Sunburn — The morning read of what hot in Florida politics — 8.3.18
Famous lighthouse at Cape Florda in the south end of Key Biscayne , Miami

Famous lighthouse at Key Biscayne, Miami

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

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

Anyone hoping Florida’s five Democratic candidates for Governor would break new ground in the final debate Thursday night may have left disappointed.

On stage, each candidate mainly stuck to the standards, with only a couple of questions eliciting any form of surprise.

Andrew Gillum, Jeff Greene, Chris King, Philip Levine, and Gwen Graham all pulled more punches than in previous debates, with just a few recycled squabbles — mostly centering on Graham’s record as a moderate member of Congress.

Graham also took a couple more shots for her family’s involvement in the development of the American Dream Miami megamall, as well as a brief flurry of jabs between Levine and Greene over the Palm Beach billionaire’s encounters with President Donald Trump.

On issues, the quintet renewed the standard commitments: Increasing public education funding; pushing for minimum wage increases; higher-paying jobs; standing up to the gun lobby; seeking repeal of the Stand Your Ground laws and fighting special interests to address the water flows creating the toxic algae blooms east and west of Lake Okeechobee.

Hosted by WPBF-TV in West Palm Beach and co-sponsored by the Florida Press Association, the debate provided the candidates a chance to restate a handful of distinctive policy ideas: Levine’s Education Security Administration to focus on school safety; King’s bullet tax and a ban on death penalties; Gillum’s Medicare-for-all style health care plan; Graham’s proposal for an executive order to ban sales of assault weapons and Greene’s commitment to spend $100 million or more of his own fortune to counter Republicans’ usual advantages in campaign money.

But this was a last-chance statewide appearance before the Aug. 28 Democratic gubernatorial primary, and most of the debate played out as a multipart closing statement on positions Floridians already heard through the first four debates.

“This is not a drill,” warned Graham, as the latest front-runner in polling. Her pitch was that as the party’s nominee — “whoever she is” — it needs to be someone, a mom, who can appeal to everyday Floridians.

“What I bring to voters is the best of the private sector mixed with the best of the public sector,” said Levine, the former Miami Beach Mayor and businessman.

“The Democratic Party is alive and well and kicking. The problem is we’ve been outspent by Republicans over and over again,” said Greene, the self-made billionaire from Palm Beach who is self-funding his campaign. “That’s going to be different this year. I have the resources.”

“We have got to come to them with big ideas that will fix their solutions. That’s how we defeat Donald Trump, not by calling people names, but by solving problems,’ said King, the Winter Park entrepreneur.

“Florida can’t be just a cheap-date state,” said Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor who argues the state’s corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes.

Some more telling moments in the debate came through cameo appearances through questions or answers: Trump, Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida gun lobbyist Marion Hammer, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, currently the Republican gubernatorial front-runner.



Republican gubernatorial debate in Jacksonville — 5; School begins in the first 19 Florida districts — 7; Start of the U.S. Open — 24; Primary Election Day — 25; College Football opening weekend — 27; Labor Day — 31; NFL regular season starts — 34; Future of Florida Forum — 54; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 81; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 82; General Election Day — 95; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 116; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 193; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 214; 2020 General Election — 823.


Retailers expect near record spending during back-to-school tax holiday” via Florida Politics — The second biggest shopping holiday of the year is here. According to the Florida Retail Federation, the weekend — scheduled yearly by Florida lawmakers — is second only to Black Friday when it comes to getting customers to open their wallets, and 2018 is no different. “The Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday remains as popular with retailers as consumers, and with the increased strength of Florida’s economy right now, we expect to see near-record sales this year,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “We want to thank Governor [Rick] Scott and our legislative leaders for including this holiday in the state budget once again, and we look forward to another successful shopping season with retailers piggybacking discounts on top of the tax-free spending and consumers taking advantage of these deals.” From Friday to Sunday, Florida’s tax-free holiday will see consumers shave a few bucks off the price of clothing, shoes and bags priced at $60 or less as well as school supplies costing $15 or less. Unlike recent years, electronics didn’t make the tax-free list.

Getting ready for school: Gov. Rick Scott visited Educational Outfitters in Tampa, where he highlighted the back-to-school sales tax holiday that will begin Friday through Aug. 5.


Rick Scott on algae blooms, SunPass and his blind trust” via Howard Altman of the Tampa Bay Times — At a news conference at Educational Outfitters, a school supply store, Scott blamed the federal government for the blooming mess that is Lake Okeechobee, said he had no conflicts of interest when it comes to SunPass and declined to say whether he will set up a blind trust if he becomes Senator. On Lake Okeechobee and the algae blooms: “What I did, is I fought to get money in the state budget, so this is the second year in a row that we’ve gotten $50 million in the budget. No governor has ever done this before. To try and push the process along to get the dike fixed.” On SunPass, why hasn’t there been an investigation done on what may have happened at FDOT? “Well, the right thing to do first off is to get the problem fixed. And that’s what we are doing. We are holding the vendor accountable.”

Assignment editors — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson hosts a roundtable to talk with concerned citizens and community leaders about the ongoing toxic algae outbreak plaguing Florida, specifically Stuart and the nearby communities, 1:30 p.m., Florida Sportsman Magazine Headquarters, 2700 Kanner Hwy., Stuart.


Rob Schenck says he’s supporting Ron DeSantis for Governor — The former state Representative, a Spring Hill Republican, says he’s putting his money where his mouth is: Schenck’s political committee, Citizens for Economic Freedom, gave $15,000 to Friends of Ron DeSantis in June, and another $3,000 to the DeSantis campaign last month. Schenck, now a lobbyist, left the House in 2014; he founded The Legis Group with fellow former Republican lawmakers Doug Holder. Schenck said he got calls from former House colleagues Matt Gaetz, a now a Republican congressman, and Jose Oliva, the next GOP House Speaker. Both extolled DeSantis’ virtues, Schenck said. “Since they were in, I was in,” he added. “After meeting with Ron in June in Orlando, I became convinced he would make an excellent governor. He is a strong, principled conservative.”

Endorsers line up behind Ron DeSantis. (Image via Getty)

Doctor lobby endorses DeSantis — with help from Gaetz” via Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida — DeSantis snagged his first major endorsement from the Tallahassee establishment on Thursday with a little help from his colleague, Rep. Gaetz. The Florida Medical Association — the doctor lobby — threw its support behind DeSantis in the Republican gubernatorial primary. The move was significant because it’s the first major departure of a Tallahassee trade group from Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam‘s campaign, which has been losing momentum in recent weeks. Putnam has been a known entity in state politics for decades. DeSantis and the FMA also share a mutual friend: Gaetz … a friend of FMA President Tim Stapleton, who was Gaetz’ guest to President Donald Trump‘s first address to Congress. In addition, FMA Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Chris Clark worked for Gaetz’ father, Don Gaetz, when he was state Senate President. “I definitely shared Ron DeSantis’ free-market approach to health care with a number of physicians who are active in the FMA and I’ve tried to make his case to members of the staff of FMA who I know well,” Gaetz told POLITICO in an interview.

Bob Graham’s debate prep advice to daughter: Relax” via the News Service of Florida — Graham had some unsolicited advice for his daughter and candidate Gwen Graham: Take a break. “Take today off and rest,” Graham said when asked about advising his daughter, one of five candidates vying to win the Democratic nomination for governor. The 7 p.m. debate, presented by the Florida Press Association and WPBF 25 News, an ABC affiliate in West Palm Beach, will be televised statewide. With the Aug. 28 primary just weeks away, Graham leads in the polls in a crowded Democratic field … the polls also show large numbers of undecided Democratic voters.

Chris, Kristen King featured in new campaign ad — “Chris and Kristen” shares the Kings’ story of how they first met. The ad is targeting Democratic voters on Facebook statewide as part of the campaign’s ongoing six-figure paid online media campaign. “So, I met her when I was 15. She was a lot older woman, she was a senior …” … “A lot?” … “A lot older woman.”

To view “Chris and Kristen,” click on the image below:

Aaron Bean, Travis Hutson, former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney endorse Ashley Moody for AG — The trio joins Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams to support Moody in her bid to replace Attorney General Pam Bondi. “Ashley has the experience, will and muscle to put bad guys behind bars and keep our communities safe,” state Sen. Bean said. State Sen. Hutson added: “As a former judge for over ten years, Ashley believes that we must strictly follow the conservative principles of the U.S. Constitution. She is a strong believer in Christian, pro-family values and will always defend religious freedom and the rights of Christians.” Delaney continued: “I know how important safety and security is to our community. In addition to steadfastly supporting the men and women of law enforcement, Ashley’s top priority will be to fight the prescription drug and opioid epidemic which has affected hundreds of thousands of Floridians.”

Spotted: Frank White in new YouTube video — The Republican state representative from Pensacola, now running for attorney general, sat down with Tripp Scott law firm CEO Ed Pozzuoli for a 7-minute interview available on the firm’s YouTube channel. White said he’s running in part because “standing up for the Constitution … is my passion.” He also said he views the AG’s role as “making sure the different parts of government … stay within their lanes. For me, as attorney general, I want to find every lever I can to make sure politicians are held accountable.” White’s primary opponent, former Hillsborough Circuit Judge Moody, previously sat down with Pozzuoli; her interview is here.

Click on the image below to watch the interview: 

John Stemberger, Florida Family Action endorse Frank White for AG — Stemberger, who serves as president and General Counsel of Florida Family Action, one of the state’s leading conservative pro-life organizations, announced the endorsement in a statement: “Our FFA Board of Directors had the opportunity to interview both candidates privately and I personally have watched and moderated debates between the AG candidates. Based on our interviews, each candidates’ record, and extensive background research, we believe Frank White is a conservative candidate we can trust.”

Hearing set in challenge to Attorney General candidate” via the News Service of Florida — Saying the case needs “priority advancement” because of the looming elections, a Leon County circuit judge has scheduled an Aug. 22 hearing in a dispute about whether a Democratic candidate for attorney general properly qualified to run. Judge Karen Gievers issued an order setting the hearing date in the challenge to the candidacy of Hillsborough County attorney Ryan Torrens. State Rep. Sean Shaw, a Tampa Democrat running against Torrens in the primary, filed the lawsuit last month. The lawsuit contends that Torrens’ campaign in June accepted a $4,000 contribution — $1,000 more than the maximum an individual is allowed to give — to cover the qualifying fee. As a result, the lawsuit said Torrens did not properly qualify for the race.


Gloves off: Alvin Brown, Al Lawson bash each other in heated interview” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Former Jacksonville Mayor Brown and current U.S. Rep. Lawson were jointly interviewed by the Tallahassee Democrat … There were some highlights, both regarding policy distinctions and personal attacks, in what was the most substantive interview either candidate has conducted during this campaign. The session heated up with a discussion of gun rights — a big talking point in this campaign. Lawson stood his ground on voting for Stand Your Ground, noting that it protected homeowners from prosecution when protecting themselves. Brown, meanwhile, wanted to “scrap” Stand Your Ground altogether, citing the killings of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. Lawson noted he “clapped for the President” at the State of the Union when he said unemployment was low for blacks and Hispanics, but Brown was only using the issue because he had no issues to run on.

Al Lawson and Alvin Brown throw down.

Charlie Crist, Joe Kennedy III rally to #ProtectOurCare” via the Tampa Bay Reporter — The Congressmen will be joined by local residents and health care advocates to call on elected officials to protect the Affordable Care Act and Floridians’ access to affordable health care — fighting attempts to undermine protections for those with pre-existing conditions, holding “Big Pharma” accountable for rising prescription drug prices, and calling on Florida to expand Medicaid. The rally is scheduled for noon Aug. 7 at Williams Park, 350 Second Ave. N in St. Petersburg. For information about the event, go to

Vern Buchanan re-election bid cracks $2M in TV spending — Buchanan plunked down $1.17 million this week for a media buy that will keep his re-election ads running on broadcast TV in Florida’s 16th Congressional District from Sept. 18 through Election Day. The Longboat Key Republican also threw in another $16,780 to bolster his ad buys for the primary season as well as the first half of September, bringing the sixth-term congressman’s total broadcast ad spending past the $2 million mark for the 2018 election cycle. Buchanan is likely to face Siesta Key attorney David Shapiro in the general election for CD 16, which covers all of Manatee County, southwestern Hillsborough and northern Sarasota counties. Recent polling shows Buchanan with a double-digit lead over Shapiro, though the race was recently moved from “likely Republican” to “leans Republican” by the political handicappers at the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato‘s Crystal Ball.

Outside money pours into CD 17 Republican primary between Julio Gonzalez, Greg Steube” via Florida Politics — In July alone, outside groups spent nearly $1 million boosting state Sen. Steube and besieging state Rep. Gonzalez, the two leading Republicans vying for the expansive and solidly Republican congressional district. Most of that cash — $569,052 as of July 31 — has paid for messaging touting Steube … Club for Growth Action is responsible for more than $500,000 of that, including a $432,000 TV buy placed on July 20. The Liberty and Leadership Fund plunked down another $45,000 for a pair of direct mail campaigns supporting Steube, one on July 18 and another on July 25, while the With Honor Fund pitched in the remaining $16,500 for polling on July 9. Liberty and Leadership also paid for another pair of mail campaigns opposing Gonzalez that rang up at the same $45,000 price tag as its pro-Steube campaigns, while National Horizon weighed in against the Venice Republican with a $112,000 transaction for media production and placement. There’s likely more where that came from.

Lauren Baer launches first TV ad in bid to unseat Brian Mast” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Former Obama administration official Lauren Baer is out with her first TV spot in support of her run for Florida’s 18th Congressional District. The ad, titled “Our Home,” attempts to emphasize Baer’s connection with the district, along with her reasons for running in the first place. “I started off as a lawyer, taking the fight to get money out of politics,” Baer says, while supporters interject with their reasons for backing her campaign. “Kind of like a little powerhouse in a pint-size,” says one supporter.

To watch the ad, click on the video below:

Loranne Ausley files to succeed Bill Montford in 2020” via Florida Politics — It’s no secret that state Rep. Ausley has her eyes on Senate District 3, and she made those ambitions official by filing for the seat. Florida Division of Elections records show she opened a campaign account for the 2020 cycle and also filed the required paperwork to solicit funds for the race via an affiliated political committee, Florida 2020. The Tallahassee attorney expressed interest in running for SD 3 earlier this year when Montford was flirting with the idea of leaving the Senate two years early to run for Tallahassee Mayor. However, Montford decided to remain in the Senate. Ausley joins Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox in the 2020 Senate race.

Dana Young continues to dominate fundraising in SD 18 — newly released fundraising reports show Young continuing to dominate fundraising in the Senate District 18 race, taking in nearly $100K in just one week. The Tampa Republican’s campaign took in nearly $33,000, while her political committee, Friends of Dana Young, brought in more than $61,000, between July 30 and August 3.

Poll: Attack ads backfiring in Gary Farmer, Jim Waldman rematch” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — After more than $200,000 spent on attack ads slamming Fort Lauderdale Sen. Farmer, his lead has only grown in the primary rematch between him and former Rep. Waldman. A tracking poll conducted over the past month by SEA Polling & Strategic Design found that as of Aug. 2, the first-term Senator had a 42-14 lead over Waldman … That lead grows among voters who say they’ve seen ads, some of them labeling Farmer as “obnoxious” and a “sexist” based on reports of a behind-closed-doors meeting with Democratic Sen. Lauren Book. … “Among those who recall having received communications from both candidates, Farmer’s lead swells to 30 percent. As less than 40 percent do not recall communications from either candidate and a 3-to-1 deficit among those who recall both sides communications, Waldman’s ability to close Farmer’s expanding lead diminishes,” the pollster said. … Farmer and Waldman are the only major party candidates running for SD 34, a Democratic stronghold covering coastal Broward County. … “While Waldman looks increasingly unlikely to pose a serious challenge to Farmer this cycle, he’s guaranteed to improve on his third-place finish in 2016,” SEA concluded.

Kathy Castor backs Mike Alvarez, admonishes Susan Valdes in HD 62” via Florida Politics — “Democrat Mike Alvarez is the clear choice to represent the heart of Tampa in the Florida House of Representatives and I’m proud to endorse his campaign,” Castor said. “We need a true public servant who will fight for better public schools, bring investment to all our communities and create higher-wage jobs.” along with the endorsement came a harsh rebuke of Valdes for a campaign mailer she sent out that falsely touted an endorsement from Castor: “I am disappointed that the latest communication from Susan Valdes is inconsistent with Florida law and implies my endorsement of her campaign … Let me be clear, the candidate in this race who has my endorsement and support is Mike Alvarez.”


What’s been dubbed the “breakout tech” of midterm outreach efforts might surprise some.

Writes Kevin Roose for The New York Times, “Candidates in this year’s midterm elections are still sending mailers, putting ads on TV and knocking on doors to drum up support. But they’ve added a new, hard-to-ignore tool to their arsenal: personalized text messages sent to voters’ phones.”

Texting, Roose notes, dates back to President George Bush’s administration. It’s been used in politics before, but this time around voters are seeing the proliferation of “peer-to-peer” texting, which allows campaigns to carry on actual conversations with prospective voters.

Ambiguity: The laws guiding peer-to-peer methods are unclear. The service is carried out via data companies that sell cellphone information and the FCC hasn’t ruled on whether that’s legal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Backlash: Some voters take advantage of the opportunity to comment. Per Roose: “One Twitter user in Georgia posted a screenshot of a message she had received from a volunteer for [StaceyAbrams’s campaign, asking if the campaign could count on her vote in November.

‘When hell freezes over!’ the voter wrote back. ‘Lose my number!’”

But: The tool can is effective, as one source notes, “You can’t ignore a text message.”


The Tampa Bay Times editorial board released a slew of primary recommendations for regional congressional races.

In the Democratic primary for District 12, the Times is backing Chris Hunter over Stephen Perenich and Robert Tager, saying Hunter is the “best-financed and best-positioned to provide the toughest challenge for the Republican incumbent,” Gus Bilirakis.

In the Republican primary for District 13, the editorial board recommends voters choose George Buck, “a first-time candidate who describes himself as a pro-Trump, fiscally conservative Republican.”

In the Democratic primary for District 15, the editorial board is supporting Kristen Carlson over Andrew Learned and Ray Pena, saying Carlson’s “professional and life experience, and her long history in the district, make her the party’s strongest choice in this race.” On the Republican side of District 15, the Times backs Neil Combee over Ross Spano, Danny Kushmer and Sean Harper, because Combee “is more practical than other candidates in this race.” In the District 16 Democratic primary, the newspaper is supporting David Shapiro over Jan Schneider, citing Schneider’s failed prior bids for office.

The Times also rolled out three primary recommendations for Florida state Senate candidates.

In the Republican primary for Senate District 16, the paper suggests voters back Ed Hooper, a former Clearwater city commissioner and former state Representative, because “Hooper knows the issues best and could make the most immediate impact.” He faces restaurant owner and entrepreneur Leo Karruli in the Aug. 28 primary.

In the Democratic primary for Senate District 20, the Times backs Kathy Lewis over Joy Gibson because Lewis “seems to have a better grasp of the Legislature’s role in improving the everyday lives of Floridians.” On the Republican side of Senate District 20, the Times is supporting incumbent Sen. Tom Lee over John Houman, saying Lee “generally tries to balance his pro-business stance with a healthy approach to what’s best for the state, and he is not shy about challenging Senate leadership and charting his own course.”

The Sun Sentinel editorial board recommended voters pick Democrat Paulette Armstead over incumbent state Rep. Patricia Hawkins in House District 92, saying Armstead is “smart, thoughtful and persuasive about the issues facing this minority-majority district.”

In House District 98, the Sentinel recommends Michael Gottlieb over the four other Democratic candidates, noting Gottlieb “possesses a solid grasp of the issues that most concern Democratic primary voters.”


Happening today: Stephen Gately memorial service — Gately, a well-liked political activist who passed away unexpectedly July 26, will be honored with a life memorial beginning 5:30 p.m., Blount & Curry Funeral Home Carrollwood, 3207 West Bearss, Tampa. In place of flowers, family members request a donation to

Stephen Gately’s life will be honored with a living remembrance in Tampa.

What Jack Latvala is reading: “State lawmakers surviving allegations in the age of #MeToo” via Adam Beam and Christina Cassidy of The Associated Press — When the #MeToo movement swept across the country, triggering a national reckoning about sexual misconduct, some politicians lost their positions and power amid such allegations. Many others did not. As voters return to the polls this year, The Associated Press has found that scores of politicians accused of sexual misconduct are running again and poised to win — particularly in state races. That includes the deposed speaker of the House in Kentucky, who despite an ethics commission reprimand is running unopposed. Of the 25 state lawmakers who are running for re-election despite allegations of sexual misconduct, 15 have already advanced to the Nov. 6 general election. Seven did not even face a challenger in their primary.

State goes along with early voting rules” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Secretary of State Ken Detzner has told a federal judge the state will comply with an order that struck down a policy barring early voting sites on college and university campuses. The League of Women Voters of Florida, the Andrew Goodman Foundation and six University of Florida and Florida State University students filed a lawsuit challenging the prohibition. Siding with the students and the voting-rights groups, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker last week found that the Department of State’s ban against campus early-voting sites “is facially discriminatory on account of age,” and that it “imposes significant burdens on plaintiffs’ rights weighted against imprecise, insufficiently weighty government interests.” Detzner filed a notice with the court saying the state would comply with the order — a departure from other long-running battles between Gov. Scott’s administration and Walker, who has repeatedly ruled against the state in opinions that have scorched policies advanced by Scott and the Republican-dominated Legislature.

Tribe, gambling opponents say state must abide by tighter designated player rule” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the statewide anti-gambling group No Casinos Florida say that state gaming regulators are bound by a federal court ruling to adopt a tighter rule for poker rooms that pari-mutuels fear will lead to lost jobs. “That ruling is binding on the state,” said Barry Richard, a Tallahassee lawyer who serves as outside counsel for the tribe. “There’s not a double standard — that’s a ruling.” The state Department of Business and Professional Regulation unveiled proposed changes to the designated player rule during an April 25 workshop in Orlando. Pari-mutuel operators at the meeting warned staffers from DBPR’s Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering that the overwhelming popularity of poker hands played as designated player games led them to build new facilities and hire hundreds of new employees. He A request for an update from DBPR on the progress of the rule went unanswered.

State appeals decision to keep dog-racing ban off ballot” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The state has filed a notice of appeal to a circuit judge’s decision that a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at ending dog racing is “defective” and can’t go on the ballot. Edward M. Wenger, the state’s chief deputy solicitor general, filed notice (posted at bottom) Thursday afternoon — one day after Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled against Amendment 13. It simply advises he is taking the case to the 1st District Court of Appeal. Wenger reports to Solicitor General Amit Agarwal, who answers to Attorney General Pam Bondi, a supporter of the amendment. They represent the defendants, the Department of State and its secretary, Ken Detzner, the state’s chief elections officer. They were sued by the Florida Greyhound Association, which represents breeders and owners who oppose the ban. With Election Day a little more than 90 days away, the filing also buys supporters of the ban some time because it “automatically operates as a stay of the final judgment pending appellate review.”

Businesses across Florida endorse dog-racing ban” via Florida Politics — The Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign announced late Thursday that it received the endorsement of 57 local businesses from across the state. The campaign, which is promoting passage of a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at ending live dog racing in Florida, is pressing ahead despite a judge’s ruling that the measure’s ballot title and summary are defective and can’t go on this year’s ballot. The state also on Thursday filed a notice of appeal to Circuit Judge Karen Gievers‘ decision. “The state dog racing mandate … goes against free market values, and is causing harm to gentle greyhounds,” said Maurice R. Mizrahi, owner of Temptations Catering and Events in Fort Lauderdale and CaterMasters in Naples.

Chuck Clemons appealing in social media ‘blocking’ case” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — State Rep. Clemons is appealing a federal judge’s decision not to toss out a lawsuit against him because he blocked a constituent from his official social media. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker of the Northern District of Florida had denied the Newberry Republican’s motion to dismiss in May. While Clemons appeals Walker’s ruling to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Morgan Attwood’s civil-rights lawsuit is on hold. To compare, another federal judge has held that Trump’s blocking of critics on Twitter is unconstitutional.

Lawmakers to consider payment for 2008 fire” via the News Service of Florida — A Senate Democrat proposed a bill that would lead to paying more than $670,000 to a Northwest Florida landowner because of a prescribed burn that got out of control in 2008. Sen. Bill Montford filed the “claim” bill (SB 36) for consideration during the 2019 legislative session … The bill, if approved, would lead to the state paying $670,493 to landowner Shuler Limited Partnership. The issue started in April 2008 when the Florida Forest Service conducted a prescribed burn on land in Tate’s Hell State Forest in Franklin County. An ember from the smoldering fire drifted onto nearby property owned by Shuler Limited Partnership and led to a blaze that destroyed 835 acres of trees. Shuler Limited Partnership filed a lawsuit against the state in Franklin County circuit court and won a $770,493 jury award.

Lawmaker wants state to pay in FHP settlement” via the News Service of Florida — A Senate Democrat is making a renewed attempt to pass a bill that would require the state to pay $1.75 million to the estate of a woman who was critically injured and later died after a Florida Highway Patrol officer used a stun gun on her. Sen. Audrey Gibson filed the “claim” bill (SB 50) this week to seek compensation for the estate of Danielle Maudsley … similar measures stalled during the 2017 and 2018 sessions. The proposal stems from the 2011 arrest of the Maudsley, 20, on traffic charges. Maudsley was taken to a Florida Highway Patrol substation in Pinellas Park for processing. While handcuffed, Maudsley tried to flee by running out a side door. A trooper followed and fired his stun gun into her back, causing the woman to fall to the pavement, the bill says. Maudsley suffered a traumatic brain injury and remained in a vegetative state until she died in September 2013, according to the bill. A $1.95 million settlement was reached in 2015, but sovereign immunity laws prevented the state from paying more than $200,000 without legislative passage of a “claim” bill. Gibson’s bill would direct payment of the remaining $1.75 million.

Ethics Commission finds evidence lobbyists filed inaccurate disclosure reports” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — The panel cited evidence that Andrew J. Liles filed an inaccurate compensation report during all four quarters of 2016. State records list his existing clients as the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Seaside Institute. Lester Abberger, listed as lobbying under his own name and for Florida Lobby Associates Inc., reported compensation from two clients for which his firm was not registered during all four quarters of 2016, the commission found. Additionally, the commission found evidence of incorrect compensation reports from two principals during that year’s first quarter. Abberger said he had neglected to delist two former clients and reported zero dollars in compensation from them for the year. “I complied completely with the spirit and intent of the requirement but didn’t realize that I had to take those clients off my list.”


Veteran homelessness is almost a non-issue now in Miami-Dade County.

At a Thursday news conference in South Florida, the Miami Dade County Homeless Trust announced that unsheltered veterans represent less than 1 percent of the homeless population.

The county identified 317 homeless veterans in 2014, 142 of which were unsheltered. By January of this year, that number of unsheltered veterans had been brought down to just nine, a reduction of nearly 94 percent.

Results realized: The Trust, chaired by Ron Book, coordinates available funds and oversees compliance of agencies contracted by the county. “After four long years of leaving no stone unturned, I am proud to officially announce that Miami-Dade County has effectively ended homelessness among veterans in our community,” Book said.

Helping hands: The Homeless Trust fostered valuable relationships to accomplish its goal, and that was evidenced by the high-profile guests who attended the news conference. Among them: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.


DeSantis keeps distance from Rod Rosenstein impeachment, backs embattled Rep. Jim Jordan for House Speaker” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — “It would probably be easier to hold him in contempt of Congress,” DeSantis, the Trump-backed candidate for governor, said in a video interview with America First Coalition, adding, “not saying he doesn’t merit removal.” Despite being a visible critic of the Russia investigation and Rosenstein, DeSantis was not among the 11 lawmakers who introduced the impeachment resolution, which instantly met a dead end with House Republican leaders. Asked if he would support Jordan‘s bid, DeSantis replied, “Sure, absolutely.” … “Look, Jim is a champion a wrestler. He’s tough. He’s principled,” DeSantis told America First Coalition in a video circulated by the liberal opposition group American Bridge. “And Jim Jordan were speaker, we’d get these documents (related to Russia probe) tomorrow because he fights and he would dig in.”

Ron DeSantis is all-in for Jim Jordan as House Speaker.

GOP House leader says Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey should testify” via Jonathan Swan and David McCabe of Axios — Kevin McCarthy sent a letter to the chairman of a powerful House committee to ask that he publicly grill Twitter chief executive Dorsey over recent allegations that the platform limits the reach of some conservative accounts. Republicans politicians are embracing anger among conservatives who say online platforms are censoring their voices. Majority Leader McCarthy also needs the backing of more conservative lawmakers if he wants to replace Paul Ryan as speaker of the House should Republicans keep the chamber in November. The request comes after Twitter denied allegations of bias based on a Vice report that it had removed certain prominent conservatives from the suggestions in its search box. “For the most part, we believe the issue had more to do with how other people were interacting with these representatives’ accounts than the accounts themselves,” said two Twitter staffers in a blog post last week.

Integrity Florida report questions Trump judicial nominations” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Trump‘s nominations for judgeships are ensuring a federal bench that looks like the president, according to Integrity Florida: Older, white and male. The Tallahassee-based ethics-in-government watchdog’s latest report, released Thursday, also questions Trump’s assertion that he would prioritize “qualifications” over diversity. The group says that in fact the 72-year-old president is focusing on neither. “Trump has already nominated more federal judicial nominees than three of his four predecessors did in their entire first two years,” the report says. At the same time, “Trump has put forth a lower percentage of ‘well qualified’ nominees (as defined by the American Bar Association) than each of his four predecessors.”

National Archives says it won’t be able to produce all Brett Kavanaugh documents until end of October” via Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post — Gary Stern, the Archives’ general counsel, told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley in a letter that the records he has requested could total more than 900,000 pages. Grassley, backed by other Senate Republicans, asked for all documents from Kavanaugh’s tenure in the George W. Bush White House as an associate White House counsel. “Please note that we will not be able to complete our review of all of the records that you have requested by August 15, 2018,” Stern wrote to Grassley. He wrote that the Archives would be able to review emails received from Kavanaugh — about 49,000 emails, or 300,000 pages — by roughly Aug. 20 and that the rest of the pages would be reviewed by the end of October. But a committee spokesman said Senate Republicans are still on track for September hearings because senators will be able to obtain the documents more expeditiously through a separate process directly involving the Bush Presidential Library.


CFO Jimmy Patronis taps Ken Lawson as ‘cryptocurrency adviser’ ” via Florida Politics — In what he called a “continued effort to bring clarity to cryptocurrency in Florida,” Chief Financial Officer Patronis announced that Lawson, CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, would be his “cryptocurrency adviser.” The role is an unpaid consulting position; Lawson will remain full-time at VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s public-private marketing tourism agency. “He will lead efforts to identify a cryptocurrency chief and collaborate with stakeholders to ensure innovation and economic development are at the forefront while getting ahead of potential fraud,” a news release said. “Lawson will work with CFO Patronis’ law enforcement team, regulatory entities, existing cryptocurrencies, and business stakeholders.”

VISIT FLORIDA CEO Ken Lawson is the state’s new cryptocurrency adviser.

Personnel note: Mark Kruse named Rick Scott’s new Legislative Affairs Director” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Kruse has been elevated from Policy Coordinator to Legislative Affairs Director for Gov. Scott, replacing Kevin Reilly. As Legislative Affairs Director, he will be Scott’s chief liaison to lawmakers as the term-limited governor prepares to leave office in January. “Kevin Reilly was instrumental in so many of Gov. Scott’s outstanding legislative achievements over the past two sessions and the governor appreciates his service,” Scott spokesman McKinley Lewis said. “Mark Kruse has been on our team since 2012 and he will continue to serve the families of our state in his new role.”

AppointedArezou Jolly to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Patrick Bell, The Legis Group: Limonar Development, Wonderly Holdings

Gregory Black, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Utilities Inc. of Florida

Larry Overton, Joel Overton, James Card, Larry J. Overton & Associates: Stepping Stone Kids Therapy


Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with independent journalist Mike Deeson, Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper, attorney Rochelle Reback, and civic activist Stanley Gray.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: with the onset of robots taking over human jobs, Walker-Torres will discuss advances in automation and what it means for the job market and workers in Florida. Guests include Florida state Rep. Randy Fine and professor Rajiv Dubey, Mechanical Engineering Department, University of South Florida.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: This week’s show will discuss Trump’s Tampa rally in support of DeSantis; Florida gubernatorial candidate Putnam will discuss campaign updates. PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter rates a claim made by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sunday Morning Politics with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): A review of Trump’s Tampa visit and interviews with Greene and Chris Hunter, a Democrat running for Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which covers northern Pinellas and Pasco counties.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon and Steve Vancore speak with attorney Sean Pittman and Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Gubernatorial candidate Greene, Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley and Rick Mullaney of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will focus on local Florida Senate races, speaking with several candidates. Also, a powerhouse roundtable gives their take on the news of the week.

On the Usual Suspects, Gary Yordon and Steve Vancore talk with attorney Sean Pittman and some guy.

— ALOE —

Despite boycotts and die-ins, Publix sales were up the last three months” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Publix stores rang up $8.8 billion in sales during April, May and June, a $400 million increase over the same period last year. That covers the months when Parkland students and other gun-reform activists encouraged a widespread boycott of the Lakeland-based grocery change due to the company’s six-figure contributions to Adam Putnam, who in a tweet last year declared himself a “proud NRA sellout.” If the protests and boycotts had any bearing on Publix’s bottom line, the company didn’t say so in the second quarter results … It is possible Publix could have made even more money without the spate of negative publicity.

Despite die-ins, shopping was still a pleasure at Publix.

Peter Schorsch

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


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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

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Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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