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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.10.19

Politics shouldn’t be pale. Get ‘Sunburn’ed — right now.

Scoop – Top Democrat fundraiser Samantha Pollara, fresh off serving as finance director for Jane Castor’s winning bid in Tampa, will work as “Florida Investment Director” for Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. Pollara, who brother Ben is fortunate to call his sister, is one of top up-and-coming operatives in #FlaPol. Her hiring is a sign that not all Florida Dems are ready to sign up with Joe Biden.

The location for the June 26/27 Democratic presidential primary debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, will be the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo says “The DNC has chosen a perfect location in the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami. The venue is located in the cultural crossroads of Florida and in the heart of one of the fastest growing multi-cultural communities in the United States. I can think of no better place for our Democratic candidates to introduce themselves to Florida and the country. The venue, the city and the historic occasion will be a time for all of our candidates, and our Democratic ideals, to shine.”

See you there!

Still rocking the capital city — “Prolific Tallahassee businessman J.T. Burnette indicted in FBI corruption investigation via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat” — John “J.T.” Burnette, a wealthy entrepreneur and the alleged middle man between City Commissioner Scott Maddox and undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen, was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in connection with the bureau’s long-running public corruption probe. Burnette, known for major hotel, restaurant and office projects in Midtown and downtown, turned himself in Thursday morning to FBI agents on federal charges including racketeering, extortion, mail fraud and false statements. He was the third person to be charged in the investigation, which began in 2015 with the arrival of the agents. In December, Maddox and former Downtown Improvement Authority Executive Director Paige Carter-Smith were indicted on federal charges they ran a bribery and extortion ring out of their Governance consulting firm and committed bank fraud in real-estate deals. Maddox and Carter-Smith’s trial is set to begin Nov. 4.

— “Local businessman J.T. Burnette indicted” via Steve Stewart of Tallahassee Reports

— “Local leaders react to J.T. Burnette indictment” via Tamryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat

Read the 75-page indictment here.

About 1 in 20 non-budget bills passed both chambers during Florida’s 2019 Legislative Session. So how much do lobbying efforts actually impact the likelihood of these bills passing?

Sachs Media Group wanted to find out.

Some bills are never really lobbied because they’re just that good – no controversy, no need. Others are scarcely lobbied because they have no chance. And not every bill generates lobbying to get it passed; some of the most effective lobbying is to kill bills. So you might not necessarily expect to see a strong relationship between lobbying activity and bill passage rates, since the presence or absence of lobbying can mean very different things.

It takes more than a snappy jingle to get a bill passed in Tallahassee.

Yet Sachs’ analysis suggests a strong, affirmative relationship between how much a bill is lobbied and whether it passes. Bills (and their companions) that passed both chambers averaged 27 lobbying appearances, while those that died generated just nine appearances on average.

Another way to view this is to bracket lobbying activity into different levels. This approach yields an even clearer view of how lobbying efforts relate to passage rates.

The overall passage rate of bills this session was 5.5 percent. Among those that had zero lobbying appearances logged, the passage rate was just 2.5 percent. This rate steadily increases to 3.5 percent for bills that had 1 to 9 appearances … 8.0 percent among those that had 10 to 19 appearances … 9.5 percent among those with 20 to 49 appearances … 15 percent among those with 50 to 99 appearances … and finally, 23.0 percent among those with 100 or more appearances.

In other words, the odds were 40-to-1 against a bill that wasn’t lobbied at all, but almost 4-to-1 for those that had over 100 appearances – close to 10 times better. The takeaway? The more feet on the ground to lobby an issue, the better the chances it will cross the finish line.

Please take a few moments to listen to the new ‘He Said She Said’ — ‘Sine Die/Run for the Roses’ features Michelle and I recapping the recently concluded 2019 Legislative Session. We take stock of both winners and losers and discuss legislation that will touch the lives of Floridians for years to come. I offer an explanation of what made 2019 consequential, not just historic.

Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley drops in to give the ultimate insider’s view of the budget process; Tampa state Rep. Jackie Toledo also appears, describing her efforts to pass Florida’s new texting and driving ban.

Beyond politics, it was another jam-packed pop culture week: The controversial finish at the Kentucky Derby, the Royal Baby and — of course — more Game of Thrones.

Please, subscribe and listen wherever you get your podcasts: iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher.


@RealDonaldTrump: House Republicans should not vote for the BAD DEMOCRAT Disaster Supplemental Bill which hurts our States, Farmers & Border Security. Up for vote tomorrow. We want to do much better than this. All sides keep working and send a good BILL for immediate signing!

@MarcoRubio: Instead of risking an international uproar by moving directly against [Juan] Guaidó the [Nicolás] Maduro Regime is working to collapse the democratic movement in Venezuela by arresting or forcing into political asylum dozens of key leaders of the National Assembly.

@MattGaetz: Comey calling AG Barr dishonorable is 100% about the fact that Barr is turning the tables and investigating the people who started, funded and advanced the failed coup attempt.

@NikkiFried: I wish @realDonaldTrump’s visit to the Panhandle yesterday was more about recovery dollars for farmers & businesses recovering from Hurricane Michael than divisive and violent politics. The President’s remarks do not reflect the Panhandle I know.

@JohnMorganESQ: .@AndrewGillum I have an idea! You’re sitting on over $3M raised to elect you Governor. Let’s take that money and use it ALL to pay the financial restitution now owed by freed felons to vote. This poll tax is unconscionable. They paid a price & are now being asked to pay again.

@SkylerSwisher: DeSantis on the training requirements for armed teachers: “We send people to Afghanistan with less weapons training.”

@RepRutherfordFL: State and local law enforcement and school districts must be allowed to decide how best to keep their students safe. When I was sheriff, I put school resource officers in our schools so that trained and armed officers could be ready if needed.

@Rob_Bradley: 1999 and 2019 are the two most consequential sessions for education policy, no doubt. When you combine 2019 ed policy with the largest infrastructure expansion since the 50s plus our work on the environment, hemp, CON and CJ reform, it’s fair to say 2019 was a consequential year.

@Conarck: Mark Inch, new head of FDOC, seems to possess something quite rare: COs that I’ve spoken to, and reformers, both seem to like him a lot.

@ShevrinJones: Instead of slipping in last minute language for @NikkiFriedFL to remove her picture, the legislature should be commending her for traveling the state to protect consumers from gas skimmers, a growing problem in my & Sen @oscarjb2 district. Thank you Commissioner!

@AnaCeballos_: @floridachannel has no current plans to televise the Cabinet meeting in Israel.

@MDixon55: I can’t imagine a scenario where this press office would not provide public information or records when they are actually available No way. Would never happen

@UrsulaPerano: Again, some personal news! With session over, I’ve departed from @PoliticoFL. I’m so grateful for my time here and will miss my co-workers dearly. That being said, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be moving to D.C. to join the team at @Axios! Cheers to new beginnings!


Mother’s Day — 2; Florida Chamber Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity — 12; Florida TaxWatch Spring Meeting & Education Summit begins — 12; Memorial Day — 17; Florida Democratic Leadership Blue conference and fundraiser — 29; U.S. Open begins — 34; Father’s Day — 37; Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Summit begins — 39; First Democratic presidential debates in Miami — 47; Independence Day — 55; Second Democratic presidential debates in Detroit — 81; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 106; St. Petersburg primary election — 109; UCF Golden Knights open vs. Florida A&M football — 113; FSU Seminoles open vs. Boise State football — 113; Labor Day — 115; “Joker” opens — 147; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 171; Scott Maddox trial begins — 178; 2019 General Election — 179; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon begins — 181; Iowa Caucuses — 269; Florida’s presidential primary — 312; 2020 General Election — 543.


Ron DeSantis signs bill creating Florida’s fifth school voucher program” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s fifth school voucher program creates a path for up to 18,000 more students to receive state scholarships to attend private school and expanding what is already the nation’s largest school-choice effort. The new Family Empowerment Scholarship “will help children realize their potential and give parents the power to do what is best for their children,” DeSantis said on Twitter. The governor touted the new, and controversial, voucher program in cross-state visits to three private Christian schools that take Florida’s other school scholarships, often dubbed vouchers. The new scholarship program is estimated to cost the state $130 million, with the cost per child set at 95 percent of that spent on a public-school education. It will start in the 2019-20 school year.

Tweet, tweet:

School choice advocates celebrate ‘Empowerment Scholarships‘” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — After DeSantis signed into law a massive school choice expansion in Florida, voices involved in various levels of school reform chimed in. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos celebrated the action by Florida’s Governor. “Congratulations to @GovRonDeSantis on signing a historic #EducationFreedom bill in Florida today,” she tweeted. “Florida continues to lead the country in providing students the opportunity to find the right fit for their education!” Former Gov. Jeb Bush celebrated the signing. “Governor DeSantis today cemented his commitment to Florida’s hardworking families and their children and furthered the state’s unparalleled legacy of educational freedom,” he said in a statement.


What DeSantis should be reading — “Montana Governor vetoes bill creating program to train armed guards for schools” via Billings Gazette — Gov. Steve Bullock shot down a bill that would have created a “school marshal” program for training armed guards for public schools … “Even the most experienced, highly trained law enforcement officers can make mistakes, especially when presented with deadly force,” Bullock wrote in a letter explaining the veto. “To put armed, poorly trained school marshals in our schools makes little sense and will not enhance the safety and security of Montana schools.”

What DeSantis chief legal adviser Joe Jacquot should be reading — “Iowa Governor signs bill giving governors more power over Iowa Supreme Court selection” via Des Moines Register — Gov. Kim Reynolds now has even more power over a panel that helps select judges and justices to Iowa’s top courts. She signed legislation Wednesday changing Iowa’s decades-old judicial nominating system. The new law allows the governor to make nine appointments to the state nominating commission that helps choose Iowa Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges, giving Reynolds immediate control over the 17-member panel.

Bill signing collusion?” via Jim Turner and Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — DeSantis’ office announced that he had signed a controversial bill that allows armed classroom teachers. But the governor dismissed a suggestion that the timing of the bill-signing announcement was related to the attention focused on a Donald Trump campaign rally in Panama City Beach. “If you think I engineered a Trump rally to distract from a bill, no, I said I was for the bill from the beginning,” DeSantis replied to a reporter’s question while appearing at the Potter’s House Christian Academy in Jacksonville. “I urged the Legislature to pass it in my State of the State (address).” DeSantis said he was surprised there was any mystery about his plans for the bill, which was formally sent from the Legislature to his desk on Wednesday. He also indicated he might eventually hold a bill-signing event.

Too much winning for ‘Governor Ron?’” Via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Trump told a crowd that his brand of “winning” may have been too much for DeSantis. “Governor Ron, he’d say, ‘President please,’ in the Oval Office, ‘please we’re winning too much, we’re not used to this Mr. President, we’re not used to this,’ ” Trump, whose endorsement of DeSantis in last year’s gubernatorial race helped boost the former congressman to victory, said. “‘For years and years, we’ve been losers, we’ve been losing Mr. President,’” Trump continued to quote DeSantis. “‘Now we’re winning, the people of Florida can’t stand winning so much. Can you maybe pull it back a little bit Mr. President?’” “And I said, ‘No I can’t Ron, I’m sorry,’” Trump said.

Assignment editors — DeSantis will deliver the keynote address at the Florida Highway Patrol 141st Recruit Class Graduation, 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, Christian Heritage Church, 2820 Sharer Rd., Tallahassee. Later, the Governor will give remarks at the investiture ceremony for Supreme Court Justice Barbara Lagoa, 3 p.m. Eastern time, Florida Supreme Court, 500 S. Duval St., Tallahassee.

State Ag Dept. budget has a half-million dollars to destroy illegal pot plants” via Julie Hauserman of Florida Phoenix — The $500,000 is money provided by the federal government for a “domestic marijuana eradication program.” Because of the requirements set by the federal government, the department has the authority to spend $300,000. According to state officials, the money will be used for (among other things) “indoor and outdoor spotter schools to train local law enforcement to detect and eliminate illegal marijuana growing operations,” and “protective clothing and safety supplies, as well as flight hours for helicopters” to hover over the state looking for pot plants. The expenditure is a seemingly odd stance for Nikki Fried, a former lobbyist for the marijuana industry who is now Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Nikki Fried highlights gas pump skimmer fraud — The Democratic Agriculture Commissioner participated in a gas pump skimmer inspection to highlight the growing risk of skimmer fraud across the state and the even higher level of threat in South Florida, her office said. Over the past two weeks, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has found 156 skimmers in gas pumps throughout the state — marking 588 total skimmers found just five months into 2019. “That’s why I want to do more — I’m committed to protecting your pocketbooks and will get more aggressive against these criminals,” Fried said.

One way to prevent skimmers: Look them straight in the eyes. Image via Twitter.


Lawmakers eye change in divvying school money” via the News Service of Florida — Lawmakers passed a budget-related bill (SB 2502) that requires taking steps to revamp what is known as the “District Cost Differential.” The so-called DCD is a price-level index that is supposed to help measure how much it costs to hire teachers and other school employees in different parts of the state. But some school districts complain they get shortchanged and that the state should move to a wage-level index. The bill directs the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Democratic Research to produce a way to calculate each district’s wage-level index and to compare that with the price-level index. The office will be required to submit a “transition plan” to legislative leaders and Gov. Ron DeSantis by Oct. 1.

No hometown handicap for Miami in powerful House Speaker’s first Legislative Session” via David Smiley and Elizabeth Koh of the Miami Herald — South Florida this year claimed among its delegation some of the most powerful leaders in state government, chief among them House Speaker José Oliva. But the Session ended with disappointment on several big issues for some of Miami’s most significant institutions. And successes were at times overshadowed by a civil war that erupted between local and state politicians as the latter pushed conservative priorities that proved polarizing back in their more liberal hometown. At the center of it all was a speaker now halfway through his tenure and ambivalent about how to assert his legislative power.

Speaker José Oliva didn’t have as much juice for South Florida as some expected.

Cities challenge state over wireless law” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — The Florida League Of Cities and three communities have filed a constitutional challenge to a 2017 law dealing with wireless technology. The league and the cities of Fort Walton Beach, Naples and Port Orange filed the lawsuit in Leon County circuit court, contending that the 2017 law infringes on home-rule powers and would lead to an unconstitutional “taking” of city property. The law involves antennas and other equipment that wireless-communications companies need for new 5G technology. Cities contend, in part, that the so-called “small cell” law improperly required them to allow the companies to attach the equipment on such things as municipal light poles and limited the cities to charging $150 a year per pole.

After lobbying, lawmakers allow disgruntled cancer docs to void no-compete language” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A statewide health care measure approved by the Legislature this past Session appears targeted at resolving a specific legal dispute over existing contracts between physicians and their former employer down in Southwest Florida. The provision, adopted as part of a broader reform bill, aims to void noncompete clauses for only certain specialty care providers, who practice in counties that meet particular business profiles during specific periods. Records show that the group that lobbied in support of the measure was directly connected to a quartet of doctors who recently filed a federal lawsuit against their former employer to get out existing agreements under similar circumstances.

What Jeff Brandes is reading — “Oklahoma Governor signs autonomous vehicle bill” via The Oklahoman — Cities and counties are banned from regulating autonomous vehicles, according to legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Kevin Stitt. Senate Bill 365 mandates that state law will supersede any city and county ordinance that “prohibits, restricts or regulates the testing or operation of motor vehicles equipped with driving automation systems.” It also creates definitions for autonomous vehicles, which gives lawmakers a basis for regulation in the future.


A new performance-based funding formula is on the horizon for Florida universities. 

Language tucked into this year’s spending plan directs the State University System Board of Governors to develop a new model for dishing out performance-based funding, which totals $560 million for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The change comes as some schools seek to compete nationwide and as other universities feel shortchanged by the current system. 

At stake: Since 2014, the state has given money to universities based on how they rank, or perform, across a series of metrics. With the latest budget factored in, the state has invested $1.25 billion in performance-based funding over six years.

Evolving model: Florida has made revisions to the current metric system used to evaluate universities. For example, this year marks the first time the old “bottom three” provision won’t prevent the three lowest-performing universities from receiving state investment. 

Better for all: Sen. Bradley noted that any future changes to the model would help Florida’s best universities compete nationally. Rep. Ramon Alexander told us that a more-tailored system would also help lower-performing universities better themselves. 


33 state attorneys general urging Congress to solve marijuana banking mess – but not FL AG Ashley Moody” via Mitch Perry of the Florida Phoenix —A bipartisan group of 33 state attorneys general sent a letter to congressional leaders on Wednesday, urging them to pass legislation to allow states that legalized marijuana to bring that commerce into the banking system. But Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is not among them.

4 Florida counties, including Orange, could be at high risk of measles outbreak, analysis shows” via Naseem Miller of the Orlando Sentinel — Four counties in Florida, including Miami-Dade and Orange, could be at high risk for a measles outbreak this year, according to a new analysis that combines vaccination exemption rates and high levels of international travel to make the predictions. In total, 25 counties across the nation are most at risk for a measles outbreak. Dr. Mark Roberts, director of Public Health Dynamics Lab at the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues recently built a simulation that shows how much larger a measles outbreak could get if the current vaccination rates in Florida dropped by 10 percent. “I don’t think we ought to look at [measles] as an external threat. The real way to protect yourself is to vaccinate,” said Roberts.

NEA issues Florida failing grade for charter school oversight” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The nation’s largest teachers union gave Florida charter schools a failing grade for oversight, and did the same for most states in the union. The National Education Association released a new report, “State Charter Statutes: NEA Report Card,” scrutinizing charter schools nationwide. Teachers looked at the 44 states allowing charters, along with Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. The report card gives all but six states a failing grade. Florida gets a 45 out of 100. Florida Education Association Fedrick Ingram said that goes to show the inequity of charter schools: “The reality is charter schools choose who they teach, and they teach a far smaller percentage of students with disabilities and kids living in poverty than neighborhood public schools,” he said.

Space Florida focuses pitch for military U.S. Space Command” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Faced with daunting competition from Colorado, California, Alabama, and elsewhere, Florida began organizing its proposal to attract the newly authorized military U.S. Space Command, which would prepare for space warfare. “We own the higher ground,” said Space Florida President Frank DiBello. Florida officials may believe they own the higher ground. But Space Florida and its allies, while touting all of Florida’s advantages as if they were chamber or commerce pitches, also had to dismiss press reports that said Colorado was the leading candidate and Florida already had failed to make the first cut. “We know that’s not the case,” said Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez.


This surprises no one —Hillsborough GOP hits financial hard times” via William March for the Tampa Bay Times — According to its campaign finance reports, the party raised $61.43 for its state account in the first three months of 2019. Most of its money goes to a federal account, for which no current report is available, but it’s apparently not faring well, either. The federal account balance dropped from $22,931 Dec. 31 to $15,269 Feb. 28, according to party treasurer’s reports. It dropped further in March to $2,875, according to notes by an attendee. … Party Chairman Jim Waurishuk wouldn’t confirm the figures, saying that would “give our opponents … insight into our efforts and capabilities.”

Ordeal of woman who gave birth in Broward jail cell prompts internal investigation” via Sandra Garcia of the New York Times — The woman, Tammy Jackson, 35, woke up with painful contractions around 3 a.m. on April 10 and started to bang on the door of her Broward County jail cell, screaming for help, said a lawyer representing her, Gordon Weekes Jr. She ended up spending seven hours without medication or seeing a doctor, he said. “She was forced to crouch down and just catch the baby,” Mr. Weekes said in an interview. “That is offensive to humanity for her to have to do that.” The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said that after the delivery, a doctor and two nurses attended to the mother and her baby girl. “Internal Affairs immediately launched an internal investigation into inmate Tammy Jackson’s delivery,” Gina Carter, a spokeswoman for the office, said in a statement.

Lake board rejects nursery’s plan to build housing for nearly 200 migrant workers” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — A plan by an ornamental nursery to build a two-story dormitory in rural Lake County that would house up to 196 temporary farmworkers mostly from Central America was shot down by a county advisory board after scores of residents said it would drag down property values and bring noise to their quiet area. “I’m going to have 200 people living next door to me [if approved]. How does that not affect my quality of life?” asked Rick Pitts, whose home on Raymond Road sits just a few hundred yards from Liner Source plant nursery.

Watch Manatee County’s NAACP president get forcibly removed from a city council meeting” via Sara Nealeigh of the Tampa Bay Times — Rodney Jones, president of the Manatee County chapter of the NAACP, was forcibly removed from a Bradenton City Council meeting after he refused to leave the podium when his time for public comment — which he used to tell council members about a complaint against the Bradenton Police Department — was up. Jones faces charges of disturbing a public meeting and resisting arrest without violence. During the meeting, Jones requested to address the council, but public comment had already ended. He had arrived late and missed the public comment portion of the meeting. Mayor Wayne Poston allowed Jones to speak later, near the end of the meeting.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

3rd DCA denies sanctions against Miami litigator, former Democratic state Rep.” via Daily Business Review — A Florida appellate court has sided with a former Florida House member in a back-and-forth battle over fee motions and sanctions. The 3rd District Court of Appeal issued an opinion affirming Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodney Smith’s decision not to order sanctions against Miami attorney Yolly Roberson … Roberson served as a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives between 2002 and 2010.

Assignment editors — Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz will join Executive Director of Clean PACE Guy McClurkan and Ygrene Managing Director of National Policy, Ben Taube for a news conference highlighting the academic study on the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program in Florida, 1:30 p.m., Stephen P. Clark Government Center, 111 N.W. 1st Street, Miami.

Jane Castor headlines NPR’s on point for her historic landslide victory” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Tampa Mayor Castor again nabbed the national spotlight Thursday in an interview on NPR’s On Point with Meghna Chakrabarti. Castor shied away from praise for her historic win last month while still acknowledging it is a big deal. “I have focused on our city, being the mayor of Tampa and addressing the problems that are significant to our citizens so I don’t see all of the confetti and balloons the way some others see it,” Castor said. Chakrabarti asked if any Democratic presidential candidates have begun posturing for her support given her recent surge in fame. Castor said she hasn’t had that happen yet, but she expects it’s a possibility.


Eglin AFB gets new fighter squadron, Gaetz and Rubio applaud” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Air Force announced Thursday it is sending its next F-35A training squadron to be based at Eglin Air Force Base outside of Fort Walton Beach, leading Republican U.S. Rep. Gaetz and Republican U.S. Sen. Rubio to declare victory. The decision will bring 500 additional military personnel to the area, including pilots, flight instructors, and military contractors, Gaetz and Rubio said. It’s a bit of a trade, however. The Air Force announced that Eglin will only receive the new unit if the F-22 formal training unit that was temporarily operating at Eglin is permanently moved to Virginia.

How Marco Rubio and Matt Gaetz persuaded Donald Trump to shell out $500M in hurricane aid” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — Trump left for a campaign rally in Panama City Beach with nothing to offer the Panhandle toward its recovery from Hurricane Michael. But by the time Air Force One Landed, Gaetz and Rubio persuaded the president to promise his supporters that he would increase the federal share of costs. “[Rubio] told the president a Category 5 storm is something different, and it’s something that has never happened in the Panhandle,” Gaetz told POLITICO. “Our economy has tourism, it has military and it has agricultural, and all three legs of that stool were knocked out.” Rubio told Trump about Michael’s 155-mile-per-hour winds, which had hammered one of the poorest areas of the state. The extraordinary circumstance warranted an extraordinary executive order.

Before Donald Trump’s Panama City Beach rally, Matt Gaetz and Marco Rubio talked him into giving more money for Hurricane Michael recovery.

Truth takes a beating at Trump rally in Panhandle” via The Associated Press — Trump laced his speech a recitation of falsehoods that never quit, touching on veterans’ health care, the economy, visas and more. Trump: “We gave to Puerto Rico $91 billion” — and that’s more, he said, than any U.S. state or entity has received for hurricane aid. The facts: His number is wrong, as is his assertion that the U.S. territory has set some record for federal disaster aid. Congress has so far distributed only about $11 billion for Puerto Rico, not $91 billion. Trump: Boasting that his economic record has delivered the “highest income ever in history for the different groups — highest income.” The Facts: Not so. He did not achieve the best income numbers for all the racial groups.

Rubio to Ben Carson: Hurry up that disaster relief money” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Now that Trump has assured a Florida rally in Panama City that more Hurricane Michael relief money will be coming, Sen. Rubio led a call Thursday for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to hurry up. The letter to HUD Secretary Carson also was signed by U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and seven other Republicans from other states hit by 2018 disasters and awaiting the CDBG rules that Carson must publish. “Northwest Florida’s residents are resilient, but they have waited nearly seven months for critical disaster funding,” Rubio said.

News release (we didn’t read) of the day — “U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has named Rising Tide Car Wash of Parkland and Margate as the U.S. Senate Small Business of the Week.”

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell calls President’s reaction to shooting immigrants ‘dangerous’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — After Trump laughed off a supporter’s comments suggesting immigrants who enter the country illegally should be shot, U.S. Rep. Mucarsel-Powell is now hammering the President, calling his reaction “dangerous.” “When he talks about shooting, I lost my father to gun violence,” Mucarsel-Powell said, recalling her father who was shot to death when she was in her mid-20s. “I take that very seriously. We are in a situation right now in this country [where] we just had another shooting in Denver. He has to be careful,” she said of the President. The comment about shooting immigrants came from a member of the crowd as Trump spoke at a Panama City rally.

Ilhan Omar blamed U.S. for Venezuela crisis; NRCC wants Mucarsel-Powell to comment” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is out with a new digital ad calling on Democratic U.S. Rep. Mucarsel-Powell to address comments made by fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Omar regarding America’s role in the ongoing Venezuela crisis. Mucarsel-Powell has been vocal in her opposition to Nicolás Maduro, who currently controls the country. The U.S., however, has refused to recognize Maduro’s most recent election as legitimate. Trump‘s administration has instead backed the leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as the country’s rightful President. Rep. Omar, of Minnesota, recently blamed the U.S., in part, for the destabilization of Venezuela.

Ted Deutch, Gus Bilirakis back bill to address school shootings” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Days after a deadly shooting at a Colorado high school, a bipartisan group of congressmen have introduced new legislation aiming to help identify school threats, as well as beef up suicide prevention programs within the nation’s schools. Democratic U.S. Rep. Deutch joined his Republican counterpart in Florida, U.S. Rep. Bilirakis, to sponsor the legislation. Also co-sponsoring the bill are U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, a California Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican. The measure, dubbed the Suicide and Threat Assessment Nationally Dedicated to Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act of 2019, aims to “to encourage schools to expand evidence-based suicide prevention training to students in grades 6 through 12,” according to a release.

Judge demands unredacted Mueller report in Roger Stone case” via Darren Samuelsohn of POLITICO — U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a one-paragraph order gave the U.S. attorneys handling the Stone case until Monday to provide her with portions of Mueller’s report that deal with Stone “and/or ‘the dissemination of hacked materials’” that were leaked during the 2016 presidential campaign to the detriment of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Jackson said she wants to review in private those blacked-out sections of the Mueller report as she weighs several motions from Stone’s lawyers requesting access as part of a larger bid to dismiss the case.

— 2020 —

John Morgan to host fundraiser for Joe Biden” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — Morgan confirmed he’d pass the collection plate for Biden’s 2020 run at his home on May 21, but few other details were available. The event is part of a swing through Florida, including a Miami fundraiser the day before. A Morning Consult poll showed Biden with 40 percent, followed by Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders at 19 percent, leading the rest of the trailing pack of more than 20 declared candidates.

John Morgan is passing the hat for Joe Biden this month.

These 4 Democrats dominate the 2020 media primary” via David Siders and Chris Cadelgo of POLITICO — From Jan. 1 to April 30, four candidates — Sanders, Biden, [KamalaHarris and [ElizabethWarren — accounted for more than half the primary field’s traditional news media mentions, according to a data analysis conducted for POLITICO by the media intelligence company Meltwater. And Sanders and Harris together accounted for nearly half of the primary field’s social media footprint. Harris and Warren were surpassed only by Sanders in traditional news media mentions, though they announced their candidacies relatively early in the year, giving them more time to amass coverage.


Democrats’ tolerance of anti-Semitism exposes their intolerance” via Rick Scott for the National Review — The media love to decry the President for everything he says, but they seem to have fallen oddly silent when it comes to the new anti-Semitism on the left. What we saw at The New York Times merely reflects my fear that anti-Semitism is finding a home in America on the far left. Unfortunately, we saw anti-Semitism and hate rear its ugly head in Florida last year. In a major departure from the norm, every major Democratic candidate for President refused to go to the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. This is unprecedented. It turns out that Democratic candidates for President were afraid to offend the sensibilities of the far-left anti-Semites among them.

Turning the toxic tide: Our 5-part playbook for saving Florida’s waters” via the USA TODAY editorial boards — Our only choice is to turn the toxic tide. How do we do that? The USA TODAY Network-Florida has detailed the challenges facing our waterways and called upon elected leaders to embrace a five-pronged approach for solving them: Fix the broken environmental regulatory system in Florida, making sure the priority is to protect our waters — not protect the regulated community from enforcement. Reinvent Florida’s stripped-down approach to managing growth. Fund and finish building long-planned Everglades and estuary restoration projects. Curtail the problem of human waste, including pollution from septic tanks, sewage plants and biosolids Ban offshore drilling in federal waters near Florida’s shores. There has been some progress. But it’s not nearly enough. We still have miles to go.

Coral Nichols: Redemption or lifelong punishment — getting Amendment 4 right” via Florida Politics — Allowing someone a voice, allowing someone to vote, says that we believe they belong, they matter. In the case of formerly incarcerated people, that they have been rehabilitated. How can we use the words redemption and rehabilitation and then say that you don’t get to vote if you can’t pay fines and court costs resulting from your conviction? Who in the Florida Legislature will get to their feet and defend the voice of 5 million people who said they believe in second chances? How do we bring justice and redemption and begin to really change our communities?” The answer, I believe, begins with the voice of the vote.

David Silvers: Fighting for mental health of minors, saving lives” via Florida Politics — House Bills 361 and 363, with Senate companions SB 1418 and SB 838, implement several recommendations by the Baker Act Task Force by allowing medical facilities that admit minors for a medical evaluation under the Baker Act up to 5 days to collect data on the minor and then send the information to DCF. Another recommendation implemented is the creation of a Statewide School Suicide Prevention Program. Finally, the public records exemption bill requires all court records relating to a medical evaluation to be exempt from public records. If the bill is signed into law, it will save lives, as people may be more willing to seek help if they know that their information will remain private and confidential.


New justices’ investiture set for later this year — A joint investiture of Florida Supreme Court Justices Robert Luck and Carlos Muñiz is set for Sept. 24, spokesman Craig Waters said Thursday. It will be held in the main courtroom in Tallahassee. Both justices were appointed to the Court in January by DeSantis. Investitures are the traditional ceremony in which a new judge is formally presented with her or his robe. “The event is open to the public, although overflow crowds are expected,” Waters said. Further details will be announced on the Court’s website and its Facebook Page and Twitter feed as the event draws near, he added.

Spotted — In Asheville, North Carolina at the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee (RLCC) Spring Meeting: State Rep. Paul Renner, (Executive Committee Member), Former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (RSLC Board Member), Tony Cortese (RPOF), Marva Johnson (Charter), Fatima Perez (Koch), Andrea Reilly (JM Family), Kevin Reilly (Geo Group) and Sally West (Walgreens).

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Patsy Eccles, Patsy Eccles & Associates: FreshMinistries

Aimee Lyon, Metz Husband & Daughton: OCA Opportunity Community Ability

RJ Myers, Suskey Consulting: Florida Farm Bureau Federation


Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable panel with State Sen. Darryl Rouson; Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano; columnist and former state Sen. Paula Dockery; and Republican political consultant Adam Goodman.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A look at the 2019 Florida Legislative Session with an in-depth discussion on bills passed. Joining Walker-Torres are state Reps. James Grant, Wengay Newton and Ben Diamond.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: This week’s show features a review of the 2019 Florida Legislative Session, including which bills passed, failed and weren’t considered. Joining hosts Ybeth Bruzual and Al Ruechel are state Sens. David Simmons, Jeff Brandes and Rouson.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon speaks with pollster Steve Vancore, attorney/lobbyist Sean Pittman, lobbyist Screven Watson and News Service of Florida political reporter Dara Kam.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests are Appropriation Chairs Sen. Bradley and Rep. Travis Cummings; Jacksonville City Councilman Tommy Hazouri; and City Council candidate Greg Rachal.


The Bucs’ Jason Pierre-Paul told dispatchers he lost control of his vehicle before crashing. 

911 call: He told dispatchers he “did a 360” and his Ferrari hit a wall on I-95 near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Doctors say he may have suffered a fractured neck.

The Rays and Yankees will face off Friday. 

History says New York might struggle: The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees open a 3-game series tonight at Tropicana Field. The Yankees have had problems winning there. 

With NFL Super Bowl projections out, what’s the point of even playing? 

Chiefs projected to win: ESPN ran its Power Football Index projection for the upcoming season. The Kansas City at 16 percent has the best chance to win the Super Bowl. Defending champion New England has the third-best chance, behind New Orleans. The Miami Dolphins are projected to finish with the worst record in the league.

One of basketball’s finest may be absent from a critical playoff game. 

Kevin Durant unlikely to play: Golden State Warriors star suffered a strained calf muscle in Game 5 of the NBA playoff series with Houston. Reports say he has been all but ruled out of Game 6. The Warriors lead the series 3 games to 2.

It’s coming down to the wire in the NHL playoffs. 

Boston and San Jose favored: A 15-person panel for sided with the Bruins over Carolina in the Eastern Conference final and the Sharks over St. Louis in the West. Of course, this group also overwhelming picked the Tampa Bay Lightning to win it all at the start of the playoffs. Oops.

— ALOE —

Retailers expect record Mother’s Day spending” via Florida Politics — Consumers nationwide are expected to spend $25 billion celebrating Mother’s Day, shattering the high watermark set last year. According to a National Retail Federation survey, 84 percent of U.S. adults are expected to celebrate the holiday this year, with the average person spending $196 — up $16 year-over-year. The prediction bodes well for Florida brick and mortars, according to R. Scott Shalley, the president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “Mother’s Day has traditionally been one of the highest per-person spending events, and this year is no different as we expect records to be broken both locally and nationally,” Shalley said. “Floridians are excited to celebrate mothers, and we are eager to see how retailers respond to this record-setting demand for gifts, jewelry, flowers and more.”

Disney had a good quarter. There’s more to come” via Frank Pallotta of CNN Business — Revenue at the company rose to $14.9 billion, a 3 percent increase compared to a year earlier. Wall Street’s expectations had been slightly lower. The company’s parks, experiences, products division led the way with $6.2 billion in revenue. The film unit took a 15 percent hit compared to a year prior, falling to $2.1 billion. Missing from Disney’s second quarter this fiscal year are multiple blockbuster hits like “Black Panther,” which raked in $1.3 billion last year, and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which opened over the holidays. But the latest figures do include returns from “Captain Marvel,” another film in that franchise.

The clock is ticking in the first official teaser for HBO’s Watchmen” via Beth Elderkin of Gizmodo — HBO has released the first official teaser for Watchmen, showing a reality where superheroes are unlawful, dangerous, and a major threat … but quite possibly the only people who can save the world. Following months of cryptic images and teasers, HBO has finally released the first official teaser trailer for Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen series, which is HBO’s first superhero show. The series stars Regina KingJeremy IronsDon JohnsonTim Blake Nelson, and others as folks trying to get by in a world where vigilantes are seen as dangerous outlaws. If that group of violent Rorschachs is any indication, they may be right.

To watch the trailer, click on the image below:


Happy birthday to the pride of Pensacola, Ryan Wiggins. Also celebrating today is Tom DiGiacomo. And a happy belated birthday to Erica Chanti. Celebrating this weekend are two of my besties, the handsome Alan Suskey (Saturday) and the even better-looking-than-Suskey Brad Swanson (Sunday).

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, Dan McAuliffe, and Drew Wilson.

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, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, 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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