Steve Crisafulli Archives - Florida Politics

New video from Richard Corcoran boasts ‘We are One House’

A new video produced by the Florida House seeks to remind citizens of the Sunshine State that lawmakers, who will soon convene for the 2017 Legislative Session in March, are united in service to all Floridians.

In the clip from Speaker Richard Corcoran’s First Principles Production, group of Florida House members show that — despite political differences — “We are One House.”

The 90-second video — which begins with the passing of the gavel between former Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Corcoran — features a stream of House members such as Republican Reps. Jose Diaz (HD 116), Alexandra Miller (HD 72), Michael Grant (HD 75), Dane Eagle (HD 77) and Democrats Sean Shaw (HD 61) and Matt Willhite (HD 86) among others.

Each lawmaker talks about how the are representing all Floridians, first responders, seniors, veterans and those in need.

“I am so thankful to our colleagues who participated in our ‘One House’ project,” Corcoran said in a statement.  “With this video, we aimed to show the public, the press, and each other, that we share many broad goals and in the end, we are no different, and no more important than any of the people we collectively represent.

“Because, as the video says, ‘all of them, are all of us,’” he added.

Corcoran encourages everyone to watch, share, and participate in the next video, as well as “always remain honored — even when we disagree — to serve together.”

 The video is available on YouTube.

Personnel note: Steve Crisafulli joins Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida board

Former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli will serve a three-year term on the board of directors of the Fish & Wildlife Commission of Florida.

“Steve has been an extraordinary leader in all of his community, business and legislative endeavors,” chairman Rodney Barreto said in a written statement Tuesday.

“His thoughtful pragmatism, deep ties to the land, and dedication to preserving Florida’s natural heritage and traditional outdoor pastimes make him an ideal addition to our board.”

The nonprofit foundation supports the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission in protecting the state’s natural resources.

“As someone who enjoys Florida’s outdoors, I look forward to being part of the discussion as to how we best preserve the environment in which our state’s wildlife and fishing resources thrive, protecting them for the generations to follow,” Crisafulli said.

Crisafulli served as speaker of the Florida House during the 2014-16 Legislature. His business background is in agribusiness — he directed the Brevard County Farm Bureau from 2003 to 2005, and the Florida Farm Bureau from 2003 to 2005.

You’ll find more information about his background here.

Several top Florida fundraisers among those listed as hosts for Donald Trump transition event

Donald Trump’s transition finance committee will host a major fundraiser in New York next week, and several well-known Florida politicos are among those supporters listed on the invitation.

The fundraiser, which was first reported by POLITICO, is scheduled for Dec. 7 in New York. According to POLITICO, the $5,000 per person fundraiser will benefit Trump for America, the group funding the transition. Trump is expected to attend the breakfast, according to POLITICO.

The hosts include Brian Ballard, the president-elect’s top Florida fundraiser and a well-known lobbyist, former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, former Ambassador Mel Sembler, and Darlene Jordan.

Crisafulli was a top supporter for Trump, raising money for the New York Republican and helping to bring him to the Space Coast for rallies. His name has been mentioned as one of several Floridians who could land jobs in the Trump administration, and earlier this month he told the Tampa Bay Times he would consider working for him if he was offered a job.

Another top fundraiser, Sembler is the former U.S. ambassador to Italy and the former U.S. ambassador to Australia and Nauru. He signed on to help Trump earlier this year, and was named the vice chairman of the Trump Victory Committee in May.

Jordan, the executive director of the Gerald R. Jordan Foundation, is another top Republican fundraiser in the Sunshine State. She served as co-chairwoman of Gov. Rick Scott’s 2014 re-election bid. Scott was an early supporter of Trump, penning an op-ed in January praising him.

Republicans win two Brevard County races

Republicans won handily two Brevard County races for state House seats.

House District 51

Republican Tom Goodson won the HD 51 seat in Brevard County.

He received 50,163 votes, or 60 percent, over Democrat Mike Blake’s 33,971, or 40 percent of the vote.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, who currently represents District 51, could not seek re-election because of term limits. Goodson currently represents House District 50, but switched to the District 51 race to face Blake, a Cocoa City councilman.

HD 51 includes the Cape Canaveral, Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island, and Rockledge areas.

House District 53

Republican Randy Fine was named the winner of the HD 53 race.

Fine received 46,205 votes (57 percent) over Democrat David Anthony Kearns’ 34,987 votes (43 percent).

Republican House Speaker hopeful Fine, 42, is a small-business owner and decided to run after becoming angry about his son’s public education. Kearns, 53, is a Palm Bay real estate agent.

HD 53 covers the southern portion of Brevard County.

Incoming Speaker Richard Corcoran to propose dramatic changes to House appropriations process

House members hoping to get money in the 2017-18 budget will be asked to file a bill for every appropriations request they make.

That change is one of several to be coming down the pike as part of new House rules, according to sources close to incoming Speaker Richard Corcoran, who will announce the new rules to members on Nov. 10. Corcoran has spent months re-writing the rules, which many expect will take a take a tough stance on special interests within the capital.

A change to the budgeting process wouldn’t be surprising. As chairman of the House appropriations committee, Corcoran, with the help of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, instituted a process requiring members to attach their names to budget items they were seeking.

During the 2016 Legislative Session, the House posted all of the member request forms to the House website. Those forms included the name of the member requesting the money, background about the project, and the contact information of who requested the money.

Additional changes are on the way, as the House will move to a system that requires members to file an individual bill for each budget request. In that scenario, members would like be required to file all of their requests by the bill filing deadline at the beginning of session.

It is unlikely the member request bills would count toward the limited number of bills members can file each year, according to those briefed on the Speaker’s plans.

The member requests would likely then have to go through the same process as any other bill, clearing several committees before being taken up by the full floor. The request would need likely to pass the full House to be included in its version of the budget.

If the House were to institute such a rule change, Florida would be the first state in the nation that requires members to file individual requests in the form of a bill. The change would also likely receive pushback from the Senate, particularly since there are rumblings House members will be asked to include a Senate sponsor on the request.

Corcoran has been tight-lipped about many of proposed changes, saying they are still hammering out the details. When asked about whether there will be changes to how members submit budget requests, Corcoran said the House has made transparency a priority.

“We have said for four years now, going back to our blueprint that we wrote, that we will have the most transparent House of Representatives in the entire nation,” he said Friday.

Another change to the rules will include requiring lobbyists disclose more information. Gary Fineout reported this week that lobbyists could be required to not just name their clients, but disclose the bills, amendments and appropriation items on which they are lobbying House members.

Corcoran alluded to that during his designation speech in September. In prepared remarks, the Land O’Lakes Republican said the House must “change the lobbyist registration rules by requiring every lobbyist to disclose which bills, which amendments and which appropriations they are trying to influence.”

The Tampa Bay Times reported this week that Corcoran was looking to end the practice of local governments — like counties, cities and school boards — hiring outside lobbyists. He told the newspaper he considered it a “disgrace that taxpayer dollars are used to hire lobbyists when we elect people to represent them.”

Corcoran has also signaled he plans to push to end the so-called revolving door between the Legislature and lobbying industry through a constitutional amendment barring legislators from lobbying the legislative or executive branch for six years. Currently, they can begin lobbying after two.

The House is expected to make the 2016-18 Rules of the Florida House available by Nov. 10. The House will be tasked with adopting the new rules during the organizational meeting on Nov. 22.

Don Gaetz, Steve Crisafulli reminisce on politics, legislative successes in heartfelt farewells

In both life and politics, the only thing that’s constant is change. While elections give voters a view of the future, it also provides some retiring politicians a chance to look back.

As two influential Florida lawmakers say their goodbyes — former Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli — they reflect on changes, and legislative successes, during their respective careers in Tallahassee.

Crisafulli — the first Speaker from Brevard County — gives his final thank you to Floridians in a Florida Today op-ed, talking about how the state rebounded from the Great Recession.

“The last eight years could be described as a tale of two Floridas,” the Merritt Island Republican writes. “From 2008 through 2011, the recession ravaged our economy, with unemployment over 12 percent, budget shortfalls, and the end of the space shuttle program.”

Getting through the recession, Crisafulli says, required difficult decisions, including the Legislature’s efforts to “cut taxes and red tape, balance the budget and shrink government” — all of which resulted in a financially and economically stronger Florida, with a budget surplus and an unemployment rate below the national average.

“We are a national leader in job creation, with over 1.1 million new private sector jobs,” he notes. “Tourism records have been smashed, with over 105 million visitors in 2015. Commercial space is on the rise. Port Canaveral is flourishing .… Taxes were slashed over $1 billion in the last two years .… Our schools have record funding.”

In addition, Florida has begun to address issues critical to the state’s water resources.

“We passed a comprehensive water policy bill this year that addresses our state’s water quality and supply challenges in a statewide manner through the use of scientifically sound, responsible solutions,” Crisafulli says.

As for his post-political career, Crisafulli looks forward to time with his family, and vows to continue engaging in the community.

“Florida is the state where not even the sky is the limit,” he says.

In his farewell, posted on Rick Outzen’s blog, Gaetz counters the comparison some make between politics and football: “You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it’s important.”

“After four years of football and 22 years in politics,” he says. “I’m inclined to think the comparison is unfair to football. In football, you step out of bounds and the play is dead, targeting earns rejection, playing time depends on performance, coaches who don’t win get fired, and referees don’t wear the same color jerseys as your opponents. Well, mostly they don’t. In politics, it’s the alternate universe.”

Politics and football does have one similarity — “both are organized violence punctuated by committee meetings and ending with hugs.”

Looking back on his tenure in politics, Gaetz believes it was “way more good than bad.”

“I cherish the smash-mouth fights over matters of principle,” he says. “I richly earned my opponents, giving, I hope, as good as I got. Politics can be thrilling and noble, just as it can be base and disgusting. Contrary to the fashionable lament, there is good, useful work that gets done by people in public office, by leaders confident enough in themselves to reach across the boundaries of ego, party, and geography.”

Gaetz even jokes about the lessons learned along the way, and how not to take himself too seriously.

“After my first election,” he says, “at my first school board meeting, a reporter asked me, ‘Gaetz, so you’re the one not taking a salary?’ Before I could do my riff about selfless public service, one of the older board members said in a stage whisper, ‘One thing about Gaetz. He knows what he’s worth.’

“People who sniff at the gritty business of electioneering or moan that public service is a sacrifice haven’t lived my life,” he continues. “I love to campaign and I was grateful and thrilled every day I stepped onto the Senate floor or into a school board meeting. But I support term limits and wish Congress had them, too.”

Gaetz says he canceled his Governor’s Club membership, trading it for a membership to Sam’s Club.

“I want to come home and live under the laws I’ve passed and enjoy the elbow room created by the rules I repealed,” he adds.

Now that he is leaving Tallahassee, Gaetz promises to “walk and talk a little slower,” enjoying “unhurried friendships and love.”

But when he gets “riled up,” Gaetz intends to write “that new congressman” — his son, former state Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is likely to succeed Jeff Miller in Florida’s 1st Congressional District.

“I have it on good authority he’s smart enough both to understand the game and think it’s important,” he concludes.

Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round

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

Off: Mary Kassabaum is no longer legislative assistant for Trilby Republican state Sen. Wilton Simpson.

Off: Caroline Crow is no longer district secretary for Rockledge Republican state Sen. Thad Altman.

On: Matthew Hunter is returning as legislative assistant for Fort Myers Republican state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto.

Off: Sean Nixon is no longer legislative assistant for Cutler Bay Democratic state Sen. Dwight Bullard.

Off: Kyle Langan is no longer legislative assistant for Inverness Republican state Sen. Charlie Dean.

Off and on: Allison Hess Sitte is no longer legislative assistant for Niceville Republican state Sen. Don Gaetz. Sitte has moved to the president’s office to serve as director of scheduling for Senate President-designate Joe Negron, a Republican from Stuart.

Off: Nanci Cornwell and Anne-Marie Norman are no longer legislative assistants for Umatilla Republican state Sen. Alan Hays.

Off: Karol Molinares is no longer legislative assistant for North Miami Democratic state Sen. Gwen Margolis.

Off: Carolina Castillo and Alexandra Rueckner are no longer district secretaries for Miami Republican state Rep. Frank Artiles.

Off: Gabe Peters is no longer legislative assistant for Hialeah Republican state Rep. Bryan Avila.

Off and on: Lance Clemons is no longer district secretary for Monticello Republican state Rep. Halsey Beshears. He was replaced by Chris Kingry.

Off: Andrea Knowles is no longer legislative assistant for Deerfield Beach Democratic state Rep. Gwyndolen “Gwyn” Clarke-Reed.

On: Evelyn Haas is the new district secretary for Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran.

On: Beatriz Marte became district secretary for Kissimmee Democratic state Rep. John Cortes.

Off: Ashley Guinn is no longer legislative assistant for Speaker Steve Crisafulli.

Off: Christian Schultze is no longer district secretary for Tampa Democratic state Rep. Janet Cruz.

Off and on: Allison Hopkins is no longer district secretary for Eucheeanna Republican state Rep. Brad DrakeAnn McGraw, formerly with Baker Republican state Sen. Greg Evers, joins Rhonda Thomas as Drake’s legislative assistant.

On: Nathan Klein is a new district secretary for Cape Coral Republican state Rep. Dane Eagle.

On: Edward Metzger is a new legislative assistant for Fort Myers Republican state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen.

Off and on: Karen Sweeney is no longer legislative assistant for Stuart Republican state Rep. Gayle HarrellCatherine Thomson is replacing Sweeney as Harrell’s district secretary.

Off and on: Derick Tabertshofer, former district secretary, replaced Jacob Gil as legislative assistant for Tampa Republican state Rep. Shawn HarrisonBenjamin Kelly is now Harrison’s new district secretary.

Off and on: Sue Berfield, former district secretary, joined Janine Kiray as legislative assistant to Clearwater Republican state Rep. Chris LatvalaKaren Flaherty is no longer Latvala’s district secretary.

Off and on: Amanda Geltz replaced Jennifer Wylie as district secretary for Yalaha Republican state Rep. Larry MetzSara Pennington is no longer Metz’s legislative assistant.

Off: Charkay Suiters is no longer district secretary for New Port Richey Democratic state Rep. Amanda Murphy.

On: Victoria Gagni became district secretary for Naples Republican state Rep. Kathleen Passidomo.

Off and on: Sarah Goldman is replacing Colleen Hartman as district secretary for South Pasadena Republican state Rep. Kathleen Peters.

Off: Lori Moran is no longer district secretary for Sarasota Republican state Rep. Ray Pilon.

On: Nitin (Sunny) Aggarwal became legislative assistant for Orlando Republican state Rep. Rene Plasencia.

On: Jannette Nunez is the new district secretary for Miami Beach Democratic state Rep. David Richardson.

On: Jason Holloway is the new legislative assistant for St. Petersburg Democratic state Rep. Darryl Rouson.

Off and on: Karen Foster replaced Teri Mitze as legislative assistant for Boca Raton Democratic state Rep. Irving “Irv” SlosbergLawrence Victoria is Slosberg’s new district secretary.

Off: Adam Miller is no longer legislative assistant for Melbourne beach Republican state Rep. John Tobia.

Off: Albie Kaminsky is no longer district secretary for Panama City Republican state Rep. Jay Trumbull.

Off: Emily Bleecker is no longer district secretary for Trilby Republican state Rep. Ritch Workman.

 

After being suspended from State House, Reggie Fullwood resigns

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli suspended Reggie Fullwood Monday in a terse one-paragraph letter, bringing an ignominious end to his political career.

“As you are guilty of a felony,” Crisafulli writes, “you are suspended immediately.”

Fullwood is not entitled to pay for the rest of his term.

He also has to close his intraoffice expense account and return funds to the Florida House; all administrative activities of his office are transferred to the Office of House Administration.

****

Fullwood entered a guilty plea Thursday on two counts in his federal fraud trial, which set into motion a chain of events, including resigning Friday from his re-election campaign, and a Monday evening vote by the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee to replace him as a candidate.

Fullwood’s replacement to run for the House District 13 seat will be chosen at 6 p.m. during a meeting of the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee at the IBEW Hall on Liberty Street.

Three-minute statements will be allowed, but not required, from interested candidates.

From there, the DEC will hold a vote.

The two most likely to emerge: former Duval County Deputy Supervisor of Elections Tracie Davis and current Duval County School Board member Paula Wright.

****

A source close to Fullwood had told this outlet on Friday that Fullwood had promised to resign voluntarily.

However, that didn’t happen, necessitating Crisafulli’s action.

Fullwood did send Crisafulli a letter after Crisafulli’s own letter on Monday explaining that he had an “intent to send this letter on Friday of last week, but it was being reviewed by my attorney.”

Fullwood did ask Crisafulli to “allow the District 13 staff to stay in place to address constituent issues and other concerns over the next 30 plus days until the new representative is elected in November.”

In his letter, Fullwood called the decision to resign the “toughest decision” that he ever had to make, predicated on a “very able judge” finding that his spending of over $60,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses “could be charged as wire fraud under federal law.”

“My options were to go to trial with an uncertain outcome and face the possibility of a lengthy appeal or seek an immediate resolution. As a father of three children,” Fullwood wrote, “I felt that bringing closure to this matter was the best choice.”

Reggie Fullwood resignation letter

fullwoodcrisa

Resigning from House, Reggie Fullwood withdraws from HD 13 race

In the classic tradition of politics in Florida, some big news developed during Happy Hour on Friday.

A day after pleading guilty to federal fraud chargesReggie Fullwood filed a letter Friday with Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner saying he is no longer a candidate in House District 13.

Fullwood’s withdrawal, said the letter, was “effective immediately,” to “permit the Democratic Party [to] designate a nominee.” It reads:

“The purpose of this correspondence is inform the Department of State, Division of Elections, that I have withdrawn as the Democratic candidate for election to the Florida House of Representatives, District 13, effective immediately.

“This is to permit the Democratic Party to select a nominee to fill the vacancy created by my withdrawal as a candidate. Thank you for your attention to this matter.”

The Democratic Party will have to decide quickly who the candidate will be.

Division of Elections Director Maria Mathews sent Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant a letter late Friday saying a candidate’s letter of designation and qualifying papers must be submitted to the Division of Elections by Oct. 7 at 5 p.m.

Names being floated include Tracie Davis, Duval School Board member Paula Wright, and Rahman Johnson.

Powerful state Sen. Audrey Gibson is close to the first two mentioned; Johnson, meanwhile, would be Fullwood’s pick.

There is, as well, some consternation about who is the best pick. Those who value legislative experience in the Duval’s Democratic Executive Committee back Wright. However, Davis ran a competitive second to Fullwood in the August primary, which burnishes her case for selection by the DEC.

Discussion is robust in the DEC on this matter, with passionate advocates for candidates saying that there needs to be a candidate from the district with legislative experience, which Davis lacks.

Fullwood is in the process of writing a letter to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli resigning from the House.

“While this is a very unfortunate situation, Rep. Fullwood is now obligated by House Rule to resign from his seat. I am hopeful that he will do what is right and do so immediately,” said a statement from Crisafulli to Jacksonville’s WOKV.

****

Fullwood was indicted in April on 14 federal counts related to wire fraud, alleging he transferred $65,000 of campaign contributions into his personal account.

Ten counts were for wire fraud; four counts, for failure to file federal tax returns.

The plea deal reached Thursday was for one count of wire fraud for $1,500 and one count of failure to file.

Though there may be expectations of lenient sentencing, Judge Marcia Morales Howard told Fullwood that the court would set the sentence and decide how lenient it might be.

****

Fullwood had attempted a number of creative defenses in the trial.

Some were more successful than others.

Fullwood scored a victory when the judge ruled the Florida Division of Elections could not have been defrauded by his misappropriation of campaign funds.

However, the Jacksonville Democrat’s motion to dismiss was thwarted.

Fullwood contended no contributor’s property interest was compromised by his use of campaign funds for personal expenses, as the contributors got what they paid for — Fullwood in office.

Federal prosecutors produced FBI testimony from multiple contributors saying their sole intention was for campaign donations to be used only for campaign expenses, eviscerating the motion to dismiss.

Ultimately, that testimony undermined Fullwood’s defense, and a plea deal came.

Fullwood will be sentenced Jan. 9; however, the Democratic Party will have to choose a replacement candidate as soon as possible.

Mitch Perry Report for 9.14.16 — Steve Crisafulli goes there

Outgoing Florida Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli penned an opinion piece yesterday slamming Hillary Clinton‘s now-infamous “basket of deplorables” phrase to describe half of Donald Trump‘s supporters.

“By calling so many of our nation’s citizens ‘deplorable’ haters and racists and the other half too stupid to make their own decisions about who should be our next president, Hillary once again revealed how the elitist Clintons really view Americans,” Crisafulli wrote.

Similar Trump surrogates echoes similar statements last weekend, but not that many House Republicans.

As the New York Times reports this morning, GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence pretty much struck out in a visit to Capitol Hill in getting his former colleagues to join in deploring Clinton for her “basket of deplorables” remark.

In separate news conferences, House and Senate Republican leaders declined to join Mr. Pence, the Indiana governor and vice-presidential nominee, in rebuking Mrs. Clinton over her remark.

Mr. Pence wound up raising the subject only when pressed by a reporter — and then gave a halting answer in which he would not call David Duke, a white supremacist and onetime Ku Klux Klan leader, “deplorable.” He insisted instead that Mrs. Clinton did not have “that bad man” in mind when she assailed Mr. Trump’s supporters.

You might have seen Pence on Monday night, when he refused to take the bait from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer when asked if Duke could be considered “deplorable.”

“The simple fact is that I am not in the name-calling business,” Pence said, which he again repeated yesterday in D.C.

“Is the factory worker looking for a job that Hillary helped send overseas deplorable?” Crisafulli wrote yesterday. “Are the families whose sons and daughters fight for our country deplorable? Are the millions of Americans who simply want her to tell the truth deplorable? If asking these questions is reason for Hillary to put someone in a basket — she can throw me in too.”

Needless to say, Crisafulli is all in when it comes to supporting Trump for president. Obviously, the rest of his party isn’t nearly that unified.

Meanwhile, the Real Clear Politics average has Trump up by .01 percent over Clinton in Florida, and down only two points nationally.

In other news…

Patrick Murphy used the opportunity of getting endorsed by a political action committee formed after the Pulse nightclub shooting to blast Marco Rubio’s votes on gun safety.

Tampa millennials gathered Monday night in Ybor City to talk transportation and how Hillary Clinton’s plan for infrastructure improvements could help the area if she’s elected.

Dana Young and a host of other (mostly Republican) state lawmakers from the Tampa Bay area are warning the Hillsborough PTC not to pass rules that could prompt Uber and Lyft to leave Tampa.

The AFL-CIO is dropping more than 50,000 mailers to union families in Florida this week touting their support for Hillary Clinton.

CD 15’s Dennis Ross has signed on to a House bill that would prohibit any further payments to Iran from the U.S. government.

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