Sunburn - The morning read of what's hot in Florida politics - 12.7.17 - Florida Politics

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 12.7.17

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

Let’s begin this morning with a major announcement from one of Florida’s top political consulting firms.

Enwright Consulting Group is changing its name to Enwright Rimes Consulting, to better reflect the longtime business relationship of Randy Enwright and Jim Rimes.

A sister company that provides political services—EM Campaigns, in business since 2003—also is switching names to Election Management Solutions. Clay Barker is joining the firm as Project Manager and Consultant.

And they’re launching a brand new company called Supernova Digital Communications, a full service digital shop that can design digital ad campaigns, manage social media, start email marketing and build websites. Zach Monahan has come on board to manage it.

Randy Enwright and Jim Rimes saw the times changing and adapted, changing the names of their ongoing business efforts and even creating a new one.

Enwright Rimes Consulting will continue to provide government relations, as well as grassroots, political, digital and telemarketing services. They’ve long served AT&T, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and No Casinos. More recently, they’ve been advising the group behind Marsy’s Law for Florida, which aims to create a crime victims’ bill of rights in the state.

The political shop now known as Election Management Solutions won some big races in the last primary, including Jeff Brandes and Kathleen Passidomo, and were part of the teams that helped Jeb Bush become governor and his brother George W. Bush become president. Supernova is taking off, counting now-Congressman Gaetz, state Rep. Dane Eagle, and state Sen. Dana Young as clients, boosting their respective online followings.  

The companies all have new respective websites; visit them at Enwrightrimes.com, Electionmgmt.com and Supernovadigital.com.

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— L’AFFAIRE LATVALA —

Et tu, Lauren Book” via Peter Schorsch for Florida Politics

Bill Galvano says Jack Latvala case likely won’t be resolved until January, cites Ray Sansom as precedent” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – “I believe that the special master’s report will come out before too long – maybe not this week but the next eight to 10 days,” Galvano, the incoming Senate President, said. “That’s not because I have official knowledge that’s because of the timing in this process. Of course, we’ll be out of committee” … “It’s within the president’s prerogative to call a special Rules Committee meeting but, based on my experience I would think it would be more in January, after everybody’s had a chance to adjust what the special master has come up with,” he said. Galvano said the precedent they will follow mirrors that of former House Speaker Ray Sansom, who faced a complaint from a Clearwater Democrat and ultimately resigned as speaker in February 2009 amid misconduct allegations. Galvano was the House Rules Committee chair at the time, and led the House Committee on Official Standards and Conduct which was prepared to investigate and potentially oust Sansom before he resigned.

Tweet, tweet:

Rob Bradley says ‘zero tolerance’ for sexual misconduct, intimidation’ ” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – “There is zero tolerance for sexual misconduct and verbal abuse,” said Bradley, following a meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “But there is also zero tolerance for any behaviors leaving one feeling like they should not come forward.” Bradley also spoke to the broader issues the facing the Senate, which has been engulfed in sex scandal allegations and rumors because of Latvala and state Sen. Jeff Clemens, who resigned after POLITICO reported his affair with a lobbyist. “I am encouraged that fundamental change is occurring in the capitol,” Bradley said.

Annette Taddeo becomes first Senate Democrat to call for Latvala’s resignation” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – … for creating a “hostile environment” as he fights a sexual harassment complaint filed by a longtime Republican staffer. “I believe Senator Jack Latvala has an opportunity to put service and people first — and that starts by resigning his seat, so we can get back to the business of Floridians,” Taddeo said in a written statement. The senator from Miami said she, too, had been harassed when she was younger. “While speaking out is never easy, I know in my heart I cannot stay silent any longer,” Taddeo said. “Without going into details, I have been subjected to inappropriate behavior as a young woman by a religious leader,” she said. “While I did not speak out publicly then, I know today, I have an opportunity to add my voice to a movement that I hope reshapes our society. We cannot tolerate anything less than respect from any individual — period.”

Tweet, tweet: @Fineout: Sen. Latvala continues to assert he didn’t do anything and that he’s fighting becaus he’s innocent. But the question is which other senators will join this chorus. And this question will get asked again and again and again by media outlets the closer #FLLeg gets to session.

Assignment editors – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham will announce a package of new ethics proposals to restore integrity to Florida’s Capitol. News conference begins noon at the Florida Press Center, 336 E. College Ave. in Tallahassee.

— CAPITOL INSIGHT —

Senate president’s priority university bill passes final committee” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – A packed education bill passed its third and final committee with a unanimous vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee. SB 4, filed by Sen. Bill Galvano, would create the “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018” and expand the Bright Futures Scholarship to allow for use during summer enrollment. It would also expand coverage of the Benacquisto Scholarship Program, and establish the State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program. The bill, a priority of Senate President Joe Negron, can now be heard on the Senate floor during the 2018 session.

House Speakers backs stricter texting-while-driving proposal” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics – The push to make texting while driving a primary offense under state law has gained a powerful advocate: House Speaker Corcoran. “The data is overwhelming and the need to act is equally compelling,” Corcoran said in a statement. State Rep. Jackie Toledo on Wednesday filed legislation that would strengthen the ban on texting and emailing while driving by bolstering citation fees. Under the proposal, a first violation would carry a fine plus court fees that cost up to $108. If a second offense is committed within five years, a driver would face a $60 fine plus court expenses that could total up to $158. Under the bill, law enforcement officers who stop a driver on suspicion of texting and driving would have to have a warrant to access a driver’s phone. They would also be required to inform the driver of their rights to decline a search of the phone.

Lawmakers question increased tourism funding” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida – Gov. Scott‘s request for lawmakers to boost tourism marketing by $24 million next year might be a tough sell in the House. Members of the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee said VISIT FLORIDA would have to justify the proposed increase by showing how many of the 112.3 million visitors last year, and 88.2 million so far this year, came to Florida because of the agency’s marketing efforts. “Throwing out $75 million and 112 million visitors is just not compelling,” Rep. Randy Fine said after the meeting. “If you can show the incrementality (of marketing to tourism growth), it’s easier to justify the money.” Other members of the panel questioned if the state has the money available to spend.

Shot: “Seminole Tribe fires warning letter to Legislature over fantasy sports” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s top in-house lawyer told lawmakers this week that their fantasy sports bills are a dealbreaker. A $200 million dealbreaker. The Tribe now says fantasy sports bills filed for the 2018 Legislative Session, if passed, would violate the Seminole Compact. That’s the 2010 gambling agreement struck by the state and the Seminoles that, among other things, promises them exclusive rights to certain games. In return, the Tribe pays the state hundreds of millions per year. Break that deal, the Tribe says, and it’s entitled to pay not one more dime. Around 3 million Floridians say they play some sort of fantasy sports.

Chaser: “Tribe criticism of fantasy sports is ‘off point,’ Dana Young says” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – State Sen. Dana Young is defending her fantasy sports bill for 2018, saying the Seminole Tribe’s criticism of her measure and related legislation is “off point.” On Wednesday, the Tampa Republican referred to a February legal opinion by former Florida Supreme Court Justice Ken Bell for DraftKings, a leading fantasy sports website. The day before, the Tribe sent a letter warning lawmakers that fantasy sports bills filed for the 2018 Legislative Session, if approved, would violate the Seminole Compact, the gambling agreement with the state. In sum, Bell said “the passage of legislation authorizing online fantasy sports should have no effect on the payments due to the State of Florida under the Compact.”

Sarasota Republican Rep. Joe Gruters discusses his newly filed legislation to ban the practice of committees transferring “dark money” to other committees, which make it difficult to figure out which lawmaker receives contributions.

Bobby Olszewski files bill to protect pets during emergencies” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics –After hearing what he called “horrible” stories of pets being left chained outside during Hurricane Irma, Olszewski has filed a bill that would make that against the law in Florida, requiring owners to do all they can to get shelter for their animal companions. House Bill 907 would kick in anytime an emergency evacuation is ordered, requiring pet owners to take their pets with them or find safe and secure places for the pets. State Sen. Victor Torres, an Orlando Democrat, intends to introduce a companion bill in the Senate. Violators would be subject to civil fines.

Tweet, tweet:

Today’s key legislative committee meetings:

— Criminal justice budget on Senate agenda – The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will hear a presentation on Gov. Rick Scott‘s proposed 2018-2019 budget. Presentations begin 9 a.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— Senate discusses education budget – The Senate Pre-K-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee will hear a presentation on Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed 2018-2019 budget. Presentations begin 9 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.

— Senate looks at transportation budget – The Senate Transportation, Tourism & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee will hear a presentation on Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget. Presentations begin 9 a.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— Senate debates fantasy sports exemption – The Senate Regulated Industries Committee examines SB 374, filed by Dana Young of Tampa, to clarify that fantasy sports contests our exempt from Florida gambling laws.meeting begins 12:30 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— Senate looks at general governent appropriations – The Senate General Government Appropriations Subcommittee will hear a presentation on Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget. Presentations begin 12:30 p.m. in Room 301 of the Senate Office Building.

— Senate talks Health and Human Services budget – The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee will hear a presentation on Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget. Presentations begin 12:30 p.m. in Room 401 of the Senate Office Building.

— Senate discusses higher education budget – The Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee will hear a presentation on Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget. Presentations begin 12:30 p.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.

— Lawmakers talk gambling, medical marijuana – The Joint Administrative Procedures Committee will hear presentations on gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the 2016 constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana. Presentations begin 3:45 p.m. in Room 301 of the Senate Office Building.

— LATEST ON FLA. DEMS. CHAIR RACE —

SEIU Prez Monica Russo drops bid for Florida Democratic chair” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post –  “The Florida Democratic Party needs to step out of the past and rigorously rejuvenate and empower grassroots leaders and give them the tools, support, and recognition they need for their organizing,” Russo said. “We need to be more intentional about being open, inclusive and cross-generational, a Party where Floridians from every community in all 67 counties feel like they belong. We have to take the time to do this and not only listen, but learn. As soon as I sought election, I learned that the Democratic Party’s rules and structures are closed and exclusive. The rules do not make those who have fought alongside the Democratic Party feel welcome. This holds progress back, and changes are clearly needed. Though I am not eligible to run for Chair, I still plan on continuing my push for these commonsense reforms.” Russo also said she’ll continue to work on union and Democratic priorities such as raising the minimum wage to $15 and expanding Medicaid.

Miami-Dade Democrats in ‘legal jeopardy’ over Stephen Bittel election votes” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics – Bruce Jacobs, a longtime Democratic activist, claims the Miami-Dade local party is violating its bylaws by trying to “pre-determine the outcome” of the upcoming Florida Democratic Party chair election in favor of Terrie Rizzo. “He is basing that on nothing, it is preposterous,” Juan Cuba, the chair of the county party, said. Jacobs filed a motion in Miami-Dade court late last week, claiming there is a “calculated effort” to elect the next chair, and is asking the court to prohibit ousted chairman Stephen Bittel — who plans to keep his Miami committeeman post until after the election — from “voting, by proxy or otherwise.” The motion will be heard Friday, a day before the next party leader is chosen. But the legalities have already had a consequence: Cuba is no longer casting Bittel’s 62 votes. Bittel and Committeewoman Francesca Menes have the largest share of votes in the state.

– “Janet Cruz backs Alma Gonzalez in race for Florida Democratic chair” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Assignment editors – Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for Governor, will campaign across Central Florida to highlight issues such as the economy, affordable and accessible health care and protecting public education. Tour begins with the Surly Feminist Holiday Party, 8 p.m. at 1235 21st Ave. N. in St. Petersburg. On Friday, Gillum will speak at Café con Tampa, 7:45 a.m. at the Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa. Next, he will attend the Florida Association for The Education of Young Children Advocacy Awards Luncheon, noon at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, 9939 Universal Blvd. in Orlando. Finally, Gillum will appear at the Brevard County Democratic Executive Committee WINterfest, 6 p.m. at Rockledge Garden, 2153 US-1 in Rockledge.

Assignment editors – Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam will join supporters in Palm Beach Gardens for an “Up & Adam” breakfast beginning 8 a.m. at the Boulevard Restaurant & Deli, 10961 N. Military Trail in Palm Beach Gardens.

ICYMI: Anti-gambling initiative notches 1,000,000 signers – A proposed constitutional amendment aimed at limiting gambling’s expansion in the state now has more than 1 million signatures, its backers said Wednesday. Voters in Charge, the political committee behind the amendment, said it’s still aiming for 1.1 million signatures to reach the required 766,000-plus number to appear on the 2018 general election ballot. The amendment would “ensure that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling,” the ballot summary says. John Sowinski, chairman of Voters in Charge, said they collected over 237,000 petitions in November.

Three qualify for Senate District 31 special election” via Florida Politics – Democrats Lori Berman, currently in the Florida House, and Arthur Morrison will face off in a primary race, while Republican Tami Donnally will face the victor in the general election for Senate District 31. Last month, Gov. Scott set the special primary election for Jan. 30, 2018, with a special general election to follow April 10.

Judge to consider special election dates – Circuit Judge Charles Dodson will hold a Thursday hearing in Tallahassee on a request by Florida Democratic Party leaders for a temporary injunction to speed up special elections in two legislative districts. Attorneys filed a motion for a temporary injunction as part of a lawsuit filed Nov. 6. The request says special elections in Senate District 31 and House District 114 should be held in time for newly elected members to serve during all or part the 2018 legislative session, which starts Jan. 9. Lake Worth Democrat Jeff Clemens resigned from the Senate District 31 seat in late October after disclosures about an extramarital affair with a lobbyist, while Coral Gables Democrat Daisy Baez resigned from the House District 114 seat in early November after agreeing to plead guilty to a perjury charge in an investigation about her residency. In the Palm Beach County Senate district, Gov. Rick Scott has scheduled a special primary election Jan. 30 and a special general election April 10. In the Miami-Dade County House district, he has scheduled a special primary election Feb. 20 and a special general election May 1. The hearing is in the Leon County Courthouse, courtroom 3C, at 4 p.m.

— STATEWIDE —

Israel—the ‘photo op’ gift that keeps on giving: Gov. Scott recognized the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Miami School of Medicine and the Israeli Trauma Society, continuing an ongoing partnership for training approximately 90 percent of Israel’s trauma surgeons.

Florida bond deals could take hit in tax overhaul” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida – Florida taxpayers could lose billions of dollars in future savings under part of pending federal tax-reform legislation that would limit the ability of states and local governments to refinance bonds. “This is down in the weeds, but it is extraordinarily important,” said Ben Watkins, director of the state Division of Bond Finance, after briefing aides to Gov. Scott and Cabinet members … Sweeping tax bills have passed the U.S. House and Senate, and the final version will have to be worked out in negotiations between the two chambers. But Watkins said both bills contain a provision that would prohibit the “advance refunding” of tax-exempt bonds. The ability to refinance bonds during a period of low interest rates allowed the state to save $2.5 billion in a 6 ½-year period that ended in December 2016, according to the Division of Bond Finance. In the 2015-2016 fiscal year alone, the state executed 13 refundings, totaling about $3 billion in debt that resulted in $619 million in savings.

At Disney, battles over $10 wages and 50-cent raises help tell Orlando’s economic tale” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel – Disney’s Unite Here reported that 11,046 of full-time union members make between $10 and $10.99 an hour. That’s not “survival” level income, according to the United Way of Florida. Another 4,184 make between $11 and $11.99. That’s still sub-survival. Many employees make more. Certainly, the executives. Disney says tipped employees can make $35 or more. But Disney says its own numbers show that the average hourly wage for its 30,000-plus front-line union workers is $13.34. That’s the average for full-time workers, many of whom love their employer … $27,747 a year. This is a big part of why Orlando is one of the lowest-wage metros in America. And here’s the starker, bigger-picture point: Nothing that happens in this contract negotiation will really change that. Even if Disney gives minimum raises of 80 cents or even $2, wages will still be low. This is the reality of our community.

Justices agree to weigh damages in smoker’s death” via the News Service of Florida – A divided Florida Supreme Court has decided to take up a case that focuses on the amount of damages an adult child should be able to receive in the smoking-related death of her mother. Justices, in a 4-3 decision, agreed to consider an appeal in a case filed against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. by Gwendolyn Odom, whose mother, Juanita Thurston, died of lung cancer after smoking cigarettes. In the Palm Beach County case, a jury found R.J. Reynolds at fault and awarded $6 million in compensatory damages. That amount was reduced to $4.5 million, because Thurston was held to be 25 percent responsible for her illness, according to court documents. The jury also awarded $14 million in punitive damages. But the 4th District Court of Appeal last year said the compensatory-damage award was excessive for a case brought by the adult child of a dead smoker. It rejected the compensatory-damage award and, as an extension, the amount of punitive damages. In asking the Supreme Court to take up the case, Odom’s attorneys wrote, in part, that the 4th District Court of Appeal ruling failed to recognize the “unique role” adult children can play in caring for their parents.

Regulators approve citizens insurance rate hikes” via the News service of Florida – State regulators have approved a series of rate increases for Citizens Property Insurance customers, now that a 90-day rate freeze due to Hurricane Irma has been lifted. The Office of Insurance Regulation said it has approved an average 6.6 percent increase for homeowners’ multi-peril policies, slightly lower than a 6.7 percent hike requested by Citizens. The average wind-only homeowners’ policy will go up 0.9 percent, rather than the 1.7 percent sought by the state-backed Citizens. Regulators approved Citizens’ request for a 4.8 percent increase in multi-peril coverage for condominium associations, while wind-only condominium association policies will see a 10.1 percent hike.

Trauma center approved for Children’s Hospital” via the News Service of Florida – The Florida Department of Health has signed off on a plan by Wolfson Children’s Hospital to open a pediatric trauma center. State Surgeon General Celeste Philip signed a final order approving what is known as a “provisional” trauma center at the Jacksonville hospital. The move came three weeks after an administrative law judge recommended approval of the trauma center. Wolfson had filed the administrative challenge after an earlier decision by the Department of Health to reject the proposal. Approval of a “provisional” trauma center is a kind of temporary status, though hospitals then can go through a process to get more-permanent approval.

FBI again interviews city employee about CNG project” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat – The FBI interviewed David Ging, an energy resource administrator, on Monday for the second time about the city’s planned but later abandoned the project to build its own Compressed Natural Gas station, instead opting to continue purchasing CNG from Nopetro at a discounted price… Ging said the FBI wanted to take a deep look at the project, including how it started and ended. The FBI in October first interviewed Ging and, separately, Terry Lowe, a longtime city fleet director who retired a short time later. City officials have said the FBI has given no indication the staff members themselves were the focus of their interest… Paige Carter-Smith, executive director of the Downtown Improvement Authority, was a Nopetro consultant when city officials were debating the CNG project… He has been named in all three subpoenas that have been served on City Hall and the Community Redevelopment Agency since June.

Mayor accused of using dead people’s parking permits” via The Associated Press – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said Davenport Mayor Darlene Bradley was arrested and faces felony charges of using a deceased person’s identification. She also was charged with possessing an altered or counterfeit decal. The sheriff’s office says Bradley was videotaped parking in the disabled spot recently, and that a search of her home led to the discovery of permits issued to two people who have died. The mayor was booked into the Polk County Jail and released after posting $2,250 bond.

PSC teacher installs anti-Trump art exhibit ahead of president’s Pensacola rally” via Jake Newby of the Pensacola News-Journal – Since the 2016 election, an art teacher at Pensacola State College has worn his homemade, airbrushed anti-Donald Trump T-shirts around town. Now Douglas Reiser is taking his peaceful stance against the president a step further by putting those shirts, along with other handcrafted anti-Trump creations, on display in PSC’s art department. Campaign-style shirts slapped with not-so-subtle slogans like “WTF? 2016,” “Unapologetic Racist Enabler 2017” and “The Emperor Has No Clothes 2017” line … four racks of T-shirts, three to a rack, with small gold plaques hanging in front of each one. Engraved into each plaque are Trump quotes from the past couple of years that Reiser said he has found interesting, particularly “I alone can fix it,” a statement Trump made during the 2016 Republican National Convention. “I left some empty space on each plaque for future inexplicable quotes,” Reiser said.

UCF drops theater performance after playwright allegations” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – UCF scrapped preparations for a February student theater production of the play The Day Before Yesterday now that playwright Israel Horovitz has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct … officials announced The Day Before Yesterday is being replaced in the theater schedule this winter with Rebecca Gilman’s Boy Gets Girl, now set to run Feb. 22-March 4. According to a New York Times story, Horovitz is the subject of sexual misconduct allegations from nine different women, that range from unwanted forceful kissing to rape. “As an educational institution, it is our job to instruct students how to produce and participate in theater. However, it is also our duty to teach them to do so with integrity and respect. Upon evaluation of the situation, we have decided to replace the performance with Boy Gets Girl,” Julia Listengarten, artistic director for Theatre UCF, stated in a news release issue by UCF.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Matt Gaetz, Ron DeSantis, Ted Yoho: FBI must investigate Hillary Clinton” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “In advance of the Dec. 7 testimony of FBI Director Christopher Wray before the House Judiciary Committee,” reads a news release, “the Congressmen are specifically calling for information about former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe‘s statement that the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton‘s misuse of a personal email server was referred to as ‘special’ and that ‘the decision was made to investigate it at HQ with a small team.’ ” Florida Reps. Gaetz, DeSantis and Yoho appeared at the event with several other conservatives, including Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Louie Gohmert of Texas. “We are here today calling for an investigation into FBI systems and procedures that have allowed special treatment and bias to run rampant,” said Gaetz. “The law demands equal treatment for all, not ‘special’ treatment for some. There is a clear and consistent pattern of treating the Clinton investigation differently than other investigations. At least some of this ‘special’ treatment seems to have been motivated by political bias.”

Stephanie Murphy CHIP reauthorization bill lining up as Democrats’ offering” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Murphy introduced House Resolution 4541, which would reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) community health centers funding, and other critical public health initiatives like the Special Diabetes program, the National Health Service Corps, and Family-to-Family Health Information Centers. All of those programs had Sept. 30 reauthorization deadlines, which Congress missed. The bill also provides funding to support the under-resourced Medicaid system in Puerto Rico and the other U.S. territories, and to support the Medicaid system in states like Florida that enroll displaced individuals from hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The cost of the bill is fully offset by modifying the timing, but not the amount, of federal payments to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans, a move supported by numerous independent experts, according to a press release issued by Murphy’s office.

— MOVEMENTS —

Lenny Curry turns to top political operative as chief of staff” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union – Curry named Brian Hughes his chief of staff, a move that formally installs a key figure in Curry’s political world into the machinery of city government. Hughes, who has been a Tallahassee-based political operative since Curry’s election, was already operating as a kind of unofficial chief of staff: A common sight in City Hall, oft-advising Curry on a range of policy and political issues and sometimes meeting with City Council members. Curry has been without a chief of staff since May, when Kerri Stewart, a City Hall veteran, resigned in May to take a job as one of JEA’s executives. Hughes has made thousands of dollars since Curry’s election in consulting fees — paid out of the mayor’s political committee — as well as having represented clients interested in running for City Council long before the 2019 elections take place. He is a registered city lobbyist for Buckeye Partners LP, an energy distribution company, and also signed up to work with the Jacksonville Port Authority.

Spotted at the Cardenas Partners holiday party –  Sens. Aaron Bean, Jeff Brandes, Audrey Gibson, Debbie Mayfield, Keith Perry, Perry Thurston, Reps. Halsey Beshears, Jason Brodeur, Brad Drake, Jason Fischer, Erin Grall, Jeanette Nunez, Mel Ponder, Paul Renner, Holly Raschein, Ray Rodrigues, Chris Sprowls, Jennifer Sullivan, Jackie Toledo,  Jay Trumbull, Jayer Williamson, Al Cardenas, Slater Bayliss, Brewster Bevis, Brad Burleson, Cameron Cooper, Mike Dew, J.C. Flores, Craig Hansen, Jose Gonzalez, Ed Moore, Stephen Shiver, Toby Philpot, John Zachem.

Happy birthday to a slew of great Florida politicos: Jane Castor, Anna Alexopoulos Farrar (now with the CFO’s office), Mark Ferrulo, former Rep. John Wood, and Jon Yapo.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, Florida Politics, Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of the quarterly INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, SaintPetersBlog 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.

1 Comment

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