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.
It takes a village to raise a candidate.
Campaign staff. Supporters. Volunteers. And donors. Lots and lots of donors.
Those donors turned out in full force in April, giving millions of dollars to legislative candidates and political committees across the state. They gave in droves — to candidates in fierce re-election campaigns and those running unopposed; to candidates seeking higher office and to those who are keeping tight lipped about their next step.
The influx of cash can often signal a race to watch. The GOP contest pits Gulf Breeze’s Doug Broxson against Mike Hill of Pensacola Beach. Both men are foregoing re-election in the state House to duke it out in Senate District 1.
State records show Broxson raised $50,360 in April, more than half of which was raised since April 19 when he announced his Senate bid. Broxson started May with more than $145,000 in the bank.
Hill may not have fared as well in April. State records show he raised $15,475 in April, bringing his fundraising total to $71,112. But he started the merry month of May with more than $15,000 in the bank.
On the other side of the state, donors gave liberally to two South Florida candidates. In Senate District 39, Anitere Flores and Andrew Korge both posted impressive fundraising numbers April. Neither candidate has a primary challenger, and both are feverishly fundraising with their eye on November.
Flores raised $81,335 in April, bringing her total fundraising haul to $607,553. The Miami Republican had several successful fundraising days, including the final day of the month when her campaign reported she raised $33,225. Flores has more than $305,400 cash on hand in her campaign account.
Korge is no slouch when it comes to banking contributions. The son of a prominent Democratic donor, and he’s raised $246,460 since jumping into the race. Korge brought in $25,710 in April, and has more than $163,000 cash on hand.
No opponent? No problem. Sen. Bill Galvano raised a cool $84,580 in April. Sen. Wilton Simpson pulled in $31,935. Both men are in line to for the Senate presidency if the Republicans keep their majority.
Donors also don’t seem to care that their preferred candidate isn’t even running in 2016.
Florida Grown, the fundraising committee that will likely fund Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s 2018 gubernatorial bid, raised $296,704 in April. The committee has raised nearly $4.7 million since February 2015.
Let’s Get to Work, the political committee that fueled Gov. Rick Scott’s 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial runs, raised $217,100 in April. State records show the committee has raised nearly $1.3 million since the start of 2016.
Scott can’t run for re-election in 2018. All that fundraising, though, makes your wonder what comes next.
FLORIDA POLITICIANS AND PARTIES GOT $2.5 MILLION FROM PAYDAY LENDERS, GROUP SAYS via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – Allied Progress has drawn attention to the issue of payday lending in Florida by attacking U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair, and other politicians who have taken money from the industry … an advanced copy of its new report, “A Florida Plan: How payday lenders bought Florida’s political establishment” … lists donations given to federal and state candidates as well as the state’s Republican and Democratic parties since 2009. Overall, Republicans received $1.6 million and Democrats received about $890,000, while $29,000 went to independents. But the top individual recipients were South Florida Democrats: U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings: $110,700; Former U.S. Rep Kendrick Meek, who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010: $72,800; U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, who is running for the Senate: $51,000; Wasserman Schultz: $50,600. The Republican Party of Florida received $1,083,447, and the Florida Democratic Party received about $366,500. More than one-third of the donations came from the MacKechnie family and their lending company, Amscot Financial.
‘CONSUMERS FOR SMART SOLAR’ INITIATIVE BRINGS IN MORE THAN $8.5 MILLION IN APRIL via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – … by far their largest one-month total since kicking off their campaign in July. That $8.5 million came from just 14 different contributors, fueling the fact that the measure is being pushed by utility companies. That includes $2.8 million from Florida Power & Light, $2.7 million from Duke Energy, and $1.3 million from Tampa Electric Company. Gulf Power Energy chipped in another $874,450.
GAMBLING AMENDMENT GROUP NOT FUNDRAISING via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The panel behind a proposed constitutional amendment on gambling again posted no new fundraising as of its April report. Voters in Charge has nearly burned through the $195,000 given to it as seed money from the No Casinos anti-gambling expansion organization — awkwardly misspelled in a report as “No Cashinos.” The committee’s campaign finance report for April shows total expenditures at $189,100 … Much of that money was given to paid petition gatherers.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA BACKERS RAISE MORE THAN $50K IN APRIL via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – State records show People United for Medical Marijuana raised $50,493 in April. The organization received more than 500 donations in the one-month fundraising period, hundreds of them donations of $50 or less. Top donors during the one-month fundraising period: a $15,000 donation from Andrew Mack, the president at ABM OPCO, LLC., and a $5,000 donation from Altmed, LLC. Since January, the committee has raised $289,590. State records show the group spent $51,216 in April. That sum included $10,000 for political consulting from California-based PCI Consultants, Inc.
FIREFIGHTERS, TRIAL LAWYERS BANKROLL MIKE CLELLAND’S SD 13 CAMPAIGN via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Firefighters gave another big boost in April to their effort to get former firefighter and former state Rep. Clelland into the Florida Senate in Orlando-based Senate District 13. And trial lawyers pitched in again too to help Clelland, who’s now a trial lawyer. Clelland’s independent political action committee Common Sense for Central Florida picked up $75,000 from firefighter PACS and another $20,000 from trial lawyers in April, giving him a commanding money lead over two other Democrats seeking to win the Aug. 30 Democratic primary to run for what has become a very attractive seat for Democrats. Overall, his PAC raised $101,500 in April. Clelland also raised another $20,380 in in his official campaign fund, including almost $6,000 in campaign staff support from the Florida Democratic Party. That puts Clelland competitive but still well behind the only Republican running in the district, Realtor Dean Asher.
DEBBIE MAYFIELD TOPS COMPETITION IN APRIL TO KEEP SD 17 MONEY LEAD via Florida Politics – … with $32,090 in contributions. Mayfield took in 84 contributions in April, including 11 checks for the maximum contribution of $1,000, but spent nearly as much as she brought in, leaving her with $196,617 in the bank, including the $200,000 she lent her campaign back in December. The bulk came from Vero Beach, though she also brought in a check from Chicago-based pharmaceutical company AbbVie and a trio of contributions from marine construction businesses in Galliano, Louisiana. Mayfield’s $30,139 in expenditures last month included nearly $18,000 in payments to West Palm Beach-based Acclaim Communications for a direct mail campaign and consulting work.
— “Randolph Bracy, Gary Siplin boast top fundraising April in SD 13” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
— “Bob Healy out-raises Victor Torres, Peter Vivaldi in April in SD 15 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
— “HD 27 GOP hopeful William McBride adds $13K in April, with $260K on hand” via Florida Politics
— “Ryan Yadav loans keep HD 30 money race competitive with Bob Cortes” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
— “Amy Mercado has best financial April in HD 48 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
— “Rene Plasencia raises $13,900 in April in his bid for HD 50” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
— “Democratic HD 69 candidate Jennifer Webb reports raising more than $20,000 since entering campaign last month” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
— “Dan Fiorini tops Wengay Newton in fundraising in HD 70 race for 3rh straight month” Via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
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MY GRANDFATHER IS ROLLING OVER IN HIS GRAVE — BUDWEISER TO REBRAND BEER TO AMERICA THROUGH ELECTIONS via Tripp Mickle of the Wall Street Journal — Anheuser-Busch InBev NV has a plan to make America great again — or at least sell more beer. The nation’s largest brewer is stamping the word America on beer cans and bottles that would usually say Budweiser. The packaging also substitutes “US” in the logo’s crest that would usually say “AB” and drops “King of Beers” for “E Pluribus Unum.” The packaging will be on shelves from May 23 through the November presidential election.
TWEET, TWEET: @LloydDunk: British bookmaker Ladbrokes offering 25/1 odds on @FLGovScott as Trump’s vp pick. @marcorubio at 16/1.@SenBillNelson at 50/1 as Clinton’s vp
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ ‘NOT AT ALL CONCERNED’ ABOUT POTENTIAL DIVISIVENESS AT DNC IN PHILLY THIS JULY via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Bernie Sanders’ campaign came out swinging … declaring in a fundraising email that the Vermont senator is the best bet to ensure a Trump loss in the fall. However, Wasserman Schultz maintained that while the intense primary contest between Hillary Clinton and Sanders has become contentious recently, she has no worries about the party unifying at the Democratic National Convention this July in Philadelphia. “At our convention we are headed toward unity,” said Schultz on a conference call … “both of our candidates have stated that they will support the other one if they were to win the nomination, and I suspect that we will go through a platform-drafting process that will result in a platform that the entire party rallies around.”
JOE BIDEN CAMPAIGNING TODAY FOR PATRICK MURPHY via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Biden’s official schedule for Thursday has him delivering remarks at 10 a.m. at an event for Murphy, which is being held “at a private residence.”
HARRY REID TO ALAN GRAYSON: ‘I WANT YOU TO LOSE. IT’S TRUE’ via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Grayson angrily confronted Senate Minority Leader Reid … disrupting a meeting of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in front of dozens of staffers and members of Congress. Grayson, who Reid vehemently opposes in his bid for the open Florida Senate seat, arrived at the meeting with Reid’s February statement in hand, according to two sources in the room. In that statement, Reid said Grayson has “no moral compass” and “used his status as a congressman to unethically promote his Cayman Islands hedge funds.” As each member took a turn to speak to Reid, it was Grayson’s turn. He asked Reid if the Nevada senator knows who he is. After Reid answered in the affirmative, Grayson went on the attack. “Say my name, senator. Say my name,” Grayson told Reid as Rep. Keith Ellison tried to shut the confrontation down. Ellison chided Grayson, asking him what he was doing and why he was distracting from the meeting’s goals. “Why’d you say that?” Grayson said, insisting Reid’s statement was false. Reid calmly faced his inquisitor: “I want you to lose. It’s true.”
— @DailyKosElections: So Alan Grayson thinks he’s Heisenberg now?
— @MikeLaRosaDC: Patrick Murphy statement on Alan Grayson: “If Alan Grayson is trying to prove that he’s a lot like Donald Trump, he’s succeeding.”
CARLOS BERUFF CALLS ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO ‘ACT IMMEDIATELY’ TO FIGHT ZIKA via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – “Preventing and treating Zika is vital to all Americans, and especially Floridians, who are always on the front lines of any potential virus outbreak,” said Beruff. “Instead of taking action now to deal with the threat at hand, the Washington establishment is dragging its feet.” In his statement, Beruff said Congress needs to listen to [Rick] Scott and [Marco] Rubio, and “act immediately to ensure that Florida has the resources it needs to prevent and treat this disease.”
U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Beruff will be in Jacksonville. Todd Wilcox will be in Daytona Beach and Winter Haven.
CD 2 CANDIDATE NEAL DUNN QUIETLY PUSHED 2013 BANKING BILL via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Dunn has spent considerable time defending himself against opponents who have tried to peg him as a lobbyist, but the Panama City physician in the past has at least informally played the part. Dunn worked to pass at least one bill during the 2013 legislative session — a banking bill that died in the final days of session that would have, among other things, clarified state law to make clear Florida-based banks can charge check-cashing fees, a move that analysts said at the time could result in “more fees for consumers.” “Any chance SB 1020 Banking to make it out of Rules and Judiciary today?” Dunn wrote in a March 1, 2013 text message to Chris Clark, who served as chief of staff to then-Senate president Don Gaetz.
CD 4 CANDIDATE HANS TANZLER CITED FOR ‘TRANSPARENCY DEFICIENCIES’ IN WATER BOARD JOB PERFORMANCE REVIEW via Florida Politics – In his last governmental role, Tanzler faced serious criticism about a lack of transparency, poor communication skills, and questions about his management skills according to an internal evaluation … In 2015, Tanzler left his position as executive director of the St. Johns River Water Management District, ahead of an exodus of senior staff members from the same district. Worth examining are some of the issues he had in that role, according to a performance review authored by George W. Robbins of the St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board. Transparency was a “major deficiency” for Tanzler, asserted Robbins, who gave him the lowest possible rating for this key metric. Robbins claimed “Hans initiated a scheme to make the board and district appear to be considering the continuance of the Aquafiber contract after clearly stating his position against this … His explanation was that a state senator was in favor of the contract and was threatening to block two board appointments.”
RICK SCOTT VISITS DC TO MAKE PITCH FOR ZIKA AID via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – “We’ve got to have a federal plan,” Scott told reporters … “My job is to help get the state prepared and that is what this trip is to do.” Scott’s daily schedule includes meetings on Capitol Hill with only Republicans: U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo … Gus Bilirakis … Ander Crenshaw … Tom Rooney … Curt Clawson … David Jolly … and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. “It’s going to get warmer, we’re going to have more rainfall, we’re probably going to see more mosquitoes in our state,” Scott said … “Our federal government has a variety of plans they’re talking about. … We’ve got to address the Zika issue. Hopefully, we can get ahead of it.”
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BAYOU BOUND: SCOTT TO TRAVEL TO LOUISIANA FOR JOB HUNTING TRIP THIS SUMMER via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – “I’ll be going to Louisiana this summer to get jobs,” he said. “I think we have good opportunities … We’re winning, and we can’t stop … Sometime this summer I’m going to Louisiana. I’m going to go there, and I’m going to keep going to these states, and we’re going to keep getting jobs for Florida families.” Scott isn’t the only one gearing up for his trip … The Advocate reported that a spokesman for Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards blasted Scott’s upcoming job-hunting trip … Scott would “be best served staying in Florida to tend to the business of his own state.”
FLORIDA ADDS 9,500 PRIVATE-SECTOR JOBS IN APRIL, ADP SURVEY SHOWS via Florida Politics – The new jobs mainly headed to the service industry, which saw a gain of 10,100 jobs, including 2,400 new positions in the trade, transportation and utilities sector and 1,400 in the professional and business services industry. The service industry gains were balanced out by a loss of 900 manufacturing jobs last month, though … the mining and construction industry produced a modest gain of 300 jobs. The Sunshine State’s total was good enough for second place among the states tracked in the report.
SCOTT CONTINUES TO TAKE AIM AT JERRY BROWN via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott isn’t ready to let his transcontinental barbs with California Gov. Jerry Brown end quite yet. In Naples Wednesday, Scott ripped into California for finishing 50th in a set of rankings done by a business magazine that looked at the best states in the nation for business. Scott noted that Chief Executive Magazine ranked Florida No. 2. “I love Jerry Brown,” Scott said facetiously to more than 100 state and government officials on Wednesday. “I think he’s doing a great job as governor out there.”
MAJOR CHANGES PROPOSED FOR SCOTT’S CHERISHED JOB RECRUITING AGENCY via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – For nearly 40 minutes Wednesday, Scott sat and listened to how the agency he most entrusted to uphold his self-proclaimed jobs legacy is “top heavy” with management, spends too much on office space, needs to rein in travel expenses and has a lack internal controls that could make it ripe for fraud. Those findings were part of a nearly two-month review … Scott ordered after the Republican-led Legislature refused earlier this year to give him $250 million for a job recruitment fund that he said was critical to growing jobs and diversifying the economy
MAJOR VISIT FLORIDA SHIFT PROPOSED via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – Visit Florida, the state’s public-private tourism group, would be moved from under the auspices of Enterprise Florida, another public-private economic development group, to the Department of Economic Opportunity, the state jobs agency. The move, which requires legislative approval, would be part of an ongoing overhaul of how the state attracts jobs and tourists to Florida. David Wilkins, former director of two state agencies, was brought in by Gov. Rick Scott to review Enterprise Florida two months ago and find ways to streamline the group. The Visit Florida shift was part of his recommendations.
#KEEPTHEBRIDGEOPEN — RE-ENTRY NONPROFIT WAS ‘BACKED INTO A CORNER’ WITH DOC DEAL, CEO SAYS via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – The Florida Department of Corrections and a nonprofit that runs prisoner re-entry programs reached a deal Wednesday, after the agency’s earlier decision to close down a Broward re-entry center drew criticism from prominent state lawmakers. But the head of the nonprofit isn’t pleased. Broward Bridge, which was scheduled to close May 16, is still closing, but the nonprofit that runs it, Bridges of America, under a two-year contract with DOC, will provide 112 transition beds and 38 work-release beds at another facility it runs in Pompano Beach. There’s also the potential for 50 more work-release beds. The agreement means a women’s re-entry center in Bradenton will also get a two-year contract. Both contracts have the option of renewing for one-year three times. “I am pleased that we were able to reach an agreement that will best serve those re-entering society,” FDOC Secretary Julie Jones said in a statement. “For more than 35 years, FDC has worked collaboratively with Bridges of America to provide transition services to inmates nearing release. The Department’s agreement with Bridges allows our years of good work to continue with an increased focus on performance metrics and data-driven strategies that ensure success for those re-entering Florida’s communities.” Bridges CEO Lori Constantino-Brown was less than thrilled. “While the secretary may be giddy and happy, we’re not,” she told POLITICO Florida, adding that the changes mean that Bridges will have to start laying off staff.
GENTING SUES MIAMI-DADE, SEEKING COURT APPROVAL TO OPERATE CASINO AT OMNI SITE via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Genting Group, the Malaysian casino operator whose plan to build a massive gambling resort in downtown Miami has been stalled by legal and political setbacks, is suing Miami-Dade County and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle in what appears to be a last-ditch effort to force the state to allow card games and slots at its property in the old Omni mall. The novel legal tack seems designed to get around a 2014 denial by state regulators of Gulfstream Park’s request to move a pari-mutuel permit to the Omni, where the Hallandale Beach racetrack had an agreement with Genting to establish a casino.
WORLD WIDE TECHNOLOGY JOINS FLORIDA TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL via Press release – WWT is a global technology integrator with more than $7 billion in annual revenue and more than 3,000 employees. WWT ranks 51 on Forbes’ “Largest Private Companies” list and 38 on Fortune’s 100 “Best Companies to Work For” list. With 44 offices around the world, including one in Tampa, WWT serves the technology needs of large public and private organizations. “Florida now has an opportunity to experience incredible growth in the IT industry thanks to the advocacy, leadership and knowledge of FTC,” said Bryan Thomas, vice president of federal sales of WWT. “WWT is excited to join the council as they work with legislators to pave the road for high-paying tech jobs, providing early-stage capital for tech startups, and plugging the leak of IT businesses and employees into other states.” FTC is widely recognized as the trusted voice in the State of Florida for lawmakers, regulators, CIOs, procurement officials and staff seeking information from the technology sector.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
David Bishop, Solaris Consulting: Jackson County Board of County Commissioners
Ellyn Bogdanoff, EBS Consulting: RAI Services Company
Bradley Burleson, Ballard Partners: Crystal Lagoons U.S. Corp
Tanya Portillo: Florida Electric Power Coordinating Group
HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Franco Ripple’s better half, Ashley Ligas. Celebrating today is our friend Brad Swanson.
— 5 STORIES I READ WHILE WAITING IN LINE TO SEE MICKEY MOUSE WHILE ON A DISNEY CRUISE —
101 RESTAURANT IN TALLAHASSEE CLOSES ITS DOORS via WTXL – The owners … have notified employees that the restaurant will be closing effective immediately. According to owner Adam Corey, the restaurant had a good run but it is time for them to close-up shop and work on a “bigger, better and brighter concept.” Corey said that the plan is to have something new open by the end of summer. 101 Restaurant has been open for about seven years; Corey says that there has been a decline in sales. The restaurant will be open one final time Friday night from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Corey also said that Mint Lounge and the catering business will remain open.
TWEET, TWEET: @ChrisDorworth: #RIP101
AMAZON TARGETS YOUTUBE WITH NEW ONLINE VIDEO POSTING SERVICE via Spencer Soper of Bloomberg Technology – Amazon.com Inc. will let people post videos to its website and earn money from advertising, royalties and other sources, putting the company in more-direct competition with Google’s YouTube.
FACEBOOK AND FEAR via Derek Thompson of the Atlantic magazine – Facebook so dominates the market for mobile attention that it is projected to command almost 30 percent of total display advertising revenue in the world this year. … Facebook is a media company, but more than that, it is a utility, an integral piece of information infrastructure upon which hundreds of publishers and media companies rely to reach their audience. … Facebook is not like a television channel. It is like something we’ve never really seen before: a super-powered cable operator for the mobile future.
FLORIDA MAN SHOOTS HIMSELF, DOESN’T NOTICE UNTIL DAYS LATER via Josh Hafner of USA Today – It took two days for Michael Blevins to notice the bullet holes in his arm. Only after changing shirts did he see stains from blood seeping through the fabric. Sheriff’s deputies later determined that Blevins, 37, accidentally shot himself while cleaning a handgun in the living room of his Florida home, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported. Blevins stood up while cleaning the .22 caliber pistol before feeling his back “lock up,”according to deputies’ report. Blevins had suffered a back injury before.
INDEPENDENT JOURNAL REVIEW WANTS TO BE THE YOUTUBE FOR JOURNALISTS via Paul O’Donnell of the Washingtonian – At the headquarters of his Media Group of America in Alexandria-two starkly chic brick-walled floors off King Street, [Alex] Skatell is the picture of a modern-day digital mogul, his notional beard, flapping shirttails, and courtly manner only momentarily concealing the vociferous internet idealist. … Skatell has pushed Independent Journal into the nation’s top 10 mobile news sites.