Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 2.18.19

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All the news that fits, and more: Your first look at Sunshine State politics and policy news.

Happy Presidents Day.

Sunburn didn’t take today off, but it was kind of a slow news weekend, so this edition of ‘burn is briefer than usual.

Whether it’s the holiday or that it’s still a few weeks before the start of the 2019 Legislative Session, it definitely feels like the calm before the storm. In fact, what a lot of smart folks keep saying is, with the first month of the Ron DeSantis blitzkrieg out of the way, there’s actually NOT a lot going on.

What’s the big issue heading into Session? Smokable medical marijuana? OK, that’s one. Now give me a Top 5. If you say ‘Assignment of Benefits reform,’ you’re kinda proving the point.

Where’s Bill Galvano? Where’s José Oliva?

You’d think Galvano, having come so close once before to leading a chamber (only to come up short), would have a more ambitious agenda. But extending the Suncoast Parkway and doing something about sports betting seems to be the extent of his reach. As for Oliva, you assume he has more than a few surprises up his sleeve, but where’s his big, bold idea. He’s been talking about reforming health care delivery for more than five years. Where’s that legislation?

Maybe I’m missing something (which highly likely) but where is the Galvano-Oliva’s equivalent to the work plan put forth by Don Gaetz and Will Weatherford? Heck, I’d take one or two big proposals, like what Joe Negron targeted.

Right now, all of the action seems to be coming from a handful of media-savvy Senators, such as Rob Bradley, Joe Gruters, and Jeff Brandes. But that’s not the same as a legislative leader rolling out a crazy big idea — divide the Supreme Court; expand Medicaid — and watching the beehive react to getting smacked.

Now, just as soon as I write this, look for the Senate President and/or the House Speaker to put forward a big hairy audacious goal. But they better hurry up, otherwise the entire upcoming Session might just feel like a day off.


@RealDonaldTrump: Nothing funny about tired Saturday Night Live on Fake News NBC! Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into. This is the real Collusion!

@SenRickScott: Looking forward to joining @realDonaldTrump tomorrow @FIU in Miami! The United States stands in solidarity with the people of #Venezuela fighting for freedom and democracy.

@AmbJohnBolton: Appreciate Senator Rubio showing the support of the U.S. Senate during his visit to the Venezuela border alongside @USAmbOAS. Aid is prepared for delivery to help the suffering people of Venezuela.

@MattGaetz: We lost the midterms because GOP leadership allowed big insurance to write a bill the public couldn’t understand & the politicians couldn’t explain. We should have just repealed ObamaCare like we promised. We need a congress that will #DoWhatWeSaid

@MarcCElias: Another win for voting rights in Florida. As a result of our court victory, the new Sec of State issues guidance affirming that early vote centers may be placed on college and university campuses.

@JimmyMidyette: If I end up voting for Mayor @lennycurry it’s bc of this moment, here. I love @AnnaBrosche but I’ve had it with the Pensacola consultant. I’ve had it with the life coach who’s never heard of fair use. I’ve had it with the council surrogate. The company one keeps matters

@HannaMan00: Has Lenny Curry done anything as Mayor of Jacksonville besides score himself good seats at Jag’s games?

@CitizenStewart: Your house is on fire. Family trapped inside. Firefighters arrive. They argue about which hose to use. The flames grow. Meanwhile, citizens form a human chain moving buckets of water to the fire. Reporters show up and criticize the citizens. Welcome to education reporting.

@BSFarrington: So @FSUHoops had 16 players see time on the floor in yesterday’s blowout of GaTech. Pretty sure if it was a home game, Ham would have pointed at @steveschale and said, “Suit up.”


Fat Tuesday — 15; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 15; Tampa mayoral election — 15; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 18; Players Championship begins — 24; St. Patrick’s Day — 27; Jacksonville municipal first election — 29; Scott Maddox corruption trial begins — 39; Major League Baseball season begins — 38; Final season of ‘Veep’ begins — 41; Final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ begins — 55; Easter — 62; 2019 Legislative Session ends (maybe) — 74; 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates start — 109; 2019 General Election — 263; Iowa Caucuses — 350; 2020 General Election — 624.


Florida military bases could lose up to $177 million to Trump’s border wall” via Steve Contorno and Howard Altman of the Tampa Bay Times — Trump will pay for his much coveted wall at the southern border in part by taking $3.6 billion from military projects across the country and the world. The decision means Florida bases could lose up to $177 million for planned construction, more than all but eight other states, according to a list of eligible projects compiled by the House Appropriations Committee and provided to the Tampa Bay Times. … Among the projects in jeopardy are $3.1 million to relocate KC-135 Stratotanker pilot flight simulators to MacDill Air Force Base. Other projects that could lose funding include: $83 million for Littoral Combat Ship support facility and $29 million for Littoral Combat Ship operational training facility at Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville, and $35 million for a F-35A training center and $28 million for a F-35A student dormitory at Eglin Air Force Base in Okaloosa County.


Jeanette Nunez, Casey DeSantis meet with Venezuelan exiles” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “The Venezuelan people have been fighting to rid their country from the grips of a political, economic and humanitarian crisis for decades,” said Lt. Gov. Nuñez, who harshly criticized the continued regime of Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro. Nuñez said she hopes the growing number of nations who refuse to recognize Maduro leads to his departure soon. The listening session, she said, reinforced that view. “I had the opportunity to hear firsthand from some of the most inspiring Venezuelan exiles and leaders. Their resiliency and resolve is to be admired,” she said. “I strongly believe Maduro’s cruel, tyrannical and oppressive regime is reaching its final days. Together with our Governor and the First Lady, we remain committed to supporting freedom and democracy in Venezuela.” Casey DeSantis said the listening session in Miami served as an opportunity to hear firsthand of how the Maduro’s regime’s oppressive policies forever changed lives.

First Lady Casey DeSantis hosted a listening session in Miami to hear from those who have been personally affected by the ongoing situation in Venezuela and the oppressive Maduro Regime.

Noah Valenstein keeps job as chief of Florida’s environmental agency” via Samantha Gross of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis has reappointed Valenstein to keep his role as secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Valenstein was first appointed by former Gov. Rick Scott in 2017, for whom he served as environmental policy aide from 2012 to 2015. “Noah has led (the Department of Environmental Protection) with distinction and has played an integral role in implementing my vision to protect and restore Florida’s environment,” DeSantis said in a statement. “I’m confident his continued leadership will bolster our efforts to take decisive action on behalf of the people of Florida.” Valenstein’s initial appointment pleased environmental groups who took issue with his predecessor, who sparred with groups over land acquisition and management practices and eventually left for a legal and lobbying firm that had done business with the agency.

Flashback to the January 10 edition of Sunburn — “Look for Gov. Ron DeSantis to announce that Noah Valenstein will continue serving as Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, sources briefed on the personnel decision tell Florida Politics.”

First in Sunburn — Erin Moffet joining state Ag. Dep’t — The former Communications Director for Congressman Charlie Crist will be Federal Affairs Deputy Director for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services under Democratic Commissioner Nikki Fried. Moffet starts next month. She spent close to a decade running press operations for various Florida Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The former West Palm Beach resident has worked for Alcee Hastings, Lois Frankel, and Patrick Murphy, and also worked on Murphy’s successful House campaigns in 2012 and 2014.


Lawmakers embrace arming teachers despite lack of support” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Just 37 percent of Florida voters want teachers to carry guns and 51 percent oppose the idea, including 71 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of independents and 30 percent of Republicans, according to a Florida Atlantic University poll released last week. Yet the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature continues to push for armed educators. The Senate Education Committee signed off on a bill last week that would allow any Florida teacher who volunteers and goes through training to carry a gun in school. The measure appears to have a good chance of becoming law.

Legislators float health care ideas as 2.6 million go without coverage” via John Kennedy of the GateHouse Capital Bureau — House Speaker Oliva is pushing a host of regulatory changes to enhance competition in health care — which he said will drive down prices and eventually lead to more coverage in a state where 2.6 million people struggle with no insurance, one of the highest tolls in the nation. “Medicaid expansion is the worst of all Band-Aids,” Oliva said of the program. Under Oliva this year, the House is advancing proposals aimed at relaxing regulations that have long guided health care. Among them: Further reduce, and maybe eliminate, certificates of need required for hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities looking to expand. Promote telemedicine by allowing more doctors to treat patients remotely. Lift some scope-of-practice regulations to let physicians’ assistants and nurses provide more patient care. Ease restrictions on creating ambulatory surgical centers and recovery care centers.

Bill Galvano back single-subject ballot proposals” via the News Service of Florida — Senate President Galvano lent support to a measure that would limit ballot proposals by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission to single subjects. A proposal (SJR 74) that would limit future commission ballot proposals to single subjects has already cleared two Senate committees leading up to the 2019 legislative session. “I think the single subject is certainly something that would improve the situation,” Galvano said. A separate measure (SJR 362) slated to go before the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee on Tuesday seeks to ask voters to eliminate the Constitution Revision Commission, a panel that meets every 20 years and has a unique power to place proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Darryl Rouson got $1 million in state budget for his wife’s employer” via Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times — Rouson sought $1.7 million in the state budget two years ago for a daycare center associated with his church. He eventually got it $1 million. In his request, the Democrat listed Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church and its nonprofit, Mt. Zion Human Services, as the recipients. Rouson didn’t disclose that his wife, Angela Rouson, held positions in both organizations. “If I made a mistake unwillingly, I own it,” Rouson said recently. “I apologize for that. I don’t believe I broke any laws or conflicts.” In city and county government, officials must abstain from voting on matters that could benefit them personally. But state lawmakers can vote on matters in which they have a financial stake as long as they disclose it up to 15 days after the vote is cast. Rouson said no disclosure was needed for his request because he and his wife didn’t stand to benefit.

Bringing home the bacon: Darryl Rouson was able to wrangle $1 million in the state budget for the church and nonprofit that employed his wife, Angela.

Proposed bill would allow Florida students to ditch advanced math for industry certifications” via Travis Gibson of the St. Augustine Record — Under the proposed bill from state Sen. Travis Hutson, SB 770, students would be able to replace high-level courses with various industry certifications that are already in place. If they pass the certification courses, along with the required course curriculum, the student will graduate with a high school diploma. The option would help students find an alternative to the college track, Hutson said, and allow them to be workforce ready upon graduation. “We have a performance and funding formula that is geared toward high school graduation in Florida. We are forcing districts to take children that probably can’t pass some of these classes and just make them try. The children suffer, they get frustrated,” Hutson told The Record.

21 new specialty license plates could be coming to Florida” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Most of the proposed plates would raise $25 per tag to go toward a variety of charitable programs. Bills for the 21 new plates have been introduced ahead of the Florida Legislative Session. One up for approval is the “Orlando United” plate that would memorialize the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting and support mental health counseling for the survivors. State Sen. Linda Stewart refiled the bill for this year’s Session, and if passed, it would distribute funds raised by sales of the plate to the Mental Health Association of Central Florida and Two Spirit Health Services to give free counseling to anyone affected by what was at the time the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Drama and dirty talk from Alex Andrade” via Andy Marlette of the Pensacola News Journal — What happens when rookie state Rep. Andrade calls you at 9:40 p.m. on a school night? You get told you’re “full of sh–.” That was Andrade’s most striking sound bite, according to former congressional candidate Cris Dosev, who received an after-hours phone call from the state representative. Dosev said Andrade called in response to a Gulf Breeze city council meeting that approximately 20 veterans had attended to advocate for the city’s endorsement of the campaign to name the new Pensacola Bay Bridge after Gen. Chappie James. Dosev said Andrade accused him of “harassing” the city and being “disruptive” at the meeting. Dosev also said that Andrade tried to discourage him from attending a future Gulf Breeze council meeting to advocate for the bridge resolution and accused him of being “a politician.”

What is this all about? —Emily Slosberg faces allegations of theft, trespassing” via Skyler Swisher and Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — According to an executive order released by DeSantis’ office — quietly posted on the Governor’s website — states that the Democratic state legislator representing Boca Raton has been accused of petit theft, trespassing, and criminal mischief. It offered no additional details. Petit theft is defined in Florida law as the theft or attempted theft of property worth less than $300. Reached Friday morning, Slosberg said she was shocked to learn of the allegations listed in the order and denied wrongdoing. “I had no idea,” she said. “I just met with [the governor’s] people last week.” Officials offered few details, but a source with knowledge of the investigation said the case involves an allegation that Slosberg tried to change the locks at a home she had recently sold.

Say what? State Rep. Emily Slosberg is accused of petit theft, something that took her by surprise. Image via Colin Hackley.

Happening today — The House Rules Committee will meet to consider a series of so-called “reviser’s” bills, 5 p.m., 404 House Office Building.

Florida Democrats call for Dan Daley to be seated in Housevia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Florida Democrats groups are calling on House Speaker Oliva to seat Daley after Daley failed to court any challengers for the special election in House District 97. Because no other candidates filed by the Feb. 14 deadline, Daley won the seat by default. But Oliva cited Florida election law in refusing to seat Daley until the scheduled date of the general election, June 18. That means Daley won’t take office until after the 2019 legislative session ends on May 3. “José Oliva’s effort to deny the people of HD 97 a voice in Tallahassee is an insult,” FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo said. “This is a shameful effort to try and silence their voices, while he continues to lift up national embarrassments like Anthony Sabatini. José Oliva should follow the guidance of the Executive Order and immediately swear-in Rep. Dan Daley.”

Happening tonight:


Appeals court agrees that Florida’s signature rules on mail votes are ‘serious burden’” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Upholding a judge’s decision that sided with former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and national Democrats, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Florida law requiring voters’ signatures on mail-in ballots to match the signatures on file with elections officials imposes “a serious burden on the right to vote.” Under state law, voters whose mail-in ballots are received by 5 p.m. the day before the election have an opportunity to “cure” rejected ballots by providing documentation to elections supervisors to show that they are who they claim to be. But people whose mail-in ballots are received after that, or voters who cast provisional ballots on Election Day, do not. The way the state implements the law and “the very nature of matching signatures” caused the problems, the majority found.

Tweet, tweet:

Wanted? $76 million. Why? To fight Florida’s negative publicity about hurricanes, red tide” via Jim Turner and Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Florida’s new tourism czar, former Sen. Dana Young, is pitching lawmakers to continue setting aside $76 million a year for VISIT FLORIDA and is promoting the agency’s ability to overcome negative publicity while drawing record numbers of visitors. Constant news coverage of damage in the Panhandle from the October hurricane, including scenes of flattened beach communities, created the equivalent of $35 million in negative media, Young said. Stories about Florida’s waters being filled with red tide accounted for an additional $22 million in negative media.

Ken Lawson no longer ‘crypto-consulting’ for Jimmy Patronis” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — No conundrum here: Lawson is “no longer consulting on cryptocurrency matters” for Chief Financial Officer Patronis, according to a spokeswoman. Last summer, Lawson agreed to be Patronis’ volunteer “cryptocurrency adviser” when he was CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s public-private tourism marketing arm. But, at DeSantis‘ request, he later switched jobs to become Executive Director of the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the jobs-creating agency. That’s when he quit ‘crypto-consulting’ for Patronis.

Survey shows Floridians support right to rent out property” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new survey commissioned by the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association (FLVRMA) shows nearly 90 percent of Floridians support allowing property owners to rent out a secondary home or investment property as a vacation rental. A bill proposed last year would have codified the right to rent at the state level, pre-empting local enforcement codes which regulate how often those properties can be rented out. FLVRMA spoke out in favor of that bill. However, the legislation failed to pass. Some municipalities have taken to restricting rentals due to complaints about noise and congestion, among other issues. But rental companies and individual owners seeking to rent out their properties have pushed back, hoping a similar law proposed by Sen. Manny Diaz (SB 824) will get through this legislative session.


— “Scientists start to link Hurricane Michael to climate change” via Collin Breaux of the Panama City News-Herald

After ‘the apocalypse,’ life is ‘a constant fight’ in Calhoun County” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Calhoun County and its 15,000 residents felt the full force of the storm. Most of the state’s entire cotton crop — much of it planted in Calhoun and Jackson counties — was wiped out to the tune of about $50 million. Loss of peanut crops was estimated at $23 million. The county also lost $11 million in crop losses — $7 million in cotton, $1 million in peanuts and another $1 million in greenhouse and nursery crops, said Kristy Terry, executive director of the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce. The agriculture industry accounts for about 15 percent of Calhoun County’s workforce. “I would say probably 100 percent impacted for sure, every single business was impacted across the whole county,” Terry said.

Post-apocalypse: Hurricane Michael left residents of Calhoun County with a ‘constant fight.’ Across the county, every business has suffered. Image via WFSU.

Months after Hurricane Michael battered their buildings, churches taking steps to recover” via Collin Breaux of the Panama City News-Herald — Months after Michael damaged the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Panama City, Senior Pastor Jesse Nelson reflected on the ongoing recovery. The church sustained damage to all its buildings. Parts of their stained-glass windows were blown out, the roof was torn off and pieces of debris are still on the pews and floor. Still, Macedonia’s spirit is not deterred. “Right now, the next step is for us to continue to pray to seek God’s guidance on how He wants us to move forward, also to envision how we can build for the future,” Nelson said. “That’s been sort of our motto, not rebuilding the past but let’s build for the future. That takes time to contemplate, to develop a plan, to also seek out counsel and wisdom on how that future looks.”

Federal judge ends protections for Miami’s homeless” via The Associated Press — U. S. District Judge Federico Moreno issued an opinion dissolving the Pottinger Agreement that established protections for Miami’s homeless population from police harassment. Moreno decided court oversight was no longer necessary because of the shelters and social services now available to assist the city’s homeless. The Pottinger Agreement was the result of a class-action lawsuit brought by 5,000 homeless people against the city in the early 1990s. Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union opposed the city’s motion to dissolve the decree. Moreno said the case had forced the city to improve its behavior toward its homeless population.

Pulse shooting questions still linger as state attorney clears police in response probe” via Beth Kassab, Michael Williams and Gal Tziperman Lotan of the Orlando Sentinel — The announcement by Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala did not address other still-lingering questions, such as why the first officers to arrive waited six minutes to enter the nightclub, and whether more quickly ending the siege that followed could have saved lives. The public was also not shown ballistics evidence to back up the officials’ conclusions about the police gunfire. Christine Leinonen, a former law enforcement officer whose son, Christopher Drew Leinonen, died at Pulse, said this week that Ayala’s findings do not convince her. “If you do the math, if you take the 180 rounds that the cops fired, and the number of times the killer was hit, where did the rest of those bullets go? What are the odds that not one of them hit someone other than the killer?” she said. “I’m going to call B.S.”

Aramis Ayala and Deborah Barra may have cleared officers’ actions in the Pulse nightclub shooting, but there were many more questions left unanswered.

Five months before yoga studio shooting, gunman was fired in Volusia for touching student” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Scott Beierle was fired as a substitute teacher in Volusia County for inappropriately touching a female student. Beierle began working as a substitute teacher for the district in April 2017, according to his personnel records. He landed a full-time teaching job at Hinson Middle School in August 2017 but was terminated after a couple of weeks for classroom performance issues. After he was fired, he was allowed to continue working as a substitute teacher. But after an incident at Galaxy Middle School in Deltona on May 25, 2018, he was abruptly fired again for unprofessional conduct involving a girl in his classroom. “Student and witnesses allege that Mr. Beierle asked a female student if she was ticklish and then proceeded to touch her at the top of the stomach ‘below the bra line,’ a district report says. “Student was frightened and hid behind another student.”

Lakeland 11-year-old arrested for confrontation after refusal to stand for Pledge” via Kimberly Moore of the Lakeland Ledger — A Lawton Chiles Middle Academy student was arrested Feb. 4 and charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence following a confrontation with school officials and a law enforcement officer. The incident happened after his refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and his refusal to stand after ordered by the substitute teacher. Polk County Public Schools spokesman Kyle Kennedy said the sixth-grader “was arrested after becoming disruptive and refusing to follow repeated instructions by school staff and law enforcement.” Kennedy said he wanted to make it clear that the student was not arrested for refusing to participate in the pledge. “Students are not required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance,” Kennedy said.


Marco Rubio warns Venezuelan soldiers to let aid enter” via The Associated Press — Rubio visited a border staging point for U.S. aid to Venezuela and warned soldiers loyal to socialist Maduro that would commit a “crime against humanity” if they block entry of the packages that are being channeled through Maduro’s rivals. An enthusiastic throng of Venezuelan migrants, some chanting “Rubio! Liberty!” met the Florida Republican as he visited Cucuta and held a news conference in sight of a border bridge that has been flooded in recent months by Venezuelans people fleeing hardship in their own country. The U.S. has used military and civilian aircraft to fly in food and personal care aid — an effort that is meant to undermine Maduro and dramatize his government’s inability to overcome shortages of food and medicine.

On Sunday, Marco Rubio visited the Colombia-Venezuela border at the Simon Bolivar International Bridge outside of Cucuta, Colombia. Image via Rubio’s Senate Office.

Assignment editors — Rubio, Ambassador to the OAS Carlos Trujillo, and Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart will hold a news conference, 12:50 p.m. Eastern time, Miami International Airport, Consular Lounge, Concourse F.

Lois Frankel announces relief for businesses affected by Donald Trump travel” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Frankel says $3.5 million will be put toward a relief program from business and workers at Lantana Airport affected by President Trump‘s travel to Mar-a-Lago. The $3.5 million package was included in the recently-passed government funding bill. As a security measure, the Secret Service grounds all flights from Lantana Airport throughout the President’s time at nearby Mar-a-Lago. That affects the airport’s 25 businesses, which according to Frankel’s office support about 250 jobs. Around 200 daily flights are also lost during Trump’s visits. “Local businesses and aviators at Lantana Airport have been unfairly impacted by Mr. Trump’s frequent trips to Mar-a-Lago,” Frankel said. “They will now have an opportunity to receive financial relief.”

Mario Diaz-Balart talks infrastructure funding in new spending package” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Diaz-Balart of Florida’s 25th Congressional District outlined billions in nationwide infrastructure funding secured in the new funding bill signed by Trump. Diaz-Balart served as the Ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee. He chaired that subcommittee before Democrats took over the House. “Last year, our nation saw historic levels of funding to revitalize and repair our nation’s aging infrastructure,” Diaz-Balart said. “This year, we further that investment and build on the progress we made toward improving our roadways, bridges, airports, transit systems, and for the first time, our seaports. As the top Republican of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee, I am proud of this legislation, which funds vital infrastructure and housing programs.”

Assignment editors — U.S. Reps. Donna ShalalaTed Deutch, and Darren Soto will take part in a telephone news conference to discuss efforts to protect Venezuelans in the United States, 9 a.m. Contact the Florida Democratic Party for call details.


Joe Gruters: Sanctuary bill not a base issue” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Herald-Tribune recently ran a disappointing opinion piece criticizing me for introducing legislation banning sanctuary cities in Florida — legislation that would stop any municipalities from freeing criminal illegals or just refusing to cooperate with immigration officials enforcing the law. I am more than happy to respond with context and corrections. Apparently, the Republican base is considerably larger than anyone knew. Banning sanctuary cities has consistently had overwhelming support from the American people and Floridians. A Harvard-Harris Poll in 2017 found 80 percent of Americans believe communities should comply with federal immigration authorities. A 2018 IBD/TIPP Poll found nearly two-thirds of the public oppose sanctuary cities, including 44 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Hispanics. So, the suggestion that this is about pandering to the base is just obviously incorrect.


Capital City Consulting topped $10 mil in lobbying compensation in 2018” via Florida Politics —  Lobbying firm Capital City Consulting is among the few Florida shops that can claim they reel in eight figures a year. … Using the median number for each of CCC’s 150 clients shows the firm again topped the $2.5 million mark in the fourth quarter of 2018. The newly filed compensation reports peg the 13-member firm’s earnings at $10.3 million for the year. More than $6.5 million of that came in via legislative lobbying, with executive branch efforts producing another $3.8 million. If each of the CCC’s contracts trended toward the top end of their reported ranges, founders Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace and Gerald Wester and the ten other advocates on staff could have hauled in as much $14.8 million. … “We are proud of our continued growth and success,” Iarossi said. “It’s proof that hiring great people who work hard for clients and never quit is a recipe for success.” … Capital City Consulting is one of a half-dozen Florida lobbying firms that consistently rakes in more than $1 million a quarter, and it’s growing at a rapid clip. Overall, CCC’s 2018 financials came in $1.1 million higher than in 2017.

Personnel note: Anne Corcoran joins Nelson Mullins in TallahasseeCorcoran, wife of former House Speaker and now Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, joined the law firm’s Tallahassee office. “She will focus her practice on project development and finance, with an emphasis on industrial development projects,” a news release said. Corcoran, who’s spent almost 20 years in private practice, also has been an assistant state attorney in the 5th Judicial Circuit for Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter counties. “She founded and managed a charter school, overseeing all legal issues, including … charter school law compliance, for a charter school with more than 90 employees and 1,000 students, (and) a budget of more than $6 million,” the release said. She’s also a board member of Tallahassee Classical School, part of the Hillsdale College Barney Charter School Initiative.

Congratulations: Anne Corcoran, shown here at the swearing-in of her husband, former House Speaker Richard Corcoran, is joining the Tallahassee office of Nelson Mullins.

Personnel note: Allison Sitte named chief in-house lobbyist at Department of Veterans’ Affairs — Executive Director Danny Burgess tapped Sitte to be the agency’s Director of Legislative and Cabinet Affairs. The department operates a network of seven state veterans’ homes and provides statewide outreach to connect Florida’s more than 1.5 million veterans with their earned services, benefits and support. Sitte said in a statement, “Coming from a family that emphasizes the importance of military service and honoring those who have served our country, I look forward to using my legislative experience and passion to help advocate for our state’s veterans and their families.” Burgess noted her “wealth of experience from the Florida Senate President’s Office in vital liaison work between our legislature and key constituents throughout the Sunshine State” in announcing her hiring.

Personnel note: Orlando Pryor joins The Strategos Group — Pryor worked on several state and national campaigns during the beginning of his career. He’s now a part of the public affairs firm, founded by former state Rep. Trey Traviesa and former State Commissioner of Education Jim Horne, headquartered in Tampa, with a primary focus on education and health care. Pryor worked for Gov. Rick Scott at the Agency for Health Care Administration, working his way up to Deputy Chief of Staff. “My time in the administration provided invaluable experience in how to transform the health care system,” Pryor said in a news release. “During my time at the Agency, for instance, we revolutionized the Medicaid program by developing managed care which improved quality while dropping the per recipient cost.”

Spotted — At the Everglades Foundation Gala in Palm Beach: Gov. DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis; state Sen. Rob and Jen Bradley; state Rep. Chris and Shannon SprowlsTom BrokawDerek Cooper of Comcast; Foundation CEO Eric EikenbergCarl HiaasenNick Iarossi; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; Home Depot funder Ken Langone; White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; Joe and Rebecca NegronJack NicklausTony Robbins; Michael Sole of FPL/NextEra, and Anna Upton.

— ALOE —

Former justice R. Fred Lewis returns to teach at Florida Southern College” via The Ledger of Lakeland — In his new role, (retired Florida Supreme Court Justice) Lewis will bring a program he founded in 2006 — Justice Teaching — to his alma mater. The Justice Teaching Center will continue Lewis’ work of using volunteer judges and lawyers to visit Florida schools and provide enhanced civics training to students. (College President Anne) Kerr announced it at Florida Southern’s Celebration of Our Freedoms Luncheon in the Jenkins Field House. Lewis, 71, faced mandatory retirement from the Supreme Court in January, more than 20 years after he was appointed to the court by the late Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Lakeland native.

Welcome back: Retired Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis is returning to teach at the Florida Southern College program he founded in 2006. Image via Miami Law.

Miami Herald reporters are award finalists for Jeffrey Epstein coverage — The Center for Journalism Ethics’ Anthony Shadid Award “acknowledges reporters and the difficult ethical decisions they must make in order to honor their sources and their audience.” The Herald’s Julie K. Brown and Emily Michot are among the finalists for this year’s award, for their three-part investigation into financier Jeffrey Epstein, who “avoided a lifetime sentence for underage human and sex trafficking and abuse” with a plea deal orchestrated by Alexander Acosta, then the U.S. attorney for South Florida, now U.S. Labor Secretary under President Donald Trump.

At Florida’s gateway to space, archaeologists are in a race against time” via Antonia Jaramillo of FLORIDA TODAY — Long before Cape Canaveral became home to advanced aerospace technologies, indigenous people and early settlers developed their own tools to live on the beaches and the swampy lands that would eventually become the gateway to space. Archaeologists from all over the state are hurrying to uncover and document the undiscovered archaeological sites across the Cape before they are eroded and lost to humankind forever. “Every time you lose a piece of the past and a piece of the human story, you’re impoverishing your experience in the present,” University of Central Florida Associate Professor of Archaeology Stacy Barber told FLORIDA TODAY. Dating back a few thousand years, a three-acre site at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station faces imminent danger as rising sea levels and coastal erosion in the coming decades threaten to erase the physical history left here.


Best wishes to WFSU’s Lynn Hatter. Belated wishes to former Rep. Tom Goodson (Saturday).

Today’s Sunburn was written by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Last updated on February 18, 2019

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, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

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