Sunburn for July 4th, 2016 – Happy Independence Day!

fireworks (Large)

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

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


On July 2nd, 1776, the Second Continental Congress of the 13 American colonies voted to formally separate from Great Britain (New York abstained). On that occasion, John Adams, a future president of the renegade United States, wrote to his wife, Abigail, “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

Continued Adams, “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

It was not to be.

Two days later, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence written by a showoff named Jefferson. (Psst! Look over here!) Ahem…The rest is history.

So Happy Independence Day, otherwise known as the Fourth of July. Just remember, it’s Adams who eventually got the HBO miniseries.


Invoking the Founding Fathers on Independence Day to celebrate our nation’s birth is a fine thing to do.

Invoking them to score political points? Watch out.

Take, for example, a Facebook post about Benjamin Franklin that circulated in May, a post that was actually aimed at making fun of tea party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. The meme quotes Bachmann as saying, “This country could use a president like Benjamin Franklin again.”  Of course, Franklin was never president. And we think Bachmann knows that, as well, because she never actually said the quote. We rated the fabricated Facebook meme Pants on Fire.

It’s not just claims on social media. Pundits and politicians get things wrong time and time again when they use the Founding Fathers to support their political views. Over the years, PolitiFact has found numerous errors about what the Founding Fathers supposedly said or did, especially when it comes to constitutional issues and civil rights.

— “Fathers in chief via Tevi Troy of the Weekly Standard

— “The 7 most badass Founding Fathers” via Dave Forsmark of

— “5 forgotten Founding Fathers” via Daniel Holzel of Mental Floss

— “4 more forgotten Founding Fathers” via Erik Johnson of Mental Floss

THE TRUTH ABOUT PAUL REVERE’S RIDE brought to you by the Florida Medical Association — “The FMA wishes Sunburn readers a happy Independence Day! We hope you’ll celebrate safely.  We also encourage all Floridians to thank our nation’s Veterans and their families for protecting the freedoms upon which our country was founded.” –FMA Executive Vice President Timothy J. Stapleton

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out this fascinating Paul Revere factoid involving a doctor (on message!) — a young physician was most likely the only Patriot who reached Concord during the famous “midnight ride” of Paul Revere.

The History Channel tells us that “Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1861 poem about Paul Revere’s ride got many of the facts wrong. For one thing, Revere was not alone on his mission to warn John Hancock, Samuel Adams and other patriots that the British were approaching Lexington on the evening of April 18, 1775. Two other men, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, rode alongside him, and by the end of the night as many as 40 men on horseback were spreading the word across Boston’s Middlesex County. Revere also never reached Concord, as the poem inaccurately recounts. Overtaken by the British, the three riders split up and headed in different directions. Revere was temporarily detained by the British at Lexington and Dawes lost his way after falling off his horse, leaving Prescott—a young physician who is believed to have died in the war several years later—the task of alerting Concord’s residents.”


Every party has a pooper, that’s why some people go to Fourth of July parties armed with  trivia that casts doubt on conventional wisdom — especially in American history.

When partygoers are lighting fireworks, exclaiming “Isn’t America beautiful?” these historical fact checkers rain the truth on their parade.

Here are 10 “truth firecrackers” to liven up (or put a quick end to) any Independence Day festivities: 1. Baseball, the “All-American” sport, likely came from England; 2. Apple pie is British, too; 3. The melody of the American national anthem comes from an old English drinking song; 4. The Pledge of Allegiance was created for one reason — to sell more flags; 5. Canadians own the Mall of America; 6. Bald eagle screeches are much weaker than the iconic sound, which is actually from the red-tailed hawk ;7. Settlers didn’t tame the American frontier, it was already pretty tame ;8. Hot dogs on the Fourth? Lewis, Clark and the “Corps of Discovery” ate over 200 dogs during the trip; 9. Speaking of wieners … President Lyndon Johnson would frequently pull his out his own “Johnson”; and 10. Independence Day is actually July 2 (see above).

THE STATUE OF LIBERTY via Miss Cellania of – The story of the statue begins with the American Civil War. When fighting broke out in 1861, the rest of the world watched with rapt attention: Could the grand experiment in democracy survive? The United States had been an inspiration to the French, who were locked in a cycle of extremism, swinging between bloody democratic revolutions and imperial autocracy. When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated April 15, 1865, the French were crushed. More than 40,000 grieving citizens contributed to a fund to award Lincoln’s widow a gold medal … It was in this climate, in the summer of 1865, that a group of prominent Frenchmen were discussing politics at a dinner party given by Edouard René de Laboulaye, a prominent historian and law professor … He proposed that France give America a monument to liberty and independence in honor of her upcoming centennial. After all, tens of thousands of Frenchmen had just contributed to a medal for Mary Todd Lincoln-how much harder could it be to pony up for a statue? Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, an up-and-coming sculptor … wanted his monument to be just as inspiring, and his sketches leaned on the popular imagery of the time-broken chains, upheld torches, crowns meant to represent the rising sun … Bartholdi didn’t want “Liberty Enlightening the World” to be just a tribute to American freedom. The statue had to send a pointed message to France that democracy works. It didn’t take long for Bartholdi to perfect his vision for the sculpture. Getting the statue actually built, however, was another matter … Given the statue’s message, backing from the French government seemed unlikely … Laboulaye had an idea: What if he and Bartholdi pitched the project as a joint venture between the two countries? As a show of their shared friendship, France could provide the statue and America the pedestal …  Bartholdi’s workmen started by creating a 4-foot model. Then they doubled the size. Then they quadrupled it to create a 38-foot-tall plaster model. The workmen then broke down the structure into 300 sections, taking each piece and enlarging it to precisely four times its size. The result? A full-scale model of the final statue-in pieces! On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was finally ready. New York held its first-ever ticker tape parade for her unveiling. And while hundreds of thousands cheered from Manhattan, only 2,000 people were on the island when she was finally opened to the public-a “tidy, quiet crowd,” an officer on duty told The New York Times.

FLORIDA WAS OFF CENTER STAGE IN AMERICAN REVOLUTION DESPITE SOME IMPORTANT EVENTS via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – As the nation celebrates the 240th anniversary of independence this Fourth of July … Floridians can look back at the strange and almost entirely forgotten role their state played in the American Revolution. A Spanish colony for almost 200 years, the English gained Florida at the Treaty of Paris in 1763, which ended the Seven Years War. People in the U.S. call it the French and Indian War. Dividing the peninsula into East Florida and West Florida, the British attempted to develop plantations in their new holdings, but generally used the Floridas for military purposes. The strong military presence helped ensure that the Floridas would not join the 13 colonies to the north in rebelling against George III. … rebellious Americans looked at the Floridas as a threat since the British could launch attacks into Georgia and South Carolina from the south. Colonists loyal to the British crown fled to the Floridas and helped form military units, like the East Florida Rangers, to fight against the American forces. While they did not play a leading part in the American Revolution, Florida and Floridians provided some dramatic moments. James Grant, who served as governor of East Florida from 1764 until 1771, played a crucial part in British successes in capturing New York, and would capture St. Lucia from the French later in the war. American prisoners were held in St. Augustine — including Arthur Middleton and Edmund Rutledge, two South Carolinians who signed the Declaration of Independence. One recent Florida politician with a keen interest in his state’s role in the American Revolution was longtime U.S. Rep. Charles E. Bennett … Who represented the First Coast in Congress from 1949 until retiring in 1993. Bennett wrote a number of books on the Revolution, including a book on battles as well as a biography of Robert Howe with Donald Lennon.

***Happy Independence Day from Bright House Networks Business Solutions, your local leader in advanced communications and networking solutions providing industry-leading Voice, Data, Video, and Managed Services to serve Enterprise needs at any scale.***

NEW LOW OF 52% “EXTREMELY PROUD” TO BE AMERICANS via Jeffrey Jones of Gallup – As the nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day, 52 percent of U.S. adults say they are “extremely proud” to be Americans, a new low in Gallup’s 16-year trend. Americans’ patriotism spiked after 9/11, peaking at 70 percent in 2003, but has declined since, including an eight-percentage-point drop in early 2005 and a five-point drop since 2013. The largest decline has come among young adults, from 60 percent to 34 percent. In 2003 as well as today, young adults rank among the subgroups least willing to say they are extremely proud to be Americans. Political liberals (36 percent) join young adults as the least patriotic major subgroup today. Independents, Democrats, nonwhites and college graduates also show below-average patriotism. Republicans (68 percent), conservatives (61 percent) and those aged 50 to 64 (64 percent) are the major subgroups most likely to say they are extremely proud to be Americans. Republicans, 50- to 64-year-olds and nonwhites are the only groups that are at least somewhat more patriotic today than before 9/11. As a result of Republicans’ still-elevated percentage, the 23-point Republican-Democratic gap in patriotism is now roughly double what it was in January 2001. Millennials’ greater reluctance than young adults before them to say they are extremely proud to be an American may also be a factor in the new low and, if so, could signal further declines in patriotism in the years and decades ahead.

WHY DO MILLENNIALS HATE AMERICA? via Philip Bump of The Washington Post – Thanks to Gallup, we now know something else about millennials: They hate America. Since 2001, Gallup has asked Americans how proud they are to be Americans — a sort of patriotic temperature-taking. There are five possible responses: not at all, only a little, moderately, very and extremely …In that first 2001 survey, 55 percent of American adults were extremely proud to be American. That survey was conducted in January, though and in the next survey, conducted after the 9/11 attacks, the figure jumped to 65 percent. By 2003, right after the start of the second Gulf War, the number was 70 percent. But then it started to drop. This year, the number of extremely proud Americans is at only 52 percent — the lowest recorded so far. Why? Because millennials. Well, and liberals. Gallup provided data from 2001, 2003 and 2016 for a number of demographic groups, and while the trend in each is consistent — up then down — the numbers differ. Republicans are consistently the most extremely proud of their country, peaking at 80 percent in 2003 but still at 68 percent — higher than Democrats ever were. Liberals are at 36 percent in 2016, the lowest figure, save for those under-30 types. Only 34 percent of millennials are extremely proud to be American. There’s overlap between … Millennials are more likely to be liberal and nonwhite than older Americans are, for example. If we’re clumping people together, though — which we are because that is what we do — it’s those millennials that are dragging our extremely proud numbers down.

CLASSIC COLUMN — ALL FIRED UP FOR THE FOURTH via Dave Barry – This year, why not hold an old-fashioned Fourth of July Picnic? Food poisoning is one good reason. After a few hours in the sun, ordinary potato salad can develop bacteria the size of raccoons. But don’t let the threat of agonizingly painful death prevent you from celebrating the birth of our nation, just as Americans have been doing ever since that historic first July Fourth when our Founding Fathers – George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Bob Dole and Tony Bennett – landed on Plymouth Rock. Step one in planning your picnic is to decide on a menu. Martha Stewart has loads of innovative suggestions for unique, imaginative and tasty summer meals. So you can forget about her. “If Martha Stewart comes anywhere near my picnic, she’s risking a barbecue fork to the eyeball” should be your patriotic motto. Because you’re having a traditional Fourth of July picnic, and that means a menu of hot dogs charred into cylinders of industrial-grade carbon, and hamburgers so undercooked that when people try to eat them, they leap off the plate and frolic on the lawn like otters. Dad should be in charge of the cooking, because only Dad, being a male of the masculine gender, has the mechanical “know-how” to operate a piece of technology as complex as a barbecue grill. To be truly traditional, the grill should be constructed of the following materials: 4 percent “rust-resistant” steel; 58 percent rust; 23 percent hardened black grill scunge from food cooked as far back as 1987 (the scunge should never be scraped off, because it is what is actually holding the grill together); 15 percent spiders …  After the traditional visit to the hospital emergency room, it’s time to gather ’round and watch Uncle Bill set off the fireworks that he purchased from a roadside stand operated by people who spend way more on tattoos than dental hygiene.

GREAT EDITORIAL — GO AHEAD AND CELEBRATE PLENTY ON THE FOURTH via the South Florida Sun Sentinel – People love July Fourth because it doesn’t play favorites. It’s a day we all celebrate what makes America great without concern for religion, political party or any other difference. The Fourth of July is for everyone. And at a time when there is so much division in our country — so much violence and hatred and fear filling our news — a little bit of celebrating the greatness of America would do every one of us good. So today, celebrate the freedom to read whatever you want and talk about whatever you want, whenever you want. This sounds basic, but millions of people around the world are denied freedom of expression. Celebrate the majesty of America’s national parks, which are some of our nation’s greatest treasures. If you haven’t been to one, go. Like the Fourth of July, the national parks are majestic and meant for everyone. Celebrate that you can marry whomever you fall in love with. A little over a year ago, you couldn’t do that in Florida and many other states. In some countries around the world, you could be killed for even thinking about doing something like that. Celebrate that gas prices are low enough to let you drive anywhere you want without taking out a second mortgage. Celebrate that in one of the most contentious election years we’ve had in decades, you are free to criticize the candidates, speak your mind and demonstrate openly …  Celebrate the birthday of America — and the freedoms we enjoy — to your heart’s content today. All day. Just be careful with those fireworks.

PULSE TO PATRIOTISM: THE AMERICAN FLAG IS DRAPED IN SYMBOLISM via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times – Look around you. In this election year, this Olympic year, and especially on the Fourth of July, you will find no symbol more omnipresent than the American flag. We plant it in the earth, wave it at rivals, torch it in protest, watch it oscillate from full to half-staff, reflecting our national mood. And we wear it. Oh, do we Americans love wearing our flag. There’s hardly a boutique, kiosk or truck stop in the land that doesn’t sell American flag T-shirts, snapbacks, bikinis or belt buckles. Designers from Givenchy to Polo to Joe Boxer have incorporated the flag. Stars and stripes are like Nike Swooshes, so prevalent we often forget that they’re there … As with all art, the flag’s meaning is open to interpretation. Some wear it out of deep respect for God and country. Some wear it to catch the eye and sell a brand. Some wear it because the colors look rad on a suntan. Some wear it because it’s the only clean shirt they have left. Whatever your reason for wearing the flag, know this: 240 years after they first flew above America, the stars and stripes have lost none of their symbolic power … Wear it as a hijab, like Republican Muslim Coalition founder Saba Ahmed during a 2015 appearance on Fox News, and hatemongering trolls will bare their teeth. Don’t wear it at all — like Barack Obama, who eschewed flag lapel pins during his first run for president — and that, too, will stir powerful emotions. Look around you. The American flag is everywhere, its meaning changing by the minute. The message we send when we wear it says more about us, and our country, than we realize.

GWEN GRAHAM WANTS AMERICAN-MADE FLAGS via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – Graham … wants the federal government to buy American-made flags. The one-term congresswoman … is cosponsoring the American Flag Act. According to the Department of Commerce, the U.S. imports $3.9 million worth of made-in-China American flags annually. “There’s no better time than the Fourth of July to remind us how important the American flag is to our nation” …  The proposal forbids the federal government from buying U.S. flags that are not composed of 100 percent American-made material. “It’s the right thing to do to honor the founding fathers who declared our independence and all those who have fought to keep us free,” said Graham. Current law allows the federal government to purchase flags if at least 50 percent of it is American-made material. Graham and Rep. Cheri Bustos … are teaming up to mandate only American-made materials when the government buys U.S. flags.

***A message from Progress Florida Education Institute, celebrating the July 4tj holiday and our cherished freedom. Unfortunately, Florida’s anti-abortion politicians have sought to restrict the reproductive freedoms of half our population by passing laws that shame, pressure, and punish women. Abortion is safe and legal. It’s time for politicians to stop meddling in women’s personal decisions. Get the facts.***

FIREWORKS! THE SCIENCE AND PSYCHOLOGY OF FIREWORKS via PBS – NOVA presents the colorful history of pyrotechnics and reveals how high-tech firing systems are transforming public displays into a dazzling, split-second science. Here’s what you’ll find online: Name That Shell … Watch video clips of fireworks bursting in air and find out how well you know your chrysanthemums from your peonies, your roman candles from your palm trees. Anatomy of a Firework … Where you see brilliant light and vivid color, a pyrotechnician sees a successful lift charge, black powder mix, time-delay fuse, bursting charge and other essential ingredients. Pyrotechnically Speaking … Dr. John Conkling, adjunct professor of chemistry at Washington College and former executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, describes what it is about fireworks that gets him, well, all fired up. On Fire (Hot Science) … This virtual laboratory lets you explore the basics of combustion, including how a fire ignites, what a flame is made of, and how burning molecules rearrange themselves.

FLORIDA’S BIZARRE FIREWORKS LAW STILL IN PLACE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Although you can buy fireworks in the state, they’re not actually legal here … Retail sales are allowed only because of a 60-year-old loophole in the law, the only known one of its kind in the country. That allows “fireworks … to be used solely and exclusively in frightening birds from agricultural works and fish hatcheries.” Indeed, anyone who’s bought fireworks from a roadside tent over the years may remember signing a form acknowledging that the buyer falls under an agricultural, fisheries or other exemption. For the record, fireworks can also be used for “signal purposes or illumination” of a railroad or quarry, “for signal or ceremonial purposes in athletics or sports, or for use by military organizations.” Enforcement is up to local police and fire agencies, and case law says fireworks vendors aren’t responsible for verifying that buyers actually intend to chase off egrets or light up a track meet. Every so often, lawmakers file bills either to remove or tighten certain exemptions, or to just legalize retail sales of fireworks. None have made it into law.

GET SMART FAST – HOLD MY BEER AND WATCH THIS! JULY 4 FIREWORKS LIGHT UP ER via Andrew Bryant for Florida Politics – The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) … uses a sample of hospitals across the U.S. to estimate nationwide totals for ER visits involving an injury associated with consumer products. Based on these data, a whopping 179,730 Americans have visited the ER for fireworks-related injuries since 1997 … a shocking two-thirds of these visits occur on or just after one day of the year: July Fourth. Comparatively, Independence Day sees nearly seven times as many fireworks-related injuries as New Year’s Eve each year … based on the data, we can infer that most injuries involve lighting mistakes. Over 20 percent of all hospital visits due to fireworks include an injury to the hand, and another 12 percent involve an injury of the fingers. The head also sees as a fair amount of action with 20 percent of all fireworks-related ER visits relating to the eyes, 12 percent to the face area, 3 percent to the ear, and 2 percent to the head. Less than 1 percent of reported injuries involve the “pubic region,” though this stat may not be of much comfort to the estimated 319 men who experience such an injury each year. The age distribution of these injuries is a lot younger than this title would imply: two-thirds of fireworks injuries occur in those under the legal drinking age of 21, with a peak age of 13. While it is unclear whether the victim was the firework-setter or an innocent bystander, men make up about 72 percent of all ER visits for fireworks injuries. This trend generally holds across all age and demographic groups.

10 FIRE SAFETY TIPS FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY via the Florida Forest Service – Individuals should always check local laws before using fireworks. Local fire and police departments and the State Fire Marshal’s Office can also provide guidance. Floridians celebrating with fireworks or campfires should follow these safety tips: Light fireworks in a cleared area free of vegetation or dry debris. Clear debris from around campfires, grills and all fire sources. Remove debris from any location where fireworks could land. Always have a water source available. Aim fireworks away from people, homes and wooded areas. Never use homemade fireworks. Discard used fireworks in a bucket of water. Store unused fireworks, matches and lighters out of the sight and reach of children. Never leave a fire unattended and make sure it is completely out before leaving it. Report any fires immediately to 9-1-1.

OFFICIALS: HANDLE FIREWORKS WITH CARE via Jared Keever of the St. Augustine Record – Representatives from the state Fire Marshal’s Office met with local firefighters and law enforcement representatives at Francis Field in downtown St. Augustine for a safety demonstration. “A wonderful celebration can turn into a painful memory very quickly,” said District Chief Van Patterson, with the Bureau of Fire Prevention division of the Fire Marshal’s Office … The Sheriff’s Office bomb squad was also on hand to blow up a watermelon and cantaloupe to demonstrate just how painful that memory might be. Patterson began his brief talk by explaining the difference between the items available to shoppers — the main point being that not everything is a “firework.” The items available to people with no restrictions are classified more generally as “sparklers” and they include items like stationary fountains and paper-wrapped sparklers. Everything else, like popular mortars and bottle rockets, is a “firework.” They are legal to buy but the purchaser must sign a waiver saying the device will be used for “agriculture,” Patterson explained. It’s the former category that the state would prefer people use to celebrate. “If it flies do not buy,” and “if it explodes it’s a no-go,” are the two rules Patterson said people should keep in mind. The tip of a sparkler can burn as hot as 1200 degrees, he explained as a firefighter demonstrated how quickly the tip could set a T-shirt ablaze.

MAN LOSES HAND TO FIREWORK IN EARLY JULY 4 CELEBRATION via The Associated Press – … it happened Thursday night at a Leesburg home. The firework was attached to a wooden stake designed to be planted in the ground and had a foil-covered ball inside that explodes after launch. Witnesses told police that Brett Demascio lit the fuse, but the spark went out. He then picked up the foil-covered ball in his left hand, lit the shortened fuse and attempted to throw it. An incident report says the firework exploded early, tearing off most of the man’s hand. Demascio was airlifted to an Ocala hospital. No criminal charges were immediately filed.

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***


— “The flaggiest campaign of them all” via POLITICO Magazine

FLORIDA REPUBLICANS SIGN UP TO RAISE MONEY FOR TRUMP AND GOP via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – There’s several big Florida names on the list: Tallahassee lobbyist Brian Ballard, who previously backed Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio; Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli; former Florida International University President Mitch Maidique; former ambassador and current congressional candidate Francis Rooney; St. Petersburg developer Mel Sembler; former U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland and state Rep. Carlos Trujillo. Trujillo … said party donors and staff asked him to take part. Trump, he added, “has a very good chance of winning the general election … He’s offering at least some solutions and discussing some of the biggest issues … Trump’s message is “resonating with the majority of the American electorate.” Trujillo added a caveat that not Trump’s “entire” message works for him: “I’ve never agreed 100 percent with anybody my entire life. I agree with Trump more than Hillary [Clinton]…. I think he could be a little more tactful in the way he says things.”

ALAN GRAYSON TO LAUNCH SIX-FIGURE AD BUY IN FLORIDA’S U.S. SENATE RACE via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – No other details on the ad buy are available yet, including how much exactly Grayson plans to spend, which markets his ads will air in and what the focus of his ads will be. Grayson is competing in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary against fellow U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy…  Pam Keith … Reginald Luster and California real estate developer “Rocky” Roque De La Fuente … The candidates’ next quarterly campaign finance reports to the Federal Elections Commission are due July 15, so it’s unclear how much cash on hand Grayson has to spend at this point. Headed into April, Grayson had about $430,000 in cash on hand, compared to the $5.6 million Murphy had in the bank by that point.

WHEN GRAYSON BUCKED DEMS TO BACK EBOLA TRAVEL BAN, HIS GIRLFRIEND HAD SKIN IN CURE GAME via David Freedlander of The Daily Beast – On Ebola … Grayson was one of only eight Democrats—and almost the only one not facing a tight general election challenge—to come out in favor of a travel ban. In July 2014, he wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerryand Department of Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson requesting a travel ban of any citizen of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to the United States. He wrote op-eds in national newspapers in defense of the idea, arguing that unless something was done the American population would turn into lab rats for the disease’s spread. What was not known at the time was that Grayson—who was in the midst of ending his marriage to his wife of 25 years—had begun a relationship with Dena Minning, a biopharmaceutical lobbyist who in 2013 and 2014 earned $40,000 lobbying on behalf of BioCryst, a North Carolina-based pharmaceutical company that had been developing a potential Ebola cure. Minning had ceased lobbying for BioCryst by the time Grayson took up the charge, but she continued to consult for the company … earning more than $5,000 in 2015 and 2016 from the company, and, according to a financial disclosure Minning filed when she declared her candidacy, she owned between $250,000 and $500,000 in BioCryst stock options in 2015. In the heat of the attention garnered by the Ebola scare, the stock price rose from $10.92 in early June 2014 to a peak of $13.96 in August 2015. Minning’s LinkedIn page boasted that as a lobbyist she “played a central role in successfully procuring a $25+ million contract from the U.S. Government, awarded to one of her clients for the development of a broad-spectrum antiviral drug” … She is now running for Congress and that biographical tidbit has been removed from her bio.

DESPITE $3M IN ADS, CARLOS BERUFF STRUGGLES TO BREAK THROUGH IN EXPENSIVE FLORIDA via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Beruff … has already spent $3.4 million in television and radio advertisements, a large sum two months before the primary, but he remains just a blip on the collective radar of Republican voters. In a handful of polls … Beruff has been lucky to crack 10 percent, and is losing to Rubio by a 71 to 7 margin … Even before Rubio reversed course … Beruff was struggling to gain traction. He had vastly outspent the other four major Republicans in the field, so was polling near the top of the pack, but those numbers were not particularly impressive. He was consistently polling at less than 20 percent … that number is down slightly to 20 percent. That failure to break through despite the early ad blitz, most of which focused on the important Orlando and Tampa media markets, underscores how expensive it is to build name recognition in such a large state. The $3.4 million figure is strictly for ad buys, and does not include other expenses like research, campaign staff, and general consulting fees. Beruff has only filed one campaign finance report so far, which does not capture his early television ads, so it remains unclear how much he has spent in total. Beruff’s campaign insists it will have sufficient funds to compete with Rubio. “Florida is a large and expensive state,” said Chris Hartline, a Beruff spokesman. “We will have the resources we need to get our message out.”

DCCC RESERVES $3 MILLION FOR TV AGAINST JOHN MICA via Elena Schneider of POLITICO – The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is placing a major fall TV buy in Orlando … as it seeks to take down veteran GOP Rep. John Mica in his redrawn district … the House committee is reserving $3 million on cable and broadcast in Florida’s 7th District, marking the first time the DCCC has gone after the district. The reservation starts Oct. 4 and stretches through Election Day. Mica, a 12-term incumbent, didn’t even have a Democratic challenger until just before last week’s filing deadline, when Stephanie Murphy, a Rollins College business professor and former Department of Defense analyst, filed to run … Under the new map, the seat split nearly evenly between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012, with 49 percent backing each. Mica had more cushion in the old version of the district, where Romney won 52 percent of the vote.

DEMOCRAT RANDY PERKINS LAUNCHES TV AD IN RACE FOR HOUSE SEAT via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Perkins has drawn fire from Democratic primary foe Jonathan Chane for not appearing at candidate forums in Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18. But he’ll be on TV sets in the swing district, where three Democrats, six Republicans and an independent are hoping to replace Murphy, who’s running for Senate … I am so tired of hearing politicians say ‘If you work hard you can achieve the American dream.’ What are we telling the American people — that they’re not working hard enough? It’s Congress, that’s who’s not working hard enough. I’m going to get Congress working hard for the American people,” Perkins says in the ad.

RICK SCOTT’S NET WORTH DROPS (AGAIN); BUT (YES) STILL VERY, VERY RICH via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Scott’s finances have roller-coastered since he first announced his candidacy and reported being worth $218 million in 2010. It’s hard to tell why his bank account tumbled again, since Scott keeps his assets in a blind trust. But there’s few signs of belt-tightening. He still owns a $15.4 million home in Naples, with a boat house valued at $123,375. His Montana get-away home is valued at $1.5 million. The governor also reported $16.6 million from investments. He doesn’t take a salary as the state’s chief executive. Scott’s net worth low point has been the nearly $83 million he reported at the end of 2011. Scott also has dug into his wallet in his effort to become Florida’s governor — and stay in the job. He spent $73 million of his family’s cash during his 2010 race as a first-time candidate and pumped a late-hour, $12.8 million into his 2014 re-election victory.

HOW FAIR DISTRICTS MAY LEAD TO A WHITER FLORIDA SENATE via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – The close of candidate qualifying last week left an awkward landscape for Florida Democratic leaders: The very real prospect that Democratic-leaning districts drawn with the expectation they would be represented by Aftican-Americans or Hispanics winding up represented instead by wealthy or well-funded white candidates, who in several cases could benefit from Democratic primaries crowded with several minority candidates. “We’re looking at at it and we’re concerned,” said state Sen. Geraldine Thompson … Chairwoman of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus. “We need a diverse senate that looks like Florida, and we need a diverse congressional delegation that looks like Florida.” In Tampa Bay, white trial lawyer and political newcomer Augie Ribeiro … was a last minute entry in the Democratic primary to succeed state Sen. Arthenia Joyner … That heavily African-American district includes parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas, and has three other black Democrats running – state Reps. Ed Narain and Darryl Rouson … and former state Rep. Betty Reed …  In Miami-Dade’s Senate District 40, well-connected Democratic fundraiser Andrew Korge, who is white, last week switched race to challenge Democratic state Sen. Dwight Bullard, who is black. In Palm Beach County, white trial lawyer William Steinger last month jumped into the Democratic primary for Senate District 30, a seat many Democrats had previously seen black state Rep. Bobby Powell as the favorite. Within three weeks, Steinger had raised more than $200,000 and written a check himself for $200,000 – promptly dwarfing Powell’s campaign account by more than four-to-one. “There does seem to be a trend where you have white candidates running in these minority access seats – and they tend to be wealthy and able to self-fund,” said Thompson.

TWEET, TWEET: @EveSamples: .@debbie_mayfield says she knows nothing of @Ritch_Wrongman twitter account. @RitchWorkman pleads ignorance on @DoNothingDebbie

DANA YOUNG PILES UP CAMPAIGN CASH via William March of the Tampa Bay Times – With the help of a $20,000 check from U.S. Sugar Corp. and $25,000 from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Young has now boosted her campaign war chest for Tampa’s District 18 state Senate race to nearly $1.4 million. As of June 24, Young had raised $526,362 in her campaign account and $856,516 in her Friends of Dana Young political committee. Other big contributions for Young during May and June included $15,000 from USAA insurance company and $10,000 each from John Rood’s Vestcor Cos., Duke Energy, the Geo Group private prison operator, JM Family Enterprises auto dealership empire, Disney, a leadership PAC associated with House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and the lobbying firm of former House Speaker Dean Cannon.

DEMOCRATIC FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE WAS A REPUBLICAN UNTIL LAST WEEK via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – Last Thursday, Bruce Kaplan switched his political party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. On Friday, he qualified to run for the Florida Senate. The problem? Florida law requires candidates to switch parties a year before the start of qualifying. Kaplan was 368 days too late … Kaplan, 56, was a Republican until June 23, 2016. According to state law, he would’ve had to be a Democrat since June 20, 2015. “My understanding is that you cannot change from one party for another within that one-year period before qualifying and still be eligible to run,” Democratic state Rep. Joe Geller, a private elections lawyer, said. Kaplan, a former Miami-Dade County commissioner, is one of seven Democrats who qualified in District 38, which was newly redrawn to include North Miami and Miami Beach. He may not be a candidate for much longer, at least as a Democrat. Kaplan signed a candidate oath last week that reads, “I have not been a registered member of any other political party for 365 days before the beginning of qualifying preceding the general election for which I seek to qualify.” The Florida Division of Elections does not determine whether a candidate is in violation of their election oath before filing to run for office. Kaplan’s eligibility can only be challenged by a concerned citizen or voter filing an official complaint with the Florida Division of Elections to initiate an investigation.

ABORTION, BUDGET, TAX CUTS AMONG NEW FLORIDA LAWS via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press – Here’s a roundup of some of the measures taking effect: BUDGET: The $82.3 billion budget was passed by a combined vote of 159-1. It includes more than $700 million for school construction and $203.8 million for Everglades restoration. TAX CUTS: Property taxes should drop along with a reduction in in local millage rates, and a three-day sales tax holiday Aug. 5-7 should help back-to-school shoppers. ABORTION: A law redefining when abortions can be performed and requiring that clinic doctors have admitting privileges or can transfer patients with nearby hospitals may be blocked after [the] Supreme Court ruling that a related Texas law is unconstitutional. BULLYING: School districts must review their anti-bullying and harassment policies every three years … CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: Persons convicted of aggravated assault or attempted aggravated assault are no longer subject to “10-20-Life” mandatory minimum sentences. DIGITAL ASSETS: Guardians or trustees of estates gain legal authority to manage digital assets and electronic communications as they would tangible assets and financial accounts. MARRIAGE: Clergy with religious objections don’t have to marry same-sex couples. NEEDLE EXCHANGE: The Miami-Dade Infectious Disease Elimination Act (IDEA) provides for the University of Miami and affiliates to establish a pilot needle exchange program to prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases such as HIV, AIDS, or viral hepatitis in the county, which has the nation’s highest rate of new HIV cases. OUTDOORS: It becomes a third-degree felony to knowingly possess marine turtles or their eggs or nests. RAPE KITS: Law enforcement agencies must submit rape kits within 30 days of the start of their investigations to a state crime lab, which must test them within 120 days. SCHOOL CHOICE: Children can transfer to any state school with available space, and student athletes are immediately eligible to play if they haven’t joined practices in the same sport at their previous school.

STILL NO SUPREME COURT DECISION ON DEATH PENALTY WITH ONE WEEK LEFT BEFORE RECESS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – With one week left before the Florida Supreme Court goes on its summer recess, the justices have yet to rule on one of the most anticipated and politically charged questions facing them this year: Whether to commute the sentences of 390 death row inmates after the state’s death penalty laws were struck down and rewritten this spring. In January, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case called Hurst versus Florida that the process used to sentence people to death in the state was unconstitutional. Without a valid death penalty law on the books, the Florida Legislature passed new laws for death sentences that will leave the decision to the jury, which has to find one aggravating circumstance and agree to the death penalty on a 10-2 vote. What remains unclear is how the Hurst decision will impact those who have already been sentenced to death. Defense attorneys for death row inmates have argued their clients’ sentences should be commuted to life in prison. But the state has stood by the original death sentences. The seven justices don’t have to make up their minds before the summer recess — and given the complexity and controversy of the issue, they may not. But until they do, there’s deep uncertainty on the issue, not just for those convicted and sentenced to death but also within the political and legal worlds.

HAPPY TOGETHER? THE TURTLES GET THEIR DAY IN FLORIDA SUPREME COURT via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Two of the founding members of the Turtles, the 60s band known for such hits as “Happy Together” and “Eleanor,” will get their day in court — the Florida Supreme Court — in a legal clash with Sirius XM Radio … ex-band members, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, who later toured as Flo & Eddie, will have their  copyright claim for sound recordings reviewed by justices … Flo & Eddie have filed civil theft claims in California, New York and Florida over Sirius’ use of digitally broadcast pre-1972 sound recordings, arguing it has never paid any royalties to broadcast these songs. Under federal law, recordings created after 1972 are copyright protected. Sirius has sought to have the lawsuits dismissed, but federal courts in California and New York have sided with the musicians. A federal court in the Florida case ruled in favor of Sirius, with that ruling going to the 11th circuit on appeal. Court filings acknowledge that Florida law is unclear whether its copyright protections extends to pre-1972 sound recordings — a matter justices are being asked to decide.

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

AUDUBON AND FWC ASK PUBLIC TO PROTECT COASTAL BIRDS THIS FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND via the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – Birds devastated by Tropical Storm Colin now need help to survive holiday weekend …  The FWC and Audubon are asking beach goers to protect coastal nesting birds and wildlife by giving them space, and keeping personal fireworks off our beaches and waterways. Fireworks explosions, large and small, scare adults from nests, leaving them vulnerable to predation or crushing underfoot; chicks scatter and find themselves lost and in harm’s way. Shorebirds, seabirds and wading birds nest on our coastal beaches and islands every year, but this year they are especially vulnerable. Many colonies were devastated by the storm surge of Tropical Storm Colin, drowning chicks and littering the beach with ruined eggs. Despite these losses, many of these birds are trying again. While nesting is normally starting to wind down by Independence Day, it is at a fever pitch this year, heading into one of the busiest and most dangerous weekends of the season. “Spending time on Florida’s coast is a great way to celebrate the July 4 weekend, but we’re not the only ones who think so,” said Julie Wraithmell, Audubon Florida’s Deputy Executive Director. “This is also a critical time for pelicans and least terns, black skimmers and snowy plovers – many of which are still guarding flightless chicks or eggs. A single ill-placed fireworks explosion or other disturbance can cause birds to fly from a nest, leaving their tiny babies vulnerable to predation and exposure.”

BARBECUES, FIREWORKS AND TRAVEL BOOST EXPECTED INDEPENDENCE DAY SPENDING TO RECORD $7 BILLION via Florida Politics – Consumers are expected to spend more than $7 billion celebrating Independence Day this year according to a new survey released by the National Retail Federation. The total slightly edges out the 2015 record-setting numbers, when consumers spent an average of $71.23 celebrating the holiday … two-thirds of respondents plan to attend a cookout or barbecue this weekend, while 43 percent say they will watch fireworks or go to another community event, and one-in-eight say they will attend a parade. While much of the spending this weekend will be for party supplies and food to throw on the grill, NRF said a quarter of those polled are planning to pick up something patriotic, whether it be themed apparel, decorations or an American flag. The survey also found 13 percent of respondents plan to head out of town for the holiday, and only 21 percent of them said gas prices would affect their plans, down 1 percent from 2015 and down 26 percent from five years ago.

— “Top Ten movies for the Fourth of July” via Mark Hughes of Forbes

COMPETITIVE HOTDOG EATERS HAVE MADE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN via Walt Hickey of – This Fourth of July will see the claimed 100th anniversary of the first Nathan’s hot dog Eating Contest in Coney Island in New York City. For more than a decade now, the event — along with the sport of competitive eating in general — has experienced explosive growth, credited to both a broader audience and an interesting cast of competitors innovating in the field of shoving hot dogs down one’s throat. But for all the ways the competitive eating scene now resembles a mid-major sports operation, the crown jewel of the eating calendar — now overseen by Major League Eating — has only recently begun to maintain detailed records of exactly who ate exactly what … This puts competitive eating at the kind of crossroad at which sports like mixed martial arts have found themselves, with the room for innovation in method being exploited at the same time that a growing talent pool makes forecasting the upward limits of human potential — the hypothetical two-hour-marathon of wursts — a dicey proposition. Twenty years ago, when the Nathan’s record was just more than 23 hot dogs, who would have thought that 50 was possible? Ten years ago, when the record was just more than 53 hot dogs, who would have thought we’d reach the heights of 70?

“FRESH FROM FLORIDA” RECIPE TO YOUR JULY 4 SPREAD via – Ag Commish Adam Putnam is sharing a (very) simple “Fresh from Florida” recipe … Florida Watermelon Salad with Blueberries … Ingredients: ½ Florida watermelon, peeled; 1 pint Florida blueberries, rinsed. Directions: Cut peeled watermelon into 1-inch cubes. Place cubed watermelon on a platter and garnish with blueberries. Serve chilled.


Whether it’s at the ballpark or the beach, setting off fireworks or firing up the grill, Floridians will celebrate the July 4 holiday in style.

The National Retail Federation predicts Americans will spend $71.34 per household on average on food for barbecues. The organization estimates 65 percent of Americans plan to attend a cookout, barbecue or picnic this holiday weekend.

If you’re the one hosting the barbecue this weekend, then you better stock up on burgers and veggies to feed your hungry guests.

Since 1934, the Florida Cattlemen’s Association has been devoted to promoting and protecting the ability of cattlemen to produce and market their products. The state’s cattle industry is one the 15 largest in the country, so it’s no surprise it enlisted the help of Sam Ard and Alexandra Lee Lucas at Ard Shirley & Rudolph to protect their interests in the Florida Legislature.

Looking to add some produce to that menun? Look no further than the Florida Farm Bureau Federation.

The Florida Farm Bureau Federation is doing its part to continue to grow the agricultural community, and in 2016 enlisted the help of Frank Matthews at Hopping Green & Sams to help with its legislative branch lobbying. The Farm Bureau also depends on Adam Basford, its director of state legislative affairs, and lobbyist Robert Pierce to advance its efforts.

No barbecue would be worth its weight in watermelon without a cooler full of beer.

The Florida Brewers Guild has been working on behalf of brewers across the state since 1996 to increase bottle size standards and foster growth of craft beer in Florida. In 2016, the guild tapped Joshua Aubuchon and Mark Delegal with Holland & Knight to help fight for their cause.

The Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, which represents the state’s nearly two dozen independent beer distributors, is also invested in protecting its interests in Florida. The group tapped Michael J. Fischer with Redfish Consulting; Chip Case with Jefferson Monroe Consulting; and Rich Heffley and Kelly Horton with Heffley & Associates for legislative branch lobbying.

And no Fourth of July celebration would complete with an epic fireworks display.

Lawmakers have tried to legalize some types fireworks for recreational use, but haven’t made much headway. That hasn’t stopped fireworks distributors from reaching out to state lawmakers about change.

Galaxy Fireworks, Inc., a Tampa-based retailer, tapped Erin Hellkamp and Guy Spearman with Spearman Management Inc. to advance its priorities; while Shelton Fireworks looks to Richard Coates with Tidewater Consulting.

And since the holiday is all about celebrating freedom, make sure to top your hat to Barbara Petersen with the First Amendment Foundation and William Bunkley with the Florida Ethics and Religion Liberty Commission for the work their organizations to fight for the freedom of speech, press and religion.

WHAT MATT CALDWELL IS READING — “Fleeing the Czars, defying gravity: A Fourth of July immigrant tale” via Warren Kozak of the Wall Street Journal

INDEPENDENCE DAYS FROM ACROSS THE MULTIVERSE via Katharine Trendacosta of – Where there’s society, there’s a foundation story. And where there’s government, there’s a holiday to instill patriotism and pride. So here are the ways fiction has commemorated independence from an oppressor, the end of a Civil War, or just the day certain documents were signed and the current government came into existence: First Contact Day, Star Trek … First Contact Day is (will be? Stupid time travel.) April 5, 2063. On that day, Zefram Cochrane pilots Earth’s first warp-capable ship, drawing the attention of a Vulcan ship. Colonial Day, Battlestar Galactica … OK, so this one is a celebration of the conclusion of what were surely long diplomatic talks. Empire Day and Republic Day, Star Wars … What the galaxy far, far away lacks in creative naming, it makes up for in quantity. If you are Empirically inclined, there’s Empire Day. If you’re a fan of the Republic, there’s Republic Day. Unification Day, Firefly … The Unification Day marks the day the Alliance defeated the Browncoats in the Unification War. Freedom Day, Futurama … Now, it’s never explicitly stated that Freedom Day marks some sort of founding, but it’s pretty heavily based on the Fourth of July, is celebrated by/on Earth, and is particularly celebrated in the Earth’s capital of Washington D.C. Honorable Mentions … Creator’s Day, Discworld … Skynet Becomes Self-Aware, Terminator.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friend, James Kotas.

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

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