Sunburn – Florida Politics

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.20.18

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

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

As the nation and politicians in Florida are engulfed in an emotional debate about immigration and the deplorable practice of separating children from their parents, it’s important to note that one aspect of the overall debate has turned out to be a surefire loser for candidates running this cycle.

The cheap promise, espoused by so many Republican candidates, about ending so-called sanctuary cities, has done nothing for the candidates spouting this line.

On Tuesday, arch-conservative Jay Fant ended his went-nowhere bid for Attorney General. As a state lawmaker, Fant was a leading sponsor of a bill to shut down sanctuary cities. On the campaign trail, Fant was even more shrill, promising to send immigrant-protecting mayors to jail if he had been elected Florida’s next AG.

Jay Fant gave up a safe seat for the AG race.

Fortunately, neither of these situations are now a possibility.

Fant joins House Speaker Richard Corcoran on the list of statewide candidates who attempted to reach statewide office by making a crackdown on sanctuary cities such a prominent part of their campaign. Corcoran infamously ran a frightening television ad about the issue (specifically about the case of Kate Steinle) that was roundly criticized for its not-so-subtle racism. The Pasco Republican really never recovered from that disaster.

But it’s not just statewide candidates who have made the mistake of playing the anti-immigration card too hard. James Buchanan, the son of the popular U.S. Representative who was running in a special election for the state House, also saw his promising campaign undone because he went to the well once (or twice or three times) too often on the sanctuary city issue. Buchanan, heavily favored to win the special election at the outset of the race, lost to Democrat Margaret Good.

There are probably other cases where Republicans who made the sanctuary city issue their touchstone ended up fizzling out like Fant or losing like Buchanan. But these three cases should serve as enough of a warning to all GOP candidates that tacking so far to the right on this issue may play well on Fox News, but it has not worked out so well for those running in Florida.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@SenBillNelson: The company running this facility told us we would be welcomed to tour the facility. HHS then denied us entry and said that they need “two weeks notice” to allow us inside. That’s ridiculous and it’s clear this administration is hiding something.

—@RosLehtinen: No, @POTUS, saying immigrants “infest” our country is repugnant, reprehensible, + repulsive. To dehumanize those who wish to make a better life for themselves + their families flies in the face of decency. The real infestation is only one of your baseless rhetoric

—@RepTedDeutch: Mr. President, while you are on Capitol Hill talking with Republicans about your family separation policy, how about you stop by my office? I want to ask how you can defend this cruel policy and tell you about my constituents who are demanding you end it. #KeepFamiliesTogether

@learyreports: .@SenBillNelson office on border kids: Have received about 1,000 calls total, 600 since yesterday. Also received about 1,400 emails since last night. 99% of calls and emails are against Trump’s policy.

@anaceballos_: When news broke yesterday that a facility in Florida was housing migrant children, @FLGovScott said it was not aware of any old or new facilities in the state housing children as a result of Trump’s “zero tolerance policy” Today, he says he knew facility reopened in February.

@fineout: Documents released by @FLGovScott office show that HHS informed state officials and members of Congress about the pending reopening of the Homestead facility in February. But at that time the facility was to be used for “unaccompanied alien children.”

—@TroyKinsey: #Florida GOP state @SenReneGarcia on @realDonaldTrump admin’s #BorderChildren policy: “This is unethical and shameful to say the least.”

@Ananavarro: After attacks on a disabled reporter, McCain, Judge Curiel, & the Khan’s, the Access Hollywood tapes, Charlottesville, 2nd-class treatment of Puerto Ricans, & the countless lies, I thought I’d reached a point where I could not possibly feel any more disdain for Trump. I was wrong.

@KevinCate: Hug your babies. Then make sure other parents can do the same.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 2; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 8; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 18; MLB All-Star Game — 27; Deadline for filing claim bills — 42; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 42; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 43; Start of the U.S. Open — 68; Primary Election Day — 69; College Football opening weekend — 71; NFL season starts — 79; Future of Florida Forum — 98; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 125; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 126; General Election Day — 139; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 239; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 258.

— TOP STORY —

’Bullhuckey:’ Bill Nelson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz denied access to immigrant kid lockup” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — U.S. Sen. Nelson and Rep. Wasserman Schultz were denied access to a 1,000-bed federal facility in the state that was opened to receive an influx of immigrant children, some of whom may have been detained due to Donald Trump‘s new family separation policy for the undocumented. “What they are doing is a cover-up for the president,” Nelson said. “The president is dug in on a policy, and he doesn’t like all the flak that he’s getting, even from some Republican senators.” Nelson said the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which ultimately denied access to the lawmakers — including state House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee, the district’s state representative — was “being obstinate, headstrong.” He said the agency’s decision was “an affront as the senior senator of this state that an agency head would tell me that I do not have entrance into a federally funded facility where the life and health of children are at stake.”

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz were denied entry by security into the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children on Tuesday in Homestead.

It’s unclear how many children are now at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children or how many were taken there under the president’s policy separating minors from parents who have requested asylum of a border patrol agent but have crossed illegally.

— “Miami-Dade schools chief swipes at Trump, says detained immigrant kids need to be educated” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

Congress flails as family separation crisis spirals” via Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle — Republican and Democratic senators are beginning to talk across the aisle about ending President Donald Trump’s practice of splitting families at the border. But so far, they’re mostly talking past each other. And with Trump showing no sign he’ll back down despite the growing public pressure, the result is that migrant children may continue to be ripped from their parents’ arms for weeks to come if they cross the border illegally. Democratic leaders note Trump can change the policy now without Congress’ help and have rallied around legislation written by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to stop the family separation, though it’s gotten zero GOP supporters. Republican leaders are devising their own bill to end the practice based on preliminary work from Sen. Ted Cruz, but so far GOP leaders have barely reached out to Democrats, who are skeptical that Trump would sign Cruz’s legislation.

The story that made Rachel Maddow cry on air — “Youngest migrants held in ‘tender age’ shelters” via Garance Burke of The Associated Press

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Rick Scott is wealthiest governor in Florida history. In July, he must reveal details.” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Required as part of Scott’s U.S. Senate candidacy, the much-anticipated disclosure has some environmental groups and Democrats ready to raise questions about whether Scott’s personal holdings in the energy industry have helped steer Florida’s policy on climate change. “It seems pretty obvious he’s making decisions that will benefit companies in which he has an interest,” said Susan Glickman of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. The alliance was not one of the groups that sued Scott and his administration in April to demand a science-based climate recovery plan and to acknowledge the reality of climate change, but it supports the legal action. Scott held $14.7 million in stock in 2014 in Argan Inc., a Maryland holding company in power generation and renewable energy fields. In April, Argan told the SEC: “We may be affected by regulatory responses to the fear of climate change.” About two dozen other firms in Scott’s portfolio expressed similar concerns. Those energy-related companies accounted for nearly one-sixth of Scott’s net worth of $132.7 million in 2014, or about $20 million.

Florida Democrats call on Scott to acknowledge climate change — After the Tampa Bay Times reported on Scott’s financial interests in various companies that would benefit from inaction on climate change. The Florida Democratic Party is launching a petition calling on the Senate candidate to “put self-interest aside” and acknowledge the harmful impacts of climate change. FDP spokesperson Nate Evans said in a statement: “We always knew Rick Scott was a climate denier, but now we have a clearer picture as to why. In true self-serving Scott form, he has millions of dollars in investments in companies that have directly advocated against climate change regulation. It’s time that Scott, who has continued to get richer at taxpayer’s expense, put Florida’s best interest first and finally acknowledge the harmful impacts that climate change is having on the state.”

— QUALIFYING WEEK SURPRISE #2 —

Jay Fant drops out of attorney general race to seek OFR post” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Jacksonville Republican decided to end his campaign, which was struggling to gain momentum, to apply to become commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation, a spot that came open earlier this month when OFR Commissioner Drew Breakspear resigned amid pressure from CFO Patronis, who oversees the office. “Florida is the third-largest state, but not the third-most influential state for financial headquarters,” Fant told POLITICO. “There is no reason that can’t change. We need safety and soundness along with an understanding that we need to make Florida more attractive from a regulatory perspective.” He also said that he wants to instill a “servants culture” in the office. One of Patronis’ biggest public criticisms of Breakspear was that he failed to meet with some financial interests that his office regulated … Breakspear clashed with bankers and other interests he oversaw, prompting some to go to Patronis for help.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Gwen Graham goes after Scott on child detentions” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Graham’s following up on reports that children being separated from their parents at the Arizona-Mexico border are being transported to a Homestead detention center. She wants to know how much Scott knows about the facility — or others — and when he learned about it. “Seeing photos of these children, listening to their screams, I think of my own children and how hard I would fight if anyone tried to separate us,” Graham said in a news release. “Floridians deserve to know what Rick Scott knows about the Trump administration using our state in their political plot to separate families and what he’s doing to assist or stop Trump from bringing children to our state.”

Jeff Greene launches two TV commercials, blasting Trump, remembering dad” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Greene is going up in a big way, spending $2.9 million of his own money on this week alone on the TV ads and a digital buy, which his campaign said is four times the dollar amount of his closest Democratic competitor … The 30-second ad is called “Jeff Greene Stands Up to Trump” … an early theme of Greene’s campaign rhetoric: “The timid need not apply.” A news release states: “Greene’s unique appeal to Florida Democrats lies in his ability to spend whatever it takes to go toe-to-toe with historically better-funded Republicans in the general election to help Democrats regain control of the governor’s mansion for the first time in 20 years without being beholden to special interest groups.” The Trump commercial begins with a narrator declaring, “Jeff Greene stood up to Trump on national TV.” Greene is then shown appearing on CNBC in a pre-2016 election interview in which he says, “I know enough about Donald Trump to be scared to death to see him as our president.”

Matt Dixon gets results — “Phil Levine says he’ll sell $600K in oil industry stocks following POLITICO inquiry” via POLITICO Florida — With a campaign focused in large part on climate change and sea level rise, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine said Tuesday he would sell nearly $600,000 in oil industry stock after POLITICO asked about the investments that appeared in his latest financial disclosure report. The environmental issue is a heated one in Democratic politics, but especially sensitive for Levine, who as a former mayor of Miami Beach was on the front lines of dealing with flooding stemming from rising sea levels. And much of the charged campaign trail rhetoric is directed at one source: oil companies. That toxic perception of holding ownership in oil industry interests while campaigning as a climate change crusader did not square for Levine, whose top campaign official said they began the process of selling his oil industry investments after getting questions from POLITICO. “This was part of an investment adviser’s portfolio recommendation — the mayor has instructed them to sell the stocks,” said Christian Ulvert, a Levine campaign senior adviser.

Adam Putnam endorsed by eight sheriffs — Putnam announced Tuesday that eight Panhandle Area sheriffs have endorsed Putnam in his run for Governor. The announcement took place during a stop in Lynn Haven where Putnam shared his “Secure Florida First” agenda … Putnam was joined today by Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson, Jr., Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews, Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford, Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison and Liberty County Sheriff Eddie Joe White

Just last week, Team Putnam announced nine sheriff endorsements from the Greater Tampa Bay Area, bringing the count up to 17 sheriff endorsements across the State of Florida.

Assignment editors — Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley will attend the Florida Cattlemen’s Association Cattlemen’s Supper, 6 p.m., Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, 1500 Masters Blvd., ChampionsGate.

Jimmy Patronis, Jeremy Ring net worth’s top $5 million” via the News Service of Florida — As he qualified for the race, incumbent Republican CFO Patronis filed a financial-disclosure form that listed a net worth of $6.49 million. The largest chunks of Patronis’ assets, totaling about $4.72 million, were in stock, partnership interests and a retirement account in family businesses … Patronis’ family, at least in part, owns Capt. Anderson’s Restaurant in Panama City Beach. Patronis also listed a $486,000 home in Panama City Beach. Democratic candidate Ring, a former state senator from Broward County, filed a financial disclosure this month listing a net worth of $5.12 million. Ring, a former executive with Yahoo who also qualified for the Cabinet race and listed assets including $4.35 million in securities and a $962,000 home in Parkland.

Matt Haggman repeats call to shut down ICE in new CD 27 ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — In the midst of increasing criticism directed at the Trump administration’s decision to separate thousands of children from their parents at the border, congressional candidate Matt Haggman is out with a new six-figure ad campaign. Once again, he’s calling for the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Haggman, running for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, first announced his support to abolish ICE earlier this month: “ICE was created in 2003. We’re talking about a 15-year-old agency that has far overstepped its intended, national security function and is sucking up government resources to deport families and detain children.”

Jayer Williamson draws late opponent for House seat” via the News Service of Florida — Bobbi Sue Osborne, a Jay resident running without party affiliation, opened a campaign account to challenge Williamson in House District 3, which is made up of parts of Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties … Williamson had been running unopposed. He had raised $100,750 for his re-election bid as of May 31. Meanwhile, the race for an open seat in nearby House District 1 also drew a late candidate when Republican Lisa Doss opened a campaign account. The Escambia County seat is open because Pensacola Republican Rep. Clay Ingram faces term limits. Five candidates have opened campaign accounts, with two — Republican Rebekah Bydlak and Democrat Vikki Garrett — listed on the state website as having qualified as of early Tuesday afternoon.

Jayer Williamson draws an 11th-hour challenge.

New candidates emerge for Larry Lee, Jake Raburn seats” via the News Service of Florida — Port St. Lucie Republican Teri Pinney became the fifth candidate seeking to replace Lee in St. Lucie County’s House District 84 … Two of the five candidates — Fort Pierce Democrat Forest Blanton and Port St. Lucie Republican Mark Gotz — had formally qualified for the race. Meanwhile, with Raburn announcing he will not seek another term, Lithia Republican Michael Sean McCoy opened a campaign account to run in Hillsborough County’s House District 57. McCoy joined Democrats Layla Hartz and Debbie Katt in the race, with Katt listed on the state website as having qualified.

Joe Casello rolls out South Florida endorsements in HD 90 race — Boynton Beach Commissioner Casello is announcing endorsements from U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch, as well as the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association. Casello, a retired firefighter and a veteran of the Air Force, is the only candidate remaining after several candidates withdrew from the race to replace Lori Berman in the heavily Democratic House District 90. Since entering the race May 2017, Casello has earned more than thirty endorsements from some of Palm Beach County’s most well-respected public figures, business and civic organizations, and labor unions. “On the Boynton Beach City Commission, Joe Casello was a strong voice for the Democratic values we share and a tireless advocate for his community,” Frankel said. “In Tallahassee, I know he’ll continue to fight for workers’ rights and organized labor, quality public education, expanded job creation, and our environment.” Casello has served on the Boynton Beach City Commission since 2013.

Happening today — Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux will speak at an event for the Federated Republican Women of North Dade. Invited guests include Rhonda Lopez, a candidate in state House District 115, Bibi Potestad, a candidate for HD 119, and candidate Joe Kaufman, who is running in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, 7 p.m., 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant, 1395 N.W. 57th Ave., Miami.

— DEMOCRATIC DISCOURSE —

Amid talks of a blue wave and ahead of a difficult but potentially game-changing election, Terrie Rizzo assumed leadership of the Florida Democratic Party.

She’s keenly aware of the challenges ahead, but has high hopes for Democratic candidates this fall. In a recent five-question interview with the News Service of Florida, she acknowledged what appears to be Democratic energy, but pointed out the party is “not taking anything for granted.”

“But believe me,” Rizzo told the News Service. “There is a tremendous energy and excitement.”

Presence: “We have tremendous candidates running in races where we haven’t had people before recently,” Rizzo said. It appears the Democrats are looking to show out from the top of the ticket all the way down, even in school board races.

The Republicans: Rick Scott’s spending big — but that’s expected, Rizzo said. As for the party’s outreach in rural areas, “we’re letting people in those districts know there are alternatives,” Rizzo said.

What about the cash?: Democrats can’t compete with Republican money. But, “we have the better policies, the better message and the better candidates,” Rizzo said.

— STATEWIDE —

Accounting watchdog claims Florida doesn’t have enough money to pay its bills” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — A Chicago-based watchdog group says Florida owes more than it owns to the tune of $11.6 billion, earning it a C ranking in the group’s annual report of state financial standings. Truth in Accounting released its letter-grade rankings of each state … The nonprofit was founded to highlight inaccurate government financial disclosures. “Florida’s elected officials have made repeated financial decisions that have left the state with a debt burden of $11.6 billion, according to the analysis. That burden equates to $1,800 for every state taxpayer.” Truth in Accounting figured Florida had $58.6 billion available in assets to pay $70.1 billion in spending. Most of the debt comes from pension funding, or a lack thereof. Per the report, “Of the $60.8 billion in retirement benefits promised, the state has not funded $10.9 billion of pension benefits and $9.3 billion of retiree health care benefits.”

Counties sue to remove amendments from Florida’s November ballot” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — In separate lawsuits filed this month in Leon County Circuit Court, Broward and Volusia counties are asking the court to invalidate Amendment 10, the proposal placed on the November ballot by the Republican-controlled Constitution Revision Commission. The two counties argue that the proposal unconstitutionally misleads voters because it fails to explain that if approved, voters in Broward and Volusia counties would be stripped of their right to govern themselves. The amendment rolls together several ideas, the most controversial of which would overrule county charters and require Broward to elect a tax collector, Miami-Dade to elect a sheriff to replace its appointed law enforcement officer, and force Volusia County to reverse a decision voters made in 1970 to appoint its county officers. Miami-Dade County has not joined the lawsuit. “The ballot title and summary for Amendment 10 are misleading, inaccurate, and fail to fairly inform voters of the true effect and impact of the proposed amendment,” wrote lawyers for Broward County in a lawsuit filed Friday.

Citizens board may delay rate hike” via Lloyd Dunkleberger of the News Service of Florida — Citizens Property Insurance is poised to delay a 7.9 percent rate increase for policyholders, after some board members suggested Tuesday another rate hike may be too soon following a May 1 increase. The Citizens Board of Governors, which oversees the government-backed insurer that has some 443,000 policies in the state, will discuss the proposal at its Wednesday meeting in Maitland.

Department of Health seeks more time in marijuana appeal — It opposes a lower court’s decision that Joe Redner, the Tampa strip club mogul, could grow and make juice of his own medical marijuana. The department filed a motion earlier this week asking for a deadline extension to file its initial brief. The filing asks the 1st District Court of Appeal for 60 more days, moving the deadline from this Wednesday to Aug. 20. “Due to numerous conflicting deadlines and previously scheduled events … the undersigned have not had adequate time to prepare the Initial Brief,” it says, noting that Redner attorney Luke Lirot objected to the request. The department is represented in the appeal by Shutts & Bowen attorneys Amber Stoner and Jason Gonzalez. Redner, a lung cancer survivor, says his doctor recommended eight ounces daily of fresh, juiced marijuana as the best way to avoid a recurrence. In a separate filing, the court also rejected Redner’s request to put the appeal on a fast track.

Two more health plans get Medicaid contracts” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Prestige Health Choice and Molina Healthcare will each be awarded contracts in two of Florida’s 11 Medicaid regions … the state announced it would award additional Medicaid managed-care contracts to Aetna Better Health of Florida, UnitedHealthcare of Florida and Simply Healthcare. As a result of the decisions, Agency for Health Care Administration spokeswoman Mallory McManus said the state has settled legal challenges involving what are known in the Medicaid program as “managed medical assistance” contracts and “comprehensive” contracts. Plans with managed medical assistance contracts will provide services for general and acute health care needs, from childhood checkups to surgeries. Comprehensive plans will also offer long-term care such as skilled nursing services. However, legal challenges remain from companies that want to provide “specialty” services, including providing care to people with HIV and AIDS or serious mental illnesses. The state faces challenges from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Magellan Complete Care, among others.

Judge close to decision in radio system bid protest” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Lawyers late Monday filed recommendations as to how an administrative law judge should rule in a bid protest over the statewide law enforcement radio system, a deal potentially worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The recommended orders from Motorola Solutions and the Department of Management Services (DMS) were filed under seal, however, meaning they are unavailable for public view. Another filed by Harris Corp. was turned in with redactions, citing the need to protect confidential information, such as trade secrets. Attorneys argued the case last month before Administrative Law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper in Tallahassee.

Judicial election fight remains in holding pattern” via the News Service of Florida — An appeals court kept in place a stay in a legal battle about whether a Northeast Florida circuit judge should be elected or appointed and refused to quickly send the case to the Florida Supreme Court. Jacksonville attorney David Trotti filed the lawsuit this spring, contending that an upcoming vacancy created by the retirement of 4th Judicial Circuit Judge Robert Foster should be filled in the November election, rather than through an appointment by Gov. Scott. Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson agreed with Trotti, but the Scott administration appealed, triggering an automatic stay of Dodson’s ruling. Trotti then went back to Dodson, who ruled that the stay should be lifted. But the 1st District Court of Appeal quashed Dodson’s order to lift the stay and said the case should remain on hold until the appellate court can rule on the underlying issues.

— D.C. MATTERS —

AARP polls Florida on Trump approval, U.S. Senate race” via Florida Politics — Trump’s job approval rating is split 48 percent-49 percent among Florida registered voters, “higher than how he performed nationally,” according to a new POLITICO/AARP poll released Tuesday. That rating was 43 percent approving and 52 percent disapproving, said Tyler Sinclair of Morning Consult, which conducted both polls … And older Floridians, specifically voters age 50 and over, “are more likely to give Trump higher marks”: 51 percent approving of the way he handles the presidency and 44 percent disapproving … In the U.S. Senate matchup between term-limited Republican Gov. Scott and Nelson, they’re “virtually neck and neck,” with Scott polling at 40 percent and Nelson at 39 percent. Importantly, 21 percent said they “haven’t made up their mind yet.” Older Floridians are more likely to vote for Scott, by 44 percent-35 percent, according to the poll.

Donald Trump’s popularity is split within Florida.

Donald Trump Jr. cancels fundraiser with Jeb Bush son” via Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene of Axios — Trump Jr. and George P. Bush had formed an unlikely alliance despite their fathers, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, loathing each other — with Don Jr. backing George P. in his re-election campaign for Texas land commissioner, and even planning to headline a New York fundraiser for him on June 25 … Two sources close to Don Jr. tell Axios that he has decided to pull out of the fundraiser due to the Bush family’s opposition to his father. Most recently, Jeb Bush tweeted that “children shouldn’t be used as a negotiating tool” and that President Trump should end his “heartless policy” of family separation.

Feds weigh entering lawsuit over FIU bridge records” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for north Florida has told a Tallahassee judge it now “is considering participation” in a lawsuit by The Miami Herald seeking records on March’s bridge collapse at Florida International University that killed six people. U.S. Attorney Christopher P. Canova sent a notice dated June 15 to Circuit Judge John Cooper saying federal law authorized him to “attend to the interests of the United States in (any state) lawsuit,” court records show. The three-page document … says that the Herald “seek(s) to compel disclosure of certain records … (that) are the subject of a pending accident investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). “Thus, the United States may have an interest in setting forth for the court its views with respect to the pending motions and potential disclosure of information,” it says. Canova asked Cooper to “defer (any) rulings” until it determines whether to get involved. The feds said they would let Cooper know by next Wednesday whether they would enter the case or stay on the sidelines.

— OPINIONS —

Joe Henderson: Nelson visit was right thing to do (and good politics)” via Florida Politics — Florida’s senior U.S. Senator, in a fight for his political life, traveled to inspect the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children facility. It’s a holding camp keeping an estimated 1,000 children — some came to America without their parents, and others because their parents are being held elsewhere on suspicion of trying to enter the country illegally. Nelson said he set up the visit in advance through proper Health and Human Services channels but was advised it would have to be delayed because applications for such visits must be submitted to two weeks in advance. He went there anyway but was blocked from going inside for a firsthand look. He might have found a locked door there, but it was campaign gold and it didn’t cost a cent. “They obviously are hiding something,” he said. “They are using the excuse (that) you have to apply two weeks in advance (to visit). That is what the deputy secretary told me this morning.” Nelson’s righteous anger should make his Senate opponent, Gov. Scott, squirm a bit. In this case, though, he ceded the stage — and a whole bunch of free media — to Nelson. That’s blunder No. 1. Blunder No. 2 was the refusal by HHS to allow Nelson’s visit to continue. Officials could have told him that cameras had to stay outside but to walk around and check things for himself.

Ron Littlepage: Hocus-pocus from Lenny Curry and the Sheriff” via RonLittlepage.com — It was comical as well as maddening watching efforts to drag out of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office exactly how many police officers are employed by the agency now. JSO, under the leadership of Mr. Transparency Mike Williams, kept telling the news station that number wasn’t available. Come on. The agency doesn’t know how many people are on its payroll? The number is a sensitive issue for the sheriff and Mayor Curry. As you might recall, Curry hammered Mayor Alvin Brown during their campaign battle for reducing the number of police, basically saying that Brown was responsible for the city’s high murder rate. In Curry’s current re-election campaign television ads, he boasts of adding 180 police officers to ensure public safety. If that was the answer to violent crime, as Curry contended in his first mayoral race, why are most days in Jacksonville still marked by murders? The first answer is that Curry is highballing the number … With 137 more officers patrolling the streets of Jacksonville, which more than makes up for the 96 lost under Brown, why is mayhem still the order of the day? If it was Brown’s fault then, is it Curry’s fault now?’

— MOVEMENTS —

Marc Dunbar says he’s ‘interested’ in Citizens Insurance chairmanship” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The Tallahassee-based lawyer and gaming lobbyist, has officially “expressed interest in serving as chair of the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors,” CFO Jimmy Patronis announced. Dunbar, whom Patronis only recently appointed to the board, was one of six names released by Patronis’ office. At last week’s Cabinet meeting, the state’s chief financial officer had asked Citizens CEO Barry Gilway to identify board members who’d be interested in stepping up to chair. The chair, now Christopher Gardner, serves at the CFO’s pleasure; Patronis can name a new person at any time.

Personnel note: Jason Harrell to lobby for Florida court clerks” via Florida Politics — Harrell has been named director of legislative and government affairs for the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers (FCCC), the organization announced Tuesday. Harrell now is budget and communications director for the Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corporation (CCOC). He’ll continue in that role until the end of the Florida Legislature’s Revenue Estimating Conference in July, which will determine the clerks’ statewide budget authority for fiscal year 2018-19. At FCCC, Harrell will “develop and direct the association’s new in-house legislative team and lead strategic advocacy for legislative policy and budget efforts on behalf of Florida’s independently elected clerks and comptrollers,” a news release explained.

What Seth McKeel is reading — “Pinellas County decides to negotiate contract with new lobbying firm” via Suzette Porter of the Tampa Bay Newspapers — Commissioner Janet Long cast the deciding vote during a work session June 12 on the firm that staff will negotiate with to provide lobbying services for statewide matters. In an unprecedented move, commissioners decided not to go with staff recommendations but instead wanted to hear oral presentations from the top three ranked firms that submitted proposals to provide state governmental relations (lobbying) services. The firms included Dean, Mead & Dunbar, which has served as the county’s state lobbyist firm since 2002, Southern Strategy Group of Tampa Bay and Gray/Robinson.

— ALOE —

’Alexa, order me room service.’ Amazon’s voice assistant checks into Marriott hotels” via Jordan Valinsky of CNN — Amazon announced a partnership with the hotel company to add Amazon Echo smart speakers into a select number of rooms. Guests can use the Alexa-enabled device to order room service, turn on the lights, set alarms, notify housekeeping, ask for hotel information, call the front desk, play music and other typical Alexa functions. In a promo video posted to Amazon.com, a hotel guest is seen using various Echo models, such as the tall silo-shaped signature speaker and the hockey puck-sized Amazon Echo Dot. Guests won’t need an Amazon account to use the devices. But in the future, Amazon will allow them to sign in to their accounts to play their playlists and audiobooks.

Happy birthday to Matt Harringer of Gwen Graham’s gubernatorial campaign, Todd Josko of Ballard Partners, Ed Miyagishima, and Ieva Smidt.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.19.18

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

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

As a matter of policy, America is now splitting families seeking asylum in the U.S. by illegally crossing the border.

For many (in both parties), it is difficult to reconcile this reality.

Every day, dozens of parents are separated from their children – as the federal government labels them “unaccompanied minors” to be remanded to government custody or foster care, while the parents are considered criminals and sent to jail.

For opponents of the Donald Trump administration, this policy of family separation is indefensible, particularly after new audio emerged showing children crying, and wondering where their parents are.

More than 2,700 children have been separated from their parents between Oct. 1, 2017, and May 31, 2018, with nearly 2,000 of them from April 18 to May 31 – the final six weeks of the period.

Currently, an average of 45 children every day is taken from their parents.

Vox is reporting that one Honduran refugee committed suicide in a detention cell after his child was taken away.

While this policy is not new, it has increased at a rapid pace under Trump, resulting in an increasing sense of outrage throughout the country – from both Republican and Democrats – which could play a role in the upcoming 2018 midterms.

The separation of families who cross from Mexico illegally is now official U.S. government policy. (Image via John Moore/Getty)

—“Listen to children who’ve just been separated from their parents at the border” via Ginger Thompson of ProPublica

’I do not favor separating families’ says Rick Scott in slight break with Trump” via Marc Caputo of Florida Politics — Scott, however, stopped short of calling for an immediate end to the policy — which has resulted in the parentless detention of thousands of children — and downplayed the administration’s role in enforcing it. “What the country is witnessing right now is the byproduct of the many years of bipartisan inaction and failure from our federal government. They have failed to secure our borders, which has resulted in this chaos,” Scott said in a written statement. “Let me be clear — I do not favor separating families. Washington is to blame for this by being all talk and no action, and the solution is to secure the border. Anyone seeking to enter our country illegally needs to be sent back, with the exception of those who are truly seeking asylum from an oppressive regime.” The policy is the latest in a string of administration controversies that have weighed on Scott as a U.S. Senate candidate in Florida, which has a significant foreign-born population sensitive to immigration issues.

Q poll: Republicans support separating immigrant children; no other group does” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The poll states that Republican voters, by 55-35 percent, support the policy of Trump of prosecuting parents immediately even if it means separating them from their children in detention and perhaps beyond that. But Democrats, independent voters, and cross sections of whites, blacks, Hispanics, men, women, young voters, early-middle age voters, late-middle-age voters, and older voters; and, among white voters, those with or without college educations, all oppose the policy. Overall, 66 percent of those polled oppose the policy and 27 percent support it. The Republican support carried the support and was overwhelmed by 91 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independent voters oppose it. Opposition is particularly strong among black voters [88 percent;] Hispanic voters [80 percent]; voters under age 35 [80 percent;] and women [70 percent]. Among all white voters, 60 percent oppose the policy, and among all men, 61 percent oppose. Even the cross-section of white men shows 55 percent opposition.

Marco Rubio campaign manager: The GOP no longer has an ‘ideological compass’” via Jon Ward of Yahoo! News — GOP operative Terry Sullivan, who ran Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign … leveled his critique at both Republicans and Democrats, but said as a Republican he was more authorized to speak about that party’s drift. He blamed the deeper problem on a shift away from ideas-based campaigns. “The campaigns are much more about personality than they are about issues,” Sullivan said. “Issues are only seen as a vehicle to determine somebody’s personality. … We see that with the current president.”

Feds holding 1,000 migrant children at Miami-area compound, lawmaker says” via Jerry Iannelli and Tarpley Hitt of the Miami New Times — Roughly 1,000 migrant children are being held inside a secured compound in Homestead, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said. It’s unclear whether the children crossed the border on their own or whether they were taken from their parents under Trump’s new policy. The beige prisonlike facility outside Miami, called the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, is the former Job Corps site at 960 Bougainville Boulevard. The facility opened under the Obama administration and was previously used to house unaccompanied migrant children. There’s little information about where exactly the children inside came from. In 2016, the Herald reported that the kids arrived unaccompanied across the border and had been flown in from around the country; they were either sent back home or placed with sponsors and spent an average of about a month in Homestead. At the time, the federal government said the facility was equipped to hold only 800 kids.

Rallies in Tampa Bay protest separating families at the border” via Sean Streicher of WTSP — The group, Indivisible Safety Harbor, held “Rally to End Family Separation” on the corner of FL-580 and McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater. The Women’s March — Florida Chapter also held a rally at Williams Park in downtown St. Petersburg. According to the USA Today, family separations on the U.S.-Mexico border have drawn global attention since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy in April. Sessions has described the policy as a deterrent to families attempting to enter the U.S. illegally.

—“Microsoft ‘dismayed’ by separation of families at the border” via Ina Fried of Axios

—“How states are fighting Trump’s child separation policy” via Marisa Fernandez of Axios

—“What they’re saying: Top GOPers speak out against child separation” via Michael Sykes of Axios

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

—@RealDonaldTrump: Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country. Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world. Not going to happen in the U.S.

@MarcoRubio: Currently govt must either release parents & continue incentive for illegal entry with children or separate families by detaining parents. Neither is good. Let’s change the law to allow families to be held together at family facilities & shorten detention with expedited hearings

@JebBush: Children shouldn’t be used as a negotiating tool. @realDonaldTrump should end this heartless policy and Congress should get an immigration deal done that provides for asylum reform, border security and a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

@ScottforFlorida: My position in regards to health care reform has not changed. Obamacare is a disaster and costs way too much. We must find a way to reform it. But I do not agree with efforts to remove protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

@SenBillNelson: The president told a US general to create a new Space Force as 6th branch of military today, which generals tell me they don’t want. Thankfully the president can’t do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart. Too many important missions at stake.

@AndrewGillum: Tonight I called on @FLGovScott to issue an executive order banning the use of any state resources that would assist in the separation of children from their parents. And I also called on @SecNielsen to resign — her Department has lost its moral standing. This is a disgrace.

@MarioDB: It is totally unacceptable, for any reason, to purposely separate minor children from their parents. Any and every other option should be implemented in order to not separate minors from their parents, which I believe is unconscionable.

@RepHastingsFL: Separating children from their families and holding them in cages is government-sanctioned child abuse. I don’t care where you come from; no family deserves to be treated this way. Shame on Donald Trump for permitting such an immoral, indefensible policy.

@David4Florida: Today, images of children in cages cover our television screens. Why? President Trump is using these children as hostages to be exchanged for wall funding and immigration cutbacks. Now more than ever, we need a Congress that will stand up to Trump and protect our values.

@fineout: Amid dust-ups over debris contracts, pre-existing conditions & Trump border policy, @FLGovScott headed off to Puerto Rico on Tuesday to offer “guidance” & “assistance” on hurricane recovery

@GbennettPost: As #Florida governor candidate filings trickle in, Dem @MayorLevine reports net worth of $133 million; Dem @GwenGraham reports $14.4 million.

@DanmericaCNN: Hillary Clinton, speaking in NYC, endorses Donna Shalala, former Clinton admin official and candidate for Congress in Florida’s 27th district: “I know she will be an excellent Congresswoman from Florida.” Shalala, who also ran the Clinton Foundation, introduced Clinton today.

@JohnMorganESQ: I’ve been saying this loudly for the last 5yrs. It’s a no-brainer. Small minded people & politicians on the take from drug companies are all that separates us from compassionate care. @FLGovScott drop your appeal & let compassion win. Only you can do that

— DAYS UNTIL —

Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 3; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 9; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 19; MLB All-Star Game — 28; Deadline for filing claim bills — 43; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 43; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 44; Start of the U.S. Open — 69; Primary Election Day — 70; College Football opening weekend — 72; NFL season starts — 80; Future of Florida Forum — 99; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 126; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 127; General Election Day — 140; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 240; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 259.

— QUALIFYING WEEK SURPRISE #1 —

Jake Raburn won’t seek re-election in 2018” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Raburn announced he is not running for a fourth term in the Florida House this fall, citing the need to spend more time with family. “The past six years have been the most surreal, humbling, overwhelming, exciting, challenging and gratifying on my journey thus far,” said Raburn, a Lithia Republican, in an email from his campaign. “What started as a glimmer of a dream in my heart many years ago came to fruition in 2012 when you elected me to serve you by representing our community in the Florida House of Representatives,” the 33-year-old added. … “After much thought and many hours of prayer with my wife, Melissa, and our family, I’ve decided to not seek re-election this fall. While serving in the Florida House has been a tremendous honor and pleasure, my No. 1 responsibility is to my family, and I’m confident my place right now is at home with them and in our family business.” … Raburn’s exit leaves Democrats Layla Hartz and Debbie Katt alone in the contest. If the GOP is to retain control of the southwestern Hillsborough seat, another Republican will need to file and qualify before the candidate qualifying period ends Friday at noon.

Four is enough: Jake Raburn is not seeking re-election in 2018, to spend more time with his family.

Speaking of which: Veteran, conservative businessman files to succeed Raburn — Sean McCoy, a West Point graduate, Iraqi veteran and community leader, filed paperwork to succeed Raburn in House District 57. “Our community enjoyed six years of strong representation in Tallahassee under the leadership of Representative Raburn. We need a leader to succeed Representative Raburn who will continue the same strong commitment to our conservative values and local priorities,” McCoy said in a statement. “Our state needs servant leaders who will not back down but instead will work night and day to keep Florida on the right track. The Army taught me how to meet challenges head-on and work together as a team to win. I’ve done that in the battlefields of Iraq and the boardrooms of America, and I’ll do it in Tallahassee for those I seek to represent in District 57.” McCoy, a resident of Fishhawk, founded Fishhawk Military & Veterans to promote patriotism in the Hillsborough County community and support members and their families.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

As Bill Nelson fights for political life against Scott, concerns grow among Democrats” via Alex Leary and Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Democrats in Washington and Florida are increasingly nervous as Scott and Republican allies have unleashed a flood of money into TV and online ads — roughly $20 million so far, more than Nelson‘s 2012 opponent spent on the entire campaign — and maintain a superior organization that spares no opportunity. Scott is employing the same scorched earth strategy he used to win office twice before: Blanket TV, define the opponent in starkly negative terms, campaign nonstop and never go off script. If things get tight, spend millions more … the narrow path for Democrats to reclaim the Senate runs is challenged by states that Trump won, including Florida. Nelson is suddenly one of the party’s five most vulnerable members in the country, and the nation’s third-largest state is by far the most expensive state of those five. A victory for Nelson will be extremely costly and could drain resources from Democrats elsewhere.

Democrats press Scott on pre-existing conditions” the Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Democrats continued to attack the state of Florida’s decision to join an anti-Obamacare lawsuit that could take away guaranteed coverage for millions of people with pre-existing conditions. Sen. Nelson highlighted the issue during an event in Orlando, saying 7.8 million Floridians could be hurt if the lawsuit is successful. In Tampa, Rep. Kathy Castor and former state Sen. Arthenia Joyner joined activists for an afternoon event and criticized Gov. Scott for not withdrawing the state from the suit, filed in Texas. It has received new attention after the Trump administration said it would not defend provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate and protections for pre-existing conditions. No longer on the defensive over Obamacare, Democrats are working to make health care a focus of the midterm elections and polls show it’s a top issue for voters.

New Scott attack ad bashes ‘negative’ Nelson” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — It’s the fourth consecutive attack ad the Scott campaign has released criticizing Nelson. This time the ad accuses Nelson of going negative in his campaign — only it doesn’t address Nelson’s campaign exactly since Nelson’s campaign hasn’t actually released any negative commercials. So, the commercial goes after the Democratic organizations that have been running negative ads on Nelson’s behalf and blames Nelson for them. The new Scott 30-second ad, “Negative Nelson,” makes the leap quickly from around a long time to negative campaigning. “When Bill Nelson was first elected, Richard Nixon was President. Yep. Nixon. A professional politician for 46 years, Nelson has learned some tricks. Cheap tricks, like attack your opponent regardless of the facts.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Scott accepts trio of fall debates” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Among the network hosts: CNN, Telemundo 51 in Miami, and Jacksonville’s WJXT Channel 4 (co-hosted by the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute). Dates and times of the debates are not yet available, though the Scott campaign said they’d take place in the fall — presumably well after the Aug. 28 primary. Neither candidate faces formidable opposition from within their parties.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will travel to Puerto Rico at the invitation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello, to continue to offer “guidance, advice and assistance regarding ongoing Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.” The Governor will participate in the Puerto Rico P3 Summit.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Veterans group breaks policy by endorsing Ron DeSantis for Governor — In a break from its policy of only endorsing congressional candidates, Combat Veterans for Congress PAC is endorsing DeSantis for Florida governor. “Ron DeSantis is a fiscal and constitutional conservative who will work to rein in the out-of-control spending and protect and support our Second Amendment rights in the State of Florida,” the group said in a statement. “As Governor, he will stimulate the private sector to grow and create new jobs while bringing integrity and Judeo-Christian traditional family values to Florida’s government.” For nine years, the Combat Veterans for Congress PAC never endorsed a candidate for state office. However, since 2012 After endorsing and supporting DeSantis in his bid for Congress, the group “observed how he has superbly represented the voters of Florida,” which caused them to change their endorsement policy, in this one case. “We approve of his commitment to honorable principles, strong leadership, and his dedicated service to his country.”

A veteran’s group breaks protocol to support Ron DeSantis for Florida Governor.

Ryan Tyson poll – Philip Levine, Gwen Graham close via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – This latest poll, taken June 6-9, shows Levine … with 24 percent of likely Democratic voters; Graham with 21 percent; … Gillum with 11 percent; and King with 4 percent. Greene, who filed to run June 1, received 3 percent. Thirty-seven percent of Democrats were undecided. In a cover memo, Tyson noted that while Levine has a much wider lead in other polls, a comparison of internals, demographic samples, convince him that “this race is as close as the top lines suggest.” In particular, the Let’s Preserve poll heavily sampled women voters — 58 percent of the survey group — taking in account the high female turnouts of the past two Democratic primary elections.

Gwen Graham, Andrew Gillum campaigns to seek taxpayer funding in Democratic gubernatorial primary” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Florida’s public financing program allows candidates for governor or any of the three Florida Cabinet posts to receive taxpayer dollars in return for agreeing to certain restrictions. In order to be eligible, a gubernatorial campaign must raise at least $150,000, a point Graham and other top-tier candidates have easily surpassed. Under the program, contributions of up to $250 will be matched by the state, while contributions of over $250 will be matched up to $250. The required paperwork to seek public matching funds must be filed when a candidate formally qualifies. Graham filed hers last week, and Gillum will do the same this week, which is the qualifying deadline for state candidates. Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Winter Park housing developer Chris King are not eligible for taxpayer funding for their campaigns because each has loaned themselves money. The same is expected for Jeff Greene, the latest entry into the race. If he qualifies, he’s expected to tap into his personal fortune to fuel his campaign.

Jeff Greene launches two TV commercials, blasting Trump, remembering dad” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Greene is going up in a big way, spending $2.9 million of his own money on this week alone on the TV ads and a digital buy, which his campaign said is four times the dollar amount of his closest Democratic competitor … The 30-second ad is called “Jeff Greene Stands Up to Trump,” but might as well take the name of the commercial’s tagline that is an early theme of Greene’s campaign rhetoric: “The timid need not apply.” A press release states: “Greene’s unique appeal to Florida Democrats lies in his ability to spend whatever it takes to go toe-to-toe with historically better-funded Republicans in the general election to help Democrats regain control of the governor’s mansion for the first time in 20 years without being beholden to special interest groups.” The Trump commercial begins with a narrator declaring, “Jeff Greene stood up to Trump on national TV.” Greene is then shown appearing on CNBC in a pre-2016 election interview in which he says, “I know enough about Donald Trump to be scared to death to see him as our president.” The narrator then takes over, adding: “Is standing up to him on gun safety, affordable health care, and women’s choice. But Jeff is the only candidate in America who was willing to stand up to Trump in his own dining room.”

Assignment editors — Adam Putnam will hold an announcement with Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson, Jr., Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews, Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford, Gulf County Mike Harrison and Liberty County Sheriff Eddie Joe White, 2:30 p.m. Central time, Roberts Hall, 831 Florida Ave., Lynn Haven.

Poll: Sean Shaw leads Ashley Moody, Frank White in Attorney General race” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A new poll of the Attorney General race shows Tampa Democratic Rep. Shaw leading his top Republican rivals in a head-to-head matchup. According to an online poll commissioned by the campaign and conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, Shaw currently leads former circuit court judge Moody by five points, 41-36, and Pensacola Rep. White by 4 points, 40-36. In both cases, 21 percent of voters said they were undecided. … The polling memo shows Shaw with a double-digit lead among independent voters in both head-to-heads, and his lead was nearly the same among women — plus-10 if Moody is his opponent and plus-9 if he faces White. Hispanic and Latino voters preferred Shaw by 33 points in the Moody matchup and by 25 points in the White matchup. The ALG survey included another positive tidbit for Democrats: Trump is still underwater in the Sunshine State. … 43 percent of Floridians had a favorable view of the president, while 54 percent find him unfavorable. Among that group, 44 percent said they had a “very unfavorable” view of the president.

Jared Moskowitz endorses David Richardson in CD 27” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — State Rep. Jared Moskowitz is throwing his support behind David Richardson in the packed Democratic primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Richardson is one of five Democrats running for the nomination along with Matt Haggman, Michael Hepburn, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and Donna Shalala. Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat, says Richardson is the right candidate to take over the seat from departing Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In an emphatic statement backing Richardson, Moskowitz said: “During our six years together in the Florida Legislature, nobody was more feared by the Republicans than Representative Richardson. David was a watchdog as opposed to the lap dogs we see in Congress today.” “If the voters of Florida’s 27th Congressional District elect him,” he continued, “they will have one of the most productive Representatives in Congress. Period, full stop. I endorse him!”

Ed Hooper hits the airwaves in SD 16” via Florida Politics — Depending on where in the Pinellas- and Pasco-based district viewers live, they’ll see a different version of the ad. The ad airing in North Pinellas on Spectrum features an introduction from Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. West Pasco residents will see an ad with the same script but featuring an intro from Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco. Both Gualtieri and Nocco were early backers of Hooper’s Senate campaign. Both spots then cut to Hooper, who says he will “fight for issues that are important to our community, like growing a strong economy, protecting our seniors and making sure insurance is affordable.” He also says that by working with leaders like Gualtieri and Nocco, “we can get a lot accomplished.”

Hooper’s ads are viewable on his campaign website.

Florida Retail Federation endorses Kathleen Passidomo for SD 28 — “Senator Passidomo has been a true champion for retail by helping ensure Floridians are prepared in the event of a disaster, working toward tort reform, providing more than $150 million in tax relief for Florida families and having the best interests of the state’s businesses at heart,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. “We’re eager to continue working with Senator Passidomo on identifying ways to support retailers, families and our industry going forward.” In announcing its endorsement, the FRF noted that Passidomo sponsored a Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday which provided Floridians with tax relief when purchasing hurricane supplies and has worked on issues important to Florida retailers like tort reform and regulating commerce activities. This past Session, Passidomo worked to continue broad-based tax relief to families and businesses across the state, resulting in $168.6 million in tax relief.

Happening tonight: 

Whoa –Rene Plasencia alleges espionage by opponent’s treasurer, seeks criminal charge” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — State Rep. Plasencia is alleging that a volunteer who moved from his re-election campaign to the campaign of his Republican primary opponent George Collins illegally downloaded Plasencia’s campaign data and took it with him to Collins’ campaign. Plasencia and his campaign met with an Orange County Sheriff’s Office detective and said they intend to pursue criminal charges, perhaps theft of intellectual property, a third-degree felony. Plasencia is alleging the man now serving as Collins’ campaign treasurer, Zane C. Matter, used access to Plasencia’s webElect political data account to download data after-hours onto a home computer. Matter then left Plasencia’s campaign and joined Collins’ campaign.

George Gainer, Mel Ponder, Cord Byrd face foes as qualifying starts” via the News Service of Florida — Fort Walton Beach Democrat Mary Jeanne “Gigi” Gibson opened a campaign account to run against Gainer in Senate District 2, which is made up of Bay, Holmes, Jackson, Walton, Washington and part of Okaloosa counties, according to the state Division of Elections website. Gainer, who qualified for the race, had raised $176,100 for his re-election bid as of May 31. Also in the Panhandle, Valparaiso Democrat Rebecca Koelzer opened an account to challenge Ponder in Okaloosa County’s House District 4 … Ponder, had raised $100,375 for his re-election bid as of May 31. Meanwhile, in Northeast Florida, Fernandina Beach Republican Joseph Francis Zimmerman opened an account to challenge Byrd in House District 11, which includes Nassau County and part of Duval County. Byrd had raised $70,960 for his campaign account as of May 31. Also in the race is Yulee Democrat Nathcelly Leroy Rohrbaugh.

Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley will speak to the Fort Myers Republican Women’s Club Luncheon, 11:15 a.m., The Helm Club in The Landings Yacht, Golf and Tennis Club, 4425 S. Landings Drive, Fort Myers.

The Key West mayoral candidate with the most cash is no longer in the race” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — … citing a back injury. Danny Hughes, a full-time Key West resident for five years who hails from New Orleans, said ending his campaign, in which he has so far raised $48,685 and spent all but about $5,000, was a surprise even to himself. “We already have our signs, we have everything,” Hughes said. “We were all teed up and ready to go.” His departure leaves 10 candidates who have announced a run to succeed Mayor Craig Cates, who is term-limited after being first elected in 2009. Key West elections are nonpartisan. Hughes said the back issue started June 1 and hasn’t gotten any better after two weeks of rest. After three days of testing at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Hughes made the decision to end his campaign.

— VILLAGE PEOPLE —

In a recent POLITICO Magazine feature, Michael Grunwald takes a deep dive into The Villages, offering readers a glimpse into what he describes as “Florida’s political Tomorrowland.”

Per Grunwald, Villagers are politically incorrect at times and they’ve come to love Trump and be critical of those against him. The story also points out that The Villages is whitewashed and reliably red, and home to a growing population that routinely turns up at the ballot.

Villagers join in golf cart parade in support of Donald Trump. (Image via Villages -News.com)

“For all the hype about Puerto Ricans moving to the Sunshine State after Hurricane Maria, or high school students like the Parkland gun control activists turning 18 and registering to vote any Democratic surge could be offset by the migration of Republican-leaning seniors who like Florida’s balmy weather and lack of income tax,” writes Grunwald.

Nostalgia: U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, whose district encompasses The Villages, told Grunwald, “They want an America that’s a little more like it was when they were growing up, and that’s what Trump is offering.”

Dissenters: Grunwald describes the uniformity of The Villages before diving into its politics, in which — just like the area’s architecture — one style rules. Conservative beliefs are dominating and prevalent, but there are a few Democrats among the masses. One, Oren Miller, is even running for state Representative.

Old against young: For the needle to move left in Florida, younger Democratic voters have to show up at the polls. But the amount of Villagers, and older voters in general, is increasing. Concludes Grunwald, “Future results will depend a lot on whether white, older, exurban enclaves like The Villages keep growing faster than the multiracial, younger, urban enclaves of the left.”

— STATEWIDE —

Appellate court puts hold on smokable medical marijuana” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — An appellate court has shot down a trial judge’s order to make immediate her ruling that medical marijuana can be smoked in Florida. The 1st District Court of Appeal, in a one-page order dated Monday, quashed Circuit Judge Karen Gievers‘ order allowing patients to smoke. The state’s appeal of the decision placed an automatic ‘stay,’ or hold, on the ruling pending review. Gievers’ order lifted that stay. “The stay provided for by (the) Florida Rule(s) of Appellate Procedure … shall remain in effect pending final disposition of the merits of this appeal,” the appellate court’s Monday order said. “An opinion setting forth this Court’s reasoning will issue at a later date.”

Judge could face reprimand for reference letter” via the News Service of Florida — A Miami-Dade County judge could face a public reprimand at the Florida Supreme Court because she wrote a letter of reference for a man charged in a federal health care fraud case, according to documents filed on the Supreme Court website. County Judge Deborah White-Labora wrote the letter in January 2018 on behalf of Sam Konell, who was later sentenced by a federal judge to five years in prison. White-Labora reached a stipulation agreement with an investigative panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission and acknowledged that such reference letters violate the state’s judicial conduct code. The Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended a public reprimand, though the Supreme Court has the ultimate authority to decide punishments for judges.

Judge Deborah White-Labora of the Miami-Dade Court.

What Lenny Curry is reading —Court upholds Jacksonville pension surtax” via the News Service of Florida — A state appeals court rejected a challenge to a 2016 ballot measure aimed at addressing an underfunded pension system in Jacksonville. The city’s voters approved the measure, which called for a half-cent sales-tax surcharge to help deal with the pension problems. But a group of citizens filed a legal challenge to the measure, including arguing that the ballot title and summary misled voters and that the referendum should be voided, according to a ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal. A Duval County circuit judge upheld the ballot measure, and a three-judge panel of the appeals court agreed.

Questions linger as ‘Hurricane Formula One’ bears down on Miami” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Hurricane Irma hit Florida last year as a Category Four hurricane and caused billions of dollars worth of damage in South Florida. But the Miami City Commission last month voted to bring “Hurricane Formula One” to the streets of Miami every year for the next 10 years. Miami’s city manager is now negotiating with Formula One on terms to bring the race to Miami. But there are lingering questions of who is paying for this storm of sound and expense that’s bearing down on the city. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has spearheaded efforts to secure the race. In comments to Florida Politics, Mayor Suarez said “Miami is a world-class, global city and Formula One is a world-renowned, global event. Naturally, joining forces is something that would be highly exciting for both our city and the racing world.” Suarez sees the event as a revenue magnet. “Formula One has the potential of making an enormous impact on our economy and elevate our standing on the world stage of sports and entertainment. This event would attract tourists, race enthusiasts, visitors, and media outlets from all over the world to Miami, creating incredible excitement and opportunity.” But not everyone is as optimistic.

Florida has more to lose with sea rise than anywhere else in the U.S., new study says” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — By 2045, nearly 64,000 homes in Florida face flooding every other day. Half of those are in South Florida. If you buy a house now, before your new mortgage is paid you might have to regularly do the rolled-up-pants, shoes-in-hand commute that has become an enduring image of sea rise. These numbers, released in a report compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists, used housing information from Zillow and a flood model from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that predicts 6 1/2 feet of sea rise by the end of the century. By the end of the century, Florida’s number of at-risk homes jump from 64,000 to a million. In 2100, the report said, about 1 in 10 homes in Florida will face flooding every other day. That puts the Sunshine State at the top of the list nationwide for homes at risk.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Supreme Court sides with Florida man in free speech case” via Jessica Gresko of The Associated Press — The Court sided with Fane Lozman in a lawsuit that began with his 2006 arrest at a City of Riviera Beach city council meeting. Lozman, who also won a case against the city at the Supreme Court in 2013, was arrested while talking about corruption in the county during a public comment portion of the meeting. Lozman argued he was arrested in retaliation for being a critic of the city and sued. But a lower court said Lozman was barred from bringing a lawsuit for retaliation because a jury found a police officer had probable cause to arrest him for disturbing a lawful assembly. The Supreme Court disagreed, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing in an 8-1 decision that Lozman’s lawsuit isn’t barred. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented. “What happened to me was wrong. It happens all the time to public speakers. This is going to tell municipalities that you’re not immunized from legal actions. There is a price to pay,” Lozman said.

Fane Lozman, a winner (again) in a Supreme Court First Amendment case against Riviera Beach.

Donald Trump announces plans for Pentagon to create ‘space force’” via Marcia Dunn of The Associated Press — Vowing to reclaim U.S. leadership in space, Trump is directing the Pentagon to create a new “Space Force” as an independent service branch aimed at ensuring American supremacy in space. Trump envisioned a bright future for the U.S. space program, pledging to revive the country’s flagging efforts, return to the moon and eventually send a manned mission that would reach Mars. The president framed space as a national security issue, saying he does not want “China and Russia and other countries leading us.” … “My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest spacefaring nation,” Trump said in the East Room, joined by members of his space council. “The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers.”

— OPINIONS —

Sean Shaw: A legal strategy to combat gun violence” via Florida Politics — As is often the case in Florida, Republican leadership rolled common-sense reforms like raising the age to purchase a rifle to 21, banning bump stocks, and more money for school safety, into a bill that would also arm our teachers. Unfortunately, the tragic reality is it took three of the most horrific mass shootings ever, all occurring in our state in the past two years, and the fierce advocacy and leadership of our state’s children to force a real conversation about gun violence among our elected leaders. As Attorney General, I will use the independence of the office to hold state government accountable, fully investigate these horrific shootings and other acts of violence, prosecute those breaking the laws we already have in place, and challenge unjust federal laws that provide near-total immunity for gun manufacturers who should be held accountable for their role in gun violence. Stopping gun violence requires our next Attorney General to embrace the independence of the office fully. Florida’s Attorney General is not appointed by the Governor but elected by the people.

John Thomas: Duke Energy should keep its promise to Polk County” via Florida Politics — Duke Energy partnered with U.S. EcoGen in 2011 to build a $400 million plant to produce biomass renewable energy … Relying on this agreement, U.S. EcoGen has already spent more than $40 million developing the project and bought more than 1,300 acres in Polk County for the new facility. The project was delayed by everything from the discovery of gopher tortoises to the new federal tax reform law — things beyond the control of the smaller company. U.S. EcoGen asked Duke Energy for a one-year extension, meaning it would start delivering power in 2020, but the megacorporation said no. This refusal is both baffling and harmful to consumers, since the state Public Service Commission has said the project would save ratepayers almost $60 million. Baffling, that is, unless you consider that it looks like Duke Energy has taken an interest in operating its own renewable energy business. In a PSC document from last year, Duke Energy asked permission to enter the renewable energy field, which would make it a direct competitor with U.S. EcoGen — not a partner. Unless, of course, it found a way to stop U.S. EcoGen’s plant from ever opening. Duke Energy has a real chance to do something good for its ratepayers, good for this community, and good for the public.

Paul Bradshaw: It’s time for Tallahassee to grow up” for the Tallahassee Democrat — Imagine an alternative history for Tallahassee, one where a modern skyline of a dozen or more 20-story buildings boldly defines the urban core in the historic city center; a skyline that projects the power, optimism and sophistication of being the capital of the nation’s third most populous state. Unfortunately, that idealized Tallahassee doesn’t exist. To fully understand, you have to go back decades to the Martinez administration and the origins of Southwood. St. Joe Company — which had previously been a sleepy landowner holding vast tracts of timber and grazing land — decided it wanted to take a more aggressive role as a developer, including on its land near Capital Circle SE. But it had one problem. With Tallahassee’s government-dominated city center more than five miles away, there was little incentive for state workers to live in that area. St. Joe had an inspired (if self-serving) idea: Instead of asking workers to travel to the Capitol complex every day, essentially move the Capitol complex to St. Joe’s cow pastures. St. Joe got its anchor tenant and Tallahassee lost the full potential of revitalizing its downtown. It was quite possibly the worst planning decision in the history of Tallahassee. If Tallahassee is serious about revitalizing its downtown and creating a vibrant mix of land uses that provides opportunities for working, shopping and living within a walkable area, the city needs to partner with the state and recommit to growing up instead of growing out.

— MOVEMENTS —

First on #FlaPolJennifer Wilson, formerly of Adams & Reese and Sen. Tom Lee’s office, is joining Shumaker Advisors. We’ll have a full story later today. Till then, here’s a quote from firm President and CEO Ron Christaldi: “We are very excited to have Jennifer join our team. Her experience and leadership as a key staffer to multiple members of the Florida Legislature help bolster our presence in Tallahassee and throughout Florida.”

Jennifer Wilson is joining Shumaker Advisors.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Makayla Anne Stilianou Buchanan, Kevin Andrew Doyle, Wexford Strategies: Florida Title Group

Michael Corcoran, Jeffrey Johnston, Anita Berry, Matt Blair, Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: 831 Federal Acquisition dba The Big Easy Casino

Rachel Cone, Southern Strategy Group: Tallahassee Corporate Center C/O Hall Investments

Paul Lowell, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: Gomez Barker Associates

Jonathan Paul Steverson, Foley & Lardner: Lazlo326

— ALOE —

Michael Jackson’s elephant escapes enclosure at Florida zoo” via the Associated Press — An elephant that once lived at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch briefly escaped its enclosure at a Florida zoo. The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens posted on Facebook that Ali the bull elephant wandered through a gate that was accidentally left open Sunday and wound up in a courtyard behind the giraffe and elephant barn. The zoo said guests weren’t endangered and safety protocols were quickly put into place. Zoo staff used food to entice the elephant back into the enclosure. Ali was loose for about 20 minutes.

This 2017 photo provided by the Jacksonville Zoo and Garden shows Ali, a bull elephant that once lived at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.

What Jeff Brandes is reading — “Florida’s first not-for-profit coding school is opening in St. Petersburg” via Hannah Denham of the Tampa Bay Times — The Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild will operate through the software development community, Suncoast Developers Guild, Inc. … It was recently licensed by the state, said Suncoast President Toni Warren. The school will welcome 15 to 30 students in the initial class; each of them will go through an online application, interview process and be charged $14,900 in tuition. Warren called it Florida’s first 501(c)(3) not-for-profit computer coding school. “(St. Petersburg) is really where the creatives live,” Warren said. “People come to our school because they want to express their creativity and they want to be in an industry with continuous learning.”

Happy birthday to our favorite BCC team member, Lyndsey Brzozowski, as well as our man in Jacksonville, A.G. Gancarski.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.18.18

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

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

The last time we ran the INFLUENCE 100, we said, “Influence is difficult to quantify but you know it when you see it.”

Well, if it’s worth saying, it’s worth repeating.

Click here to read who’s on the INFLUENCE 100.

You’ll “know it” when you peruse this latest edition of the 100, a review of the most influential people in Florida policy and politics.

Once again, the list covers campaign consultants and the people they get to open their wallets. The people who decide who becomes a candidate and who stays home.

Then there are the ardent advocates. The media elite. The people who make “The Process” in Tallahassee work. You know, the ones who decide which bills get filed — and which never see the light of a Capitol copy machine.

As before, don’t expect to see anybody in elected office, running a state or other government agency, or running for office.

We’ll say this again, too: “Influence may be hard to define, but who’s influential is easy to see.”

Click here to subscribe to INFLUENCE Magazine.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@marcorubio: Negotiations with Cuba & #NorthKorea are very different. Deal with Cuba was about rewarding dictatorship with diplomatic recognition in return for nothing. Negotiation with North Korea about avoiding nuclear war & millions dead. Kind of a big difference

@NelsonForSenate: On this day six years ago, the DACA program was enacted offering protection to millions of children brought this country, the only country they know. We must pass a permanent legislative solution to protect #Dreamers — we can’t keep kicking the can down the road.

@AndrewGillum: On #FathersDay I am standing with the families being inhumanely torn apart on our southern border. I demand that @ScottforFlorida — who is now asking for our vote to be our next Senator — stand up to the Trump Administration & support S. 3036, the Keeping Families Together Act.

@JamesGrantFL: We cannot ignore the fact that people living under oppressive and brutal regimes will continue to pursue freedom. The need for economically sustainable, operational, and secure immigration policy cannot be overstated. Enacting it consistent with our principles is a must.

@AGGancarski: If America’s English language national media covered realities of lives in Mexico & places south, there may be a better understanding of why people move here. It’s remarkable how much of our narrative is shaped on rendering cultures as “other” and depersonalizing ppl from them.

@TheRickWilson: The cheering section in the “conservative” media that has been screeching with joy over Trump‘s executive orders, his unlimited pardon power, steamrolling the rule of law, etc. ad nauseam is STRANGELY silent on why he doesn’t just change the family separation policy by diktat.

@DeFede: .@FLGovScott also said Monroe County asked the state to come in. But we went back to the September 27 Monroe County Commission meeting and found none of that was true. (See attached transcript) Monroe officials said the company they hired was on the job.

@DavidJollyFL: Had a long talk with a 6th grader tonight who told me about his classroom active shooter drills. They practice hiding in closets. Once a month. I guess many parents are living this, but I can’t believe Members of Congress are. Laws would change. Laws should change.

@Conarck: Receiving complaints from those with loved ones in Florida prisons who have spoken out publicly against visitation process. They say their partners are being placed in confinement. Will be working to verify over the next couple of weeks. Please send similar stories my way.

@fred_guttenberg: Father’s Day is a day for us dads to remember our main purpose, and that is our commitment to the safety of our families. Trust me, the fun times stop when you lose one of your children. Do not let your family become the next to suffer like this.

@TheHideaway10: $1 off coffee drinks for members of the free press. All day, every day.

— DAYS UNTIL

Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 4; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 10; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 20; MLB All-Star Game — 29; Deadline for filing claim bills — 44; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 44; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 45; Start of the U.S. Open — 70; Primary Election Day — 71; College Football opening weekend — 73; NFL season starts — 81; Future of Florida Forum — 100; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 127; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 128; General Election Day — 141; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 241; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 260.

— TOP STORY —

In some ways, qualifying for the November elections is only a formality.

Candidates have been raising money for months, appearing at campaign events and eyeing their opponents. But with the qualifying period starting Monday in hundreds of state and local races, some candidates could be in the express lane toward election.

As of Friday morning, three incumbent state senators — Majority Leader Wilton Simpson and Sens. Lauren Book and Gary Farmer — had not drawn opponents as of Friday morning.

Lauren Book is among those unopposed candidates (so far) seeking re-election.

Meanwhile, 21 House candidates, including two newcomers, also could be headed toward election without opposition. They are state Reps. Jayer WilliamsonMel PonderBrad Drake of Eucheeanna; Halsey Beshears of Monticello; Ramon Alexander of Tallahassee; Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee; Kimberly Daniels of Jacksonville; Stan McClain of Ocala; John Cortes of Kissimmee; Kamia Brown of Ocoee; Bruce Antone of Orlando; Al Jacquet of Lantana; Emily Slosberg of Boca Raton; Bobby DuBose of Fort Lauderdale; Evan Jenne of Dania Beach; Joe Geller of Aventura; Shevrin Jones of West Park; Barbara Watson of Miami Gardens; and Kionne McGhee of Miami.

The newcomers are Alex Andrade of Gulf Breeze; and Joe Casello of Boynton Beach.

That all could change, of course, before qualifying ends at noon Friday. Some of those legislative candidates could draw opponents at the last-minute. Meanwhile, other candidates could cruise into office — if opponents do not qualify.

But it’s safe to assume that candidates across the state will be regularly checking the state elections website to find out who qualifies — and who doesn’t.

— MAYOR FOR GOVERNOR —

Democratic front-runner Philip Levine’s campaign is built largely on talking points of his tenure as Mayor of Miami Beach, but a closer examination suggests his blunders at the city’s throne could undermine his accomplishments.

The Miami Herald — which has had its fair share of bouts with Levine — recently published a story on the former Mayor’s watch over Miami Beach. It’s a testament to Levine’s character; details are equal parts progressive ambition and suspicious wheeling and dealing.

A deeper dive into Philip Levine’s time as Miami Beach Mayor reveals some blunders that could undermine his accomplishments.

A reader will see that the Mayor’s politics are cutthroat — a bit of prose is even dedicated to artistically rendered severed heads of Levine’s political rivals — and will notice a pattern of Levine benefiting personally from major governing decisions.

Greener pastures: Per a former political strategist, who now is a Republican operative, “Levine openly talked during his 2013 campaign about treating his time on the third floor of City Hall as a springboard to better things, like becoming governor or president. Two other sources familiar with Levine’s aspirations confirmed this.”

Ouch: The Herald’s David Smiley and Joey Flechas note, “Two years after campaigning against cronyism and special interests, Levine would spend spring afternoons on his 70-foot boat … and at Fisher Island making phone calls to developers and city contractors for campaign cash … into a political committee called Relentless for Progress, whose RFP acronym was conspicuously the same as the acronym the city used for competitive contract solicitations.”

Good, bad or ugly?: Ultimately, voters’ interpretation of the Mayor will determine if he makes it to November. “Levine … will sink or swim come the Aug. 28 primary at least in part because of what Levine the mayor did over the last few years.”

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Ron DeSantis setting up $12M TV buy through primary day” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The St. Johns County Republican is funding the ad campaign through both his campaign and political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis. The first ads for his campaign will start running in late June and continue through the Aug. 28 primary. When, exactly, DeSantis would go on air has been one of the pressing questions of the GOP primary. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam‘s camp and his allies, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce and a dark money group tied to the state’s sugar industry, have flooded the airwaves with $11 million worth of primary ads, prompting questions about whether DeSantis’ campaign was waiting too long to get on the air. DeSantis’ first ads will start airing on broadcast TV starting June 26. His campaign and affiliated political committee currently have about $9.7 million cash on hand, but the ad buy represents future airtime reservations, which means the money to fund them can be paid later.

Adam Putnam shared his Florida First vision to a room packed full of energized grassroots supporters Friday evening in St. Augustine.

Gwen Graham returns to her Leon roots” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida — It was a homecoming for Graham as she addressed the Capital Tiger Bay Club. The Democratic candidate for governor recalled coming to Tallahassee as “kind of a geeky 15-year-old” in 1978, when her father, Bob Graham, was inaugurated as Florida’s new governor. She had to make the transition from a Miami high school to a new school in the smaller, more Southern environs of the state capital, she said. “The people at Leon High School and the people of North Florida embraced our family … and that’s where it started for me,” Graham said.

First on #FlaPol —Jeff Greene preparing to launch Governor’s race ad blitz, with education on his mind” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Greene is getting ready to reintroduce himself to Floridians with his first round of TV commercials starting next week. And while he’s remaining coy on the content, the Palm Beach billionaire real estate investor is making it clear that public education reform is at the top of his list of issues. “It’s all well and good to say I have good ideas. You have to be able to get things done. The way I look at this election, for me, this is like an eighteen-wheeler moving down the highway, you know, pretty high-speed. It’s basically the Republican governors and the Republican-controlled Legislature that has sat in Tallahassee for a long, long, time,” Greene said in a lengthy interview with Florida Politics … “What that truck has done, is it has dismantled a lot of things I’m talking about. It has not been focused on upward mobility for people who are kind of behind the eight ball. It has not been focused on improving education or taking care of people who need help from Tallahassee,” he continued. “So, you need someone who can, No. 1, jam the brakes on that truck, turn it around and start going the other way quickly.” … “Do I want to stack up my resume alongside the resumes of Gwen Graham, Andrew GillumChris King and Philip Levine?” he said. “All day long.”

Quote from a 20-year-old King has him apologizing today” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Democratic gubernatorial candidate King is grappling with a single quote that could be read with anti-Semitic overtones, attributed to him back when he had been a 20-year-old Harvard University sophomore, bitter over losing a close and contentious 1998 campus election for Undergraduate Student Council president. “I was nailed to the cross,” King was quoted in a Newhouse News Service story published Feb. 28, 1999, in the Times-Picayune of New Orleans. “And most of the editorial staff that was so hard on me, the vast majority were Jewish.” Today, King does not specifically recall making the statement quoted by the Newhouse News Service story, but he is not disputing it. He apologized for it and disavowed any anti-Semitic overtones as not of his beliefs. The comment attributed to him about the editorial staff had been a reference to the staff of the campus newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, which had editorialized against King’s candidacy, in part because he was well-known as an evangelical Christian. “This quote from when I was 20 years old is completely at odds with my beliefs. It was a hurtful and stupid comment and I apologize,” King said in a written response.

All apologies: Chris King expresses regret for comments made as a 20-year-old Harvard student.

Levine significantly expands regional staff — On the heels of recent polling giving the former Miami Beach Mayor the lead, the Levine for Governor campaign announced the expansion of its team, as well as the launch of a significant statewide field program. The new roles include Deputy Regional Area Directors Brian Bees, Palm Beach; and Miles Davis, North Florida. Campaign Coordinators include Matthew Byrd, Tampa; Madeline Streilein, Tampa; Jonathan Santiago, Central Florida; Emily Frost, West Palm Beach; Darren Steptoe, West Palm Beach; Chris Hill, Broward; Wes Crew, Broward; Carol Solano, Miami; and Chelsea Leger, Miami.

Richard Corcoran’s political committee continues spending spree in May” via Florida Politics — House Speaker Corcoran won’t be on the ballot this year, but that hasn’t stopped his political committee from spending beaucoup bucks. Topping the expenditure list was more than $50,000 in payments to public opinion research firm Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, which has worked with many Republican politicians including Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Watchdog PAC paid the firm $44,750 for a survey, $7,500 for research consulting and another $2,000 for research services. Tallahassee shop Rapid Loop Consulting received $46,275 for travel expenses, web design, office supplies and meeting expenses; Jacksonville-based Political Capital received $40,000 for fundraising and political consulting; and $25,000 apiece to Capital City Friends of NRA and political committee Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy. Watchdog PAC spent $341,361 in all last month, leaving it with $1.63 million banked heading into June.

Nikki Fried campaign video features marijuana grow-op, call for gun control” via Florida Politics – According to newly filed Agriculture Commissioner candidate Fried, the state is lax on gun control and too overbearing on medical marijuana. In a new campaign video, the Democrat makes her introduction to voters by setting up a dichotomy between pot and assault rifles. “One helps sick and dying Floridians and is overregulated,” Fried says of marijuana. “And the other one is used to terrorize our schools and our communities and is barely regulated at all.” Her advocacy for pot bridged into her campaign, where it will likely be a defining element. In the video, which features pan shots of a Southwest Florida marijuana grow operation, she asks, “Honestly, what type of Agriculture Commissioner could be against a plant and the farmers who grow it?” The video will air on Fried’s social media. To watch the video, click on the image below:

Ashley Moody rolls out more endorsements in Attorney General’s race — Republican Moody announced a new wave of elected officials who believe the former Hillsborough County judge is the most qualified to succeed AG Pam Bondi: State Sens. Rob Bradley of Orange Park, Kathleen Passidomo of Naples and Keith Perry of Gainesville; Speaker Pro Tempore, state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez of Miami and Rep. Lawrence McClure of Plant City; Commissioners Mike Cella of Clay County; Todd Dantzler, Polk County chair; Mike Moore and Kathryn Starkey of Pasco County; Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Ken Burke; Tax Collector Larry Hart of Lee County; Palm Shores Mayor Carol McCormack; Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters; Coral Gables Vice Mayor Frank Quesada; Ocala Councilman Justin Grabelle; and Pasco County School Board Member Allen Altman.

Happening today — Tampa Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw, a candidate for Attorney General, will speak to the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee meeting, 6 p.m., IBEW union hall, 966 Liberty St., Jacksonville.

Felons’ rights backers top $400,000 in May” via the News Service of Florida — The committee Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which helped lead efforts to get the initiative on the November ballot, raised $409,220 in cash last month and had nearly $453,000 in cash on hand as of May 31. Nearly half of the money in May came in a $200,000 contribution from the Washington, D.C.-based Sixteen Thirty Fund, which backs social and environmental issues. The proposed constitutional amendment, if approved by 60 percent of voters in November, would automatically restore voting rights for all nonviolent felons who have served their sentences, completed parole or probation and paid restitution. Felons convicted of murder and sexual offenses would not be eligible.

Personnel note: Major B. Harding joins greyhound group’s legal teamvia Florida Politics — Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Major B. Harding has joined the Florida Greyhound Association legal team. The addition of Harding, a high court appointee of the late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, was announced Wednesday by association general counsel Jeff Kottkamp. Harding served on the Florida Supreme Court 1991-2002; Kottkamp was Florida’s lieutenant governor from 2007-11 under Gov. Charlie Crist. The association, which represents owners and breeders, is now fighting against Amendment 13, a proposed state constitutional change put on the November ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission. The measure aims at ending dog racing in the state. It needs at least 60 percent approval to be added to the constitution. In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 12 tracks. A lawsuit against the amendment was filed in Leon County.

Former Supreme Court Justice Major Harding is joining the greyhound racing legal team.

Group ramps up to elect Democrats up and down Florida ballot” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — For Our Future Florida, part of a $70 million national battleground state effort funded by a coalition of labor groups, never actually stopped working in Florida after Donald Trump won the state in 2016. Alongside other progressive groups including Indivisible, Women’s March, Mi Familia Vota, Florida Voices for Health, and Progress Florida, it has been helped put together women’s marches, phone banks, and empty chair town hall meetings spotlighting Republicans avoiding public events. “We’ve helped organize over 500 rallies, trainings and town halls and knocked on 302,714 doors since the 2016 election,” said Field Director Jenn Whitcomb. They are not doing this in a vacuum. Conservative groups such as the Libre Institute targeting Puerto Ricans have been engaging with voters for months, and the Republican National Committee and National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, have had dozens of field organizers working across Florida for months.

Democrats asked to investigate whether Alan Grayson paid protesters” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — two prominent Democratic Party women from Central Florida are asking the national party to investigate what they contend were Grayson-paid protesters at Darren Soto rallies, including one carrying a sign that called U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel “senile.” In a letter to the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin and former U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder said they were “astonished and horrified” to see protesters with offensive signs at a Soto rally in Orlando that featured Frankel. “The worst was directed at Rep. Frankel: ‘Lois Frankel, Still Senile’,” the women wrote. “When asked why they were there, one of the sign holders replied that they had been paid by Alan Grayson,” Chapin and Schroeder wrote.

Florida retailers back Kelli Stargel in SD 22 —— The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) PAC is endorsing incumbent Republican Stargel in Senate District 22, which encompasses most of Polk County and south Lake County. “In her role as Senate Finance & Tax Chair this past year, Senator Stargel showed continued leadership in her support of Florida’s retailers by including in the tax package a reduction in the business rent tax and multiple sales tax holidays,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. Stargel works as the investment property manager for her family-owned small business in Lakeland. She is Chair of the Finance & Tax Committee, Vice Chair of Health and Human Services Appropriation Committee and has served as Chair of the Higher Education Committee, the Regulated Industries Committee and is the Deputy Majority Leader.

Florida retailers give the nod to Kelli Stargel’s re-election bid.

Belinda Keiser antes up another $500K out of pocket for SD 25 campaign” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — With more than $600,000 added to candidates’ coffers in May, the race for Senate District 25 just got a whole lot richer. However, a whopping $500,000 of that was in the form of a self-loan from Keiser to her campaign. That’s on top of nearly $55,000 in donations earned by Keiser in her first month as a candidate for SD 25. Keiser, who serves as vice-chancellor of Keiser University, announced her bid back in early May. For some, the move raised eyebrows, as Keiser is based in Broward County. SD 25 covers Martin and St. Lucie counties as well as a piece of Palm Beach County. Keiser has also taken heat for numerous past donations to Democrats despite her decision to run as a Republican. The influx of money into her campaign could help Keiser fight back if her opponents try to target her on those issues.

FMA blasts Kaiser in SD 25 with mailers, video — The Florida Medical Association PC ‘Better Florida Fund Corp’ announced in independent expenditure in the Senate District 25 race against Keiser. The ad seeks to paint Kaiser as a Broward County Democrat moving from Parkland to run in SD 25; gave thousands to Democrats ($141,667) and nothing to Trump. According to the ads, she also ran for office as a Democrat (Broward County state House seat in 2000). The FMA also points out that Keiser used her Keiser University address in Port St. Lucie on her filing papers as opposed to her home address in Parkland. Ad ends with “Vote No on ‘Blue Wave’ Keiser.” Keiser will likely face state Rep. Gayle Harrell in the Republican primary in SD 25, which includes Martin, St. Lucie and part of Palm Beach counties.

Hillsborough elections supervisor played favorites with Susan Valdes” via Florida Politics — Valdes is eyeing a run for the Florida House, for the seat being vacated by Janet Cruz. In preparation for a bid for House District 62, Valdes resigned her seat on the Hillsborough County School Board just before the deadline. The supervisor’s office told Tampa Bay Times reporter William March that Valdes had not resigned by the deadline. Tom Alte, a consultant working with the Michael Alvarez campaign, got the same answer at first — with the added detail that the resignation letter was rejected — before he found out supervisor’s office was taking the “unprecedented” step of reconsidering that decision. “This is something that wouldn’t be done for any other candidate,” Alte said. “It very clearly violates the statute.”

Terry Power owes alimony, records show; he says no” via Florida Politics — Power, a Republican candidate for House District 64, owes nearly $88,000 in alimony, according to court records reviewed this week. A document in the case from Pinellas County shows a “payoff amount” of $87,904. It also lists a “balance due” of only $4,668. In a statement to Florida Politics, however, Power says he doesn’t legally owe any of that money: “I am 100 percent current on all of my court-ordered alimony obligations.” Power, an Oldsmar retirement plan consultant, is challenging incumbent state Rep. Jamie Grant in the Republican primary for the seat, which covers northwest Hillsborough County and a slice of eastern Pinellas County. The area leans heavily Republican.

Chip LaMarca releases first digital ad in HD 93 race — The Lighthouse Point Republican is releasing his first digital video, “Working for You,” a 90-second spot highlighting LaMarca’s roots in House District 93 and his commitment to improving economic opportunities in Broward County. LaMarca is seeking the seat of term-limited state rep. George Moraitis, which covers eastern Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, Lighthouse Point and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

To view the ad, click the image below:

‘There was no abuse’: Michael Caruso counters allegations in interview” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — House District 89 Republican candidate Caruso denied allegations of abuse and financial delinquency in a new interview exclusive to Florida Politics. Caruso sat down to share his side of the story after a piece published yesterday detailing those allegations. Many of the accusations stem from a messy divorce proceeding with his ex-wife, Beverly, Caruso says. Indeed, despite the bitter back-and-forth between him and his ex-wife, Caruso says the couple eventually agreed to split custody of the kids. “If I was the bad guy that I supposedly am, do you think she’d give me custody of the kids? If I was the child abuser, or I was the violent one, or the one who was mentally disturbed?” He adds: “Would a judge allow it?”

More notes from the trail:

—“Roger Stone gets behind Scott Sturgill in CD 7 race” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

—“Rebekah Bydlak has over $100K on hand for HD 1 bid” via Florida Politics

—“Lee Mangold gets AFL-CIO endorsement in HD 28 race” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

—“David Simmons backs David Smith in HD 28 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

—“Matt Matin withdraws from HD 44 race, endorses Melanie Gold” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

—“HD 114 challenger Javier Enriquez raises more than $20,000 in May” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

— STATEWIDE —

Scott fires back in lawsuit over early voting on campus” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott’s administration fired back in federal court, seeking to undercut a League of Women Voters lawsuit over early voting on college campuses. The League last month sued Scott’s chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, whose office in 2014 interpreted state law to exclude state university buildings from a list of sites available for early voting. Scott’s lawyers asked the federal court to step aside and let the case be decided by a state judge. “A state court, interpreting state law, can decide the case on narrow, statutory interpretation grounds and, perhaps, avoid any constitutional issues,” the state’s brief said. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee, an appointee of former President Obama, who has ruled decisively against Scott in two previous voting rights cases. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are nine students at UF and Florida State.

Ken Detzner gets sued.

State judge rules in favor of environmental groups on conservation spending” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida — State Circuit Judge Charles Dodson ruled in favor of environmental groups in a case involving a 2014 ballot measure that set aside money for water and land conservation. During a hearing, Joseph W. Little, attorney for Florida Defenders of the Environment, told Dodson the amendment only allows for land acquisition and restoration, and for other activities only on land purchased after 2015. Dodson agreed, calling Little’s argument the “core issue” in the case. Dodson said: “When I read it in its entirety — I come to the conclusion that it clearly refers to conservation lands purchased after the effective date of the amendment.” Dodson canceled a trial in the case scheduled to start July 23. He asked attorneys for the environmental groups to prepare an order for him and said he expects it to be reviewed by the 1st District Court of Appeal and the Florida Supreme Court.

State budget glitch may doom homeless money” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The state budget set to take effect July 1 includes $4.1 million in grants for homeless organizations helping needy families. But lawmakers this year left something out of the budget — language directing the state to actually spend the money. As a result, 27 homeless agencies from the Keys to the Panhandle seem likely to be out cash, some losing as much as $350,000. It’s a large portion of what many say already is a meager amount spent on helping struggling Floridians. “This is such a small amount of money in the state budget, it’s practically a rounding error,” said Dawn Gilman, chief executive officer of Changing Homelessness, Inc., which this year received $258,500 from the state to serve Duval, Clay and Nassau counties. “But the homeless don’t get much attention from the Legislature. So, for our organizations, losing this is big, and it really hurts,” she added.

State tops 100,000 marijuana patients — but no more providers” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Florida now has topped 100,000 “active” and “qualified” patients in its medical marijuana use registry, the Department of Health announced in an email Friday. But again, according to a department official, that doesn’t mean the department will issue another four licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana, as provided under state law. The state had exceeded 100,000 overall almost two months ago — coincidentally on April 20, or 4/20 — in its medical marijuana use registry. Friday’s mark of 100,372 refers specifically to those that have an approved patient identification card application. “That figure does not completely reflect an actual threshold that would trigger the new licenses,” spokesman Devin Galleta said in a phone interview Friday.

Scoop —State investigating ‘possible’ criminal breach of driver’s license info” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Agents are “investigating possible improper use of personal identifying information” of the state’s licensed drivers put online by a Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) vendor, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman confirmed … FDLE agents in Tallahassee — including the agency’s Cyber Crime Squad — were working the case, which she said falls under the “active” criminal investigation exemption to the state’s public record law. The same vendor now at issue, Unisoft Communications of Miami, had previously been flagged in 2016 — about a year before the DHSMV agreed to a new contract — for posting the personal information from two individuals’ driving records, records show.

—“State probes possible misuse of confidential driver’s license info” via Steve Bousquet and Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

They knew she was a suicide risk. Girl, 15, was still able to hang herself in the lockup.” via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald — Florida juvenile justice administrators knew that Alleny Carbone was at risk of taking her own life: During at least a dozen stays in state custody, she had been placed on suicide alert. Yet on the night when the 15-year-old fashioned her own sports bra into a makeshift noose at the Bradenton lockup, no one was watching. Alleny’s dad, Victor Carbone, said he was told his daughter was under suicide watch at the state’s juvenile lockup. Department of Juvenile Justice administrators said that Alleny “was not currently under suicide precautions.” Either way, it appears Alleny, who was in foster care, succumbed to her demons — the culmination of a years-long battle with depression. By the time authorities discovered her body, in a sitting position, she was unresponsive. Alleny, who is from Bartow in Polk County, becomes the 13th youth to die in DJJ custody under questionable circumstances since 2000.

Hospitals worry about ‘confusing picture’ on health website” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Consumers won’t be able to find price information on 71 hospitals for a variety of health care services if the state Agency for Health Care Administration sticks with a plan to make facility-specific information available to consumers before industry giant Florida Blue and other insurance carriers begin submitting paid claims data to the state. That’s troublesome to Florida Hospital Association President Bruce Rueben, who worries that an early release of the facility-specific information on the FloridaHealthPriceFinder website will confuse, not enlighten, consumers. The 71 hospitals are in 48 counties scattered across the state, including heavily populated Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, and rural counties across the Panhandle, according to the hospital association. For example, Leon County has two hospitals — Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and Capital Regional Medical Center — but without the claims data from Florida Blue and other carriers, people can’t compare prices for services at the facilities.

Cooling towers imploded at Florida power plant” via The Associated Press — The identical, 462-foot towers were imploded at St. Johns River Power Park in Jacksonville … Jacksonville Electric Authority and Florida Power & Light contracted Total Wrecking & Environmental to handle the implosion of the cooling towers and demolition of the power park for $14.5 million. The project is expected to be completed in April 2020. They were the second tallest cooling towers to be imploded in the world, Total Wrecking & Environmental said. Preparation took about 10 weeks for the implosion. It was over in just more than 10 seconds. More than 1,500 pounds of dynamite and 12,000 linear feet of detonation were used.

Adam Corey gave Edison discount to Mayor’s Office, too; city attorney says it benefited public” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Corey, who’s mixed up in the FBI’s public corruption investigation, instructed colleagues at The Edison restaurant to give a catering discount to Mayor Gillum’s Family First Week programs in 2016. But there was nothing improper about the discount, the Mayor’s Office said, noting that it benefited the public rather than the mayor himself. And while the Mayor’s Office spent nearly $7,000 on the catering, it was later fully reimbursed by Whole Child Leon, which acted as fiscal agent for the initiative. Corey discussed the discount in a text message May 20, 2016, to John Minas, then chef of the restaurant, and Sam McKay, then general manager. The text also mentions Eddie Kring, who served as The Edison’s catering director. “What is the actual cost for the upcoming breakfast events we are doing for the Mayor’s summit for children?” Corey asked. “I need to give them a discount. Let me know ASAP. Sam and Minas, work with Eddie on this and let me know. Thanks.”

— IRMA AD NAUSEAM —

Irma produced a litigation wave at Citizens Insurance, committee told” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Hurricane Irma-related lawsuits surged at Citizens Property Insurance Corp. early this year, representing a nearly 50 percent increase in the company’s litigation load compared to the same period in 2017. More than 90 percent of those lawsuits originated in South Florida. The state’s insurer of last resort fielded 4,287 legal claims in January through April, the vast majority involving residential policies. Irma claims represented 60 percent of that litigation, according to a report delivered to Citizens’ claims committee during a telephone conference call Wednesday. In nearly half of the lawsuits, policyholders hadn’t disputed Citizens’ adjustment decisions before filing, even though the company encourages them to update claims based on emerging information about the scope of their damage. “These insured are just giving over the option and opportunity to further adjust the claim with us and just going straight to sue,” Elaina Paskalakis, Citizens’ vice president for claim litigation, told the committee.

Citrus growers end worst season in decades” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — The latest forecast numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show no change in the past month for orange production, which is off 34.7 percent from the earlier growing season. Meanwhile, grapefruit production has fallen another 1.8 percent from a May forecast, coming in at half of what was picked in the prior growing season and at its lowest level in nearly a century. “This brings a very difficult citrus season to a close,” Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to a quiet, resilient season in the fall.”

Florida’s spiny lobster harvest stunted by the 2017 hurricane season” via Dayna Harpster of National Fishermen — Immediately after Hurricane Irma blew through south Florida in early September 2017, about 154,000 of the 350,000 lobster traps deployed annually in the waters around the Florida Keys were severely displaced or lost. About 60,000 were recovered by early May. Landings data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows nearly 3.3 million pounds harvested between the season’s start Aug. 6, 2017, and its conclusion March 31, 2018. The previous year’s total was about 5.4 million pounds, and it was thought to be a fairly slow year, as well. This year, the average price per pound was $9.30, with August averaging the lowest price at $6.72 and February the highest at $11.66. “Dock prices started out on the slow side,” Islamorada lobsterman Gary Nichols agreed, but then rallied. February’s high reflects so many being exported to China for the Chinese New Year, he said.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Trump’s move to redefine water rule threatens wetlands banks” via Jason Dearen of The Associated Press — A private firm is making big money selling promises about some gator-infested Florida swampland. The Panther Island Mitigation Bank is part of a federal system designed to restore wetlands across the United States. Banks like this sell “wetlands mitigation credits” to developers for up to $300,000 apiece, offsetting the destruction of marshes by construction projects elsewhere. It’s a billion-dollar industry that has slowed the loss of U.S. wetlands, half of which are already gone. This uniquely American mix of conservation and capitalism has been supported by every president since George H.W. Bush pledged a goal of “no net loss” of wetlands, growing a market for mitigation credits from about 40 banks in the early 1990s to nearly 1,500 today. Now the market is at risk. Administrator Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency has completed a proposal for implementing Trump’s executive order to replace the Waters of the United States rule, or WOTUS, with a much more limited definition of what constitutes a protected federal waterway. “It would destroy wetland mitigation banking at the federal level,” said Royal Gardner, a professor at Florida’s Stetson University College of Law.

Trump associate Roger Stone reveals new contact with Russian national during 2016 campaign” via Manuel Roig-Franzia and Ros Helderman of The Washington Post — One day in late May 2016, Stone met a man with a man who called himself Henry Greenberg, who offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton … Greenberg wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the political dirt, Stone said. “You don’t understand Donald Trump,” Stone recalled saying before rejecting the offer. “He doesn’t pay for anything.” Later, Stone got a text message from Michael Caputo, a Trump campaign communications official who’d arranged the meeting … “How crazy is the Russian?” Caputo wrote according to a text message. Noting that Greenberg wanted ‘big’ money, Stone replied: “waste of time.” Two years later, the brief sit-down in Florida has resurfaced as part of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s sprawling investigation … Stone and Caputo now say they believe they were the targets of a setup by U.S. law enforcement officials hostile to Trump. They cite records showing that the man who approached Stone is actually a Russian national who has claimed to work as an FBI informant. … Greenberg denied that he had acted on the FBI’s behalf when he met with Stone.

Roger Stone met with a Russian who wanted $2M for Hillary Clinton dirt.

Assignment editors — Tampa Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Former State Sen. Arthenia JoynerOlivia Babis, and local activist Karen Clay hold a news conference to call out Gov. Scott’s poor record on health care issues and his refusal to stand up to the Trump administration’s attacks on pre-existing conditions, 1 p.m., 344 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa.

Ballard Partners signs Sentry data systems and ARTOC auto” via Florida Politics — Sentry Data Systems bills itself as a “pioneer in automated pharmacy procurement, utilization management and 340B compliance.” … the company develops data analytics software for the health care industry that helps providers order prescription drugs and comply with medication pricing rules. Founded in 2003, the South Florida-based company has built a client base of more than 11,000 hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. Ballard’s other new client, ARTOC, was for a time Egypt’s sole importer of cars manufactured by Czech Republic-based Škoda Auto. While most Americans would struggle to pick the 121-year-old automaker’s badge out of a lineup, they’re likely familiar with its parent company, Volkswagen Group.

— OPINIONS —

Fathers deserve more than stuff for Father’s Day. They deserve respect” via Marco Rubio for The Federalist — Like so many other things in our culture today, the commercialization of this holiday obscures its true meaning. Father’s Day is about so much more than store sales and cheesy coffee mugs. It is, to borrow the words a resolution President Calvin Coolidge once signed on its celebration, a day “to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations,” and remind ourselves of the importance of fatherhood to our country. It is something that, unfortunately in today’s culture, needs to be repeated often and with clarity: fathers matter. Their responsibilities in families and society are all essential to the strength of our country. Fathers and mothers serve equally important, but distinct, functions in raising children. Fathers play the indispensable role in protecting their families from harm, encouraging children to overcome challenges, disciplining children with authority, and teaching boys how to become responsible men by modeling responsibility themselves. This should not be controversial. In fact, it is an area of bipartisan agreement.

— MOVEMENTS —

Appointed — Gary Cooney to the Lake County Clerk of the Circuit Court; Matthew Caldwell to the Broward College District Board of Trustees.

Dream realized: Jonathan Kilman opens his own influence firm” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Veteran lobbyist Kilman has finally realized a “long-term dream of starting (his) own firm” with the creation of Converge Government Affairs, with offices in Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee. Kilman, formerly with the Foley & Lardner law firm, announced the new concern last week in a LinkedIn post … Kilman is keeping his inaugural client list close to the vest, but a look at his past lobbying disclosures shows companies such as video game maker Electronic Arts, ride-hailing platform Lyft, and autonomous-truck developer Starsky Robotics. “I think it’s fair to say that you’ll see many of the clients that we represented in the past will continue to be our clients in the new firm,” he said.

Jonathan Kilman steps out with his own firm.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Travis Blanton, Jon JohnsonDarrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: Consortium of Florida Education Foundations

Kevin Marino Cabrera, Southern Strategy Group: Tallahassee Corporate Center C/O Hall Investments

Marisa Carrozzo, Amber Crooks, Nicole Johnson: The Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Agustin Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: JP Communications

Nicole Graganella, Trevor Mask, Peter Murray, Katherine Webb, Colodny Fass: FedNat Insurance Company

Brian Jogerst, BH & Associates: Health Diagnostic Management

Jenna Paladino, Paladino Public Affairs: IMCS Group

Adam McGill Ross, 6th Judicial Circuit State Attorney

— ALOE —

Universal’s new ‘Cinematic Celebration’ nighttime show to debut this summer” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — “Universal’s Cinematic Celebration” — ditching the “Epic Cinema Under the Stars” tag — and will include heavy use of water fountains and effects being constructed on a large platform in the park’s lagoon. “The show combines an all-new storyline with full panoramic water screens accented by additional multilayered water screens, pyrotechnics and — for the first time — more than 120 dancing fountains and projection mapping to transform the entire waterfront and surrounding buildings into a vivid celebration of epic movie moments and beloved characters,” Universal said in a news release. Projection mapping, which has become a mainstay of nighttime shows in other Orlando parks, hadn’t been mentioned in the earlier post. It would set the show apart from other shows based around water screens like Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and World of Color at Disney’s California Adventure. The latter has several elements in common with Universal’s new show, though Disney has boasted it has nearly 1,200 fountains, 10 times what Universal is promising.

Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration is coming this summer.

Avenue Eat & Drink joins growing list of shuttered Tallahassee restaurants” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Elected officials aren’t the only ones subject to brief stints in the capital city. Avenue Eat & Drink, a popular downtown eatery on East Park Avenue just blocks from the Capitol, has indefinitely shut down, according to owner and operator Chris Clark. Clark said the location “hopefully” could be up and running again soon — perhaps under the same name — but financial woes forced Clark to file bankruptcy on what’s evolved into one of a few staple eateries for anyone looking to grab a bite downtown. Avenue and Clark in late May were sued for defaulting on a cash advance, according to court records. That resulted in Clark, a veteran of the service industry and longtime Tallahassee restaurateur, bankrupting the business, although he told Florida Politics he has faith in its redemption.

The Southern is dead. Long live Pizza Deck!” via Florida Politics — Friday night The Southern Pub and Fat Noodle closed in downtown Tallahassee … like all great things that manifest in a majestic unending cycle of death and rebirth, the owners of a new restaurant will be sweeping out the last of the Southern dust bunnies and rapidly gear up to roll out the Pizza Deck … a collaboration between the owners of Metro Deli, a popular Monroe Street restaurant that seems to have learned how to survive in the Darwinian food scene of the capital, and the wildly popular Pizza Bruno from Orlando. To bring the culinary magic Pizza Bruno relies on a special gas-fired, wood-burning oven custom-made from a shop next to the Ferrari factory in Italy. This bit of Old World kit will be shipped to New York, with fabricators trained in the ancient art of pizza oven assembly actually bringing it to Tallahassee for installation in the former Southern space. Hopefully, Pizza Deck can become a place for some fun Italian comfort food and cold craft brews by the time committee weeks start in the fall.

What we talk about when we talk about Anthony Bourdain” via Mark Hinson of the Tallahassee Democrat — The real reason food writer and TV personality Bourdain came to Florida State University in February 2011 was that he was invited by the Creative Writing Program. Poet Erin Berliu drafted the letter. Opening Nights then-director Steve MacQueen sent it. Bourdain jumped at the chance. That easy. He spent the morning talking to members of the Dedman School of Hospitality. That night he lectured a sold-out house at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, even though he ragged on Southern matriarch Paula Deen most of the time. After that was over, he signed every book and posed for every photo during a reception at the College of Music. “We are really working you hard,” MacQueen said to Bourdain at one point. “You tell me when you don’t want to do something.” “Man, I’m not on my feet for 12 hours in a hot kitchen,” Bourdain said. “This is a piece of cake. This is a pleasure.” And he meant it. His fave novel was Walter V. Higgins’ taut, crime drama “The Friends of Eddie Coyle.” what does a novel about a middle-aged, low-level gunrunner in a cruddy part of Boston have to do with writing about food? Everything. “From the opening paragraph, it tells you everything about the book ahead,” Bourdain said, and I paraphrase. “Nothing is wasted. I used it as my template when I sat down to write. I threw away everything that was not necessary.”

Happy birthday

Celebrating during our extended absence was state Sen. David Simmons (Wednesday).

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.12.18

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

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

Today and tomorrow, the Florida Chamber Foundation holds its annual “Learners to Earners Workforce Summit.”

The event asks the question: “Is Florida’s workforce ready?

“Talent is Florida’s best economic development tool,” an event description reads. “But how can businesses ensure Florida’s workforce is ready to meet a future need?”

“Join business leaders, industry experts, elected officials and community leaders for the 2018 Learners to Earners Workforce Summit, where you’ll be able to hear from and network with industry leaders looking for talent and those tasked with ensuring Florida’s students are ready for the future of work.”

It’s not surprising that one speaker expected during the two-day event is Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

Others include Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Florida College System Chancellor Madeline Pumariega and university system Chancellor Marshall Criser.

Tony Carvajal, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber Foundation, also will share results from the “Florida 2030 Research Initiative: What We Found, What It Means, and What’s We Must Do Now.”

It all begins at 9 a.m. at Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel, 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa.

For more information, email Kat Bustamante here.

— DAYS UNTIL —

2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 2; Father’s Day — 5; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 10; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 16; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 26; MLB All-Star Game — 35; Deadline for filing claim bills — 50; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 50; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 51; Start of the U.S. Open — 76; Primary Election Day — 77; College Football opening weekend — 79; NFL season starts — 87; Future of Florida Forum — 106; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 133; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 134; General Election Day — 147; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 247; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 266.

— TOP STORY —

’Disturbing’ state didn’t review concealed carry background checks, Rick Scott says” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott said it was “disturbing” and “concerning” that the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issued concealed weapons permits to hundreds of ineligible people. “I expect everybody to be held accountable,” Scott said. … Scott said he still had not seen the results of that investigation. “People need to do their job. It’s as simple as that,” Scott said. “This is public safety.”

Senate Democrats call for investigation into state concealed weapons permit program” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — State Senators Linda Stewart of Orlando and Kevin Rader of Delray Beach said they also want to know why Putnam did not notify the public when he first learned about it a year ago. “The recent acknowledgment by the Department of Agriculture that it had wrongly issued hundreds of concealed weapons permits to non-eligible individuals over a period of approximately one year, and subsequently failed to promptly disclose that failure for at least one year after, has deeply shaken our trust in the agency’s ability to safeguard the people of Florida,” Stewart and Rader wrote in a letter to Senate President Joe Negron. “As more details have emerged since news broke of the scandal late Friday, questions have mounted as to the degree of knowledge within the agency, namely who knew what, and when?” Stewart and Rader also raised questions about whether the security breach in agriculture department was at all related to a push by Putnam to automatically approve any concealed weapons permit if no disqualifying information on the candidate was received in 90 days.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

55 sheriffs from across Florida endorse Rick Scott for U.S. Senate” via Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri kicked off the endorsement at Federal Eastern International, a law enforcement supply store. Gualtieri pointed to what he said was a swift and effective response to the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as an example of Scott’s leadership. “He leads from the front … and that’s what we need in our next United States senator,” said Gualtieri, whom Scott appointed to lead a public safety commission tasked with reviewing all aspects of the shooting. “(We need) somebody that’s going to go to Washington, that’s going to break the mold, that’s not going to maintain the status quo.” About a half dozen other sheriffs joined the event, including Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister and Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis. Scott put the total endorsement at 55 sheriffs across the state. Locally, the endorsement will likely come as unwelcome news to at least some Democrats who are supporting Chronister in his race for Hillsborough sheriff.

Florida sheriffs endorse Rick Scott for U.S. Senate.

Democratic super PAC reserves airtime for Bill Nelson” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Nelson will get a “seven-figure” advertising boost from Senate Majority PAC, which announced it had reserved $80 million in airtime in Florida and eight other states. “Our record fundraising this cycle has allowed us to both be on-air in several states now and increase our strategic investments,” said J.B. Poersch, president of Senate Majority PAC. “We are implementing an aggressive media strategy to combat the Republicans’ baseless, partisan attacks and promote our candidates that are fighting for higher wages and lower health care premiums.” … The super PAC in May spent $2.2 million for a bio ad about Nelson, and that was followed by a $600,000 digital campaign in partnership with Priorities USA Action.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Poll: Adam Putnam beating Ron DeSantis in Governor’s race” via Florida Politics — Republican primary election polling conducted at the end of a tough week of media reports shows Putnam leading DeSantis, according to the latest Florida Chamber of Commerce statewide poll. Putnam bested DeSantis 32 to 15 in the poll, which interviewed 501 likely Republican voters by phone. It was conducted June 7-9, and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5.3 percent. Key findings show Putnam winning all major media markets except the Miami media market; winning among all age groups statewide, and winning among men (17 percent) and women (18 percent) who have decided on the candidate for whom they’ll vote.

DeSantis overplays link between the opioid crisis and southern border” via Allison Graves of the Tampa Bay Times — The statement: “The bulk of the problem with the opioid epidemic is the fentanyl and all the synthetic drugs coming across the southern border.” The ruling: This claim downplays the fact that synthetic drugs are smuggled into the country from locations outside of the southern border, especially from China. However, exact numbers to sort out how much comes from where were unavailable. Trump’s own commission seemed more concerned with China than Mexico when it comes to synthetic drugs. We rate the statement Half True.

New Putnam immigration ad features Grady Judd — Florida Grown PC, the committee supporting Putnam’s bid for Governor, released a new 30-second TV spot featuring Polk County Sheriff Judd, highlighting illegal immigration and his commitment to enforcing the law. “I’ve dedicated my entire adult life to keeping Florida families safe, and I know Adam Putnam has our back. Adam believes we have a responsibility to keep our borders, cities, and neighborhoods safe and secure,” Judd says in the spot, which will appear on cable and broadcast statewide. To view the ad, click on the image below:

Florida Democratic Governor candidates debate guns, minimum wage, sea level rise” via Teresa Frontado and Alejandra Martinez of WLRN — Democratic candidates for Florida Governor may have differences on some issues, but in Miramar, they all agreed that the state should increase salaries for teachers, take more action on sea-level rise, support Puerto Ricans moving to the state and push for the immediate resignation of Agricultural Commissioner Putnam for his office’s failure to complete background checks for concealed gun permits. The so-called Florida Freedom Forum debate was co-moderated by WLRN’s All Things Considered and Sundial host Luis Hernandez and PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor. You can watch the full debate here.

Graham raises more than $1M in May” via Florida Politics — The Graham team said it added more than $300,000 in contributions for the campaign and tacked on another $730,000-plus via Gwen Graham for Florida, an affiliated political committee. The seven-figure haul, her second in a row, brings the North Florida Democrat’s total fundraising to nearly $8.5 million. The campaign said it started June with more than $5.5 million of that cash in the bank. “This announcement is the icing on the cake of an extraordinary week for our campaign. We are on the air sharing our positive, progressive message, we gained national attention in Glamour magazine, we earned endorsements from Congressman Patrick Murphy and the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest union — and now we’re announcing another $1 million raised,” campaign manager Julia Woodward said.

Assignment editors — Graham will kick off a statewide public education tour beginning with a roundtable of public school advocates, educators and students, 2 p.m., United Way Tampa office, 5210 W. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 600, Tampa.

Jimmy Patronis continues piling up cash” via the News Service of Florida — Chief Financial Officer Patronis raised nearly $500,000 last month for his campaign and political committee, as he continued building a fundraising lead over Democratic challenger Jeremy Ring. Patronis’ monthly haul was bolstered by $76,000 from the health care industry and $20,000 from two of the state’s major energy providers, TECO Energy and Florida Power & Light … The incoming cash also included $25,000 from the Coral Gables-based political action committee Diversity … the Key to the American Dream, which was established by Mike Fernandez, a major Republican donor and founder of MBF Healthcare Partners. Patronis also received $10,000 from the Florida Prosperity Fund, an arm of Associated Industries of Florida that has given Patronis a total of $115,000, and $15,000 from the Florida Jobs PAC, a political wing of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which has put $105,000 into the campaign. Patronis’ $463,251 in May contributions were broken into $217,601 raised for his campaign account and $245,650 for his political committee Treasure Florida.

Poll: Attorney General GOP primary anyone’s race at this time” via Florida Politics — One thing is clear at this point in the race for Florida’s next Attorney General: While former Circuit Judge Ashley Moody is enjoying a slight lead — within the margin of error — the GOP primary is anyone’s race. In a new St. Pete Polls survey, just ahead of when candidate qualifying begins, voters remain overwhelmingly unsure in this race. When asked which candidate they would vote for, 61.1 percent are undecided, 14.9 percent would vote for Moody, 13.7 percent for state Rep. Frank White and 10.2 percent for state Rep. Jay Fant. And concerning polling with a margin of error of 3 percent, this means that before candidates begin spending money on paid advertising, Moody and White are tied, and Fant lurks just below them. White currently has a large cash advantage over Moody, but that is boosted by $2.75 million of his own money, beginning with a million-dollar television ad buy last week. He says it will continue through Election Day. Moody has establishment support as well as an enviable list of endorsements (including AG Pam Bondi‘s), but she needs just a little more traction with primary voters, at least according to polling. As for Fant, his less-than-stellar showing in the poll coupled with significantly fewer resources than either White or Moody may only serve to stoke the ever-present rumors that he may not even make it to qualifying and could pursue a graceful exit.

Moody wins latest round with $450K month — In the latest monthly campaign finance report, Moody brought in $449,073 between her official campaign and the Friends of Ashley Moody political committee. In comparison, Fant raised $1,640 in May ($1,640 from the campaign and nothing from his political committee), while White (raised $97,074.77, not counting the $1.25 million personal contributions May 29 — $66,074.77 from the campaign and $31,000 from his political committee).

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Moody ‘special announcement’ with Polk County Sheriff — Moody will hold a news conference for a “special announcement” with Polk County Sheriff Judd starting 8:30 a.m., Polk County History Center/1926 Courtroom, 100 E. Main St., Bartow.

Water policy key for next Agriculture Commissioner” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Maintaining Florida’s water supply, while balancing the growing needs of residents, farmers, tourists and businesses, is a priority for the candidates seeking to replace Florida Agriculture Commissioner Putnam. The issue involves helping preserve diverse ecosystems, such as the Everglades and natural springs, without scuttling the economy. Republican candidate Matt Caldwell pointed to a need for a partnership between water management districts and local governments “to construct and operate regional water supply facilities, including reservoirs, desalination and reuse facilities.” Another GOP candidate, state Sen. Denise Grimsley of Sebring, echoes many other Florida Republicans in favoring the state, rather than the federal government, determining water-resource allocations. Republican candidate Baxter Troutman, a former state House member from Winter Haven, talked of a need to balance water usage and conservation, from “incorporating water usage when planning for future development” to using “reclaimed water for residential irrigation.” Mike McCalister expressed a need to get government agencies involved with water policy linked in the same system. Both he and fellow Democratic candidate David Walker, a biological scientist from Fort Lauderdale, talked of a need for more conservation, with the emphasis on educating Floridians.

Happening today — McCalister is slated to speak during an event held by Trump Team 2020 Florida, 5:30 p.m., Abacoa Golf Club, 105 Barbados Dr., Jupiter.

Alan Grayson launches new TV ad in CD 9 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The new 30-second spot starts with a quick visit to Grayson’s roots, as he talks about “growing up in the tenements in the Bronx, surrounded by people who are different from me, and each other.” … “I’m proud to be one of the leading champions for equality of all kinds: social, political, economic and personal. This ad explains why,” Grayson said in a statement released by his campaign. The ad is Grayson’s second TV commercial, following “Progressive Warrior,” which kicked off his campaign last month. To view the ad, click the image below:

Former Polk County Sheriff endorses Neil Combee in CD 15 — Former Polk County Sheriff Lawrence Crow announced his endorsement of Combee of Florida’s 15th Congressional District. “I’ve known and worked with the Combee family for decades having served with Neil’s father in the Lakeland Police force. I can say without a doubt, Neil Combee has the honesty and integrity to represent the values of the hardworking people of this Congressional district. As a former Sheriff, I trust Neil Combee to uphold the Constitution, respect our sworn law enforcement officers and keep the United States a place where the rule of law matters.”

Progressive PAC to spend $350,000 to take on Carlos Curbelo” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Progressive Turnout Project (PTP), a liberal political action committee, is announcing it will spend $350,000 on voter turnout to oust U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo from his congressional seat in November. “When voter turnout is high, Democrats win elections,” said the group’s executive director, Alex Morgan. “Our team will be pounding the pavement every day between now and November 6 to replace Carlos Curbelo.” Florida’s 26th Congressional District, which Curbelo represents, is seen as a pickup opportunity for Democrats in 2018. Curbelo won re-election in 2016 by a comfortable margin of nearly 12 percentage points. But with polling showing the national atmosphere tilting toward Democrats, the Cook Political Report has rated Curbelo’s seat as a toss-up. That has motivated groups such as PTP to flood the race in an effort to turn the seat blue.

Happening today:

Happening today:

—“Jason Brodeur endorses David Smith as HD 28 successor” via Florida Politics

—“North Brevard Republicans favor Rene Plasencia in HD 50” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

—“Florida Hispanic Chamber endorses Rob Panepinto for Orange County mayor” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

— THE MONEY CHASE —

Jeff Brandes adds $187K for re-election, Carrie Pilon sputters” via Florida Politics — Brandes recorded another six-figure haul in his Senate District 24 re-election bid, while Democratic challenger Pilon saw a massive drop-off in fundraising in only her second month on the trail. The Brandes campaign celebrated raising nearly $187,000 in May, the third month in a row recording a six-figure haul. The Pilon campaign stayed quiet about their comparatively meager haul, a stark change from a month ago when the first-time candidate and her team were loud and proud about their slim April fundraising win. The trial lawyer indeed outraised Brandes by a few thousand dollars in her inaugurals, but her May reports measure in at a quarter the size of her April ones — $26,680 for her campaign and zilch for her committee, Moving Pinellas Forward. That brings Pilon to about $131,000 raised and $124,000 on hand 60 days into her campaign.

Jeff Brandes hits the fundraising trail running, while Carrie Pilon stumbles. 

Belinda Kaiser puts $500,000 into Senate campaign” via the News Service of Florida — Trying to capture a Treasure Coast legislative seat being vacated by Senate President Joe Negron, college executive Keiser loaned $500,000 to her campaign last month … Keiser, a Republican who is vice chancellor of Keiser University, entered the Senate District 25 race in early May after Negron announced he would vacate the seat in November when he leaves the presidency. Negron could have served in the Senate until 2020. In addition to loaning $500,000 to her campaign, Keiser also raised $54,390 from May 7 to May 31 … Keiser is expected to face Rep. Gayle Harrell in an August primary in the Senate District, which includes Martin, St. Lucie and part of Palm Beach counties.

May biggest fundraising month yet for Gary Farmer” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Democrat Gary Farmer just had his best fundraising month yet, earning more than $34,000 in contributions during May. That’s according to the latest information filed with the Florida Division of Elections. Those impressive totals leave Farmer with more than $65,000 cash on hand. The incumbent senator representing Senate District 34 is running unopposed in his re-election bid. The majority of donations to Farmer came from various law firms and attorneys throughout the state. Farmer, a longtime attorney himself, recently took a position at heavyweight law firm Morgan & Morgan.

Jason Pizzo now with more than $100,000 cash on hand in SD 38 race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Jason Pizzo continues to power his primary challenge to state Sen. Daphne Campbell, as he now sits on more than $103,000 cash on hand. That’s according to new fundraising information filed with Florida’s Division of Elections. Pizzo, a former prosecutor, added more than $40,000 in May alone, though $25,000 of that came from a loan by Pizzo to his campaign. As highlighted last week by Florida Politics, Campbell is working hard to fight off Pizzo’s primary challenge. Campbell spent more money than she raised in May, taking in less than $13,000 while spending just over $15,000. That leaves her with under $30,000 available.

Jason Pizzo
Jason Pizzo breaks $100K in on hand cash for SD 38 race.

Ryan Petty pulling in big money in bid for Broward County School Board” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — It was a given that Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter in February’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, would earn emotional support from the community after declaring his intention to run for Broward County School Board. Now, it appears Petty is earning financial support as well. Documents filed with the Broward Supervisor of Elections show Petty has raised more than $44,000 in May. And those donations have come in just about half a month, as Petty only declared his candidacy for the At-Large Seat 8 on May 15. Those are huge numbers for a school board race. To put them in perspective, no other school board candidate raised more than $35,000 all cycle. Petty’s opponents, incumbent school board member Donna Korn and challenger Elijah Manley, have raised around $10,000 and $15,000, respectively.

—“Clay Yarborough expands cash lead over Democratic challenger in HD 12” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

—“Anna Eskamani has more than $200K banked for HD 47 bid” via Florida Politics

—“Bob Rommel maintains fundraising lead over Democratic challenger” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“ Matt Spritz ends May with more than $150,000 cash on hand” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“Kubs Lalchandani keeps up money lead over HD 113 opponents” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“Jerry Demings raises another $80K in mayor’s race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

— STATEWIDE —

Spotted: Florida mayors in Quorum Analytics’ report, “Most Vocal Mayors on Issues Facing Cities in 2018” — The report “analyzes mentions of key issues facing cities by mayors on social media between the 2017 and 2018 US Conference of Mayors Annual Meetings (6/26/17-6/7/18). The analysis includes mayors for cities and counties of greater than 10,000 residents — a total of 3,395 mayors.” Tallahassee Mayor (and Democratic candidate for governor) Andrew Gillum was the fifth most vocal mayor on climate issues, with 54 mentions. Gillum was No. 1 on guns, with 176 public statements. He was third on guns, at 61 statements. Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters was No. 1 on “number of statements mentioning @realDonaldTrump or @POTUS,” with 416 comments. Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay was ninth in that category, at 21. Gillum was 10th most vocal mayor on the opioid epidemic, with 17 statements, second on health care with 194 statements, and third on education with 109 public comments. On Congress, Waters and Gillum were No. 3 and No. 4 respectively, with 39 and 38 statements each.

Seminole’s Leslie Waters is among the most vocal Florida mayors on Donald Trump.

Flags at half-staff for Pulse shooting victims” via Florida Politics — Gov. Scott proclaimed Tuesday as “Pulse Remembrance Day” in recognition of the 49 people killed in the 2016 gay nightclub shooting. Scott “is asking all Florida residents to pause for a moment of silence at 9 a.m. and is directing all state flags in Florida to be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset,” the Governor’s Office said in a news release. “I remain committed to making sure our state never forgets these brave 49 individuals, that we continue to express our profound sympathy to the families who lost loved ones during this tragic event, and always remember that Florida is resilient and will endure during times of great tragedy,” Scott said in a statement.

Florida cracks down on potential voter fraud” via Jillian Idle of WPTV — If you’re a registered voter in Florida your information will soon be entered in a national, universal system to make sure you are not double voting or registered in multiple states. The new statewide change doesn’t take effect until January 2019 but comes at a time other states like Ohio are wanting to purge its inactive voter lists. Florida is one of 24 states who have joined Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) in an effort to reduce the potential for voter fraud. The program will also have an impact on inactive voting lists in Florida … it cost the state $25,000 to enroll in ERIC. The state will have to continue paying annual dues based on numerous factors including our population … the initial price is far less than what it currently costs our state to send notifications by mail.

Julie Brown, Gary Clark seek another term on PSC” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Brown and Clark were among 11 people who had submitted applications for the $132,036-a-year positions on the five-member commission, which regulates utilities such as Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, Gulf Power and Tampa Electric Co. The nominating council, chaired by Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland, is expected to come up with a list of “most qualified” applicants on June 26 in Orlando. Brown and Clark currently hold the seats, but their terms expire Jan. 1. Scott will make appointments to four-year terms. Brown, an attorney from Tampa, has served on the Public Service Commission since January 2011. Scott reappointed her in 2014. Clark was appointed to his seat in September to complete the term of Jimmy Patronis, who was named by Scott to serve as Florida chief financial officer. Clark, previously a deputy secretary at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in his application called the Public Service Commission appointment “the pinnacle of my career.”

Growth pushes Florida Retirement System above $163 billion in assets” via Michael Moline, Florida Politics — The State Retirement System earned a clean bill of health during its regular checkup Monday by overseers on the Florida Investment Advisory Council. Assets have grown by 10.5 percent since the start of the fiscal year, reaching a balance of $163.3 billion — $9.8 billion ahead of last year. The state distributes benefits worth between $600 million and $800 million per month, said Ash Williams, executive director and chief investment officer for the State Board of Administration. That panel, comprising the governor, attorney general, and chief financial officer, oversees the council. Furthermore, the council is managing as much as 44 percent of its assets in-house, the result of a decade’s efforts to contain management costs, Williams said. “The pension plan in the state of Florida is in pretty good shape, being well managed,” said Gary Wendt, the former chief executive of G.E. Capital, who formally became the council’s chairman during the meeting in Tallahassee.

Judge in hotel stays case to get another look” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Supreme Court has rejected proposed penalties for a Miami-Dade County judge who faces discipline after an investigation into free hotel stays in Miami Beach, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. The Supreme Court, which in recent years has taken an increasingly tough stance on judicial misconduct, sent the case of Judge Maria Ortiz back to the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, which oversees investigations. The Supreme Court unanimously ordered the commission to hold a full hearing and to “fully develop the facts regarding any misconduct that occurred, so that the (Supreme) Court, in determining the appropriate discipline, will be apprised of all the facts and circumstances bearing on the alleged violations.” The commission recommended last month that Ortiz pay a $5,000 fine and receive a public reprimand from the Supreme Court for failing to properly disclose the 2015 and 2016 hotel stays. That recommendation, which the Supreme Court rejected in its order, came after Ortiz admitted she had not properly reported the information on financial-disclosure forms.

Leon legislative delegation gets A, B and Cs from business lobbying group” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — A pro-business lobbying group is out with its annual ranking of Florida lawmakers’ performance during the 2018 legislative session. When combined with an earlier rating by a teachers union, Leon’s statehouse delegation is somewhere in the middle — they’re mostly open to proposals from both business and labor. Sen. Bill Montford, a former high school principal, appears to have balanced the competing sides, with a B from Associated Industries of Florida to follow his C+ from a teacher’s union. “My votes reflect what I think my constituents want and what is best for my constituents and if that puts me right down the middle, then that’s where I should be,” said Montford. AIF, which bills itself as the “voice of Florida Business,” gave Rep. Halsey Beshears of Monticello, an A, the highest score among the four who represent Tallahassee at the statehouse.

Happening today — State Sen. Aaron Bean will attend the JAXUSA Partnership luncheon, noon, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, 225 East Coastline Dr., Jacksonville.

Happening today — CareerSource Florida, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, homebuilders and Uber will hold joint job fairs throughout the state for careers in the manufacturing and construction industries, 10 a.m., CareerSource Palm Beach County, 3400 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach; 10 a.m., Rockledge Career Center, 295 Barnes Blvd., Rockledge; 10 a.m., Manatee Technical College, 6305 State Road 70 East, Bradenton; 11 a.m., Crestview Public Library, 1445 Commerce Dr., Crestview.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un shake hands to open momentous summit” via Zeke Miller, Catherine Lucey, Josh Lederman and Foster Klug of The Associated Press — Before a row of alternating U.S. and North Korean flags, the leaders shook hands warmly at a Singapore island resort, creating an indelible image of two unorthodox leaders as they opened a conversation that could determine historic peace or raise the specter of a growing nuclear threat. Trump and Kim planned to meet one on one for most of an hour — joined only by interpreters. Then aides to each were to join for more discussions and a working lunch. But even before they met, Trump announced plans to leave early, raising questions about whether his aspirations for an ambitious outcome had been scaled back. Up early in Singapore, Trump tweeted with cautious optimism: “Meetings between staffs and representatives are going well and quickly … but in the end, that doesn’t matter. We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen!”

Donald Trump meets Kim Jong Un in Singapore. (Image via AP)

Vern Buchanan ranked among most effective, bipartisan — The Center for Effective Lawmaking, run by the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University, reviewed the record of 443 congressmen from both parties, ranking Buchanan No. 53 in effectiveness based on his legislative accomplishments in the 114th Congress. That puts Buchanan in the top 12 percent. Some accomplishments cited include Buchanan’s legislation creating a national ID card for veterans, his bill providing tax relief to Florida’s citrus farmers and his bill saving Medicare Advantage plans for seniors. The Lugar Center, run by the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University and former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, reported that Buchanan was the No. 67 most bipartisan member of the House in 2017, putting him in the top 15 percent. “Nothing is impossible when you work together,” Buchanan said. “People are tired of partisan gridlock — they want action and solutions to the challenges facing our country.”

Vern Buchanan is one of the top bipartisan members of Congress.

Supreme Court upholds Ohio voter purge. Here’s how Florida does it.” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Ohio’s aggressive system of removing voters from the rolls if they do not vote in two consecutive presidential elections and in that time fail to respond to a written notice. All states are required to periodically comb the voter rolls for people who may have moved to another state — a process known as list maintenance. That work cannot be done less than 90 days before a federal election. Florida tried that in 2012 and a federal court struck down the purge as illegal. In Florida, voters are moved from active to inactive status if they do not vote in two consecutive general elections and if they don’t return a postage prepaid confirmation notice. Once inactive, a voter can still vote, simply by showing up on Election Day or requesting a mail ballot. After a Florida voter is placed on inactive status, he or she can be removed, or moved to ineligible status, after not updating their record, asking for a mail ballot or not voting in two general elections after being declared inactive.

 

— OPINIONS —

Joe Henderson: Being front-runner now just makes Philip Levine top target” via Florida Politics — Democrat Levine, who is leading polls mostly (I believe) because he has been the only candidate from his party to put a lot of ads on TV, might want to go easy on the whole “I’m the front-runner” idea. Ask Adam Putnam how much it means to be ahead before most people have even begun to pay serious attention to the elections. Get real. Levine has reliably progressive ideas and the money to get his message out. And it’s not like his opponents don’t have their own obstacles to overcome. But even though this is his first statewide campaign, Levine surely must know that leading the polls — and he does, by a wide margin — only means his rivals will come at him with more pointed attacks. It doesn’t get easier from now through the August primary, and after that it gets ferocious. Get used to it.

Steve Schale: Florida — persuasion or turnout … or both?” — In the never-ending quest to simplify Florida, one of the ongoing debates about winning the state is whether Florida is a state won by winning persuadable voters, or whether it is all about turning out one’s base. I remember when I started with [BarackObama, I got a ton of advice — most of it unsolicited (much was helpful) … Here is the secret — all of it matters. Florida is neither a persuasion state or a turnout state. It is, in my honest opinion, both. It doesn’t matter if it is a presidential cycle or a midterm year, Florida is a state about managing margins, everywhere. Winning Democratic candidates typically do a few other things: win Pinellas, win St. Lucie, win a few North Florida counties like Jefferson, maintain reasonable margins counties like in Duval, Sarasota, Volusia, and Seminole. For Republicans, their math is a little different — they win a lot more counties, but by relatively smaller counties.

Putnam aside, agriculture department no place for concealed weapons licenses” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — There are issues specific to this incident that deserve more attention than they’ve received so far. Did anyone check to see whether any of those 291 people whose licenses were denied own guns they may not legally possess — for example, a felon whose rights haven’t been restored? Or someone with a disqualifying history of mental health commitment or criminal alcohol offenses? So far, the answer to that question appears to be no. “We have no oversight of whether a person has a gun or not, nor do we have a role in the purchase of firearms,” says Jennifer Meale, communications director at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The FDLE should ask the agriculture department for those 291 names, if it hasn’t already. Better yet, for the sake of public safety, Putnam should proactively send the names to FDLE to ensure people who shouldn’t own guns, don’t own guns.

— MOVEMENTS —

Former GOP aide Nicole Wallace lighting it up for MSNBC” via David Bauder of The Associated Press — Wallace took over a time slot that averaged a million viewers a day and lifted it to more than 1.3 million this spring, the Nielsen company said. MSNBC used to run neck-and-neck with CNN’s Jake Tapper but has opened a lead that now approached a half-million viewers. Wallace’s show even beat Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto in March, the first time an MSNBC show had done that in the time slot since 2000. With Wallace and some other disaffected Republicans frequently on her show — commentators like Steve SchmidtCharlie Sykes and David Frum — some conservatives refer to her show as the “traitor hour,” said Tim Graham of the conservative watchdog Media Research Center. “We joke that she put paycheck ahead of party,” he said. The 4 p.m. hour for MSNBC is a key transition from daytime news programs to more opinionated nighttime fare, a time when many big stories break. Key to Wallace’s success is that her show is more about reporting than punditry, Griffin said. From her days in the White House, she knows many of the people who work there and tries to speak to someone who’s had contact with the president each day. She’s more apt to have active reporters as panelists.

Nicole Wallace makes her mark on MSNBC.

Appointed — Luz Weinberg and Leonard Boord to the Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority.

Nelson Mullins and Broad and Cassel to combine into super-regional law firm” via Florida Trend — Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough and Broad and Cassel have approved an agreement to combine effective August 1, 2018, to be known in Florida as Nelson Mullins Broad and Cassel. Both firms’ partnerships voted overwhelmingly to approve the combination, which will create a firm with over 725 attorneys and professionals operating in 25 offices across 11 states and the District of Columbia. The combined firm will have over 620 attorneys and professionals in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, with Atlanta continuing as the firm’s largest office with over 150 attorneys and professionals. The revenues of the combined firm are projected to result in a jump in the Am Law ranking to approximately 66 based on the most recent ranking.

— ALOE —

Airbnb grows, creates challenges for taxes, safety regulations” via John Henderson of the Panama City News-Herald — Airbnb hosts in Bay County cleared $12 million in revenues last year … For something that started in an environment as unstructured as an air mattress on the floor — and that can still be a simple as a spare bed or a tent in the backyard — taxes can be a confusing concept. “Some people honestly don’t know they have to pay them,” said Jennifer Vigil, the president and CEO of Destination Panama City. But in Panama City and Panama City Beach, Airbnb rentals are not excluded from the bed tax. Collections, however, have proved difficult … the county and Airbnb have yet to reach an agreement on how to go about paying the tax. Airbnb wants to collect the tax through their platform and then pay it to the county in a lump sum, as they do in 40 of Florida’s 63 counties, according to Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit. This is how they tell hosts to collect the tax on their help page. In most places, it works. Airbnb Florida said a recent news release that its vacation rental platform collected and remitted over $45.7 million in tax revenue to Florida state and local governments on behalf of its hosts in 2017, up from $20 million in 2016. But, Breit said, Bay County was among the 23 counties to reject the company’s offer to remit the bed taxes for Airbnb customers here.

Universal adding new ‘Jurassic World’ experiences” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — The first addition announced will give the Raptor Encounter photo-op at Universal Orlando’s Jurassic Park a more recognizable velociraptor: Blue, the raptor trained by Chris Pratt’s character, Owen Grady, and seen in “Jurassic World” and its upcoming sequel, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” The meet-and-greet had originally debuted in May 2015, just ahead of the release for the first “Jurassic World,” which went on to become the highest-grossing film in Universal’s history by taking in more than $1.67 billion worldwide … Blue has been designed “employing the exact computer-generated model and images used to create her for the big screen.” Just like the previous raptors, Blue will be snapping and snarling at guests while her “handler” calms her down long enough for a photo to be taken. Outside the parks, Universal guests can now bring parts of “Jurassic World into their hotel stay. The Loews Royal Pacific Resort is now offering “Jurassic World”-themed kids’ suites. These 2-bedroom suites let kids sleep in their own dinosaur-themed room, with two twin beds modeled after the gyrospheres seen in the 2015 film.

Universal is updating its Jurassic World Experience.

Happy birthday to one of our favorite people, Sally Bradshaw. Also celebrating today is former Rep. Neil CombeeMatt Lettelleir of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, Margie MenzelRick Minor, and our dear friend, St. Petersburg City Councilwoman Darden Rice.

Correction: In an item in Monday’s edition of SUNBURN, we misspelled the name of the Miami Herald’s Jenny Staletovich. Our apologies.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.11.18

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

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

If the November election were held today, only four of the 13 proposed state constitutional amendments would pass, according to new polling by the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“However, this is before tens of millions of dollars are invested in information campaigns,” the Chamber said in a news release. “In other words, these numbers will change as November approaches.”

Chamber officials further said that with 13 amendments on the ballot — eight from the Constitution Revision Commission, three from the Legislature and two from citizen initiatives — “voter fatigue is certainly a concern.”

“In fact, some special interest groups have threatened a ‘vote no on all’ campaign,” they said. “But based on the latest polling data, that wouldn’t be a wise use of resources.

“ … Likely voters overwhelmingly say they plan to vote to consider each amendment. And 89 percent say they will vote on each amendment based upon its own merits.”

Here is how the amendments performed, according to the Chamber:

Amendment 1 — Increased Homestead Exemption: Yes — 67%, No — 22%, Unsure 11%

Amendment 2 — Limitations on Property Tax Assessments — Yes — 58%, No 20%, Unsure 22%

Amendment 3 — Voter Control of Gambling — Yes — 61%, No 23%, Unsure 15%

Amendment 4 — Voter Restoration — Yes — 40%, No 17%, Unsure 43%

Amendment 5 — Supermajority to Raise Taxes — Yes — 34%, No 36%, Unsure 30%

Amendment 6 — Victim’s Rights; Judges — Yes 51%, No 12%, Unsure 37%

Amendment 7 — First Responder & Military Member Survivor Benefits — Yes 80%, No 7%, Unsure 13%

Amendment 8 — School Board Term Limits — Yes 75%, No 11%, Unsure 15%

Amendment 9 — Prohibit Offshore Drilling — Yes 55%, No 31%, Unsure 14%

Amendment 10 — State & Local Gov’t Structure — Yes 31%, No 16%, Unsure 53%

Amendment 11 — Property Rights — Yes 38%, No 16%, Unsure 46%

Amendment 12 — Lobbying and Abuse by Public Officials — Yes 55%, No 18%, Unsure 27%

Amendment 13 — End Dog Racing — Yes 47% No 36%, Unsure 17%

What Jack Cory is reading — “Longwood artist goes political in defense of greyhound racing” via Brian Scott of WOFL/Fox 35 — Many know Jeff Sonksen for his tribute murals lining a fence on Ronald Reagan Boulevard in Longwood … Sonksen’s newest series line the road outside of the Seminole County Kennel Club. The paintings aren’t of people but of greyhound dogs that actually run races at the Longwood track, and bare messages defending that track and its sport. “There are so many times I drove by the track and went, ‘ooo the dreaded dog track!'” said Sonksen. “I never would have believed that six months later I’d be defending greyhound racing.” Sonksen said his change of heart came after an odd series of events that led him to an invite into the Seminole track. Also an avid social media user, he went in armed with a camera expecting to continue to expose the abuse he’d seen shown by so many animal rights groups, but he said he couldn’t. “I haven’t found an abused greyhound yet,” he said. All the people I’ve met, man, they’re just good, hardworking, animal loving people; they love these dogs.”

They love these dogs: One of Jeff Sonksen’s pro-racing artworks.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

—@SenJohnMcCain: To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.

—@ScottforFlorida: I grew up in a poor family and that’s why I believe having a job is the most important thing for a family. No one should be dismissive about the fact that so many families are finding a job.

—@BradHerold: Even if you think @AdamPutnam’s record wasn’t disqualifying for him, let’s just list the scandals: 1. Hastert 2. Special Interest Funded Hunting Trips 3. Shady Land Deal 4. No Background Checks For a Year And @RonDeSantisFL can’t win a general because he supports Trump … Okay.

—@BobBuckhorn: Let’s get this straight. As AG Commissioner u have 2 basic jobs…….make sure the Citrus industry is healthy and to issue permits for concealed weapons. Results = dying citrus industry and more nuts and felons w guns.

—@LMower3: It’s a bit ridiculous that the Florida Democratic Governor’s debate isn’t streaming live on Facebook or Twitter.

—@NewsBySmiley: Debate gets heated when Levine is asked why he gave $2,400 to Marco Rubio. Gillum and King attck. “Sure feels good to be the front-runner” Levine says, drawing boos like a wrestling heel

—@MDixon55: In general, crowd was not traditional debate audience. They almost incentivized the onstage hostility. Compliments were ignored, aggressiveness was greeted with approval. Very colosseum stuff.

—@MDixon55: One day I’ll be asked where I was during 13th Triple Crown and I’ll get to say an auditorium in Pinellas Park High School

—@ZamirGotta (a close friend of Anthony Bourdain): I cannot make myself watch CNN tribute, it took me 24 hours to write my tribute 4 Hollywood Reporter, honestly it was the most painful one

—@DarrenRovell: How insane was Secretariat’s Belmont 45 years ago? The horse would have beaten Justify (based on time) by 25 LENGTHS.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 1; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 3; Father’s Day — 6; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 11; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 17; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 27; MLB All-Star Game — 36; Deadline for filing claim bills — 51; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 51; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 52; Start of the U.S. Open — 77; Primary Election Day — 78; College Football opening weekend — 80; NFL season starts — 88; Future of Florida Forum — 107; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 134; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 135; General Election Day — 148; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 248; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 267.

— TOP STORY —

Adam Putnam blasts Times report, but acknowledges office’s failure to review background checks” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Putnam said a Tampa Bay Times report that his office didn’t check backgrounds of concealed weapons applicants for noncriminal offenses for more than a year was “flat wrong and misleading.” But he acknowledged that an employee in his office failed to review the results of those background checks, which led to 291 people receiving permits who were not supposed to have them. Putnam’s office has since revoked those permits, he said. “This was a very serious issue,” said Putnam. “We took immediate action.” Putnam blamed the employee, who he called “negligent and deceptive” for not acting on the results of the background check. He said he ordered the inspector general investigation immediately after he was informed about the problem. That employee, a former mailroom worker, told the Times she was under pressure to quickly process applications and questioned why she was put in charge of this. “I’m here to solve problems,” Putnam said. “We didn’t wait on a bad story to solve problems. I initiated the inspector general and the review of processes and procedures upon learning of this breakdown.”

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Ron DeSantis says Putnam’s office missed background checks because Putnam was too busy campaigning” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — “Adam has spent years campaigning for governor, basically, in this position and the report was very concerning because it seemed like he wasn’t minding the store when we needed him to be there,” DeSantis told reporters after making a stump speech. “I also want to know why, if this report was done a year ago, why are we just now finding out about this?” DeSantis continued. “Why weren’t some of the deficiencies communicated to Gov. Rick Scott, to FDLE, to other people who would be interested in the fact you may have people who are not eligible getting permits to concealed carry? So that’s an unanswered question we need answers to.”

Calling it ‘political attack,’ NRA (wo)mansplains weapons permit snafu” via Florida Politics — “The media isn’t getting it right, and anti-gun Democrats don’t want to get it right,” says United Sportsman of Florida Executive Director Marion Hammer, a past president of the National Rifle Association and among the most powerful lobbyists in the state. “Truth and facts matter. So here is what really happened” … the Division of Licensing did perform background checks on applicants for licenses to carry concealed weapons or firearms. “Background checks were done through FCIC (Florida Criminal Information Computer system) and NCIC (National Criminal Information Computer system — the national FBI fingerprint database), and they also did a NICS check, which is the name-based background check system,” she says. Although those questionable applicants did indeed receive licenses to carry firearms, Hammer makes an important distinction: “They still would not have been allowed to purchase a firearm from a firearms dealer because the same NICS background check would have been performed by a dealer and would have stopped them from purchasing a firearm.” After the Division ran new background checks on those 365 applicants, Hammer says 74 were cleared and 291 still had disqualifiers. Their licenses to carry firearms were immediately suspended. “The facts don’t fit narrative being pushed by the anti-gun political opponents of the Commissioner of Agriculture, Putnam, who is a candidate for Governor.”

How #Concealment-gate is playing — POLITICO Florida, Gun background check failure haunts ‘proud NRA sellout’ Putnam — “The controversy — and Putnam’s slow-footed response in getting the facts out in a timely fashion — was the latest to haunt his campaign. Putnam was already a target of gun-control activists for having called himself a ‘proud NRA sellout.’” Lakeland Ledger, Putnam in crosshairs of controversy — “Now running for Florida governor as a Republican, Putnam’s campaign touts his expansion of concealed carry permits as one of his top accomplishments.” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Putnam: No more lapses in background checks — “The commissioner says ‘more seamless’ communication between his agency and law enforcement, and ‘extra eyeballs,’ are in place to make sure the problem never happens again.” Miami Herald, Putnam rips concealed weapons story, acknowledges failure to review background checks — “Putnam asserted that ‘no one’s safety was at risk’ because those 291 people would not have been able to purchase a firearm.” Orlando Sentinel, Putnam’s Florida office didn’t do gun background checks for one year: report — “I am extremely alarmed at the failure by Commissioner Putnam to disclose that his agency had failed to conduct these critical background checks — allowing possibly mentally disturbed individuals and others who should be disqualified, to be legally armed in Florida,’ said state Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat. ‘He needs to resign.’”

—“Time for Florida GOP to draft Pam Bondi?” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

First on #FlaPol — “Poll: Rick Scott maintains edge over Bill Nelson” via Florida Politics — The poll, conducted for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, puts Scott ahead 48-43 with 5 percent undecided. That margin tracks with a May poll out of Florida Atlantic University that found Scott up 4 points, however undecided voters made up a much higher share in that poll. Those results put the race at 44-40 with 16 percent unsure. The party breakdown showed 86 percent of likely Republican voters would vote for Scott in the fall while 9 percent said Nelson was their pick. Likely Democratic voters were only slightly less unified, picking Nelson 80-13. The pair both had 44 percent support among NPA and third-party voters. The live interview phone poll was conducted May 25 through June 4. It took responses from 249 Democrats, 237 Republicans and 119 other party or NPA voters and has a margin of error of +/-4 percent.

Rick Scott is taking the lead.

Scott surges past Nelson with older Florida voters” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Scott is virtually tied with Nelson among Florida voters, but the Republican is dominating the Democrat by 9 points among those nearing or at retirement age — a group that casts the majority of Florida’s votes. The results, drawn from a forthcoming POLITICO/AARP poll delving into the policy views of Florida voters aged 50 and older, exposes a political divide that bodes relatively well for Republicans when compared to some nationwide polling that shows a more-favorable environment for Democrats. Overall, voters in the nation’s largest swing state are almost evenly split when it comes to opinions of President Trump’s job performance, with 48 percent approving and 49 percent disapproving. But Trump’s job approval rises to 52 percent and his disapproval falls to 44 percent among voters older than 50 — a crucial demographic in the retiree-heavy state because they have historically cast about two-thirds of all the ballots in midterm elections.

Scott super PAC launches $3.5m ad blitz” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The New Republican PAC, run by Scott loyalists, started strong against Nelson by launching a $2.4 million ad campaign against the Democrat in May. Now it’s coming back bigger and meaner with a $3.5 million broadcast, cable and digital buy. The ads (a 30-second TV spot and 15- and 6-second digital pieces) feature pictures of Nelson’s face aging through the years, as a timeline on the right ticks off his time and votes in office since his first election win in 1972.

Click on the image below to watch the ad:

Assignment editors — Scott will join local law enforcement leaders from the Tampa Bay area and Southwest Florida in St. Petersburg on Monday to make a “major announcement,” according to a release. The event is at 2870 Scherer Drive, Suite 300. 9:30 a.m. Scott will then meet with leaders of South Florida’s Colombian community in advance of Colombia’s upcoming presidential election. The event is at 233 Aragon Avenue, Suite A, Coral Gables.

Save the date — Scott will speak at breakfast before the Second Annual Polk County Republican Clay Shoot, June 16, at Catfish Creek Sporting Clays near Haines City, according to Polk County Republican Chairman JC Martin.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Matt Gaetz goes after Putnam at campaign rally in Pensacola” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News-Journal — Gaetz also touted the DeSantis endorsement from Donald Trump and called him “a fellow swamp drainer.” Gaetz hit Putnam for not immediately voicing support for Trump in the 2016 primaries after Trump won the Indiana Republican primary, making him the presumptive GOP nominee. “I feel obligated as your congressman to share with you the reasons that I cannot vote for Putnam in the Republican primary,” Gaetz said. “The first reason: I actually support Donald Trump and Adam Putnam doesn’t.” Gaetz also went after Putnam on immigration, saying while Gaetz was in the Florida Legislature that Putnam, as agriculture commissioner, lobbied against passing a requirement for employers to use the federal E-Verify system to obtain workers’ immigration status.

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4 key moments from Saturday’s Democratic gubernatorial debate” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — 1. Philip Levine: “It sure is fun to be the front-runner!” … to groans and even some boos. 2. The Gwen GrahamAndrew Gillum bad blood spills onto the stage … Gillum once again criticized Graham for voting against President Obama “52 percent of the time.” (That figure is somewhat misleading, per PolitiFact.) Graham defended herself, arguing that she’s happy to talk about her Congressional votes. 3. Chris King defends Gillum … “I have gotten to know Andrew Gillum over the last year pretty well. I’ve probably spent more time with Andrew than my wife,” King said to laughter. “And I can tell you, Andrew is a good and noble public servant.” 4. The candidates defended Trump … Ok, this one is only sort of true. But on what Trump has done right? Graham: “This audience.” Gillum: “When he takes a Twitter break.” Levine: Reiterated Graham’s point about the activist energy in the building. And then he gave this quote: “He’s a tragedy for our nation, and we’re living through a nightmare.”

Happening tonight — Democratic gubernatorial candidates will debate at an event hosted by several groups, including the Service Employees International Union Florida labor union. Expected to attend are Gillum, Graham, King and Levine. The debate will be livestreamed on Service Employees International Union Florida and PBS NewsHour digital channels; doors open at 5:30 p.m., the debate starts 7 p.m., Miramar Cultural Center, 2400 Civic Center Plaza, Miramar.

Philip Levine hears boos at Democratic gubernatorial debate featuring nasty exchanges” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Levine is increasingly perceived as the front-runner in the Democratic primary for governor, but a packed auditorium of party faithful during the race’s second debate Saturday night reacted brutally when he anointed himself the new leader: “boooo.” … “One thing I can say is that it is sure fun to be the front-runner,” said Levine, who quickly tried to transition as the auditorium filled with boos. The comment came as one of his opponents, King, was ticking off a series of what he deems as shortcomings in Levine’s record, notably the fact that he gave money to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in his first race in 2010, an issue that again drew the ire from an audience that was vocal throughout the hourlong debate. “I, at this point, have given up to $1 million to Democrats,” Levine responded. He then tried to get back to his accomplishments as mayor, which prompted the crowd to yell “answer the questions.”

It was cordial, but not for long.

Levine holds double-digit lead in Democratic primary for governor, poll finds” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Levine pulled 32 percent in a poll of 600 likely voters conducted this week by SEA Polling & Strategic Design — compared to 37 percent for the rest of the field combined. Graham pulled 16 percent; Gillum, 11; King, 6; and real estate tycoon Jeff Greene, 4 percent. Tom Eldon, the veteran pollster behind the numbers, said the poll was commissioned by an independent group that is not affiliated with any of the five campaigns in the primary. His findings appear to validate Levine’s internal numbers, which have put him ahead of the field for months now, significantly so in South Florida and Tampa. Eldon found Levine with 47 percent support in South Florida, and 37 percent in Tampa. Levine’s campaign has been touting its numbers for months in those areas — markets that have both high numbers of Democratic voters and high costs for advertising.

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Gubernatorial candidate Bob White campaigns in Lee County — White is scheduled to speak to the Lee Republican Women Federated, social hour at 5:15 p.m., followed by dinner, Pinchers, The Marina at Edison Ford, 2360 West First St., Fort Myers.

Homestead Mayor announces for Agriculture Commissioner” via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News — Jeff Porter, who has served as mayor of Homestead since 2013 resigned his mayoral seat Thursday, effective on the same day, complying with Florida’s newly amended “resign-to-run” law. He will challenge South Florida environmentalist David Walker in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary. … Porter told The Miami Herald, “The agriculture industry has just been decimated. Over the last 20 or 30 years, farmers have gone out of business and I just don’t understand,” he said. “This area of the country, inside our borders, is the only place where we can grow produce in the winter to feed the nation, yet we’ve become totally reliant on food that comes from foreign countries. It’s almost like a national security issue.”

Jimmy Patronis leads Jeremy Ring in Florida Chamber poll” via Florida Politics — According to a new poll commissioned by the Florida Chamber, Patronis leads Ring 40-31 among likely voters and newly registered voters statewide. The Chamber endorsed Patronis last month … much of the gap between the two pols is attributable to Patronis’ strong support among GOP voters and Ring’s middling support among his base. Ring held a slight lead among unaffiliated and third-party voters, 27-26, with the remainder undecided. If that lack of enthusiasm among Democratic voters does exist, it certainly isn’t unique to Ring.

Jay Fant campaigns in West Palm Beach — Fant, a Jacksonville Republican running for Attorney General, will speak to the Palm Beach County Trump Club, 7 p.m., Palm Beach Kennel Club, 1111 North Congress Ave., West Palm Beach.

Happening today — Democratic candidates in Florida’s 6th Congressional District will speak to the Democratic Environmental Caucus of St. Johns County. Democrats John UpchurchStephen Sevigny and Nancy Soderberg are seeking the seat that opened when DeSantis decided to run for governor; 6 p.m., St. Johns County Democratic headquarters, 71 South Dixie Highway, Suite 6, St. Augustine.

He calls himself pro-labor. But he laid off campaign workers trying to unionize” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — David Richardson, the self-styled progressive Democrat seeking to replace Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Congress, says he stands shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with his campaign staff after they became the first political campaign in Florida to unionize last week. But there are fewer campaign workers standing with Richardson today. That’s because he laid off eight paid campaign employees at the end of a contentious monthslong unionization effort. “David wanted to be able to fire anyone at will and that wasn’t acceptable to us,” said Isaiah Ghafoor, who worked as a field organizer for Richardson from March until he was one of eight Richardson staffers laid off two weeks ago. “Two days after a heated bargaining session, seven field organizers were laid off and the finance manager.” Though the unionization effort was ultimately successful, the timing of the layoffs and the Richardson’s campaign’s argument to staffers that existing Florida labor laws were sufficient enough to protect staffers’ rights contrasts with public statements by his campaign that he will “oppose efforts that are anti-union or that weaken the ability to organize and bargain collectively” if elected to Congress.

For someone claiming to be pro-labor, David Richardson is making some labor-unfriendly moves. (Image via Miami Herald)

Two more candidates to compete against Manny Diaz in SD 36” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Manny Diaz is (by all measures) the current front-runner to take the Senate District 36 seat. But that’s not stopping others from entering the race. Two more Democrats decided to run in SD 36. David Perez filed paperwork Thursday, while Imtiaz Ahmad Mohammad made his official entry into the race earlier today. The pair joins Muhammad Amin in the fight for the Democratic nod in SD 36. Only Diaz has filed to run as a Republican. SD 36 covers portions of Miami-Dade County. The race for the seat will be open as sitting Sen. Rene Garcia is term-limited.

Jason Brodeur endorses David Smith as HD 28 successor — “I’m proud to endorse David Smith in his campaign to serve the community I’ve been blessed to represent for the past eight years,” Brodeur said in a statement. “David is a natural born leader and a true patriot who I know will be a great Representative for our community.” Smith, a Winter Springs resident, served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed several times overseas, including a combat tour flying helicopters in Iraq. He retired at the rank of Colonel, and now works in Central Florida’s Simulation & Training industry.

Hillsborough school board member to seek HD 62 seat” via Patrick Manteiga of La Gaceta — reports that Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes will seek the House District 62 seat. House Minority Leader Janet Cruz currently holds HD 62, she is vacating the seat to campaign for Dana Young’s Senate District 18. Valdes, a Democrat, told Manteiga that she already received the endorsement of Cruz and Hillsborough Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez, who at one time held the HD 62 seat. Her resignation will not take effect until Nov. 6.

Carlos Guillermo Smith draws challenger in HD 49” via Florida Politics — Ben Griffin, a Republican who works as a learning assistant at Valencia College, opened a campaign account to challenge the freshman lawmaker in the Orange County-based seat … In a news release, Griffin outlined his campaign platform, which includes “limited government, stronger education, and Christian values.” … “Our area needs a strong and steady leader that reflects our values in Tallahassee,” Griffin said. “I strongly believe that government that grows too large becomes a threat to our freedom. I will work diligently to make sure our focus remains on the Constitution and the principles of low taxes and limited regulation that keep our economy strong and growing. It’s also imperative that every Florida student has the opportunity to get the very best education possible.”

Tina Polsky rolls out heavyweight Democratic endorsements — Polsky announced a wave of endorsements from five current and former Democratic elected officials: Minority Leader of the Florida House Kionne McGhee, Palm Beach County Commissioners Mary Lou Berger and Melissa McKinlay, Rep. Matt Willhite, and former Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson. Polsky is seeking to replace retiring Rep. Joe Abruzzo in western Palm Beach County’s House District 81. McGhee said: “I’m excited by the prospect of Tina joining the Democratic Caucus in Tallahassee as we continue our fight to implement an agenda benefiting the people — not the special interests. I look forward to working with her to fight for world-class health care, excellent public schools and universities, and high-paying jobs for all Floridians.” In late February, HD 81 opened after Abruzzo announced he is retiring to spend more time with his young son.

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Lines being drawn in fight to succeed longtime Orange GOP chair” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County GOP chair Lew Oliver is stepping aside after almost 20 years, resulting in what could be a heated fight to succeed him. One possible successor is the party’s vice chair, businessman Chadwick Hardee. Another is county Trump campaign chair Randy Ross, who has already made one unsuccessful bid for chair and has been a vocal critic of Oliver. “I’m not personally mad at him,” Ross said of Oliver. “He did what he thought was best for the party. I just think I’d do a much better job.” Oliver, though, was confident the party would continue in his image. “I don’t make a lot of decisions without some idea of what the consequences will be,” he said. “Frankly, I’d be surprised if [Ross] won. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. … I really do know how to count noses. I do it pretty well.”

Parkland shooting got young voters motivated, official says” via Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post — In the ten weeks after the school massacre in Parkland, nearly 4,000 youth under 21 registered to vote in Palm Beach and Broward Counties. While those numbers aren’t record-breaking, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said the response to the shooting via voter registration was immediate. “I’ve never seen this level of interest before and I have been a public servant for 20 years,” said Bucher.

— STATEWIDE —

FAU/Florida Voices poll: economy, environment, school safety concern Floridians most” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm — Florida voters said they think the biggest issues facing the state this election year are its economic, school safety and environmental policies — in that order. While one in four people said the economy is the most important issue, about 20 percent said it was school safety and about 12 percent said it was the environment. Most respondents — more than two out of three — said Florida is moving in the right direction, while about 37 percent said the state is on the wrong track. Republicans (79 percent) and independent voters were more likely to say the state was on the right track. Most Democrats disagreed, with about 51 percent saying the state was moving in the wrong direction. Voters had mixed opinions on their personal finances: about 40 percent said their finances had stayed the same over the last year; 34 percent said they’ve improved; 26 percent said they’ve worsened.

Scott, Cabinet set tight timetable to fill OFR spot — In a brief conference call Friday, the Governor and Cabinet agreed to accept applications to become the next commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) from today (Monday, June 11) through June 22. Depending on who applies, Scott and Cabinet members will conduct public interviews and select a new commissioner as early as June 27. Patronis — Gov. Scott’s friend and political ally — had recently told outgoing OFR Commissioner Drew Breakspear he “no longer ha(d) confidence” in Breakspear’s ability to lead the office, which acts as the state’s watchdog for the financial industry. Breakspear eventually said he was resigning effective June 30, the last day of the state’s fiscal year, to “ensure a smooth transition.” Beginning in 2015, Breakspear was one of three agency heads in Scott’s crosshairs to replace, including now-former Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty and former Department of Revenue executive director Marshall Stranburg. He quit in December 2015, followed by McCarty in January 2016.

Lucrative Florida prison health care contract under increasing scrutiny” via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post — Deep cuts to drug treatment, mental health and community re-entry programs across Florida are heightening scrutiny of a lucrative, prison health care contract poised to be finalized this month. The $375 million deal now on the table with Centurion of Florida allows it to take an 11.5 percent “administrative fee” that cannot only cover a variety of costs but also be pocketed by the company as profit. Centurion, whose parent company, Centene, is a sizable campaign contributor to Gov. Scott and the Florida Republican Party, began treating the 97,000 inmates in Florida’s prison system two years ago. Centene, also is a major health care provider in the state’s Medicaid managed care program through its subsidiary, Sunshine Health. Centurion and DOC, though, seem happy together. And Florida Corrections Chief Julie Jones fought hard to make sure the company stayed on board. Jones last month ordered $50 million in department cuts and reductions to key community services in a scramble to find cash for the health care contract after state lawmakers lowballed funding for the prison system.

On Friday, Gov. Scott highlighted the importance of hurricane preparedness for Floridians in the Florida Keys as the 2018 Hurricane Season begins.

State faces increased costs for children’s Health insurance program” via Julio Ochoa of WUSF — A federal law providing 10 more years of funding for the national Children’s Health Insurance Program should help Florida continue to reduce its rate of uninsured kids. But the state’s taxpayers will have to pay millions more for the program starting in 2020. The program, known as CHIP, provides health insurance to 345,000 children in Florida. It’s helped the state reduce its uninsured among children to 6.2 percent in 2016, compared to nearly 15 percent in 2009. The Affordable Care Act provided a temporary 23 percent bump in CHIP funding starting in 2016, bringing the federal match for Florida to about 95 percent. But that match will drop to 84 percent in 2020 and return to about 72 percent in 2021. When that happens, the state will have to cover the portion of the match that the federal government is no longer funding. In Florida, it’s estimated to be about $75 million in 2020 and $150 million in the years following.

Regulators to convene on medical marijuana rules” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — State medical marijuana regulators are slated to hold three rule-making hearings Monday in Tallahassee. The Department of Health regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use. The first hearing, at 9 a.m., will cover a proposed rule on the “Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) Supplemental Licensing Fee,” the “annual payment by a registered (provider) to cover the (state’s) costs of administering” the law governing cannabis. The fee has been set at $174,844. The second, at 11 a.m., is on change of ownership applications … and the third, at 1 p.m., is on an MMTC “variance procedure.”

Happening today — The Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use holds hearings on three proposed rules dealing with the medical-marijuana industry, addressing issues such as the transfer of ownership of medical-marijuana treatment centers, 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Department of Health, 4052 Bald Cypress Way, Room 301, Tallahassee.

Drug case overturned because of ‘good Samaritan’ law” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A Jacksonville man’s sentence on drug possession charges was struck down by an appellate court Friday because of the state’s “911 Good Samaritan Act.” A unanimous three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal reversed Thomas John Pope‘s 15-month sentence on possession of heroin and marijuana charges … [Pope had called 911 and saved the life of a woman with whom he was using heroin, records show.] “The only issue on appeal is whether Pope acted in good faith in seeking assistance” under the law, the opinion said, finding that he did and thus should have been immune from prosecution.

Broward school district failing to report many campus crimes to state as required” via Scott Travis, Megan O’Matz and John Maines of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — On paper, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High looked like one of the safest high schools in Florida. The Broward school district reported to the state that no one was bullied or harassed, no one trespassed on campus, no one was violently attacked, no one broke into campus after hours and nothing expensive was stolen during the 2016-17 school year. It wasn’t true. The district reports only a portion of its actual crimes to the state, making it impossible to spot a school’s trouble spots and inform parents about safety … Had school administrators reported every crime that actually happened at Stoneman Douglas, it might have raised an alarm that safety was a concern, said April Schentrup, whose daughter Carmen died in the Feb. 14 massacre at the school. “It might help them to say, ‘I need another [police officer] on campus. Look we have all these incidents,’” said Schentrup, who is principal of Pembroke Pines Elementary.

If only they reported all the on-campus crimes, there may have been more of a warning.

Orlando gun violence rally — Survivors of the Pulse nightclub and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings join representatives of several groups for a rally to protest gun violence, 6 p.m., Orlando City Hall, 400 South Orange Ave., Orlando.

Two years after Pulse: Nightmares, resolve, hope” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — Mass shootings — in which at least four people are killed — have taken the lives of 325 people in those two years. The most notorious of the crimes have unfolded at high schools in Parkland and outside Houston, a church in Texas, a Waffle House in Tennessee and a country music concert in Las Vegas … There was then — and there is still — a spirit of compassion and a call to action, leaders say, even in a time when partisanship, hostility and even hatred can dominate the national dialogue. Today, Orlando has more metal detectors, panic buttons, active-shooter drills, trauma counseling, public memorials and grief-stricken loved ones than it did two years ago. But for some, it also has more compassion and progress and purpose. For the first time, a nonprofit umbrella group — the One Orlando Alliance — has built a coalition among more than 30 Central Florida LGBTQ groups and those that support them. The partners come from health care and counseling fields to civil rights groups to the Orlando Gay Chorus.

High turnover of firm’s counselors at schools: Frail teens left behind” via Sonja Isger of the Palm Beach Post — In several large school districts across the state, including Palm Beach County, turnover is high. Coaches say they aren’t getting paid and are forced to find other work, leaving vulnerable, sometimes sobbing teens with yet another adult who’s gone from their lives. In 2015, Palm Beach County opened the schoolhouse door to the company known as MCUSA and by 2016 inked a deal to put the counselors — people trained in therapy and social work — in 39 middle and seven alternative schools. In February, a dozen counselors in Palm Beach County quit. At least 10 have said they reluctantly stopped coming to work when MCUSA shorted them hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars or failed to pay them at all. Some schools have been through three or four coaches in two years. The district was aware of turnover problems for more than a year, but only in February, after so many counselors quit, did administrators seek answers from MCUSA. The company promised the school district no child would be turned away but told counselors they would be paid only for time spent with “sponsored” children — children with insurance.

Teachers union holds rally — The Florida Education Association, led by President Joanne McCall, host a rally and informational picket to support the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, 4:30 p.m., Plaza de la Constitucion 1 Cathedral St., St. Augustine.

Happening today — The state college system’s Council of Presidents will hold its annual meeting in Hillsborough County, starting 7:30 a.m., Hillsborough Community College, 4001 West Tampa Bay Blvd., Tampa, and at the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza, 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa.

Lottery, agriculture officials cut ties with Charles Goston” via Andrew Caplan of the Gainesville Sun — Two state agencies gave nearly $250,000 of taxpayers’ money in a five-year span to a former Gainesville city commissioner, believing his monthly publication had a statewide reach to universities and thousands of black college-bound students. But that wasn’t the case. Both agencies have now cut ties with Goston and his publication, Black College Monthly. “After learning of the publication’s circulation discrepancy, the Lottery requested certified documentation to show Black College Monthly’s true circulation numbers, which we did not receive,” Florida Lottery spokeswoman Taylor Nash said. In March, The Sun wrote about then-Commissioner Goston’s publication after learning he told the Florida Lottery and state’s agriculture department that he had a statewide circulation beyond 300,000 and that his websites, which hadn’t been significantly updated in years, amassed 30,000 and 70,000 visitors every day. An audit of his website’s traffic, conducted by The Sun, showed that the figures were much lower than Goston had suggested. Goston also cited a lower figure for his newspaper, saying it was about 50,000.

Former Gainesville City Commissioner Charles Goston.

It was once part of the Everglades. Now Miami-Dade wants to use it for a highway” via Jennie Staletovich of the Miami Herald — On the western fringes of Miami-Dade County, street after street of barrel-tiled houses squeezed within shouting distance of one another come to an abrupt stop at a marshy basin that was once part of the Shark River Slough. The slough — the flowing heart of the Everglades’ famed River of Grass — was supposed to be the boundary to what a county plan anointed Miami’s “aggrandizing urban front.” But that front now threatens to march farther into the marsh. Miami-Dade County is pursuing a $650 million plan to extend the Dolphin Expressway, a logjam of a highway counted among the 50 worst in the U.S. The proposed path would pave a 13-mile-long stretch somewhere through the sprawling wetlands, formally known as the Bird Drive Basin. While county transportation planners are still trying to nail down the exact path — County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced that the road had shifted another third of a mile west — the proposal is drawing opposition from both environmental groups and smart growth advocates. Expressway officials said the latest route had not yet been posted on the project website and did not respond to a request for a copy.

North Miami Beach Mayor admitted payments from Trump-tied developers to his wife” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times — North Miami Beach Mayor George Vallejo pleaded guilty in April to a raft of campaign-finance violations, including diverting at least $5,000 in campaign money to shell corporations he and his family used to pay off personal expenses. Vallejo stepped down as mayor and received three months of house arrest plus probation. But in a previously unreported deposition, Vallejo admitted to perhaps an even greater ethical violation: He said in a sworn statement that, for virtually the entirety of his time in office, his wife was quietly employed by the infamous, Trump-tied Dezer family, who are among the city’s most prominent developers. Vallejo told attorneys in an April 5 interview that he and his wife created two shell companies, including one LLC headquartered in Wyoming, to hide the payments from the public. While his wife was taking publicly undisclosed payments from the Dezers, Vallejo voted on issues related to Dezer properties. “I wanted something that not everybody could sit there and look [it] up … and be all up in our business,” Vallejo told investigators probing the Wyoming LLC.

— DOESN’T ADD UP —

In the recent past, small crime and violence numbers reported to the state from the school district overseeing Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School haven’t reflected the actual amount of incidents that have taken place.

A Sun Sentinel investigation found that the Broward County School District “reports only a portion of its actual crimes to the state, making it impossible to spot a school’s trouble spots and inform parents about safety.” The investigation was led by Scott TravisMegan O’Matz and John Maines.

Some of the unreported incidents took place at Stoneman Douglas, the site of the tragic Feb. 14 school shooting. That’s drawn the ire of at least one of the victim’s parents, too.

People brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14. Small crime and violence numbers reported to the state from the school district overseeing the school hasn’t reflected the actual amount of incidents that have taken place. (Photo via Getty Images.)

‘No value’: The data is worthless if it’s wrong. “I don’t think you can fix problems in a school without knowing the real statistics,” Rebecca Dahl, a retired Broward County principal, told the Sentinel. “By not reporting correctly, you can’t go back and say, ‘Gosh, we had this many incidents, this many kids bullied.’ You can’t look at what’s really going on at the school.”

The numbers: The investigation found 10 instances of trespassing, 16 cases of bullying or harassment, six break-ins, and two cases of in-school battery that occurred at Stoneman Douglas and were unreported in the last three years.

Incentives unclear: There’s no direct consequence or reward for reporting skewed numbers, the Sentinel found. Though, it could be caused by a perceived need from administrators to keep kids from being withdrawn or perceived pressure to fudge numbers for job security.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Trump says he’d likely support bill to end federal pot ban” via Ryan Miller of USA Today — … and defer to states’ laws on marijuana legalization — a break from Attorney General Jeff Sessions stance on cannabis enforcement. Trump told reporters he “probably will end up supporting” the bill, which Sens. Cory Gardner and Elizabeth Warren unveiled Thursday … “I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he’s doing,” Trump said. “We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that.” Trump’s backing would signal a turn from his Justice Department’s stance on marijuana legalization. In January, Sessions rescinded an Obama-era memo assuring state-regulated marijuana dealers that federal prosecutors would leave them alone if they followed state regulations intended to keep pot out of the hands of kids and money out of the hands of drug cartels. Trump had indicated on the 2016 campaign trail that he’d support states’ laws on cannabis. In March, Gardner said Trump agreed to respect state-legalized pot, indicating a break from Sessions.

Nelson addresses algae blooms — Nelson and U.S. Rep. Bill Posey host a briefing on harmful algae blooms in Florida, 11 a.m., Capitol Hill Visitors Center, Room 203-02, Washington, D.C.

Amid protests, Gus Bilirakis touts female staff at summit” via Jonathan Capriel of the Tampa Bay Times — Bilirakis’s Women’s Summit was met with protesters who dressed as characters in The Handmaid’s Tale, a best-selling novel about a dystopia that uses women as breeding animals. It’s all politics, said the Palm Harbor Republican, who told reporters he had neither read the book nor seen the popular Hulu series. Bilirakis advertised the summit at East Lake High School as “an opportunity for women to learn about relevant topics that have a direct impact on their lives.” Those topics included gardening, weight loss and “a woman’s guide to financial planning.” Protester Lara Higgins said the themes were belittling to women. “This is a classic situation of a man telling women what topics are important to them,” said Higgins, 52. Bilirakis accused his detractors of taking the event title out of context. “You can only put so much on a flyer,” he said. The topics are no less relevant, he said. “My chief of staff is a woman,” Bilirakis said. “My deputy chief of staff is a woman; our head caseworker is a woman. I respect women tremendously, and they have enhanced my career and I’m a better congressman because of them.”

Women dressed like handmaids protest Gus Bilirakis at his Woman’s Summit. (Image via Bay News 9)

Charlie Crist, Bilirakis team up to fight newspaper tariffs” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Crist and Rep. Kristi Noem, a Republican from South Dakota, have introduced the Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade Act, which has gained bipartisan support, including Bilirakis … “An unnecessary trade war with some of our closest partners is already having real, negative consequences for our economy and the newspaper industry in particular. The Tampa Bay Times recently announced 50 employees would be laid off due to new tariffs — shrinking newsrooms at a time when thoughtful, credible reporting is needed most,” Crist said. The legislation, already introduced in the Senate by Susan Collins and Angus King, both of Maine, would suspend the import taxes on uncoated groundwood paper while the Department of Commerce examines the effects on the printing and publishing industry, according to sponsors.

— BRIDGING THE GAP —

A downturn in newspaper profitability and the need for traditional dailies to direct emphasis on digital products that drive traffic hasn’t been pretty for some outlets attempting to adapt to a new media landscape.

A story published Friday by the Columbia Journalism Review spotlights the Miami Herald, detailing through interviews with former and current employees some of the strife from within.

“The Herald has shed jobs intermittently since 2009, through layoffs and attrition, and one current Herald reporter described a feeling of ‘everlasting angst’ that remains, even a decade later, from the largest cuts in the paper’s history,” writes Rowan Moore Gerety for CJR.

A new report outlines past trouble, strife at the Miami Herald.

Consider the source: Sergio Bustos, a former politics editor at the Herald and now senior editor for POLITICO states, spoke with Moore Gerety, leading him to conclude that “despite their seniority or their perceived indispensability, many staffers at the Herald and similarly strained papers have left of their own accord.” Those reasons being financial worries, frustrations over digital ventures and professional ambition.

Caputo chimes in: Marc Caputo, who spearheaded the POLITICO Florida launch after leaving the Herald, said, “In general, large corporate ownership of newspapers linked to the stock market is worse than ownership by a benevolent billionaire with vision or a properly run nonprofit.”

Digital pressure: The story claims the Herald newsroom writers have “traffic goals,” internally regarded as “click quotas.” As well: a team specifically tailored to rewrite viral stories. But some see it as a necessary evil, one that could prevent cuts and perpetuate the Herald’s coverage.

— MOVEMENTS —

Appointed — Jaymie Carter and Rod Thompson to the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota District Board of Trustees; Anne Patterson and Garry Lubi to the Daytona State College District Board of Trustees; Jill Danigel to Southeast Volusia Hospital District.

Lobbyists should not be needed to get state to pay up” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Floridians who have been harmed by their government should not have to hire a lobbyist to make the state pay up. And they certainly should not have to hire the brother of the speaker of the Florida House to have a better shot at getting lawmakers to allow them to collect the damages they are owed. But that’s the way it works in Tallahassee, where political influence trumps fairness and the talk of real reform is so much hot air. Particularly outrageous is how lobbyists are sometimes hired to defeat claims bill. The AP reported one instance in which an insurer for Volusia County hired a lobbyist to kill a claims bill filed on behalf of a Kansas woman. She is owed nearly $2 million after being injured and disfigured when she was run over by a county-operated truck on Daytona Beach. The answer to this long-running mess is not for the Legislature to refuse to consider any claims bill … The answer is real reform with an objective, clear set of procedures for approving payments to victims who have been injured by the government. If they win damage awards in court, they should not lose in the Legislature because they did not hire the right lobbyist.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Jason Allison, Foley & Lardner: HealthSmart Holdings

Brian Ballard, Ballard Partners: Embassy of the State of Qatar

David BrowningEdgar CastroNelson DiazKevin Cabrera, Southern Strategy Group: Pearl Holding Group (Ocean Harbor)

Makayla Anne Stilianou Buchanan, Wexford Strategies: Consumer Energy Alliance — Florida, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Allyce Heflin, Southern Strategy Group: The College Board

Will McKinley, Erik Kirk, PooleMcKinley: Sandy Hook Promise

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Kologik

— REST IN PEACE —

Jacksonville-based lobbyist Jeff Whitson dies — Longtime lobbyist and campaign consultant Whitson, 59, died Saturday at home in Jacksonville. For the last ten years, he represented TECO/Peoples Gas in Jacksonville and NE Florida. Several decades prior, he worked throughout Florida running legislative and local government campaigns and lobbying in Tallahassee. Jeff was preceded in death by his father, James L Whitson. He is survived by his mother Carolyn Whitson of Grand Island; his loving wife of 29 years, Kathy; son, Jeremiah (JJ) Whitson and wife, HeatherZachary Whitson and wife, Marisa; stepdaughter Ibrey Hudgens and husband, Ryan; daughter, Caroline Marie Whitson-Portlock and husband, Justin; son, Jordan Whitson and six grandchildren. The family will receive friends at a Celebration of Life at the San Jose Country Club, Friday, June 15 at 7529 San Jose Boulevard, Jacksonville, between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. A private service with full military honors will be at the Jacksonville National Cemetery for the family. In lieu of flowers, please support the Northeast Florida Red Cross with a donation at www.redcross.org, 1-800-435-7669 or mail to the American Red Cross at 751 Riverside Avenue, Jacksonville. You may also support The Ohio State University in his memory at giveto.osu.edu/makeagift.

— ALOE —

A Florida city wants more retirees, and is going after them” via Elizabeth Olson of The New York Times — Tallahassee, which is not growing as fast as the rest of the state, is looking to attract new residents, including small-business owners who can generate jobs. A key part of the city’s efforts is expanding its population of retirees, and it has adopted some unusual tactics — including subsidizing a few people to move there. A community project is working to recruit baby boomers who are hitting retirement age and looking to move someplace warmer and more affordable but who may not have thought of Tallahassee as an alternative to destinations like Sarasota, Boca Raton or even Panama City, which is also on the Panhandle. About 191,000 people live in the city, whose downtown has popular pockets of restaurants as well as a large green space, Cascades Park. Like many college towns, Tallahassee draws a variety of speakers — Florida State University had Patti LuPone, the Broadway star, in March — and holds music events that would not always be available in a midsize city.

No early access to Toy Story land for passholders” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — Annual passholders for Walt Disney World won’t get to experience Toy Story Land before its official opening June 30, with reporters and Disney workers set to be the only people to get an early look at the new area in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The lack of passholder exclusive access breaks with what Disney offered last year when opening Pandora: The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom … Disney employees won’t get much time in the new land either, with cast members previews beginning as early as June 14 only for Slinky Dog Dash, the area’s new family coaster. The entire land should be available for additional cast member previews June 22. Members of the press will then get their first look at the finished Toy Story Land June 28, followed by a dedication ceremony June 29, a day before its opened to all Disney park guests. If passholders want to wait out the big crowds and long lines expected following Toy Story Land’s opening, they’ll have to wait until September to get exclusive access.

Passholders will get no special favors (just yet) for the newly opened Toy Story Land.

SeaWorld is finally getting rid of plastic straws and bags” via Paola Perez of Orlando Weekly — Orlando’s SeaWorld, Aquatica and Discovery Cove were listed among the participating parks, as well as Busch Gardens in Tampa. This new policy will apply to all 12 of SeaWorld’s theme parks. “This milestone environmental achievement is a testament to our mission to protect the environment, the ocean and the animals we share our planet with, which are currently threatened by unprecedented amounts of plastic pollution,” said interim chief executive officer for SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. John Riley in a news release The park says it is committed to other environmentally-friendly investments like renewable energy and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

SpaceX plans major expansion at KSC with futuristic launch control center” via James Dean of FLORIDA TODAY — It will be an operational monument to Elon Musk’s vision: a towering SpaceX launch control center, a 133,000-square-foot hangar and a rocket garden rising in the heart of Kennedy Space Center. According to plans detailed in a draft environmental review published recently by KSC, SpaceX will undertake a major expansion of its facilities at the space center sometime in the not-too-distant future. The review says SpaceX is seeking more room and a bigger presence “in its pursuit of a complete local, efficient, and reusable launch vehicle program.” The expansion would enable SpaceX to store and refurbish large numbers of Falcon rocket boosters and nose cones at the operations center down the road from NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building.

Happy birthday to our dear friend, Mike Fasano, as well as Stuart Rogel, former state Rep. Neil Combee and state House candidate Joe Wicker.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.8.18

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

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

Please, Democratic candidates for governor, don’t make us go all “dark” again.

Andrew GillumGwen GrahamChris King and Philip Levine are scheduled to take part in a gubernatorial debate in Pinellas County Saturday.

Don’t make us go dark again, Dems.

The debate will be televised by Spectrum Bay News 9 in the Tampa Bay area and Spectrum News 13 in the Orlando area. That’s at 6:30 p.m. in the Pinellas Park High School auditorium, 6305 118th Ave. North, Largo.

Now, recall that back in April we decided that SUNBURN, the state’s premier AM political newsletter, and our weekend “Takeaways from Tallahassee” newsletter, were “going dark” and not publishing.

That was a message to the four leading Democratic candidates after their last debate. Three of the four admitted they get their morning news first from The New York Times, which I noted was “a newspaper produced roughly 1,000 miles away from the Florida state line.”

And not one said they read SUNBURN, POLITICO Playbook, the Tampa Bay Times — the largest circulation newspaper in the state — or any state-centric news source.

Will the candidates finally cop to have changed their morning reading habits? We’ll see.

That’s one of the Top 5 Things to Look for in Saturday’s debate. Here are the others:

— Will anyone truly shine? April’s showing was, shall we say, lackluster.

— Why isn’t Jeff Greene showing up? He was invited, but “declined.” Has the billionaire candidate decided to forge his own way without resorting to a debate stage?

— Will there be another “Gwen and the men” moment?

— Will anyone, especially Levine, finally know what the state’s actual education budget is, and how education funding works?

Let’s hope the debate preppers have done their job this time.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@EmmanuelMacron: The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be. Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force

—@MarcoRubio: This “deal” with #ZTE may keep them from selling to Iran and North Korea. That’s good. But it will do nothing to keep us safe from corporate & national security espionage. That is dangerous. Now Congress will need to act to keep America safe from #China

—@MattKLewisMarco Rubio is doing something very interesting: Instead of trying to swim upstream & stand athwart the populist zeitgeist, he’s trying to co-opt it — to stress the positive aspects, and drop the pernicious ones.

—@SpeakerRyan: Great news → The House just started debate on the largest rescission package in history. This budget-cutting tool will allow us to cut nearly $15 billion in unused and unnecessary government spending.

—@FrankSharry: This notion that a Republican only bill in the House has anything to do with actually protecting Dreamers that Trump put at risk of deportation is silly. This whole exercise isn’t about protecting Dreamers, it’s about protecting incumbent Republicans.

—@SchmitzMedia: Jeff Greene has declined to participate in this weekend’s Democratic gubernatorial debate, according to @FlaDems release.

@AlanSuskey: [AndrewGillum won’t have to worry about ANY endorsements in a couple of months … maybe some days in court but that’ll be about it

—@Scott_Maxwell: During a @onePULSEorg event last night, Matthew Shepard‘s mother said she used to say she didn’t simply seek “tolerance” … she wanted acceptance. But over the past few years, she has gone back to thinking tolerance might be the best she can ever hope for. Let’s hope not.

—@JulieInJax: Pulse tragedy involved a Muslim shooter, Afghani parents, an ISIL narrative, homophobia, & LGBT victims. Lots of news angles to mine. With Parkland, the #MSD students quickly put the NRA on the defensive, (1 angle: Guns) & [DonaldTrump shifted the discussion to blame the police.

—@CortesBob: Strangest thing I heard today. Protesters in front of my office claiming I have not done anything to help #PuertoRicans here in Florida since #maria. Errrrrm. I’m at lost of words. #confused

— DAYS UNTIL —

Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 1; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 3; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 4; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 6; Father’s Day — 9; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 14; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 20; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 30; MLB All-Star Game — 39; Deadline for filing claim bills — 54; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 54; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 55; Start of the U.S. Open — 80; Primary Election Day — 81; College Football opening weekend — 83; NFL season starts — 91; Future of Florida Forum — 110; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 137; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 138; General Election Day — 151; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 251; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 270.

— TOP STORY —

’You never want to run against a friend’: Patrick Murphy calls off governor’s campaign, endorses Gwen Graham” via David Smiley of the Tampa Bay Times — Murphy, a Jupiter Democrat who lost a 2016 bid to unseat Rubio in the U.S. Senate, had kindled speculation for weeks that he’d mount a late-blooming campaign for governor. He polled, raised millions in commitments and launched a media campaign with former Republican congressman David Jolly based around a call for civility and compromise in America’s increasingly polarized political world. But at a local political event in Pembroke Pines, Murphy said he decided against it. He said he raised enough money to mount a campaign but said “a combination of factors,” including a friendship with Graham born during their time together in Congress, swayed him in the opposite direction. “I did put a lot of thought into it. It was a very difficult decision. One of the toughest things that Gwen and I talked about was that personal relationship. You never want to run against a friend. That stinks,” he said. “I thought maybe bringing a Republican and Democrat together might be a unique way to actually solve problems.”

The better part of valor: Former Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy (right) appeared with, from left, former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, Adele Khoury Graham, and Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham to announce he will not run for governor and is instead endorsing Gwen Graham.

Tweet, tweet:

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Timing of Rick Scott’s latest Puerto Rico announcement raises questions” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida is donating 25 used Dodge Charger police cars to Puerto Rico to help the storm-battered island. That piece of news came from Gov. Scott‘s office about 45 minutes after Scott’s campaign launched a digital ad that claims that he’s “the one public official who’s actually helping” Puerto Rico recover from the effects of Hurricane Maria. The timing of the messaging sure looked curious. Asked about the juxtaposition of the two announcements, Scott spokesman McKinley Lewis said: “This isn’t about politics. This is about helping Puerto Rico during its time of need. The distribution of news releases to the media is done at the sole discretion of the communications office.”

First on #FlaPol — Pro-Rick Scott PAC names Ken Griffin national finance chair — New Republican PAC, which is working to help elect Scott to the U.S. Senate, named Griffin as national finance chair. “Like Gov. Scott, Griffin is a successful business leader and has a deep commitment to economic growth, job creation, and the future of our country. We are grateful for Mr. Griffin’s service, and we look forward to advancing our strategic independent campaign to elect an incredibly successful and accomplished Governor who will bring fresh ideas to Washington D.C.,” said New Republican Executive Director Blaise Hazelwood in a statement. Griffin, a Boca Raton native, currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. He is the CEO and founder of the investment firm Citadel and Citadel Securities, a leading global market maker.

Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin is taking the reins of a pro-Rick Scott Super PAC (Image via Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times).

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will highlight job creation at a grand opening ceremony, 11 a.m., VT MAE, 2701 Langley Ave. in Pensacola. At 4:30 p.m., the governor will hold a news conference to highlight the importance of preparation for the upcoming hurricane season, Key West City Hall, 1300 White St., Key West.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

First on #FlaPol — “Greene pulling votes from Graham in South Florida, pollster says” via Florida Politics — The first poll since Palm Beach billionaire Greene entered the Democratic primary for Governor may indicate trouble for Graham’s chances among South Florida Democrats. The survey, conducted by respected pollster Tom Eldon, polled Broward County and Palm Beach County Democrats and found Greene pulling 6 percent support in his home county, and 3 percent support in Broward. Overall, Miami Beach Mayor Levine leads the two-county poll with 39 percent support, followed by Tallahassee Mayor Gillum at 9, Graham at 8, Winter Park businessman King at 5 and Greene at 4. The remaining third said they were undecided. Based on those numbers, it looks like Greene’s siphoning supporters from Graham, not Levine as some Democratic onlookers primary have theorized. Of course, the landscape could change substantially if Greene were to actually start campaigning — he’s still radio silent one week after filing his paperwork.

Jeff Greene’s campaign (if he actually campaigns) could be a draw on Gwen Graham in south Florida.

Adam Putnam unveils Trumpian public safety agenda focused on sanctuary cities, tougher sentences” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — At a time when some Republicans are leading efforts to scale back harsh sentencing laws, Putnam said the state needs to double down on mandatory minimums and maximum penalties to keep Floridians safe. That idea leads Putnam’s public safety agenda, a six-part proposal that is reminiscent of the tough-on-crime promises that Trump campaigned on as a candidate. On immigration, he vowed to prevent so-called “sanctuary” cities in Florida, to work closely with the federal government to deport undocumented immigrants and to “support President Trump’s effort to secure our borders.” Regarding opioids, another focal point of the current administration, Putnam said he would crack down on those who sell fentanyl, an especially dangerous synthetic opioid. “If we’re going to keep Florida’s crime rate at a 47-year low, then we can’t backtrack,” Putnam said. “What we’re seeing unfortunately on the left is an attempt to roll back many of the very policies that made that 47-year low in the crime rate possible.”

FEA backs Graham’s bid for Governor” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, is backing the gubernatorial campaign of Graham, who is in a crowded primary fight, according to FEA President Joanne McCall. The group is considered one of the last bastions of Democratic support in a GOP-dominated state government, and gives big money to Democratic candidates and committees each election cycle. Graham received overwhelming support from members of the FEA, which requires the approval of two-thirds of its membership for any statewide endorsement. The group has not endorsed any primary candidates in the past few gubernatorial races, but most have not been competitive. “It is kind of unusual,” McCall said when asked about her group endorsing in a primary election. “It has been awhile since we’ve had a contested” governor’s race.

Teachers union backing Sean Shaw for Attorney General” via Florida Politics — The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union, said the Democratic lawmaker had “proven himself a friend of public education” during the two sessions he’s represented his Tampa-based district in the Florida House. Shaw was one of a dozen House Democrats to earn top marks in the FEA’s recent “report cards” measuring legislators’ support for issues affecting public schools. “We look forward to lending our support to an individual who believes in public education and will use the office of attorney general to support strong public schools,” said McCall.

The ouster of a top financial regulator just became a campaign issue in the race for CFO” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times – Democrat Jeremy Ring, who’s challenging incumbent Republican Jimmy Patronis for the cabinet-level position, sent out a release calling for an investigation into the departure of former OFR Commissioner Drew Breakspear. On May 31, Breakspear announced he will resign from OFR at the end of June. Ring said he wanted the investigation because of a news report that showed how Patronis called for the resignation of Breakspear — the official charged with enforcing the rules of Florida’s finance sector — after receiving complaints about Breakspear’s performance from powerful figures in that industry. “The cabinet — and the CFO in particular — have a responsibility to look out for the best interests of all Floridians, not just their rich friends,” Ring said in the release. “Unfortunately, recent reports indicate that CFO Patronis has adjusted to the corrupt business and the pay-to-play atmosphere that Rick Scott has fostered over the last seven years.”

Drew Breakspear is now an issue in the CFO race.

CD 15 primary support puts Democratic groups at odds” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — EMILY’s List, the progressive organization that supports women candidates for office, has recommended Kristen Carlson, Lakeland attorney and 11th-hour entrant into the Democratic primary, for Florida’s 15th Congressional District. The endorsement put two organizations that support Democratic candidates at odds with one another. At least one Democratic candidate, Greg Pilkington of Indian Lake Estates, withdrew from the race saying the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was sending aid to Andrew Learned of Valrico who had already had the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat. The Democratic Party won’t be split whoever wins the primary, Carlson said. “I certainly plan to support Andrew or Ray (Raymond Pena of Osceola County, who has not campaigned very visibly) if either should win,” she said.

Victor Torres endorses David Richardson for CD 27” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Another member of the Florida Legislature is endorsing Democrat David Richardson is his bid for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. State Sen. Torres, who represents Senate District 15, became the latest to support Richardson’s efforts for the Democratic nomination; it brings the total number of state lawmakers backing his congressional campaign to 18. In his announcement of the endorsement, Torres focused working with his colleague to draft universal health care bill. “This year, State Representative David Richardson and I worked on a Medicare-for-All bill for the State of Florida that we believed would change the lives of millions of Floridians,” Torres said.

Rick Tapia enters race to replace Manny Diaz in HD 103” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Cindy Polo no longer has a free path to the general election in House District 103, as Miami-Dade College professor Tapia has filed paperwork to challenge her for the Democratic nomination. The filing was first noted in a report from The News Service of Florida. Tapia has experience in local politics, serving on the Miami-Dade County Planning Advisory Board. He is a graduate of FIU and received a Master of Liberal Arts degree in government at Harvard.

Rick Tapia enters the race to replace Manny Diaz.

Oscar Ganem set for rematch against Richard Stark in HD 104” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Oscar Ganem is ready for round two as he has once again filed to run against incumbent House District 104 Rep. Richard Stark. The pair first faced off in 2016, with Stark easily defeating his Republican opponent 62-38 on Election Day. Ganem, who hails from Southwest Ranches, officially declared his candidacy Wednesday, with hopes this year’s election will be different. It will be a tough slog for Ganem, as Stark has had a fairly easy go in previous elections. Aside from his handy defeat of Ganem in 2016, Stark also won by more than 20 points in 2012. In 2014, the Weston Democrat ran unopposed.

Jerry Demings says polls show he could win in August” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orange County Sheriff Demings said his campaign’s internal polling suggests he could win the Orange County mayor’s office in the August preliminary election, a prospect that would indicate an impressive base in a contest with three major candidates. Demings made the statement as he was preparing to file his notice of resignation from the office of Orange County sheriff, a move he must make to qualify for the Aug. 28 ballot in the mayoral election. His notice indicates he would leave the sheriff’s post Dec. 4, the day the next mayor of Orange County is to be sworn in. That effectively ends his 37-year career in law enforcement whether he wins or loses the mayoral race. That action also formally opens a new election this year to be held for a new sheriff.

Paella-gate: How the tasty dish led to a criminal campaign investigation in Miami.” via David Smiley and Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Over the past three weeks, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office has been sniffing out the story behind thousands of dollars in food and drinks purchased by Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo from a Little Havana restaurant. Carollo paid for the food from an office discretionary-events account and his staff hand-delivered the food last month to senior centers on the eve of a special election … prosecutors want to know if Carollo purchased the food and drinks from Paella y Pa Ti with public money as part of a delectable scheme to covertly cater campaign events for Alex Diaz de la Portilla, a former state senator who was running at the time for county commission. If Carollo did, it would be a violation of state laws that prevent elected officials from using public money to finance political campaigns — and a problem both for the commissioner and the candidate.

Happening this weekend:

— OMNIPRESENT PRESIDENT —

Under Trump’s reign, local and state races across the country have had no choice but to make him a key aspect — either through supporting the commander-in-chief or opposing him — of their campaigns.

Matt Stout for The Boston Globe reported recently that across Massachusetts, “Trump has loomed large across the ballot in Massachusetts this year, permeating the dialogue and campaign messaging in races that are usually dominated by local, not federal, issues.”

In 2018, it’s Donald Trump 24/7. (Image via Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

The same effect is illustrated in Florida as well, it can be seen from Graham’s digital ad bashing Trump to the president’s precocious endorsement of Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

From a Dem: “It’s Trump 24/7, and it’s very hard for the Democrats to get through the wall of noise,” a former chair of the state party told Stout.

Local races: One Democrat challenging a Republican incumbent for a state House seat is tying him to Trump as a tactic. “He is a Trump supporter, and the public knows about it.”

Effective?: One Democratic operative posits, “If I’m running for state rep and I’m using Trump for the sake of Trump, it could have voters scratching their heads.”

— STATEWIDE —

Slain student’s father resigns from school shooting fact-finding panel, launches ‘independent investigation’” via Marc Caputo a POLITICO Florida — Andrew Pollack abruptly resigned from a commission investigating the mass shooting because he said he wanted to spend his time campaigning for local school board candidates while conducting his own examination … Pollack said he still had “full faith” in the investigative panel, which includes two other parents of slain students. “I will be spending my time helping to elect individuals to the Broward County School Board that will ensure that our schools are safe. It is my intention to get individuals elected to our school board that will take preventive measures in keeping our schools safe,” wrote Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack, 18, who was one of 17 people killed Feb. 14 at her school. “I will also be spending my time and resources on an independent investigation that will get to the bottom of who was responsible for the atrocities that occurred in our school on Valentine’s Day 2018, the last Valentine’s Day that I would ever spend with my daughter … It is my intention to make sure that all of the individuals and agencies that are responsible for this massacre be held legally accountable.”

Parkland father, Andrew Pollack.

Parkland wants to replace sheriff’s commander who oversaw school shooting response” via Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald — In a statement, Parkland City Manager Bob Payton said he has asked BSO to replace Capt. Jan Jordan with a commander who holds the rank of major as part of a series of changes to the way Parkland is policed. Jordan was in charge when Nikolas Cruz attacked the school on Feb. 14, killing 17 people in a span of just six minutes. Several of her deputies, most infamously the school resource officer, Scot Peterson, were unable to locate where the shooting was happening … Jordan also faced criticism from special teams of Coral Springs paramedics who were not allowed into the school to treat victims because Cruz was still on the loose, even though they had been trained to operate in active shooter situations. One Coral Springs deputy fire chief said Jordan’s command post was too crowded and chaotic to function effectively. And radio logs show Jordan focusing on ordering her deputies to set up a perimeter rather than enter the school and find Cruz or help victims. But a news release from Parkland mentions none of that.

—“Florida officials told student diversion programs often work” via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press

Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will meet in Broward County to discuss school-resource officers, among other topics, 8 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

Pulse nightclub shooting survivors sue Orlando, its police” via The Associated Press — More than 35 victims have signed on as plaintiffs, accusing the city and its officers violated the Constitutional rights of those who were injured and killed on June 12, 2016, when Omar Mateen opened fire at Pulse. Plaintiffs contend that officers should have more aggressively confronted Mateen to prevent mass casualties. The lawsuit names Orlando Police Department Officer Adam Gruler, who worked an extra-duty shift at the nightclub that evening. The lawsuit says that Gruler “abandoned his post” and, during that time, Mateen walked in, looked around, walked out to retrieve weapons and returned to the club. Gruler fired at Mateen from two spots outside the club after the shooting began. Officials estimated Mateen fired more than 200 rounds in less than five minutes. Gruler was later hailed as a hero. He was honored by the city and invited to Trump’s State of the Union speech. The suit will also list another 30 unnamed officers, some for not capturing the shooter and others for rounding up uninjured survivors and bringing them to Orlando police headquarters for interviews.

Water Resources Analysis Coalition tries to temper algae bloom fears” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Though multiple outlets are reporting blue-green algae sightings this week, the Water Resources Analysis Coalition (WRAC) has a message for the public. It’s not time to panic, just yet. Not all forms of algae are toxic, and it’s not yet clear whether the algae spotted by some is the same type that troubled Floridians during the bloom in 2016. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is taking samples of recent algae sightings to determine whether it is toxic. According to a DEP representative at Thursday’s meetings, no proof of toxic algae has yet been found, but testing is still ongoing.

Supreme Court hears arguments over judge’s Facebook friendship with attorney” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Florida Supreme Court justices on Thursday parsed the question of how being Facebook friends with an attorney involved in a lawsuit differs from actual human interactions between judges and members of the Bar. The justices suggested the wisest course is to steer clear of the social media site — as they do themselves. “It’s fraught with danger,” Justice Barbara Pariente said. “We’re not saying judges shouldn’t be on Facebook,” attorney Maury Udell said. “Just don’t be Facebook friends with lawyers who appear in front of you … It just doesn’t look right.” The Miami attorney represents the Herssein Law Group, which wants to disqualify Circuit Judge from a dispute over attorney fees, on the ground that she was Facebook friends with Israel Reyes, an attorney representing the U.S. Automobile Association, the company on the other side of the case.

Friend request denied: Miami-Dade Judge Beatrice Butchko.

PBA, YMCA leader left previous job for ‘moral’ indiscretions, report says” via Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post — Timothy Leuliette, a trustee at Palm Beach Atlantic University, has taken a leave of absence following a published report that he was forced to leave his previous job for allegedly soliciting prostitutes and downloading pornography on computers belonging to his employer. Leuliette, 68, is also board president for the YMCA of the Palm Beaches. The allegations against Leuliette were revealed by The Detroit News. Records obtained by the newspaper showed that Leuliette received a $16.7 million severance package from Visteon, an automotive electronics supplier based in Michigan, after he was pushed out as the company’s CEO in June 2015. If not for the allegations, Leuliette could have received a $61 million payout. An arbitrator, the report said, found that Leuliette’s firing was justified “based on his downloading pornography on to company computers, posting obscene messages and pictures on social media, storing obscene photographs on company devices, viewing websites concerning prostitution and soliciting prostitutes.”

—D. C. MATTERS —

NBC News/WSJ poll: Economic satisfaction under Trump isn’t helping his party’s 2018 chances” via Mark Murray of NBC News — By a whopping 25-point margin, voters say they’re more likely to back a congressional candidate who promises to serve as a check on Trump … And by a similar margin, they say they’re less likely to vote for someone who has supported the president on most issues. At the same time, six-in-10 are satisfied with the U.S. economy, and a plurality of voters give Trump credit for the economic improvement. Despite that economic optimism, however, the poll shows that Democrats enjoy a 10-point advantage on congressional preference, with 50 percent of registered voters wanting a Democratic-controlled Congress, versus 40 percent who want a GOP-controlled one.

Despite the improved economy, Donald Trump is no help for the GOP. (Image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Trump: DOJ must not let Debbie Wasserman Schultz, aide ‘off the hook’” via Cristiano Lima of POLITICO Florida — Trump urged the Justice Department to not let Rep. Wasserman Schultz and one of her former aides “off the hook,” suggesting the imbroglio over IT staffer Imran Awan allegedly committing fraud on a home-equity loan is “a key to much of the corruption we see today.”… “Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook,” the president tweeted. “The Democrat IT scandal is a key to much of the corruption we see today.” The remarks come amid reports Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, are poised to strike a plea deal over the investigation into their alleged conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Trump has publicly criticized his own Justice Department over the ongoing federal probe into Russian election meddling in 2016 and Russia’s ties to his campaign while questioning why they have not more aggressively pursued alleged crimes by Democrats. “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues,” Trump tweeted of the investigation last week, adding, “Should be looking at Dems corruption instead?”

Trump breaks logjam, nominates Ariana Fajardo Orshan for South Florida prosecutor post” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Trump’s selection of Miami-Dade Judge Orshan — recommended by Rubio and supported by Gov. Scott — looked like a done deal months ago. The White House didn’t explain the delay. She is the first woman to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Behind the scenes, Rubio’s office had to fight off opposition to Fajardo’s nomination from the Department of Justice’s No. 3 lawyer, Jesse Panuccio, who left his post as the head of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity when the Florida Senate appeared ready to scuttle his nomination largely due to questions about his honesty and the agency’s mismanagement of an unemployment contract. Fajardo’s selection was also opposed by attorneys who practice in the federal system and made much of the fact that she had no federal prosecutorial experience. One source familiar with Trump’s initial thinking about the post said he viewed the Southern District of Florida because it encompasses Palm Beach and his Mar-a-Lago resort as well as his resort in Doral in Miami-Dade County, as his second-most important district behind New York’s Southern District. “The Trump Organization is in New York,” the source said. “But Mar-a-Lago’s in the Southern District. And he wants the right person for the job.”

Jeb Bush: ‘I can’t imagine having to attack someone to make yourself look strong’” via Max Greenwood of The Hill — Asked in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” whether he would consider mounting another bid for the White House, Bush said that he isn’t suited to compete in such a divisive political landscape. “I don’t know. I love policy. I love my country,” he said. “But this political environment right now I’m not suited for, to be honest with you. I’m a fish out of water. I can’t imagine having to attack someone to make yourself look strong.” Bush said that he doesn’t blame Trump for creating current political divisions in the U.S. but argued that “he’s a byproduct” of those divisions. “We have to be civil with one another. We have to embody some sort of character, I think, or this all falls apart,” Bush said on CNBC. “Politics is a mirror of our culture, and public leaders have the responsibility to fortify the culture not to make it worse.”

Gay candidate’s ad includes same-sex kiss, aims to ‘piss off’ Trump” via The Associated Press — State Sen. Richard Madaleno aired the ad in the Washington area on the Fox News show “Fox & Friends.” It was also posted on his campaign website. The ad includes the Maryland Democrat talking about how he has stood up to Trump’s agenda by defending Planned Parenthood and supporting an assault weapons ban. Madaleno caps the 30-second ad by asking “And what’s the No. 1 way I piss off Donald Trump and the Republicans?” before kissing his husband, Mark Hodge, on the lips while sitting on their front lawn. He then says: “Take that, Trump!” To view the ad, click the image below:

House OKs reservoir to cut Lake Okeechobee discharges; awaits Senate vote, Trump OK” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — The 2018 Water Resources Development Act the House approved by a 408-2 vote includes a “placeholder” for the reservoir. Once the Army Corps of Engineers signs off on the project, the placeholder will be replaced by language authorizing the reservoir. The Senate is expected to take up its version of the legislation, which also contains a placeholder for the reservoir, this summer. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved the bill in May. The bill also will have to be signed by Trump. A White House statement said the House bill “could be improved,” noting a large backlog of projects that have been authorized but not started or completed. New projects, the statement reads, “should be limited to those most likely to provide high economic or environmental returns to the nation.”

Spotted — U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster thanking Trump in an online opinion piece for Fox News: “In a victory for veterans, President Trump signed a bill into law … I co-sponsored to enable more veterans to get medical care from doctors outside the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system. The VA Mission Act was designed to address problems of long waiting lists that caused unacceptable delays in veterans receiving needed health care directly from the VA.”

Newt Gingrich talks culture wars in Palm Beach speech” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — To hear Gingrich tell it, America has a bright future just on the horizon, full of technological advances we never thought possible … if it wasn’t for those darn leftists. That was the brunt of his message Thursday as the former House Speaker spoke at the Palm Beach Republican Club during a luncheon at The Colony Hotel. “The moment we are in is among the most important in American history.” Gingrich describes the current moment as “a cultural civil war” thanks to the left’s efforts to push values that “are antithetical to a free society.”

— OPINIONS —

Blame for Parkland killings spreads beyond Cruz” via Fred Grimm for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The community is thrashing about for others to blame and institutions to punish for the mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. As if Cruz is too slight, too twisted, too pathetic to bear the full weight of our collective wrath. We need other culprits. Indeed, we’ve learned that both the FBI and the Broward Sheriff’s Office failed to pursue explicit tips that Cruz was intent on becoming a “professional school shooter.” And the school resource officer on duty that afternoon has been labeled a coward for not rushing into the building where Cruz was blasting away with his AR-15. Then there’s the retroactive blame. Back in 2013, Cruz was referred to the Broward School District’s PROMISE program, designed to divert miscreant students into alternative education classes rather than jail. That provoked critics, especially in the right-wing media, who disparaged PROMISE as an Obama-mandated coddling of potential criminals. Except it appears that Cruz never actually enrolled in PROMISE. No matter … The inherent difficulty in persuading the likes of Cruz to submit to therapy is pretty damn convenient for us citizens of Florida, whose elected representatives regard mental health funding as an inessential nuisance. So, if you’re in need of more culprits to blame for the Parkland tragedy, add our own names to the list.

— MOVEMENTS —

Appointed — Robin SchneiderAl Hernandez and Lee Maggard (each reappointed) to the Pasco-Hernando State College District Board of Trustees; Garin Hoover to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees.

Personnel note: Cameron Yarbrough joins Ramba Consulting” via Florida Politics — Yarbrough has joined the Ramba Consulting Group lobbying firm, led by David Ramba, bringing over his book of business formerly at the Gunster lobby shop. “We are excited to have Cameron join our team, blending our existing client base with his and adding his expertise to our firm,” Ramba said. “Cameron’s experience, relationships, and background all meld well with the philosophy of our firm and we look forward to continuing to grow together.” He joins Ramba Consulting as a partner, joining partner Allison Carvajal and associates Evan Power and Thomas Hobbs, rounding out their lobbying team. “I have enjoyed my time at Gunster and appreciate how my time there has led me to this new chapter,” Yarbrough said. “Ramba Consulting is known as a growing and dynamic lobbying shop, representing blue-chip clients and delivering results for their clients. I am proud and excited to join this team.”

J. Cameron Yarbrough.

Personnel note: Jason Rodriguez joins BayCareRodriguez, most recently director of external affairs for Attorney General Pam Bondi, announced on Facebook he had taken a post handling “state government relations for BayCare Health System.” The nonprofit system is headquartered in Clearwater and operates 15 hospitals in the state. Rodriguez also has been Bondi’s political director and was a campaign manager for former state Rep. Rachel Burgin. The Clearwater High School graduate got his undergraduate degree in political science from Florida State University and a law degree from Stetson University, his Facebook page says.

ZooTampa continues makeover, tapping Southern Strategy Group for lobbying assist” via Florida Politics — With rebranding and a host of upgrades, Tampa’s former Lowry Park Zoo is now adding a power player as its voice in Tallahassee. The newly christened ZooTampa at Lowry Park announced it is bringing on governmental relations firm Southern Strategy Group as a strategic partner. SSG has a regional office in Tampa led by managing partner Seth McKeel. “We are thrilled to partner with ZooTampa at Lowry Park, a crown jewel in the City of Tampa. The Zoo is a true leader in species conservation in our state … We look forward to playing a part in ZooTampa’s mission to protect animals both locally and globally.” After an extensive and comprehensive search, ZooTampa — one of 229 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) — chose SSG to spearhead its government affairs efforts. “We are excited to welcome Southern Strategy Group as an integral partner,” said ZooTampa CEO Joe Couceiro, praising SSG for its “deep local roots and a statewide presence.”

— WEEKEND TV —

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

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei host a roundtable with guests Bill Bunting, Pasco County state GOP committeeman; legislative assistant Jason Holloway; Tampa Bay Times Government and Politics Editor Michael Van Sickler and Amy Hollyfield, Tampa Bay Times’ Politics, Metro and Business deputy editor.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion on summer literacy and how to keep kids reading as part of their routine throughout the school break. Joining Walker-Torres are Chancellor of Public Schools Hershel Lyons, Florida Department of Education; Wendy Feikert, Education Consultant from Capstone Publishing; Bethany Stone, youth services manager, Orange County Public Library System; and Glenda Lammers, Neighborhood Services Department, Manatee County Government.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: This week’s show will discuss Decision 2018: Democratic Debate airing on Spectrum Bay News 9; the latest from Tallahassee with Spectrum News Capital Reporter Troy Kinsey; and Attorney General candidate Ryan Torrens joins in studio to discuss his campaign. PolitiFact will rate a claim made against Sen. Bill Nelson.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon speaks pollster Steve Vancore and Miami Herald reporter Mary Ellen Klas.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests: Vice President Mike PenceJamie Shelton of bestbet Jacksonville and JTA CEO Nat Ford.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg hold a roundtable of the week’s latest political issues affecting South Florida.

— ALOE —

Here’s your chance to see drones, submersibles and other unmanned vehicles up close in downtown Tampa” via Margie Manning of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will make a pitch for showcasing Tampa as a city on the cutting edge of technology-based solutions at the kickoff for a local chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. The event, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 8 on the Ulele lawn at 1810 N. Highland Ave., will feature live demonstrations of drones, robots and autonomous cars, said Andy Wilson, president of the local AUVSI chapter and president and CEO of Tampa defense contracting firm Quiet Professionals. AUVSI, a global nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., advises and advocates for the safe and ethical use of unmanned systems, drones, driverless cars and the artificial intelligence that is behind the technology.

Bob Buckhorn celebrates a new Tampa chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

It’s a Bucs life? Tampa Bay football is a Republican stronghold” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — According to a survey distributed by FiveThirtyEight … the fanbase of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reported political affiliations that would give a 9.5 percentage point Republican lean over Democrats — a gap larger than that of any other National Football League team’s fan base favoring Republicans. That said, just six of the 32 teams in the League had fan bases favoring Republicans, and the results of the poll showed the average base for any given team gives Democrats a 6-point lean. There were 105 respondents who answered as Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans. Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars base came in with a 2.4 percent Republican lean and the Miami Dolphins fan base leans 7.7 percent more Democratic. The fan base of the San Francisco 49ers had the highest (22 percent) Democratic lean.

Welcome to the world Cora Wren Price. We’re a little behind on this as the daughter of Tara and Trey Price. Mom and baby are healthy and resting, according to Dad.

Happy birthday to two very intelligent, decent men, Chris Hand and Brad Miller, the executive director of PSTA. Early birthday wishes to two more good guys, Jay Revell (Saturday) and Nick Iarossi (Sunday). Also celebrating Saturday is former state Rep. Erik Fresen.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.7.18

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

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

If there has been any suspicion that guns, student activists, and the National Rifle Association are going to fade into the background come October, this week is shaping up to suggest otherwise.

The NRA isn’t likely to go away. Certainly, Marion Hammer won’t allow that.

Marion Hammer ain’t going anywhere.

The students and others demanding gun law reforms continue driving, and all the Democrats seem eager to keep them in the spotlight.

When the NRA distributed its questionnaire to candidates it came with covert messages from Hammer: We’re still the force we always were, and we’re digging in. That mess the Florida Legislature called the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act,” is really a gun-control bill, and it’s gotta go. It’s also time to get serious about open carry, and allowing guns on campuses and in churches. And if you don’t think so, think again about that oath of office.

Democrats’ responses have been pretty universal, turned into a campaign commercial by Philip Levine Wednesday, essentially: Bring. It. On. Please.

Those NRA report card grades always have been campaign fodder, for or against. This fall, in competitive districts, some are going to wind up looking like Scarlet Letters.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

—@SecPompeo: We’re watching reports that #Iran plans to increase its enrichment capacity. We won’t allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran is aware of our resolve. It’s another example of Iran foolishly squandering its resources. It should surprise no one if protests in Iran continue.

—@IvankaTrump: Today @realDonaldTrump commuted the sentence of Alice Johnson. This Administration believes in second chances for those, like Alice, who have paid their debt to society and we are working w/ Congress on #PrisonReform to benefit millions of America’s most forgotten women and men.

—@Evan_McMullin: Trump’s pardons are not only intended desensitize the electorate to frequent interventions on behalf of his political allies, but also to make a mockery of the federal justice system, to suggest that law enforcement and the courts are incapable and illegitimate to begin with.

—@FLGovScott: My father taught me what service to our country means. The lessons passed on to us from the Greatest Generation is nothing short of remarkable. We will never forget.

—@MaryEllenKlas: Oh so many questions this election year …@FLGovScott says he’s sending 25 used FHP vehicles to Puerto Rico. But his prison system struggles to have working vehicles to transport inmates. It’s received half of what it’s asked for in vehicle replacement.

—@JohnMorganEsq: Gary, here’s my offer to Florida. I would like to debate @FLGovScott on this issue so all of Florida can see his position and see the position of those who need it. If he’ll do this I’ll donate $100,000 to his @ScottforFlorida campaign for US Senate that night on air!

— DAYS UNTIL —

Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 2; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 4; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 5; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 7; Father’s Day — 10; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 15; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 21; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 31; MLB All-Star Game — 40; Deadline for filing claim bills — 55; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 55; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 56; Start of the U.S. Open — 81; Primary Election Day — 82; College Football opening weekend — 84; NFL season starts — 91; Future of Florida Forum — 111; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 138; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 139; General Election Day — 152; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 252; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 271.

— TOP STORY —

Donald Trump seeks to reorganize the federal government” via Helena Bottemiller Evich and Andrew Restuccia of POLITICO Florida — The Trump administration is preparing to release a sweeping plan for reorganizing the federal government that includes a major consolidation of welfare programs — and a renaming of the Health and Human Services Department. The report seeks to move safety-net programs, including food stamps, into HHS … The plan would also propose changing the name of the sprawling department, while separately seeking cuts at USAID and the State Department. The $70 billion food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is run by USDA and makes up the vast majority of the department’s budget. The program helps more than 40 million low-income Americans buy groceries each month. It’s unclear exactly how HHS would be reshuffled, but sources said its new name would emphasize programs that provide assistance to low-income Americans, potentially restoring the term “welfare” to the title of the department. HHS — a sprawling Cabinet-level agency that spends roughly $1 trillion annually — already oversees the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which provides cash assistance to low-income people, as well as Medicaid, the health coverage program for the poor that insures more than 70 million Americans.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Trump tells Rick Scott he’ll do ‘very well’ in Senate race” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Here’s what Trump had to say: “We have a lot of people around and watching. You know, we’re on screens all over the country and I think beyond. But we have Gov. Scott of Florida is there, and he’s watching, and he’s done a fantastic job. He’s now running for the United States Senate. And I won’t get political, but I think you’re going to do very well, OK? That’s not political, is it?”

The price of beer could go up: How Trump’s ‘trade war’ may hurt Scott” via Steve Bousquet and Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Anheuser-Busch has long had a big operation in Jacksonville … Since 1974, the king of beers has produced aluminum beer cans there, cranking out up to 2,500 a minute — a thriving operation that it says is threatened by Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. A year ago, Anheuser-Busch opened a metal container plant that makes aluminum bottles, adding 75 jobs with the help of state incentives from Gov. Scott, who clutched scissors at a ribbon-cutting in May of last year and was on hand for a groundbreaking ceremony in 2015. Then came the tariffs. Trump on June 1 imposed a 25 percent steel tariff and 10 percent aluminum tariff on Mexico and Canada to reshape the North American Free Trade Agreement. Other tariffs were slapped on the European Union and other countries. In the middle of a U.S. Senate race, Scott is suddenly caught between the president he supports and the business community that has backed him for eight years but which staunchly opposes Trump’s trade policy as bad for jobs.

Scott’s new digital ad: ‘Bill Nelson is the federal government’” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Days after Nelson mocked Scott for saying “I don’t know what I would have done differently” than Trump’s oft-criticized federal response, Scott’s 60-second ad accuses Nelson of playing politics over Puerto Rico and of making false attacks. “Rick Scott leads. But Bill Nelson just complains about the federal government,” a female narrator says. “Remember that after a half-century in government, Nelson is the federal government. It’s time for Bill Nelson to go.”

To view the entire ad, click the image below:

Bill Cotterell: John Morgan makes marijuana appeal personal for Scott” via the Tallahassee Democrat — The Orlando attorney does not suffer fools gladly or couch his positions on issues in polite, lawyerly words. He can argue legal motions in the stilted language of the law on paper, then make his point on the courthouse steps in words Trump or Archie Bunker might use. Maybe there ought to be one of those fancy Latin legal dictums for “Oh, be serious.” You don’t need exit polls, just common sense, to know that when deciding how to vote on Amendment 2, no one was thinking about patients rubbing ointments into their skin or munching on cannabis-infused brownies. Morgan was predictably blunt in his public remarks about the case. He took to Twitter to tell Gov. Scott he should “follow the law & the will of 72 percent of the people,” and drop the appeal. “This is just plain old meanness,” Morgan said. “Will meanness and politics trump people and compassion and kindness?”

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Two Democratic gubernatorial debates coming; will Jeff Greene participate?” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — “We wish we knew” whether Greene is participating, said Vickie Dunn, whose Indivisible FL 13 group is organizing Saturday’s forum along with Women’s March Florida and Fired Up Pinellas. “We’ve made all kinds of efforts to contact him. We’ve set up our logistics, so we can accommodate and we’re getting nothing back.” Saturday’s debate runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and can be viewed at baynews9.com or mynews13.com. The Service Employees International Union and other groups are organizing Monday’s debate. The SEIU’s Eunic Ortiz said organizers had not heard from Greene.

Ron DeSantis’ May report included more than $1M in old money” via Florida Politics — DeSantis said his campaign and affiliated political committee “took in more than $3 million” last month, but that may have been a little misleading. When he made the announcement, partial month records for his committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, showed it had brought in about $1.27 million as of May 31, however those records have since been updated to include another $1.43 million worth of transactions on the last day of the month for a total “haul” of $2.7 million in May. The source of $1.1 million of that cash was a transfer from Ron DeSantis for Florida, the principal campaign committee for his now-defunct re-election bid for Florida’s 6th Congressional District. Lots of candidates twist words when it comes to fundraising, most often by finding euphemistic ways to spin self-funding. This is different. This money wasn’t raised in May. Most of it wasn’t even raised in 2018.

Spotted — DeSantis on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” talking to host Laura Ingraham about allegations of a “counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.” DeSantis said the FBI official timeline for the investigation is “clearly … not true.”

Andrew Gillum releases new video, highlights ‘Medicare for all’ — The Gillum for Governor Campaign released “One Percent,” a new 30-second campaign video, part of the six-figure digital ad buy. Gillum Communications Director Geoff Burgan said in a statement: “Mayor Gillum’s led the Democratic field on progressive issues, from being the only Democrat to back ‘Medicare for All,’ proposing a constitutional amendment to guarantee health care to all Floridians and being the first to call for legalization and taxation of marijuana to pay for teacher pay raises. ‘One Percent’ highlights the need for Democrats to run and win on a bold, progressive message — not Republican Lite.”

To view the video, click on the image below:

Gillum failed to disclose more than $400K in mortgage debts” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Gillum failed to disclose two mortgages on legally required financial disclosure forms going back to 2014, publicly available records show. Gillum said he would file amended financial disclosure reports after he was asked about the issue by POLITICO. “Like the vast majority of people, Mayor Gillum owes a mortgage on his home, and we’re going to file the updated forms shortly,” said Burgan … the mortgages were not disclosed because of an “accidental mistake.” Overall, Gillum failed to disclose two mortgages totaling $423,665, including one for his family’s home in Tallahassee. State ethics laws require state officials to report any debts worth more than $10,000. A complaint would have to be filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics for any formal penalties to be considered, said Kerrie Stillman, a commission spokeswoman. “There is nothing automatic” regarding candidate disclosure forms, she said.

Chris King invests another $400K in gubernatorial bid after raising $78K in May” via Florida Politics — Nearly $410,000 of the May money went to his official campaign account, while his committee, Rise and Lead Florida, took in the balance. All told, King has now brought in nearly $5.1 million since entering the race for Governor in March 2017. Including his $400,000 infusion last month, King has put more than $2.7 million of his own money on the line. The Winter Park businessman didn’t specify whether his May investment was marked down as a loan or a contribution, though he’s marked them down as loans for the past two months.

Philip Levine bashes federal school safety commission for ducking review of guns” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Following February’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people, Trump set up the Federal Commission on School Safety. The commission, chaired by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, was tasked with reviewing ways to keep students safe in light of recent acts of gun violence. One issue the commission apparently won’t examine? Guns. DeVos was asked yesterday by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy if the group would review “the role of firearms as is relates to gun violence in our schools.” She replied: “That is not part of the commission’s charge, per se.” “So we’ll look at gun violence in schools, but not look at guns? It’s an interesting concept,” concluded Leahy. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Levine pounced on the secretary’s remarks in a statement. “Betsy DeVos’ decision to not investigate the role of guns in school safety reflects the Trump administration’s continued disregard for our children’s safety. This year, more children are dying in our schools than servicemen and women on the battlefield.”

Assignment editors — Levine will host a Central Florida roundtable with Caribbean-American community leaders, speaking about issues in the 2018 election season, 9:30 a.m., Orlando Fashion Square, 3201 E. Colonial Dr., Orlando.

Put some Putnam on your pancakes: GOP candidate Adam Putnam “shared his vision for Florida’s future” at an Up & Adam breakfast at Three60 Market in Naples.

Assignment editors — Putnam says he will make a “major announcement regarding security and safety issues facing Florida.” He will be joined by Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells, Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight and Tampa Police Benevolent Association members. That’s at 2:30 p.m., Tampa PBA headquarters, 1302 W Busch Blvd., Tampa.

Baxter Troutman releases second statewide ad” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — The ad for the Winter Haven businessman and grower is part of a $1.6 million television and digital ad package in his campaign for Agriculture Commissioner. The 30-second ad features the candidate himself discussing the issues facing agriculture and its importance to the state and nation. The ad has been pared down to 15 seconds to run on Facebook and Twitter.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Happening today — The Flagler County Young Republicans host a debate for GOP candidates in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, including Fred CostelloMichael Waltz and John Ward, 5 p.m., Pine Lakes Golf Club, 400 Pine Lakes Parkway North, Palm Coast.

New ad pumps up Carlos Curbelo’s efforts on climate change” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new ad is supporting Congressman Carlos Curbelo‘s work to address the effects of climate change. The 30-second spot, released by The Alliance for Climate Solutions, replays pieces of a speech the South Florida Republican gave on the House floor regarding the conversation around climate change. “Enough of the demagoguery. Enough of the fact-less conversation. Let’s focus on what’s happening in the world. And let’s try to make this situation better.” Curbelo added: “Neither the deniers or the alarmists have much to offer. It’s the men and women who are willing to sit at the table and have a sober conversation that can really help solve this problem.”

David Richardson adds Victor Torres endorsement in CD 27 bid — Democratic state Sen. Torres, who represents Orange and Osceola counties in SD 15, is the latest state lawmaker to endorse Richardson for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Richardson served with him for four years in the Florida House before Torres’ election to the Senate in 2016. Torres said: “This year, State Representative David Richardson and I worked on a Medicare-for-All bill for the State of Florida that we believed would change the lives of millions of Floridians. Although the GOP refused to bring the bill to a vote, David has continued his fight by campaigning on Medicare-for-All nationwide. That type of progressive spirit and his history as an effective legislator demonstrate that he will be an effective congressman for FL-27. As such, I’m proud to endorse his campaign for Congress.” Torres joins 17 other state lawmakers backing Richardson for Congress.

Florida retailers back Dennis Baxley re-election — The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) PAC is endorsing Republican incumbent Baxley for Senate District 12 which includes portions of Lake County and a significant part of north-central Florida. “Senator Baxley has made tremendous strides in helping to protect retailers by supporting legislation on limiting organized retail crime and by not increasing the felony threshold limit,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley in a statement. “We’re eager to see the continued progress Senator Baxley makes in his return to the Florida Senate.” Baxley is a funeral director/consultant who served as principal owner and vice president of Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services.

Belinda Keiser campaign plays fast and loose with facts” via Florida Politics — From the outside, it looks like there’s a tough Republican primary brewing in the special election to replace Senate President Joe Negron in SD 15, but a closer look at Keiser’s campaign messaging raises a lot of questions. Cast aside the fact that she lives 80 miles south of the Martin- and St. Lucie-based district and her past financial support of Democratic Party politicians, and even still Keiser looks as if she’s undergoing a desperate and rapid shift to make herself palatable to Republican voters on the Treasure Coast. according to Keiser, she’s always been a conservative even though she hasn’t always been a Republican. After going through the spin cycle of her campaign she’s decided that she joined the GOP in 2001, though according to that timeline the flip would have come just months after she mounted a failed Democratic primary campaign for a state House seat. Talk about a sore loser. That explanation euphemistically sidesteps saying she “joined the Republican Party,” and is oddly contradicted by appearing under a title line that reads “Coming soon …”

Spotted — State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith at BellaBrava on Beach Drive at the St. Petersburg waterfront. The Orlando Democrat was fundraising for his House District 49 re-election bid.

Happening today — Democrat Tony Mowry holds a campaign kickoff event in Sarasota County’s House District 74, which opened when Rep. Julio Gonzalez decided to run for Congress, 5 p.m., Off the Wagon Brewery, 2107 South Tamiami Trail, Venice.

— STATEWIDE —

General revenue to be updated in August” via the News Service of Florida — Florida budget watchers should plug Aug. 16 into their calendars. A panel of state analysts has scheduled a meeting for that day to update general-revenue tax estimates. The meeting by the panel known as the Revenue Estimating Conference will be an initial step as lawmakers begin working on a budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Health plan to challenge Medicaid contracts” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Attorneys for Molina Healthcare filed a notice with the state announcing the HMO’s intention to challenge the agency’s decision to award contracts to Miami Children’s Health Plan and Lighthouse Health Plan. The HMO has 10 days to file a legal petition with the state. The Agency for Health Care Administration has gone through a lengthy process to award new contracts in the Medicaid system, which requires most beneficiaries to enroll in managed-care plans. In April, the agency announced a decision to award five-year Medicaid contracts, which one official has estimated to be worth upward of $90 billion in all, with nine HMOs. That decision drew challenges from a dozen health plans that were not chosen for contracts, including Molina Healthcare. Under a 2011 law that called for the statewide use of Medicaid managed care, AHCA is awarding contracts in 11 different regions. The number of contracts varies by region.

’All the signs were there.’ On video, guard says school knew Parkland shooter posed threat” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — “Nikolas Cruz. I knew the kid,” security guard Andrew Medina told Broward detectives in a sworn video-recorded statement released by prosecutors … As soon as Cruz began walking “like on a mission” toward the building, Medina followed and began frantically texting fellow security guards. “We had a meeting about him last year and we said if there’s gonna be anybody who’s gonna come to this school and shoot this school up, it’s going to be that kid,” Medina told detectives on the day of the Feb. 14 shooting. “He was rebellious, you know … he had 666 on his book bag. He had the [anti-] Jewish swastika. He had all that crazy stuff. … All the signs were there, so they, they got rid of him,” Medina said. Medina’s testimony to detectives details what became alarmingly clear after the shooting: School officials long knew about Cruz’s bouts of rage, obsession with weapons and Nazi imagery and violent outbursts against fellow students.

–“’Swatting’ David Hogg wasn’t a ‘prank,’ it was attempted murder” via Matthew Fleischer of the Los Angeles Times

Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, established as part of a new state school-safety law, will meet in Broward County to discuss school discipline and diversion, 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

Deputies seize Broward bailiff’s 67 guns under new Florida law” via Linda Trischitta of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Broward Sheriff’s bailiff accused of threatening behavior toward courthouse colleagues was temporarily relieved of duty and his 67 firearms were taken by law enforcement … In court documents, Franklin Joseph Pinter was described as making threats toward other bailiffs. In May, one bailiff alleged that while delivering documents to Pinter’s courtroom, Pinter told him the defendants weren’t there and that he should “get the f— out of here” and “All you rats should be exterminated.” Six months ago, Pinter, 60, of Hollywood, was allegedly seen on the fifth floor of the courthouse, leaning over the atrium and pretending to hold a long gun and shoot at people, an affidavit said. Another bailiff alleged that Pinter told him he wanted to burn two other bailiffs with a blow torch.

Frank Pinter, right, pictured in 2009, discusses purchasing bang sticks during a gator hunting class at the IGFSA Fishing Hall of Fame. (Image via Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Florida school officials seek clarity on rules for private-school scholarships to bullied students” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — “The way the statute reads, we would have to make the scholarship [notification] available even if the allegations were not merited,” Santa Rosa County assistant superintendent Bill Emerson said during an hourlong rule-making conference call. “What we’re asking is if we’ve interpreted that correctly.” State Department of Education officials couldn’t disagree. Adam Miller, executive director of the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice, responded to Emerson by reading from the law, which was included in HB 7055 passed in the spring. It reads, in relevant part, “a student enrolled in a Florida public school in kindergarten through grade 12 is eligible for a scholarship under this program if the student reported an incident” listed in the law. Those include bullying, fighting, sexual harassment and several other offenses.

MedMen paying $53M to enter Florida medical marijuana market” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The country’s biggest medical marijuana provider on Wednesday announced it was buying its way into the Florida market. In a news release, MedMen Enterprises Inc. of Los Angeles said it had agreed to pay $53 million for what’s known in Florida as a “medical marijuana treatment center” license from Central Florida’s Treadwell Nursery. MedMen management says they will host a conference call about the deal, to be live streamed on their website, at 9 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday. State records show Treadwell, which has one of 13 active licenses in the state, has “cultivation authorization only.” Florida has a vertically-integrated market, meaning the same provider grows, processes and sells its own marijuana. A Treadwell representative reached Wednesday declined to comment. “As part of the transaction, MedMen will acquire Treadwell Nursery’s cultivation facility on 5 acres in Eustis, and the right to open 25 medical marijuana dispensaries,” the release said.

Horse interests end legal battle over money — Almost a year after a unanimous appeals-court panel said horse breeders could “challenge the annual plan for distribution of owners’ and breeders’ awards,” the parties have withdrawn their case in administrative-law court. A final order of dismissal was signed Tuesday by Administrative Law Judge G.W. Chisenhall, records show. Southern Cross Farm (SCF), an Ocala horse breeder; the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ And Owners’ Association (FTBOA); and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), which regulates gambling, all agreed to dismiss the case. The resolution of the case was confidential. In a case about who controls the money and how much goes back to horsemen and breeders, SCF won a reversal of a ruling from state gambling regulators. DBPR had said SCF couldn’t challenge the doling out of dollars from a pool managed by the FTBOA, in part because the farm had let its membership in the association lapse. The association manages a pool created by lawmakers in 1977 to collect and distribute wagering-prize monies as awards.

Sources: Ethics Commission prosecutor recommends charges against Rick Fernandez” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — A prosecutor for the Florida Commission on Ethics is recommending that former Tallahassee City Manager Fernandez is charged with violating state ethics laws, according to sources close to the matter. The prosecutor, an assistant attorney general, recommended the commission find probable cause for some of the allegations and no probable cause for others. A probable cause hearing is set for Friday before the Ethics Commission to determine whether Fernandez will be charged in connection with a complaint filed last year by local businessman Erwin Jackson. A majority of the commission’s nine members must vote to find probable cause for Fernandez to be charged. The complaint alleged Fernandez accepted a nearly $5,000 catering discount from the city-backed Edison restaurant and solicited and accepted Florida State football tickets from the firm of lobbyist Adam Corey, a central figure in the FBI’s long-running investigation into local public corruption.

— BENACQUISTO TALKS #METOO, SUCCESSES —

State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, of Fort Myers, had a big role in her chamber during the 2018 Legislative Session.

In a Q&A published in Gulfshore Life Magazine, she sheds light her efforts, which came as she’s transitioned from relative political obscurity more than a decade ago to perhaps the “most powerful politician in Southwest Florida’s most populous county,” writes Jonathan Foerster.

“Now one of Senate President Joe Negron’s most trusted allies, Benacquisto has been at the heart of several key battles in Tallahassee and become one of the most compelling figures in efforts to rid the state capital of sexual harassment.”

Lizbeth Benacquisto adds her story to the #MeToo movement.

#MeToo: Benacquisto came forward with stories of harassment from Ritch Workman, the now-resigned Public Service Commission nominee. “As soon as I brought the matter to light, (Workman) immediately resigned. So I think it was a good outcome, a good result,” she told Foerster.

Opioids: Benacquisto championed record legislation addressing the opioid crisis, which placed restrictions on prescriptions and focused on treating addicted Floridians. “Everybody has someone in their lives who is likely affected by this in some way,” she said.

Child marriage: The Senator also tackled the high-profile issue of child marriage, and succeeded to a notable extent. She labeled the victory a bipartisan one. “We are all on the same page. This is child abuse,” she said.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Trump considering inviting Kim Jong Un to Mar-a-Lago” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — If things go well in Singapore next week, Trump may invite the North Korean dictator to Mar-a-Lago … “The president is determined to walk out of the meeting if it doesn’t go well, two officials said. Alternatively, Trump is toying with the idea of offering Kim a follow-up summit at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida — perhaps in the fall — if the two men hit it off,” says Bloomberg News. “There could be more than one meeting, more than one conversation” between Trump and Kim, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters, adding a nuclear deal may take “2, 3, 4, 5” meetings.

Donald Trump could invite Kim Jong Un to Mar-a-Lago.

Trump praises hurricane response amid demands for Maria death toll investigation” via Lorraine Woellert and Colin Wilhelm of POLITICO Florida — Meeting with his cabinet and disaster agency officials for a briefing on hurricane season, Trump said his administration “leapt into action to coordinate the response” to last year’s storms. “We’ve had three devastating major hurricanes,” Trump said. “America has never experienced so many large-scale disasters in such a short period of time.” As he spoke, Puerto Ricans displaced by Maria marched on Capitol Hill demanding housing aid and Democratic lawmakers, led by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, called for an investigation of the response and the death toll from Maria. “Will Congress yet again do nothing? Will President Trump yet again do nothing?” Rep. Darren Soto said at a news conference. “If, God forbid, another hurricane hits that island they will have blood on their hands.” Trump gave himself a perfect score last fall for his administration’s response to last year’s storms. But as 2018 hurricane gets underway, Puerto Rico’s readiness and the government’s accounting for last year’s storm remain open questions.

Democrats want a 9/11-type commission to probe Puerto Rico hurricane controversy” via Christine Condon of the Miami Herald — But it’s unlikely Republicans, who control Congress and the White House, will sanction a special commission on Puerto Rico before the 2018 elections. Florida-based pollster Brad Coker said the caucus’ move, which it proposed at a Capitol Hill news conference, could be part of a larger effort among Florida Democrats to win more of the Puerto Rican vote in the hotly contested U.S. Senate and governor’s races this fall. About half those fleeing Puerto Rico in the hurricane’s wake landed in Florida. But Darrell West, director of governance studies at The Brookings Institution, a Washington-based research group, said while it’s unlikely the commission idea would go far in Congress before the 2018 elections, the push for it could prove influential in areas with large numbers of Puerto Rican migrants.

Sunshine Summit to offer insight into Puerto Rico’s challenges” via the Sunshine State News — The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) announced a “Puerto Rico Rising” panel on Friday as part of its 2018 Sunshine Summit in Orlando. On Friday, June 29, the four-person panel — Jose Carrión, chairman of the Puerto Rico Financial Oversight Board; Jose Fuentes, former attorney general of Puerto Rico; Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón; and Florida state Rep. Bob Cortes of Altamonte Springs — will discuss the island’s recovery progress and its plans for fiscal responsibility and integrity. “A little over six months ago, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico. We saw this nation come together for the Puerto Rican community, and although many are still struggling to rebuild their lives, progress has been made,” RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said in a statement. “The Puerto Rican community has proved its resilience and together the people will continue rising. We look forward to an engaging discussion with these incredible Puerto Rican champions, and solidifying our commitment to aiding our fellow citizens on and off the island.” Cortes said he believes the Florida event is important for Puerto Ricans.

Tom Rooney blasts Trump over spy claim” via Kyle Cheney and Rachael Bade of POLITICO — Rooney, a top Republican lawmaker on the House Intelligence Committee, is ripping Trump‘s unsupported claim that the FBI inserted a spy inside his campaign. “What is the point of saying that there was a spy in the campaign when there was none?” Rooney said in an interview. “You know what I’m saying? It’s like, ‘Let’s create this thing to tweet about knowing that it’s not true.’ … Maybe it’s just to create more chaos but it doesn’t really help the case.” Though Rooney isn’t the first GOP lawmaker to question Trump’s assertion, his comments were the most forceful repudiation to date from a Republican lawmaker. Rooney, a three-term Florida Republican who is retiring at the end of the year, was one of three GOP House members to lead the Intelligence Committee’s yearlong Russia probe after Chairman Devin Nunes stepped aside.

Tom Rooney blasts Donald Trump on “Spygate’ claims.

Mario Diaz-Balart votes against amendment barring offshore drilling” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Diaz-Balart may have just helped open the door to more offshore drilling in parts of the U.S. But Florida appears to be in the clear for now. Members of the House Appropriations Committee voted on an amendment to prevent the expansion of offshore drilling into new areas, including the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and Alaskan waters. The amendment was to be attached to an appropriations bill for Trump’s planned expansion of offshore drilling. The text of the amendment, proposed by Congressman Chellie Pingree of Maine, read, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to prepare a five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program that would schedule any Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas lease sale before 2022.” It would have been a temporary delay, but a delay nonetheless. Of the four representatives from Florida that serve on the Appropriations Committee, only Diaz-Balart voted against the amendment. John Rutherford and Debbie Wasserman Schultz voted in favor, while Thomas Rooney was not present.

Assignment editors — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio speaks at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference, approximately 12:30 p.m. Eastern, Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert St. NW., Washington D.C. Rubio’s remarks will be live-streamed here.

— OPINIONS —

Jeb Bush: Delaying immigration reform is a missed opportunity for Republicans” via Time magazine — There has been a wealth of news stories this month detailing concerns by various Republican leaders that a vote on DACA could cost the Republican Party our control of the House in the midterms. Fortunately, the data doesn’t bear that result out. In fact, a recent poll shows that nearly 70 percent of Republicans support a legal residency for children brought illegally to the United States through no fault of their own. The percentage of support in swing districts that will determine the next Congress’ majority is even higher. Despite the urgency of our nation’s immigration crisis, politicians on both sides of the aisle cynically employ immigration as a wedge issue, election after election, for their own benefit. Meanwhile, our inability to fix a broken system has tremendous real-world costs, both human and economic. As opposed to caucus infighting over a vote on the fate of DREAMers — just one of many issues that must be addressed — why not embrace conservative, comprehensive immigration reform now?

— PAY-FOR-PLAYOCRAT —

Shot — “Andrew Gillum and Tallahassee Democrat: ‘pay for play’ or good business?” via Florida Politics — Tallahassee Reports (TR) is best thought of as a conservative counterpoint to the Tallahassee Democrat’s coverage, particularly of City Hall. It’s no secret that its editor, Steve Stewart, has run and lost more than once for local office in the deep blue capital city.

— TR’s latest watchdogging of the city’s Gannett-owned paper of record says that “just one month after he announced he would run for Governor … Gillum’s office negotiated with the Democrat to publish 10 stories favorable to a Gillum initiative.”

— Those stories, penned by staff writer TaMaryn Waters, “highlighted Gillum’s Family Friendly Workplace initiative” begun in 2015, the paper reported. They appeared in the Democrat during the first two weeks of April 2017.

— Most saliently, TR says the paper billed the Mayor’s Office $10,000 for those stories last May — which, by the way, it didn’t pay. “Ultimately, (the paper) issued a $2,500 discount and Gillum’s office paid half of the discounted amount Jan. 8, 2018,” TR’s report says.

— Both Democrat editor William Hatfield and publisher Skip Foster declined to comment.

Chaser — “Note from the editor: Family Friendly-gate? Not so much. Here’s what really happened.” via William Hatfield of the Tallahassee Democrat — The newsroom drew up a plan to spotlight businesses that had taken part in a survey and were on track to receive “Family Friendly” certification.

— The advertising side of the house, meanwhile, drew up an outline with the city of Tallahassee … that laid out how we would spotlight the issue and how advertising would use its top-notch, multi-platform channels to promote the effort in print and online.

— There was no negotiation to publish 10 stories. And certainly, the gubernatorial campaign had no bearing on the project, which took shape months before he would announce.

— The stories weren’t sponsored content.

— Stewart himself points out that each story accurately included the following line: “The series is a partnership between the City of Tallahassee and the Tallahassee Democrat that stems from the Family First Initiative launched in 2015 by Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.”

— Jamie Van Pelt, the mayor’s chief of staff, says that was a misstatement and an “oversimplification” of an admittedly complex partnership.

— TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING —

The rapid pace of the news cycle is having a fatiguing effect on Americans, new research shows.

The Pew Research Center recently released results of a study showing that almost seven out of 10 Americans are feeling worn out by the amount of news, and just three in 10 are content with the amount of news they get.

The results are in line with a similar study conducted during the 2016 presidential election, Pew writers Jeffrey Gottfried and Michael Barthel note. Only then, a majority actually expressed exhaustion.

Many Americans suffer ‘news fatigue’ in the age of Donald Trump.

You might be an outlier: You’re reading Sunburn, so this research might not apply to you. “Feeling overwhelmed by the news is more common among those who follow the news less closely than among those who are avid consumers.”

But: There’s a partisan divide in the results. “Roughly three-quarters … of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents feel worn out … compared with about six-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.”

Demographics: White Americans are more likely than others to feel news exhaustion, ahead of both Hispanic and black Americans. Women were more likely by a slight percentage to feel worn out than men were, and older people were slightly less likely to indicate exhaustion than younger folks.

— MOVEMENTS —

Appointed — Steve Cona (reappointed) to Hillsborough Community College District Board of Trustees.

Michelle Suskauer to become the Florida Bar’s 70th president” via Florida Trend — West Palm Beach attorney Suskauer will be sworn in when the Bar holds its Annual Convention from June 13-16 in Orlando. She takes the oath Friday, June 15, at the General Assembly. Vero Beach attorney John Stewart will be sworn in as president-elect. Suskauer is the sixth woman to serve as Bar president and is the first former public defender to hold the office. Suskauer is a criminal defense attorney with Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein, P.A., practicing in state and federal courts. Suskauer has been a member of The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors since 2010 and has chaired the Board Disciplinary Review Committee, the Board Communications Committee and the Annual Convention Committee.

West Palm Beach attorney Michelle Suskauer.

 

Personnel note: Step Up for Students hires two new VPs — Anne Francis and Jillian Metz are now the organization’s vice presidents of development. Step Up For Students is a state-approved nonprofit scholarship funding organization that helps administer two scholarships for Florida schoolchildren: the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program for low-income families and the Gardiner Scholarship for children with certain special needs. “Francis and Metz lead a highly skilled team in both tax-credit and charitable fundraising initiatives that support scholarships for underprivileged students in Florida,” a release said. Last year, the group used $600 million in tax-credit contributions from corporations to give more than 105,000 scholarships.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Kaitlyn Bailey, RSA Consulting Group: US eDirect

Christopher DudleyAllyce Heflin, Southern Strategy Group: Apple, Bradford County School District, Sogeti USA, Study Edge, University of Central Florida Foundation

Michael Corcoran, Corcoran & Johnston: Wreckers Cay Apartments at Stock Island

Mark Delegal, Holland & Knight: Florida Brewers Guild

Danny JordanSamuel Verghese, One Eighty Consulting: Pondera Solutions

Brandon Tyler Peck, Flywheel Government Solutions: U.S. Green Building Council

William Stander, Whisper: Florida Life Care Residents Association

— ALOE —

Instagram could soon allow users to post long-form video” via Benjamin Mullen of The Wall Street Journal — The Facebook Inc.-owned photo and video sharing app is preparing to launch a new feature that will include long-form video, according to people familiar with the matter. The feature, which could allow videos of up to an hour in length, will focus on vertical video, or video that is taller than it is wide, one of the people said. Until now, Instagram hasn’t allowed users to post any videos longer than one minute. The people said the plans are tentative and subject to change. The decision to launch long-form video comes about two years after the launch of Instagram Stories, a feature that allows users to share photos and multiple short videos of up to 15 seconds uploaded within a 24-hour time-span. Instagram Stories is now one of the app’s most popular and fastest-growing features, according to the company, with about 300 million daily users.

Long-form videos could soon hit Instagram feeds.

What Marc Caputo is reading (not really, but he should) — “Sharp drop expected for Florida avocado volumes” via FreshFruitPortal.com — Florida is feeling the effects of Hurricane Irma on this year’s avocado season, with expectations that the early crop could be at just a third of the normal level. Brooks Tropicals marketing director Mary Ostlund told Fresh Fruit Portal the storm … “did a number” on south Florida groves, stressing the trees. “Although the physical damage wasn’t major, we are seeing the impact in flowering and that impacts harvesting volumes,” she said. “The early crop is affected the most, with various grove estimates throughout the industry as low as 30 percent. Later season varieties — which have had more time to recover — appear to be as good as 60 percent.” She explained that the season, which typically kicks off around May, has had a slow start this year, but she expects it to run through this year and early into next year. Florida’s avocado volumes are expected to return to normal next year, she added.

Why are so many Florida honeybees dying?” via Laura Reiley of the Tampa Bay Times — According to the Florida Department of Agriculture’s chief apiary inspector David Westervelt, Hurricane Irma drastically compounded the state’s ongoing problem of honeybee colony loss. He says at least 75,000 of Florida’s 600,000 honeybee colonies were affected by the storm: Bees drowned, were blown off course, or died of starvation due to the destruction of the nectar- and pollen-rich vegetation on which they forage. And it’s not just about honey. Honeybees are critical to pollinating Florida’s $4 billion blueberry, cantaloupe, cucumber, honeydew, raspberry and watermelon crops. Florida bees matter nationwide: Twenty to 25 percent of the nation’s honeybees pass through Florida, often wintering here to gain strength before or after pollinating California almonds. Beekeepers from New York, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan winter their bees in Florida to fortify the hives: In 2006, Florida had 1,000 registered beekeepers, now it’s 5,000. Let’s call them snowbees.

Happy birthday to Rep. Jason BrodeurThomas Grigsby, and Nancy Stephens.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.6.18

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

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

It’s time for the Americans for Prosperity-Florida (AFP-FL) 2018 Economic Freedom Scorecard.  

According to a news release, the scorecard “examines more than 6,249 individual votes during the 2018 Legislative Session, both from committee meetings and on the floor, on 66 different economic freedom issues.”

It’s part of the group’s annual effort to hold lawmakers accountable for the votes they take, AFP-FL said.

Americans for Prosperity gives Chris Sprowls a perfect score, new mailer.

It also launched a direct mail and digital effort to show which members scored an ‘A+’ on issues “primed to make Florida the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

More than 60 members earned an A+ this year, the most since AFP-FL began publishing the Scorecard.

“This was one of the most successful sessions for free-market, liberty-advancing policies that will have an immediate and lasting impact toward making Florida the best state to live, work, and raise a family,” AFP-FL state director Chris Hudson said in a statement.

To find out who passed and who flunked, click here.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

—@TFurlong: I’ve asked 6 of the “fans” at the White House who was the @Eagles quarterback during the Super Bowl. Not ONE person knew.

—@Rachel_NicholsLeBron [James] was asked what he thought of [Donald] Trump disinviting the Eagles from their White House visit: “It’s typical of him. I’m not surprised. Typical of him and — I know no matter who wins his series, no one wants the invite anyway. It won’t be Golden State or Cleveland going.”

—@ScottforFlorida: It’s promising to see the Senate cancel its month-long vacation and try and get some work done. Working Floridians don’t get to take the month of August off, and neither should career politicians. #MakeWashingtonWork

—@SamanthaJoRoth: .@SenBillNelson on August recess cancellation by @SenateMajLdr: Mitch [McConnell]’s intention is to hold some of us here who would be campaigning.

@SenBillNelson: As we prepare for what could be another above-average hurricane season, @marcorubio and I have asked DHS and HHS what specific steps their agencies have taken to better protect seniors and individuals with disabilities in the event of another major storm.

@Fineout: .@FLGovScott will be in California on Wed for a lunch reception/fundraiser being held in downtown San Fran. The hosts include former SF Giants managing partner/Safeco exec Peter Magowan. Magowan was part of group that bought SF Giants which stopped team from heading to St. Pete

@JohnMorganEsq#SlickRick please follow the law & the will of 72% of the people. Everyday you waste taxpayers’ money w/ this frivolous appeal sick people, veterans, cops, firefighters & cancer patients suffer! Where is your compassion man? “There is no likelihood of success by the defendants”

—@IvankaTrumpKate Spade’s tragic passing is a painful reminder that we never truly know another’s pain or the burden they carry. If you are struggling with depression and contemplating suicide, please, please seek help.

—@TroyKinsey: Environmentalists announce they’ve found elevated lead levels in the #Florida Capitol’s drinking water. A contributor to Tallahassee dysfunction?

—@DanTallahassee: Waited an additional 30 minutes beyond the expected “ready” time for my online @Publix sub. While that alone is aggravating (I could’ve gone through the regular line at least three times), I discover later that it was not tossed in Buffalo sauce, as requested. Cmon, @Publix.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 3; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 5; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 6; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 8; Father’s Day — 11; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 16; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 22; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 32; MLB All-Star Game — 41; Deadline for filing claim bills — 56; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 56; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 57; Start of the U.S. Open — 82; Primary Election Day — 83; College Football opening weekend — 85; NFL season starts — 92; Future of Florida Forum — 112; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 139; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 140; General Election Day — 153; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 253; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 272.

— TOP STORY —

David Koch steps down from business and conservative political group” via Jeremy Peters of The New York Times — Koch, the billionaire industrialist who combined his vast wealth and libertarian-tinged brand of conservatism to influence candidates and campaigns at all levels of American politics, is stepping away from his political and business interests because of declining health, his company announced Tuesday. Koch’s brother, Charles, said in a letter to employees at Koch Industries, the company the two brothers controlled, that David Koch’s health problems had made it impossible for him to continue working. “Unfortunately, these issues have not been resolved and his health has continued to deteriorate,” the letter said. “We are deeply saddened by this.”

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Rick Scott financial disclosure fight to go before court” via the News Service of Florida — After a circuit judge refused to dismiss the case, an appeals court will wade into a fight about whether Gov. Scott has properly complied with the state’s financial disclosure requirements. The 1st District Court of Appeal scheduled arguments July 17 in the dispute between Scott and Tallahassee attorney Donald Hinkle … Hinkle filed the lawsuit last year, alleging that Scott has not complied with the state’s “Sunshine Amendment,” which requires elected officials to disclose details of their personal finances. “Governor Scott has failed to fully disclose his financial interests by not disclosing the underlying assets in revocable trusts and various partnerships,” the lawsuit said. “Governor Scott also attempts to include in a ‘blind’ trust assets that do not qualify and to which he is not ‘blind.’”

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Poll: Partisan gap could limit women’s gains in November” via Heather Caygle of POLITICO — Republican voters — men and women — are more likely than the general electorate to say that a man in elected office would do a better job than a woman when it comes to many of the core functions of government, particularly in the executive branch: working with foreign leaders, ordering a military intervention, addressing a terrorist attack, negotiating with Congress and addressing threats to U.S. national security.

Ahead of debates, Chris King spends “serious money” on new ad — As Democratic gubernatorial debates in St. Petersburg and Miramar approach, King is releasing a new two-and-a-half-minute digital spot, which will be backed up by what the campaign calls “serious money.” “Being Bold” features highlights from King’s most recent debate performance, along with campaign clips and press coverage of his media push. The campaign says the ad is part of a six-figure digital media buy, coinciding with its current TV ad spend.

To view the ad, click the image below:

Assignment editors — King will join activists from March for Our Lives, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the Youth Coalition to End Gun Violence to discuss his new gun safety policy — “Every Kid Fund” for Gun Violence Prevention — 11 a.m., Orlando Public Library, Cypress Room, 101 E. Central Blvd., Orlando.

Assignment editors — Philip Levine will campaign in Central Florida with an “environmental roundtable with Orlando community leaders,” noon, 1105 Concord St., Orlando; a “gun safety and civic engagement roundtable with local leaders,” 1:30 p.m., same location; an appearance at the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans Gala Dinner, 6 p.m., Florida Hotel and Conference Center, 1500 Sand Lake Road, Orlando; and a visit to the Hernando County Democratic Club’s monthly meeting, 7 p.m., Lake House, 1202 Kenlake Ave., Spring Hill.

Assignment editors — Adam Putnam hosts the latest “Up & Adam” breakfast, 8:30 a.m., Three60 market, 2891 Bayview Dr., Naples.

Florida GOP candidates for governor weigh in on school board term limits. (They like them.)” Via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis isn’t one to talk much about Florida-specific issues. He did, however, take time to publicize his position on school board term limits, perhaps the most popular of the three ideas in the constitutional amendment. “No elected office, whether federal or local, is ever better off when run by career politicians,” DeSantis, a three-term House member from Jacksonville, wrote in a piece for the U.S. Term Limits website. Putnam, by most accounts the candidate more likely to focus on policy details, shared that point of view. “If term limits are good enough for the governor and the Legislature, they’re good enough for school boards,” Putnam said via email.

Ron DeSantis, Adam Putnam can agree on at least one thing.

Jimmy Patronis launches first digital ad” via Marc Caputo and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida –  Patronis today launches his campaign’s first statewide digital ad that features his role in passing legislation providing more mental health benefits to first responders. It features Megan Vila, whose brother was a Tampa firefighter who died by suicide.

Click on the image below to watch the ad:

Frank White hits airwaves with Attorney General race’s first TV ad” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – White is set to be the first in the GOP primary to go on TV, starting an ad campaign he says will carry him through the late August primary. The Pensacola Republican, who currently serves in the Florida House, is poised to go up with a $1 million statewide ad campaign. He says it’s the first of an 80-day campaign that will keep him on TV until the late August primary.

Click on the image below to watch the ad:

Another dozen sheriffs endorse crime victim rights amendment” via Florida Politics — The announcement follows a previous bulk endorsement that saw two dozen sheriffs sign on to support the proposal, commonly known as “Marsy’s Law.” Adding in the dozen sheriffs endorsing Amendment 6 today, the measure now has the support of more than half of Florida’s elected lawmen. Lining up behind Amendment 6 Tuesday were Dixie Sheriff Dewey Hatcher, Escambia Sheriff David Morgan, Glades Sheriff David Hardin, Indian River Sheriff Deryl Loar, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, Lake Sheriff Peyton Grinnell, Marion Sheriff Billy Woods, Miami-Dade Police Department Director Juan Perez, Nassau Sheriff Bill Leeper, Okeechobee Sheriff Noel Stephen, Osceola Sheriff Russell Gibson, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd and Putnam Sheriff Gator DeLoach. Also included in the announcement was retired Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti. Amendment 6 also has broad support among Florida’s state attorneys and voters, who in a March poll supported the proposal 78-13 with 9 percent undecided.

Two more lawmakers endorse David Richardson” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Richardson continues to earn support from state House colleagues in his run for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. State Reps. Robert Asencio and Patricia Williams announced they’re backing the Miami Beach Democrat’s CD 27 bid. According to Richardson’s count, a total of 16 state Representatives now lining up for his campaign. “For the last two years it has been my pleasure to serve alongside Representative David Richardson in the Florida House of Representatives,” Asencio said. “I have seen firsthand his keen ability to fight for progressive policy initiatives that would most benefit Floridians. I humbly and wholeheartedly endorse David in his campaign for Congress.”

Richardson campaign workers form a union” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Workers for Richardson’s congressional campaign are the latest to form a union through the Campaign Workers guild, a new movement for Democratic campaign workers, where employees negotiate contracts that include mandated time off, health care, housing and just cause for firings Richardson’s is the first Florida campaign to unionize, other Democratic congressional and gubernatorial campaigns have unionized around the country in recent months. “Through a tough contract fight, workers for David Richardson stood together and fought hard to win a fair contract,” said Laura Reimers, President of the Campaign Workers Guild. “I am tremendously proud to have all of these workers in our fight. Their example will pave the way for campaign workers across the country who are finally getting to experience what it feels like to bargain collectively, stand together and improve their working conditions.”

Equality Florida Action endorses Jason Pizzo in SD 38 — Joe Saunders, Political Director Equality FL, said, “The Equality Florida Action PAC endorsement is a recognition of the competitive campaign that Pizzo is running, his record of service, and his belief that his election will have a positive impact on the lives of LGBTQ Floridians. I thank him for his commitment to our community and for being willing to step up to serve.” Pizzo, a Democrat and former prosecutor, faces incumbent State Sen. Daphne Campbell in the Democratic primary.

Jason Pizzo
Democrat Jason Pizzo is racking up the endorsements.

John Legg first candidate to file for 2022 cycle” via Florida Politics — Legg was first elected to the Florida House in 2004, serving there eight years. He was elected to the Florida Senate in 2012, but court-ordered redistricting forced him to make a difficult decision in 2016: Run for re-election and challenge likely 2020-2022 Senate President Wilton Simpson or step down at the end of his term. He chose the latter, and in the two years since he’s made clear SD 10 in the seat for him. Once Simpson is termed-out, of course. The 2022 race was always Legg’s intention, though due to the Florida Division of Elections not accepting statements of candidacy for that cycle until recently, the New Port Richey Republican had been listed as a 2018 candidate before Tuesday.

Lew Oliver resigning from Orange County Republican Party chairmanship” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The 58-year-old lawyer and businessman wants to focus more time on his practice and his title business, Oliver said in a resignation email sent to the Orange County Republican Executive Committee. He has chaired the Orange County Republican Party since 1999. His resignation will take place at the next Orange County REC meeting, at which he said he will oversee the election of his successor. “I have recently started to expand my business, and even started a new one, and I am simply unable to continue to devote the time to the job as your chairman that the position and you deserve during this election year,” Oliver stated. “Additionally, it is time for new blood and new energy and new ideas.” … “Lew has been a staple of the Republican Party of Orange County for two decades,” Republican Party Vice Chairman Chadwick Hardee said. “He has done a lot of good things for the Republican Party and Orange County; his leadership will be deeply missed.”

— STATEWIDE —

Judge orders state to get ready for smoke-able medical marijuana” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers lifted a legal stay prompted by the Scott administration’s appeal of her ruling last month that the state’s current smoke-free law was unconstitutional … John Morgan will ask the Florida Supreme Court to intervene if the state tries to again freeze Gievers’ order with another appeal. Morgan said smoking marijuana is vital for one of the plaintiffs in the case, Manatee County’s Cathy Jordan, 68, who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease and is in frail health. Jordan has been smoking pot — illegally — for 30 years, as a treatment for her illness. “But I’m hoping the governor doesn’t appeal this,” Morgan said. “He’s on the wrong side of the people, and the wrong side of politics on this one.”

SWAT swarms Parkland teen’s home on hoax call. He was in D.C., receiving human rights award” via Charles Rabin and Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — The call, it was quickly clear, was a hoax called “swatting” aimed at Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg and his family. Such prank calls, which are illegal, have increasingly been employed as a harassment tactic. Hogg, an 18-year-old new graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High who has emerged as a leading national voice on gun control, was in Washington, D.C., at the time with his family. He was there to accept a human rights award from the Robert F. Kennedy foundation when the BSO phoned. “They called me and said, ‘Are you being held up?’ ” Hogg said. “I was like, ‘no.'” Broward Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Gina Carter said the call came at 8:39 a.m. reporting someone was in the home with a weapon in a possible hostage situation. “SWAT responded,” Carter said. “They cleared the home. It was a hoax and we will be investigating.”

David Hogg gets ‘swatted.’

This database catches fraud. Why doesn’t Walmart want to be in it?” via Lawrence mower of the Tampa Bay Times — When state lawmakers in 2013 passed a law requiring licensed check-cashers to report, in real time, the people and checks passing through their doors, law enforcement called it a big step in the right direction. Florida is believed to be the only state with a database like it. But the nation’s largest retailer is displeased. For the last year, Walmart has been pushing to be able to cash bigger checks without participating in the database, arguing that its own anti-fraud programs are a “highly effective” substitute. The company asked for a temporary waiver last year so it could cash bigger FEMA assistance checks in the wake of Hurricane Irma. And in this year’s legislative session, it pushed for a bill that would have effectively gutted the state’s database, rendering it nearly useless. Walmart believes that Florida’s unique restrictions are too onerous, and it wants to change them, so it can serve more customers.

Regulators back FPL plan to buy city utility” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — With a deal in the works for more than a decade, the Florida Public Service Commission approved FPL’s purchase of the city of Vero Beach’s electric system without accepting a downward “adjustment” recommended by staff that would have shaved about $90 million off the $185 million acquisition. Public Service Commission member Gary Clark, in moving to approve the deal backed by municipalities served by the Vero Beach utility, said the structure worked out between FPL and the local communities “will have no adverse impact to existing FPL customers.” The staff proposal was described as better reflecting the value of the existing system and, if approved, would have required a surcharge on the 35,123 existing customers of the local utility. But officials from Indian River County warned that the proposal would jeopardize the deal. Indian River County Commission Chairman Peter O’Bryan called the prospect of a surcharge, which could have lasted from 10 to 20 years, “a prison term” for ratepayers.

—“Florida commission gives OK to FPL purchase of Vero Beach electric system” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida

Court set to hear slot machines dispute” via the News Service of Florida — An appeals court will hear arguments in a dispute about whether certain electronic games played in bars and other establishments are illegal slot machines. The 1st District Court of Appeal has scheduled arguments July 17 in consolidated appeals by Gator Coin II, Inc. and Blue Sky Games … a Leon County circuit judge ruled that the disputed games, known as “pre-reveal” games, are effectively slot machines. The businesses sued the state after investigators with the Division of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms alleged the machines were illegal. Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper originally sided with the businesses, finding that the machines didn’t violate prohibitions against slots because the games include a “preview” feature advising players of the outcome “before the player commits any money to the game by activating the ‘play’ button.” But Cooper later reversed himself, agreeing with testimony that people pay to play losing games with the hopes of winning in subsequent games.

Florida Bar again asks for early win in traffic-ticket firm case” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Saying there is “no doubt or conflict in the evidence,” The Florida Bar has asked the state’s Supreme Court for an early win in its effort to shut down a Miami firm that fights people’s traffic tickets for them. The Bar asked for summary judgment in its case against TIKD, which it says is engaging in the unlicensed practice of law, or UPL … “As a matter of law, (TIKD has) no defense and would not have anything substantive to testify to (that) would alter the outcome,” it says … It says TIKD is in the wrong, in part because founder and CEO Chris Riley — a U.S. Navy commander-turned entrepreneur — isn’t a lawyer but his company advertises and acts like a law firm. The company hires lawyers to fight people’s traffic tickets.

Christopher Riley, CEO and founder of TIKD.

Happening today — Port Orange Republican Sen. Dorothy Hukill will be honored at the nonprofit ArtHaus’ annual “Fun and Funky Dinner,” 5:30 p.m., Museum of Arts and Sciences, Root Hall, 352 South Nova Road, Daytona Beach.

Save the date — Two Democratic state lawmakers who tried but failed to reconvene the Legislature to increase education funding now are planning a rally for teachers in South Florida. Democratic State Reps. Shevrin Jones of West Park and Nicholas Duran of Miami are putting together the “Red For Education Teacher Rally” for Aug. 19, the Sunday before the first day of the 2018-2019 school year in Miami-Dade County. It will take place in Miami Gardens.

Tourism numbers continue pointing up” via Jim Saunders and Tom Urban of the News Service of Florida — Florida drew an estimated 33.2 million visitors from January through March, which was a 7.4 percent increase over the same period in 2017 and is a record quarterly number, Gov. Rick Scott and the tourism-marketing agency VISIT FLORIDA said The increase this year was buoyed by 29.1 million domestic visitors, 8.5 percent more than during the first quarter of 2017. The number of Canadian visitors was up 2.5 percent during the quarter, though overseas visitors were down 0.7 percent, according to comparisons posted on the VISIT FLORIDA website. Ken Lawson, CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, said in a recent interview that tourism funds 1.4 million jobs in the state. “It makes sure those people can feed their families and pay their mortgages,” he said. “Tourism is the No. 1 economic driver in Florida.”

— LOADED QUESTIONS —

Wondering what it takes to get an endorsement from the National Rifle Association?

If the group’s annual candidate survey is any indication, it means believing “that bump stocks should not have been banned, that Florida residents should be able to open-carry firearms, and that local officials who mess with gun laws should be banned from public office for life,” Scott Powers reports for Florida Politics. 

The survey was distributed in conjunction with the Unified Sportsmen of Florida to determine which candidates could be worthy of an endorsement. Not surprisingly, the questions are quite polarizing, offering very clear ultimatums that illustrate the unbending ideology the pro-Second Amendment groups hold. 

Orlando Democratic candidate Anna Eskamani received her NRA survey, which she promptly tossed.

Exhibit A: On the issue of pre-empting gun laws to the state, there are three options: “Yes. I believe public officials should obey the law or be held accountable. I will oppose attempts to change the law;” “No. I believe it was wrong to punish local government officials for intentionally violating the law and I will support attempts to change the law;” and “Yes. But I believe the penalties are too lax for willful violators and I will support legislation that bars violators from holding public office for life.”

Tone deaf?: “To receive this narrow-minded questionnaire less than four months after Parkland and near the two-year mark of Pulse is offensive,” Democratic Florida House District 47 candidate Anna Eskamani said on Facebook. “People are dying, and the NRA continues to maintain the status-quo. It won’t work.”

Stand your ground: Florida NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer defended the survey. “If they don’t have an idea of where we stand, it’s not important; what is important is where they stand. We don’t want them to fill it out the way they think we want them to,” she said.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Donald Trump’s tariffs could spark trade war, Florida Chamber warns” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Trump has proposed steel and aluminum tariffs on some of America’s closest allies, including Canada, Mexico and the European Union. “The increasing prospect of a trade war could put Florida’s economy at risk and negatively impact consumers, families and jobs,” the Chamber warned in a statement. The group said unfair trade practices by “bad actors” are best addressed “in a targeted and focused manner.” … “Extending the tariffs to our allies and trade and investment partners is triggering harmful targeted retaliation,” the group said.

Florida Chamber has a stern warning for Donald Trump’s possible China tariffs.

Medicare to go broke 3 years earlier than expected, trustees say” via Paul Demko of POLITICO — Medicare’s hospital trust fund is expected to run out of money in 2026, three years earlier than previously projected, the program’s trustees said in a new report … The more pessimistic outlook is largely due to reduced revenues from payroll and Social Security taxes and higher payments than expected to hospitals and private Medicare plans last year. The solvency report is the first since the repeal of Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board earlier this year as part of a massive spending agreement in Congress. The panel of outside experts was designed to tame excessive Medicare spending growth, but costs never grew fast enough to trigger the controversial board and no members were ever appointed. Social Security faces depletion in 2034, the program’s trustees also said. That’s identical to last year’s projection.

Betsy DeVos: Donald Trump school safety panel won’t look at guns” via Michael Stratford of POLITICO Florida — Education Secretary DeVos said at a congressional hearing that Trump’s school safety commission that she chairs will not study potential changes to gun laws. The White House’s fact sheet announcing the formation of the commission in March said that the panel, made up of Cabinet secretaries, “will study and make recommendations” on a range of areas, including “age restrictions for certain firearm purchases.” DeVos was asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, whether the school safety commission would examine guns. “That is not part of the commission’s charge per se,” DeVos responded during testimony before the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees education funding. DeVos was there to testify on the department’s fiscal 2019 budget. DeVos said that the commission would be focused on the roughly 20 areas that the White House had outlined for it. “We’re actually studying school safety and how our students are safe at school,” she said.

For your radar – API is today announcing the launch of “Explore Offshore”, a new coalition of more than 100 community organizations, associations, businesses and local leaders in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida who support increased access to offshore U.S. oil and natural gas resources. The Florida effort will be led by Dr. Miriam Ramirez, Former Puerto Rico State Senator, Jeff Kottkamp, Former Lieutenant Governor of Florida, and Wayne Harris, former Okaloosa County Commissioner. Jim Nicholson, who served as Secretary of Veterans Affairs during the George W. Bush Administration, and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb will serve as bipartisan national co-chairs of the coalition.

— OPINIONS —

Julio Fuentes: Florida lives depend on naloxone co-prescriptions” via Florida Politics — As Congress deliberates legislation to combat the opioid epidemic, expanding access to naloxone through co-prescription should be a top priority. The Surgeon General has emphasized the importance of naloxone co-prescriptions for certain patients at an increased risk for opioid misuse, including certain Medicare and Medicaid patients. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has also come to the same conclusion. Opioids are incredibly unpredictable, and even when taking medication as prescribed, patients can still accidentally overdose. That’s where naloxone comes in. It is extremely important to arm at-risk patients with the potentially lifesaving tool they need to avoid fatal overdoses. The federal government must follow their own advice and help increase access to naloxone.

— PAY-FOR-PLAYOCRAT —

Shot — “Andrew Gillum and Tallahassee Democrat: ‘pay for play’ or good business?” via Florida Politics — Tallahassee Reports (TR) is best thought of as a conservative counterpoint to the Tallahassee Democrat’s coverage, particularly of City Hall. It’s no secret that its editor, Steve Stewart, has run and lost more than once for local office in the deep blue capital city.

— TR’s latest watchdogging of the city’s Gannett-owned paper of record says that “just one month after he announced he would run for Governor … Gillum’s office negotiated with the Democrat to publish 10 stories favorable to a Gillum initiative.”

— Those stories, penned by staff writer TaMaryn Waters, “highlighted Gillum’s Family Friendly Workplace initiative” begun in 2015, the paper reported. They appeared in the Democrat during the first two weeks of April 2017.

— Most saliently, TR says the paper billed the Mayor’s Office $10,000 for those stories last May — which, by the way, it didn’t pay. “Ultimately, (the paper) issued a $2,500 discount and Gillum’s office paid half of the discounted amount Jan. 8, 2018,” TR’s report says.

— Both Democrat editor William Hatfield and publisher Skip Foster declined to comment.

Chaser — “Note from the editor: Family Friendly-gate? Not so much. Here’s what really happened.” via William Hatfield of the Tallahassee Democrat — The newsroom drew up a plan to spotlight businesses that had taken part in a survey and were on track to receive “Family Friendly” certification.

— The advertising side of the house, meanwhile, drew up an outline with the city of Tallahassee … that laid out how we would spotlight the issue and how advertising would use its top-notch, multiplatform channels to promote the effort in print and online.

— There was no negotiation to publish 10 stories. And certainly, the gubernatorial campaign had no bearing on the project, which took shape months before he would announce.

— The stories weren’t sponsored content.

— Stewart himself points out that each story accurately included the following line: “The series is a partnership between the City of Tallahassee and the Tallahassee Democrat that stems from the Family First Initiative launched in 2015 by Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.”

— Jamie Van Pelt, the mayor’s chief of staff, says that was a misstatement and an “oversimplification” of an admittedly complex partnership.

— MOVEMENTS —

Heritage Foundation staffer joins Marco Rubio’s office” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Dan Holler, a founding staffer for Heritage Action, will join Rubio‘s office as deputy chief of staff, focusing on communications and outreach … Holler will reunite with Mike Needham, his former boss at Heritage, who was recently hired as Rubio’s chief of staff. “Dan’s one of the most talented people in Washington and we are excited to have him join Senator Rubio’s office,” Needham said in an emailed statement to Roll Call. “His collaborative style, substantive expertise and strategic leadership will be critical to the work Senator Rubio is doing.”

Dan Holler is now in Marco Rubio’s office.

Appointed — Beth Smith to Valencia College District Board of Trustees.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Justin Day, Capital City Consulting: Delta Air Lines

Pamela Burch Fort, The Commerce Group: Youth and Family Alternatives

Allyce Heflin, Southern Strategy Group: Florida State Alliance of YMCA, Public Consulting Group c/o MultiState Associates

Larry Overton, Larry J. Overton & Associates: Florida Pace Providers Association

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Kologik

— CHAMPIONS —

Florida State blows out Washington to clinch first WCWS Title” via Curt Weiler of the Tallahassee Democrat – With its runaway 8-3 win over fifth-seeded Washington Tuesday night, the No. 6 FSU softball team (58-12) completed a sweep of the Huskies to bring home the program’s first NCAA Championship in its first appearance in the Women’s College World Series Finals.

Through its first nine NCAA Tournament games, including Monday’s 1-0 FSU win, UW had allowed eight total runs. … The Seminoles quickly turned an early deficit into a lead behind an explosive attack at the plate, hitting three homers and five extra-base hits.

Entering this year, FSU’s nine WCWS appearances were the most by any team without a national championship. … The 10th time proved to be the charm.

Tweet, tweet:

— ALOE —

Florida’s mermaid industry doesn’t pay scale” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times — In the 1950s Weeki Wachee was one of the nation’s most popular tourist stops, but it nearly went belly-up in the 2000s when the profits (ahem) tailed off. In 2008, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection bought it and turned it into a state park. Florida is the only state where the list of government jobs includes “mermaid.” Starting pay is $10 an hour. When Weeki Wachee held auditions in January for six new mermaid positions, 60 people showed up, despite the cold. In maybe the most Florida thing ever, a manatee surfaced in the spring right in the middle of their swimming trials.

How Toy Story land will affect crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — The new offerings will begin reversing years of the park reducing capacity while seeing largely the same number of guests come through the turnstiles. But in the short term, more guests are going to flock to these rides than the area was designed to handle — which won’t be a surprise to park operators … The new attractions aren’t the high-capacity, people-eating behemoths found in other Disney World parks … Alien’s Swirling Saucers can likely handle only about 600 riders per hour, based on the very similar Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree at Disney California Adventure. Estimates on Slinky Dog Dash’s capacity range from around 900 to 1,440 guests per hour, while Midway Mania can supposedly handle 1,900 guests on an hourly basis if all three of its tracks are operational. Disney is taking some steps to help spread out the big crowds. Starting July 1, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will have extended operating hours (opening at 8 a.m. and closing at 10:30 p.m.), an extra hour for guests staying at Disney resorts will be added every morning and one evening per week and an additional performance of the park’s Fantasmic! show every night.

Toy Story Land could attract more people than Disney’s Hollywood Studios can handle easily.

Orlando StarFlyer, world’s tallest swing ride, opens” via Clay LePard of ClickOrlando.com — The $10 million attraction, located near the Orlando Eye on International Drive, will take riders more than 400 feet in the air — the highest of its kind in the world — and swing them around at speeds topping 60 mph. “Disney and Universal have all their rides, but they don’t have anything as big as we’ve got,” Orlando-based developer Chuck Whittall said. “We wanted to have the best. We have the wheel next door, which is the tallest structure in Central Florida; now we have the tallest thrill ride in central Florida.” The ride costs $12 per person to experience the four-and-a-half-minute thrill.

Happy birthday to state Rep. Jeanette Nunez and former State Rep. Charles McBurney.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.5.18

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

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

Yesterday we reported that billionaire Jeff Greene was entering the Democratic primary for Governor, and paperwork posted on the Florida Division of Elections hours after SUNBURN went out confirmed it.

Yes, Jeff Greene filed, but is he really running?

In the 24 hours since, however, there’s been no indication outside of that one-page statement of candidacy that Greene is any more a candidate for Governor than Patrick Murphy.

Four days after putting pen to paper, we still haven’t seen a campaign website, staff announcement or introductory news release. The only other person connected to the campaign as of now is campaign treasurer Sarah Nilsen, and she ain’t talking, either.

There was no shortage of coverage stating that Greene had entered the race, of course, but other than unearthing a few grafs from 8-year-old stories on Greene’s Senate bid and freshening them up with some tepid pro-Donald Trump quotes from a months-old Forbes interview, there was little new info coming out of Sunshine State newsrooms Monday.

In fact, Greene’s candidacy was met with almost deafening silence.

Without a little help from Greene, it’s hard to make out why he filed for the race Friday at all.

For a “normal” candidate, dropping off paperwork on the first of the month allows them a full month to make a statement on the fundraising trail, but that kind of maneuvering seems illogical when talking about one of the 200 richest men in America.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

—@JGM41: President @GeorgeHWBush was discharged from @SMHCHealth today after being treated for low blood pressure. The president is deeply appreciative both for the terrific care and the many good wishes he has received.

@Timodc: Conservatives may mock the argument that the media is pro-Trump but the results speak for themselves. While reporters as individuals might be liberal or anti-Trump he abuses human nature and journalistic tropes to get graded on a massive curve … Take [Mitt] Romney’s 47% gaffe — or frankly any major political gaffe in history — and dump it into Trumps Nashville speech verbatim. The remark wouldn’t have even made it into the newspaper.

—@JonathanTamari: President Trump says the Eagles are “unable to come to the White House with their full team tomorrow” because he “insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart.” Instead says he will host a different celebration tomorrow.

—@MarcoRubio: This is how #China uses our own large businesses as a weapon against our national interests. U.S. telecoms are pushing to use tax-payer funded subsidies to buy #ZTE & #Huawei gear & then use in America. Basically China wants YOU to pay for their spying!

—@RepLoisFrankel: When someone walks into a store, they shouldn’t have to worry they’ll be denied service b/c of who they love or who they are. I will keep fighting to pass the #EqualityAct so all LGBTQ Americans have basic protections from discrimination. #MasterpieceCakeshop

—@AdamPutnam: Our prayers go out to the Sanford Fire Department, @JFRDJAX and the friends and family of Lieutenant Mike Salber. His service to keep our community safe will be remembered.

—@MDixon55: Give Jeff Greene credit for not waffling. He sent out feelers, polled, and made a decision. Another duo that wants everyone to think they are potential Florida gubernatorial candidates have their 537 editorial board meeting today.

—@Fineout: So @FLGovScott & Cabinet have scheduled a 4 p.m. Friday conference call to start the process to find a new banking regulator after the current OFR commissioner resigned under pressure

—@JamesGrantFL: A single API that allows true interoperability of health data is monumental progress. Providers should be hammering their EMR vendors to adopt and patients should be doing the same to their providers. Consumerism can’t happen until consumers are equipped & empowered. #FreeTheData

—@AmyTrask: I shall always remember precisely where I was for “the catch” — I knew then what a tremendous football player @DwightC87 was — I learned later while in the @NFL what a tremendous man he was — my heart is w/his loved ones.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 4; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 6; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 7; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 9; Father’s Day — 12; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 17; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 23; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 33; MLB All-Star Game — 42; Deadline for filing claim bills — 57; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 57; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 58; Start of the U.S. Open — 83; Primary Election Day — 84; College Football opening weekend — 86; NFL season starts — 93; Future of Florida Forum — 113; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 140; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 141; General Election Day — 154; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 254; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 273.

— TOP STORY —

Parkland teens launch nationwide bus tour to boost voter turnout among young people” via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida — Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students leading the March for Our Lives movement will embark on a nationwide tour to boost voter turnout among young people. At a news conference in South Florida, Cameron Kasky, one of several Parkland student leaders, said the group is laser-focused on improving dismal midterm election turnout numbers by launching “Road to Change,” a two-month summer bus tour to get young people involved politically and, more importantly, into the voting booths for upcoming primary and general elections. “Voting has so often become a chore to people, so many people have shrugged it off as something that isn’t important,” he said. The shift to increase voter turnout follows the group’s successful efforts in Florida to convince lawmakers in Tallahassee to rewrite the state’s gun laws in the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at the Parkland school that left 17 dead, including 14 students.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Rick Scott’s ties to Trump present political predicament for Senate run” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Gov. Rick Scott is off to a blistering start in his nationally-watched challenge to Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, dropping $10 million on early TV ads and campaigning in all corners of the state. But he’s still grappling with a potential political quandary: President Donald Trump. Scott’s trip last week to Puerto Rico provided new talking points to Nelson and Democrats as they keep up their attack on the governor’s close ties to the controversial commander-in-chief. Speaking at a news conference on the island, Scott told reporters that he didn’t know “what I would do differently” when asked about the Trump administration’s response in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a massive storm last fall that knocked out power for months for tens of thousands of island residents. Scott’s response was perceived as a glaring example of his unwillingness to criticize the Trump administration.

Ron DeSantis’ $3M fundraising haul in May punctuated by boost from major Marco Rubio donor” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Kenneth Griffin, founder and CEO of the investment firm Citadel, gave $500,000 in May to Friends of Ron DeSantis, a political committee controlled by DeSantis … Conservative Solutions, a super PAC that backed Rubio’s presidential bid, received $5 million from Griffin during the 2016 election cycle. It was among $15 million in federal contributions Griffin gave to Republicans, including $100,000 to a super PAC backing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush‘s presidential campaign.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor endorses Gwen Graham for Governor — As Graham marks the beginning of Pride Month, she is announcing another major South Florida endorsement from Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, the city’s first openly gay mayor. “As we mark the beginning of Pride Month, I’m excited to announce my endorsement of Gwen Graham, a champion for LGBTQ rights and equality,” Trantalis said. “Running for Congress in a conservative district, Gwen wasn’t afraid to stand up for marriage equality and our rights. In Congress, she followed through on her promise and fought for LGBTQ Floridians, co-sponsored the Equality Act and earned a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign … As governor, she will work to ban conversion therapy, issue an executive order adding sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes against discrimination in the governor’s office, and finally sign the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) into law.”

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis.

Assignment editors — Graham will sit down with Central Florida health professionals and patients in a ‘listening session’ to discuss her plans for expanding health care. That’s at 9:30 a.m., Florida Hospital Association’s Orlando office, 307 Park Lake Circle, Orlando. Reporters are invited to attend the listening session and interview Graham. Media interested in joining are asked to RSVP to Bettina Weiss at bettina@gwengraham.com.

Philip Levine launches new radio ad featuring Ray Allen — The Levine for Governor campaign is releasing a new radio ad featuring former Miami Heat shooting guard Allen sharing why he is supporting the former Miami Beach mayor. “I know what it means to take a shot when everything is on the line,” Allen says in the ad. This year, Florida is on the line, and that’s why I’m supporting Philip Levine in his race for Governor. You see, Philip always has the courage to stand up when it counts——and when the game’s on the line, trust me, Philip Levine not only gets it, but delivers big time. That’s why I’m with Levine all the way!” The new radio ad will run in markets across Florida, backed by a five-figure media buy.

To hear the ad, click the image below:

’There’s no catch’: Amendment 2 supporters say it’s for everyone” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — The campaign hosted a Facebook Live panel with private-industry tax experts who claimed Amendment 2, which seeks to extend an already existing 10 percent cap on properties that don’t have a homestead exemption, doesn’t come with a catch. Instead, it would benefit the economy as a whole, from businesses to consumers to schools to renters — especially those seeking affordable housing. Voters approved the current cap in 2008. It will expire this year. If Amendment 2 passes, it would permanently extend the cap. It was primed for a ballot appearance in 2017 when the Legislature nearly unanimously approved the idea (HJR 21). Robert Weissert, who works as the executive vice president and counsel at Florida TaxWatch, said if voters approved Amendment 2, then the state would maintain an economically healthy status quo.

Committee to oppose greyhound-racing ban announces formation” via Florida Politics — The Committee to Support Greyhounds has been formed for the “purpose of promoting greyhound welfare, racing, and adoption, as well as educating the public regarding the life of racing greyhounds,” the group announced in a Monday release. “The members of this committee are a group of passionate supporters of the greyhound breed, spearheading a grassroots campaign to boldly go into the heart of greyhound racing in Florida, sharing real-life events of happy, healthy, loving greyhounds in ALL stages of life — from young puppies to life at the track to retirement,” it said. The committee’s announcement comes the same day that advocates for a ballot initiative to put an end to greyhound racing launched their “Protect Dogs — Yes on 13” campaign. Amendment 13, placed on the ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission, would outlaw the racing of dogs and wagering on such races. Amendments need at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution.

Scott Sturgill outlines bold plan to grant amnesty to undocumented immigrants” via Florida Politics — Sturgill appears to be positioning himself for the general election in his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, at least when it comes to immigration issues. In a recent interview, Sturgill said he was in favor of giving undocumented immigrants three months to “get their ducks in a row” and start the process to become legal U.S. residents. “I think 99 percent of the immigrants who are here are just trying to make things better for their family. Did they come here illegally? Yes. But should we hold that against them? No, again, I think we need to look at the whole issue in broad,” he said. Sturgill clarified he was OK with “expelling” undocumented immigrants who commit violent crimes. The stance is a departure from the boilerplate Republican position on illegal immigration — many of his GOP peers argue that the act of entering the United States illegally is cause enough for deportation.

Chris Hunter calls for return of ‘common decency’ in new ad” via Florida Politics — Democrat Hunter rolled out a new video for his campaign against incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis in Florida’s 12th Congressional District. The ad, titled “For Granted,” covers Hunter’s career as an FBI agent and federal prosecutor before turning toward his reasons for running for the Tampa Bay area congressional district. “There are things we take for granted in America. Before 9/11, we took our security for granted. Two weeks later, I decided to serve in the FBI. Under Robert Mueller, I worked counterterrorism and counterintelligence and defended our country against all enemies, foreign and domestic, not to serve a party or a president but to protect the country I love,” Hunter says. “As a federal prosecutor, I helped lead a national strike force against health care fraud and put violent criminals and con artists behind bars … for too long we’ve taken our shared American values for granted, too. Things like common decency, honesty and respect for the rule of law.” He closes the minute-long ad by saying he’s running for Congress to “defend those values and protect the America we love.”

Click on the image below to watch the ad:

Happening today — Venice Republican state Rep. Julio Gonzalez, who is running for Florida 17th Congressional District, hosts a meet-and-greet event, 6 p.m., Venice Yacht Club, 1330 Tarpon Center Dr., Venice.

Aaron Bean draws Libertarian challenger” via Florida Politics — Bean will face a general election challenge in Senate District 4, a Duval/Nassau district that leans heavily Republican. Joanna Liberty Tavares filed for the seat. Tavares, per SunBiz, is an officer for Sweet Freedom LLC. The business address, at River City Marketplace, corresponds with Smallcakes Cupcakery, a well-regarded pastry shop … Tavares is a U.S. Army Veteran, whose highest rank was Staff Sergeant. She served in Afghanistan last decade, as the Global War on Terror was ramping up. And that experience was central to her decision to run. She said she was following the work of the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, of which incumbent Bean is a member, when she realized “a lot of people are making decisions for military members and veterans who have never served.”

Libertarian Joanna Liberty Tavares filed for the seat now held by Sen. Aaron Bean.

First in Sunburn — Retailers back Keith Perry in SD 8 race — The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) PAC is endorsing incumbent Perry, a Republican, for Senate District 8 in North Central Florida which includes all of Putnam and Alachua counties and a large part of Marion County. “Keith is a longtime retail business owner, and as a Senator, he’s been a tremendous advocate for Florida retailers by helping to pass important legislation that enhances our industry,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. “Keith is a friend of retail, and we look forward to continuing to work with him on ways to ensure Florida remains the top state for businesses.” Perry runs Perry Roofing, a Top 100 roofing company with 150 employees and three offices across the state.

Amanda Murphy raises $50K for political committee during first weeks on the trail” via Florida Politics — A political committee tied to former Democratic Rep. Murphy, who is running for Senate District 16 in the fall, brought in $50,000 last month … Taxpayers for Responsible Government received that money via a single contribution, though no name or occupation was attributed to the money. The listed address, however, matches that of political committee Florida For All, which also cut a $50,000 check to a committee linked to House Minority Leader Janet Cruz in April. The SD 16 race will likely see Murphy up against Clearwater Republican Rep. Ed Hooper in the fall.

Happening tonight — State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith visits St. Petersburg for a fundraiser for his House District 49 re-election campaign. Host committee includes St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, fellow state Rep. Ben Diamond and City Council member Darden Rice. Event begins 6 p.m., BellaBrava, 204 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg. RSVP online here.

Carlos Guillermo Smith visits St. Pete to pass the hat.

Daniel Perez to face Republican challenger for HD 116 seatvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — State Rep. Daniel Perez is now set to face a Republican primary challenger in the race for House District 116. That’s according to a report from The News Service of Florida (NSF). Miami Republican Frank E. Polo Sr. officially opened a campaign account with the Florida Division of Elections Monday. He’s the first Republican this cycle to challenge Perez, who is also from Miami. One Democrat, James Alexander Harden, has also entered the race. Perez won the HD 116 seat last year in a special election after Rep. Jose Felix Diaz quit to run for Senate District 40 following the resignation of Frank Artiles. Perez previously worked as an attorney at Cole, Scott & Kissane.

Vote centers: The next big thing in Florida elections?” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida voters spoke loudly in the 2016 presidential election: More than two-thirds of them voted early or by mail, not on Election Day. That clear preference has county elections officials thinking about making a significant change in the future to move to regional vote centers. An increasingly mobile society and the widespread support for early voting makes it inevitable, experts say, that people will embrace voting at regional sites — subject to the approval by the state Legislature. Voters could go to any vote center in their county and cast a ballot, and the traditional neighborhood polling place at a VFW hall or church would be a thing of the past. No matter where you live and vote, the correct ballot for your precinct would be provided on demand at a vote center, for the same number of days the county holds early voting, including Election Day. In a recent statewide survey of all 67 county elections supervisors, more than two-thirds of those participating favored the idea of vote centers, and fewer than a third opposed the idea.

— STATEWIDE —

Hatch battening: Gov. Rick Scott highlighted the ongoing disaster-preparedness sales tax holiday which runs through June 7, at Shell Lumber and Hardware in Miami and DG Ace Hardware in Bunnell.

Judge will decide on lifting ‘stay’ in smokable marijuana case” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A Tallahassee judge on Monday did not immediately rule on whether to immediately make effective her ruling to allow patients to smoke medical marijuana in Florida. After a nearly hourlong hearing, Circuit Judge Karen Gievers said she’d take the plaintiffs’ request “under advisement” but added she would make a decision “as quickly as possible.” Gievers also asked plaintiffs’ attorney Jon Mills if his clients would object to holding off for a short time before she lifted a ‘stay’ on the decision. Mills said OK to a week’s delay.

‘Flower’ fight: Citrus preference sparks medical marijuana rule challenge” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A Tampa orchid nursery seeking to break into the medical marijuana market is challenging the Department of Health’s plan to give a preference in how it awards new licenses to grow the plant … At issue is a provision in state law that gives preference in granting medical marijuana provider licenses to companies with underused or shuttered citrus factories … Del Favero Orchids says in its filing it bought “facilities that were used in citrus processing specifically for the purpose of converting those facilities for use in processing medical marijuana.” Now, the company suggests it could have a white elephant on its hands. The state’s proposed rule, the challenge says, “would provide no additional points to most applicants that qualify for the citrus preference” and “provides no assurance that the preference will actually result in any licenses being issued to applicants” that qualify.

Scientists report blue-green algae pouring out Lake Okeechobee toward St. Lucie River” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — “I can see algae here on the east shore of the lake, and it’s getting sucked through the dam,” Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart, said from a perch on the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam, which connects the lake to the C-44 Canal flowing to the St. Lucie River about 26 miles away. “Once it goes through, it gets mixed in with all the muddy, dirty water and you can’t see it anymore,” Perry said. “But it’s heading our way, and it sure looks like blue-green algae.” Possible blue-green algae also could be seen along the canal downstream of Port Mayaca, four days after the Army Corps of Engineers began discharging Lake O water toward the St. Lucie River to keep the lake from rising too fast. To be sure the bright green scum coming out of the lake and down the canal is blue-green algae, and to see if it contains toxins, will require lab tests.

Governor of Puerto Rico says he wants hurricane-displaced families to return to the island” via Jennifer Marcial Ocasio of the Orlando Sentinel — With the Transitional Shelter Assistance program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency concluding by the end of the month, about 656 applicants in Florida will have to decide whether they will stay and look for housing on their own or return to Puerto Rico. The TSA program ends June 30. With this in mind, the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló Nevares, visited Central Florida to address the situation with displaced Puerto Ricans in the Sunshine State and to offer relocation options for them to return to the island. “We would like everyone to return to Puerto Rico. There is only 1 percent without power. Reconstruction funds will reach Puerto Rico, and that will help us improve housing, roads and education. But that is your own decision, and we want to make sure that you have the best resources to make the wisest decision, whether it is staying or returning,” Rosselló said.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló wants hurricane-displaced families to return to the island.

Court sides with state in toll technology dispute” via the News Service of Florida — A divided appeals court backed the Florida Department of Transportation in a contracting dispute about toll-system technology. The dispute stemmed from a patent license agreement entered between the Florida Turnpike Enterprise, which was acting on behalf of the department, and Neology, Inc. The department paid $7 million for the right to use technology that would allow automated toll-collection “readers” to communicate with transponders on the vehicles of cars from other states, according to Monday’s ruling by a panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal. A Neology competitor, Kapsch TrafficCom IVHS, Inc., filed a legal challenge, arguing that the department failed to comply with competitive-bidding requirements. Kapsch argued, in part, that the patent license was a “commodity.” But a Leon County circuit judge disagreed, and the appeals court upheld that stance.

State asks judge to block release of records that might show why FIU bridge collapsed” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — The Florida Department of Transportation went to court in an attempt to keep the public and the news media from examining records that might reveal what caused the bridge collapse that killed six people at Florida International University in March. The agency asked Leon County Circuit Court Judge John Cooper to dismiss a lawsuit by the Miami Herald to compel the state to turn over emails, meeting minutes and other records relating to the bridge’s design and construction. The Miami Herald sued after trying for two months to get the agency to release documents that could shed light on the tragic accident. FDOT has stated that the records are public documents but has refused to release them, arguing that a federal law that shields the release of documents relating to a National Transportation Safety Board investigation pre-empts the Florida public records law.

Happening today — Former Florida State University quarterback and basketball player Charlie Ward will take part in the 2018 Prudential Productivity Awards ceremony. Prudential and Florida TaxWatch sponsor the program, which honors state employees who reduce costs and improve services. In 1993, Ward won college football’s Heisman Trophy. Event begins 5 p.m., Florida State University, Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, 222 South Copeland St., Tallahassee.

— GAME OF CLAIMS —

Is there a ‘swamp’ problem with claims bills in the Florida Legislature? Maybe. Depends who you ask. 

The Associated Press’s Gary Fineout reported Monday that of the 100 claims bills filed during the 2017 and 2018 Legislative Sessions, just 21 were approved — eight of which were represented by lobbyist Michael Corcoran, who also is term-limited House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s brother. Michael Corcoran secured $16.9 million for represented victims, a bit short of half of the $37.5 million awarded in total. 

Family ties may be good for claim bills, says Gary Fineout.

While the numbers are at first suspicious, it’s worth noting Michael Corcoran still only saw a 42 percent success rate with claims he represented. Still, others in the process who are sourced in the story criticize the concept. 

Bipartisan disapproval: Both Rep. Evan Jenne, a Democrat, and Rep. Jay Fant, a Republican running for the Attorney General seat, both point to the unusual power lobbyists hold in the claims process. 

Fire with fire: Republican Rep. Cord Byrd told Fineout his two claims bills failed because of opposing lobbyists’ efforts. “It’s cheaper to hire a lobbyist to go in year in and year out and kill a local claims bill than pay it out.”

Speaker’s perspective: Corcoran has championed a six-year lobbying ban for legislators that is up for voter approval, notes Fineout. Though he defends claims as a way of supporting wronged “citizens over government.”

— ‘TOO BIG TO FAIL’ —

A recent newspaper investigation into regulatory actions taken upon the state’s largest network of nursing homes is a must-read, albeit one that will leave the reader uneasy.

Reported by Ryan Mills and Melanie Payne, the investigation revealed that a $347.8 million judgment against Consulate (for fraud, although linked to neglect) was overturned as a result of inaction from state regulators who were limited in their ability to stem wrongdoings of such a large corporation housing so many elder residents.

One source described Consulate as “too big to fail.” Mills and Payne wrote that it “represents a growing trend in the nursing home industry. The homes are evolving into national corporations that funnel profits to wealthy investors.”

Names, faces: Included in the investigative piece are stories of mistreated patients — like Billy Siegler, who overdosed after not receiving therapy — to illustrate how the consumer ultimately is the victim of the inaction.

Oversight: The judge who overturned the settlement placed the blame squarely on Florida’s AHCA and the feds for not exhibiting concern over possible fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims.

Untimely at best: Following the judge’s ruling, AHCA informed 53 Consulate homes that the agency would deny their license renewals, followed by another three afterward. Eight of those were later put on improvement tracks.

— DEFENSE OF A COWARD —

Most familiar with the tragedy in Parkland know that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas cop Scot Peterson failed to intervene. 

That’s made him an easy scapegoat in the wake of the massacre. He’s often referred to as a coward, a label placed squarely upon him by leaders, media, survivors, and relatives of victims. A recent story in The Washington Post by Eli Saslow features Peterson and shows that such criticism has not gone unnoticed by the disgraced cop. 

Scot Peterson talks about Parkland shooting on the TODAY show.

“He had been admired and maybe even beloved up until a former student named Nikolas Cruz allegedly arrived at school with an AR-15. And ever since, Peterson had been living inside those next seven minutes,” Saslow writes. 

Pension problem: Peterson didn’t have a choice but to retire, notes Saslow. But his nearly $100,000 pension has only worsened his situation. It’s clear the ex-cop will not enjoy being out of work, as he’s continually replaying the events of the shooting in his head. 

Simulation: Saslow recounts Peterson watching the animated depiction of the shooting created by the sheriff’s office. He feels guilt, and recalls, “I was scanning for the shooter, looking over the windows, the sidewalk, the rooftop. I thought maybe it was a sniper like in Las Vegas. I just didn’t know.”

Santa Fe contrast: The school shooting in Texas that followed came with a stark reference to Parkland. The school resource officer there went in, whereas Peterson did not. “A case study in the difference between heroism and cowardice.”

— OPINIONS —

Ron Sachs: In ‘fake news’ era, Americans must be better news consumers” for the Tallahassee Democrat — As a former mainstream journalist who has spent a career telling stories with facts, I have deep concerns about the blurring of the lines between reliable sources and the many irresponsible practitioners of messaging today … traditional journalism seems the exception rather than the rule. It’s common for opinions to be woven into news stories, as many reporters share their own perspective and insights. That’s why The PR Council, a national organization of the professional public relations industry, is working to promote the public education necessary, in this strange era, to help consumers learn to differentiate between real news and the many things that fall woefully short of it. While we can’t control waves of conflicting information washing across our lives, we can control how we swim through it.

Joe Henderson: FEA to Republicans: You get an F, and you get an F, and you …” via Florida Politics — It seems only fair that the Florida Education Association decided the Legislature deserved to be covered with the same sauce it has for years been ladling on public schools … the report card the Association just gave lawmakers, based on how they voted on education issues over the last two years. Not surprisingly, Republicans — aka the Charter School Expansion Rubber Stamp Collective — fared poorly. The primary argument in favor of charter schools is that they offer students stuck in failing schools an alternative. Actually, that is true. Some students do extremely well in charters, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Public schools must accept any student — whether disruptive or disinterested. Nothing is (or can be) demanded of parents regarding school participation. And if the students flunk out, it can drag down the whole school’s grade, under a formula determined by the state to punish teachers. Charters can enact much stricter rules and require support from parents. At Tampa’s Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School, for instance, families must spend at least 20 hours each year in some volunteer service there. Public schools don’t have that option.

Bob Gabordi: Why FLORIDA TODAY is dropping photos of people arrested” — For years, FLORIDA TODAY has published one of those information dumps: A gallery of photographs — mugshots — of people arrested. As of today, we’ll no longer do that … We’ll still go through the mugshots and the information supplied by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, but we’re not going to just dump everything online … People need to know when a significant crime or arrest occurs in their neighborhood, favorite shopping area or near their child’s school. So, we’ll continue to write stories and briefs about important crimes and when appropriate, we’ll use an arrest photo. What we’re doing is dropping the automation of the process and the routine publication of mugshot galleries.

— MOVEMENTS —

Appointed — Judges Dawn V. DenaroAndrea Ricker Wolfson and Renatha Francis to the 11th Judicial Circuit Court; Judge Scott H. Cupp to the 20th Judicial Circuit Court; Jennifer Alexandra Alcorta Waters to the Martin County Court.

Jeff Vinik hiring Bob Buckhorn special assistant Christina Barker” via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times — A third member of Mayor Buckhorn’s inner circle is leaving City Hall for a job with Vinik, and she’s taking experience on an issue — transportation — increasingly important to Vinik. Special assistant to the mayor Barker, 32, will be vice president of community partnerships and policy for the Vinik Family Office, which employs more than a dozen people and manages Vinik’s independent business interests. Over the past four years, Barker’s job at City Hall has included working on efforts to improve the TECO Line Streetcar System, city transportation policy, the Autism Friendly Tampa initiative, federal and state legislative priorities, grants, and paid parental leave, plus events like park openings and the annual State of the City speech. The city job pays $87,859 a year.

— ALOE —

Nearly a quarter of Tesla’s Model 3 reservation deposits in the U.S. have supposedly been refunded” via Rani Molla of recode — Two years ago Tesla began accepting $1,000 deposits for its new, lower-priced Model 3 electric car, with the expectation that customers would likely receive their vehicles in 2018. Hundreds of thousands of people have reserved one. But perhaps due to extended production delays, many customers have been asking for their money back. As of the end of April, some 23 percent of all Model 3 deposits in the U.S. had been refunded, according to new U.S. data from Second Measure, a company that analyzes billions of dollars in anonymized credit and debit card purchases. These cancellations aren’t necessarily bad for Tesla since its production rate is nowhere near as high as it needs to be to fulfill the more than 450,000 reservations it still has. Last quarter, it delivered just 8,180 Model 3s.

The newest blue crayon is 200 years in the making” via Nathaniel Ainley of Vice — Thanks to Crayola, the brazen glow of the first new blue pigment created in the last 200 years will soon be in the hands of art makers everywhere. The new blue, temporarily labeled “YInMn,” will be making its international debut as a crayon in Crayola’s new box set slated to be released later this year. The art supplier announced the new crayon last month at The Colorful World of Pigments panel on color theory and invited the public to participate in a naming competition that lets people submit potential name ideas for the new color. The new shade of blue is slated to replace the “Dandelion” color from Crayola’s staple 24-color box set.

Crayola’s new “YInMn Blue” needs a name.

Universal mistakenly posts info about new nighttime show” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — Construction on a new nighttime show in the lagoon at the Universal Studios Florida has been underway for several months, but the park itself hadn’t announced many details on what was coming. Technically, it still hasn’t, but a post quickly removed from Universal’s site listed the show’s name, concept art and some of the franchises which may be featured … Universal Orlando’s What’s New page featured a new addition about the show, which is called Universal’s Cinematic Celebration: Epic Cinema Under the Stars. The info was taken down from the site within a few hours.

Happy birthday to former Reps. Seth McKeel, Amanda Murphy and Ricardo Rangel, Brad Burleson of Ballard Partners, Kevin Cleary, and Heidi Otway of Salter Mitchell.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.4.18

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

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

Good morning. The rumor du jour is that Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene HAS ALREADY filed to run for Florida governor. That’s what a top Democratic source texted me last Sunday evening. The source says Greene filed with the Division of Elections at 4:59 p.m. on Friday afternoon, so his candidacy will pop onto the system first thing this morning. None of the Democratic consultants I spoke with Sunday evening, albeit briefly, could confirm Greene’s entering the race. In fact, the last any of them heard, Greene was still on the fence about running. So today will either be the first day of the rest of the campaign for the Democratic nomination for Governor or it will be just another day of waiting to learn what Greene — and Patrick Murphy — decide to do this election cycle.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will be in St. Petersburg Monday as part of his “American Promise Tour.”

Biden, a Democrat, is expected to be at the Mahaffey Theater at 7:30 p.m. to promote his memoir, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose.”

“During his American Promise Tour events, Vice President Biden has discussed the big political moments of his career, the life-altering choices he made, and the key traits that have helped him persevere through challenges,” a news release said.

Tickets were still available Sunday night on the Mahaffey’s website.

“There is also a VIP upgrade available for $250, which includes a photo opportunity with the former Vice President, a VIP lanyard, and a copy of Biden’s memoir,” the site said.

For other dates on the tour, visit that website here. Monday’s stop is the last one in Florida of his book tour.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

—@RealDonaldTrump: As only one of two people left who could become President, why wouldn’t the FBI or Department of ‘Justice’ have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort (on charges that were 10 years old and had been previously dropped) during my campaign? Should have told me!

—@MarcoRubio: Every day seems to bring a new story of a U.S. company apologizing to #China for something about #Taiwan or #Tibet This means #China now censors corporate speech in America. Unreal.

—@AnaNavarro: Came to Nicaragua to visit my mom. She’s in delicate health. Had surgery yesterday. Pls pray for her. Always struck by this country’s beauty. Sad to see continued killing spree by Ortega thugs. Daily, Nicaraguans wake-up to horrible headlines of more assassinations. #SOSNicaragua

—@Fineout: It’s early yet, but spending on political TV ads in Florida is a bit amazing. Between the U.S. Senate race and governor’s race alone the amount is approaching $30 million. Still 3 months away from the primary. It can be argued this is part of the political legacy of @FLGovScott

—@PollackHunter: Today, is the day my sister has been waiting for. Graduation where she would’ve been getting her diploma and be on her way to attend college. This is a sad day, as I will be walking stage to get her diploma for her.

—@MattGaetz: My previously-defeated opponent criticizing me for voting against legislation that funded planned parenthood. What a shame.

—@AlLawsonJr: When our campaign accounts are hacked and the best they can do is RT Donald Trump on our account. Dirty politics at best

—@RSAConsulting: Congrats to @PepinAcademies Hillsborough Graduating Class of 2018! Thank you to the inspiring keynote speaker @JamesGrantFL & @DanaYoungFL @RepMcClure @Jeff_Eakins @LynnGray88 for watching these incredible students walk across the stage. #PepinPride

—@SenReneGarcia: I’m not sure where I may be going when I die but one things for sure I’m going to make a quick stop in Atlanta. Not a bad place to make a quick stop while the big man decides … Thank you @Delta for making your hub airports a pleasant experience. #keepclimbing

—@JoeGruters: Thanks to @AnheuserBusch and @SJRiverkeeper for cleaning up our watersheds. Important work to keep Floridians healthy and safe.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 5; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 7; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 8; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 10; Father’s Day — 13; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 18; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 24; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 34; MLB All-Star Game — 43; Deadline for filing claim bills — 58; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 58; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 59; Start of the U.S. Open — 84; Primary Election Day — 85; College Football opening weekend — 87; NFL season starts — 94; Future of Florida Forum — 114; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 141; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 142; General Election Day — 155; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 255; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 274.

— TOP STORY —

Jobs report raises GOP hopes for midterms, while worrying Dems” via Alexander Bolton of The Hill — The economy added 223,000 jobs in May, a bigger than expected number that was coupled with news that unemployment had fallen to 3.8 percent. It extends the good economic news for Trump and the GOP, which has seen a series of favorable jobs reports this year. Strong top-line economic numbers play into the Republican argument that voters should re-elect them to support Trump’s agenda of lower taxes and less regulation. They believe it cuts into arguments that 2018 should be a “change” election. Democrats are still largely optimistic about their electoral chances in the fall. The president’s party almost always loses congressional seats in the first midterm. At the same time, some acknowledge the economy could help the GOP. “I do think this is the single biggest challenge, by far, faced by the Democrats, and it will determine whether we pick up 30 seats or 50 seats,” Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, said of the economy.

A better-than-expected jobs report is giving the GOP some hope.

Senate Republicans are newly hopeful about the midterms. For good reason.” via Jonathan Martin of The New York Times — After a turbulent first year confronting friendly fire from President Trump, Senate Republicans are entering the summer before the midterm elections feeling more hopeful about retaining their narrow majority than at any time since the president’s election. And for good reason … Trump is enjoying a modest increase in his approval ratings this year and, as important, is attacking Democrats rather than inciting the internecine feuds that could depress Republican turnout. The economy continues to grow, as demonstrated by an unexpectedly strong jobs report, while unemployment has fallen to levels unseen since 2000. Republicans, already on the offensive thanks to a Senate map that includes 10 Democratic-held seats in states Trump won, have seen nearly every electoral variable turn in their direction in recent months: They have averted disaster in the West Virginia primary, successfully recruited their preferred candidates in North Dakota and Florida, and watched a renegade Republican challenger wane in one of Mississippi’s two Senate races.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Battle rages between John Morgan, Rick Scott over smokable medical marijuana” via Steve Bousquet of the Miami Herald — Morgan is urging Gov. Scott on Twitter to “put the politics aside” and drop the state’s appeal of a court decision that legalized smokable medical marijuana in Florida. Morgan … already urged his nearly 62,000 twitter followers to call Scott’s office and urge him to drop the appeal. Morgan, a Democrat, sides with Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Scott’s opponent, who said Friday he supports letting patients with cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS and other conditions smoke medical marijuana in private. Scott appeared on an Orlando TV station and defended the state’s decision to appeal. “This is not about politics. This is about following the law,” Scott said on Fox 35 in Orlando. “We’ve got to follow what the law is.”

John Morgan tells Rick Scott to ‘put politics aside’ on smokable medical marijuana.

Scott’s outsider image as Senate candidate clashes with Florida reality” via Steve Bousquet and Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — “He’s not the same guy he was in 2010,” says Phil Handy, a Republican business executive in Winter Park. “I consider him much more a part of the establishment, especially in the way he raises money.” Scott has pulled in special interest cash like no governor before him, stocked state government with friends, drawing charges of cronyism, and regularly socializes with top lobbyists … Even allies struggle to find ways that he changed the culture in a capital where he is by far the best-known politician. “It’s a little hard to go full-out populist when you’ve been governor for eight years,” said Patrick Murray, a national pollster at Monmouth University, who noted that Scott does have the benefit of facing an opponent who has been in office since 1972 and can use that to harness anti-Washington feelings.

— “Is Nelson one of America’s most independent senators?” via Allison Graves of PolitiFact Florida

Assignment editorsNelson joins former Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Rosselló in Central Florida for a major campaign announcement. At 11 a.m., the pair will be with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn at Nilsa’s Puerto Rican Bistro, 428 W. Waters Avenue, Tampa. At 2 p.m., they will be at Willer’s Supermarket, 1344 Vine Street, Kissimmee.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Vastly outnumbered, Republicans look for boost from Broward in midterm elections” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The numbers are daunting. Democrats have 569,000 registered voters in the county. The 319,000 no party affiliation voters are in second place. Republicans are in a distant third, with 245,000 voters. With those numbers, Republicans at the top of the ticket will get crushed in Broward on Election Day. But if they do well enough in the county, Republican-leaning parts of Florida can produce statewide victories for the party’s candidates. “The turnout from Broward County is crucial to the success of our statewide candidates,” Richard DeNapoli, a county party leader, told a packed audience at a recent fundraising dinner. “If we can turn out the vote here in Broward, we can keep Florida a red state with an all-Republican Cabinet and we can make [Gov.] Scott our next senator.”

Who’s soaring in the Democratic governor primary? Almost everyone. Just ask them.” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — Three of the four candidates have released polls commissioned by their campaigns with them leading or doing better than other polls by established firms. Some of the surveys have included “informed polling” that showed the candidate doing much better after a positive message about the candidate is read to respondents. It’s a common tactic by campaigns that can help them reach out to voters, gain momentum or raise money, experts say, but such polls aren’t a good guide for determining where the race really stands. “It’s really just a way to test your message and also a great way to boost your numbers to send out to the press,” said Matthew Isbell, a Tallahassee-based Democratic pollster. “But it’s just not in political science a realistic, predictive value.”

Who is doing well in the Democratic gubernatorial race? Depends who you ask.

Andrew Gillum meeting with FBI undercover agents took shape during Costa Rica trip with lobbyists” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — At the height of an FBI corruption investigation two years ago, Gillum vacationed in Central America with … Adam Corey … Gillum … joined Corey and an entourage of friends and business associates during the first week of May 2016 at an exclusive, $1,400-a-night luxury resort on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Ethics watchdogs said the trip smacks of the appearance of impropriety, and that the public will never know whether city business was discussed. Gillum’s friends and staff said the trip was personal in nature. But during that Costa Rican vacation, Corey sent a calendar invite to Gillum scheduling a May 16 meetup at the Edison between himself, Gillum and the now infamous undercover FBI agent Mike Miller, according to emails obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat. Even without Corey setting up a business meeting during the trip, ethics watchdogs said the trip blurs the lines between friendship and business, especially given the close ties between Gillum, Corey and Pittman and their dealings with the city,

Progressive women hear from Philip Levine, Chris King and Gwen Graham on education, guns and Trump” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Three of the four Democratic candidates for Florida governor made their case to dozens of the state’s most involved woman activists, each establishing how important the female vote will be to their primary chances and to turning the state blue in November. For Miami Beach Mayor Levine and Orlando-area businessman King, that meant talking about the important women in their life. Levine joked his mom is more popular than him for her role in his television ads and boasted his company’s chief operating officer is female. King noted he met his wife in public schools and that his daughter held up a cheeky sign at the Orlando women’s march. “Without Hermione, Harry Potter would’ve died in book one,” he recalled the sign said. “Hashtag girl power.” Meanwhile, former U.S. Rep. Graham fantasized of what it would mean to have Florida’s first female governor in Tallahassee. “The future is female,” she said to applause. All three endorsed Florida ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, a constitutional amendment that says civil rights may not be denied on the basis of sex. This week, Illinois became the 37th state to do so, putting the country only one state away from a landmark change.

Assignment editors — Levine will meet with South Florida labor leaders at the meeting of the South Florida AFL-CIO Central Labor Council, 7 p.m., 4349 NW. 36th St., Suite 107, Miami Springs.

Gwen Graham: Florida should ban ‘conversion therapy’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Graham is now asking the Florida Legislature to ban the controversial practice known as “conversion therapy.” Graham’s call comes on the first day of LGBT Pride Month. Conversion therapy is a process that attempts to “treat” gay people by promoting a transition to a heterosexual lifestyle. As summarized by the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for LGBT rights, numerous medical organizations have denounced conversion therapy, saying it promotes risks among patients and lacks scientific credibility. Graham echoed those concerns in her statement announcing her push for a statewide ban. “Conversion therapy is junk science. It’s hurtful and cruel, and there is no place for it in Florida.” She added, “We need to welcome and love our young people for who they are. Period. Nine states and in 15 municipalities in Florida have banned this horrible practice, and it’s time for it to be outlawed by the whole state.”

“Florida Chamber spending at least $1M for pro-Adam Putnam ads” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The political committee tied to the Florida Chamber of Commerce is spending at least $1 million on a new TV ad supporting Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s bid for governor. The positive ad talks about Putnam pushing for lower taxes and his efforts to “tackle traffic congestion.” The ad was funded by Securing Florida’s Future, which is chaired by Mark Wilson, the chamber’s President and CEO.

First on #FlaPol — “Campaign will officially kick off to promote dog-racing ban” via Florida Politics — Advocates for a ballot initiative to put an end to greyhound racing say they’ll launch their “Protect Dogs — Yes on 13” campaign Monday, with a news conference at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. State Sen. Dana Young, a Tampa Republican and “steadfast advocate of greyhound protection issues,” is slated to attend with Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan … Amendment 13, placed on the ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission, would outlaw the racing of dogs and wagering on such races. Amendments need at least 60 percent approval … In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 12 tracks. “Greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane,” said campaign co-chair Kate MacFall in a statement.

—“Greyhound racing ban backers start campaign on offense” via Florida Politics

Happening today — The Trump Club of St. Johns County holds a candidate forum for Florida’s 6th Congressional District. Republicans include Fred CostelloMichael Waltz and John Ward. Democrats are Stephen SevignyNancy Soderberg and John Upchurch. Forum begins 7 p.m., Fraternal Order of Police, 5050 Inman Road, St. Augustine.

No, this Florida Democrat wasn’t hosting a DC fundraiser while Hurricane Irma was battering Florida” via Philip Wegmann of the Washington Examiner — Republican Scott Sturgill is making waves with accusations that Rep. Stephanie Murphy abandoned her constituents and “spent thousands on a campaign fundraiser in Washington as Hurricane Irma passed through Central Florida.” It would be an absolutely brutal gut punch — if it were completely true. For proof, the Sturgill campaign points to a $3,200 payment to Charlie Palmer Steakhouse dated on Sept. 13. But Murphy didn’t host a fundraiser that day. She was busy meeting with President Trump at the White House to discuss federal aid for Floridians rebuilding after the storm. A photo shows her sitting one seat away from the president and, in an official news release, she praised the meeting as an “opportunity to urge the President to support Hurricane Irma relief.” Murphy did host a fundraiser. But it was actually about a week earlier, on Sept. 7.

—“Matt Gaetz comes to Stephanie Murphy’s defense over attack ad” via Florida Politics

Neil Combee on fake tweets: ‘Wingnutness’ is involved” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — A fake Twitter account set up in the name of Congressional District 15 candidate Combee is tweeting out scurrilous right-wing material. The account has the handle @neilcombee, formerly Combee’s state House account. But after Combee complained to Twitter, the account name was changed to Fake Real Neil Combee, and a message on its page calls it a parody account, saying, “all tweets are fake.” One recent tweet describes President Barack Obama as “former muslim (and not born in the US and #isis founder)” who “got a #noblepeaceprize for being elected black” and says Trump deserves “a noble prize.” … “I have no idea who it is,” said Combee, whose real account is @realNeilCombee. “I don’t know if it’s a right-wing nut or a left-wing nut, but I know there’s some wingnutness involved.”

Matt Haggman says ICE should be abolished” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Haggman, a Democratic candidate for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, is now calling for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be abolished. This comes as Democrats have criticized the Trump administration for numerous policies they deem to be unnecessarily harsh toward undocumented immigrants. The elimination of an entire federal agency may seem like an extreme step; Haggman says otherwise. “Abolishing ICE is not a radical idea,” he argued. “ICE was created in 2003. We’re talking about a 15-year-old agency that has far overstepped its intended, national security function and is sucking up government resources to deport families and detain children.”

David Richardson releases Spanish-language ad targeting Donna Shalala” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Richardson is intent on getting his message out: Shalala is not fighting for you. That’s the tone of a new Spanish-language television ad released by the Richardson campaign. It is the fourth such ad taking on Shalala, one of Richardson’s opponents in the Democratic primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Like his previous ads, this one highlights Shalala’s changing stance on universal health care. The ad flashes back to 2007 when Shalala was a guest on “The Colbert Report.” Asked by host Stephen Colbert whether she was “one of those universal health care people,” Shalala responded, “No, actually, I’m not.”

David Richardson blasts Donna Shalala again, this time in Spanish.

Spotted at last week’s fundraiser for Shawn Harrison at the TPepin Hospitality Centre: Steve Anderson, Frank Chillura, Dick Greco, Mike Griffon, Gina Grimes, Blaise Ingoglia, Mel Jurado, Brian Lamb, Chris Ligori, Hung Mai, Lee Moffitt, Michelle Patty, Tom Pepin, Frank Roddick, Andy Scaglione, Mark Sharpe, Dale Swope, Chuck Sykes, and Steve Yerrid.

Victims’ advocate attorney enters HD 83 race — Republican Sasha Dadan is entering the race for House District 83, a seat currently held by term-limited Rep. Gayle Harrell. “It is imperative that we force government to live within its means and pursue the continuation of Gov. Scott’s economic policies that are benefiting economic growth in our state,” said Dadan, the American-born daughter of a Cuban mother and Argentine father. Dadan began her legal career in the Office of the Public Defender in the 19th Judicial Circuit. Afterward, she worked for Safespace and helped establish the first Injunction for Protection (IFP) project in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties. Dadan then continued working to educate law enforcement agencies, the State Attorney’s Office, Clerk’s Office and judges about the new program. The IFP card Dadan helped develop was incorporated into the victims’ rights packets offered by local law enforcement and posted throughout the courthouses on the Treasure Coast.

Ex-West Palm commissioner: foe’s consultant hid election contributors” via Tony Doris of the Palm Beach Post — Former West Palm Beach City Commissioner Shanon Materio alleged in election complaints that her opponent’s political adviser, Rick Asnani, hid contributor names by having campaign donors give through shell corporations. Materio lost her bid for re-election in March to political newcomer Christina Lambert by 183 votes of a total of 7,483 cast in the District 5 race. That represented a margin of 51 to 49 percent. In three complaints she said she filed to the Florida Elections Commission, Materio alleged that Coalition for American Jobs, Inc., Taxpayers for American Jobs, Inc. and Citizens for Safer Neighborhoods, Inc. collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for political purposes without declaring themselves political organizations, which are required to identify contributors. All three were created and run by Asnani, whose Cornerstone Solutions, Inc. served as Lambert’s political consultant leading up to the March 13 election, the complaints said. The complaints’ intent is to find out who contributed and how much, and how the money was distributed, Materio said.

— STATEWIDE —

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott makes two stops to highlight the disaster preparedness sales tax holiday running through June 7. At 10 a.m., he will be at Shell Lumber and Hardware, 2733 SW. 27th Ave., Miami. At 2:45 p.m., Scott will be at DG Ace Hardware, 600 N. State Street, Bunnell.

School boards try to speed up education law fight” via the News Service of Florida — School boards and the state are sparring about whether a challenge to a controversial 2017 education law should move quickly to the Florida Supreme Court. Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper on April 17 upheld the law, which is commonly known as HB 7069 and includes a series of steps to boost charter schools. Cooper’s ruling led 11 school boards to appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal. Last week, 10 of those school boards filed a document requesting that the case be quickly “certified” to the Supreme Court because of the need for immediate resolution. Lawyers for the state responded Friday, arguing that the case should go through the regular appeals process. The wide-ranging law, a priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, included changes such as requiring county school boards to share local property-tax revenues with charter schools for building-related expenses. It also set the stage for adding new charter schools — dubbed “schools of hope” — that will serve students whose traditional public schools have been considered low-performing. The school boards contend in the legal challenge that the law usurps their constitutional authority to operate public schools.

School districts are speeding up the fight against one of Richard Corcoran’s top priorities.

Schools without rules: private schools’ curriculum downplays slavery, says humans and dinosaurs lived together” via Leslie Postal, Beth Kassab and Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Some private schools in Florida that rely on public funding teach students that dinosaurs and humans lived together, that God’s intervention prevented Catholics from dominating North America and that slaves who “knew Christ” were better off than free men who did not. The lessons taught at these schools come from three Christian publishing companies whose textbooks are popular on many of about 2,000 campuses that accept, and often depend on, nearly $1 billion in state scholarships, or vouchers … educators from Florida colleges and school districts reviewed textbooks and workbooks from these publishers, looking at elementary reading and math, middle school social studies and high school biology materials. They found numerous instances of distorted history and science lessons that are outside mainstream academics. The books denounce evolution as untrue, for example, and one shows a cartoon of men and dinosaurs together, telling students the Biblical Noah likely brought baby dinosaurs onto his ark. The science books, they added, seem to discourage students from doing experiments or even asking questions.

Florida prisons roll out more for-profit services while weighing visitation cuts” via Ben Conarck of the Florida Times-Union — With the backdrop of a contentious fight over visitation rules, revenue from money transfers used to purchase for-profit services offered inside the prisons has spiked in recent months. The Florida-based company contracting with the department, JPay, offers prison banking and other services in 35 states. The department brought in a record high $350,000 last month in commissions from inmates and their loved ones exchanging funds to purchase everything from bars of soap in the commissary to electronic “stamps” used to send emails that can take several days to get to their recipient. In the last year, the agency received about $3.5 million in commissions … That’s up from about $2.3 million four years ago. With the statewide expansion of multimedia kiosks, the department — which gets $2.75 for each money transfer into an inmate’s private bank account — stands to bring in more cash as inmates will have greater access to email services. Video calling, however, is purchased directly by inmates’ loved ones and will not lead to more commissions for the department.

Hearing set in smokable medical marijuana lawsuit” via Florida Politics — Circuit Judge Karen Gievers will hear arguments this morning about lifting an automatic stay of a ruling that would allow patients to smoke medical marijuana. Gievers on May 25 overturned part of a law passed last year by the Legislature that barred patients from smoking medical marijuana … The smoking ban quickly drew a legal challenge. The Florida Department of Health, which regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use, appealed Gievers’ ruling on allowing smokable marijuana, which led to an automatic stay of the ruling. The plaintiffs then filed a motion seeking to vacate the stay. Gievers will consider that request at a hearing today at 9 a.m., in the Leon County Courthouse in Tallahassee.

As marijuana dispensaries open their doors, Florida registers 5,400 new users per week” via Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald — Slow movement by state regulators on everything from which companies could grow and sell marijuana to how patients could take it kept any weed gold rush in check. (Even the conservative Legislature fired off a letter to the Health Department last month accusing it of dragging its feet.) But by the end of May, the state Health Department’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use said it was registering new users at a clip of 5,400 a week, and the time required to process registrations is down to about two weeks. Many industry analysts believe it will take another giant step forward if appellate courts uphold a Leon County judge’s ruling last month that the state’s ban on smoking medical marijuana is unconstitutional. The Legislature, in writing the law implementing the constitutional amendment legalizing medical pot, said the only forms of it that could be used were oils (which can be vaped as well as eaten or applied topically), tinctures, sprays and edibles.

Grim upside for the Keys this hurricane season — thanks to Irma, there’s less to lose” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — Although Big Pine, one of the hardest hit areas in the storm, still has work to do before the community is fully recovered from Irma, the rest of the Keys appear to be back online and ready for hurricane season. The county promises issues from last year — a fight over debris removal contractors and anger over re-entry procedures — won’t be repeated. Money is trickling in from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the residents in FEMA-subsidized housing are down to a handful. Most importantly, said Martin Senterfitt, emergency management director for the Keys, residents had their storm preparation muscles flexed. “Before Irma 90 percent of the people in the Florida Keys have never experienced a major hurricane. Now 90 percent of people have. Just that institutional knowledge, that right there is an incredible strength. We have a whole community now that gets it.”

Silver lining: At least the Keys will have less to lose in the next big hurricane.

Appeal could prove pivotal to auto-glass litigation in Florida” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — The outcomes of 18 lawsuits — and potentially many more — rest on State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.’s appeal of a court order to reveal how it decides on a fair price to replace a shattered auto windscreen. State Farm v. Shazam Auto Glass may be the first test of whether the insurer’s “system pricing” mechanism qualifies as a protected trade secret … But, in a state where auto glass claims have risen markedly during the past decade, the dispute could prove an important test case.

Lawyer with lupus sues Health Department for discrimination” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A black attorney who has lupus is suing the state’s Department of Health for race and disability discrimination, saying she was wrongly forced to quit. Sharmin Hibbert, 36, filed her lawsuit in Leon County Circuit Civil court on Thursday, court records show, seeking her rehiring. Among other things, Hibbert said her supervisor — current General Counsel Nichole Geary — “reprimanded (her) for not walking to (Geary’s) office” to let her know she was not going to a meeting because of pain from a broken ankle, the suit says.

Corruption patina can dull Jacksonville image, experts say” via David Bauerlein and Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union — City Council members Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown were indicted on charges they used phony invoices to draw money from a loan backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. They declared their innocence. Reggie Brown did not hesitate when asked if he still can be trusted. “Absolutely,” he told reporters. “There is no reason not to trust me.” But coming on the heels of other high-profile cases brought against elected officials, the indictments bring another wave of scrutiny on government leaders and public trust in them. “I think it hurts perception,” said Matthew Corrigan, a professor in political science at the University of North Florida. “One of the saving graces is that more people have faith in their local government than the state or national level. This type of activity eats away at that.” Details of the prosecutions differ, but taken together, they can cloud a city’s image when “corruption” repeatedly gets mentioned in the same sentence as Jacksonville. For constituents, it can erode confidence in local government. For those outside the city, a reputation for corruption can affect the comfort level of businesses choosing where to steer their investments.

State investigators found no evidence mayor blackmailed a commissioner in North Bay Village” via Sarah Blakey of the Miami Herald – A criminal investigation into mysterious letters sent to a former North Bay Village commissioner has been closed and there is no evidence that Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps was involved in any alleged blackmail. That’s according to a brief email sent late Friday to the village commission by Village Attorney Norman Powell citing an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and State Attorney’s Office. “Glad to see the SAO has verified what we have known all along. That there was nothing there,” Leon-Kreps responded. “I am glad it’s over and we can move on with the village business.”

Judge: Fired officer must stand trial for killing black man” via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press — Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer rejected fired Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja’s attempt to use Florida’s “stand your ground” law, saying his statements to investigators after the 2015 shooting of Corey Jones are not supported by an audiotape of the shooting and other physical evidence, such as the location of the bullet casings. She said the evidence shows Raja, who was working in plain clothes and driving an unmarked van, was not truthful when he told investigators about five hours after the shooting that he identified himself as a police officer when he approached Jones’ broken-down SUV or when he said he pulled his gun only after Jones, who had a concealed-weapons permit, pulled his own handgun. Instead, Feuer agreed with prosecutors that Raja never identified himself and approached Jones aggressively with his gun drawn, making Jones believe he was about to be attacked by a stranger.

Worst story you’ll read today — “Youth worker faces molestation charge” via Tom McLaughlin of the NWF Daily News — Lauren Myres, a case manager for the Families First Network in Fort Walton Beach, was arrested and charged with sexually battering a minor over which she had custodial control. Myres, 25, admitted to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old boy “seven to eight times” between March 26 and May 30, her arrest report from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said. She and the boy had sex at Myre’s homes on Kruse Drive and Pocahontas Drive, both in Fort Walton Beach, the report said. “The defendant stated she knew it was wrong and allowed the sexual relationship to continue,” the report said. “The defendant also told the victim that what they were doing was illegal and the defendant was aware the victim was 17 years old.” Following the arrest, the boy told deputies he did not believe his sex with Myres was wrong because “he was not being raped and was about to be 18.” Myres was fired immediately after Families First Network officials learned of her arrest … Her access to company buildings and equipment was removed.

Pedestrian struck, killed by Brightline train in Boynton Beach” via Julius Whigham II, Jeff Ostrowski and McKenna Ross of the Palm Beach Post — Marking the fifth death involving the high-speed rail service in Palm Beach County since it began operations in January … Boynton Beach police said that an unidentified man was struck and killed shortly before 11:30 a.m. on the train tracks in the 1600 block of South Federal Highway, just south of Woolbright Road. Brightline officials released a statement about the death … “We continue working with the Boynton Beach Police Department,” spokeswoman Ali Soule said. “The only safe place to cross a railroad is at the designated crossing. Never try to beat a train.”

Another pedestrian was killed by a Brightline train, this time in Boynton Beach. (Image via Palm Beach Post)

FPL wants to keep old reactors running. New sea-rise studies could stand in the way” via Jenny Staletovich of the Miami Herald — This spring when Florida Power & Light asked nuclear regulators to keep its aging reactors along the shore of Biscayne Bay running another 20 years, the utility used its own dated estimates on sea rise rather than the most recent, and far higher, projections by government agencies. But environmentalists and some residents who have long battled the utility over expansion proposals and previous license extensions jumped on the rising risks of sea-rise this week when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission held its first hearing on the request. They don’t see how seaside troubled cooling canals that keep the reactors running — already in the midst of a $50 million fix after tests showed they polluted the bay and threatened nearby drinking water supplies with an underground saltwater plume — can survive.

— TROUBLE IN PARADISE —

The recently-perennial issue of how to regulate vacation rentals will be back in the Legislature next year.

As reported by Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida, one issue in the spotlight is regulators’ — or county governments’ — access to property information. An agreement between 40 counties and Airbnb to let the rental giant remit taxes itself “leaves little recourse to confirm the cash remitted by Airbnb is accurate,” Sarkissian notes.

Meanwhile, access to such information also would allow counties to further enforce regulations against vacation rentals in areas where they are not welcome.

Renter’s honor: “You can’t just collect taxes on the honor system like what Airbnb is doing right now,” Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association President Carol Dover told Sarkissian.

Pending litigation: A lawsuit in Manatee County “would require Airbnb to provide property addresses and owner names for a full-scale audit.” Palm Beach County filed a similar lawsuit in 2014.

Outliers: Manatee, Palm Beach and Monroe counties have not entered into ‘Memorandums of Understanding’ declaring that Airbnb will remit taxes. Instead, renters in those counties pay the county or face hefty fines.

— ‘TOO BIG TO FAIL’ —

A recent newspaper investigation into regulatory actions taken upon the state’s largest network of nursing homes is a must-read, albeit one that will leave the reader uneasy.

Reported by Ryan Mills and Melanie Payne, the investigation revealed that a $347.8 million judgment against Consulate (for fraud, although linked to neglect) was overturned as a result of inaction from state regulators who were limited in their ability to stem wrongdoings of such a large corporation housing so many elder residents.

One source described Consulate as “too big to fail.” Mills and Payne wrote that it “represents a growing trend in the nursing home industry. The homes are evolving into national corporations that funnel profits to wealthy investors.”

Names, faces: Included in the investigative piece are stories of mistreated patients — like Billy Siegler, who overdosed after not receiving therapy — to illustrate how the consumer ultimately is the victim of the inaction.

Oversight: The judge who overturned the settlement placed the blame squarely on Florida’s AHCA and the feds for not exhibiting concern over possible fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims.

Untimely at best: Following the judge’s ruling, AHCA informed 53 Consulate homes that the agency would deny their license renewals, followed by another three afterward. Eight of those were later put on improvement tracks.

— PARKLAND —

Marjory Stoneman Douglas students to embark on summer tour” via Mike Allen of Axios – The students of March for Our Lives, including survivors of the Parkland high school shooting, today will announce a 60-day, 20-state, 75-stop summer bus tour to register young people to vote and to promote gun law reform. … A separate, simultaneous Florida tour will make more than 25 stops in the state, visiting every congressional district.

Campus monitor tells how he chased Nikolas Cruz before Parkland shooting erupted” via Tonya Alanez, Paula McMahon and Anne Geggis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The school day was about 20 minutes from dismissal as Andrew Medina, a baseball coach and unarmed campus monitor, rode his golf cart around the Marjory Stoneman Douglas campus unlocking gates. Medina was the first to see Cruz step onto the Parkland campus on Feb. 14. He tuned into the 19-year-old getting out of a gold-colored Uber and striding purposefully toward the 1200 building. “He’s beelining. He’s got his head down. He’s on a mission, you know. He’s on a mission,” Medina later told investigators. Medina radioed ahead to a fellow campus monitor assigned to that building to warn him that a suspicious kid — who Medina did not suspect was carrying a gun in his duffel bag — was heading for the east-side entrance. Cruz broke into a run when he noticed Medina coming his way on a golf cart “kind of chasing him.” Cruz then slipped inside the building. “I’m telling you I knew who the kid was,” Medina, 39, of Coral Springs, told investigators. “Because we had a meeting about him last year and we said, ‘if there’s gonna be anybody who’s gonna come to this school and shoot this school up, it’s gonna be that kid.’”

Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz at a recent hearing. (Image via Joe Raedle/Getty)

More than 1,600 apply for share of Stoneman Douglas donation fund” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Thursday was the deadline to submit applications for people affected by the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The National Compassion Fund plans to verify eligibility of the applicants throughout June and distribute the money beginning July 16. As of Friday, just under $8.8 million has been collected from 36,440 donors. The application period opened on May 1, just after the steering committee overseeing the fund announced that everyone who was on campus during the shootings would be eligible for a share of the donations. The fund, which will be distributed as gifts with no strings attached, was started the day after the shootings by the Broward Education Foundation, the primary fundraising arm of Broward County Public Schools.

Broward superintendent brushes aside prospect of resignation” via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – Amid criticism of his handling of the Parkland shooting, Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie dismissed the prospect of his resignation in an appearance Sunday on “Facing South Florida” With Jim DeFede. “Have at any point during this time, have you thought about resigning or moving past this district?”” DeFede asked. “No,” Runcie replied. “I believe that the work that we’re doing is the right work in this district, we’ve made tremendous progress in this district.” Runcie pointed to the district’s improving standardized test scores and graduation rates. Runcie has faced criticism, most intensely from conservatives, over a district disciplinary program known as the PROMISE program that aims to divert students who commit minor offenses from entering the criminal justice system.

David Hogg thanks NRA on Twitter. Here’s why” via Ashley May of USA TODAY — The tweet from Hogg comes as the NRA turned affiliated Twitter, Facebook and Instagram logos orange at the start of Wear Orange Weekend, a movement supporting gun violence prevention organized by activists pushing for stricter gun legislation. The NRA announced the social move by criticizing one of the groups behind the #WearOrange movement, Everytown for Gun Safety, tweeting that the group “has devoted close to no resources to making citizens safer.” The NRA said it “continues to be the world’s leading gun safety organization since 1871,” which is why it’s turning social media channels orange. The group also asked gun owners to send along photos of themselves in orange hunting and NRA apparel. Hogg tweeted a reply to the news, thanking the group for going orange. “Thank you for your support of us! We must work together to promote sensible gun laws and behavioral intervention programs if we want to end this epidemic,” Hogg said.

What’s next for the March for Our lives movement? We’ll find out (today).” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — The group provided few details in a release announcing the event — will be held at the City of Parkland Amphitheater at 10 a.m. Monday. But organizers did write that “the students will be harnessing the enormous energy and passion against gun violence displayed by the millions of people at the 800 March For Our Lives events across the country on March 24 and turning it into action.” Hogg was similarly mum on Twitter. “Ok I’m off twitter until after our big announcement tomorrow,” Hogg tweeted Sunday afternoon.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Neal Dunn tapped to lead the VA health subcommittee” via Colin Breaux of the Panama City News-Herald — Dunn recently was appointed by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe to lead the subcommittee on health. “I’m trying not to just rush in and make a lot of changes,” Dunn said of his role on the health subcommittee. “The first thing to do is take stock of what we’ve got. There’s a lot of numbers. You’re talking about the single largest hospital and health care system in the country.” Legislation introduced by Dunn has become part of the Mission Act, including the Veterans Increased Choice for Transplanted Organs and Recovery (VICTOR) Act, which gives veterans in need of an organ or bone marrow transplant through the VA health care system the ability to seek care at a federally certified transplant center near their home.

North Florida’s Neal Dunn will lead the VA health committee.

Darren Soto under fire for taped comments about Puerto Ricans acquiring benefits” via Field Sutton of WFTV — Soto can be heard on a recording saying, “You’re going to be asked a question: Do you intend to stay? I urge you to say yes, for now, because otherwise, you’re going to get rejected and then you’re going to find yourself without health care.” If Puerto Rican evacuees do not check that box, they will be automatically denied for Medicare or Medicaid benefits. The congressman is talking about one of a number of federal forms for obtaining Medicare or Medicaid, on which lying is likely criminal. Soto released a statement: “I do not encourage anyone who is planning to leave our state to falsely claim otherwise. Many recently arrived Puerto Ricans have a high probability of staying in Florida … The intent of my statement was to encourage them to err on the side of caution and declare their intent to stay if they are in doubt about their future plans.”

MSNBC host Joy Reid apologizes for incendiary old blog posts” via Tom Kludt of CNN —” While I published my blog, starting in 2005, I wrote thousands of posts in real-time on the issues of the day,” Reid said in a statement. “There are things I deeply regret and am embarrassed by, things I would have said differently and issues where my position has changed. Today I’m sincerely apologizing again.” … “I’m sorry for the collateral damage and pain this is causing individuals and communities caught in the crossfire,” she added. It was notable what the statement did not include: any mention of the claim Reid made in April that a number of the posts on her blog were written by hackers. Reid offered up that explanation after a Twitter user found a number of anti-gay posts on the blog. It is unclear if Reid is now accepting responsibility for all the material on the blog.

All apologies: Joy Reid ‘deeply regrets and is embarrassed’ by old anti-gay blog posts.

Spotted at the Mavericks Conference in Austin, Texas this past weekend: U.S. Rep. Carlos CurbeloAndres AsionSlater Bayliss, Jeb Bush Jr., Andy Gazitua, Brian Graham, Brian Harris, Mart Sarelson, and Nicole Valls.

— OPINIONS —

Mark Wilson: Consumer protection coalition warns Floridians to beware of AOB abuse this hurricane season” via Florida Politics — Protecting against storms doesn’t end with stocking up on supplies and shoring up property. Hurricanes and significant weather events create opportunities for unscrupulous contractors and their attorneys to take advantage of Assignment of Benefits, or AOB, when dealing with insurance claims. By pressuring consumers into signing an AOB, they take control of an insurance policy, paving the way to inflate the cost or scope of repairs, then file lawsuits against insurance companies that deny the claim. Consumers pay the price in the form of higher insurance rates. The Consumer Protection Coalition, led by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, has worked since 2016 to change AOB laws to curb the abuse. Proposed bills would allow consumers to rescind an AOB without penalties or fines and require contractors to submit written cost estimates for work, among other common-sense provisions. While it’s unfortunate that Florida must endure another hurricane season without AOB reform, we are hopeful lawmakers and incoming Senate and House leaders will see the harmful impact AOB abuse is having on hardworking Florida families and pass meaningful legislation in 2019.

John Romano: If a law makes sense, then it’s not meant for Florida” via the Tampa Bay Times — A few days ago, officials in Duval County announced a program aimed at getting unlicensed drivers off the road while at the same time keeping them from running up large debts and getting arrested. Yes, the premise is similar to the idea St. Petersburg senators Jeff Brandes and Darryl Rouson have tried for years to turn into a state law. I don’t think the Duval plan is as solid, but it’s better than the alternative. The alternative, in this case, being the same old bureaucratic nonsense. Somewhere along the line, suspending a driver’s license turned into a default punishment in Florida. Not just for poor drivers, but for a whole host of reasons. Now, this wasn’t such a big deal in the 1990s when running a red light might cost you $54. Nowadays, it’s $166. And speeding tickets can top $300. So what we have is criminal justice policy being driven by finances. All Brandes and Rouson want is a more common-sense approach. Their bill does not include people who lose their license for dangerous driving, nor those who are penalized for failure to pay child support. “This is not about unbridled amnesty; it’s about smart justice,’’ Rouson said. “It’s a way to encourage people to get things right with alternative options.’’

— MOVEMENTS —

Appointed  Stephen Douglas to the Lake Shore Hospital Authority; Patrick Labrada and Aaron Castillo to the Monroe County Housing Authority; Eric Schreck and Charles Hart to the Seminole County Housing Authority; Alvaro Hernandez and John Finnerty to the Pasco County Housing Authority; Mark Anderson to the Northwest Florida Regional Housing Authority.

Spotted: Speaker Corcoran at the Apple Store in International Plaza Mall, Tampa.

— ALOE —

Key West sailboat that showed up in Melbourne after Hurricane Irma to remain beached for turtles” via The Associated Press — Cuki, the beached 45-foot sailboat won’t be removed until nesting season ends on Oct. 31 — at the earliest … the sailboat’s fate is unclear. The owner of the boat is jailed in Key West for charges including sexual assault, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, cocaine possession and 45 counts of possession of child pornography. Irma’s waves and wind gusts apparently tore the sailboat from her anchor, and the unoccupied vessel drifted more than 300 miles up Florida’s East Coast before running aground.

Ghost ship ‘Cuki’ washed up on Melbourne Beach after Hurricane Irma.

Happy birthday to Julie Fess and Rebecca McLaughlin of Strategic Digital Services. Also, belatedly, to former state Rep. Mike Hill.

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