Connect with us

Emails & Opinions

Here’s Brunch, a pop-up, weekend email during the 2020 Legislative Session — 2.9.20

A brunch buffet’s worth of real-time reporting during Session.

Good morning and welcome to the latest edition of Brunch. We’re already prepping our charcuterie board for tonight’s viewing of the Oscars, so let’s dive in today’s edition of your favorite pop-up, weekend email.

🎬 — After the shortest awards season in decades, the 92nd annual Academy Awards will get underway Sunday evening at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The awards will begin to be handed out at 8 p.m., although there are plenty of red carpet shows airing before then. Scroll down to read our friend Gus Corbella‘s predictions about who will take home the statues. We agree with all of his prediction EXCEPT we’ll go against the grain and take Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood” for best picture. Every time we rewatch that film, it gets better.

🏛️ — Gov. Ron DeSantis heads to Washington D.C. to attend a White House dinner, joined by other Governors from across the country and their spouses. The event begins 5:30 p.m., 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.

👱‍♀️ — Now that the impeachment proceedings have ended, look for former A.G. Pam Bondi to leave her position at The White House as early as Friday and return to her lucrative lobbying job at Ballard Partners.

🏆 — Click here to learn who were the Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics.

Now, enjoy brunch!


Former Rep. Sean Shaw came out as an early endorser for Pete Buttigieg. Since that May announcement, the Tampa Democrat has been an all-hands-on-deck surrogate for the former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor. Here’s a glimpse of the front lines of camp Buttigieg.

Still quiet in Florida: “In Florida, we’re used to being the epicenter of politics, but right now, we’re not that important,” Shaw says. Campaign staff in Florida is still light, he adds. Focus instead has been on Iowa and New Hampshire because “if he doesn’t do well in those, he doesn’t even come to Florida.”

Sean Shaw is betting big on Pete Buttigieg. Image via twitter/@SeanShaw.

Holding back? “I’ve been trying to help with finance,” Shaw says. That means tapping donors to make sure Buttigieg’s war chest stays full. Some donors Shaw has relationships declined to contribute early on, but Shaw said with Buttigieg’s strong showing in Iowa, he’s reaching back out in hopes minds have changed now that Buttigieg is a “proven fighter.”

A problem with black voters: “We’ve got to do better. But then I think every candidate who is not Joe Biden also needs to do better,” Shaw says. Shaw said he thinks the problem isn’t about what his candidate would do for the black community, but rather Biden’s high-profile support. Folks know Joe Biden, he acknowledges, but Mayor Pete is just a small-town guy.

A fix: It’s not just about criminal justice reform. “That’s not only single-minded, but it’s also kind of insulting,” Shaw says. Instead, Buttigieg’s campaign will be focusing on getting the word out on his plans to increase pay parity, provide better access to jobs, education and health care, and improving access to homeownership. Shaw is also encouraging Buttigieg to hold more town halls in black communities, a method he says has been successful before.

The final word: “Black people didn’t support Barack Obama until they did.”


Former Rep. Matt Caldwell may have ambitions to be Republican Party of Florida chair, Florida Politics reported this week. But he first needs to win a race for State Committeeman in Lee County. Incumbent Chris Crowley is already fighting back.

On blast: Crowley sent a mass email Friday, and attached a semi-infamous 2016 op-ed from Caldwell published by the Fort Myers News-Press declaring himself a Never Trumper.

Matt Caldwell has a few hurdles to overcome before he even thinks about becoming the RPOF chair.

Like never ever? Caldwell said he became a staunch Trump guy after he beat Marco Rubio for the nomination, but the letter irritates Trump’s loyalists. “I cannot and will not vote for him in the general election,” Caldwell wrote at the time.

Long-standing support: “For the Record: I supported Trump in the 2016 Primary, proudly voted for Trump in the General Election of 2016,” Crowley wrote Friday. “Will again proudly vote for President Trump in 2020.”

The water’s fine: And Crowley also voiced his feelings the RPOF under Joe Gruters‘ leadership has run fine. “As a member of the RPOF Executive Committee, know firsthand the leadership of the RPOF is doing an outstanding job,” he wrote.


E-Verify is a priority for Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Florida GOP wants a comprehensive bill passed that requires public and private employers to use the employment system. This week will tell the tale of what the Senate version looks like.

This one has teeth. The version (SB 664) sponsored by Thonotosassa Republican Sen. Tom Lee. It would go into effect at the beginning of 2021 and includes private employers.

An E-Verify bill is not dead yet, thanks to Tom Lee.

The President speaks. “We have two bills up in this chamber. President Lee’s bill will be up in Judiciary next Wednesday. President [Pro Tempore David] Simmons has been working with the sponsor and the interest holders to reach some sort of balance and allay some of the concerns that myself and others have had in this chamber, and see if we might be able to get somewhere on it,” said Sen. Bill Galvano Thursday after the Senate floor session.

Process: Judiciary would be the first committee stop for the Lee bill, which would have Commerce & Tourism and Rules after. The House version is being tweaked. Though the Rep. Cord Byrd bill has stalled thus far, changes may bring it into play.


A bill increasing fines for raw sewage spills by city utilities boasts the support of Gov. Ron DeSantis this year. But it’s taking an odd path through the Senate.

Redirect: SB 1450 was originally referred to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government, chaired by Debbie Mayfield. But it was just shipped instead to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice.

A bill for harsher penalties on municipal sewage spills is taking an unusual path in the Senate. Image via KSLA.

Food fight? Mayfield didn’t immediately return questions about referring the environmental bill away from a committee with environment in its name. But notably, Mayfield and House sponsor Rep. Randy Fine, both Brevard Republicans, have a long rivalry and eyes on Congress.

Carrying on: Sen. Joe Gruters declines to speculate on the reason for the switch but says he doesn’t care. “It’s gonna be heard,” he said. “It’s one of the Governor’s priorities and one of my top priorities.”

Clock watching: Of course, the clock is running, and subcommittees close-up shop soon.


Motorola Solutions is navigating Session without a legislative lobbying team, a risky move for the communications tech company that was, until recently, expected to develop Florida’s next-gen Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System.

The SLERS saga: The radio deal rivaled most soap operas in twists, turns, court challenges and petty jabs, most of them from rival company L3Harris, which developed the current radio system and had eyes on handling the upgrades.

The battle ended: In 2019, the courts ruled for Motorola, and the company’s lobbying team landed go-ahead proviso language allowing the Department of Management Services to ink the deal.

Motorola whiffed: By not accepting the state-mandated “termination for convenience” clause, Motorola forced DMS’s hand, and the contract was yanked late last year.

Square one: The contract is back up for bid, but it’s not clear whether Motorola will continue efforts to land the near-$700 million contract.

You must be present to win. While Motorola has a formidable lobbyist on retainer in Ken Granger of Capital City Consulting, his expertise lies in the executive branch. If Motorola wants a do-over deal with better terms, they’ll need a presence in the Legislature.


Wearing her go-to footwear — 4-inch stiletto heels — Sen. Lauren Book hopped aboard a treadmill installed in the Capitol plaza level Tuesday to kick off a 42-hour-long walk to honor and advocate for victims of child sexual abuse.

The number is significant, she told those gathered for the start of the event, because there are an estimated 42 million survivors of child sexual abuse living in the U.S.

The long walk: “We’re … walking for more than 42 consecutive hours, day and night, right here in the Capitol, where we know true change takes place,” said Book, who revealed her own abuse at the hands of a caregiver and founded the Lauren’s Kids foundation.” For the two days the walk occurred, the Historic Capitol was lit up in teal, the color associated with sexual assault awareness.

Lauren Book takes to the treadmill — in stiletto heels, no less — to raise awareness of sexual abuse. Image via the Tallahassee Democrat.

Sharing the burden: Walkers signed up in 15-minute increments to support the cause and included several state leaders, including Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried, as well as fellow Senators Aaron Bean, Tom Wright and Annette Taddeo.

Early bird special: Book’s father, uber-lobbyist Ron Book, took an early-bird shift starting at 5 a.m. both days of the walk. Despite racking up million-dollar quarters in his advocacy practice, Book said with the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust and as chairman of Lauren’s Kids are where his heart lies.

A noble cause: “People want to know why I do what I do with my daughter’s foundation … There is nothing I do that’s more important. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing,” he told INFLUENCE Magazine. “If I stop doing all this … and all I did was homelessness and my daughter’s foundation work, I’m a fulfilled individual.”

Cold hard facts. In her introductory remarks, Lauren Book ticked off chilling facts about sexual abuse — one in three girls and one in five boys will become the victim of sexual abuse before their 18th birthday, one in five children who touch a computer will be solicited for sex online. Once abused, survivors can suffer in silence for “months, years and maybe even decades,” she said.

There is an answer. “While the weight of this problem is staggering, the solution is clear,” said Book. “We know that 95% of sexual abuse is preventable with education and awareness, and that survivors can become thrives with guidance and support.”


Rep. Dan Daley, an alumnus of Stoneman Douglas High School, is inviting artist Ian Witlen to the Capitol this week to display his photography collection dedicated to the survivors and victims of the 2018 shooting.

On Feb. 14, 2018, a gunman entered the school and killed 17 people. Another 17 were left injured. Witlen is also an alumnus of Stoneman Douglas. His collection, “Anguish in the Aftermath,” will be displayed on the 4th floor Rotunda of the Capitol leading up to Friday’s anniversary of the attack.

Photojournalist Ian Witlen brings his exhibition “Anguish in the Aftermath: Examining a Mass Shooting” to The Capitol. Image via Coral Springs Museum of Art.

Daley now represents House District 97, which covers portions of Broward County, including Coral Springs. That city neighbors Parkland and is home to many victims’ families.

— “While time has passed, the pain that my community felt that day has not,” Daley said. “It is my hope that this exhibit will remind all of us of the value of life and the need to care for each other.”

— “Anguish in the Aftermath” features photos of students, teachers, and victims’ family members. Those interviewed were asked two questions: “What was your experience that day?” and “What would you like to see come of it?”

“This work is distinct by connecting people to something raw and visceral that illustrates what those have endured,” Witlen added. “I’m hoping my work connects viewers with how an event like this truly affects people in our society. This project is completely apolitical.”


Sen. Aaron Bean is known for his candy giveaways. Now in its 14th year, Bean sometimes drops as many as 500 bars, each having a topical theme and signed with a “Go get ’em” style message.

The Fernandina Beach Republican recently talked about his confectionary commitment:

‘A good idea.’ Bean’s inspiration for themes comes down to that. “It’s not always planned. People are always giving me ideas.”

In Senate Chambers, Aaron Bean is the candy man.

— Gratitude. The bars are ways to say thank you … “to all members of the House and Senate, but also staff, from housekeeping to bill drafting … to put a smile on a recipient’s face.”

New year, new bar. “Past themes have included Star Wars, Magnum PI, Duck Dynasty, and Dancing with the Stars.”

Best bar, though? “Game of Thrones,” Bean says. “It was the first time I had a real beard.”


Skits, songs, videos and more poking fun at your favorite politicians and lobbyists return as the Capitol Press Club of Florida put on the 2020 Press Skits.

Think of the kids: The (sometimes) annual fundraiser goes toward the Barbara L. Frye college scholarships for young aspiring journalists. Maybe in a few years, one of these kids will be writing Sunburn for you.

The Florida Capitol Press Corps hits the boards for a good cause.

A time-honored tradition: In years past, Gov. Jeb Bush orchestrated a sit-in, and Gov. Charlie Crist gave the opening monologue. Don’t expect Gov. Ron DeSantis this year, but the House, Senate and CFO’s offices have shot hilarious videos. And we hear A.G. Ashley Moody makes a cameo.

Familiar faces: Your three Florida Politics Tallahassee correspondents play vital roles. Come show your appreciation and say hello!

Raising funds: General admission is $30, and floor tickets are $70. Reserve your tickets now through The Moon.

For the GPS: Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, at The Moon, 1105 E. Lafayette St, Tallahassee. The show kicks off at 7:30 p.m.


Awards season ends Sunday night with the 92nd Academy Awards.

— When it comes to the Oscars and popular entertainment in general, few people are more knowledgeable than lobbyist — and longtime lover of the arts and film — Corbella of Greenberg Traurig. We asked Corbella for some hot takes on who he thinks will win (and who really SHOULD win) in each of the major categories.

— Best Picture: Will win: “1917.” The World War I epic is surefire Oscar bait. Should win: “Parasite” The Korean masterpiece was this year’s best, an opus drama about greed and the ever-growing social and economic chasms of our world today.

Roll out the red carpet, tonight’s the night!

Best Director: Will win: Sam Mendes. “1917” is a major cinematic/technical feat. Should win: Bong Joon Ho for “Parasite.” Cast, cinematography and direction were all stellar.

Best Actor: Will win: Joaquin Phoenix for “Joker.” Phoenix is gifted, although some disagree this role is Oscar’s best. Should win: Antonio Banderas for “Pain and Glory.” Surprisingly, it’s Banderas’ first Oscar nomination and would be the upset of the night.

Best Actress: Will/Should win: Renée Zellweger for “Judy.” Hollywood loves itself a biopic, and when it’s about one of its own, then you can bet that’s where the Oscar will go.

Best Supporting Actor: Will/Should win: Brad Pitt for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Pitt is the Redford of our era and will take home the statue (although I think Ray Liotta should have been nominated for his hilarious turn as a divorce attorney in “Marriage Story”)

Best Supporting Actress: Will/Should win: Laura Dern for “Marriage Story” Speaking of divorce attorneys, Dern will get the nod for her role as one in Netflix’s biggest win of the night.

— International Feature: Will win: “Parasite” will rightly win, although awarding it best international feature will allow the Academy to bypass giving it the coveted Best Picture award. Should win: Honeyland. You’ve probably not seen this incredible documentary about a Macedonian beekeeper and her troublemaking neighbors, but you should. The fact it was nominated for both Best International Feature and Best Documentary should convince you to do so.

— Documentary: Will win: “American Factory” Netflix will take the Oscar for this doc of Chinese investment in the Rust Belt of America. Should win: “Honeyland” This beautiful film’s double-loss will be the greatest travesty of the night.


Valentine’s Day will soon be here, so why not start the day with something a little sinful — like homemade chocolates, luscious cakes, colorful macaroons and croissants you and your love can share at this cozy French bakery and cafe.

Start the day with a little sinful indulgence at Au Peche Mignon. Image via Rochelle Koff.

— Setting: Au Peche Mignon, or “A Little Sin,” is casual but quaint, with a few tables outside and both counter and table seating inside. Joseph and Lisa Gans opened the original Au Peche Mignon French Pastry Shop in 1991 in the Market Square area but now they solely operate their downtown location.

 — The menu: The Gans serves breakfast and lunch items as well as baked goods. A highlight at either meal is their petite quiche. I recently ordered the champignon with bell peppers, garlic, Gruyère and provolone cheese as well as mushrooms. Other choices are Brie fleur with cauliflower and traditional quiche Lorraine and salads and sandwiches are also available. It’s hard to leave Au Peche Mignon without a treat. Sweet, colorful and gluten-free macarons are a favorite and délicieux.

The deets:

Hours: Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.

GPS: 220 N. Duval St.

Phone: 850-668-5533

Written By

Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.

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, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.