his city could win the bid. Others don’t even want Smith’s statue removed from the U.S. Capitol. That includes Kelly Crocker with the Florida Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans … he understands the good intentions behind those who petitioned to have the statue brought to their Florida location. “And, I’m sure that they mean well, but I don’t believe our state property — General Smith’s statue — should be sold to the highest bidder.”

Hearing date set in Rick Fernandez ethics case” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — The hearing is scheduled for Aug. 21-23 at the DeSoto Building before Administrative Law Judge W. David Watkins. However, it’s possible the trial-like proceeding will be pushed back. The Florida Commission on Ethics advocate, Elizabeth Miller, who serves as prosecutor in the case, and Fernandez‘s lawyer, Bucky Mitchell of Tallahassee, indicated in a jointly filed document that they might seek a later date for the hearing. “It is likely the parties may file a joint motion to continue for the court’s consideration,” Miller wrote.

Tasered teen sues FSU, campus copvia Florida Politics — A Jacksonville man is suing Florida State University and FSU Police Officer Christopher Blair for a traumatic brain injury he says he suffered after being zapped by a stun gun. William Wilcox filed his suit in Tallahassee on Friday. Wilcox was one of about 40 people who ran from Blair in July 2014 after he encountered a group breaking a “wooden parking lot barrier arm,” the complaint says … Blair singled out Wilcox, then 18, firing at him with a stun gun … Wilcox fell to the ground, his suit says, striking his head on pavement and suffering “brain bleeds as a result of head trauma.” He now says he suffers “decreased coordination, strength, and communications skills, including writing,” and seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the university.

Local environmentalists marshaling forces to challenge Wakulla Springs protection plan” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Wakulla Springs Alliance has scheduled three meetings over the next 10 days to talk about how to fight a Department of Environmental Protection plan to restore the iconic spring 17 miles south of Tallahassee. And they’ll try to figure out how to pay for it if they do. Critics say the Basin Management Action Plan the Legislature ordered DEP to write to reduce the flow of nitrates into the spring is narrow in scope and weak on enforcement. They have 21 days to decide whether to go to court to get a new plan.

— D.C. MATTERS —

As deadline looms, Trump officials struggle to reunite migrant families via Ted Hesson and Dan Diamond of POLITICO Florida — With a July 10 deadline looming, staffers at the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the division within HHS that oversees the care of unaccompanied children, have received no instructions on how to proceed, the sources say. “It’s been really difficult to start the reunification process because we just don’t have a lot of direction from leadership,” said one official at the refugee office, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “That’s been slowing things up because there’s just been a lot of confusion.” U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ruled last week that the Trump administration had until July 10 to reunite migrant children under 5 with their parents, and until July 26 to reunite the rest. But the refugee office is still struggling to answer basic questions such as how many children in its custody were separated from their parents.

The Trump administration has only days to start reuniting migrant families. (Image via Getty)

Marco Rubio, Nelson urged election officials to seek help” via the News Service of Florida — Rubio and Nelson encouraged Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner and county elections supervisors to use federal Department of Homeland Security resources to protect equipment from “hostile foreign government” interference. In a joint letter to officials across Florida, Rubio and Nelson said “county election boards should not be expected to stand alone” against foreign governments that try to interfere in elections. “DHS (The Department of Homeland Security) will follow your lead and meet your needs with a tailored set of options,” Rubio and Nelson wrote. The letter noted that “Russian government actors” targeted Florida in the 2016 election and that in findings by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “Russia was preparing to undermine confidence in our voting process and that, in a small number of cases, cyber-actors affiliated with the Russian government accessed voter registration databases.”

Miami-Dade Democratic chair ‘just says no’ to 2020 convention in Miami Beach” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Miami Beach is on the latest shortlist for possible 2020 Democratic National Convention hosts. But now the chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party says the event should be held elsewhere. Juan Cuba released a statement Monday on Twitter bashing Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez for cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in detaining suspected undocumented immigrants. Until that practice ends, Cuba says, the county should not be rewarded with the party’s nominating convention. “It’s been a dream of mine to have a @DNC convention in Miami,” wrote Cuba in a message to the head of the Democratic National Committee. “But, Mr. Chair @TomPerez, it’s with great regret that I urge you to remove Miami from contention until they reverse their anti-immigrant policies of cooperating with ICE to deport our friends & neighbors.” He called out the Miami-Dade mayor by name, saying “Republican @MayorGimenez has made Miami an unwelcoming city for tens of thousands of residents by cowardly cooperating with @realDonaldTrump anti-immigrant executive order.”

— OPINION —

Ruth-Ann Spinosa and Laura Spears: Gov. Scott leaving state’s environment in worse shape” via the Gainesville Sun — For instance, with the passage of the 2016 water bill, SB 552, Scott indicated his intention to deregulate critical management of Florida’s water supply, saying that this was “to accommodate our explosive growth and ensure that our state, residents and visitors thrive.” Those deregulatory actions allow increased levels of carcinogenic chemicals like benzene, a contaminant of fracking, into the rivers, lakes and springs that we boat on and in which our kids swim. Worse, an analysis revealed Scott’s financial portfolio, a convenient blind trust, “included several million dollars invested in the securities of more than two dozen entities” that either produced or transported natural gas … Floridians must preserve our gator-laden swamps, cool springs, and miles of sandy beaches … The choice should be as crystal clear as the spring waters that feed our aquifers.

— MOVEMENTS —

Mali government inks deal with Ballard Partners” via Florida Politics — The West African nation signed a one-year, $300,000 contract with that will see Ballard Partners promote them as “a close working partner of key western countries in the struggles against Islamic extremism and the war against global terrorist groups, such as al-Qaida.” The firm will also spread awareness of Mali’s peace efforts to the American public and attempt to secure funding for the republic via the Millennium Challenge Corp., a federal foreign aid agency set up by Congress in 2004.

— ALOE —

Special Olympics USA Games kicks off — More than 39,000 fans welcomed 4,000 athletes and coaches to the Emerald City — Seattle — for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, a weeklong competition featuring 14 sports, the Healthy Athletes program, and other non-competitive events. With the exception of Washington, Team Florida is bringing the largest delegation to Seattle, with 234 members and 129 athletes. Florida participated in the Parade of Athletes during the Opening Ceremony in the University of Washington’s famous Husky Stadium, followed by a special interview with Shaquem Griffin, former UCF Football captain and current NFL Seattle Seahawks player. Team Florida joins 3,500 competitors from across the country and the District of Columbia to participate in basketball, bocce, bowling, swimming, track & field and Unified soccer events at the premier national sports event for Special Olympics programs in the United States, which runs through Friday. To support or donate to athletes from Florida, visit specialolympicsflorida.org.

The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games begins in Seattle.

Disney announces details on new Star Wars land, Mickey and Minnie and Cars rides” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy will be an “up-close experience” according to Senior Vice President at Walt Disney Imagineering, Kathy Magnum. Visitors will train to become racers alongside the stars of Pixar’s Cars franchise. The new show will be located near Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and also will feature Mater and Cruz Ramirez. Walt Disney World released an artist’s image of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway currently under construction at Hollywood Studios. It looks to be a dark ride with an animated Mickey and Minnie in their own car riding alongside your vehicle. Senior creative director Charita Carter said the ride “is going to break the laws of physics and put you in the animated world.” The previously announced Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will sit on 14 acres and be “the most immersive world” created yet, said Scott Mallwitz, Walt Disney Engineering’s executive creative director. It will put riders in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance and also as a pilot of the Millennium Falcon in a changing interactive experience. The setting of Galaxy’s Edge is the planet of Batuu, and the village of Black Spire Outpost, the largest settlement on that planet.

Happy birthday to Fatima Perez and former state Rep. Dan Raulerson.

Last Call for 7.2.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

With a “final judgment for (the) plaintiffs,” the clock now ticks for lawmakers to file an appeal in a lawsuit over how lawmakers fund environmental conservation.

The Legislature has 30 days to file a notice of appeal from June 28, the date of Circuit Judge Charles Dodson’s final order. A spokeswoman for the Senate was out of the office Monday; a House spokesman said no decision had yet been made.

But Fred Piccolo, a spokesman for outgoing Speaker Richard Corcoran, has said House leaders are “confident it will be overturned on appeal.”

Environmental advocacy groups won a summary judgment from a Tallahassee circuit judge last month. Summary judgments allow parties to win a case without a trial.

The case, filed in 2015, was over the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, also known as Amendment 1. The 2014 constitutional change, mandating state spending for land and water conservation, garnered a landslide of nearly 75 percent, or more than 4.2 million “yes” votes.

Amendment 1 requires state officials to set aside 33 percent of the money from the real estate “documentary stamp” tax to protect Florida’s environmentally sensitive areas for 20 years.

Advocates — including the Florida Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club — sued, saying lawmakers wrongly appropriated money for, among other things, “salaries and ordinary expenses of state agencies” tasked with executing the amendment’s mandate.

For example, one motion noted: “The primary function of the (Florida Forest Service) is to fight and prevent fires on private lands and to promote forestry and prescribed burning on private lands.”

But legislators appropriated $57.6 million of funds from the state’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund to the forest service for salaries, expenses and operating costs.”

Dodson agreed with the plaintiffs, declaring a laundry list of 2015 and 2016 appropriations unconstitutional.

“The clear intent was to create a trust fund to purchase new conservation lands and take care of them,” he wrote. “The conservation lands the state already owned were to be taken care of, certainly, but from non-trust money.”

Evening Reads

Canada launches retaliatory tariffs on US goods, including Florida orange juice” via The Express Tribune

Bill Nelson expects to oppose Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee” via Adam C. Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott awards final batch of ‘job growth’ dollars” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida

Sean Hannity brings star power to Florida governor’s race” via Zac Anderson of the Herald-Tribune

Democratic IT aide says Imran Awan solicited bribe from him in exchange for contract with then-Rep. Gwen Graham” via Luke Rosiak of The Daily Caller

George Soros’ quarter-mil benefits Andrew Gillum political committee” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Bob Graham endorses Sean Shaw for Attorney General” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

Judge removed over campaign misconduct” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

Teachers union sues over contentious education bill” via Florida Politics

State finally makes progress on 32nd day of SunPass disaster” via Noah Pransky of WTSP

Quote of the Day

“He’s got a bulldog mouth, a chihuahua a —, and he doesn’t even know what the heck is going on in this state. Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, that’s the only thing he can say. At some point, you’ve got to come out and give people a Florida vision.” — GOP House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has endorsed Republican Adam Putnam, on Republican candidate for Governor Ron DeSantis.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

 

Wake Up Early?

Staff members for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will hold “mobile” office hours in Lee, Brevard and Polk counties.

— 9 a.m., Southwest Florida Military Museum and Library, 4820 Leonard St., Cape Coral.

— 11 a.m., Brevard Veterans Memorial Center, 400 South Sykes Creek Parkway, Merritt Island.

— Noon, Lake Wales Chamber of Commerce and EDC, 340 West Central Ave., Lake Wales.

The Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission will meet at 9:30 a.m., Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission, 101 Rhyne Building, 2740 Centerview Dr., Tallahassee.

Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Sebring Republican running for Agriculture Commissioner, is slated to speak to the Tiger Bay Club of Polk County. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Bartow Civic Center, 2250 South Floral Ave., Bartow.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.2.18

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

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

Buongiorno!

Let’s begin this morning with fresh, exclusive polling on three battleground state Senate seats, SD 16, 18, & 24. The outcome in these three races will likely decide the direction of the Florida Senate. The results may also indicate whether a blue wave is forming or if the red wall is holding.

Right now, it’s appears to be some of both.

In SD 16, the seat previously held by Jack Latvala, Republican Ed Hooper and Democrat Amanda Murphy remain deadlocked, with Hooper at 45 percent and Murphy at 43 percent. The good news here for the GOP is that this race has shifted ever so slightly to Hooper.

In SD 18, incumbent Republican Dana Young now trails Democrat Janet Cruz by a point after entering the candidate qualifying period with a nine-point lead. Of significance, Cruz has clarified how her name will appear on the ballot, dropping her second last name, “Rifkin.”

And in SD 24, incumbent Republican Jeff Brandes is still ahead of Democrat trial lawyer Carrie Pilon, 46 percent to 41 percent, which is down from the nine-point lead he held at the end of May, but still outside the margin of error.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS (FUNDRAISING EDITION) —

@Carl_Hiaasen: My brother Rob also would have wanted me to honor — before I mentioned him — the other Capital Gazette staffers who tragically lost their lives on Thursday: Gerald Fischman, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters. Our family grieves profoundly with theirs.

@maggieNYT: As he sifts through SCOTUS choices, Trump has been telling people he wants someone with a degree from Harvard or Yale, per a source familiar with the conversations.

@KKfla737: Another Rick Scott ad in Spanish — this time at halftime of #FRAARG on Telemundo/CH 51 in south Florida. Still have yet to see a single ad from any Democratic candidates during the #WorldCup — I’m watching the tournament in Spanish. Multiple Scott ads every day

@BrowardPolitics: All five of the party’s candidates for governor spoke at @FlaDems #LeadBlue18 dinner. @AndrewGillum got by far the strongest applause on his way up, during and after.

@Scontorno: At RPOF Sunshine Summit, Dinesh D’Souza said if you changed “Jews” to “top 1 percent” in Nazi platform, it would get thunderous applause at the 2020 DNC and it reads like something Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders would write.

@Fineout: Hmm, so you are really just 12 donors away from your fundraising goal? …

—@Falklands_Utd: Don’t cry 4-3 Argentina

@LennyCurry: I have decompressed many days quietly & alone watching & absorbing the joy from Anthony Bourdain @PartsUnknownCNN– I’m watching tonight. It’s different knowing the end. The end is a mystery impossible to grasp. Stop the mystery. If u need help call 800-273-8255

— DAYS UNTIL —

Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 6; MLB All-Star Game — 15; Deadline for filing claim bills — 30; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 31; Start of the U.S. Open — 56; Primary Election Day — 57; College Football opening weekend — 59; NFL season starts — 57; Future of Florida Forum — 86; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 113; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 114; General Election Day — 127; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 227; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 246.

— TOP STORY —

Florida Democrats look for depth and clarity in the blue wave” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — The pull-and-tug in Florida’s minority party was subtle as party leaders met in Hollywood for their annual leadership conference. Despite optimism following a spate of victories in competitive special elections — and an urgency to defend moderate Sen. Bill Nelson against Gov. Scott — friction exists about how to take back the Governor’s Mansion and emerge from years of impotence in a bellwether state. The push to move the party away from some corporate money and toward populist positions has encountered some resistance. The Democrats running for governor, for instance, have all sworn off money from Big Sugar, but the party named U.S. Sugar as a sponsor for its gala. Nevertheless, everybody in Hollywood was on the same page about the importance that Democrats fare better in 2018 than in 2016.

Over 1500 Democrats came together in South Florida over the weekend for campaign training, organizing sessions, and strategy meetings at the Florida Democratic Party’s Annual Leadership Blue weekend.

—“Florida Democrats rally against child separation policy in Hollywood” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“Democratic gubernatorial campaigns hold meet-and-greet with activists” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“Maggie Hassan fires up Gwen Graham rally in Hollywood” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“Chris King looks to differentiate himself from Democratic field” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“Philip Levine talks issues from leadership blue conference” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Florida GOP defiant amid ‘blue wave’ talk” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Even as Democrats tout their strong candidate recruiting and string of victories in bellwether races over the last 18 months, there have been some encouraging signs for Florida Republicans. “Actually, we’re feeling pretty good,” said Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett, pointing to Donald Trump’s approval rating in Florida, which topped 50 percent in a recent poll, and the fact that the unemployment rate in the state is at lows not seen since before the Great Recession. “He’s energizing the right,” said Volusia County GOP Chairman Tony Ledbetter, an early Trump supporter. While some Republicans worry that Trump is distracting from their efforts to highlight the economy and tax cuts by picking fights on Twitter and advancing divisive policies, such as separating children from parents who cross the border illegally, Ledbetter said the president is following the same playbook he did to win the 2016 election by rallying the base. “President Trump is creating the red wave for November,” he said.

— “Pledging allegiance to Trump in the Sunshine State” via Rosie Gray of the Atlantic

Tweet, tweet:

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Scott rich and getting richer — worth $232M” via The Associated Press — Scott filed financial information with the state that lists his net worth at more than $232 million, or an increase of more than $83 million from a year ago. That includes his $14 million beachfront house in Naples and a $1.5 million Montana vacation home. He also has $215 million in a blind trust. Scott and his wife have spent more than $80 million on his two campaigns for governor.

Rick Scott has 232 million reasons to smile.

Poll of Puerto Ricans in Florida has good news for Dems — and for Scott” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Good news for the Democrats: 57 percent of surveyed Puerto Ricans in Florida said they were most likely to vote for Democratic candidates. Just 7 percent said they were most likely to vote for Republican. Good news for the Republicans: The poll has some positive signs for Gov. Scott, the GOP candidate challenging U.S. Sen. NelsonEduardo Gamarra, a political-science professor at Florida International University, said the poll was conducted May 10-20 with live callers speaking to 1,000 respondents by telephone. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Though 43 percent of Puerto Ricans who came to the state before 2012 view him negatively, compared with 55 percent who see him positively, those who have arrived since view the governor much more positively. Scott was rated positively by 82 percent of people who arrived in 2017 and 2018, 81 percent of those who arrived in 2015 and 2016, and by 79 percent of those who arrived from 2012 through 2014. About 8 percent to 10 percent said they didn’t have an opinion about Scott.

—“Nelson calls on Scott to help Puerto Rican hurricane survivors avoid eviction” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Scott to visit troops in Kuwait” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – He’ll travel to Camp Arifjan and Camp Buehring, where troops from the Florida National Guard and Army Reserves from Orlando are currently stationed. “Gov. Scott will be meeting with servicemen and women, and military officials. He will also be bringing these troops some reminders of home this Independence Day. A more detailed schedule will follow,” read an announcement.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL — PART 1 —

Gubernatorial campaign contributions halfway to topping 2014’s record $150M” via John Haughey of Florida Watchdog — With nearly three months to go before the August 28 primaries and six months before the Nov. 6 general election, campaign spending in the governor’s race has already eclipsed half of the record $150 million expended when incumbent Gov. Scott defeated former Gov. Charlie Crist in 2014. Through May, the two leading Republican candidates — two-term Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis — had collectively raised $42 million for their campaigns, including $4.6 million last month. Meanwhile, the four primary Democratic candidates for governor — Gwen Graham; Andrew Gillum; Philip Levine; Chris King — together raised $4.4 million in May and have about $34 million in their collective elections budget.

Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam hold the lion’s share of campaign cash.

First on #FlaPol —Putnam doubled DeSantis in June fundraising” via Florida Politics — From June 1 through June 22, Putnam raked in almost $2.1 million — $1.8 million through his political committee, Florida Grown, and another $283,000 through his official campaign account. DeSantis’ total came in at $1.12 million, including $821,000 in contributions to Friends of Ron DeSantis and another $298,000 in campaign dollars. To date, Putnam has raised $32.7 million for his gubernatorial bid compared to about $12 million for DeSantis, whose total was buoyed last month by a $1.1 million transfer from his now-defunct congressional re-election fund.

GOP gubernatorial debate planned for South Florida canceled, organizers say” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Organizers canceled a Republican gubernatorial debate planned for August 1 in South Florida … The Florida Press Association, the host of the event, wrote in an update that the Republican Party of Florida had notified the association that its candidates would not participate in the statewide televised debate. Putnam and DeSantis clashed in a Fox News debate on Thursday in Orlando. They are set to meet again Aug. 8 in Jacksonville in a debate hosted by Jacksonville University and WJXT Channel 4.

— “Who des the Florida House Speaker support for governor? Depends which one you ask.” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times

Conservative ‘warrior’ attacks Naples Daily News, reporter” via Florida Politics — “Journalism is dead,” says a tweet blasting former Florida Politics correspondent Ana Ceballos, now the Tallahassee-based reporter for the Naples Daily News. The David Horowitz Freedom Center went on the attack this week over her “partisan hit piece” on Congressman and Republican candidate for Governor DeSantis. That article noted DeSantis “accepted a paid trip to attend a conference featuring speakers who have defended a candidate accused of child molestation, suggested killing Muslims and argued that women are less likely to be in leadership roles because of ‘biological causes.’” The event was organized by — you guessed it — the David Horowitz Freedom Center, “established by right-wing provocateur David Horowitz.” We’ll just note, among other things, the news release says she wrote that DeSantis himself “suggested killing Muslims,” when the story doesn’t say that. Otherwise, we’ll let Horowitz and/or his minions hoist themselves on their own petard.

Candidates for Governor vow changes on immigration” via Ana Ceballos and James Call of the Naples Daily News — Although a governor has little power over enforcement of immigration, Florida’s gubernatorial candidates are making promises that might be hard to keep and making proposals that could push the boundaries of state authority on the issue. Republican candidates are embracing Trump‘s agenda to close the borders and crack down on immigration. One is calling for a broad national plan that would help Florida businesses benefit from legal immigrant labor. The other is promising to adopt strict requirements that state companies verify an applicant’s legal status before hiring them. Democratic candidates are blasting Trump’s policies, promising to work at the state level to derail efforts to detain undocumented immigrants, create protections for those who came here illegally as children and leave alone communities that might want to limit cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain and deport those living here. Once elected, Florida’s governor will work with a Republican-controlled Legislature that in recent years has tried, and failed, to pass hard-line immigration proposals.

What Andrew Gillum is reading — “Black vote surges in Ga. primary: Meanwhile, proportion of white voters continues to decline” via Mark Neisse of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Don’t know Jeff Greene? You soon will, says Democratic candidate for governor” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — “I’m still weighing and learning as much as I can about his candidacy,” said Edgardo Hernandez of West Palm Beach, after a long one-on-one conversation with Greene. It’s Greene’s wealth — he’s worth $3.3 billion — that makes him a serious candidate even with his late entry to the race. If he’s the nominee, Greene said he’d match the spending of the Republican nominee for governor. “I will put up whatever it takes, dollar for dollar, toe to toe.” Greene barely registers in the polls — 4 percent in an NBC News/Marist Poll — but said he’s poised to win the Aug. 28 primary. He pointed to the big leader in the same poll: the 47 percent of Democrats who are undecided. “They’ve seen our TV commercials. Now they’re seeing me up front and close,” he said. “We’re going to be traveling the state aggressively and making ourselves available so that every Floridian who wants to can see me and meet me and make a decision if I’m their best choice.”

Who is Jeff Greene? You may find out very soon.

Alex Sink endorses Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner” via Florida Politics — Sink, “the last Democratic member of the Florida Cabinet,” has endorsed Democrat Nikki Fried to be the next Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Sink, of Thonotosassa, was the state’s chief financial officer 2007-11. She ran for governor in 2010 and lost narrowly to incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott. “I trust Nikki Fried to steer this state in the right direction,” Sink said in a Friday email. “I am certain that she will do what’s right for all Floridians and that’s why I’m endorsing her … We need her to protect our civil rights and preserve public lands.” Fried, a lawyer and lobbyist specializing in medical marijuana clients, filed to run for Agriculture Commissioner this month after flirting with a run for governor. She so far has focused on gun control and — unsurprisingly — easing access to medicinal cannabis.

Click on the image below to watch a video of Sink endorsing Fried:

Family separation case splits Attorney General candidates” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Florida would join a coalition of states suing the Trump administration over the separation of undocumented immigrant families if two Democrats running for attorney general had their way. Republican candidates Ashley Moody, a former Hillsborough County circuit judge, and Frank White, a state lawmaker from Pensacola, were highly critical of the lawsuit filed Tuesday by 17 states with Democratic attorneys general … On the Democratic side of the race, state Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa tweeted, “As our next AG, I will stand on the side of these families & join this lawsuit immediately,” “We must #EndFamilySeparation & protect these children!” Shaw continued in the tweet. Democrat Ryan Torrens, an attorney from Hillsborough County, called the lawsuit “courageous” against a “cruel and illegal policy.”

First in Sunburn — Sean Shaw releases first ad of AG bid — Tampa Democratic state Rep. Shaw’s campaign launched its debut bio ad Monday, titled “Meet Sean Shaw — This is how we win.” The 60-second spot “tells the story of a campaign based on the needs of the people, not what the experts or the big special interests believe the Attorney General should be focusing on,” according to a release. “When I launched this campaign, my only concern was the needs of the people of Florida,” Shaw said. “When the experts said to stay silent, I vowed to be the loudest voice in the room on the issues that truly matter, because that’s how we’re going to win this campaign.”

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Restaurants are becoming battleground for politics and social issues” via Wayne Price and Suzy Fleming Leonard of FLORIDA TODAY — There’s a real concern these days that restaurant operators are having to become referees as political and social fissures grow and heated passions work their way into eateries. And some restaurant owners, and employees, are taking it upon themselves to be the arbiter of what political beliefs and expressions customers are allowed if they wish to eat at an establishment. The actions seem to toss on its head the age-old axiom of “the customer is always right,” with some in the hospitality industry becoming downright inhospitable to customers of varying political beliefs. How did restaurants become a staging area for heated political debate? In some ways they have always have been, said David Kincheloe, president of the Denver, Colorado-based National Restaurant Consultants. It has just never been magnified the way it is now.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL — PART 2 —

Lawsuit over dog-racing ban heads to court” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A group that supports a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit betting on greyhound racing won’t be allowed to enter a case against the ban, a Tallahassee judge ruled Friday. Circuit Judge Karen Gievers denied a motion to intervene from the Committee to Protect Dogs, but said it could file a friend-of-the-court brief, as can the Animal Law Section of The Florida Bar. Amendment 13, put on the November ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), aims at ending commercial dog racing in the state. In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 12 tracks. The suit was brought by the Florida Greyhound Association.

Legal battle over racing-dog videos stays heated” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Supporters of a constitutional ban on betting on greyhound racing have fired back with their own letter after ban opponents served a cease and desist letter on the group. The upshot: The Committee to Protect Dogs on Friday said the videos — made by artist Jeff Sonksen — used in an online ad by the Protect Dogs — Yes on 13 campaign aren’t copyrighted. And even if they are, they fall under what’s called the “fair use” exception. Amendment 13, placed on the November statewide ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission, would outlaw betting on dog races in Florida beginning in 2021. Greyhound owners and breeders, who oppose the ban, have challenged the proposed amendment in court; a trial is set for next month in Tallahassee. Proposed amendments need at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL — PART 3 —

Assignment editors — Fox News host Sean Hannity and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz will join DeSantis for a campaign tour around Florida: 10 a.m., Sanibel Harbour Marriot, 17260 Harbour Pointe Drive, Fort Myers; 2 p.m., Marriot Waterside Tampa, 700 S Florida Ave., Tampa; 5:30 p.m. Central time, New World Landing Event Space, 600 S Palafox St, Pensacola.

—“ Meet the Democrats hoping to beat Matt Gaetz” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News-Journal

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell takes aim at Carlos Curbelovia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — As Democrats hope to take back the House in November, South Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Curbelo is facing challenges from both sides of the aisle as he fights for re-election. Florida’s 26th Congressional District, which Curbelo represents, is one of 23 House districts that elected a Republican representative despite also voting for Hillary Clinton. That’s evidence of a base of Democratic support large enough to propel a Democrat to victory. Indeed, CD 26 is one of the Democrats’ most sought-after districts in 2018. One of the contenders for the seat is Mucarsel-Powell, who is competing with Demetries Grimes for the Democratic nomination. She has been named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program, which aims to support candidates in competitive districts throughout the midterms. Mucarsel-Powell was one of several congressional candidates who appeared at POLITICO’s “The Deciders” series, held at the InterContinental Hotel in Miami, and she didn’t hold back in her criticism of Curbelo.

David Richardson targets Donna Shalala at Miami POLITICO event” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — With less than two months to go until the Florida primaries, Richardson is continuing to hammer Shalala in the race for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Richardson spoke with politics writer Marc Caputo Friday at POLITICO’s “The Deciders” series event at the InterContinental Hotel in Miami. He’s one of five Democrats competing for the CD 27 seat, including Matt Haggman, Michael Hepburn, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and Shalala. Richardson seemed confident a Democrat would win the open seat, held for decades by Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “I think that this seat will definitely flip and it will be a Democratic seat.”

Donna Shalala speaks at the POLITICO Election Powerbook briefing. (Image via POLITICO)

Congressional candidate says NBC Miami rejected campaign ad over Spanish content” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Matt Haggman, a Democrat running for Congress in Miami, ripped NBC’s Miami affiliate after he says they refused to run a campaign commercial because it includes 10 seconds of his wife speaking Spanish. But the station says his facts are all wrong. According to Haggman’s campaign, he purchased airtime on the station recently in order to run a 15-second commercial. But Brian Svoboda, an attorney representing Haggman’s campaign, says the campaign was told by its media buyer that WTVJ “would not run the advertisement because of a general policy that disfavors Spanish-language advertising.” An NBC6 spokesperson said in a statement that Haggman’s campaign was completely wrong and that the ad would run. “The Haggman campaign’s information is inaccurate,” said the statement. “We do accept Spanish-language ads, and NBC6 accepted the Haggman campaign’s ad.”

First in Sunburn — Florida retailers back Dana Young — The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) PAC is endorsing Young for re-election in Senate District 18. “Senator Young has supported and sponsored legislation that has helped to modernize the retail industry in Florida,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. “We’re proud to support her campaign and look forward to working with her on additional ways to help Sunshine State retailers in her return to the Senate.” Young chairs the Senate’s Health Policy Committee, and is a member of the Commerce & Tourism, Communications, Energy & Public Utilities and Regulated Industries committees.

Carrie Pilon craters in SD 24 money race” via Florida Politics — Pilon narrowly outraised incumbent Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes in April but followed that up with an underwhelming performance in May. Her newest report, which covers the first three weeks of June, is more than underwhelming — it’s abysmal. The St. Petersburg trial lawyer showed just $6,730 in hard money fundraising and tacked on another $3,000 through her political committee, Moving Pinellas Forward. Her burn rate was similarly small, which would only be a good thing if the election was a year or more away. But it’s not. As it stands, Pilon has raised about $141,000 between her campaign and committee and has about $131,000 banked.

Disqualified House candidate upset that missing notary seal cost him spot on ballot” via Dave Berman of FLORIDA TODAY — Thomas “Pat” O’Neill is pretty upset about the turn of events — and is letting the head of the agency that runs elections in Florida know just how he feels. O’Neill, a former Rockledge City Council member, was planning to run as a Republican candidate for Florida House in Central Brevard’s District 51. But he was ruled ineligible because he didn’t have the notary seal on the document in question, even though he submitted that document and the other required paperwork in advance of the June 22 deadline. In a letter to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, O’Neill wrote: “I am truly disappointed in the customer service provided by the Bureau of Elections, and simply frustrated, as there is no remedy available to me for the poor service I received.” O’Neill said he hopes his letter will persuade Detzner to overturn the decision, but is not counting on it.

NRA endorses Jeff Mann for HD 56” via Florida Politics — Mann is a lifetime Republican who owns and runs Mann Septic in Bartow. He has also served 15 years as government relations chairman for the Florida Onsite Waste Water Association. He faces fellow Republican Melony Bell, also of Bartow, in the Aug. 28 primary. HD 56 is one of five contests, including three in the Tampa Bay area, to have its primary election locked down by a write-in candidate.

Jeff Mann gets the nod from the NRA. (Image via The Ledger of Lakeland)

Susan Valdes lashes out after ‘gotcha’ video” via Florida Politics — A video of the 14-year Hillsborough School Board member saying she was open to campaign contributions from charter school companies made waves in education circles, and Valdes is now changing course with a pledge to reject charter school donations. The video, recorded at a meeting of the Hillsborough County Democratic Caucus, was the result of “ambush tactics” by the campaign of Democratic primary rival Mike Alvarez. “A recent ‘gotcha’ video was created by the Michael Alvarez campaign in which Susan Valdes was ambushed regarding whether or not she would accept money from certain entities. Susan Valdes would like to make her intentions clear and from her, not a covert video,” the release said. Valdes also described Justin Diaz, the man who recorded the video, as someone who “hides cameras and badgers opponents.”

Melissa Howard earns backing of Carlos Lopez-Cantera” via Florida Politics — “Howard is the business owner, community leader, and conservative champion that will best serve her constituents in District 73. I am pleased to endorse Melissa’s campaign to continue the pro-growth policies that have led to historic economic growth and prosperity in Florida,” Lopez-Cantera said. Lopez-Cantera is Howard’s biggest endorsement yet. He joins Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who was briefly a candidate for HD 73, in endorsing Howard. Incumbent state Rep. Joe Gruters has not issued a formal endorsement yet, though he is serving as treasurer for the Howard campaign.

Game changer: Emma Collum lands $200K ‘angel donation’ in HD 93” race via Florida Politics — Collum’s campaign said an “angel donor” has stepped in with a $200,000 soft-money donation, instantly erasing the fundraising gap between her and her Republican opponent, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca. Florida Politics learned that the donor was hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman, a resident of HD 93 and significant Democratic benefactor making a total of $40 million to various Democratic super PACs affiliated groups. In 2016, The Washington Post reported that Sussman — founder of the Paloma Fund — gave $21 million to Priorities USA, the top super PAC supporting Clinton’s presidential bid.

— THE FUNDRAISING BARRAGE —

“This is serious” via the Adam Putnam campaign; “We won the debate” via the Ron DeSantis campaign; “Just to be clear” via Brendan McPhillips of the Andrew Gillum campaign; “The biggest moment in this race” via the Gillum campaign; “Do you have Andrew’s back, friends?” via the Gillum campaign; “Here’s how it looks” via Zach Learner of the Chris King campaign; “real quick” via the King campaign; “Don’t wait,” via Jon Stewart of the King campaign; “Our next deadline” via Matthew Van Name of the Philip Levine campaign; “Fwd: Our next deadline” via Christian Ulvert of the Levine campaign; “We just have to fight that much harder” via the Sean Shaw campaign; “We can’t do this without you.” via Andrea Jahna of the Denise Grimsley campaign; “I trust Nikki Fried to lead in Florida” via Alex Sink for the Nikki Fried campaign; “One day left.” via the Fried campaign; “We have till MIDNIGHT to reach our goal.” via the Fried campaign; “Big Week” via Becky Troutman of the Baxter Troutman campaign; “It’s a two front battle” via the Darren Soto campaign; “Why is it a dogfight?” via Harry K of the Soto campaign; “Please give $8” via the Soto campaign; “June is almost over …” via the Greg Steube campaign; “Trumpiest Congressman” via the Matt Gaetz campaign; “Let’s Finish June Strong” via Korey of the Alvin Brown campaign; “$60 for 60” via the Brown campaign; “please read” via the Mary Barzee Flores campaign; “Fwd: please read” via the Flores campaign; “There’s no time to gnash our teeth” via the David Shapiro campaign; “already see the district flipping” via the Andrew Learned campaign; “Only 1 Day remaining” via the Emma Collum campaign; “Hey, are you still with us?” via Terrie Rizzo of the Florida Democratic Party; “this could mean Scott is toast” via FDP; “we’re fighting on all fronts” via Juan Peñalosa of FDP; “Florida Elections HQ” via FDP; “Democracy is not about one party dominating” via Audrey Gibson for the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

— BLUE OMEN —

By electing a non-Hispanic, Democratic county commissioner, voters in Little Havana last week joined a growing list of electorate groups that have recently shocked the nation.

Eileen Higgins’ victory in the race for the Miami-Dade County Commission seat adds a bit of nuance to the ‘blue wave’ some speculate is forming behind the 2018 midterms: Voters could be beginning to place party-affiliation over ethnicity, writes Patricia Mazzei for The New York Times.

Eileen Higgins’ surprise victory in Miami-Dade County, is seen as an omen for Democrats.

As one veteran Republican political consultant told Mazzei, “if Hispanic voters can no longer be counted on to favor Hispanic candidates, then an increasing number of districts here might start performing as they do in state and national elections: blue.”

Reversing course: Miami-Dade was a Democratic stronghold before the Ronald Reagan-inspired, anti-communist messaging that turned Cuban-Americans to the right, notes Mazzei. Now, the tables could turn again. “History is repeating itself — it’s the changing of the guard in Miami-Dade that’s likely going to propel the rise of the Florida Democratic Party,” Higgins’ campaign head Christian Ulvert told Mazzei.

Demographics: Older, reliably red Cuban-American voters still reside in Little Havana. But some have left, and the area is also home to more blue-leaning Hispanic groups. One source in the story said a Cuban sandwich in Little Havana will “be made by a Guatemalan, or a Honduran, or a Mexican, or a Nicaraguan.”

Looking ahead: The area’s congressional district, CD 27, is expected to go blue in November. None of the Democratic candidates vying to replace retiring incumbent Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are Hispanic.

— STATEWIDE —

’Millions of dollars of wasteful spending.’ A look at Gov. Scott’s post-Irma debris deals” via Jim DeFede of CBS4 — The governor’s emergency contracts will end up costing taxpayers an additional $28 million to $30 million … If the governor had instead used one of the companies already under contract with the state, it would have cost taxpayers as little as $13 million to do the same work. AshBritt, based in Broward County, is one of the largest disaster response firms in the country. Monroe County also had a contract with AshBritt that had been competitively bid before hurricane season started. The Florida Department of Transportation had six companies on standby, under their own pre-storm contracts, ready to go into the Keys to clear US 1. Three of those companies — Ceres Environmental, Bergeron Emergency Services, and AshBritt — had crews pre-positioned … Yet all of this planning was ignored. Rather than using Ceres, Bergeron or AshBritt, state officials quietly sent notices to a handful of companies, inviting them to bid on a new emergency contract. The state decided on two firms: MCM and Community Asphalt. (In an unrelated matter, MCM is currently under scrutiny for its role in constructing the FIU pedestrian bridge that collapsed in March killing six people.)

By using existing contractors, with already negotiated rates, Florida could have saved millions in post-Irma cleanup bills.

Counties fault Scott’s staff over voting money conditions” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida was awarded $19.2 million from the feds in March, and most of the money is to help counties fortify their voting equipment against the ever-present threat of cyberattacks from Russia and elsewhere, as they plan primary and general elections … counties accuse the state of slow-walking an application for federal help. Soon after the check arrived, the state told all 67 counties that they must file detailed applications for their share no later than July 18. In addition, the state said the cybersecurity money is for this election cycle only, and any money counties receive that is unspent must be returned to Tallahassee in November. This is known as a “use it or lose it” provision, which encourages counties to spend their money as fast as possible.

Bill Galvano, José Oliva look to trim lease tax” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Appearing at the state Republican Party’s “Sunshine Summit” in Kissimmee, incoming House Speaker Oliva and incoming Senate President Galvano outlined their expectations for the next two years, with many of the ideas a continuation of the direction of recent Republican-dominated legislatures. They talked of seeking further reductions in taxes and fees, improving security at ports and schools, upgrading transportation, water and electric infrastructure, expanding health care options and school choice and providing more career options for students by promoting skill-training and technology programs. Oliva said the biggest thing for lawmakers is to mostly “get out of the way.” Galvano expressed a desire to revisit the commercial lease tax, which will drop from 5.8 percent to 5.7 percent on Jan. 1 … “The commercial lease tax is one I think we need to take another hard look at,” Galvano said.

Florida Education Association ready to sue over union decertification portion of HB 7055” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — the FEA is about to make good on its pledge to sue the state over a new law that makes it easier to decertify teacher labor organizations. “My locals are all going to be over 50 percent,” FEA president Joanne McCall told the Gradebook. “This is about equity and fairness, and being targeted and singled out.” Lawmakers applied the new rule only to teacher organizations, and not to any other public employee groups. When the bill passed, McCall said, 17 local teacher organizations fell under the 50 percent membership threshold.

Florida prisons: Who profits when former inmates fail?” via Noah Pransky of WTSP — A number of recent cuts to Florida felon re-entry programs, designed to reduce recidivism, have amplified critics of the state’s commitment to lowering its felon recidivism rate. Under Scott, the DOC has also pushed controversial policies, such as limiting family visits in prison to every-other-week, instead of every week, as it had been. The agency said the policy was to address a contraband problem, but DOC statistics show only 2.5 percent of the contraband in prison comes from families; the overwhelming majority comes from staff, who are often underpaid and easily-convinced to smuggle in contraband. Instead, the restricted visitation policy will adversely impact families with a loved one in prison, and push many to a new video conference option, offered for a fee by private corporation JPay. The governor also has close ties to private prison provider GEO Group, a regular donor whose CEO hosted a fundraiser for Scott in 2014. And prisoner health care provider Centurian, one of the industry’s biggest political givers, got a $55 million bump in its contract this year.

Massive and toxic algae bloom threatens Florida coasts with another lost summer” via Jenny Staletovich of the Miami Herald — This week, thick green blooms seeped down the rural Caloosahatchee River toward the southwest coast. More ooze piled up on the lake’s eastern banks, pushing against a gate leading to million-dollar waterfront homes and businesses along the St. Lucie River estuary. While state testing has so far confirmed only low amounts of toxic cyanobacteria, Calusa Waterkeeper, a nonprofit Fort Myers river watch group, posted sample results recently showing levels hundreds of times above what is considered the safe limits for human exposure in some of the hardest hit areas. If it continues, the summer of slime could have wide-ranging implications, from politics to business. Gov. Scott, who consistently cut funding to the state’s environmental regulators, issued emergency orders to state water managers to try to stop the spread of a nasty green wave that looms as a potential stain for his ongoing campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Whoa! State postpones controversial toll road through horse farms” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott’s office announced it is postponing any further work on a controversial toll road called the Coastal Connector that upset horse farmers in the Ocala area. The announcement was made in a letter from Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Dew to Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn saying that the state will put the Coastal Connector on the back burner, and instead focus on easing traffic problems on Interstate 75. In the past month, both the Marion County Commission and the Citrus County Commission have passed resolutions calling for the DOT to say whoa. Marion officials don’t even want the state agency to continue studying any of the routes through that region, much less begin construction.

— STATEWIDE — PART 2 —

Brightline financial documents reveal first quarter ridership, revenue” via Lisa Broadt of TCPalm — Brightline carried 74,780 riders and collected $663,700 in ticket revenue in its first 2½ months of operation, according to financial documents … Month-by-month ridership and revenue from Jan 19, when initial service began between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, to March 31, the end of the first quarter, was: January: 17,800 passengers, $146,500; February: 24,100 passengers, $220,000; March: 32,900 passengers, $297,300. The financial documents — required by a continuing disclosure agreement associated with Brightline’s $600 million private-activity bond offering — revealed the less-expensive Smart service ticket was more popular than the more-expensive Select ticket, but not by much. The documents also showed Select generated significantly more revenue than Smart … Select: 34,200 passengers, $388,600; Smart: 40,600 passengers, $275,000.

It’s harder than ever to get into USF. Some worry about the downside.” via Claire McNeill of the Tampa Bay Times — After years of effort, USF Tampa has been deemed a preeminent university, a lucrative state honor based on hitting goals on metrics like graduation rates. As the USF System unifies, leaders want USF to stay pre-eminent and keep those bonus dollars flowing. To do that, incoming fall students across all three campuses — not just Tampa anymore — need to average a strong academic profile: a 4.0 weighted high school GPA and a 1200 SAT. USF is aiming higher than that, a sign of its growing prestige and, for some, a cause for concern. That new target will be tougher at the regional campuses, which have generally been easier to get into. Now, with pressure on to maintain preeminence, USF St. Petersburg students admitted for fall 2019 will ideally average a 4.0 GPA and a 1240 SAT. State Rep. Wengay Newton stressed the need for access in poor neighborhoods. “Otherwise,” Newton said, “we will heed the results of not providing these opportunities for these students.”

What Kathy Mears is reading – Florida State touts highest 4-year graduation rate in state history” via Jake Stefan of News4Jax – Florida State University is boasting the highest graduation rate in state history: Seven out of 10 students finish within four years. The success was highlighted at the Board of Governors meeting Tuesday. “We’re proud of our progress and we don’t take it for granted and we certainly are not going to let our foot off the gas,” FSU President John Thrasher said.

Tampa Electric seeks approval for solar project” via the News Service of Florida — Tampa Electric Co. asked state regulators for approval to recoup money from customers to pay for five solar projects in Hillsborough and Polk counties. The utility filed the proposal at the Florida Public Service Commission, which last month signed off on a similar request for two solar projects in the first phase of Tampa Electric’s plan. The Public Service Commission in 2017 approved a settlement agreement that set Tampa Electric’s base electric rates until 2022. Part of that agreement allowed the utility to return to the commission to seek approval to recover money for solar projects.

— TRUMP’S FLORIDA —

Who’s holding immigrants in Florida? Private vendors, feds and county sheriffs, too.” via Alex Leary and Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The outcry over child separation has revealed a disturbing bigger picture. America’s immigration enforcement system is a complex patchwork involving multiple federal agencies, local sheriffs, nonprofits and, increasingly, politically influential corporations like Florida-based GEO Group. The system exists in a bureaucratic netherworld. Undocumented children are overseen by a federal HHS division called the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Care can be outsourced, either to nonprofits or for-profit companies such as Comprehensive Health Services of Cape Canaveral, which runs the Homestead shelter under a contract worth more than $30 million. Many more undocumented adults are apprehended at the border, picked up after traffic stops or for committing a crime or simply swept up in raids across the country, which have grown more frequent since Trump took office. Some are held in county jails in Florida in such far-flung places as Crawfordville, Macclenny, Naples and the Keys, making it difficult for families to reach them.

Immigrant communities in Collier and Lee on edge after recent arrests by ICE” via Alexi C. Cardona of the Naples Daily News — Arrests this week and what some Collier and Lee County residents say has been an increased U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement presence has once again ignited fear in immigrant communities. ICE spokesman Nestor Yglesias confirmed agents had made arrests in Collier County and other areas this week. Yglesias would not say how many people were arrested. Yglesias said this round of arrests is part of ICE’s “day-to-day operations.” Residents in Collier and Lee counties have reported on social media seeing ICE in Immokalee, Golden Gate, Naples Manor and Bonita Springs. Some people have posted photos they say show immigration police knocking on people’s doors and asking for identification of people on roadsides.

Scott Zeigler raises his fist as he holds his upside-down flag during a “Families Belong Together” rally Saturday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Over 700 marches and rallies were held across the country to protest the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Photo by Phil Sears.

Hundreds in Tampa Bay join many across America protesting separation of migrant families” via Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times — About 500 people packed Gulfport Casino in the afternoon, many carrying signs criticizing the president, and hundreds more gathered outside Joe Chillura Courthouse in downtown Tampa that morning. The rallies were two of more than 700 across the nation — including one near the White House — supporting the Families Belong Together movement. Local officials at both Tampa Bay area events railed against Trump’s immigration policies and urged attendees to make their voices heard in upcoming elections.

—“Thousands in South Florida and across U.S. march to protest immigration policies” via Wayne Roustan and Anne Geggis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

—“Hundreds in Brevard protest Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy” via Eric Rogers of FLORIDA TODAY

Trump’s stricter immigration enforcement a boon to GEO Group” via Jeff Ostrowski of the Palm Beach Post — As the president pushes a more muscular approach to immigration enforcement, investors expect the business of incarceration for profit to grow more lucrative. Shares of private prison operator GEO Group jumped 11 percent in June, a month when stories of immigrant children being separated from their parents dominated the news — although the Boca Raton-based company has made a point of distancing itself from that contentious policy. “The facilities we manage on behalf of ICE do not and have never housed unaccompanied minors,” GEO Group spokesman Pablo Paez said in a statement. Even so, GEO Group shares jumped June 20, after Trump said Immigration and Customs Enforcement would stop separating families caught crossing the Mexican border. Instead, ICE will hold parents and children together — a policy that creates new demand for detention centers.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Abortion fight looms in Florida with Justice Kennedy’s retirement” via Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida – The Florida legislator who sponsored a controversial law to require that women wait 24 hours before having an abortion would push for an outright ban in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark abortion rights law, Roe v. Wade. In that way, Florida could prove to be a guinea pig among states that don’t have abortion bans on the books but whose conservative leaders have been seeking to restrict abortion access under the federal law that calls the medical procedure a constitutional right for women. … While the Florida law restricting abortions was blocked by state courts, its sponsor state Rep. Jennifer Mae Sullivan (R-Mount Dora), said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement offers an opening for even more aggressive legislation: an outright abortion ban in Florida. Kennedy has been a conservative swing vote who sided with liberal justices to uphold abortion rights in a 1992 challenge. “If federal law changed, I would look comprehensively at state statutes and the state constitution and look at the most strategic and streamlined process to protect life,” Sullivan told POLITICO in an interview.

Flood insurance and citrus greening money among ‘Farm Bill’ provisions” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — The Senate-passed Farm Bill includes a six-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program and $125 million to address citrus greening — items championed by Sens. Nelson and Marco Rubio. Rubio co-sponsored the flood insurance extension, which was to run out July 31. He and other lawmakers are trying to get a six-year extension but that’s a bigger hurdle, and the extension would buy some time. Nelson highlighted a provision to provide scientists and researchers an additional $125 million to help find a cure to the deadly citrus disease.

— OPINIONS —

Ed Moore: Need for civility crystal clear in this election season” via Sunshine State News — Increasingly as a society, we seem to descend into the dark maelstrom of incivility. Civil discourse has coarsened to the extent we grow concerned that common understanding of complex and vexing societal issues becomes impossible. Free and open debate is a hallmark of our republican values. The founding of our country was constructed upon a foundation built on challenging ideas and offering often highly conflicting ideas in the marketplace of conversation. We have, of late, strayed far from these ideals. Our nation has seen many kinds and levels of strife over our history, but in our modern era, we are sorely tested by the quick responses of reflexive social media, often without the depth of context nor the respect required for our words to be both received and digested. When we are all yelling, no one is listening.

Jackie Toledo: Enough is enough — put down the phone” via Florida Politics — I vow, as your representative, to once again make the case that Florida needs to address the epidemic of distracted driving with a hands-free bill to save lives and protect the ones we love. Distracted driving and the ubiquitous use of smartphones behind the wheel are leading causes for the rise in vehicle crashes in Florida and nationwide. Distracted driving-related crashes have also experienced a double-digit spike. In 2015, there were more than 45,000 distracted driving crashes in Florida, resulting in more than 39,000 injuries and more than 200 fatalities. As lawmakers, we have the ability to strengthen our laws and hopefully save lives.

— MOVEMENTS —

Appointed — Julius Davis to the Florida Transportation Commission.

Personnel note: Kevin Sweeny named lighthouse trusteeSweeny, Operations Director for the Florida Justice Association, posted on social media last week that he had become the newest member of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum Board of Trustees. It’s a “private, nonprofit museum dedicated to … discover, preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the ‘Nation’s Oldest Port’ as symbolized by our working St. Augustine Lighthouse,” its website says.

— ALOE —

How early is too early for Christmas decorations in Florida? Retailers say never” via Emilee Speck of ClickOrlando.com — On the hottest day of the summer you can walk into Marge’s Specialties on Orange Blossom Trail and feel downright jolly. The decoration and home interior store is known as the “Largest Christmas Store” for a reason. Deck the hall year-round with abandon at Marge’s. The time is now for the Flagg Lane Lake Mary location of the At Home décor store. Smaller ornaments and other Christmas items are already out on the shelves. In July, the retailer will start rolling out Christmas trees. The Michaels Decor location in Winter Park is holding off until the end of summer to hang its stockings. They won’t have Christmas items until the end of July at the earliest.

The Christmas creep is now entering July.

Port Royal mansion fetches record-breaking $48.8 million” via Jennifer Beeson of News-Press.com — Southwest Florida’s most expensive listing has sold — again — this time breaking the record as the priciest home sale in Collier County’s history. The 9,394-square-foot beachfront Port Royal mansion at 2500 Gordon Drive in Naples sold for a record-breaking $48.8 million. It was listed at $60.9 million. Software mogul Art Allen purchased the six-bedroom, nine-bathroom, home from Miles C. Collier, grandson of the county’s founder, in 2007 for $40 million.

Happy birthday to James McFaddin of Southern Strategy Group and Sandi Poreda of Bulldog Strategy Group.

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