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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.11.18

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

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

We apologize for today’s late Sunburn, but with a hurricane bearing down on the East Coast and today being the anniversary of the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, we just didn’t want to get out of bed. Anyway, here is the latest.

Hurricane Florence has slightly increased in speed as it heads toward the U.S. East Coast.The National Hurricane Center said Tuesday morning that Florence is moving toward the west-northwest near 15 mph (24 kmh) and the storm will continue a slight increase in speed during the next couple of days.

The Miami-based center says the storm’s center was located about 410 miles (660 kilometers) south of Bermuda and about 975 miles (1570 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.

Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 140 mph (220 kph) as it moved west-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station. Photo credit: AP.

Rick Scott offers help to states as hurricane looms” via the News Service of Florida — Scott offered resources and assistance to the governors of North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia as Hurricane Florence threatened the Southeast U.S. coast. Florida Division of Emergency Management officials have also been in contact with South Carolina … Due to the storm, Scott waived weight requirements for emergency supply and response vehicles through Sept. 17 and put the Florida National Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law-enforcement officers on standby to help in areas affected by the storm.

Hurricane Florence undercuts Miami Beach convention bid” via Natasha Korecki and David Siders of POLITICO Florida — Hurricane Florence isn’t great for Houston. But it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Miami Beach. The two cities are finalists to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. While both face the threat of flooding and downpours as the storm gains steam this week, it’s Miami Beach that has the most to lose. Five Democrats with knowledge of the selection process tell POLITICO that at least some site committee members consider the race to be between Houston and Milwaukee. And that was before this week’s threatening weather. Heat, humidity and hurricanes were already among the factors weighing against Miami Beach. Some members worried about traffic and Miami Beach’s hard-partying reputation, which might muddy convention messaging. They’re also not crazy about the consideration of cruise ships as options for housing some delegates. Finally, there’s sensitivity to hosting yet another convention in the Eastern time zone while trying to portray a party that’s not anchored on the coasts.

Flags at half-staff to honor victims of Sept. 11, 2001 — Gov. Scott ordered flags at half-staff Tuesday “in honor and remembrance of the victims of 9/11.” The governor directed the U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff “at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout the state of Florida,” he said in a statement. The flags will remain at half-staff until sunset. His Patriot Day proclamation is here.


—@AdamSmithTimes: 2 lines from @SenBillNelson in today’s @TB_Times edit board I’ve not heard from other candidates: 1. “Check the Federal Register.” 2. “Remember Smoot-Hawley”

@MarcACaputo: Not being part of a do-little Congress that specializes in making you take bad votes that can haunt a campaign seems like kind of a no-brainer, especially if the candidate is leaving Congress anyway in January

@Fineout: A governor can’t appoint someone to a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. It can only be filled by election. Article I Sec. 2.

@Rob_Bradley: Congratulations to @USouthFlorida on its huge jump in the public university rankings! The region owes a huge thanks to @DanaYoungFL for being a tireless and effective advocate for the Bulls.


First general election mail ballots go out — 11; First day of fall — 11; Future of Florida Forum — 15; Government shutdown — 20; FSU vs. UM football game — 25; Voter registration deadline for General Election — 28; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 42; MLB World Series begins — 42; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 43; Halloween — 50; General Election Day — 56; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 70; Thanksgiving — 72; Black Friday — 73; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 77; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 154; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 176; 2020 General Election — 784.


Ron DeSantis resigns from Congress to focus on run for Governor” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — DeSantis has announced his resignation from Congress in order to focus his efforts on campaigning against Democrat Andrew Gillum to be Florida’s next Governor. “One of my guiding principles during my tenure in Congress has been to protect the taxpayers that I represent,” begins DeSantis’ resignation letter. It was sent to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. “As the Republican nominee for Governor of Florida, it is clear to me that I will likely miss the vast majority of our remaining session days for this Congress. Under these circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to accept a salary.” DeSantis noted his resignation would be retroactive to Sept. 1.

Ron DeSantis bows out of Congress to focus on the Governor’s race.

>>>Burn via Volusia County Democratic Chair Jewel Dickson: “It’s a good thing that Ron DeSantis’ resignation received so much attention from the press because, otherwise, the people of District 6 would never have realized he was gone. DeSantis has spent his time in DC voting to take away our Medicare, cut our Social Security, and raise our health care costs. DeSantis never listened to the people of this district — because he didn’t care about us. DeSantis avoided town halls, refused constituent meetings, and then voted against our interests in Washington. It’s always been easier to find him on Fox News than anywhere in Volusia County. Ron DeSantis quit on his constituents years ago — and he won’t be missed.”


DeSantis reels in most matching funds” via the News Service of Florida — Florida’s matching-funds program pumped $142,665 more into the governor’s race on Friday. The program, which matches contributions of $250 or less for gubernatorial and Cabinet candidates who qualify, sent a check worth $79,488 to DeSantis and $63,177 to Gillum. DeSantis, a Northeast Florida congressman, has now received $1.055 million from the program, while Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor, has collected $558,241 … Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody, the Republican candidate for attorney general, received $35,574 on Friday. She has received $380,175 from the program. Her Democratic opponent, state Rep. Sean Shaw, didn’t get a check on Friday but has received $222,702 from the state.

Florida Democrats hit ‘right-wing extremist’ DeSantis on health care” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) is out with a new campaign hitting Republican gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Rep. DeSantis on his long-running opposition to the Affordable Care Act. The FDP released a new video titled “DeSantisCare,” as well as a new website looking to highlight DeSantis’ health care record. We reached out to the DeSantis campaign for comment on the FDP’s efforts and are awaiting a reply. The video and website pose as mock ads for the new “DeSantisCare.” While purporting to sell viewers on the idea of DeSantisCare, the new video and site are littered with jabs at the Republican’s health care proposals.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Assignment editors — DeSantis will attend the Tampa Hispanic Outreach Roundtable hosted by the Tampa Bay Hispanic Republican Leaders, 1 p.m., La Teresita Restaurant, Second Floor, 3248 W. Columbus Drive, Tampa.

Andrew Gillum could waive secrecy in ethics case but hasn’t yet” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — So far, Gillum has opted not to do so. However, his lawyer, Barry Richard of Tallahassee, said Gillum will waive secrecy eventually, perhaps after commission staff has prepared its report on the investigation. Gillum could lift that shroud of secrecy with the stroke of a pen. Under Florida law, officials facing ethics complaints must request in writing that the records and proceedings be made public. “The reason for the confidentiality is anybody can file anything with the commission,” Richard said. “And it’s not fair to the person complained against if all that stuff is made public before the commission makes a determination of probable cause. All you would be doing is … allowing candidates, for example, to use it as a weapon against their opponent by having people file stuff.”

Florida Conservation Voters endorses Gillum — The organization’s board of directors voted unanimously in favor of Gillum, the Democratic nominee and Tallahassee Mayor, citing his strong commitment to protecting Florida’s environment. “Mayor Gillum has proved that he has the leadership and vision to defend Florida’s environment,” said Aliki Moncrief, the executive director, in a statement. “Around the world, Florida is known for our beaches, parks, and remarkable natural areas. Sadly, we are also now known for letting entire ecosystems collapse due to lenient laws and little oversight. Mayor Gillum is the only candidate who has a plan to hold big polluters accountable and make sure we do everything in our power to protect our state from climate change and sea-level rise.”

Don’t forget Florida’s all-important white vote” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — They account for roughly three of every four voters in midterm elections, and they vote heavily Republican. How heavily is the difference between who wins and loses. “Having a surge in black voters is not significant because if you increase the black vote by 10 percent, it’s only 1 percent of the electorate,” said Democratic consultant Barry Edwards, who analyzed turnout by race over Florida’s last eight elections Among the 51 percent of voters who turned out in Florida’s last midterm election, 73 percent were non-Hispanic white voters, 10 percent Hispanic and 12 percent black. Given that the last two governor’s races were decided by a single percentage point, an energized African-American electorate can indeed decide an election. But in sheer numbers, white voters still matter most. Gillum has virtually no chance of winning a majority of white Florida voters. A key to a Democratic candidate’s victory in Florida and nationally is to limit the size of their loss among white voters.


John Oliver took Scott to task for disenfranchising felons.” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Oliver called Florida the “disenfranchisement capital of America, noting how more than 1 million Floridians — and more than one in five black Floridians — can’t vote because they’re felons. The state is one of only a few that doesn’t automatically grant the right to vote upon completing a sentence. Oliver, in a brutal takedown of the process, said, “It’s like finishing a triathlon only for Scott to say, ‘No, it’s a quadathon. Now you have to learn Mandarin … It doesn’t really seem fair.”

To view the video, click on the image below:

Scott plays ‘keep away from Trump’” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Scott — who was frequently by Trump’s side at the White House and at his resorts in Palm Beach and Bedminster, New Jersey, in 2017 — began putting more distance between himself and the unpopular president this year as he geared up for a Senate run that Trump himself had repeatedly urged him to make. Scott also chaired the super PAC backing Trump’s 2016 presidential bid. Now Scott seldom mentions the president and won’t commit to having an event with him specifically. “I want everybody that believes in what I’m going to do to come help me win,” Scott told a Tampa Bay Times reporter last week when asked if he would like to have Trump campaign for him. Scott isn’t completely snubbing the president. He flew down from Washington on Air Force One to Tampa with Trump in July and then accompanied Trump to an official presidential visit to Tampa Technical High School — an event where their exposure to TV cameras was limited.

It’s not Dunder Mifflin, but … : Gov. Rick Scott made a stop at Mac Paper in Jacksonville on his statewide “Make Washington Work” Bus Tour.

Federal complaint alleges Scott illegally benefited from anti-Bill Nelson Super PAC ads” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — The complaint from End Citizens United, to be filed with the Federal Elections Commission, says that ads aired by New Republican PAC in May and June violated campaign finance laws because they helped Scott in his Senate race. Though the ads didn’t mention the Republican, they attacked Sen. Nelson … The timing of the ads were suspect, End Citizens United says, because they came just months after Scott stepped down as chairman of New Republican PAC. The complaint says that the timeline “demonstrates that Rick Scott began developing political and communications strategy for a potential campaign for Senate while serving as a chair of a super PAC that immediately after his announcement began running advertisements to aid his campaign.”

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will continue his statewide “Make Washington Work” bus tour, 2:15 p.m., Eisenhower Rec Center, 3560 Buena Vista Blvd., The Villages.


Sean Shaw comes out of primary with financial edge” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Shaw, the Democratic nominee for Attorney General, began the general-election campaign with a nearly $500,000 financial advantage over his Republican opponent, Moody. But don’t expect Moody, who depleted her cash in a grueling primary, to struggle to catch up. Moody’s campaign announced a Sept. 18 fundraiser at the Governors Club in Tallahassee. The invitation suggests a minimum contribution $3,000 for the event, which includes as co-chairs Brian Ballard … former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux; and lobbyist Michael Corcoran, brother of outgoing House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Shaw had about $470,000 in cash on hand in his campaign account and nearly $78,000 in the political committee Sean Shaw for Florida, according to his most recent filings.

In wake of bank account closures, Charlie Crist joins Nikki Fried in call for marijuana policy reform” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — Fried teamed up with Crist in a call for reform of federal medical marijuana policy. Fried, a Fort Lauderdale-based lawyer, is one of the state’s most prominent lobbyists for expanding access to medical marijuana. Fried and Crist used the account closures to underscore their stance on protecting state programs from federal interference. Fried’s official campaign account was terminated twice in the past few weeks — once by Wells Fargo and once by BB&T. A review of Fried’s campaign finances shows a $1,000 donation from Savara Hastings, executive director of the Florida-based American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association and $3,000 from Jake Bergman, CEO and founder of Atlanta-based Surterra Holdings LLC. Fried said that since her account closures made national news last week, her campaign has been approached by other state-chartered credit institutions who have “offered an olive branch” … “The silver lining is that it became a national issue,” she said.

Charlie Crist, Nikki Fried team up for medical marijuana policy reforms.

Save the date — Republican Matt Caldwell will hold a campaign fundraiser and VIP dinner in his bid for Agriculture Commissioner, Thursday, September 20, Blackbeard’s Ranch, Myakka City. For more information, contact Sandy Taylor at (850) 570-9363 or

Jimmy Patronis continues building financial edge” via the News Service of Florida — State Chief Financial Officer Patronis began September with $4.37 million in two campaign accounts, with the addition of $180,900 in contributions in the days immediately following the Aug. 28 primary elections. The contributions included $25,000 from Miami-based Dosal Tobacco Corp. and $25,000 from the Coral Springs-based insurance company Pearl Holding Group. As of Aug. 31, Patronis had raised a combined total of $5.16 million for the two accounts. Since the primary, he also has received two checks worth a total of $8,010 from the state matching-funds program. In all, he has received $305,105 through the program.

PAC organizes to oppose tax amendments 1, 5” via Florida Politics — Two tax-related proposed constitutional amendments, placed on the November ballot by the Legislature, would shift the burden from the wealthy and corporations to working families, a newly formed political action committee complained Monday. Floridians for Tax Fairness, registered with the state on Wednesday by the League of Women Voters of Florida, Florida Education Association, AFSCME, Progress Florida and Sierra Club of Florida, issued a written statement denouncing Amendments 1 and 5. Amendment 5 would make any legislation imposing new or increased taxes or fees contingent on a two-thirds vote by the House and Senate. “Passage of this amendment means any attempt to eliminate special tax breaks for profitable corporations would be easily blocked by a few bought-and-paid-for politicians,” the group said.

Florida Supreme Court refuses to rehear Amendment 6 challenge — The justices made good on their promise not to reconsider their vote to keep Amendment 6, the proposed victims’ rights measure, on the ballot. Harvey Sepler, the attorney representing one of the two private citizens challenging the ballot title and summary language, tested the court’s determination in a motion filed Friday, the same day the court ruled. He argued that a strict reading of the Florida Constitution allows the CRC to offer amendments either to the entire document or a single part. That contradicted a line of precedents by which the high court has allowed the CRC to “bundle” multiple changes into single amendments. The justices disposed of the motion in a single sentence: “Pursuant to this court’s order dated Sept. 7, 2018, the motion for rehearing is hereby stricken as unauthorized.”

Assignment editors — A group of Florida’s constitutional officers — Sheriffs, Tax Collectors, Clerks of the Court, and Property Appraisers — are holding a news conference on Amendment 10, known as the Protection Amendment, to launch a statewide education initiative, 10 a.m., The Old Capitol (on the steps facing the courtyard). On-site contact: Nanette Schimpf (PIO for Florida Sheriffs Association) at (850) 528-2639.

Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 picks up firefighters’ endorsement — The campaign supporting passage of Amendment 13, which seeks to put an end to live dog racing in Florida, has been endorsed by the Brevard County Professional Firefighters, Local 2969. In a letter, President Richard Pierce told the group his organization “agree(s) that the protection of animal rights in this case is both an ethical and moral obligation. We support voting yes on Amendment 13!” The proposed constitutional amendment would ban wagering on greyhound racing beginning in 2021. It would not, however, affect other gambling now at race tracks.


Poll: Nancy Soderberg neck and neck with Mike Waltz” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The poll was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and showed Waltz earning 47 percent of the vote to Soderberg’s 46 percent. The firm surveyed 400 likely voters Sep. 4-6. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. While the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato both peg this as a “likely Republican” seat, FiveThirtyEight sees a closer race, projecting Waltz to win by less than four percentage points.

Nancy Soderberg is running neck-and-neck with Mike Waltz.

Soderberg campaign reaches $2M mark — The campaign of former U.S. Ambassador and Democratic congressional candidate Soderberg announced raised more than $2 million this cycle, with over 7,500 contributions and the majority of which $100 or under. Soderberg said: “Florida families in this district have made it clear they are ready for new leadership. They know they can count on me to protect protections for pre-existing conditions because I’ve lived with one. They know they can count on me to protect Social Security and Medicare instead of threatening to make deep cuts, because I listen to seniors who are worried about their ability to retire. I’m proud to fight for folks here and I’m proud of the movement we’re building together.”

Stephanie Murphy, Mike Miller campaigns tussle over debates” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — A spokeswoman for Miller said he’s agreed to invitations from WFTV-Channel 9, WESH-Channel 2 and the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida and claimed Murphy’s staff tried to limit the number of debates. A Murphy spokeswoman, however, said her campaign was proposing multiple debates across several different mediums, including broadcast, print and radio, and wasn’t trying to limit the number at all. In a statement, Miller said he’s “willing to debate my opponent as many times as we are invited, so I am hopeful that other highly respected media outlets like WKMG, Univision, WOFL, Spectrum13 and the Orlando Sentinel will sponsor or co-sponsor debates.”

Assignment editors — Murphy will honor Vietnam veterans as part of the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, 10 a.m., Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8207, 1520 N. Ronald Reagan Blvd., Longwood.

Save the date:

BusinessForce endorses 12 in Central Florida races” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The organization that spun off from Orlando Inc., the Orlando Area Chamber of Commerce, recommended the election of Republican David Smith House District 28, and the re-elections of Republican state Reps. Scott Plakon in HD 29; Bob Cortes in HD 30; Jennifer Sullivan in HD 31; Mike La Rosa in HD 42; Bobby Olszewski in HD 44; and Rene Plasencia in HD 50. BusinessForce also made three endorsements in races for open seats on the Orange County Commission: Christine Moore in District 2; Mayra Uribe in District 3; and Susan Makowski in District 4. BusinessForce announced it was backing Jay Zembower in the District 2 race for the Seminole County Commission. And for the Orange County School Board, BusinessForce endorsed Melissa Byrd for the District 7 seat.

Julián Castro PAC backs Emma Collum in HD 93” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Opportunity First, a PAC created by former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Castro, has now thrown its support behind Collum in House District 93. Castro led HUD under the Barack Obama administration and has garnered buzz for a possible future presidential run. Now, his group has endorsed Collum in an effort to flip the HD 93 seat to the Democrats. “Emma is a strong leader that will spur economic progress, protect our most sacred rights and be a model for inclusive leadership,” Castro said in a statement.


USF trustees will move quickly to replace president Judy Genshaft” via Claire McNeill of the Tampa Bay Times – As Genshaft announced on Monday that she would step down, Ramil, the retired president and CEO of TECO Energy, was among many local leaders wondering who could possibly fill the shoes of the only leader USF has known in nearly two decades. Ideally, he said, he wants a successor whose No. 1 priority is, like Genshaft’s, student success. Genshaft’s retirement has set in motion a national search for her replacement. And it will move fast, USF board of trustees Chairman Brian Lamb said. State rules require “transparent, robust” searches for public university presidents.

USF’s new leader will need political savvy, fundraising skill” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The USF search will be watched closely by Florida business and political leaders. It will unfold at a critical time in the history of a school that began life in 1955, without a mascot or a student dormitory. USF has made major strides in its long-sought path to “pre-eminence,” which brings prestige and state money. It is aggressively conducting research that can lead to lucrative patents and is consolidating campuses, building a downtown Tampa medical school and trying to elevate an athletic program in a state devoted to the Seminoles and Gators. The next USF president might be an academic who’s worlds away, but history suggests it might also be a member of the Legislature or a homegrown political leader who can secure millions from the state Capitol. The search will be in the hands of 11 people on USF’s board of trustees, most of them with political ties to Gov. Scott

The replacement for USF’s Judy Genshaft needs political, fundraising savvy.

Federal judge dismisses lawsuit claiming beach access law creates ‘cloud’ over property — A federal judge has tossed out a Walton County property owner’s lawsuit challenging a controversial state law that could allow public access to the beach near his home. The Legislature earlier this year created a campaign issue when it passed FL HB 631 (18R), which overturned an ordinance in Walton County providing the public with “customary use” access to designated beaches on private property. The new law requires judicial approval of individual customary use designations. The Walton County Commission is considering seeking judicial approval for new beach access designations as provided in the law change. But property owner Walter W. Blessey Jr. asked a federal court to determine that the state law is unconstitutional. In an order, U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers said the county no longer has an ordinance in place affecting Blessey’s property. And the judge wrote that Blessey had offered no legal support for his claim that the state process has placed a “cloud” over his property. “Essentially, Blessey asks the court to address his constitutional challenge to the common law doctrine in the abstract, which it may not do,” Rodgers wrote.

Mike Huckabee’s role in pushing controversial beach access law” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Huckabee owns a beachfront home in Blue Mountain Beach, an upscale community in Walton. He is a man of strong opinions, and his view is clearer after an email exchange with Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo of Naples, sponsor of the Senate version of a beach access law (HB 631) that has stirred intense controversy. On Jan. 12, Huckabee wrote an email to Passidomo, thanking her for her sponsorship of a bill “involving the customary use abuse by Walton Co.” … “I’m one of those beachfront owners whose title goes to mean high water line,” he wrote. “Walton Co. taxes me on that property and I pay handsomely for it! I actually don’t mind people who simply want to enjoy the beach and certainly not walk on or past. … What beachfront owners object to is the illegal taking of taxed and titled property without compensation or even consideration. In fact, we are demonized as ‘greedy, selfish and rich’ owners who want to deprive the poor of their ‘rights.’”

Coalition aims to ban assault weapons by constitutional amendment” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Two organizations created in the aftermath of February’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have joined together in an effort to ban assault weapons in the state of Florida. Americans for Gun Safety Now (AFGSN) and Ban Assault Weapons Now (BAWN) say they have combined forces to create a bipartisan coalition to ban those weapons, with the goal being passage of an amendment in 2020. BAWN had already announced the push for an amendment earlier this year. Now, AFGSN says it will join those efforts by “spending its resources educating Florida residents and opinion leaders on this critical issue,” according to a release obtained by Florida Politics.

More Florida counties are voting to raise local taxes for schools. Is it a message to lawmakers?” via Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times – Does Florida give enough money to its public schools, or not? That debate still rages, and is shaping up to be an issue in the governor’s race. But many voters have already addressed it more directly in the primary election, and many more will get the same opportunity in November. Around the state, even in some heavily conservative counties, voters are opening their wallets to lend extra support to their schools. Of 10 local education funding measures on the Aug. 28 ballot, every single one passed.

Most Florida nursing homes don’t have required generators despite new law after Irma deaths” via Melanie Payne of the Fort Myers News-Press — More than three-quarters of Florida’s 684 licensed nursing homes haven’t fully complied with a state law requiring a generator capable of keeping temperatures at or below 81 degrees for 96-hours. Even with an extended Sept. 1 deadline, only 170 nursing homes have the generators. And just under half of the state’s 3,441 licensed assisted living facilities have fully complied with the installation requirement, according to information from the Agency for Health Care Administration, which licenses health care businesses such as nursing homes and assisted-living centers.

Patronis seeks roundtables on AOB reform — Florida’s Chief Financial Officer had called on Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to host the talks, to let stakeholders discuss the best ways to target assignment of benefits fraud and abuse. Patronis recently blocked a proposed rate increase that Citizens attributed to rising costs for fixing non-weather water damage, and to litigation. He noted that AOB lawsuits increased from 400 in 2006 to more than 28,000 in 2016. “When used correctly with reputable contractors, assigning your benefits over isn’t a bad practice,” Patronis said. “However, in the hands of bad actors who want to make a quick buck, that could mean skyrocketing insurance rates for everyone.”

Feces-filled sewage flooded the streets. The city did nothing for 10 days, records show” via Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — For ten days, untreated sewage leaked into flooded streets in the industrial zone of Opa-locka, a nearly-bankrupt South Florida city so dysfunctional it has spent the last two years under a governor-decreed state of emergency. Each day on their way to work, hundreds of people slogged through the murky, foul-smelling water, unaware of the increased risk of dysentery, E. coli, and meningitis. Miami-Dade County tests confirmed the early August floodwater near the pump contained 50 times the amount of fecal matter that would close a beach. (One test showed 3,450 enterococci — bacteria — per 100 mL of water. Beaches close at 70.) Now, the system is too deteriorated to be patched, and the city doesn’t have the money to replace it. Sometimes it doesn’t even have enough money to pay the county for water and sewer services.

Pre-reveal games company plans to continue appeal — The owner of the Jacksonville company that distributes “pre-reveal games” says her attorneys will ask an appellate court to reconsider its recent ruling against them. A unanimous three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal last month found that the specific version called Version 67 “is an illegal slot machine.” Gator Coin II’s Kathey Bright Fanning, daughter of the late founder Bud Bright, on Monday said her attorneys plan to file a motion for rehearing en banc, or before the entire 15-judge court. Their argument: The games “preview” outcomes as to their winning or losing nature, meaning there’s no element of chance. The panel, however, said: “The element of chance is inherent in it given that it has a preset win/loss ratio.” Fanning said whatever happens in the courts, she plans to return to Tallahassee next Session to persuade lawmakers to expressly legalize the machines: “The whole thing has gotten so crazy out-of-hand.”

Services set for longtime lobbyist Richard ‘Dick’ Hollahan” via the News Service of Florida — A funeral service is scheduled Wednesday in Bristol for Hollahan, who lobbied in the Capitol for decades before retiring in 2010. Hollahan, 86, died Friday in Tallahassee after a lengthy illness … The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Rock Bluff Assembly of God Church in Bristol. A Jacksonville native, Hollahan worked early in his career for Secretary of State Tom Adams and then became an assistant to House Speaker Fred Schultz, according to the obituary. Hollahan later lobbied for numerous clients.


The path of Hurricane Irma last year spared many urban areas from utter destruction, but still left its mark on some rural Floridians’ homes and lives.

Lisa Marteeny lost her husband to the storm. Tina Collins suffered extensive flooding damage to her historic Southwest Florida home that’s slept former presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.

Their stories are included in environmental reporter Amy Green’s latest piece for the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

Everglades City: The subject of the commemorative story “bore the brunt of this second landfall when the hurricane pushed a devastating storm surge into the remote village. Everything not on stilts flooded.”

Climate change: The flooding in Everglades City could’ve happened anywhere, Green writes. In a warming world, it’s something every coastal community in Florida fears. “There are a lot of different ways that if we acknowledge these problems now that we can actually help people save money, help keep people safer and make for a future where hopefully some of these events are less catastrophic,” Thomas Ruppert, a coastal planning specialist for Florida Sea Grant, tells Green.

The numbers: In Everglades City, “60 percent of homes were condemned,” according to Green. A year has passed since the storm struck the town, and nearly a quarter of residents have yet to return.


On second thought, Scott’s Hurricane Irma response wasn’t so great” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Favorable first impressions last fall of his response before and after Irma helped Scott as he prepared to challenge Nelson. We noted at the time that the governor “quickly visited hardest-hit areas to focus relief efforts and share information.” At times, we said, Scott “presented not only as a leader, but a likable leader.” Since then, however, it has become clear that the governor didn’t perform very well. Let’s start with calls to that cellphone. Scott’s office deleted them. A spokeswoman claimed that the action was legal because the calls involved “transitory” information and thus did not need to be retained. “Each voicemail,” she said, “was collected by the governor’s staff and given to the proper agency for handling. Every call was returned.” Because of the deletion, however, there’s no way for the public to verify those claims, especially regarding the nursing home.

Joe Henderson: Judy Genshaft did what many believed impossible at USF” via Florida Politics — She has been relentless. Focused. She was the center of nearly every room she entered. She had a vision for USF that probably sounded ridiculous when she arrived on campus in 2000, but then made it happen. She wanted to turn an urban commuter college filled with nontraditional students into what it is today — a pre-eminent university with rigid admission and academic standards, an economic powerhouse, and focused on helping guide the Tampa Bay region into whatever the future brings. By any measure, she has succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations except maybe her own, but her era is coming to an end. On her watch, the six-year graduation rate from 38 percent to 70 percent. Admission standards got much tougher, a shock to some in the community who always looked at USF as a fallback option if their sons or daughters couldn’t get into Florida or Florida State. I’m sure she’ll be given all the appropriate honors and the proper send-off before she leaves. I have no doubt we’ll see her name on the side of a building or two at some point … all I have to say is this: good luck following this dynamo of a lady named Judy Genshaft.


Personnel note: Carlotta Stauffer retiring as PSC clerk — Stauffer, clerk to the Florida Public Service Commission, is stepping down effective Dec. 31, a commission spokesperson said Monday. Adam Teitzman, a former PSC attorney supervisor, is returning and will replace Stauffer upon her retirement. The commission regulates investor-owned utilities. Stauffer has been clerk since 2013, and was an executive assistant for the commission in 2011-13, according to her LinkedIn page. Before that, she was a senior management analyst supervisor at the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of State Lands and was an assistant to the DEP’s Deputy Secretary, among a string of state jobs going back to the 1980s. She’s also a Realtor and licensed real estate agent at Ochlockonee Bay Realty in Panacea.

Personnel note: Nichole Geary heads to Floridian Partners” via Florida Politics — Geary, formerly the Florida Department of Health’s (DOH) General Counsel, is joining Floridian Partners, LLC’s government affairs and law practice, the firm announced Monday. Geary, who will be in the firm’s Tallahassee office, will focus on health care policy, medical cannabis regulation, strategic business consulting, and general legislative and executive branch advocacy under the firm’s government affairs division. And, under the private practice of law division, Geary will join attorneys Charles Dudley and Jorge Chamizo, with whom she will focus on health care regulatory compliance and operations. “Nichole’s unique legal, regulatory, and public policy experience in both the private and public sector blend in very well with our firm culture of being subject matter experts and advocates for our clients,” said Dudley, Floridian Partners’ managing partner in Tallahassee.

Congratulations to Nichole Geary.

Personnel note: Tampa Bay Times’ Alex Leary heads to Wall Street Journal — Leary, the Times’ Washington, D.C. correspondent, will now be reporting there for The Wall Street Journal, he announced Monday on Twitter. Adam Smith, the political editor at the Times, also tweeted that the WSJ had hired one of “the nation’s best political reporters” with its decision to bring Leary on board. At the Journal’s Washington bureau, Leary joins Michael Bender, a fellow alumnus of the Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau. While in Tallahassee, Leary’s investigative reporting helped bring down former House Speaker Ray Sansom, who was eventually tried on corruption charges. The case was dropped mid-trial in 2011 when a judge ruled a key witness for the prosecution could not testify.

— ALOE —

Happy birthday to the Florida Justice Association’s Jeff Porter.

Last Call for 9.10.18 — 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

Now that the Supreme Court has ordered a constitutional amendment aimed at banning greyhound racing back on the ballot, the Florida Greyhound Association is again asking for special permission to offer kennel tours.

“That will allow voters … to get the truth and facts about live greyhound racing by visiting the kennels at the tracks,” FGA lobbyist and spokesman Jack Cory said in an email Monday to Jonathan Zachem, secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

“With this knowledge, the voters can decide whether or not the State needs this change to the constitution.” That refers to Amendment 13, which would end betting on live dog racing in Florida by the end of 2020.

Cory had first asked the state to allow kennel tours last week. The greyhound industry is trying to counter a narrative from ban supporters that the dogs are the department regulates pari-mutuel wagering, including dog racing.

DBPR spokeswoman Suellen Wilkins explained that “certain areas of pari-mutuel facilities are restricted access,” specifically “the backside where racing animals are kept.”

Cory told Zachem he could change state regulations to temporarily allow visitors with passes to see kennels “under direct supervision at all times.”

But Tony Glover, a lawyer-lobbyist for the Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign, also tweeted Monday that Cory’s “request clearly does not meet the requirements for emergency rule-making” under state law.

That requires “an immediate danger to the public health, safety or welfare.”

Derby Lane, located in St. Petersburg, and the Palm Beach Kennel Club, located in West Palm Beach, had been selected to be the first two tracks to open their doors.

The amendment, slotted for the ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission, would need at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution, like other proposed changes to the state’s governing document.

Evening Reads

Under Donald Trump, the jobs boom has finally reached blue-collar workers. Will it last?” via Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam of The Washington Post

Rick Scott says Democrats want ‘big government socialism” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Bill Nelson: Scott ‘is a creature of Trump” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

John Oliver took Scott to task last night for disenfranchising felons.” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

Ron DeSantis steps down from Congress to focus on Governor’s race” via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily News

Andrew Gillum could waive secrecy in ethics case but hasn’t yet” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat

Whom do you believe: Gillum or his Michael Cohen?” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

In wake of bank account closures, Charlie Crist joins Nikki Fried in call for marijuana policy reform” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald

Democratic poll shows neck-and-neck race for DeSantis’ seat” via Simone Pathe of Roll Call

Coalition aims to ban assault weapons by constitutional amendment” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

A red tide on Florida’s Gulf Coast has been a huge hit to tourism” via Shannon Sims of The New York Times

Mike Huckabee’s role in pushing for controversial beach access law” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Feces-filled sewage flooded the streets. The city did nothing for 10 days, records show” via Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald

UF rises to 8th in U.S. News & World Report rankings” via Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun

Quote of the Day

“As the Republican nominee for Governor of Florida, it is clear to me that I will likely miss the vast majority of our remaining session days for this Congress. Under these circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to accept a salary.” — Ron DeSantis, in his resignation letter from Congress.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

The state Board of Executive Clemency, made up of Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet members, will meet at 8 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, The Capitol.

Committees of the Enterprise Florida business-development agency will hold meetings in advance of a full board meeting Wednesday. Committees start at 11 a.m., InterContinental Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza, Miami.

The Space Florida Board of Directors will meet and discuss issues such as Launch Complex 20 and Space Florida Launch Landing Facility ramp upgrades. That’s at 1:30 p.m., InterContinental Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza, Miami.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis will attend the Tampa Hispanic Outreach Roundtable hosted by the Tampa Bay Hispanic Republican Leaders. That’s at 1 p.m., La Teresita Restaurant, Second Floor, 3248 W. Columbus Drive, Tampa.

The Visit Florida Finance Committee will meet in Central Florida at 2 p.m. Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, 1500 Masters Blvd., ChampionsGate.

Gov. Scott will continue his statewide “Make Washington Work” bus tour. That’s at 2:15 p.m., Eisenhower Rec Center, 3560 Buena Vista Blvd., The Villages.

Whom do you believe: Andrew Gillum or his Michael Cohen?

Let’s give Andrew Gillum the benefit of the doubt.

When he says that the FBI told him he is not the target of an investigation into the city of Tallahassee, it’s pretty easy to believe him because, from the surface level, it appears City Commissioner Scott Maddox is the politician with the crosshairs trained on him.

To refresh: Gillum has been linked to the FBI investigation thanks to his ties to Adam Corey. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Corey, a lobbyist and entrepreneur, has been named in at least three subpoenas related to the public corruption probe. Corey’s $2.1 million loan in local tax money to renovate the Tallahassee-based Edison Restaurant is part of the FBI probe.

Gillum has steadfastly maintained that he is not the subject of the federal inquiry and that he has cooperated with investigators, turning over thousands of pages of documents.

As clumsy as it was, Gillum’s effort to publicly release receipts that he says show he paid for travel that is currently under investigation by the state’s ethics commission has reduced the affair, at least politically, to just another case of whataboutism.

When Republicans suggest that those receipts do nothing to shed light on Gillum’s luxury trips to Costa Rica and New York City with lobbyists and undercover FBI agents, Gillum’s campaign gets to blast Ron DeSantis for backing Donald Trump‘s undermining of the FBI’s probe into Russian electoral collusion.

“You’ve got a Republican in Ron DeSantis who’s spent the last year obstructing the FBI, attacking the FBI and trying to discredit the FBI. And now he has the gall to talk about an FBI investigation that Andrew Gillum has been cooperating with and trying to help them resolve. They’ll attack us on that, and we’ll go right back at it,” Scott Arceneaux, a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party who’s a senior consultant on Gillum’s campaign, told the News Service Florida.

To bottom line it: The FBI investigation into Gillum’s City Hall is mitigated by the FBI investigation into Trump’s White House. This is part of the reason why the first round of public polls is deadlocked while showing intensity among each candidate’s political base.

But here’s what is still concerning about Gillum and those receipts: has he left himself vulnerable to a perjury charge?

Immediately after Gillum disclosed bank records to show he withdrew $400 to pay for his share of the $1,400-a-night Costa Rica villa that was shared by several couples, an attorney for Corey disputed that account, according to Gary Fineout of The Associated Press.

The attorney said Corey won the Costa Rica lodging through a charity auction and “to date Mr. Corey has not received any cash from the mayor.” He added that Corey did not purchase or swap for a ticket to the Broadway show “Hamilton,” which Gillum and his brother took in as part of their trip to New York City.

“The idea that Marcus Gillum would have exchanged something for the ‘Hamilton’ ticket is nonsense,” Corey’s attorney, Christopher Kise, told Fineout.

So, again, let’s concede that Gillum isn’t the target of the FBI investigation. Let’s even concede that, in the end, even if it finds Gillum responsible for something involving that travel, the state’s ethics commission really doesn’t have the teeth to bite him.

And, finally, let’s concede that even if the ethics commission does ultimately fault Gillum, it won’t matter a lick with those supporting him because they’re as against DeSantis/Trump as they are for Gillum.

All of that is conceded. But the issue still remains: Gillum provided testimony to state investigators that he paid Adam Corey cash for that trip to Costa Rica. Gillum provided testimony to state investigators that his brother had obtained a ticket to Hamilton in a swap for a concert ticket.

Corey, who has been a friend to Gillum their entire adult lives and who once served as Gillum’s campaign treasurer, is publicly stating that is a lie.

This leaves the situation with three possibilities.

One, Gillum is telling the complete truth, Corey is lying and the investigation will bear that out. Gillum essentially wins.

Two, the truth is somewhere in between what Gillum and Corey are saying and the investigation will conclude without determining who is really telling the truth. Gillum wins by default.

Three, Gillum is lying and Corey has given sworn testimony to the contrary. And he’s able to produce some sort of documentation to undermine Gillum’s statements. Gillum could be in big trouble.

(Update — 7:42 a.m. — I guess there is a fourth possibility. Gillum could be lying, but his statements to investigators were not made under oath and therefore he might lose in the court of public opinion but he would not be in legal jeopardy.)

In an ironic way, the showdown between Gillum and Corey is similar to that of Trump and his former fixer, Michael Cohen, who blew away the president’s credibility by providing federal prosecutors with evidence that Trump was lying.

Might Corey have similar evidence?

What if he has an email from the days when FBI agents weren’t camped out in the capital reminding his then-friend Andrew that he needed the cash for that trip they took to Costa Rica? What if there is a loose text message to Gillum’s brother, Marcus, that contradicts the ticket swap story?

Who knows what is out there.

Right now, Corey is the most intriguing character in Tallahassee. For more than a year, he has walked around town clearly having been taken down several pegs. But he still has that twinkle in his smile and he remains a charismatic figure. He has one of the best-connected lawyers in the state representing him.

And it’s obvious he wants to tell someone — everyone — that he’s not 100 percent to blame for what has gone down in this extraordinary saga.

Everyone assumes Corey has struck a deal with prosecutors.

What he might have had to say as part of a deal could be what decides the fate of Florida’s gubernatorial race.


Material from The Associated Press and the News Service of Florida was used in this post. 

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.10.18

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

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

Good Monday morning. Here’s the latest on Hurricane Florence:

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence is rapidly strengthening and that swells generated by the storm are affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. East Coast.

The Miami-based center said in its 5 a.m. advisory that Florence was about 625 miles (1,005 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda, moving west northwest at 9 mph (15 kmh). An increase in forward speed is expected over the next couple of days.

Its maximum sustained winds are at 105 mph (165 kmh). Drawing energy from the warm water, the now Category 2 storm could be a fearsome Category 4 with winds of 130 mph (209 kph) or more by Tuesday. Florence is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.

Speaking of powerful forces – in case you missed this scoop from Sunday afternoon: Judy Genshaft, the powerful academic leader who propelled the University of South Florida into national prominence, will announce her retirement on Monday. According to two state officials, a senior university official and a university trustee, Genshaft, 70, will discuss her future at a press conference scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Patel Center. Although members of the board of trustees and key regional political leaders were briefed Sunday on the development, USF officials would neither confirm nor deny Genshaft’s decision. “President Genshaft has not made any announcements regarding her future,” university spokesman Adam Freeman said in a statement.


@RealDonaldTrump: Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison. Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade. If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!!

@MarcoRubio: We should ALL, the Dems, the GOP, the media, admit our role in turning politics into theatre. Being outrageous equals clicks, viewers & therefore ratings & $ for media & fame for politicians. Being normal gets you ignored & a primary challenger for being “too weak.”

@RepLoisFrankel: Yesterday’s Umpire at the U.S. Open cheated both women, was unfair & out of line. Proud to support Serena, a true women’s rights champion & @Naomi_Osaka_, for her history-breaking victory.

—@AGGancarski: Smart ad buy — @ScottforFlorida New Republican PAC on @SECNetwork … the standard hit on Nelson as puppet of Dem leadership

@KathyBurstein: Unpopular opinion alert: The Gators have lost three of the last five home games where “I Won’t Back Down” has been played. Clearly, the Ghost of Tom Petty is trying to tell us something. I love you, @FloridaGators, but jinxes are real, and it’s time for some tough choices.

@DannyKannell: Quick thoughts on FSU: 1. At least we didn’t lose to Kentucky 2. An ugly win is still a win. 3. Ditch the backpack. It’s lame.

@GrayRohrer: .@TDOnline missed a perfect chance for a “Samford beats FSU 26-36” headline

@FSUChiefs: We proudly announced this morning we have accepted an invitation to represent the State of Florida and the United States at the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion on the beaches of Normandy this June, with additional celebratory performances in Paris. Nous allons en France!

— @Rob_Bradley: Huge win today for @Jaguars! Going on the road to NYC against a talented, young team was a tough challenge. Lots of heart from a group of winners.


First general election mail ballots go out — 12; First day of fall — 12; Future of Florida Forum — 16; FSU vs. UM football game — 26; Voter registration deadline for General Election — 29; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 43; MLB World Series begins — 43; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 44; Halloween — 51; General Election Day — 57; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 71; Thanksgiving — 73; Black Friday — 74; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 78; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 155; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 177; 2020 General Election — 785.


Democratic Senate hopes are alive, though precarious” via Harry Enten of CNN — Marist released three polls in pivotal Senate races this week. When you average the results of those questions including and not including third-party candidates, the other two polls found Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill up two points over Republican Josh Hawley and Tennessee Democrat Phil Bredesen up two points over Republican Marsha Blackburn. Besides Marist’s Indiana and Missouri results, Quinnipiac University found Florida’s Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson tied with Republican Rick Scott in a poll released this week.

Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

— “Trump colors the fall campaign landscape: ‘He’s been the only thing that matters’” via Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker of The Washington Post


Shot —Rick Scott start(ed) campaign bus tour Sunday. First stop? Don’t tell the media.” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott‘s campaign sent out a press advisory Saturday saying the “Make Washington Work Bus Tour” would open at Captain Anderson’s, a seafood restaurant in Panama City Beach owned by the family of Jimmy Patronis. Oh, really? Not exactly. Multiple sources said Scott planned a visit at 11 a.m. Central time Sunday at one of his favorite campaign haunts, The Donut Hole at 6745 U.S. Highway 98 in Santa Rosa Beach. A woman who answered the phone at the business Saturday and who checked with a co-worker said Scott would be there “at about 11” Sunday.

Chaser —Scott skips campaign stop, avoids beach access law critics” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott … was a surprise no-show after about a dozen people showed up to protest his signing of a controversial beach access law. … His big blue motor coach was seen on the city’s streets Sunday morning and an advance team was at the doughnut shop handing out “Let’s Get to Work” campaign signs. A special sound system was installed for the event. Scott is usually very punctual. Customers immediately sensed that something was amiss when he wasn’t there soon after 11 a.m., the time his campaign provided.

Gov. Rick Scott joins First Lady Ann Scott to kick off his statewide “Make Washington Work” Bus Tour at Capt. Anderson’s in Panama City, owned by political ally and state CFO Jimmy Patronis.

Tweet, tweet:

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott continues his “Make Washington Work” bus tour, 9 a.m., Mac Paper, 3300 Philips Hwy., Jacksonville.


How GOP warnings about Venezuela and socialism could hurt Andrew Gillum in Miami” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — From the moment the November ballot was set, Republicans’ message about Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gillum’s platform has been consistent: Florida can’t afford to adopt his “socialist” agenda. How that characterization — ruled “false” Thursday by fact-checking website PolitiFact — will play around the state is hard to predict. But it’s highly likely that the strategy will be effective in heavily Democratic Miami-Dade County, where Republicans are courting hundreds of thousands of exiles who’ve fled communist and socialist nations to keep Gillum from running up the score.

Republicans accuse Chris King of anti-Semitism for 1999 ‘nailed to the cross’ quote” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — King, 39, of Winter Park, was quoted in a 1999 story in the Newhouse News Service story about the Harvard Crimson newspaper’s skepticism of his Harvard Undergraduate Council candidacy. “I was nailed to the cross,” said King, a devout Christian then and now. “And most of the editorial staff that was so hard on me, the vast majority were Jewish.” The quote first came up in the campaign in June in a story on the site Orlando Rising. King, then a candidate for governor, apologized and said it was “from when I was 20 years old [and] is completely at odds with my beliefs. It was a hurtful and stupid comment.”

‘Monkey this up’ flap a ‘nothing burger,’ says Ron DeSantis” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Saturday saw the Congressman from Marineland on Fox News Channel with Neil Cavuto, when the longtime host asked DeSantis if he regretted using a turn of phrase characterized in many quarters as a racist “dog whistle” comment. “It’s a phony controversy,” DeSantis said, a distraction from Gillum’s proposal to raise corporate taxes from five to seven percent. When asked if he would use the phrase again, DeSantis exclaimed “of course not! Of course not,” before lapsing back into a de facto defense of the phrasing. “People are going to demagogue what you say,” DeSantis contended, adding that “the voters know this is a nothing burger … I’m not going to be derailed by these controversies.”

‘Russian Ron’ DeSantis? Florida Dems question loyalties in new ad” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – The ad begins with DeSantis on television defending President Trump, offering the money quote “Collusion is not a crime.” From there, a series of folder graphics, sporting the names of Trump inner circle members from the campaign, such as campaign manager Paul Manafort and surrogate Michael Flynn, followed by a series of names of Russian conspirators. Stamped across the folders: the word “guilty.” To view the video, click on the image below:

Now live – Florida Democrats have launched a website attacking “DeSantisCare.” “In Fox News green rooms and late-night Freedom Caucus meetings, DeSantis has been working to develop the perfect plan to raise Floridians’ health care costs, take away their coverage, gut protections for pre-existing conditions, and lower seniors’ standard of living,” reads the site.

Assignment editors — DeSantis and running mate Jeanette Nunez will kick off their campaign at 6 p.m., Bay of Pigs Museum & Library, 1821 SW. 9th St., Miami.


Supreme Court removes Amendment 8 from ballot” via Jeffrey Solochek and Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Justices, in a narrowly divided 4-3 decision, upheld the decision by a lower court that Amendment 8, scheduled to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, misled voters by not clearly stating its true purpose and never mentioning charter schools by name. The Republican-controlled state government has generally been more receptive to charter schools than local school boards — and this proposal would have helped expand the amount of public dollars steered to privately managed charter schools, critics of the ballot measure had argued. The court’s ruling is final, allowing elections supervisors across Florida to complete their Nov. 6 ballots almost immediately so that they are mailed to registered voter living overseas.

Tweet, tweet:

Amendment 10 OK’d for ballot by Supreme Court” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The state’s Supreme Court on Friday unanimously upheld a lower-court ruling approving Amendment 10, which would overhaul state and local governments by requiring certain offices now appointed to be elected. That means the constitutional change remains on the Nov. 6 ballot, though it still must be approved by no less than 60 percent of voters to take effect. The ballot measure, created by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission, had been opposed by charter counties, such as Miami-Dade and Volusia. The measure would make the five local constitutional offices — sheriff, tax collector, supervisor of elections, clerk of the court and property appraiser — mandatory and require elections for the offices in all 67 counties. It would also prohibit charter counties from abolishing or modifying those offices.

Off to the races: Supreme Court clears dog racing-ban for ballot” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The Florida Supreme Court ordered a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban betting on live greyhound racing back on the ballot, reversing a lower-court judge. Now, if approved by at least 60 percent of voters in November, the measure could sound the death knell of the state’s 87-year-old greyhound industry. In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 11 tracks. The court, in a 6-1 decision, overturned a previous order by Circuit Judge Karen Gievers, who ruled that Amendment 13’s ballot title and summary would mislead voters, calling it “outright ‘trickeration.’ ” Justice Peggy A. Quince dissented … The challenge “was filed because greyhound breeders know that when Amendment 13 appears on the ballot, Floridians will vote ‘yes’ for the dogs,” said the Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign, which is promoting passage of the amendment. “Florida has a proud tradition of leading on animal welfare, and we are confident Amendment 13 will pass in November.”

New ad campaign supports felon voting rights restorationvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new 60-second ad, going statewide, is aimed at garnering support for the restoration of voting rights for convicted felons who have served their prison sentence. The ad campaign was launched by the Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) in partnership with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC). The ad, titled “Time Done,” shows the fictionalized story of a man struggling to readjust to life after being released from prison. Whether applying for a job or registering to vote, the man is routinely asked about his status as a felon, often being denied opportunities because of it.

Click on the image below to watch the ad:


More than a year has passed since the Legislature unanimously recommended the Florida Cabinet issue posthumous pardons for the Groveland Four — Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd, and Ernest Thomas — and the Cabinet still has yet to act.

Gov. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and CFO Jimmy Patronis haven’t publicly expressed whether they intend to issue the pardons for the four black men falsely accused of rape in 1949.

(L to R) Jailer Reuben Hatcher, Walter Irvin, Charles Greenlee, Samuel Shepherd and Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall (Image via Gary Corsair/Orlando Sentinel)

That’s a stark contrast, we report, from the slate of Democratic candidates hoping to take over the governorship and Cabinet. Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor, is ready to pursue pardons “following the will of the Legislature” if he is elected governor, according to his spokesman.

Nikki Fried: “As AG Commissioner, and a member of the Cabinet, I would not hesitate to move the clemency review process, and these long-deserved pardons, forward quickly.”

Sean Shaw: “I will do everything within my power to bring closure for these families if this is not resolved by my first Clemency Board meeting as Attorney General.”

Jeremy Ring: “It makes me incensed that the Cabinet would just ignore the will of a bipartisan Legislature.”


Fresh poll – In the first survey of the unexpectedly competitive race for Florida Agriculture Commissioner, Democrat Nikki Fried begins the general election campaign with two-point lead over Republican Matt Caldwell. St. Pete Polls — the polling outfit that had the most reliable numbers in the primary election — pegs the race at 47 percent to 45 percent with 8 percent undecided. The survey is part of Wellness Week —  our effort to bring readers the most up-to-date info on the major statewide contests on the November ballot and the politics of cannabis in Florida. Hurting Caldwell’s standing is his opposition to the medical marijuana law approved by voters in the 2016 election. Forty-nine percent of voters are less likely to vote for him after they are made aware of this, even though Caldwell helped pass Florida’s low-THC med. marijuana law.

Nikki Fried, Jeremy Ring campaign on algae solutions on Caloosahatchee River” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Democratic Cabinet candidates Ring and Fried held a town hall on the Caloosahatchee River and committed, if elected, to bring stakeholders together to combat the dual plagues of blue-green algae and red tide. At a joint North Fort Myers campaign stop, Ring, a candidate for Chief Financial Officer, stressed the need for all parties involved with pollution problems around Lake Okeechobee to rally around a unified solution. Both Ring and Fried, the Democratic nominee for Agriculture Commissioner, said the executive branch could take immediate steps to prevent further harmful algal blooms.

Nikki Fried and Jeremy Ring meet with local business owners, fishermen, and environmentalists in Ft. Myers to discuss the blue-green algae’s effects on their community.

Assignment editors — Fried and Congressman Charlie Crist will hold a joint conference call to discuss the need for medical marijuana policy reform, 9:30 a.m. RSVP for call-in info:

‘Time for a change’: Lauren Baer hits Brian Mast on GOP tax law” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Baer is out with a new 30-second ad which knocks Republican Mast‘s support for last year’s GOP tax cuts law. Baer, a former official in the Barack Obama administration, is trying to oust Mast from his seat in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. The ad, titled “Mel,” features commentary from Mel Liebman, owner of The Clock Shop of Fort Pierce. In the ad, Liebman and Baer bemoan the tax cuts in a conversation about the law’s effects.

Click on the image below to watch the ad:

Mike Hill’s comeback bid needed every trick in the book” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Hill’s performance could all be due to his higher name recognition. HD 1 shares a border and media market with his old seat, HD 2, where he won a couple of elections. Two years ago, he also spent nearly $200,000 in campaign dollars running in the SD 1 Republican primary, where he lost by 14 points to now-Sen. Doug Broxson. But the late break this year toward Hill could also be due to a string of deceitful mailers, disinformation, racially charged and sexist comments, shady campaign stunts and a fake endorsement from President Donald Trump in the closing days of the race.


Emails show palm tree contractor got special access to FDOT Secretary and advance notice of projects” via Adam Walser of WTSP — I-Team has discovered hundreds of emails that shine a light on how the state’s largest palm tree contractor landed nearly $50 million in FDOT contracts to plant those trees. “I don’t know what they’re planting them for,” said Willie Brown, who runs a transportation company in Manatee County. Brown was referring to the nearby I-75/Highway 301 interchange, where FDOT spent more than $1 million on landscaping. That interchange was part of a project launched by Gov. Scott in 2012 called the “Bold” landscape program, in which hardwood trees and shrubs were replaced with palm trees, many of which are non-native to Florida and cost thousands of dollars each. A letter showing that Homestead tree farmer Manuel Diaz pitched the idea of “Bold” to the governor soon after he was elected. Records show Diaz and his businesses donated at least $60,000 to help Scott get elected.

Legislators reject Gov. Scott on school security” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press — Despite repeated requests from Gov. Scott, legislative leaders have officially refused to steer $58 million to school districts to help them hire more campus police officers. Under the guardian program school districts were eligible to receive money to train school staff to act as armed guardians on school campuses. But most districts have opted instead to hire officers even though some districts have struggled to come up with enough money to pay for them. … Sen. Bill Galvano, the incoming Senate president, wrote a letter to Scott on Friday telling him he would not support the request. He said the guardian program is still evolving and more districts may opt into it in the future.

Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano will not be using excess money for school security.

Next governor may have budget surplus to work with” via The Associated Press — Florida’s next governor may inherit a small budget surplus during his first year in office. A new budget forecast released Friday by state economists shows the state is expected to bring in enough money in 2019 to meet its needs for public schools and health care programs while leaving $1 billion available for reserves. The three-year forecast will be presented to legislators this coming week. Economists are projecting a relatively small surplus of about $223 million.

State apologizes for SunPass problems” via the News Service of Florida — At the start of a Florida Transportation Commission meeting Thursday, Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Dew said motorists should not have endured the issues that arose from the $287 million project, which took longer than planned and created a processing backlog of several hundred million toll collections. “This is not what they expect. This is not what they deserve,” Dew said. “This is not what SunPass is supposed to do. And they had to endure a lot of complications over the course of the summer.”

Hundreds pack meeting on beach access in Panhandle” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The crowd of 800-plus at South Walton High School and the intensity of views were the latest signs of how strongly people feel about this quality-of-life issue after Gov. Scott signed a bill that makes it harder for cities and counties to pass local laws protecting public beach access. The law (HB 631), which attracted little public attention in the 2018 session of the Legislature, is seen as a direct response to Walton County’s adoption last year of a beach access law that has been challenged unsuccessfully by private property owners.

Red Tide arrives in Pinellas, killing hundreds of thousands of fish” via McKenna Oxenden and Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times — Pinellas County environmental officials have reported hundreds of thousands of dead fish on and off the coast of area beaches stretching more than 20 miles from Clearwater to St. Petersburg, confirming that Red Tide has reached the Tampa Bay area. The first report of fish kills came from the city of Clearwater on Friday, said Kelli Levy, Pinellas’ director of environmental management. Around noon Saturday, the city of St. Petersburg reported “hundreds of thousands” more. Madeira Beach, Redington Beach and Treasure Island have also been affected, she said. Levy could not provide an overall estimate of how many fish have been found.

Red tide to blame as ‘hundreds of thousands’ of dead fish wash up on Pinellas beaches. (Image via WFLA News/Twitter)

—”Experts point to red tide, blue-green algae for some problems in SWFL’s bee population” via Michael Braun of the News-Press

Race-baiting Tony Daniel charged with battery after clash over one of his signs” via Bre Bradham of the Tampa Bay Times — It was not an uncommon sight for Tampa residents. Local provocateur Tony Daniel was standing on a street corner Friday, megaphone and racist sign in hand. But then a woman slapped his sign, police say, and Daniel hit her in the face with his electronic megaphone. Another woman joined the brawl, which spilled into the street. When it was over, Daniel, 60, was arrested on a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon — the megaphone — and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail.

Justices slated to hear charter county battle” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments Nov. 8 in a dispute about a voter-approved change that called for Orange County constitutional officers to be chosen in nonpartisan elections. The court Friday issued an order that scheduled oral arguments in the case. Orange County voters in 2014 supported revamping the county charter to include nonpartisan elections for the clerk of circuit court, comptroller, property appraiser, sheriff, supervisor of elections and tax collector. Constitutional officers filed a lawsuit, and a circuit judge rejected the change, concluding that the issue was “pre-empted” to the Legislature.

Oral arguments ordered in state office complex ‘bat poop’ case” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — An appellate court has granted a request for oral argument in a dispute between the owners of a Tallahassee office complex and several state agencies who bolted on the master lease. Dockets reviewed Thursday show an argument date of Oct. 9 before the 1st District Court of Appeal in a lawsuit over Northwood Centre, a former shopping mall-turned-office complex that had been home to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and others. Northwood Associates, owners of the property, appealed after Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled in favor of the agencies. Critics called the complex a “biological hot zone” after inspectors discovered 10 pounds of bat feces in the ceiling above the desk of then-DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson.

17th Circuit creates ‘civility magistrates’” via The Florida Bar News – With social media brawls dominating headlines and faith in public institutions plummeting, 17th Circuit Chief Judge Jack Tuter is determined to keep civil courts civil. The result is Administrative Order 2018-35-Civ, which gives circuit judges the ability to appoint volunteer “professionalism and civility magistrates” to help resolve petty disputes, lower the emotional temperature, and correct overly aggressive behavior. “We were trying to do something that’s a little bit out of the box,” Tuter says. “Something that we think would assist the lawyers and cut down on the acrimony in the courtroom and provide an avenue to resolve what have turned out to be personal disputes rather than real legal disputes.” Lawyers who make it impossible to schedule hearings by ghosting opposing counsel, lawyers who blow up depositions with meaningless objections, or who refuse to agree where and when to conduct them, or lawyers who otherwise behave unprofessionally, could be ordered to appear before a volunteer magistrate, often a senior partner in one of Broward County’s largest and most respected firms.

RIP ‘Every day hero’: Flags at half-staff for Taylor J. Galvin” via Florida Politics — Gov. Scott ordered flags at half-staff for Taylor J. Galvin, a U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CW3). Galvin died after an Aug. 20 helicopter crash in Iraq. His wife’s family live in Cedar Key. Scott directed the U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff at the Levy County Courthouse in Bronson, Town Hall in Cedar Key, and at the Capitol in Tallahassee … A tribute to him written by his wife and in-laws is in the Cedar Key News … “In Taylor’s final letter he wrote, ‘If I died at work, I want you to know that I died doing what I believe in and what I believe is right.’ “

Done deal: Medical marijuana’s MedMen closes on Florida acquisition” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — MedMen Enterprises Inc. of Los Angeles, the country’s biggest medical marijuana provider, on Friday said it had closed a deal to buy a medical marijuana treatment center license and “related assets” from Central Florida’s Treadwell Nursery. The $53 million deal, first announced in June, includes “prime retail locations with long-term leases in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, St. Petersburg and Key West,” the company said in a news release. “The state has high tourist activity and is home to the largest elderly community in the nation,” the release said. “Our entry into Florida through this acquisition demonstrates our growing national footprint as well as our ability to execute,” said Adam Bierman, MedMen chief executive and co-founder. “Our real estate team is hard at work preparing to put MedMen branded stores in the most coveted locations in Florida — locations in highly desirable and defensible market areas with high foot traffic and proximity to popular brand retailers.”


The series finale of “Rest in Power,” the six-part docuseries about Trayvon Martin’s murder, explores the link between Martin’s death and Donald Trump’s victory four years later, reports the Daily Beast.

“These very kind of raw, racial issues came to the fore … and it didn’t benefit the Democratic Party apparently as much as it did Donald Trump,” explains veteran political reporter Marc Caputo in the episode.

The finale of ‘Rest In Power’ is available starting this week.

The implication? The rekindling of racial issues in the Sunshine State could’ve helped nudge more white voters to the polls.

Turnout: “The white turnout for Trump was unexpectedly large,” adds Caputo. “We didn’t expect [Trump] to run up the score as much as he did, but in hindsight, it might not surprise us so much that he did.”

Slice of reality: Per Daily Beast, “Trump’s stunning 2016 win in Florida served a microcosm of the general election: despite losing to Hillary Clinton in the urban areas of southern Florida, he dominated in every other corner of the state and eventually won by 1.4 percentage points, or 134,000 votes.”

When to watch: Monday, September 10 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on both the Paramount Network and BET.


Lucy Morgan: No Governor in modern times has been more secretive than Scott” via Lucy Morgan for Florida Phoenix — Day after day, that’s the schedule sent out by Gov. Scott as he travels the state campaigning for the U.S. Senate. It’s not that he ever told us where he was, but the dearth of information is far more pronounced these days. No governor in modern times has been as secretive about his whereabouts or the company he keeps. In days gone by, past governors were very upfront about their travels. Daily schedules told reporters where governors were going; what airplanes they were traveling on, and who else was on the planes, including Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents.

John Stemberger: Gillum in two words: Impressive and radical” via John Stemberger — In terms of political currency, Gillum is the package. He could be the most impressive Democrat candidate for Governor in modern Florida political history. But he is also the most radical. He self-identified in the primary as the “true progressive in this race,” and the USA Herald called Gillum the “far-left choice” in the Democratic field. CNN reported, “Gillum was, without question, the choice of liberals in this race” and said the lesson of the primary election was, “you can’t be too liberal.”

A year after Hurricane Irma, South Florida is better prepared for the Big One — finally” via the Miami Herald editorial board — A year ago this Monday, Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys. Although it only brushed many of us — it punished Middle Keys residents where homes were inundated, and insurance-related struggles continue. In terms of wind speed, it was the strongest hurricane to hit Florida since Charley in 2004. But Irma did something other hurricanes hadn’t. It gave rise to a robust concept that we need to be more resilient as a community and as individuals in the face of catastrophic storms. As a community, we need to be better prepared so that we can bounce back quicker, with less damage, when a storm hits. Individually, we need to rely on ourselves and less on government help.


Appointed — State Rep. Rene Plasencia (reappointed) to the Board of Control for Southern Regional Education; Gregory Littleton and Daniel Dorrell (both reappointed) to the Polk State College District Board of Trustees; Lindsey Lander, Dr. Miguel Tepedino and Dr. James Surrency to the Florida Gateway College District Board of Trustees; and Tina Calderone to the Seminole State College District Board of Trustees.

Personnel note: Sara Clements joins McGuireWoods Consulting” via Florida Politics — The Florida office of McGuireWoods Consulting has hired Clements, who starts today. She’ll be on the Florida Government Affairs and National Education teams as a vice president, out of the firm’s Tallahassee office. Clements joins the firm after six years of leading government affairs in-house for education nonprofits in Florida. “Sara’s depth of experience advocating on behalf of students, teachers and Florida’s public education system and extensive knowledge of education policy issues in our state brings welcomed breadth to our team,” said Sean Stafford, senior vice president and director of McGuireWoods Consulting Florida Government Affairs team … She most recently led external and legislative affairs for Step Up For Students, the largest scholarship funding organization in the nation.

Congratulations to Sara Clements.

Personnel note: Nichole Geary heads to Floridian Partners” via Florida Politics – Geary, formerly the Florida Department of Health‘s (DOH) General Counsel, is joining Floridian Partners, LLC’s government affairs and law practice, the firm announced Monday. Geary, who will be in the firm’s Tallahassee office, will focus on health care policy, medical cannabis regulation, strategic business consulting, and general legislative and executive branch advocacy under the firm’s government affairs division.

New lobbying registrations:

Richard Brightman, Hopping Green & Sams: The Forestland Group

Matt Bryan, David Daniel, Thomas Griffin, Jeff Hartley, Lisa Hurley, Jim Naff, Smith Bryan & Myers: Roller Skating Association International

Richard Chait: Florida Workers’ Advocates

Rachel Cone, James Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Florida Senior Living Association

Rob Fields, Capitol Agility: DocuSign

Amanda Gorman, Adams St. Advocates: The Children’s Forum, Five Points Technology Group, Florida Pharmacy Association, Symantec Corporation, Unisys Corporation

Jeff Sharkey, Capitol Alliance Group: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

Meredith Stanfield, Department of Financial Services

— ALOE —

Tweet, tweet:

Why Russian trolls may be more excited that the NFL is back than you are” via Donie O’Sullivan and Aaron Kessler of CNN — The same Kremlin-linked group that posed as Americans on social media during the 2016 US presidential election has repeatedly exploited the controversy surrounding the NFL and players who have protested police brutality and racial injustice during the national anthem, playing both sides in an effort to exacerbate divides in American society. The debate is almost certainly an irresistible one for the Russians, given that it includes issues of race, patriotism and national identity — topics the Russian trolls sought to exploit during the run-up to the election, and have continued to focus on in the two years since. CNN worked with researchers at Clemson University that have archived millions of tweets sent by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll group that was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in February. The accounts’ links to Russia were discovered by Twitter, which provided details about them to Congress. The data show trolls repeatedly weighing in on the debate, using different accounts to take both sides. While they used some accounts to push petitions to fire the protesting players, they used others to hail them as heroes.

Happy birthday to the incredibly talented Katie Ballard. We pretty much invented our ’30 under 30′ and ‘Rising Star’ awards to recognize her work. What a force she is and will be. Celebrating over the weekend were state Sen. Anitere Flores, state Rep. Thad Altman, as well as former state Rep. Ed Narain.

Takeaways from Tallahassee — New food from a familiar face

A fresh slate of state leaders won’t be the only change lawmakers confront when they return to Tallahassee next year.  

Savour restaurant, offering traditional fare with a twist, is set to open its doors Oct. 15, replacing Avenue Eat & Drink at its former location on East Park Avenue in the heart of Tallahassee’s downtown district.

Florida Politics caught up with owner and operator Drew McLeod, who says he “absolutely” intends to cater to lawmakers, state leaders and others who inhabit the capital city. He’s betting his experience — nearly 30 years of working in the food and restaurant industry in and around Tallahassee — will translate well to his latest venture.

And Savour, he says, should complement other food enterprises popping up downtown, an area where other restaurants have recently struggled.

Avenue Eat & Drink quietly shuttered earlier this summer.

The dining will be upscale with entrees between $25-$45, but McLeod assures the price-quality ratio will keep customers coming back. Spearheading the kitchen and menu is top chef Brian Knepper, who got his start at the famous Commander’s Palace in New Orleans and has since worked at Tallahassee’s Cypress Restaurant, Governor’s Inn and Table 23.

Among the anticipated foodstuffs: Veal chops, lobster bao buns, local black grouper and escargot pot pie. McLeod expects the made-in-house desserts to also carry a “twist;” think key lime-raspberry-blackberry-flavored creme brulee.

Antibiotic-free, local and sustainable products also will be available, McLeod says. And the wine list will be “phenomenal,” boasting a “large variety from NAPA.” That’s in addition to a full bar.

“We’re going to have a menu that kind of evolves,” McLeod adds. “We’re not going to be afraid to change it every three to six months.”

Savour will operate Monday through Saturday night, and McLeod expects to open as a venue on Sundays for events.

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

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

Take 5

Supreme Court rules on CRC challenges – The Supreme Court of Florida struck an education-related amendment from the ballot Friday afternoon while upholding in separate rulings three other proposals that were approved by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission. The education ballot item, known as Amendment 8, was struck in a 4-3 decision that affirmed a lower court’s stance that the proposal’s intentions toward charter schools were badly worded. The high court, however, disagreed with a lower court’s stance in its ruling on a proposal that would end dog racing. In a 6-1 decision, justices overturned a previous order by Circuit Judge Karen Gievers, who ruled the ballot title and summary of the proposed ban, known as Amendment 13, would mislead voters, calling it “outright ‘trickeration.’ ” Amendments 10 and 6 also were upheld by the Supreme Court on Friday.

Lower court examines ‘bundling’ – Tallahassee Judge Gievers heard arguments this week over a sweeping challenge to six of the eight proposed amendments approved by the CRC. Filed by former Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead, the lawsuit seeks to wipe the proposals off the ballot because they bundle, or logroll, separate issues into single ballot items. The practice is like forcing diners to select a set menu rather than letting them eat a la carte, a lawyer representing Anstead said. An attorney representing the state, however, argued that there is no judicial authority that guarantees one a right to vote on an unbundled CRC amendment. The case had originally been filed with the state Supreme Court, but the justices kicked the lawsuit down to Gievers’ trial court. Gievers said this week she will rule quickly on the matter.

Scott clashes with Legislature on security money – Gov. Rick Scott is pushing a special lawmaking budget panel to convene and unlock $58 million in unused school security funding, but lawmakers are resisting. Scott last week penned a letter to members of the Joint Legislative Budget Commission citing a Department of Education survey that found school districts used just $9 million of the $67 appropriated for the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program. The guardian program funds schools in districts that opted to hire security personnel or arm non-teacher faculty to staff guards at every campus. Before Scott wrote the letter, Bill Galvano, incoming Senate President, and Jose Oliva, incoming House Speaker, told The Associated Press they did not intend to shift the money out of the program. Both Oliva and Galvano are members of the special budget panel. Scott, in his letter, wrote: “Schools in your community can directly benefit from the redirection of this important funding. We cannot let this money go to waste in Tallahassee.”

Parkland SRO subpoenaed by state panelScot Peterson, the school resource officer who was stationed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the Valentine’s Day shooting that left 17 dead, has been subpoenaed to appear before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, reports the News Service of Florida. Peterson has been widely criticized because he did not stop the shooter, Nikolas Cruz. “As opposed to going in, he retreated and ran,” said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who heads the fact-finding panel. “We’ll see him leave the door, after saying there were shots fired and hearing shots.” Gualtieri and the commission reviewed footage of the massacre this week. Peterson’s subpoena is for the panel’s October meeting.

Transportation officials: Sorry about SunPass – A Transportation Commission meeting this week began on an apologetic note, reports the News Service of Florida. Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Dew apologized publicly for the issues that have accompanied a $287 million upgrade to SunPass, the state’s toll system. “This is not what they expect. This is not what they deserve,” Dew said. “This is not what SunPass is supposed to do. And they had to endure a lot of complications over the course of the summer.” The upgrades, carried out by state contractor Conduent, took longer than expected and resulted in a toll backlog exceeding 170 million transactions. The backlog has since been cleared, and the state has promised to hold Conduent accountable for its failures.   

Scott announces $1.5 million in grants for small, rural communities

Funding to the tune of $1.5 million will be available for small and rural communities across the state, Gov. Scott announced this week.

The Competitive Florida Partnership and Community Planning Technical Assistance grants will be administered by the Department of Economic Opportunity. The communities using the funding will receive assistance from DEO in planning and economic development.

Rick Scott announced the grant funding this week. It will be administered by his jobs agency, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

“Providing resources to support job creation in our rural communities plays a vital role in our state’s continued growth,” Scott said.

Added DEO executive director Cissy Proctor: “These grants are important economic development tools used to benefit Florida’s small and rural communities, allowing them to develop economic strategies to attract businesses and create jobs.”

According to Scott’s office, the grant money is in addition to more than $35 million already awarded to small and rural communities through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, the Rural Infrastructure Fund and the Community Development Block Grant.

Ag department makes dent in invasive snails

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced some good news this week for farmers: more than 168,000 giant African land snails have been eliminated since the species’ discovery in 2011.

The invasive shelled creatures are threats to more than 500 crop varieties in Florida. They also consume plaster and stucco and are vehicles for a parasite known to cause meningitis, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

To report a giant African land snail, call the department’s toll-free help line at 1-888-397-1517.

“Giant African land snails not only threaten Florida’s $120 million agriculture industry, but they also endanger our residents and visitors,” said Putnam. “I am proud of the significant progress we’ve made to eliminate these invasive pests, and I encourage the public to report sightings.”

In partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture, Florida officials have dequarantined areas in 20 of the 32 identified snail hotspots. ‘

The snail species, originally hailing from East Africa, can grow to 8 inches in length. They have no natural predators and can reproduce rapidly, with adults capable of laying some 1,200 eggs a year.

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The Week in Appointments

Gov. Scott this week made the following appointments and reappointments:

Board of Control for Southern Regional Education

State Rep. Rene “Coach P” Plasencia, 45, of Orlando, is a district relations manager with Florida Virtual School and previously served as a classroom instructor for 17 years. He currently represents House District 49. Plasencia is reappointed for a term ending June 30, 2022. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council

Trenia Cox, 68, of St. Petersburg is a former senior special projects coordinator for the Juvenile Welfare Board. She is reappointed for a term beginning Sept. 6 and ending July 18, 2021. Nancy Acevedo, 69, of Winter Springs is the community relations coordinator for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. She succeeds Patricia Robbins and is appointed for a term beginning Sept. 6 and ending July 18, 2021. Calvin Martin, 49, of Palatka is the state director of program advocacy and inclusion of Florida Guardian ad Litem. He succeeds Karim Veerjee and is appointed for a term beginning Sept. 6 and ending July 18, 2020.

Polk State College District Board of Trustees

Gregory Littleton, 51, of Winter Haven, is the president and chief executive officer of Citizens Bank & Trust. He received his bachelor’s degree from Freed-Hardeman University and an advance banking degree from the Graduate School of Banking. Littleton is reappointed for a term beginning Sept. 6 and ending May 31, 2019. Daniel Dorrell, 71, of Lakeland, is a retired Certified Public Accountant. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Florida State University. Dorrell is reappointed for a term beginning Sept. 6 and ending May 31, 2022. These appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Florida Gateway College District Board of Trustees

Lindsey Lander, 45, of Trenton, is the owner of Lindsey Lander Attorney at Law P.A. He received his bachelor’s and law degree from the University of Florida. Lander is appointed for a term beginning Sept. 6 and ending May 31, 2022. Dr. Miguel Tepedino, 39, of Lake City, is a physician with North Florida Family Medicine and a residency and associate clinical professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine. He received his bachelor’s degree and medical doctorate from the University of Florida. Tepedino is appointed for a term beginning Sept. 6 and ending May 31, 2022. Dr. James Surrency, 66, of Trenton, is the retired executive director of the North East Florida Educational Consortium. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Murray State University, and his doctorate of Education from Nova Southeastern University. Surrency is reappointed for a term beginning Sept. 6 and ending May 31, 2022. These are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Seminole State College District Board of Trustees

Tina Calderone, 59, of Longwood, is a school board member for Seminole County Public Schools. She received her bachelor’s degree from Central Connecticut State University and her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Florida. Calderone is appointed to fill a vacant seat for a term beginning Sept. 6 and ending May 31, 2022. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

ACA health insurance prices going up

Premiums for Affordable Care Act-complaint health insurance will rise by an average 5.2 percent as of Jan. 1, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

The office reviewed rates proposed by nine insurers, and OK’d premium changes ranging from a drop of 1.5 percent to an increase of 9.8 percent. You can review the results per insurer here.

The highest rate on offer would be from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, at $620 per month, and the lowest from Florida Health Care Plans, at $489

Those outcomes could change, depending on a review by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the state insurance office said.

Hearing set on workers’ comp premium reduction

State regulators will schedule a hearing during October to consider a 13.4 percent decrease in Florida’s workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance, or NCCI, proposes rate levels for all of Florida’s workers’ compensation carriers. But the Office of Insurance Regulation has the final say.

CFO Jimmy Patronis oversees the regulatory body.

“As always, OIR will review the filing to ensure the proposed changes are not excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory and evaluate its potential effects on the insurance marketplace and employers, who are required by law to carry this insurance on their employees,” the agency said in a press release.

In the past, regulators have deviated from NCCI’s rate proposals. If they approve this change, it would take effect on Jan. 1.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who oversees the insurance office, said the development was “a testament to our commitment to ensuring Florida is an attractive place for all business owners.

Time to register for insurance summit

Registration is open for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s annual summit, scheduled for Oct. 24-25 at the Turnbull Conference Center in Tallahassee.

State Sen. Jeff Brandes is scheduled to give the keynote address. The St. Petersburg Republican carried a number of insurance reform bills last session, including a measure promoting the Florida private flood insurance market.

Sen. Jeff Brandes will deliver the keynote address the FOIR’s annual summit.

Key office staff will discuss priorities during break-out sessions covering the Medicare supplement market; flood insurance; the fine points of filing forms with the office; the state’s new insurance filing system; and the assignment-of-benefits “crisis.”

Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier will deliver remarks opening and closing the conference.

James Madison Institute opines on amendments

The Tallahassee-based James Madison Institute announced its 2018 Florida Constitutional Amendment Guide, where voters can find an analysis of each ballot initiative.

“A well-informed voter is the bedrock of our republic, and it is our hope that The James Madison Institute’s 2018 Amendment Guide will educate voters on the issues present in the upcoming election,” said Dr. Bob McClure, the group’s President and CEO.

The James Madison Institute is a liberty-minded think tank headquartered in Tallahassee.

“Educated voters help ensure that Florida will make prudent decisions for our future, and the importance of this year’s election will be examined for generations to come.”

As Florida’s premier free-market think tank, the Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational organization. It conducts research on issues such as health care, taxes, and regulatory environments.

JMI’s 2018 Florida Constitutional Amendment Guide can be found here.

Tallahassee entrepreneur honored as national retail champion

Lisa Mergel, owner of Kanvas Beauty in Tallahassee, was recently named America’s Retail Champion of the Year.  

Mergel’s brick-and-mortar location is a boutique day spa and beauty products store. In addition to managing the business, Mergel serves as a board member for the Florida Retail Federation.

R. Scott Shalley is the president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation.

“We are extremely proud but not surprised that the winner came from Florida, and there’s no one more representative of the incredible and dedicated retail employees in our state than Lisa Mergel and Kanvas Beauty,” said FRF President & CEO R. Scott Shalley. “Lisa’s commitment to her community, her customers and her industry are just some of the reasons she was selected for this prestigious award and we’re honored to have her as a board member and a leader of Florida’s retail industry.”

The America’s Retail Champions program honors retailers who contribute to and make their mark on the public policy debates affecting the industry.

More than $24M available for volunteer efforts

Volunteer Florida recently announced that $24,329,191 was secured to administer 38 AmeriCorps programs in the Sunshine State through the next fiscal year.

The Governor’s lead agency for volunteerism and service, Volunteer Florida plans to use the money to mentor at-risk students and boost the state’s graduation and retention rates. Eighty-one percent of the total figure will “help provide after-school tutoring, summer school programming and targeted interventions to prevent dropouts and encourage long-term success in school,” according to the agency.

“I am grateful for Governor Scott’s continued support of Volunteer Florida, as this funding will allow approximately 1,430 AmeriCorps members to engage in direct, high-impact service Florida’s communities,” said Volunteer Florida CEO David Mica. “These dedicated AmeriCorps members will improve individual Floridians’ lives and make the state a more prosperous place for all to live.”

Remaining funding, according to the agency, will be used to protect Florida’s natural resources, conserve public lands, promote prosperity and help the state’s disaster responses.

AmeriCorps volunteers serve a year in the program to gain valuable experience before entering the workforce or continuing their education. This year, $6,692,613 worth of scholarship funding is available for members who complete their service. View a full list of AmeriCorps initiatives receiving the funding here.

FSU student-managed fund breaks $4 million mark

Looking for financial advice? Consider consulting with a student at Florida State University.

FSU’s College of Business announced recently that an investment fund managed by undergraduate and graduate finance students exceeded $4 million, a new record in the fund’s 12-year history.

In 2013, the College of Business introduced a dedicated trading room that is used by the SIF’s student managers.

It closed last month at $4,026,382, up 17 percent from the same time last year and up 10 percent year to date.

“The fund has benefited from the strong performance of the overall market,” said Steven Perfect, associate professor of finance, a certified financial analyst and the faculty adviser of the student fund. “But we also were well-positioned in a number of high-performing technology stocks like Apple, Amazon, CRW and NVIDIA.”

“We are incredibly proud that we can offer this experience to our finance students and that they have engaged so deeply and successfully in the opportunity,” said Michael D. Hartline, dean of the College of Business. “The SIF is an invaluable tool for preparing students for the complex and challenging world of finance and a great example of why our school is recognized as one of the preeminent business schools in the nation.”

Jim Moran building wins award

The renovation of Florida State University’s new entrepreneurship-focused Jim Moran Building has won a design award “recognizing architectural features that nurture learning and imagination,” the school said.

The American Institute of Architects in Florida has presented its ‘Merit Award of Excellence for Renovations and Additions’ to the project’s architects, who “transformed the 19th-century building in downtown Tallahassee into a state-of-the-art home for entrepreneurial education.”

The building’s interior exhibits design narratives of connectivity, transparency and inspiration.

The honor notes several design elements: “We’ve taken that idea of transparency, literally, in the building,” said M. Hays Layerd, formerly of Architects Lewis + Whitlock, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in May.

“You see glass walls wherever possible. The fronts and backs of the building are glass to allow light and views to permeate through. We want everything to be open. We want to be open to the community, so people have a visual connection, understanding that the entrepreneurial process is not hidden or done in private. You really need to connect with people.”

Also, inspiring quotes from Moran, an automotive entrepreneur and philanthropist, and a timeline of his life story are displayed prominently throughout the 20,000-square-foot building, next to the new Ballard Building on Monroe Street.

Research finds bias against businesswomen

Women CEOs in America are paid less, have shorter tenures and their companies are punished in the stock market, even when their firms are just as profitable as those run by men, according to new research from Florida State University.

In addition, women CEOs are less likely to serve as board chair of their companies, and they have a much tougher time landing the top job because there is significantly less demand for their leadership compared to men.

“This research should be eye-opening to people, and I hope they take a closer look,” said Michael Holmes, FSU’s Jim Moran Associate Professor of Strategic Management. “We hope this sets the record straight on past research, some of which has produced conflicting results, and now people can build on this aggregation of findings.”

To set the record straight, Holmes and Assistant Professor of Management Gang Wang conducted an exhaustive study focusing on the influence of gender on CEOs’ careers.

The business management experts conducted a meta-analysis, examining the entire body of research completed over decades, and they pored over 158 previous studies that investigated gender, companies’ hiring choices and the impact of those decisions.

One of the key findings in that body of research reveals an extreme underrepresentation of women CEOs. Only 5.4 percent of Fortune 500 companies had female CEOs in 2017, and that figure was the all-time high in the United States.

Junior League of Tallahassee to host Sunshine State Ball

Local residents and guests from across the state will be welcomed to the capital city to enjoy dinner and live entertainment at the 2019 Sunshine State Ball.

The inaugural event, hosted by the Junior League of Tallahassee, is a celebration of Florida and its volunteers.

“We are beyond thrilled to be turning this vision into a reality,” said Junior League of Tallahassee President Lex Phillips. “It will be a historic evening. We’re setting the bar with this inaugural event and hope it begins a long tradition of fun and Florida pride that gives back in a big way to the community we love.”

The event will take place on Jan. 11 at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. Tickets for the black-tie occasion are available but are expected to sell quickly. Proceeds will benefit the Junior League’s mission.

“The Sunshine State Ball is a continuation of the Junior League of Tallahassee’s legacy, and we hope to energize and inspire others as an example of effective community volunteerism across the Sunshine State,” added Phillips. “We are women who believe in our community and want to make it a better place. This event is the next step in being the change we want to see in Tallahassee and in Florida.”

Cap City Bank named “best bank”

American Banker Magazine has listed Tallahassee’s Capital City Bank among its 2018 “Best Banks to Work For,” ranking No. 35 overall out of 85 banks that achieved best bank status.

The 2018 edition marks the sixth consecutive year the 123-year-old financial institution has appeared on the list.

As its name suggests, Capital City Bank is the financial institution of choice for many Tallahasseeans.

“Capital City Bankers are dedicated to building personal relationships while exceeding the expectations of our clients,” said Bill Smith, Capital City Bank Group chairman, president and CEO. “We aspire to be more than a bank to our clients and emphasize creating positive, memorable and exceptional service experiences.

“Our associates are our most valuable resource and make it possible to live up to this promise. I’m proud of our team and honored that Capital City Bank has been recognized in this way again this year.”

The annual “Best Banks to Work For” list was created in 2013 by American Banker Magazine and Best Companies Group.

Capitol Directions

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 9.7.18

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

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

Good Friday morning. It’s Day 3 of the annual conference of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists. We start the day with a personnel move in the lobbying industry that is certain to turn heads.

Teye Reeves, who has been featured several times in Florida Politics and INFLUENCE Magazine for her winning work for clients such as Publix, is joining the firm Smith Bryan & Myers.

An official announcement is forthcoming, but we’re told the deal is done and Reeves will soon be taking her expertise on a broad array of issues to SBM, which consistently ranks in the Top 10 of all firms for compensation.

Good luck Teye!

— DAY 3 —

All good things must come to an end.

It’s the final day of the 14th annual conference of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists.

Really, it’s just a half-day in the morning. But the highlight of the short day might be the 8:30 a.m. “Opening Remarks/Announcements” section.

That’s when “all candidates for Governor, Attorney General, CFO and Agriculture Commissioner (are) invited to speak.”

We’ll be interested to see who shows up and what they have to say, especially now that Andrew Gillum has officially announced Chris King as his running mate, and Ron DeSantis picked Jeanette Nuñez as his LG.

Later, Andrew Wiggins of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Democratic strategist Steve Schale offer a 2018 election update, “Polls, Predictions and Primaries: Both Sides of the Aisle.”

The conference has been at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek in Orlando. Once again, the schedule of events is here.


First general election mail ballots go out — 15; First day of fall — 15; Future of Florida Forum — 19; FSU vs. UM football game — 29; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 46; MLB World Series begins — 46; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 47; Halloween — 54; General Election Day — 60; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 74; Thanksgiving — 76; Black Friday — 77; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 81; “Hamilton” comes to the Straz Center — 158; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 180; 2020 General Election — 788.


St. Pete Polls — the polling outfit that had the most reliable numbers in the primary election — is out with its first survey of Florida’s gubernatorial race. The survey is part of Wellness Week —  our effort to bring readers the most up-to-date info on the major statewide contests on the November ballot and the politics of cannabis in Florida.

How close is Ron DeSantis vs. Andrew Gillum? Well, St. Pete Polls has the race 47.6 percent for DeSantis to 47.3 percent for Gillum. Typically, we don’t include the numbers on the right side of the decimal point, but this contest is so razor close, we have to. At this point, we would not be surprised if the race ends up with a final margin so close it prompts an automatic recount.

While voters are deadlocked over who should lead the state, there’s a clear consensus about the Florida law that allows the use of medical marijuana if approved by a doctor. Seventy-four percent of voters support the law.

We’ll have more details about this latest poll on later today.


Rick Scott, Ron DeSantis blast Democratic ‘socialism’ at GOP kickoff event” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – The leaders of the Republican Party ticket in Florida, Gov. Scott and Rep. DeSantis, criticized their Democratic rivals Thursday as radical socialists who can’t be trusted with the reins of government. “This election offers voters the starkest choice possible,” Scott said, reading from a prepared text — a rarity for him. “The Democratic ticket of Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum offers a very clear, very liberal, very radical and very risky direction for our state and country.” DeSantis, who has highlighted national issues over state issues throughout his campaign, criticized Gillum, the Mayor of Tallahassee, for opposing the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and for calling for the elimination of the federal immigration agency.

Gov. Rick Scott shakes hands with gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis as he introduces him to supporters at Republican rally Thursday.

American Bridge drops ad “exposing Scott’s record on algae, clean water” – The progressive group released a new digital ad on Thursday calling out Gov. and U.S. Senate candidate Scott for “trying to spin the facts on clean water and the devastating toxic algae crisis.” Specifically, the ad highlights $700 million (attributing the Tampa Bay Times as its source) that Scott cut from Florida’s water management districts. “They’re in charge of keeping Florida’s waters clean,” a press release said. “Now, toxic algae is polluting Florida, killing wildlife, making kids sick, and devastating small businesses.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Assignment editors – Scott will kick off his “Veterans For Scott” coalition, made up of more than 500 military members and veterans from across the state who support his election to the U.S. Senate. The first event is 9 a.m., Homeland Intelligence Technologies, 4916 South Lois Ave., Tampa. A second event is 11:15 a.m. Central time, DigiPro Media, 214 E. Garden St., Pensacola.


Assignment editors – The Gillum-King campaign announced it will hold a family-friendly general election kickoff, the first time the Democratic Governor-Lieutenant Governor ticket will campaign together. Doors open at 11:30 a.m.; program begins at 1 p.m., Downtown Recreation Center, 363 N Parramore Ave., Orlando. Parking will be available at UCF Downtown and Bob Carr Theater. To sign up, click here.

No, Andrew Gillum does not have a far left socialist platform” via Amy Sherman of PolitiFact – In the race for Florida Governor, DeSantis is trying to paint Gillum as so far out of the mainstream that Gillum “wants to turn Florida into Venezuela,” a reference to the failing socialist country. We sent experts on political philosophy a list of Gillum’s policy positions. Experts generally told us that it’s misleading to state that Gillum has a “socialist platform” — he hasn’t advocated that the government control all forms of enterprise. If we examine socialism on a continuum, experts said some of Gillum’s  policies are further from socialism and some are closer to it. Gillum isn’t on the fringes of the political spectrum and certainly proposes nothing approaching turning “Florida into Venezuela,” which would mean the state taking over privately held businesses and large portions of the economy. We rate this statement False.

Volusia GOP boss Tony Ledbetter faces scrutiny over Facebook posts” via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – Volusia County Republican Party Chairman Ledbetter and — by extension — DeSantis are under attack for social media posts in recent months. American Bridge, a progressive Super PAC, and the Florida Democratic Party have this week spotlighted some of Ledbetter’s recent Facebook posts, challenging their accuracy and propriety. Some examples: On Aug. 12, Ledbetter shared a photo of a pile of old shoes, addressing children who walked out of school in protest of gun-control laws. “These are the shoes of Jews that gave up their firearms to Hitler. They were led into gas chambers, murdered and buried in mass graves. Pick up a history book and you’ll realize what happens when (sic) u give up freedoms and why we have them.” In the Facebook group Tea Party, Ledbetter responded to a post in July referring to Islam and Muslims with: “ANIMALS REMOVE THEM FROM OUR COUNTRY.” From May 15 to Aug. 21, Ledbetter was paid a total of $13,500 by the DeSantis gubernatorial campaign for consulting and management, but he says he is not a campaign staffer. 


Another bank closed Nikki Fried’s campaign account because of medical marijuana” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — On Aug. 29, BB&T called the Fried campaign to tell them that the campaign’s bank account had to be closed within 30 days, campaign manager Alicia Stallworth said Thursday. On Aug. 31, the campaign received an email that said the campaign had to be closed on Sept. 5 — leaving just three business days.  Stallworth did not say to which bank the campaign has switched its account but said they plan to announce more details on Monday. BB&T declined to comment on the specifics of the account closure but said the bank strictly follows federal law, which prohibits the use, sale, and possession of all forms of cannabis.

Sean Shaw threatens to sue Donald Trump administration” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Shaw is making some bold promises in his campaign to be Florida’s next Attorney General, threatening to file or join multiple lawsuits against President Trump and his administration. “There is no room for corruption in the state of Florida,” Shaw said, speaking outside a Trump condo building in Sunny Isles Beach. “The hundreds of millions of dollars in Russian shell company money that has been reportedly pumped into Trump properties in the past 20 years raises troubling questions about how the President is conducting his business.”

‘Second chances’: Voting rights amendment backers release new ads” via Florida Politics – A new series of ads from Second Chances Florida, a group supporting the passage of Amendment 4 in November, is telling the stories of citizens who would have their voting rights restored if the measure passes. The amendment aims to give back the right to vote for those who have committed crimes and served their time. According to its ballot summary, the amendment “restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis.” More than a million people who committed felony offenses would regain their voting rights under the amendment, and Second Chances Florida showcases four of those people in their new campaign.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Final fate of Amendment 8 to be decided by Supreme Court on Friday” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times – A Leon County Circuit judge, John Cooper, ruled in Tallahassee two weeks ago that the amendment was, in fact, misleading and should be stricken from the ballot. The state appealed, and the case went straight to the state Supreme Court. Oral arguments were heard before the Supreme Court on Wednesday in a courtroom in West Palm Beach. There, the justices grilled both parties on their positions, leaving the final outcome of their ruling to be anyone’s guess. … Despite education advocates, lawyers and journalists’ efforts to repeatedly “refresh” the Supreme Court website Thursday, no ruling was released. Friday takes the court right up to the deadline for overseas ballots to begin printing for November, as local officials wait to see if Amendment 8 will be on them.


Stephanie Murphy ad touts immigrants’ shot at the American dream” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Murphy is launching a pair of internet videos, one in Spanish, one in English, touting her personal story of an immigrant pursuing the American dream and saying she’s fighting for others to have the same fair shot. Murphy, the first-term congresswoman from Winter Park, came to America with her family after fleeing communist Vietnam on a refugee boat, eventually settling in the United States. Her commercial briefly references that and then tells of her parents working hard cleaning offices so the family could have a better life. 

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

David Shapiro campaign says it will update FEC reports in light of potential reporting violationvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Shapiro, a candidate for Florida’s 16th Congressional District, appears to be at risk of violating the Federal Elections Commission’s reporting requirements by failing to list in-kind contributions made by Shapiro to his campaign. That’s according to documents reviewed by Florida Politics. Now, his campaign says it is in the process of correcting the issue, telling Florida Politics it will be resolved in the next FEC filing. The potentially problematic in-kind contributions are in the form of free space provided to the campaign in a building owned by Shapiro. That building also doubles as one of his law offices. While the arrangement does not appear to violate any FEC rules on its face, the lack of proper reporting to the FEC could trigger a violation. Potential punishments range from an administrative fine to a full audit.

‘Time for a change’: Lauren Baer hits Brian Mast on GOP tax law” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Democrat Baer is out with a new 30-second ad which knocks Republican Mast‘s support for last year’s GOP tax cuts law. “When Brian Mast gives a tax cut to rich corporations, it shows that he’s not looking out for the little guy. They gave this tax credit at the expense of Social Security and Medicare.” Baer closes out the ad with a message to voters. “Enough with politicians who put special interests before our interests. It’s time for a change.” Baer has an uphill battle to successfully change the occupant of the CD 18 seat. Election analysts differ on the size of Mast’s advantage, but all agree he’s the favorite come November.

To view this ad, click on the image below:

Joe Negron political committee nearly tapped out” via the News Service of Florida – As he prepares to leave office in November, a political committee that has played a key role for Negron … appears to be winding down. The Treasure Coast Alliance, which has raised nearly $4.86 million since being formed in 2013, had $5,106 in cash on hand as of Aug. 31, according to a newly filed finance report. That came after the Treasure Coast Alliance sent $116,000 to two other political committees — Taxpayers in Action and the First Amendment Fund — on Aug. 27. The Treasure Coast Alliance also had not received any contributions since January. 

New ad hits Janet Cruz over past property tax blunder via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics – A new ad paid for by the Republican Party of Florida’s state Senate campaign arm is hitting House Minority Leader and Senate District 18 candidate Cruz for claiming homestead exemptions on multiple properties a decade ago. The ad, titled “Lower Taxes,” notes that even though the Tampa Democrat, who is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Dana Young, slipped up on paying all of her own property taxes, she voted against a 2017 bill to increase the homestead exemption for all Floridians. 

Group pushing Democrats in ‘flippable’ state districts” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – A national group backing Democrats in state districts that could go from red to blue is getting behind state Rep.  Janet Cruz‘s run for the Florida Senate and Anna Eskamani and Fentrice Driskell in Florida House districts in Orlando and Tampa. Flippable is pledging to target 100 state races across the country with the intention of reversing Republican control in those states before the next U.S. Census and the resulting congressional redistricting. On Thursday it announced Cruz, Eskamani, and Driskell among its latest endorsements. Cruz is running in Senate District 18, based in Tampa, against Republican incumbent state Sen. Dana Young. Eskamani is running for an open seat in House District 47 in Orlando, against Republican Stockton Reeves. The seat is currently held by Republican state Rep. Mike Miller. Driskell is running in House District 63 in Tampa against Republican incumbent state Rep. Shawn Harrison.

Assignment editors Anna Eskamani will host a #60DaysOut canvass, knocking on doors and making phone calls. Eskamani, running as a Democrat for House District 47, will kick things off at Credo Conduit, 1001 N. Orange Ave, Orlando. That’s Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon. Members of the media who wish to attend are asked to RSVP via

State GOP funnels help to Frank Mingo” via the News Service of Florida – With state Rep. Manny Diaz … running for the Senate, the Republican Party of Florida has started pouring resources into trying to hold onto his House seat. The GOP between Aug. 24 and last Friday funneled $59,201 in in-kind assistance to Republican Mingo, who is seeking to succeed Diaz in House District 103, according to a newly filed finance report. The assistance covered costs of campaign staff and research. Previously, Mingo had received less than $3,400 in in-kind aid from the party. Mingo will face Democrat Cindy Polo in the Nov. 6 election in the district, which includes parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties.— STATEWIDE —

Judge set to dismiss horse group’s challenge of Calder Casino gambling permit” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A Tallahassee judge is challenging a Florida thoroughbred horsemen’s group to convince him why he shouldn’t throw out a challenge of a South Florida track’s gambling permit. Administrative Law Judge E. Gary Early on Wednesday gave the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) till next Wednesday to show him why he shouldn’t dismiss what he called “an impermissible collateral attack” on Calder Casino’s summer jai alai permit … Early noted that the FHBPA’s “injury is based entirely on the issuance of the permit, and its effect on (the association) and the racing industry as a whole.” 

Restoration contractors peeved at appeal court’s AOB ruling”via Florida Politics –The Restoration Association of Florida decried an appellate ruling allowing insurance companies to require co-insured parties and banks holding mortgages to sign off on assignment of benefits agreements. The association “is deeply disappointed by Wednesday’s decision by the 4th District Court of Appeal, which will further hinder and delay a homeowner’s ability to make timely repairs to their own homes,” spokeswoman Amanda Prater said. “Mortgage companies are not equipped, qualified, or trained in homeowner insurance claims, nor should they be,” she said. Prater noted that the 5th District Court of Appeal forbade a similar policy restriction as recently as December. “At the end of the day, this is placing limits on a constitutional right that will only serve to harm homeowners and give insurance companies even greater power.”

JEA wants delay on vote about nuke project’s futurevia Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — “JEA is asking the owners of a floundering $27 billion nuclear expansion project in Georgia to delay a crucial vote expected this month on whether to continue building the reactors so the parties involved — including Jacksonville’s utility — can have ‘reasonable conversations’ about resolving the increasingly contentious issue. JEA favors canceling the Plant Vogtle expansion project because its own obligation, signed in 2008, to help finance the construction of the reactors and to buy power from them at a premium have grown considerably in recent years. Aaron Zahn, JEA’s interim CEO, has recently traded sharp letters with the head of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia — one of the plant co-owners — over the purchase-power agreement it holds with JEA.”


Burt Reynolds, swaggering star actor, has died at 82” via Bob Mondello of NPR – Reynolds, who played good ol’ boys and rugged action heroes in an acting career that spanned seven decades, has died. Reynolds died Thursday morning at a Florida hospital following a heart attack. He was 82. Reynolds came to stardom in Deliverance and Smokey and the Bandit in the 1970s, and was still making movies more than 40 years later. In 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit, Jackie Gleason was Smokey the sheriff, Burt Reynolds was Bandit, and the plot hinged on whether Bandit and a truck-driving pal could blow through Smokey’s roadblocks and make the run in 28 hours. The smile, the mustache, the twinkle in his eye … without them, would anyone have buckled up for that bootlegging run from Texarkana to Atlanta?

Sally Field, Dolly Parton and more pay tribute to ‘trailblazer’ Burt Reynolds” via Sandra Gonzalez of CNN – Co-stars, friends and famous admirers of Reynolds are paying tribute to the late legend upon news of his death. Reynolds, 82, died Thursday after suffering a cardiac arrest, according to his agent Todd Eisner. “Burt Reynolds was one of my heroes. He was a trailblazer,” former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Twitter. “He showed the way to transition from being an athlete to being the highest paid actor, and he always inspired me. He also had a great sense of humor … My thoughts are with his family.” The range of Reynolds’ talent and the memorable roles he played is reflected in the films for which he’s being remembered — everything from “Smokey and the Bandit” to “Boogie Nights,” in which he played a director of adult films.

Statement from FSU President John Thrasher on the passing of Burt Reynolds: “The entire Florida State University family is saddened to learn we have lost our good friend Burt Reynolds. His lifelong passion for FSU began when he came to this university to play football in the 1950s. Although he was sidelined by injuries, he went on to become one of the most successful actors in Hollywood. But he never forgot his alma mater. He returned to campus when he could, bringing his trademark charm and wit, to visit old friends, catch a football game and mentor our film students. He remained an ardent supporter of Seminole Athletics and the entire university. We will miss him dearly.”


Marco Rubio & Michael Crosby — We have the resources to save Florida’s dying coral reefs. Now, we just need the will.” for the Miami Herald – While much of the attention on Florida environmental issues — including our own — has rightly been focused on harmful algal blooms, an ecological catastrophe has also been unfolding on our reefs. During the last four decades, Florida’s indigenous corals have declined in some areas by more than 90 percent, with some species losing more than 97 percent of their populations. Corals growing in good water quality conditions typically are more resistant to disease. And it was recognized decades ago that to save the Florida reef tract, drastic action to improve water quality was required. Critical efforts currently are under way to restore the Everglades to enhance freshwater flows and salinity levels in Florida and Biscayne Bays, complete the Florida Keys Water Quality Improvement Program, and reduce wastewater discharges through ocean outfalls. Despite continued progress on water quality, however, it is likely that our devastated coral populations will be unable to execute a quick, natural recovery of the reef. That means conservation strategies alone cannot solve this dilemma. A bold restoration program to actively assist the recovery of this ecosystem is essential, and we are closer than ever to amassing the scientific knowledge, technological tools and public investment and support needed to make reef restoration a reality.

Emmett Reed: As Irma anniversary nears, safety remains FHCA members’ top priority” for Florida Politics – We cannot forget the lessons of the tragedy that struck a South Florida nursing center last year. Even though that center was not a member of Florida Health Care Association, the loss of life there was felt deeply throughout the long-term care profession. The episode has served as an immeasurable motivator for our member nursing centers and assisted living facilities to remain prepared to keep our more than 70,000 residents safe throughout the storm season. Since Gov. Rick Scott implemented new generator requirements for long-term care centers, our members have been working tirelessly on their emergency power plans, including strengthening steps for both evacuation and shelter-in-place scenarios. Centers are also working to install their permanent generators to keep residents safe, cool, and comfortable if they experience a loss of power. Every day — whether in the midst of hurricane season or not – FHCA members remain dedicated to improving health outcomes for our residents.


LEGO adds representation in D.C.” via POLITICO Influence Karen Hughes is now senior manager for government and public affairs at LEGO. Hughes told PI that this is the first time LEGO ” has hired a government and public affairs representative for Washington, D.C.” The position was previously based in Connecticut. As of now, Hughes’ work is primarily focused on promoting the “value of play” and “environmental and social responsibility,” as well as ensuring the safety of the company’s products. At this point, she is not lobbying. Prior to joining LEGO, Hughes was director of strategic initiatives at the Alliance to Save Energy.


Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with Zac Anderson, political editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune; attorney Jessica Ehrlich; political consultant Mark Proctor; and Tampa Bay Times reporter Claire McNeill.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: This week’s In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres will discuss the current situation with the red tide along the Gulf coast and the economic impacts to Southwest Florida. Joining Walker-Torres are Florida State Sen. Linda Stewart; Charlie Hunsicker, Director of the Manatee County Parks & Natural Resources Department, Manatee County Government; John Horne, Owner & President of the Anna Maria Oyster Bars; and Elliott Falcione, Executive Director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: On this week’s Political Connections, Wayne Liebnitzky will discuss his campaign for U.S. House District 9; Capital Reporter Troy Kinsey will update with the latest from Tallahassee; PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim made by Vice President Mike Pence about immigrants in America.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon will speak with News Service of Florida reporter Dara Kam and Dr. Ed Moore, president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Jerry Mallot, retiring CEO of JAXUSA Partnership; Jacksonville VA public affairs officer Dan Henry; and Katherine Eicher, suicide prevention coordinator at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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


Best wishes to two wonderful people, Chris Cate and Jenna Sarkissian. Celebrating this weekend are state Rep. Thad Altman, state Sen. Anitere Flores and former state Sen. Jeff Clemens.

Last Call for 9.6.18 – 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

Now that the Democratic gubernatorial ticket has been finalized, For Our Future Florida (FOF-FL), a progressive advocacy group, has announced a series of statewide events this Saturday to kick off general election season.

Blake Williams, the group’s communications director, says they want to make sure Florida voters know the importance of getting out to vote in November.

“The general election starts now,” Williams said. “Voters in Florida are fired up about the Democratic ticket, from Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson on down the ballot.

“We’re seeing it in how many volunteers are joining the campaign, and we’re hearing it at the doors and on the phones.”

Gillum announced Thursday he was selecting former primary opponent Chris King as his running mate against Republican Ron DeSantis. Meanwhile Nelson has a tough general election ahead against current GOP Gov. Rick Scott.

The group has already knocked on more than a half-million doors as part of its efforts. So far, FOF-FL has events planned in Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Jax, Tampa, Miami, West Palm Beach and many other cities statewide in support of progressive candidates.

The Florida gubernatorial race has earned attention nationwide for the contrast between Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis. Williams argues Gillum’s background gives him good chance at serving as the state’s first Democratic Governor in 20 years.

“Andrew Gillum has a unique understanding of our communities and struggles here in Florida because his story is the same as so many of our stories,” Williams said.

Evening Reads

‘The sleeper cells have awoken’: Trump and aides shaken by ‘resistance’ op-ed” via Philip Rucker of the Washington Post

U.S. plans to sidestep limits on detaining immigrant children” via Collen Long via the USA Today

Inside the makeover of the Democratic Party” via Bill Barrow and Juanna Summers of the Associated Press

The explanation behind that $15,000 deposit into Andrew Gillum’s bank account” via Elizabeth Koh of Miami Herald

One reason Gwen Graham isn’t Democratic LG pick: She wasn’t asked” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

Jeanette Nuñez, DeSantis lieutenant governor pick, deleted tweet calling Trump ‘con-man,’ KKK supporter” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott, Ron DeSantis blast Democratic ‘socialism’ at GOP kickoff event” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

What are your tax dollars paying for at women’s ‘crisis pregnancy centers’?” via CD Davidson-Hiers of the Florida Phoenix

Is FWC feeding Lake Okeechobee algae blooms with Roundup and other glyphosate herbicides?” via Tyler Treadway of the TC Palm

Erin Brockovich, who’s railed against cancer clusters and algae blooms, to visit Florida” via Tyler Treadway of the TC Palm

Joe Carollo sues Miami over Francis Suarez’s ‘strong mayor’ referendum” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times

Choice or necessity? Florida leads U.S. in growth of women-owned firms” via Charles Elmore of the Palm Beach Post

Quote of the Day

“In South Florida, we know that by empowering the free market – not big government – we succeed as a state.” —Jeanette Nuñez, the House Speaker Pro Tem from Miami-Dade, named as Ron DeSantis’ running mate.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

The Florida Commission on Ethics will meet at 8:30 a.m., 1st District Court of Appeal, 2000 Drayton Dr., Tallahassee.

Gov. Rick Scott will kick off his “Veterans For Scott” coalition, made up of more than 500 military members and veterans from across the state who support his election to the U.S. senate. The first event is 9 a.m., Homeland Intelligence Technologies, 4916 South Lois Ave., Tampa. A second event is 11:15 a.m. Central time, DigiPro Media, 214 E. Garden St., Pensacola.

Staff members for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will hold “mobile” office hours in Palm Beach County at 9:30 a.m., Century Village Clubhouse, 411 Century Blvd., West Palm Beach.

David Straz will speak at a “Straz for Mayor” kickoff reception. That’s at 6 p.m., El Circulo Cubano (Cuban Club), 2010 Avenida Republica de Cuba (Ybor City), Tampa.

State candidates and political committees face a Friday deadline for filing reports showing finance activity through Aug. 31.

Looking Ahead

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., both Republicans, are expected to take part in a breakfast event hosted by Republican State Committeewoman Liliana Ros. That’s Saturday at 10 a.m., Hialeah Republican office, 1001 West 49th St., Hialeah.

State Rep. Javier Fernandez and state Sen. Annette Taddeo, both Democrats, will hold a rally outside the Miami-Dade County fairgrounds to demand a ban on gun shows on the site. That’s Saturday at 10 a.m., near the entrance to the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair, corner of Southwest 107th Avenue and Coral Way, University Park.

One reason Gwen Graham isn’t Democratic LG pick: She wasn’t asked

If you’re wondering why Gwen Graham isn’t Andrew Gillum‘s choice to run with him as Lieutenant Governor … well, you’ll have to ask him.

He never called to ask her if she was interested.

Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor who won the Democratic primary for Governor last month, never reached out to Graham directly or through back channels, according to two sources close to Graham.

He instead announced Winter Park businessman Chris King as his LG during a Facebook Live appearance Thursday. King was one of Gillum’s competitors for the Governor spot.

“Gwen was never contacted by the nominee regarding LG (even as a courtesy) and always has put the State over her own personal interests,” this source said. “She would have served and served well if called upon to do so.”

But she wasn’t, adding a bit more fuel to the fire that despite the public show of détente by all the parties, there’s still a reservoir of bad blood separating the two camps.

A senior staffer on the Graham campaign confirmed that “Gillum never even reached out to talk to her about it.”

Moreover, “no one from their campaign has called or approached any of us to help in any way,” that person added.

That suggests she won’t have to mull whether she wants to be part of the Gillum administration because he has no intention to offer her a place if he’s elected.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.6.18

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

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

We’re going on Day 2 of the 14th annual conference of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists.

A highlight of today’s panel lineup is Kim McDougal of GrayRobinson and Darrick McGhee of Johnson & Blanton.

They’ll be presenting on “Executive Branch Insight — Pulling Back the Curtain.”

Kim McDougal (shown with soccer superstar David Beckham) is a featured panelist at the conference of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists.

McDougal knows whereof she speaks: She was Gov. Rick Scott’s fifth chief of staff since he took office in 2011, serving from April 2016 to May 2017, with a special emphasis on education issues.

During 10 years with the Florida Legislature, the majority of her policy work focused on K-20 education policy. McDougal also worked as a senior adviser or in a leadership role for many of Florida’s Education Commissioners.

As for McGhee … well, where to begin?

He’s been the face of legislative and governmental affairs for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Department of Education, the Department of Elder Affairs, and the Department of Economic Opportunity.

McGhee, also an ordained minister, was chief of staff for the latter agency — and its acting executive director — as well as a director of legislative affairs for Gov. Scott.

Of course, we’ll again remind you that Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch will sit on a panel, “Is Non-Traditional Media a Game Changer in Advocacy?”

The discussion, to be moderated by Christina Johnson of On3PR, will include Brian Burgess of The Capitolist, and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida.

Again, the conference takes place at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek in Orlando. A schedule of events is here.


— @GregOLear: In the GoodFellas reboot that is the Trump presidency, we’ve reached the part where Henry’s making meatballs, doing deals w/ his connection in Pittsburgh & avoiding helicopters. At this rate, by Halloween, Melania will be flushing a brick of coke down the White House toilet.

—@MarcoRubio: This morning, after watching circus at SCOTUS hearing & reading stories about [BobWoodward book, the burning of Nike gear & debate over whether the “ok” sign is racist, the leaders of China must be thinking to themselves “overtaking America is going to be easier than we thought!”

—@MSNBC: “Don’t touch me again, man … You’re not going to get arrested, man. I’ll take care of you myself,” Sen. Rubio tells hoax conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

—@Olivia_pc: Rubio to reporters just now: “I know you’ve got to cover it, but you give these guys way too much attention. We’re making crazy people superstars, so you’re going to get crazier people.”

—@RonDeSantisFL: We need to get rid of common core and ensure that every child has access to a great education in Florida.

—@MDixon55: Different tone from state in Florida Supreme Court hearing on proposed education ballot measure. In lower court hearing last month breaking “local school board monopoly” was regular part of state’s argument. None of that today.

—@BillGalvano: Speaker Pro Tempore @RepJNunez will be an excellent Lt. Governor. I’ve enjoyed working with Speaker Nunez in the Legislature and look forward to working with her as LG! Great pick by @RonDeSantisFL! Exciting news for our @FloridaGOP ticket!

—@JKennedyReport: One-time Fla Lt. Gov candidate Allison DeFoor once told me, “A lieutenant governor’s career peaks the day he’s named a candidate. Then he disappears.”

—@PatriciaMazzei: DeSantis has tried to make the case that Gillum is a “socialist,” a taboo label among Cuban Americans and other Hispanics in Miami-Dade County. Enter a Cuban-American LG candidate.

—@Fineout: Here’s how things work in Tallahassee — Famed lawyer Barry Richard is representing @AndrewGillum in his ethics commission case — and Richard is also representing @FLGovScott in a public records lawsuit seeking his schedule inc. his campaign activities.


First general election mail ballots go out — 16; First day of fall — 16; Future of Florida Forum — 20; FSU vs. UM football game — 30; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 47; MLB World Series begins — 47; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 48; Halloween — 55; General Election Day — 61; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 75; Thanksgiving — 77; Black Friday — 78; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 82; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 159; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 181; 2020 General Election — 789.


I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration” via The New York Times — It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Donald Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall. The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. I would know. I am one of them. To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous. But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic. That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.

An anonymous NYT op-ed details a ‘resistance’ in the Trump White House.


Poll: Bill Nelson, Rick Scott in dead heat in nation’s most-expensive Senate race” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — According to a new Quinnipiac University poll … The 49-49 percent race shows how Scott has narrowed a 4-point deficit since Quinnipiac last surveyed the race in February, but the results suggest that the three-term Democratic senator has so far weathered a storm of negative ads after Scott and Republican groups outspent Nelson and Democrats on TV ads by $30 million to $12 million as of mid-August. Since Tuesday’s primary, however, Nelson’s camp has started to narrow the gap with Scott on TV. Democrats have recently placed about $55.4 million total on air in the biggest swing state, compared to $66.3 million from Republicans. TV ad spending is a must in a state as large and as competitive as Florida, which has 10 major media markets and can cost upward of $3 million weekly to advertise. So the cumulative $121 million in ad spending to date is set to grow significantly.

New Scott video highlights ‘67 Counties’ Senate campaign — The Scott for Florida campaign released “67 counties,” a minute-long video highlighting Scott’s visits to every Florida county since announcing his bid for U.S. Senate in April. According to the campaign, Scott is campaigning nonstop to share his message of Making Washington Work for Floridians, comparing that to his opponent, incumbent Bill Nelson, who is “worrying his fellow Democrats with his sluggish campaign.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Mike Pence to campaign for Scott in Orlando, The Villages” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Pence will speak at a lunch and fundraiser for Scott‘s Senate campaign in Orlando. Then he’ll go to the almighty Villages for a dinner fundraiser for Scott, according to the White House. The visit coincides with a GOP unity rally to be held in Orlando, with Scott, Ron DeSantis and other top Republicans. We asked Scott last week if he would like Trump to campaign for him. “I want everybody that believes in what I’m going to do to come help me win,” Scott replied.

Judge orders Scott to release travel records, future campaign schedules” via Steve Bousquet for the Miami Herald — Circuit Judge Charles Dodson in Tallahassee ruled in favor of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The group sued the governor in July demanding a complete copy of Scott’s calendars for the period beginning July 20, 2018 and ending on Oct. 31, 2018. The period covered by the request includes most of the time leading up to Election Day, Nov. 6, where Scott is the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. Scott claimed that the requested information that has not already been made public is protected by a public records exemption that covers surveillance techniques, procedures and personnel. But Dodson said that exemption in state law is under a subcategory called “agency investigations,” and that AHF’s request “does not concern an agency investigation.” “Requesting his travel information is not exempt under the cited exemption,” the judge wrote. Dodson gave Scott’s office 10 days, or until Sept. 15, to provide the requested information.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will join statewide elected officials and candidates to celebrate the 61st day until Election Day with a “Let’s Get to Work” kickoff event, 10 a.m. Media can RSVP to for location details. Scheduled to attend are Congressman and gubernatorial candidate DeSantis, Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell, Attorney General candidate Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Patronis, current Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Attorney General Pam Bondi.


Ron DeSantis to name Jeanette Nuñez as Florida’s first Cuban-American woman running mate” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Nuñez initially did not want the hassle of running statewide and or of being vetted for the post of lieutenant governor, according to one source with knowledge of the selection, but she decided to give it a second look at the urging of one of her closest political allies, Sen. Marco Rubio, in the wake of Democrat Andrew Gillum‘s surprising Aug. 28 gubernatorial primary victory. “She wasn’t keen on doing it at first. But the Gillum win was enough for her to revisit that — what’s at stake for the state,” one source said. “Marco called her and made a push. They’ve been friends for years and he said it was hugely important for her to get on the ticket.”

Ron DeSantis is choosing Rep. Jeanette Nunez of Miami for his running mate. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

Sunburn wonders if this tweet – now deleted – may end up biting someone in the butt:

Happening today — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum will announce his running mate on Facebook Live, 10 a.m. To follow and view the announcement, visit Gillum’s campaign Facebook page here.

Gillum’s transparency effort inadvertently reveals bank records and $15K deposit” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Gillum’s campaign inadvertently released some of the Tallahassee mayor’s personal bank statements earlier this week as part of a public relations transparency effort — records that show, among other things, that Gillum received a $15,000 deposit to a checking account during a period now being scrutinized by state ethics investigators. Gillum’s campaign says the $15,000 was a routine transfer from one savings account to another to pay bills. The bank statement covers April 21, 2016, to May 23, 2016, which includes a May 2016 trip to Costa Rica that is now part of an ongoing Florida Commission on Ethics investigation. That trip is also linked to an FBI corruption probe into Tallahassee’s Community Rehabilitation Agency, an investigation that has received new scrutiny since Gillum’s victory last week. He has been accused of no wrongdoing in the federal probe, and his campaign says the $15,000 deposit has nothing to do with the Costa Rica trip or anything beyond bill payment. “The deposit was a transfer from the mayor’s savings account into his joint checking account with his wife, an account they used to pay bills,” said Geoff Burgan, a campaign spokesman.

Surge: Gillum won Palm Beach County after trailing in mail, early votes” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — Gillum carried Palm Beach County — the state’s third-largest jurisdiction — with 29.2 percent of the vote to 28.6 percent for Gwen Graham, a difference of 702 votes. Gillum got only 19 percent of ballots cast by mail in Palm Beach County, finishing fourth in that category behind Levine, Graham and billionaire Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene. In ballots cast at the county’s 15 early voting sites, Gillum finished third with 27.3 percent, trailing Levine and Graham. But on the traditional Election Day, Gillum got 35.7 percent of the county vote, far exceeding Graham’s 30.1 percent and Levine’s 23.1 percent. Greene, who got 10.1 percent statewide, got 13.7 percent in his home county. In Precinct 7154 in Palm Beach, Greene’s home precinct, he finished third with 9 votes, trailing Graham’s 14 and Gillum’s 12.

NextGen launches $1 million digital ad campaign for Florida; Barack Obama may stump for Georgia’s Stacey Abrams and Gillum” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — NextGen initially invested more than million dollars – plus an army of grassroots organizers – into Gillum’s campaign back in June and followed it up with several hundred thousand more in the last weeks of the primary campaign. That outside support proved critical, as Gillum was outspent by all four of his Democratic opponents in the race for the nomination. The New York Times reported that Obama is set to make several campaign appearances in advance of the midterms over the next couple of weeks in California, Pennsylvania and the Midwest, and Obama may come South as well. Obama’s aides told the Times that the former president is considering how best he can help out what the paper describes as “groundbreaking African-American candidates for governor like Gillum in Florida and Abrams in Georgia.”

Personnel note: Jeff Woodburn goes to DeSantis campaign — Woodburn, the former executive director of the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission, will help develop and roll out DeSantis’ policy platforms ahead of November. “We’re excited to have Jeff come on board,” said DeSantis’ campaign communications director Stephen Lawson. “Having served in positions at the highest levels of state government, Jeff brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our team.” Woodburn has served as Gov. Scott’s policy director and has held various leadership positions in state government, including a stint as deputy secretary at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Woodburn has a law degree from Florida Coastal and a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Florida.


Jimmy Patronis passes $5 million mark in fundraisingvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Patronis has hit another fundraising milestone, crossing the $5 million mark in his campaign to hold onto his position as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer. Patronis met the mark after a full accounting of August fundraising numbers. In total, his campaign raised nearly $230,000 in August. Patronis’ political committee, Treasure Florida, added about $350,000 on top of that. He’s now raised more than $5.1 million between his campaign and committee overall.

Ka-ching: Jimmy Patronis dials for dollars … to the tune of $5 million.

Realtors sink $4 million in a constitutional amendment” via the News Service of Florida — The group Florida Realtors has put another $4 million into an effort to pass a constitutional amendment that would extend a property-tax cap for commercial and other non-homestead properties. Realtors contributed the money Aug. 29 and Aug. 30 to a political committee known as Amendment 2 is for Everybody. The committee had nearly $4.42 million in cash on hand as of Aug. 31. Voters in 2008 approved a constitutional change that placed a 10 percent cap on annual increases in assessed values of non-homestead properties. The limit will expire Jan. 1 unless it is extended by voters through this year’s proposed constitutional amendment.

ICYMI from last night’s “Last Call” — “Bundling” different policy in proposed constitutional amendments is like forcing diners to select a set menu rather than letting them eat a la carte, a lawyer suggested Wednesday. Joseph Little, a constitutional scholar and retired professor of the University of Florida’s law school, told Tallahassee Circuit Judge Karen Gievers that bundling, or combining different ideas, may force voters to say ‘yes’ to something they oppose to vote for something they favor. Their only other option is to not vote on a particular amendment, which he called a violation of their First Amendment rights. Little represents retired state Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead. He and former state elections Commissioner Robert Barnas filed a challenge to six of the eight amendments placed on the ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), saying they were improperly bundled, also known as “logrolling.”

Personnel note: Maria Cardona joins Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 — The campaign retained Cardona to lead its Latino voter outreach efforts, the group announced in a news release. It is promoting passage of Amendment 13, which would ban betting on live dog racing in Florida. A lower court order striking it from the ballot is pending a final decision by the state’s Supreme Court. Cardona has extensive political experience, and held key roles in the 2008 Hillary Clinton and 2012 Barack Obama presidential campaigns, the release said. She’s also a regular CNN contributor. In a survey done for GREY2K USA in March by McLaughlin and Associates, 76 percent of Latino voters supported Amendment 13 after hearing arguments for both sides. Joyce Carta, chair of the Yes on 13 campaign, said: “Outreach to the Latino vote is a key component of our campaign strategy, and we believe it will help us win for the dogs in November.”


Incumbent Congressman Matt Gaetz was clearly the favorite in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, according to new post-primary polling from St. Pete Polls, with a slight majority of voters wanting to keep the state’s two-year-old medical marijuana law intact.

CD 1 Republicans really, really like Matt Gaetz.

Dubbed one of Congress’ “Champions of Wellness” by the medical-marijuana advocacy group Empowering Wellness, Gaetz has been a vocal supporter of medical marijuana policies in Washington. The newly formed group — which is partnering with Florida Politics for “Wellness Week” — supported the North Florida Republican (along with Orlando-area Democrat Darren Soto) in his primaryOn Aug. 28, Gaetz defeated both Cris Dosev and John Mills.

The St. Pete Polls survey, which polled 604 Florida Republican primary voters Sep. 4, supported the North Florida Republican by nearly 70 percent, compared to Dosev, who took only 23 percent. Mills was far behind with 3 percent.

As for medical marijuana, more than 53 percent of respondents say they support keeping the constitutional amendment in place, which passed in 2016 with 71 percent of the vote. Thirty-seven percent support its repeal, with nine percent unsure.


David Shapiro just says no to Nancy Pelosi as speaker” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — In a statement exclusive to Florida Politics, Shapiro says he won’t support Pelosi as leader of the Democratic Caucus should he win in November. That comes after Republican Vern Buchanan, the 16th Congressional District incumbent, came out with a new ad hitting Shapiro as a “puppet” of Pelosi, the U.S. House Minority Leader. “Politicians in Washington have failed when it comes to protecting Florida families, and that’s why I’m calling for new leadership on both sides of the aisle,” Shapiro said. “A vote for me is a vote for replacing Vern Buchanan and Nancy Pelosi.”

Janet Cruz says she ‘understands the odds’ in first SD 18 ad” via Florida Politics — The 30-second ad, titled “Odds,” is shot in black and white and features the Tampa Democrat recounting the story of her humble upbringing before saying she’ll look out for everyday people if she moves up from the state House to the state Senate. “When you’re the daughter of a single mother who worked in a factory, your odds of success aren’t high, and when you become a mom at 16 they get worse,” Cruz says in the ad. “I’m Janet Cruz, and odds didn’t define me — I did … I finished high school, graduated college, opened a successful health care business and now I’m running for state Senate because I understand the odds for all of us and I will always work to put them in our favor,” she says. Her campaign said the ad is backed up by a six-figure media buy and will start airing on broadcast and cable next week.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Happening tonight:


Brandes fundraiser 9.6.2018

For Tracye Polson, flipping HD 15 means defeating ‘special interests’” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Polson is the most likely Northeast Florida Democrat to flip a Republican seat. However, she understands that to win that battle, she will have to run a gauntlet of attacks from the statewide Republican establishment. Incumbent Jay Fant stepped down, and Republican nominee and lobbyist Wyman Duggan emerged from a bitter primary that he won with just over 40 percent of the vote. The healing has yet to begin. Primary mailers from Central Florida Conservatives for Truth, a political committee with a seemingly unlikely interest in Jacksonville politics, were ultimately funded by Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy, chaired by uber political consultant Anthony Pedicini. The Pedicini committee has raised $5 million in the last four years and has been called one of the largest “dark money” committees by the Florida Times-Union. Recent contributions have come from House Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s Watchdog PAC, Disney, and the Associated Industries of Florida-yoked Voice of Florida Business.

More than pride on the line for Miami lawmakers in political fight over Florida House” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — The campaign generals — incoming House Speaker Jose Oliva and incoming minority leader Kionne McGhee — are both from Miami-Dade County. And with 10 seats in play, their backyard is the territory that could determine which party comes out ahead in the numbers game. If McGhee can claw back seats in the 120-member chamber this fall, Democrats will enter 2019 with a better shot at influencing legislation in the lower chamber the next two years. The conditions would appear to be ripe, with midterm elections typically favoring the party on the outside of the White House and Democratic voter turnout up dramatically during the primary elections.


Florida Fusion Centers had no info on Nikolas Cruz prior to shooting” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Representatives from Florida’s Fusion Centers, which are aimed at sharing information between state agencies to assess potential threats, admitted the organization had no information on Cruz before February’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. That’s despite a series of red flags identified by the FBI, Broward Sheriff’s Office, and school officials prior to the attack. The comments were made at a meeting Wednesday of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which is focused on reviewing what led up to the shooting and ways to prevent similar attacks in the future. “This commission is trying to figure out where the breakdown happened,” said Okaloosa Sheriff Larry Ashley, a member of the commission.

Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will continue a two-day meeting, 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise. Among the topics will be findings about school-site security and school hardening.

Supreme Court digs into education amendment” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — The state Supreme Court plunged into a debate about whether voters should cast ballots in November on a proposed constitutional amendment that could help lead to more charter schools. Justices peppered attorneys on both sides of the issue with questions about whether the proposal, placed on the ballot by the state Constitution Revision Commission, would be misleading to voters. The League of Women Voters of Florida has challenged the proposal, contending it should be blocked from moving forward. Ron Meyer, an attorney for the League of Women Voters, said people would be “fooled” by the ballot title and summary — the part of the proposal voters would see when they go to the polls. “Our problem is that the voter presenting at the voting booth is not being told what’s happening here, is not being given an explanatory purpose,” Meyer said. But state Deputy Solicitor General Daniel Bell disputed that the ballot title and summary would be misleading to voters.

Court backs insurer in ‘AOB’ contract dispute” via the News Service of Florida — An appeals court rejected a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed against a property insurer in a dispute about “assignment of benefits” in a water-damage claim. The St. Lucie County case decided by a panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal stemmed from policyholders John and Liza Squitieri sustaining water damage to their home. Liza Squitieri contracted with Restoration 1 of Port St. Lucie to do cleanup work and assigned the benefits to the firm. Restoration 1 submitted a claim for $20,305 to the couple’s insurer, Ark Royal Insurance Co., according to the ruling. But the insurer refused to pay the full amount, pointing to part of the contract that required approval from the couple’s mortgage company, PNC Bank, for benefits to be assigned to the contractor. Restoration 1 sued the insurer for breach of contract, but a circuit judge dismissed the case.

Motorola prevails in bid protest over multi-million dollar radio contract” via Florida Politics – A Tallahassee judge has ruled for Motorola Solutions in a bid protest over the statewide law enforcement radio system, a deal potentially worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Administrative Law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper filed an 86-page recommended order Wednesday with the Department of Management Services (DMS), suggesting the agency “enter a final order dismissing the protest” by Harris Corp. “It is further recommended that the Department … award the contract … to Motorola,” he added, though that move likely will still need final legislative approval … The recommended order goes to DMS Secretary Erin Rock, who can adopt it, modify it, or reject it entirely. Any further challenge would go to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

A feud between a commissioner and a nightclub. At stake: the heart of Little Havana” via Joey Flechas and Carlos Frías of the Miami Herald — The bitter fight between City Commissioner Joe Carollo, a Cuban immigrant and former Miami Mayor who was re-elected in November after 16 years away from public office, and Bill Fuller, co-owner of Ball and Chain who has Cuban roots, has all the ingredients of a typical Miami City Hall drama — corruption claims, allegations of political retaliation and bizarre late-night stakeouts. With characteristic bluster and his signature tendency to see conspiracy, Carollo has called Fuller the “Godfather of Little Havana” — a moneyed businessman who wants to “de-Latinize” the neighborhood to turn it into another Wynwood. Upon returning to City Hall, Carollo made it a priority to investigate code violations on Fuller properties. Their feud provides a window into a bigger battle over the future of one of Miami’s most famous neighborhoods: Two big egos antagonizing each other against a backdrop of a fast-gentrifying neighborhood where some small business owners are feeling the squeeze from increasing rents. The question at the center of their fight? What Little Havana should be.

Happening today — The Florida Transportation Commission will take up an oversight report about transportation authorities statewide, 11:30 a.m., Burns Building, 605 Suwannee St., Tallahassee.


Marco Rubio kept cool and won by a knockout” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — Don’t you wish Rubio had just turned around and popped that InfoWars doofus Alex Jones right in his piehole? I sure do. I’ll bet Alex Jones was hoping for that too. I’ll bet he was praying to be arrested. It would have been ratings gold. But Rubio, Florida’s junior U.S. Senator, handled his confrontation with that graceless twit in the U.S. Senate halls Wednesday the way a civilized person should and won by a knockout without throwing a punch. Jones will have to settle for being tweeted around the world and being a hero again to the residents of Wingnut Nation. Yes, I said it. If you listen to Alex Jones on the radio or internet for anything other than amusement, or if you think one scintilla of what he says is true, you might be a wingnut. It’s probably a good time to remember that Trump has said of Jones, “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.”

To view the exchange, click on the image below:


Voters, armed with facts, should decide on Amendment 8” via Erika Donalds for Sunshine State News — Multiple Florida papers have editorialized that Amendment 8, the education amendment, should be removed from the ballot, taking the position that voters are not smart enough to understand what they are voting on. I have a higher opinion of my fellow Floridians and believe they should have a chance to decide. The State of Florida has requested the Florida Supreme Court quash a lower court order and approve Amendment 8 for placement on the November ballot. But let’s get to the real issue. None of these media outlets reached out to me or other supporters to verify facts or offer balanced voices. They, and the group suing the state, the League of Women Voters of Florida, oppose empowering families to choose the education setting that best fits their child. They fear Amendment 8 because it does not preserve the status quo. We need innovation. We need diverse learning models for our incredibly diverse student population. Florida — under its current, outdated laws — cannot realize this for students unless we cut the red tape.

Gig economy will do wonders for Florida, if we let it” via Adrian Moore and Sal Nuzzo for the Orlando Sentinel — Businesses have to compete not just locally, but often online and globally, and that is causing them to change. Many have revised their need for full-time standard workers and instead favor a low-cost workforce with flexibility in hours, size and skill sets. This alternative work comprises what’s called the “gig economy,” the “sharing economy” and the “fissured workplace.” The scope of these terms often overlaps, creating confusion, but what’s important is what the workplaces have in common — they are not subject to the regulations of traditional workplaces. As a result, the gig economy ranges from less-secure but more-flexible, task-oriented short-term work with high worker autonomy to long-term contracting with more security and less autonomy. In Florida’s economy, these jobs are vital. Gig work is ideally suited to providing transportation, entertainment, recreation and other services to the vast numbers of tourists and business visitors to the state. The number of visitors ebbs and flows constantly so the flexibility of gig work helps achieve the right number of workers at the right time.


Personnel note: J.C. Flores promoted at AT&T” via Florida Politics — Flores was promoted from Vice President of External Affairs to Vice President of National Public Affairs, Campaign Strategy and Tactics at AT&T Services, Inc. The veteran operative will be responsible for “defining and driving AT&T’s political strategy and leading the execution of the strategic roadmaps across multiple key initiatives,” a news release said. Flores “will initiate and manage our relationships with AT&T Business Units for issues pertinent to the campaigns, as well as lead alliances with other companies, thought leaders, and key third-party influencers outside of AT&T to drive our strategic objectives.”

JC Flores gets an upgrade.

Personnel note: Andrew Fier joins Vezina, Lawrence & Piscitelli — Fier, most recently Deputy Secretary of Business Regulation at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), has joined the firm’s Tallahassee office as an associate attorney, name partner W. Robert Vezina III said Wednesday. He will “practice primarily in the areas of administrative law and complex commercial litigation, with a concentration in construction disputes,” Vezina said. Fier has been with DBPR since 2008, starting as a law clerk when he was still in law school at Florida State University, rising to a supervising attorney and Deputy General Counsel before becoming a deputy secretary last August. His last day was Tuesday.

— ALOE —

Gordon doesn’t hit motorists’ pocketbooks” via the News Service of Florida — The auto club AAA reported that Gulf Coast refinery operations were not impacted by the storm. “Refineries dodged a bullet, but are not out of the woods just yet,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in a prepared statement. “This year’s hurricane season is far from over. If a major storm moves into the Gulf of Mexico, refineries will go back on alert and pump prices will face renewed upward pressure.” The Gulf of Mexico is home to nearly half of America’s gas-refining capacity. Futures prices rose Tuesday, due to the initial threat. Wednesday afternoon, gasoline prices on the NYMEX traded nearly 10 cents below Tuesday’s peak.

Vinoy hotel sale breaks down to more than $500,000 per key” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — SCG Hospitality, led by Tampa Bay Buccaneers co-owner and chairman Bryan Glazer, paid $188.5 million or $512,000 per key for the 362-room historic Vinoy, which overlooks the downtown St. Pete waterfront. The price per key is at the very high end of Tampa Bay’s hotel market. The Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach sold for just under $500,000 per key in 2016.

Vinoy sells big … $500K-per-key big.

Fans rejoice: Subscription-free streaming for NFL games” via Anick Jesdanun of The Associated Press — The league is finally dropping a requirement that viewers sign in with a cable or satellite subscription. It’s seeking to expand its online audience at a time when TV ratings are declining. There are some restrictions. Streamed games are typically only accessible via phones and tablets. To watch on a big TV, you’ll still need a cable or satellite subscription, or one through a cablelike online package such as PlayStation Vue.

Happy birthday to state Rep. Bobby Olszewski.

Last Call for 9.5.18 — 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

“Bundling” different policy in proposed constitutional amendments is like forcing diners to select a set menu rather than letting them eat a la carte, a lawyer suggested Wednesday.

Joseph Little, a constitutional scholar and retired professor of the University of Florida’s law school, told Tallahassee Circuit Judge Karen Gievers that bundling, or combining different ideas, may force voters to say ‘yes’ to something they oppose to vote for something they favor.

Their only other option is to not vote on a particular amendment, which he called a violation of their First Amendment rights.

Little represents retired state Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead. He and former state elections Commissioner Robert Barnas filed a challenge to six of the eight amendments placed on the ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), saying they were improperly bundled, also known as “logrolling.”

The case, originally filed with the Supreme Court, was bumped down to a trial court.

Little likened the situation to having to vote for all Republicans or all Democrats — or not voting at all. Take Amendment 9, he said, which bans offshore drilling and indoor vaping. He called the two issues unrelated, and their combination “totally unnecessary.”

Deputy Solicitor General Jordan Pratt, representing the state, countered that voters often don’t get to pick a la carte, mentioning that a vote for a president includes a vote for a vice-president and vice versa.

And there is no judicial authority that guarantees one a right to vote on an unbundled CRC amendment, Pratt said.

Gievers said she will rule “as quickly as possible.”

The measures at issue include amendments that already have been ordered off the ballot by circuit judges: Amendment 8, a contentious education-related amendment; and Amendment 6, which would create a crime victims’ bill of rights and raise judicial retirement ages. Those appeals were argued before the Supreme Court this afternoon.

Anstead also is going after Amendment 7, which would extend survivor benefits to first responders and military, among other things; Amendment 9, Amendment 10, which would overhaul state and local governments by requiring certain offices now appointed to be elected; and Amendment 11, which deals with property rights and criminal laws.

Yet another amendment aimed at ending live greyhound racing in Florida, Amendment 13, was ordered off the ballot by Gievers in a separate challenge; that case is awaiting a decision by Supreme Court.

Evening Reads

Ron DeSantis to name Jeanette Nuñez as Florida’s first Cuban-American female running mate” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

Will surge in women running for office lead to big victories in November?” via Diane Rado of Florida Phoenix

Key moments from Brett Kavanaugh’s combative hearing” via Rebecca Morin of POLITICO

Marco Rubio hallway confrontation with Alex Jones: ‘Don’t touch me again, man’” via Dartunorro Clark of NBC

Bill Nelson files bill to get veterans access to medical cannabis” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Poll: Rick Scott, Nelson tied in U.S. Senate race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Judge orders Scott to release travel records, future campaign schedule” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Michelle Obama will help engage voters in South Florida” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Mac ‘the Quote’ Stipanovich: If Andrew Gillum is socialist, so is DeSantis” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Primary epilogue: Chris King got money’s worth; Jeff Greene is a putz” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

Realtors sink $4 million into constitutional amendment” via the News Service of Florida

HD 47 push poll question on Iran has both Anna Eskamani and Stockton Reeves incensed” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Orange County Republicans call for Kathy Gibson to resign RPOF post” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Spanish-language ballots an ‘impossibility,’ 32 counties say” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Former school Deputy Scot Peterson subpoenaed to testify before commission investigating Parkland shooting” via David Fleshler of the Sun Sentinel

Mogul won’t remove sunglasses, denied hotel check-in; claims possible racial profiling” via Eliot Kleinberg of the Palm Beach Post

Quote of the Day

“Don’t touch me again, man … You’re not going to get arrested. I’ll take care of you myself.” — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to hoaxer and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones as Jones interrupted Rubio’s conversation with reporters and touched his shoulder.

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Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll will leave the agency effective Thursday. Carroll announced his resignation Aug. 10. Gov. Rick Scott appointed Rebecca Kapusta to serve as interim secretary after Carroll leaves.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, created after the mass shooting in February that killed 17 people, will continue a two-day meeting. That’s at 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

The Florida Elections Canvassing Commission will meet to certify the results of the Aug. 28 primary elections. That’s at 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol.

Gov. Rick Scott will host a “Let’s Get to Work: Kickoff to November” event and Republican unity rally with statewide candidates and others. Invitees include Ron DeSantis, Matt Caldwell, Ashley Moody, Jimmy Patronis, Adam Putnam and Pam Bondi. That’s at 10 a.m., Ace Café Orlando, 100 W Livingston St., Orlando.

The Florida Supreme Court is expected to release its regular weekly opinions at 11 a.m.

The Florida Transportation Commission will take up an oversight report about transportation authorities throughout the state. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Burns Building, 605 Suwannee St., Tallahassee.

The Sarasota Tiger Bay Club will host a discussion about proposed constitutional amendments on the November ballot. Among expected speakers: former state Sen. Lisa Carlton, who served on the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission. That’s at noon, Michael’s on East, 1212 East Ave. South, Sarasota.

Jeff Weaver, who managed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, will speak to the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club. That’s at noon, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

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