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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 12.3.18

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

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

The death of former President George H.W. Bush brought deserved tributes from around the globe for his decency, sense of service and family, and a life filled with achievement. He was praised for his civility and the gentlemanly way in which he lived.

A fond farewell to former President George H.W. Bush. (Image via Getty)

Such traits, it has been noted, are vacant in the political arena today. The gracious way Bush could reach across the aisle to people of differing political stances probably would be seen today as weakness in today’s all-or-nothing environment.

But President Bush was anything but weak. He flew 58 combat missions for the U.S. Navy in World War II and received three Air Medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross. As President, he was in charge of the well-executed Gulf War that drove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.

He signed the Americans With Disabilities Act and the landmark Clean Air Act. How different might the nation’s policy toward climate change if Bush were President today instead of Donald Trump?

He served two terms as Ronald Reagan’s Vice President. In 1980, ironically, their campaign slogan was “Let’s Make America Great Again.”

On their watch, the Cold War ended, and the Berlin Wall fell. Pretty great.

He made frequent visits to Florida and many contacts here. That visibility probably helped son Jeb Bush become a two-term Governor of the state, first taking office in 1999. Democrats haven’t held the Governor’s mansion since Jeb took office.

“I already miss the greatest human being that I will ever know. Love you Dad!” Jeb Bush tweeted after his father died Friday night in Texas. He was 94.

The elder Bush carried Florida both times during his campaign for the presidency. In 1988, he won more than 60 percent of the vote here and carried every county except tiny Gadsden in the Panhandle.

It was a tougher go four years later as he was defeated in his re-election bid against Bill Clinton, but even then, Bush managed a narrow win for Florida’s electoral votes.

Bush threw himself into public service. The graduate-level Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M bears his name.

He also didn’t mind disclosing that in 2016 he voted for Hillary Clinton for President instead of Trump?


He said Trump was a “blowhard” and for a humble, restrained and decent man like Bush, that just wouldn’t do.

— The casket bearing the late President will arrive at the U.S. Capitol and will be on public display as the 41st president lies in state in the Rotunda until Wednesday morning.

— President Trump ordered federal offices closed for a national day of mourning Wednesday, and he and first lady Melania Trump will attend the state funeral at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Washington National Cathedral.

— Flags on public buildings will fly at half-staff for 30 days.

In the end, a peaceful passing for the 41st president” via Dan Balz of The Washington Post — The last words spoken by former President Bush came barely an hour before he died, in a telephone conversation with his son, former President George W. Bush. The 43rd president had expressed his love for his father. “I love you, too,” the 41st president replied. The president’s eldest son was on speaker phone, one of a series of final, farewell conversations between the family patriarch and his children, arranged Friday evening as it became clear that the hours were drawing short. Bush had struggled for days at his home in Houston, not getting out of bed, eating almost nothing, seemingly in decline from the vascular parkinsonism that had restricted his speech and mobility in his final years. But he seemed to find ease in his final moments, said James A. Baker III, Bush’s friend and confidant of 40 years. “It was a very gentle and peaceful and easy passing.”

For Bush, Pearl Harbor changed everything, and World War II made him a hero” via Rachel Siegel of The Washington Post — Bush was a high school senior on Dec. 7, 1941. He was walking on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., when he heard that the base in Hawaii had been bombed. According to Bush biographer and presidential historian Jon Meacham, Bush wanted to serve immediately. “After Pearl Harbor, it was a different world altogether,” Bush would recall for Meacham’s biography, “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush.” “It was a red, white, and blue thing. Your country’s attacked, you’d better get in there and try to help.”

George H.W. Bush had long history in South Florida” via Anthony Man of the Sun Sentinel – Former President George H.W. Bush, who died Friday, had a decades-long relationship with South Florida that began long before his climb toward the presidency. It began in 1943, when the young ensign trained at what was then the Fort Lauderdale Naval Air Station — now Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport — and went on to become the Navy’s youngest pilot. As vice president, Bush stopped nearby, holding a 1981 business roundtable at the iconic Lester’s Diner on State Road 84.

—“Houston recalls legacy of George Bush, its Lone Star Yankee and senior booster” via Manny Fernandez of The New York Times

—“Palm Beach County residents remember 41st President George H.W. Bush and a ‘life well lived’” via Kevin Thompson of the Palm Beach Post

—“President Bush’s legacy in Southwest Florida” via Andrew Atkins of the Naples Daily News

—“Visits to his mother brought President George H.W. Bush to the Treasure Coast” via Melissa Holsman and Lamaur Stancil of TCPalm

George H.W. Bush, the anti-Trump” via Max Boot for The Washington Post — It is hard to imagine two men more disparate in character than the 41st and 45th presidents of the United States. George H.W. Bush and Trump had almost nothing in common beyond their privileged upbringing and membership in the Republican Party. So how, in the space of a quarter-century, did we go from President Bush to President Trump? Part of the answer may be found in the Bush years, where, with the advantage of hindsight, one can already see the gathering storm that Trump would unleash on the country. Bush was the most successful one-term president in the nation’s history. He presided over victory in the Persian Gulf War, the peaceful end of the Cold War and the unification of Germany — all achievements that today might appear to have been inevitable but could easily have had a far less happy outcome. Yet he never got any love from the right. Conservatives did not see Bush as one of them, and by end of his term, they had turned against him.

How this emotional Bush cartoon went viral — touching even his family” via Michael Cavna of The Washington Post — When former first lady Barbara Bush died in April, Marshall Ramsey — the editorial cartoonist for the Mississippi Clarion Ledger — created a memorial illustration that went viral. When Ramsey learned the 41st president had died at age 94. “I drew it as quickly as I could and then posted” it on social media, Ramsey says of the tribute. “Since the last one was so well-received by the Bush family and by parents who had lost children, I wanted to make sure this one was right.” In the new cartoon, George H.W. Bush, the former Navy pilot and World War II hero, has flown a TBM Avenger to the pearly gates to be reunited with wife and daughter. “I consider this cartoon and the Barbara Bush cartoon to be bookends,” says Ramsey, who was humbled by the praise that the cartoon drew — especially that of Jenna Bush Hager, the Bushes’ granddaughter. “This brought me such comfort this morning,” Hager wrote Saturday on Facebook, with a shared image of the cartoon.

This viral cartoon tribute to George H.W. Bush served as a bookend to the passing of Barbara Bush in April. (Image via Marshall Ramsey/Clarion-Ledger)


—@RonDeSantisFL: President Bush amassed prodigious accomplishments and he did it all with uncommon grace, class and honor. Appreciation of his achievements will only continue to grow as the years go by. President Bush was an American hero, a faithful servant and the greatest Yalie of them all.

—@AdamPutnam: President Bush was a public servant on every level: decorated Navy pilot in WWII, congressman, UN Ambassador, CIA Dir, Vice President and President. No matter what mission he was called to take on, he committed: “I will complete it.” And he did. Rest In Peace, George H.W. Bush.

—@DavidFrench: An American hero has passed. We did not appropriately appreciate his character or the wisdom of his leadership in momentous times. Perhaps in death he can finally receive the tributes he is due. God bless George H.W. Bush. God bless his family.

—@TravisJHutson: If Brenda Snipes is trying to come back, then the Ethics and Elections committee should call upon her to testify about the problems her office had during the election. Floridians have many more questions.

@SeanPittman: As President of Orange Bowl & on behalf of the Committee, congrats to @AlabamaFTBL & @OU_Football for an amazing regular season & earning CFP playoff in Miami! We look forward to hosting you in palm trees, great weather, & the most beautiful beaches in the world.


Associated Industries of Florida ‘Building Florida’s Future’ Summit — 2; Partial government shutdown — 4; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 8; 116th Congress convenes — 31; College Football National Championship — 35; Florida’s gubernatorial inauguration — 36; Super Bowl LIII — 62; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 71; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 92; Tampa mayoral election — 92; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 95; Iowa Caucuses — 427; 2020 General Election — 701.


First on #FlaPol — “Richard Corcoran favored to be next Education Commissioner” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Former House Speaker Corcoran appears to be on track to become the state’s next Education Commissioner, according to sources familiar with Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis‘ transition plans. The news was first dropped by Florida Politics’ Peter Schorsch and later reported by POLITICO Florida. Corcoran’s appointment, if made final, would add another voice in support of school choice programs to a major leadership role in the state government. Senate Education Committee Chair Manny Diaz also signaled his plans to push for such programs during his tenure.


Ron DeSantis, joining Mike Pence at Israel event, says Florida will be ‘most pro-Israel’ state” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — Appearing at the Israeli American Council National Conference in Hollywood, DeSantis addressed a crowd of several hundred Israeli-Americans following a keynote speech from Vice President Pence and remarks by Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Miriam Adelson. Pence, who received roaring applause from the crowd, spent much of his speech praising Israel and listing the accomplishments of the Trump administration to reinstate sanctions on Iran, move the U.S. embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem and cease payments to the Palestinian Authority.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks to the Israeli American Council annual conference at The Diplomat.

Chris Kise, Mike Dew joining DeSantis transition team” via Florida Politics — Tallahassee attorney Kise and former state Transportation Secretary Dew are joining Gov.-elect DeSantis’ transition team, according to a Friday news release. “I am very proud of the team we are continuing to build for the transition,” DeSantis said. “With the addition of these two talented individuals, coupled with the dedicated group of professionals that have been working day in and day out, we are building an administration that will lead Florida to new heights.”

DeSantis announces staff for 2019 Inauguration” via Florida Politics — The Gov.-elect on Friday announced key staff leadership for the 2019 Inauguration to “support the recently announced Inaugural Committee as they prepare for inaugural events,” a news release said. “I am proud of the incredible team we have assembled to spearhead the 2019 Inauguration,” DeSantis said in a statement. “The 2019 Inauguration is a historic opportunity for our state to come together as we build on Florida’s success,” he added. “With varied backgrounds and skill sets, these talented individuals will work with the 2019 Inaugural Committee as they organize inclusive inaugural events to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of our great state.” To find out who’s on board, click here.

DeSantis transition economic advisory committee to meet — The economic committee for Governor-elect DeSantis will meet at the University of South Florida Center for advanced medical learning and simulation Wednesday, 1 p.m., 124 S. Franklin St., Tampa. Members of the media are requested to arrive between noon and 12:30 p.m.

Attorney who released Andrew Gillum records joins DeSantis’ transition team” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times —Kise’s release of hundreds of pages of emails, text messages and other documents generated days of bad press for Gillum at the worst possible time for the Democrat running to become Florida’s next Governor. The decision to include Kise is all but certain to raise questions about the role the Tallahassee attorney played in the election. Two weeks before polls closed, Kise started releasing hundreds of pages relating to a state ethics investigation into Gillum’s relationship with Tallahassee lobbyists. The records Kise released would have been made public eventually by the Florida Commission on Ethics, but not until well after the election. Kise contended he would have served in a Gillum transition as well — although it’s unlikely Gillum would have asked. “It’s politics,” Kise said, “so if there’s a way for people on the other side to be cynical, they’ll be cynical.”


General revenue numbers to be revised” via the News Service of Florida — State analysts are slated to meet Dec. 18 to revise estimates of general-revenue taxes, which play a key role in funding Florida’s schools, health care programs and prison system. The analysts, meeting as the state Revenue Estimating Conference, huddle periodically during the year to review data and update such things as sales-tax estimates.

Sheriff revives guns on campus debate for 2019 Session” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Public schools and state universities generally are gun-free zones and the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence wants to keep it that way. But the more than 100 groups that make up the coalition face new challenges with an overhaul of a key Senate committee and a new Governor who seems to favor looser gun regulations. Then there’s the school public safety commission formed after the St. Valentine’s Day massacre at Parkland High School. The chairman said it’s time for Florida to rethink what it thinks about teachers, guns and safety. “Let’s not make this an ideological decision, let’s look at the facts and evidence,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a discussion about school shootings and arming teachers. “We know from the history of these things that the majority are stopped by school personnel.”

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is revisiting arming school personnel and reviving the debate over guns on campus.

Ouch — “Unqualified legislator to chair House education committee — nothing could go wrong there, eh?” via Lauren Ritchie for the Orlando Sentinel — In one of the most powerful spots — chair of the Florida House’s Education Committee — is Central Florida’s own Tea Party darling, Jennifer Sullivan. Sullivan, 27, was home-schooled. She lived with her mom and worked as a tea room waitress and babysitter before she was elected. What little education she may have beyond a high school diploma is a muddle. So far, she has provided no documentation. Sullivan said her lack of knowledge could be an asset: “There is something to be said, in my opinion, for someone who has not been subjected to good teachers or bad teachers, good schools and bad schools, or unions vs charters. My perspective is a unique one and one that lends itself to being more concerned with what works than with who benefits.” Hmmm. That last bit is one of those snide little comments that implies opponents of her viewpoint might have an agenda to benefit someone other than students. That’s not a nice way to start her chairmanship.

Senate Democrats push to overhaul judicial nominating process” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — In light of news the Florida Supreme Court will be without a black justice for the first time in 36 years, Democrats in the state Senate are pushing to reform the state’s judicial nominating panels. “The latest nominations submitted by the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) to the incoming governor underscore how politicized the process has become,” said Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville. “How can a population of more than 3 million African Americans in this state have confidence in our highest court when their voices are being silenced?” None of the 11 finalists for the court’s three openings were African American.

Judge hands preliminary win to big-box retailers in ‘whiskey and Wheaties’ fight” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Judge John D.C. Newton II‘s final order opens the possibility for big-box retailers to sell hard liquor in their main stores, instead of in separate stores as they do now. The order also confirmed that Walmart “seeks to obtain, but has not yet applied for, COP (‘consumption on premises’ liquor) licenses for some of its Florida retail locations.” Newton invalidated what’s known as the state’s obscure “Restaurant Rule,” which restricts eateries and other businesses that have COP liquor licenses from selling anything other than items “customarily sold in a restaurant.” Retailers that sell ready-to-eat food, such as Costco, eventually want to be able to use COP licenses normally granted to restaurants to avoid the prohibition on selling liquor in the same space as other goods.

Halifax Health looks to Legislature to clear up Deltona hospital dispute” via Nikki Ross of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Halifax Health Medical Center will ask the Florida Legislature in 2019 for an amendment to its charter that will “clarify and confirm” the hospital’s authority to operate facilities outside its taxing boundary. The proposed enabling legislation is part of Halifax Health’s three-pronged effort to ensure the operation of a free-standing hospital in Deltona currently under construction. Halifax Health is moving to amend its current rules and clarify its authority to operate facilities and provide services outside of its taxing district. The amendment also points out that Halifax Health projects outside the district would not use tax revenue from within the district for construction or operations.

Meanwhile … No ruling in Rachel Perrin Rogers case before Monday” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Attorneys for the Florida Senate and federal government agreed Friday to seek an expedited trip to a federal appeals court regarding its sovereign immunity defense against a legislative aide’s sexual harassment claim. That might ameliorate what an attorney for the chamber called the “distinct, irreparable harm” to its dignity as a legislative body forced to defend against Rogers’ claim. Daniel Feith, an associate in the Sidley Austin law firm’s Washington office who appeared for the Senate, and Bradley Humphreys, of the U.S. Department of Justice, asked Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle to hold off any ruling until Monday. Hinkle agreed.


Rick Scott suspends Brenda Snipes from office before she can quit early” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — “Every eligible voter in Florida deserves their vote to be counted and should have confidence in Florida’s elections process,” Scott said in a statement. “After a series of inexcusable actions, it’s clear that there needs to be an immediate change in Broward County and taxpayers should no longer be burdened by paying a salary for a Supervisor of Elections who has already announced resignation.” Snipes, an elected official whose term ends after the 2020 elections, will be replaced by Scott’s longtime fixer, attorney Pete Antonacci, Scott’s former general counsel who does not plan to run for the Broward elections position and who has been appointed by Scott to fill three other posts, including his current job as president and CEO of Enterprise Florida. Scott could have let Snipes just leave office Jan. 4 — the date she gave as her original early retirement — but the governor felt she needed to be punished for running such a bad shop for so long, according to a person familiar with his thinking.

Rick Scott suspends Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes, who promptly rescinded her earlier resignation. (Image via Reuters)

Snipes rescinds resignation” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — “We will be fighting this,” said Burnadette Norris-Weeks, Snipes’ contracted attorney, during a news conference. “In additional to that, Dr. Snipes hereby rescinds her resignation which would have been effective on the fourth of January. She rescinds that resignation as we go forward and fight these … allegations that are frivolous. “The Florida Constitution mandates that the Florida Senate is required to hold a hearing to remove Snipes from office. The Senate has three months to begin its proceedings. The hearing was not likely to take place if Snipes’ resignation date was honored. The executive order states that Snipes will not receive any pay or benefits while suspended, but it remains unclear if her suspension would affect the pension she is set to receive after her retirement as Broward’s supervisor of elections.

—“Scott’s Friday night massacre undercut Ron DeSantis’ is early good work and could tilt the 2020 presidential election” via Kartik Krishnaiyer of The Florida Squeeze

Scott wins appeal and underreported income case” via The Associated Press — The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that Florida’s constitution gives the state ethics commission sole authority to investigate whether Scott followed the law when he reported a net worth of $232 million this year. Scott was sued by Tallahassee attorney Don Hinkle, once a top fundraiser for President Barack Obama, after the ethics commission dismissed his complaint. Florida’s governor picks five of the ethics commission’s nine members, and four others are chosen by state House and Senate leaders.

Court backs state in death records dispute” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned a decision by a Leon County circuit judge who in June directed the department to quickly turn over to The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills death certificates from across the state. The requested death certificates were from around the time of Hurricane Irma. After residents of The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills died, Gov. Scott’s administration suspended the nursing home’s license and its participation in the Medicaid program and ultimately moved to revoke the facility’s license. The nursing home has challenged the revocation in the state Division of Administrative Hearings. In seeking 5,907 death certificates, an attorney for the nursing home indicated during a June hearing that the facility is seeking the addresses of locations where other people died during and after the massive storm. The nursing home wants to be able to analyze the data.

Lone remaining hurricane shelter closes in Florida county” via The Associated Press — Authorities on Friday closed down the shelter located in Bay County. Hurricane Michael ripped through the region more than seven weeks ago. In the aftermath, Arnold High School was home to more than 720 people displaced by the fury of the killer storm. The site included a feeding tent as well as trailers for laundry and restroom services. At the time of its closing, three people were still at the location. Many people who had left the shelter were forced to obtain housing outside of Bay County.

’One day at a time’ for Florida schools recovering from Hurricane Michael” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — Students displaced from heavily damaged Bay County schools have moved into less damaged schools, where one school holds classes in the morning and the other school holds classes in the afternoon. The district dropped its dress code because some students and staff lost their clothes to the Oct. 10 hurricane and wore donated clothing. “You can see the staff, they’re taking it one day at a time. They say they’re OK, but I don’t know if they’re OK,” said JoBeth Davis, a special education teacher at Deer Point Elementary School in Panama City. As recently as Monday, schools were still dealing with sporadic power outages. Davis’ school had some right before Thanksgiving. “At first we thought everything was going to be OK — the kids are very resilient — but they started crying. They thought another storm was coming,” Davis said. “We tried to keep them calm and told them these things happen.”

Tweet, tweet:

Trulieve to donate $50K to Florida breast cancer foundation” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Medical marijuana provider Trulieve Cannabis Corp. announced a $50,000 donation to Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation, founded in Orlando in 2007 to provide resources for those treating or attempting to prevent cancer. Libby’s Legacy provides education, mammograms and patient navigation to underserved individuals. It was named after Libby Maynard, who was lost to Stage IV breast cancer in 2007. Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers says the donation to the cancer foundation matches Trulieve’s goals. “Our company philosophy is to provide safe, natural products for patients suffering from terminal illnesses, including cancer, and to help educate patients,” Rivers said.


Hide, deny, spin, threaten: how the school district tried to mask failures that led to Parkland shooting” via Brittany Wallman, Megan O’Matz and Paula McMahon of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — New information proves that the Broward school district knew far more than it’s saying about a disturbed former student obsessed with death and guns who mowed down staff and students with an assault rifle on Valentine’s Day. After promising an honest assessment of what led to the shooting, the district instead hired a consultant whose primary goal, according to school records, was preparing a legal defense. Then the district kept most of those findings from the public. The district also spent untold amounts on lawyers to fight the release of records and nearly $200,000 to pay public relations consultants who advised administrators to clam up. The cloak of secrecy illustrates the steps a beleaguered public body will take to manage and hide information in a crisis when reputations, careers and legal liability are at stake.

Jerry Demings’ eyes future to govern in Orange County” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orange County Mayor-elect and still-Sheriff Demings, who retires as sheriff and ends 38 years in law enforcement, said he would rather, for now, take the time to make the changes in Orange County government as the future becomes clearer. And by future, he’s not just talking about the next few months or the next year or two: he is seeking clues to what the county, its business community, and its residents may be evolving toward throughout decades, as the 21st Century changes old ways of doing business. “In order for this organization to reach its potential, that organization is going to have to take some measured risk,” Demings said. “For any human being to achieve their full potential, that individual has to take some measured risk in life to achieve their full potential. That’s kind of where I’m taking Orange County. People ask, what does that look like? To me it’s there’s this vibrant community that is like the experimental prototype community of tomorrow. Epcot.”

Wise words: Orange County Mayor-elect Jerry Demings says that people need ‘measured risk’ in their lives to achieve full potential.

Lenny Curry promised a safer city. Three years later, Jacksonville’s violence is up” via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union — Duval County continues to have the highest murder rate and the highest violent crime rate among the state’s 20 most populous counties. And Sheriff Mike Williams’ office is solving fewer crimes. This trend of Duval’s increasing violence came as the state’s crime rates hit their all-time low. What those reports make clear is that despite Curry’s aggressive messaging against crime under Alvin Brown, the city has failed to improve in areas Curry made the major focus of his campaign. (“This will be a safe city again,” he said when he was elected. “For every family, every person, every kid, every neighborhood, will know that we care about them.”) In fact, during Brown’s administration, the city’s average murder and average violent crime rates were at the lowest points they’ve been in decades, but since Curry took office, those rates have trended up.

Republican battles in Seminole County: Bob Cortes, Jason Brodeur ousted from executive committee” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Seminole Republican Executive Committee Chair Kathryn Townsend said both were dropped from the committee because they lost their standing when they lost their seats in the Florida House of Representatives, Cortes by losing in the Nov. 6 election, and Brodeur by not running for re-election. But the two longtime figures in the Seminole party are responding with anger and frustration, charging that she could have kept them on but she is embattled, fighting for her position, and saw them as internal threats to her standing. Cortes and Brodeur expressed frustration not just over their unceremonious terminations but also over their views of how Townsend has been running the party, and its disappointing performance three weeks ago, when Cortes lost, the Republican candidate for Congress lost, statewide Republican candidates did poorly, and most other Republicans squeaked through to victories in a county Republicans once dominated.

Board wants to rein in Jimmie T. Smith’s travel” via Mike Wright of the Citrus County Chronicle — Citrus County commissioners are considering a policy that will require board approval before one of their own travels out of state on the county’s dime. And this policy is borne from one target: Commissioner Smith. Records from the clerk of court’s office show Smith has charged the county $3,777 in the last two years on out-of-state travel. Once was to New Orleans and twice to Washington, D.C. He is the only commissioner in office to have any out-of-state travel. Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr. brought up the issue last Tuesday because Smith had left the board meeting early to catch a taxpayer-funded flight to the nation’s capital. “I don’t understand why the county citizens are paying for his travel to Washington,” Kitchen said in an interview.

Citrus County Commissioners are looking to rein in fellow Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith for out-of-state travel on the taxpayer dime.


Ross Spano acknowledges possible ‘violation’ of campaign finance law” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — In a news release, Spano acknowledged borrowing $185,000 from two people he has described as personal friends from June through October this year, and then lending his campaign $167,000 in roughly the same time period. At the time, Spano reported his loans to his campaign as coming from his “personal funds.” But under federal campaign finance law, a loan made to a candidate with the intent of providing money for a campaign must be considered a campaign contribution, not the candidate’s personal funds. Any such loan must adhere to campaign contribution limits — $2,700 each for the primary and general elections, far less than the loans Spano acknowledges having received.

Ross Spano admits he used personal loans to finance his bid for Congress, a violation of campaign-finance law.


Big changes possible for medical marijuana patients” via Christian Bax for the Tampa Bay Times — If John Morgan wins his “no smoke is a joke” lawsuit, Florida patients would be permitted to smoke medical marijuana. Why would that be a big deal? If he’s successful, the most immediate impact would be whole flower cannabis appearing in medical marijuana treatment centers facilities throughout Florida. Flowers would become one of the top-selling products overnight. While consumption of edible and liquid forms of cannabis are growing increasingly popular, smokable cannabis still makes up more than 40 percent of cannabis sales in states like Colorado and Oregon. Without legal edibles yet, this percentage could be significantly larger in Florida. The bottom line: A victory for Morgan would send an important signal regarding the direction of Florida’s medical marijuana program. As a state, we can debate about whether that would be a good change or a bad change, but it is hard to argue that it wouldn’t be a significant one.

The Clemency Board must act now and pardon the Groveland Four” via the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board — Stories don’t get any more horrific than this. Even given our nation’s current struggle with race relations, the ugly manifestation of KKK-fueled racism in the 1950s is still gut-wrenching to relive. Would it surprise you to find out the state of Florida has never taken the time to formally pardon these men for a crime that now no one on the planet believes they committed? The Legislature apologized, in a unanimous 2017 vote, and recommended to the Florida State Board of Executive Clemency a full pardon. But so far, the board, made up by the Governor and Cabinet, has not taken up the matter. The only reason we’ve heard for not granting this posthumous pardon is that it would set a precedent — that the clemency board would have more of these types of requests on its plate. Hopefully, nobody is foolish enough to state that view out loud on the record. After 70 years, it’s long past time to pardon the Groveland Four.

No black Supreme Court justices in Florida? ‘This will be Rick Scott’s legacy’” via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times — With Justice Peggy Quince facing mandatory retirement age in January, Florida’s highest court will be without a black member for the first time in decades. That was assured this week when the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission failed to include a black candidate among the 11 nominees sent to Gov.-elect DeSantis for three upcoming openings on the court. “You think we’re moving forward, but we’re not,’’ said Tampa attorney and former state Rep. Sean Shaw, whose father, Leander, followed Joseph Woodrow Hatchett as the second black Supreme Court justice in Florida. “It’s terrible. This will be Rick Scott’s legacy, and he should be ashamed of himself.’’ It may not be fair to call it racist, but it is a deliberate attempt to remake the state’s judiciary according to Gov. Scott’s narrowly conservative view of the world.


Appointed — David Boyd Genson to the Florida Transportation Commission; David Jordan to Tax Collector in the Lake County Tax Collector’s Office.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Brian BautistaRachel Cone, Chris DudleyMercer Fearington, Southern Strategy Group: Skip

Jim BoxoldNick IarossiAndrew KetchelChris Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: KK Storm

Dean CannonJoseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Scott Bartek C/O Stanley Plappert, Loggerhead Marinelife Center

Larry Williams, Larry Williams Consulting: Jail Advertising Network

— ALOE —

Lauren’s Kids programs win two Emmy Awards — Lauren’s Kids, the foundation dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse through education and awareness founded by state Sen. Lauren Book, won two Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards this weekend. “Each time we receive this recognition, we are also presented with an opportunity to amplify our message of prevention, hope and healing,” said Book. “Walk in My Shoes: Prevention through Education” features the Plantation Democrat teaching lessons from the nonprofit’s Safer, Smarter Schools curriculum — the country’s first evidence-based K-12 abuse prevention curriculum. The other winning entry, “Child Sexual Abuse Prevention,” draws upon themes from Book’s children’s book, “Lauren’s Kingdom.” The animated video encourages child sexual abuse victims that, “If you’re choking back tears and your heart’s filled with fears, you know very well … it’s OK to tell.” One of 10 nominees in the Public/Community Affairs category, “Walk in My Shoes” was produced by Chucha Barber, Book, Claire VanSusteren and Joshua McLawhorn. In the Public Service Announcement category, “Child Sexual Abuse Prevention” won, produced by Barber, Book, VanSusteren, Jason MaurerJose Kropp and Michele Watson.

To view “Walk in My Shoes: Prevention through Education,” click on the image below:

To view “Child Sexual Abuse Prevention,” click on the image below:

Capitol Museum unveils fascinating look at inaugurations past” via Bill Cotterell via the Tallahassee Democrat — There’s a fascinating new history exhibit, “On the Steps of History: Florida’s Inaugurations,” opening this week at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum, and there are lots of interesting and fun things going on inside. The retrospective on swearing in new Governors runs through March 10 — a strategically chosen three-month span that will include the ceremonial swearing-in of Gov. DeSantis next month and the first week of the 2019 legislative session. In addition to photographs and a few artifacts that recall past governors — like a candle lantern Bob Graham carried on both his inaugural days, a Seminole-style tunic worn by First Lady Rhea ChilesReubin Askew’s ascot, the top hat worn by Gov. Claude Kirk, and Reubin Askew and Bob Martinez’s tuxedos — there will be dozens of photographs of the big events, solemn and celebratory.

Disney’s Swan and Dolphin impacted by Marriott data breach” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — Guests at Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Resort are among those whose personal information may have been exposed in a data breach affecting as many as 500 million people who stayed at Marriott hotels over the past four years. Marriott International Inc. said it had identified a hack of the guest reservation database in its Starwood Hotels & Resorts unit, which the company acquired in 2016. The Swan and Dolphin are among the Starwood properties in the Orlando area. Marriott said the hacking dates back to 2014, before its $13.6 billion acquisition of the Starwood chain. For 327 million guests to Starwood hotels in that time frame, names, addresses, phone numbers passport numbers, dates of birth and Starwood account information may have been compromised. Marriott’s news release also held open the possibility that some customers’ credit card numbers and expiration dates had been decrypted.

Forget the chocolate: Advent calendars go for booze, cheese” via Joseph Pisani of The Associated Press — The cardboard calendars, typically filled with chocolates, are now being stuffed with cans of beer and bottles of wine. Others have chunks of cheese behind each door. They’re meant to appeal to nostalgic adults who want to count the days till Christmas with something other than sweets. They’re sold for a limited time, get major social media buzz and tend to sell out quickly. Many are available in the United States for the first time this year after gaining popularity during the past few holiday seasons in Europe. German grocer Aldi, for instance, says it brought its wine advent calendar to its U.S. stores after selling it in the United Kingdom last year. It also introduced a new cheese one.


Our bad — An item in a previous Sunburn was wrong: Rep. David Silvers’ correct birthday is Feb. 26. Sorry! Celebrating today is state Sen. Keith Perry. Belated birthday wishes from the weekend to newly elected U.S. Sen. Scott and state Sen. Debbie Mayfield

Written By

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.

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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

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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