Sunburn for April 28 – The envelope please…

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray and Jim Rosica.


There are the Oscars. And the Grammys. And the Emmys. And the Tonys. Every industry has its  own awards to recognize the best in the profession.

In the advertising industry, they’re known as the Addys. Even the political consulting business has its own awards, the Pollies.

Every industry has its own trophy. Except for the governmental affairs sector.

That’s why INFLUENCE Magazine is proud to award the 1st Annual Golden Rotundas.

No, there is not a gold plated statute for the winners (not yet, at least), but the Golden Rotundas are designed to recognize the best of the best in the lobbying profession.

But how do you determine “the best?”

Well, just like actors and actresses and directors and cinematographers vote on the Academy Awards, INFLUENCE Magazine asked lobbyists to determine who are the best lobbying firms and individual lobbyists.

To determine the Lobbying Firm of the Year and the Boutique Lobbying Firm of the Year, each of the thirty largest governmental affairs firms (by reported compensation) were given one ballot and asked to submit a weighted ballot of what they think are the top three firms. A first place vote earned three points, while a third place vote earned one. We tallied up the scores and, voila, there is the winner.

For the individual lobbying awards, we opened up nominations and voting only to registered lobbyists in Florida. INFLUENCE Magazine hopes to further refine the process in year two

So, without further ado, the envelopes please…



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RICK SCOTT: IT’S TIME FOR THE #NEVERTRUMP MOVEMENT TO END the via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Scott — who endorsed Trump, also with a Facebook post, after Florida’s primary last month — again urged Republicans to accept what he calls the inevitable. “Republicans now need to come together. Donald Trump is going to be our nominee, and he is going to be on the ballot as the Republican candidate for President,” Scott wrote. “The Republican leaders in Washington did not choose him, but the Republican voters across America did choose him. The voters have spoken.” Scott cautioned that the GOP infighting will serve to help Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. He said President Barack Obama had done “serious and substantial” damage to the country and said America “cannot afford another four years of liberal incompetence, and that is exactly what Hillary Clinton would bring … We’ve had an extensive debate amongst ourselves, it is now time to get serious about winning in November. This was a hard-fought campaign, but now is the time for Republicans to unite.”

ALAN GRAYSON SKIPS VOTES FOR VEGAS TRIP MONTHS AFTER BLASTING FOE FOR MISSING VOTES via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Grayson … was a featured speaker at a trial lawyers conference at Wynn Las Vegas, resort hotel and casino … But in delivering the speech at 9:45 a.m. April 21, Grayson had to skip two votes in the House that morning … one of 15 House members who missed the vote on HR 4890, which would impose a ban on bonuses for IRS officials until there is a strategy to deal with customer service problems there. The bill passed on a 260-158 vote … Later, Grayson missed the vote on HR 3724, which would among other things bar the IRS from re-hiring workers who were fired for cause. That bill passed by a 345-78 margin with Grayson among 10 members to miss the vote. Back in February, Grayson’s campaign was not so forgiving when U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy … missed 10 votes Feb. 26. Murphy did not vote on HR 2406 and a series of amendments related to the bill. That legislation would allow more hunting on federal lands if it became law. The bill passed by a 242-161 vote with 30 members of Congress missing the vote. On the day Murphy missed the votes, he was with President Barack Obama in Jacksonville touring Saft America, a lithium battery factory that Obama says benefited from his economic policies. Grayson’s campaign blasted Murphy for skipping the vote at the time.

GRAYSON-DAVID JOLLY DEBATE DRAWS 81,000 LIVE VIEWERS, 186,000+ SINCE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Grayson and Jolly drew 81,000 live viewers for their internet-webcast U.S. Senate debate … plus another 186,000 and counting views on the YouTube post of the video. In addition, at least 41 TV stations appeared to have taken video clips or otherwise covered the debate as a news story. Whether that’s enough to make an impact in their respective races … may not yet be easy to measure. The primary opponents for Grayson and Jolly were critical of the debate. But the group that organized the debate is expressing glee over the viewership. “It went just as well as we could have possibly imagined,” said Lilia Tamm, program coordinator for the Open Debate Coalition. The two debated for 75 minutes in a novel format. They took questions that had been proposed and voted on by people over the internet. The debate, held at the WUCF studio in Orlando, was webcast live and provided no-strings-attached to any media that wanted it.

U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Republican Carlos Beruff will be in Port Charlotte; Republican Carlos Lopez-Cantera will be in Orlando; and Republican Todd Wilcox will be in Sun City.

NATIONAL NURSES UNITED ENDORSES SUSANNAH RANDOLPH IN CD 9 RACE – As the largest union and professional association of registered nurses, NNU has a strong record of promoting the interests of patients and advancing collective bargaining rights for direct care nurses and patients across the U.S. “Florida’s registered nurses are proud to endorse Susannah Randolph for Congress … because she not only shares our values of caring, compassion, and community, Susannah is committed to mandatory minimum nurse staffing levels,” said NNU member Marissa Lee, who is a registered nurse and Board Member of NNOC/Florida. “She has demonstrated a unique ability to achieve real results for Floridians. Susannah’s work creating jobs in our community, protecting workers from wage theft, and being a leader for climate action now, pay equity, and veterans, prepares her well to stand up for the people of the 9th Congressional District in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.”

CENTRAL FLORIDA REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS ENDORSE DEAN ASHER IN SD 13 RACE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Asher announced endorsements from state Reps. Mike Miller … Rene Plasencia … Eric Eisnaugle … Bob Cortes … Jason Brodeur … Scott Plakon … Mike LaRosa …  and David Santiago. “This is an exciting announcement for our campaign,” Asher stated. “My race is centered around bringing the community together for positive change, and this endorsement speaks to that directly.” Asher faces no Republican primary challengers in his bid to succeed term-limited state Sen. Andy Gardiner, who is the current president of the Florida Senate. However, Gardiner’s wife, Camille Gardiner, has talked about running, a prospect which still was open earlier this month, and which has clearly delayed many GOP endorsements in the SD 13 race. Until now.

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SPOTTED at Sen. Jeff Brandes‘ campaign kick-off: Former Governor Bob MartinezBill Edwards, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, The Florida Chamber’s Frank Walker and Andy GonzalezMark DelegalBarry EdwardsAdam GoodmanLaura JollyLisa MillerEd Montanari, and Alan Suskey

HAPPENING TODAY: State Rep. Doug Broxson is holding a fundraiser reception for his Senate District 1 campaign. Event begins 4:30 p.m. at the Florida Retail Federation offices, 227 South Adams St. in Tallahassee.

HAPPENING TODAY: State Rep. Shawn Harrison hosts a kickoff fundraiser for his North Tampa House District 63 re-election campaign. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre, 4121 N. 50th St. in Tampa.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: Republican Jackie Toledo holds a fundraiser in support of her bid for House District 60. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at the Columbia restaurant 2117 E. Seventh Ave. in Ybor City. RSVP to [email protected] or 813-444-8005.

HAPPENING TOMORROW: State Rep. Jason Brodeur holds a fundraising reception supporting his re-election effort for House District 28. Event begins 4:30 p.m. at the Governors Club Lounge, 202 South Adams St. in Tallahassee. RSVP with Nancy at 954-609-0171or [email protected].

AS FLORIDA LEADS NATION WITH ZIKA VIRUS, A FUNDING FIGHT BREAKS OUT IN WASHINGTON via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Democrats and Republicans are escalating a fight over a $1.9 billion request from President Barack Obama to combat a growing threat most pronounced in Florida. “If this is not an emergency, there’s nothing that is,” Sen. Harry Reid said … flanked by other Democrats, including Florida Sen. Bill Nelson. “No flood, no earthquake, no fire, nothing would be an emergency if this isn’t.” But Republicans are divided, with many questioning the size and urgency of the funding request. Obama has already secured $589 million, much of it taken from an account set aside for Ebola. “We haven’t concluded how much or when,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell … told reporters … “We all are very much aware that this is a serious crisis.” As of Wednesday, there were 94 reported cases in Florida, according to the state health department, more than any other state. Of those, five involve pregnant women. All the cases are travel related.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will highlight job creation and honor veterans during an event at 10:45 a.m. at ReliaQuest, 5100 West Kennedy Boulevard, Suite 430 in Tampa.

JEFF ATWATER ATTACKS SCOTT’S LEGAL LOGIC ON KEVIN MCCARTY’S RESIGNATION via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Atwater disputed Scott‘s contention that insurance commissioner Kevin McCarty would have to be “reappointed” to delay his scheduled departure date of May 2. Atwater provided a legal opinion from his general counsel, M. Drew Parker, that flatly contradicted the legal conclusions reached by Scott’s counsel, William Spicola. “The Financial Services Commission (the Cabinet, when it votes on matters affecting McCarty’s agency) did not formally accept the resignation. Commissioner McCarty, therefore, may tender an amended resignation letter providing for an alternative last day in office.” The opinion goes on to say: “The commission never took official action to accept the Jan. 5 offer to resign.”

MY TAKE: WELL, THAT [CABINET MEETING] ESCALATED QUICKLY via Florida Politics – [Tuesday’s] Cabinet meeting was nothing like any of the other meetings. It was dramatic, intense, awkward, and anticlimactic — all at the same time. After four interviews by candidates for the post of Insurance Commissioner … Scott read from a prepared statement and moved to appoint Jeffrey Bragg—a man whose legal eligibility for the job continues to be murky, and who is reported to have misled investors in a private sector position. The silence was deafening. When Jeff Atwater tried to initiate a conversation about the qualities each Cabinet member is looking for in an Insurance Commissioner, the governor deadpanned … Pam Bondi and Adam Putnam did their best to be circumspect … Putnam suggested that this issue should come in for a landing soon and that he hoped to settle on someone with both private and public sector experience.  After refusing to engage in conversation, the governor then scheduled a Friday meeting—a conference call—for this issue to be re-examined. Minutes later, a three-page legal memo from the governor’s new general counsel was issued, lambasting Commissioner Kevin McCarty’s offer to remain for 45 days after his successor is appointed to “facilitate a smooth transition as the 2016 hurricane season approaches.” Smooth transition? Hurricane preparedness? Sounds pretty gracious. But instead of shaking McCarty’s hand, the governor threw a punch—in the form of a carefully crafted memo. The memo itself restates the law several times but then dismisses that same law. This leads me to again wonder, why would anyone want to be Florida’s Insurance Commissioner?

JOE NEGRON’S UNIVERSITY TOUR COST $15 K, MOSTLY IN POLITICAL FUNDS via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – About 80 percent of the trip’s costs were covered by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, a political committee that raises money to elect Republican senators and help them retain the chamber majority. As president-designate, Negron chairs that committee. “I wanted to keep the cost of the tour as low as possible for the state of Florida,” Negron said. The tour was a “legislative activity,” though, Negron acknowledges. Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta, one of the official Senate staff on the trip, said hotel and meal expenses for her and the two other aides were paid by the Senate using taxpayer money. Senate aides also took one of the Senate’s official black SUVs, so there was an alternative, more convenient form of transportation when it was needed, Betta said. The hotel stays for everyone cost $634 per person for the five nights. Negron said it was “appropriate” to supplement the travel with party funds, so as to reduce the burden on taxpayers.

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Rep. Kathleen Peters: “It was wonderful to be recognized by the Florida Hospital Association Behavioral Health Council for the legislation I passed for mental health and substance addiction. They played a very key role in helping to educate me on what the needs of the citizens of Florida are.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Florida Association for Insurance Reform hosts an industry conference on the role of Catastrophe Reinsurance and a Wind Exposed Region. Expected to attend are several contenders for Commissioner of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, including Ray Blacklidge, who is scheduled to give an antitrust statement. Outgoing insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty will give the keynote address and serve on the kickoff panel, joined by state Sen. Jeff Brandes, former Insurance Consumer Advocate Sean Shaw, Citizens Property Insurance President Barry Gilway and FAIR senior VP Paul Handerhan. Event begins 9 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. At the Tampa Airport Marriott, 4200 George J Bean Parkway in Tampa.

APPOINTEDDrew Graham to Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research Board of Directors. Amy P. Broderson and Kerra A. Smith to the Escambia County Court. Kelly Eckley to the Duval County Court. Stephen S. Everett to the Leon County Court. Kemba Lewis to the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court.


Rudy Garcia, Jr., Florida Governmental Affairs: LiveWell at Courtyard Plaza

Margaret Lezcano: Stifel, Nicolaus & Company

Douglas Mannheimer, Broad and Cassel: Hollywood Medical Supply; ALCOLOCK; Costa Farms; E. R. Jahna Industries; Florida Health Care Association; Hall Investments; Polston Applied Technologies; Sprint

TAMPA LAWYER, FORMER FLORIDA BAR PRESIDENT, DIES via Frances McMorris of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – Former Florida Bar president and Gunster law firm shareholder L. David Shear has died. A Tampa native, Shear was known for his work as an advocate for children and was recognized by numerous organizations for his time and dedication to his community, according to Gunster’s website. Shear, who died Tuesday, was 79 years old. While he was president of the Florida Bar, it was designated the outstanding large state bar association in the country. He also served as chairman of the Southern Conference of State Bar Presidents and on the board of the National Conference of Bar Presidents. He was a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association and the American Law Institute. Shear also served as chairman on the IOLTA (Interest on Lawyer’s Trust Accounts) Implementation Commission, to implement the first IOLTA program in the United States.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of Pinellas County’s brightest stars, Brian Aungst, Jr. Every election cycle, Brian’s friends all but beg him to run for something, only to be turned down as he makes a name for himself in the legal community. But one day, he’ll be a candidate … and we’ll all be better for it. Also celebrating today is Diego Echeverri. Belated wishes to good guys, David Millner and Mark Pinto.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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