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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.29.20

Up and at ’em: Here’s your scoops and other stories driving the day in Florida politics.

A new analysis shows what most in the Process already figured, political contributions are significantly down in the age of coronavirus. 

Contribution Link, a political data, analytics, and intelligence firm helmed by Brecht Heuchan, analyzed data from past election cycles and compared fundraising pre-COVID-19 to this election cycle. 

The analysis found contributions to House and Senate candidates and political committees are down $18.5 million this year, a stunning 65% plummet. 

Contribution Link used a ten-week target window in the weeks immediately following Legislative Sessions in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 and compared them to the same target window this year. 

The data also found Senate candidates saw a 65% reduction in contributions while House candidates dropped just 37%. Republicans were hit harder, dropping 74% compared to a 64% drop for Democrats. PACs went from an average of $20.7 million in contributions to just $7.7 million, a 63% decrease. 

For many, the analysis only confirms what was already expected. Coronavirus precautions forced most to stay home and part of the ten-week target window happened during a statewide stay-at-home order. That left candidates unable to host traditional fundraising events.

Further, making the ask while so many Floridians were out of work seemed an unsavory act, leading most candidates almost entirely halting fundraising activity. 

The lingering question is what that can only be answered with time. Is this phenomenon a one-time anomaly or have donors’ political priorities and donation goals shifted forever?

Those answers may begin to emerge in 2022, likely long after the coronavirus crisis has abated and recovery is well underway. But that’s a complicated year unto itself. Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Cabinet will all be up for reelection. All U.S. House of Representatives seats will be on the ballot, Sen. Marco Rubio will be up for reelection and state House and Senate candidates will face races in newly redistricted maps. 


Sometimes you just have to take a break and enjoy life, especially in this time of coronavirus.

Communications pro Edie Ousley is wholeheartedly embracing that attitude, announcing she will be taking a summer sabbatical from her position as vice president of Public Affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Edie Ousley is taking this summer to enjoy life. Color us envious.

“I’m in a different season of my life, and while I still have many years to give my all at doing what I love,” Ousley says in a Chamber statement. “I’m going to stop and smell the roses, spend time with my husband and enjoy the five generations in my life while my matriarch 95-year-old grandmother is still around.”

Adds the longtime veteran adviser, who has more than two decades of communications experience: “COVID-19 has put things into greater perspective, and now is the right time to take a break and enjoy what life has blessed me with.” 

Ousley’s leave will begin July 6, giving, in her words: “An opportunity for me to enjoy the summer with family, and to refresh for the future.”

All of us at Florida Politics wish her the best summer vacation and expect to hear more from her very soon (but not too soon).


Welcome to the world Ronin Theodore Eagle was born at 12:53 p.m. Friday to parents Brooke and Rep. Dane Eagle. Everyone — baby and first-time parents — are doing awesome. Congratulations!

Happy birthday to Ronin Theodore Eagle and congrats to parents Brooke and Dane Eagle.


Happy 39th birthday to our dear friend, Sarah Bascom of Bascom Communications and Consulting.


@Liz_Cheney: If reporting about Russian bounties on US forces is true, the White House must explain: 1. Why weren’t the president or vice president briefed? Was the info in the PDB? 2. Who did know and when? 3. What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?

Tweet, tweet:

@PeterAlexander: More than 70K Americans have died of COVID-19 since the last White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing nearly two months ago.

—@Ryan_the_ryan: Wouldn’t it be crazy if halfway through CONTAGION Matt Damon went to a bar

@Mattyglesias: Some governors are acting more responsibly than others, but the basic fact is that every single governor is operating under a fiscal policy gun aimed by [Donald] Trump & [Mitch] McConnell at pressuring them to generate tax revenue with insufficient restrictions on bars & restaurants

@MaryEllenKlas: .@GovRonDeSantis repeats statement that the state is seeing more people testing positive who are ‘asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.’ Will he tell us what the state is doing to contact and trace those people? What messaging is aimed to urge people w/no symptoms to get tested?

@DickieV: I don’t get it as over 9 thousand in Florida today tested positive for COVID-19 yet tonight on Siesta Key people were not social distancing & very few masks. Ppl, let’s get REAL & do not be selfish WEAR MASKS/WASH HANDS & SOCIAL DISTANCING r a MUST The numbers r not lying.

@JoeMobleyJax: Last Sunday, Florida had the lowest number of deaths in months and I couldn’t find one article. Now, every article I read has “record-breaking,” or something similar in the headline. If you think you aren’t being fed fear porn, you’re lying to yourself. Take personal responsibility, but don’t let the media paralyze you.

@TateReeves: The legislature has been deadlocked for days as it considers a new state flag. The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it’s time to end it. If they send me a bill this weekend, I will sign it.


NBA training camp begins — 1; Vice President Mike Pence to visit Florida (tour canceled/meeting with Gov. DeSantis) — 3; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 4; NBA teams travel to Orlando — 8; Major League Soccer will return to action — 9; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 12; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 16; Federal taxes due — 16; MLB 60-game season begins — 24; TED conference rescheduled — 28; Christopher Nolan’s NBA season restart in Orlando — 34; “Tenet” premieres (rescheduled) — 44; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 51; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 52; “Mulan” premieres (rescheduled) — 53; NBA draft lottery — 57; Indy 500 rescheduled — 57; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 59; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 62; U.S. Open begins — 65; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 69; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 71; Rescheduled date for French Open — 93; First presidential debate in Indiana — 97; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 97; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 98; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 105; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 107; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 110; NBA draft — 110; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 111; NBA free agency — 113; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 119; 2020 General Election — 129; “Black Widow” premieres — 133; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 136; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 144; “No Time to Die” premieres — 151; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 158; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 200; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 226; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 391; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 400; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 496; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 594; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 636; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 678; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 832.


Ron DeSantis says everything’s all right with Florida’s pandemic response” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis said Sunday the state remains on the right track in its response to the coronavirus outbreak despite a mounting number of new cases. But Florida Democrats slammed him in a new ad for saying “Nothing has changed” with the pandemic. DeSantis again brushed aside questions about whether he would consider scaling back his reopening of the economy, saying he would rather have businesses open and complying with the rules than closed. His comments came as Florida reported 8,530 new coronavirus positive tests on Sunday, a day after the state set a record for a single-day increase with Saturday’s 9,585 reported cases.

Nothing to see here, says Ron DeSantis.

Florida COVID cases up fivefold in two weeks: ‘The numbers are scary’” via Frances Robles of The New York Times — As fear subsided, coronavirus grew. Officials have done little so far to halt public interactions. The Mayor of one affluent Miami suburb implored residents this week to stop throwing house parties. Miami-Dade and Broward counties chose to close its beaches for the busy Fourth of July weekend. Mariely Ferraro, a heart-monitor technician who lives in Orlando, caught COVID-19 seven weeks ago and has been unable to shake it. “I think the situation in Florida is scary. The numbers are climbing, and the numbers are scary. I wish there was a way that it could be explained. If there were 9,000 people in one day, are they symptomatic? Do they have fevers? Are they sick?”

As Florida’s COVID-19 numbers jump to record levels again, bars ordered to stop alcohol sales while governor resists mask requirements” via Frank Gluck of Florida Today — Any illusions that COVID-19 would diminish as Florida reopened were dashed as the state reported a record 8,942 new cases, a 62% increase over the previous daily record of 5,508 reported Wednesday. The numbers rival those seen in New York in March and April during the peak of virus infections in that hard-hit state when daily numbers reached 10,000 positive cases. The news coincided with a state Department of Business and Professional Regulation announcement that it was suspending alcohol sales statewide at bars. DeSantis blamed the sharp rise in cases on increased testing and younger people who, he claims, are shunning masks and congregating in unhealthy ways.

Florida babies are getting the coronavirus at a high rate in June, with hospitalizations up” via Joshua Solomon of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Infants and young children are rapidly catching the coronavirus and increasingly ending up in the hospital this month, according to an analysis of data from the Florida Department of Health. Since June 1, more than 1,100 children 4 and younger have been diagnosed with the coronavirus — accounting for 70% of the total cases in the age group.

In Florida hospitals, lessons learned from more than 3,300 deaths” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The lessons learned from more than 3,300 coronavirus deaths now guide the health response to a mysterious virus that may still be in its infancy. Health experts once sounded the alarm that we’d run out of ventilators. They now realize that they used this invasive, last resort procedure far more often than they should have. Florida doctors discovered early on that people on ventilators tend to stay on them for a long time and complications often arise. They learned that many coronavirus patients can survive at low oxygen levels without breathing assistance, and they no longer rush to intubate those patients. Patients are also younger and healthier now.

IHME model: Mask compliance could save 8K Floridians’ lives” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Florida could save nearly 8,000 lives by October by implementing mask orders, according to the latest update from one modeling group once touted by the White House. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Florida is on track for 15,393 deaths by Oct. 1. If 95% of the population wears masks in public, the Sunshine State would only see 7,525 fatalities, or fewer than 50% of current projections, by that date. And if the state continues its reopening process, 16,871 Floridians could die. Those three projections fall below what the model predicted last week, when it said 18,675 Floridians could die by Oct. 1.

Florida revenues plummet after the coronavirus shutdown” via The Associated Press — Florida’s economy is taking a hit because of the coronavirus, according to a revenue report released by the state Senate president. Republican Senate President Bill Galvano sent a memo to senators saying the state’s revenue in the month of April was down about $780 million from what was originally predicted. That includes sales taxes that were about $695 million below predictions. The Legislature approved a $93 billion budget in March, just as the state was shutting down due to the pandemic. Republican DeSantis has until Tuesday to sign the budget for the fiscal year that begins Wednesday, and it’s expected he’s going to heavily use his power to veto individual items in the spending plan.

Business regulation chief Halsey Beshears apologetically defends bar restrictions” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Since announcing bar closures until the COVID-19 resurgence subsides, Beshears has taken to Twitter to defend and explain the reversal. DeSantis had told Floridians the last two weeks that the Sunshine State wouldn’t renege on its reopening plans even as the pandemic skyrocketed in new and old hot spots. However, Friday’s restrictions mark the first reopening reversal by his administration, coming just three weeks after bars reopened. Over the weekend, Beshears tweeted explanations and clarifications to his emergency order. Taprooms and breweries will follow the same restrictions, but restaurant-bars will not.

Halsey Beshears defends closing Florida bars again.

Mask mandates face GOP resistance across Florida” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Wearing masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus has become the latest hot button issue in the culture wars, and the debate is heating up in Florida as the state experiences a big spike in coronavirus cases. The surging caseload has led to a wave of new mask regulations across the state. Masks are now required in certain public settings in Tampa, Miami, St. Petersburg, Orlando, and a number of other Florida cities and counties. Most of the Florida communities with new mask rules are controlled by Democrats, who tend to be more concentrated in larger urban areas where the coronavirus often is more prevalent, but they also have been much more willing to embrace mask-wearing.

Happening today — The Florida Senate Democratic Caucus will hold a Zoom news conference to talk about the surge in COVID-19 cases, 1 p.m. Livestreamed at The media can request access at

Families plead for Florida to find safe way for nursing home visits” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — With no end in sight to the coronavirus lockdown at Florida’s senior-care facilities, family members and their advocates are pleading with Gov. DeSantis to find a safe way to allow limited, in-person visits with loved ones — as 17 other states have already announced plans to do. The move is critical to keep the emotional well-being of elderly, frail residents from deteriorating further, supporters claim.


All Jacksonville Fire and Rescue personnel being tested for COVID-19” via Teresa Stepzinski of The Florida Times-Union — All Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department personnel are being tested for COVID-19 as a precaution after 214 firefighters are in self-quarantine because of exposure during the pandemic. Mayor Lenny Curry announced the testing Saturday night on Twitter. “As I stated last night, [Friday] our ability to protect and serve our citizens is reliant on keeping our first responders healthy. Today [Saturday] we began the testing of the entire fire department,” Curry said. Curry announced Friday night that in all, 14 JFRD firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19. The conditions of those firefighters have not been disclosed. Curry said that 77 firefighters were in quarantine following positive tests for three firefighters.

Lenny Curry says all Jacksonville firefighters will be tested for COVID-19.

State reports Jacksonville nursing home up to 20 COVID-19 deaths” via Clayton Freeman of The Florida Times-Union — Signature Healthcare of Jacksonville, located in the Hyde Park neighborhood, was listed with 20 deaths, the most for any Duval County nursing home, in the health department’s weekly report on COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities. The report is traditionally released on Friday nights, but was delayed until Saturday morning for reasons unknown. Signature Healthcare, which was listed with 19 deaths as of last week’s report, added another death this week. The date of that death was not disclosed, nor was any detail about the victim.

Customer purposefully coughs on Jacksonville woman at St. Johns Town Center store” via The Florida Times-Union — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Heather Sprague said her trip out to St. Johns Town Center was a rare one. The brain tumor patient has a compromised immune system, and is now left a little concerned after a customer purposefully coughed on her inside Pier 1. “I was a little bit stunned when she invaded my personal space.” Sprague said the angry customer invaded her personal space right after she began documenting it. “I wanted her to know she was being held accountable for her actions,” she explained. “Within 30 seconds of filming her tirade was done and she left the poor staff in peace,” she wrote.

Broward County beaches to close for July Fourth weekend” via Rafael Olmeda, Susannah Bryan and Austin Erblat of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward County is taking drastic action to stop the spread: All beaches will be closed for the Fourth of July weekend. Miami-Dade has already announced plans to close its beaches for the upcoming holiday. And Palm Beach County might be next. “The overriding sentiment is we have to keep our people safe,” Broward Mayor Dale V.C. Holness said. “And the beaches will be overrun because Miami-Dade is closing their beaches.” The planned beach closures come as Florida is facing a series of record-high daily coronavirus totals, leading local government officials to enact new restrictions to help slow the spread.

Keep schools online this fall, Palm Beach teachers union urges” via Rafael Olmeda and Marc Freeman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Palm Beach County’s teacher’s union is urging the school district to keep kids off campuses when the school year starts in August until health officials say it’s safe for everyone to come back. South Florida’s school districts have been struggling to address what the next school year is going to look like, with options ranging from a full return to classrooms regardless of the spread of COVID-19 to the all-virtual class format that closed out the last academic year. Broward schools are asking parents to weigh in on which option they prefer, including a hybrid model that staggers in-person attendance for students throughout the week, with the other days spent learning online.

Black, Hispanic parents much more reluctant to send kids back to school, district survey shows” via Andrew Marra of the Palm Beach Post — Black parents were twice as likely as white parents to say they expected not to send their children to campus if full-time classes resume Aug. 10, a Palm Beach Post analysis of school district survey results shows. Hispanic parents were about 50 percent more likely than white parents to say so. The feedback was collected from 66,000 parents before this week’s record-breaking spike. Overall, 66% of parents who identified themselves as white said they were likely or highly likely to send their children to school if full-time classes resume with social distancing measures. Thirty-nine percent of Black parents and 45% of Hispanic parents said they were inclined to do so.

Belen priest asked graduates to take off masks to sing. That was edited out of video.” via Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — During the Belen Jesuit Preparatory School’s graduation mass June 15, school president Fr. Guillermo M. García-Tuñón asked the congregation to remove their masks to sing a song in prayer. That two-hour mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Doral was streamed live and uploaded to YouTube. A day later, the same video was uploaded with García-Tuñón’s request edited out, replaced with a conspicuous jump cut. School spokeswoman Teresa Martinez confirmed that García-Tuñón did make that request, and the video was edited.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Leaders shut off the Florida Keys to visitors for weeks. Now, COVID-19 cases are rising“ via Gwen Filosa and Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Three weeks ago, the COVID-19 rate also was low. With visitors shut out, Keys leaders hoped the virus would be, too. Fast-forward to now, and many tourists are back. They’re spreading out on the beaches, filling the restaurants, at least to the new limited capacity, and strolling Duval Street. The coronavirus numbers are up, too. In the past two weeks, 81 cases have been added to the Keys total. The prior two-week period saw 13 additional cases. Two weeks ago, the Keys started seeing a spike in coronavirus cases, after months of a new case here and there. The region wasn’t spared deaths, with four since the pandemic started, but the impact was nothing like the rest of South Florida.

’We live from the tourist’: Orlando workers face virus’s fallout” via Eve Edelheit and Brooks Barnes of The New York Times — Few areas of the country rely on tourism more than central Florida, which is home to Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal, Gatorland, Legoland and a plethora of smaller attractions. An estimated 250,000 people work in the leisure and hospitality industries, accounting for 25 percent of jobs in the area. Most workers whose livelihood depends on Orlando’s ability to attract tourists in large numbers have managed to get by as the amusement economy shut down around them — though for some it has been a struggle. Recent weeks have brought a new kind of purgatory for tourism workers in the region. Will spiking coronavirus cases in Florida halt the reopening that was beginning to happen?

The pandemic made them homeless. Post readers helped.” via Greg Jaffe of The Washington Post — A Kissimmee, FL, family, forced from their home by the coronavirus pandemic and living in their car, has received a potentially life-changing outpouring of support from around the world following a story in The Washington Post. Since the story appeared on June 6, more than 1,900 people from across the United States as well as Australia, Switzerland, Kuwait, Canada and the United Kingdom have donated in excess of $130,000 to the family’s GoFundMe fundraising page.

Saturday brings largest single-day spike in Leon County coronavirus” via CD Davidson-Hiers of the Tallahassee Democrat — In what is now the largest single-day jump of confirmed coronavirus cases, Leon County has 775 people who have tested positive for COVID-19. Overnight, that’s 80 more cases added Saturday to the Florida Department of Health’s daily report than were documented Friday. A majority of the new cases affect people in their 20s and younger. In neighboring Gadsden County, the Department of Health reported the death of an 83-year-old man. His case was first recorded on June 22 and it is unclear how he contracted the virus. Gadsden currently has 361 cases. Seven people have died of complications due to the virus.

Increases in COVID-19 cases are starting to strain area NWFL hospitals” via Tom McLaughlin of the NWF Daily News — While the number of COVID-19 cases continues to skyrocket in Okaloosa County, the strain on area hospitals is reaching a critical stage. A report released by county Public Safety Director Patrick Maddox stated that all but eight of the county’s 54 intensive care unit beds are presently occupied, and nine of those beds are being utilized by COVID-19 patients. “Okaloosa ICU capacity is rated extremely low,” Okaloosa County Health Department Director Dr. Karen Chapman warned in a recent statement. “A large outbreak in a long-term care facility of COVID-19 could quickly strain our hospital ICU bed capacity.” While the vast majority of patients occupying ICU beds are not COVID-19 patients, the number of those who are has increased dramatically in just the last 10 days.


After asking Americans to sacrifice in shutdown, leaders failed to control virus” via Sabrina Tavernise, Frances Robles and Louis Keene of The New York Times — The number of new U.S. cases this last week surged dangerously high, to levels not ever seen in the course of the pandemic, especially in states that had rushed to reopen their economies. The result has been a realization for many Americans that however much they have yearned for a return to normalcy, their leaders have failed to control the coronavirus pandemic. Even states that did embark on ambitious plans to do contact tracing struggled. In Florida and Texas, governors closed bars on Friday, as they scrambled to control what appeared to be a brewing public health catastrophe.

Our leaders asked for sacrifice but failed to lead.

Leaders reexamine U.S. reopenings as coronavirus cases hit another record” via Patricia Mazzei, Sarah Mervosh and Shawn Hubler of The New York Times — As coronavirus cases surge across much of the United States, leaders are urgently rethinking their strategies to curb the spread, which the nation’s top infectious disease expert said were “not working.” For the first time, some governors are backtracking on reopening their states, issuing new restrictions for parts of the economy that had resumed. Leaders in Texas and Florida abruptly set new restrictions on bars, a reversal that appeared unthinkable just days ago. And Gov. Gavin Newsom of California told rural Imperial County, where hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients, that it must reinstate a stay-at-home order, the most restrictive of requirements.

Young people urged to take virus more seriously as pandemic worsens in U.S.” via Annie Gowen, Arelis R. Hernández and Lori Rozsa of The Washington Post — Health officials are imploring young people to wear masks and practice social distancing as coronavirus transmission among younger Americans continues to drive record outbreaks in several states. The pleas come as governors in Texas and Florida instituted new limits on bars and alcohol consumption to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. “Younger Americans have a particular responsibility to make sure that they’re not carrying the coronavirus into settings where they would expose the most vulnerable,” Pence said. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said younger people are often asymptomatic or have mild symptoms but can easily spread the virus to older or immune-compromised patients.

‘Don’t be a sheep’: Sheriffs rebel against new statewide mask requirements” via Teo Armus of My SA — Hours after Gov. Jay Inslee, ordered Washington state residents to cover their faces in public, a Republican sheriff in a rural swath of the state’s southwest suggested they should be doing no such thing. “Here’s what I say,” Lewis County Sheriff Robert Snaza told the crowd outside a church, carrying a megaphone and sporting his green and beige uniform but no face mask. “Don’t be a sheep.” Few of the people cheering on Snaza covered their faces either, according to a video of the scene. Indeed, the words on a billboard above the crowd seemed to capture their feeling about the pandemic: “Oh, no! A virus. Quick — burn the bill of rights.” Dozens of sheriffs like Snaza are staging a rebellion against state governments. Adherence to their interpretation of Constitution, they say, comes before any kind of public health advice.

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci wears a face mask as he waits to testify before a House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Image via AP.

U.S. ‘likely’ to see shortage of pharmaceutical drugs if coronavirus outbreak continues, intelligence report finds” via Olivia Rubin and Josh Margolin of ABC News — With coronavirus outbreaks continuing to spread across the world, the United States is “likely” to see a shortage of generic pharmaceutical drugs, according to a new federal intelligence report. The report, prepared by the Department of Homeland Security, warned that the U.S. is already seeing shortages of more than 200 drugs and medical supplies due to strains on the supply chain caused by international shutdowns early on in the pandemic. Those shortages would only be made worse should unchecked outbreaks force yet another round of widespread shutdowns. The warning comes as officials in some states have already halted some reopening plans or closed back down.

Pregnant women with COVID-19 are 5 times more likely to be hospitalized” via Grace Hauck and Elizabeth Weise of USA Today — Pregnant women may be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with nonpregnant women. The good news is that pregnant women who are infected with COVID-19 aren’t at any greater risk of death than women who aren’t pregnant. The worse news is that infected pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized and are at increased risk for ICU admission and to require mechanical ventilation. About 32% of pregnant women were reported to have been hospitalized, compared with about 6% of nonpregnant women. There’s no data on how a COVID-19 infection affects a woman’s pregnancy or the health outcomes of their babies.


Next U.S. jobs report set to be even more confusing than May’s” via Reade Pickert of Bloomberg — The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which publishes the widely-watched monthly figures on the world’s largest economy, is taking additional steps to solve data-collection issues that since March have resulted in an official unemployment rate that appears to understate the true scale of joblessness in America. The official June jobless rate would be tricky to compare with May’s. And if the unemployed are counted properly, it could very well result in an increase in the official rate from the previous month, even if the reality is that joblessness fell in June, as many economists expect.

Airbnb CEO: Travel may never be the same” via Mike Allen of Axios — Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky sees a future where people travel much more within their own countries, possibly for longer stays. “I will go on the record to say that travel will never, ever go back to the way it was pre-COVID; it just won’t,” Chesky told Kia Kokalitcheva and me by Zoom from his home in San Francisco. Chesky, said Airbnb data shows these trends: “People are not getting on airplanes, they’re not crossing borders, they’re not meaningfully traveling to cities, they’re not traveling for business.” “They’re getting in cars. They’re traveling to communities that are 200 miles away or less. These are usually very small communities. They’re staying in homes and they’re staying longer.”

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky says travel may never be the same.

The pandemic is doing to credit cards what iTunes did to CDs” via Mike Murphy of Protocol — People who rarely bought things online are now ordering all their groceries via Instacart, and the few times they’ve gone outside they’ve likely also turned to digital and contactless payment methods. Much of that behavior is likely to stick around once life returns to normal. The trend away from cash and plastic toward digital payments was well underway before the pandemic. But plastic cards may soon be a relic in much the same way that someone who still collects CDs is seen as anachronistic. Even countries that don’t have the digital infrastructure of Square terminals and contactless receivers are going digital, through QR codes, wearables and simple smartphones.


How the world missed COVID-19’s silent spread” via Matt Apuzzo, Selam Gebrekidan and David D. Kirkpatrick of The New York Times — Camilla Rothe was about to leave for dinner when the government laboratory called with the surprising test result. She had just discovered Germany’s first case of the new coronavirus. But the diagnosis made no sense. Her patient, a business owner from a nearby auto parts company, could have been infected by only one person: a colleague visiting from China. And that colleague should not have been contagious. The visitor had seemed perfectly healthy during her stay in Germany. No coughing or sneezing, no signs of fatigue or fever during two days of long meetings. Scientists at the time believed that only people with symptoms could spread the coronavirus. Interviews with doctors and public health officials in more than a dozen countries show that for two crucial months Western health officials and political leaders played down or denied the risk of symptomless spreading.

Due to asymptomatic carriers, the silent spread of COVID-19 went undetected by many — until it was too late.

More than 500,000 people have died from coronavirus worldwide as infections continue to surge” via William Feuer of CNBC — The coronavirus has now killed more than 500,000 people around the world as the number of confirmed infections exceeded 10 million. The United States accounts for more than 20% of all reported deaths caused by COVID-19, more than any other country in the world. Earlier this month, the World Health Organization warned the pandemic is accelerating on a global level, adding that the outbreak has entered a “new and dangerous phase.” There are still no drugs approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19. However, researchers have found some success in hastening recovery among patients with Gilead’s remdesivir.

Europe prepares to reopen to foreign travelers, but Americans don’t even figure into the discussion” via Michael Birnbaum and Quentin Ariès of The Washington Post — European diplomats are poised to approve an agreement on which foreign travelers they want to welcome starting July 1 as the European Union reopens its external borders for the first time since March. But with the coronavirus still raging in the United States, the possibility of allowing American tourists hasn’t even figured into the discussion, according to six diplomats familiar with the talks. E.U. countries were among the world’s hardest-hit by the pandemic this spring, but most now have the virus under control and have been willing to consider opening their borders to other countries where the novel coronavirus is similarly in check. The decision underscores the perception here that the United States has failed in its coronavirus response.

U.K. tour operator scraps Florida visits over Disney measures” via The Associated Press — Europe’s biggest travel and tourism company, TUI, is canceling all holidays to Florida from the U.K. until December following the introduction of new hygiene rules at Walt Disney World Resort, including the mandatory use of face coverings. The firm said it made the decision because the new regulations would “significantly impact the holiday experience” for its customers. TUI said it “commits to only operating holidays where it’s able to guarantee an enjoyable, relaxing and safe holiday without significant changes at their destination.” Customers are being offered alternatives, including delaying their trip until next year or changing their destination. TUI is also offering a full refund.

Tour operators are scrapping trips to Walt Disney World until the COVID-19 pandemic settles down.

In search of lost time” via Mary Laura Philpott of The Washington Post — Getting back on track in fits and starts and, eventually, a crush of makeup dates comes with its own disorienting kind of stress. We have entered the rescheduling phase of the pandemic: Nothing is happening when it’s supposed to, but it all has to happen sometime. Trying to restart the parts of life that have been on hold because of the pandemic feels more like doing a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle while the picture on the box keeps changing. Most of us have had our timetables scrambled before. We’ve adjusted our path forward as necessary, and we can do it again. We’ll just need to swap pen for pencil as we make plans.


Twelve minutes and a life” via Mitchell S. Jackson of Runner’s World — Ahmaud “Maud” Arbery jogged alone on the day he was killed. A buckshot blast hit Maud in the chest, puncturing his right lung, ribs, and sternum. Per the police report, Gregory McMichael rolls Maud from prostrate to his back to check for a weapon. He checks despite the fact that Maud hasn’t brandished or fired a gun during any part of his flight, not even when caught between two armed white men and what he couldn’t have known was an unarmed white man behind him.

Ahmaud “Maud” Arbery was jogging alone when two white men killed him, setting off angry protests.

How Donald Trump and the Black Lives Matter movement changed white voters’ minds” via Astead W. Herndon and Dionne Searcey of The New York Times — A majority of American voters support the demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice that have roiled the country over the past month. Fifty-nine percent of voters, including 52 percent of white voters, believe the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis was “part of a broader pattern of excessive police violence toward African Americans,” the poll found. The Black Lives Matter movement and the police had similar favorability ratings, with 44 percent of registered voters having a “very favorable” view of the movement, almost identical to the 43 percent rating for the police.

After announcing modest police reforms, Trump pivots quickly to a law-and-order message in appeal to his base” via David Nakamura and Peter Hermann The Washington Post — Over the past week, Trump has signed an executive order to protect public monuments and statues from vandalism. He accused a Black Lives Matter leader of committing “treason.” He threatened a federal crackdown on protesters and vowed “retribution” against vandals, whom he labeled “terrorists.” And he praised a version of New York City’s “stop-and-frisk” policing strategy that was phased out years ago. The president’s posture comes as he has sought to energize his conservative political base in response to polls that show diminishing public approval over his handling of both the racial justice protests and the coronavirus pandemic.

Peaceful march across downtown Miami ends in tear gas from police, fleeing protesters” via Andres VIglucci, Bianca Padró Ocasio and Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — What started as a peaceful downtown Miami protest calling for the defunding of police, ended with Miami officers blocking Interstate 395 from an oncoming crowd, tear gas being used and protesters running away screaming and in tears. It is unclear if there were any injuries, but one video shows a women being carried off the interstate as she screams in pain. One protester in that video says police were deploying tear gas.

Tampa police investigating car vs. protest incident; St. Pete march ends peacefully” via Josh Solomon, Juan Carlos Chavez, Luis Santana, Dan Sullivan, Peter Talbot, Margo Snipe, Austin Fast, Claire McNeill and Ivy Ceballo of the Tampa Bay Times — A sweltering Saturday didn’t stop people from taking to the streets, from Pinellas to Hillsborough to Pasco counties, to march, demonstrate, rally, or even paint. In St. Petersburg, on a day when tens of thousands should be crowding the streets of downtown for the annual St. Pete Pride parade and celebration, about a 100 or so instead held an LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter solidarity march. In Tampa, about 40 or so people painted a “Unity Mural” designed by Cam Parker at the intersection of E Henderson Avenue and N Franklin Street.

Meet St. Pete’s accidental protest leader, who found he has something to say” via Jack Evans and Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — In Tampa, and in many other U.S. cities, recent protests have been decentralized, with no single leader. But Terron Gland soon became the de facto leader in St. Petersburg. He pushed the group in a new direction, away from the police station. He said he wasn’t protesting out of anger — that wasn’t what he felt watching the video of Floyd. “I just see it as another Black man who got killed by white people in the United States,” he said. Gland felt compelled to inject some positivity into the group. In front of the police station, on the streets downtown, by City Hall, he started talking about love and peace.

Orlando entertainment community rallies in support of Black artists” via Lisa Maria Garza of the Orlando Sentinel — Standing on the steps of City Hall on Sunday, a trio of female singers performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the hymn commonly known as the “Black national anthem” in front of about 100 people gathered to support Black people in the arts and entertainment industry. The event began at Lake Eola Park, the site of many protests this month after the death of Floyd. The goal of the event was to prompt tough conversations and raise awareness about the marginalization and discrimination endured by Black artists.

Punta Gorda Isles man faces charges after hurling racial slurs, spitting on woman” via Erika Jackson and Jackie Winchester of WINK — A Punta Gorda Isles man is facing charges after two women said he shouted racial slurs at them and spit in one’s face. The encounter happened when the women were picking mangoes. They said Donald Mueller stopped his car, yelled a slew of obscenities, then let his spit fly. “When he screamed at me ‘Black lives don’t matter,’ I was beyond myself,” said Leiya R., of Volusia County. “And then physically spit in my face.” Mueller faces charges of burglary and battery as well as a hate crime charge. He has been released on a $2,000 bond. Leiya hopes that sharing their story will promote unity.


Trump administration’s move to end Obamacare amid pandemic reignites political fight” via Seung Min Kim and Karoun Demirjian of The Washington Post — The Trump administration touched off another politically charged battle over the future of Obamacare with its latest maneuver to dismantle the law amid a pandemic, a move that Democrats immediately weaponized for competitive campaigns this fall and few Republicans defended. The brief filed to the Supreme Court in a high-profile case brought by GOP state attorneys general undercuts Trump’s repeated pledges to ensure coverage for people with preexisting conditions as his administration and the broader Republican Party seek to wipe away that protection. Trump vowed as recently as last weekend, at a campaign rally in Tulsa, that he would “always protect patients with preexisting conditions, always, always.”

Even during a pandemic, Donald Trump is pushing ahead with the politically questionable push to end the ACA.

—“Trump’s push to end the ACA could roil politics in Miami, Obamacare capital of the U.S.” via David Smiley and Daniel Chang of the Miami Herald 

Mike Pence postpones Florida, Arizona campaign events as coronavirus cases spike” via Evan Semones of POLITICO — Pence has postponed campaign events in Florida and Arizona “out of an abundance of caution” as both states experience a spike in coronavirus cases, a Trump campaign spokesperson confirmed. Pence was set to make stops in each state this coming week as a part of his “Faith in America” tour, and will also not appear at an additional Florida event Thursday organized by the pro-Trump group America First Policies. 

Coronavirus cases have sharply declined in the D.C. region. But as the area reopens, officials expect a surge.” via Antonio Olivo, Rachel Chason and Kyle Swenson of The Washington Post — The District, Maryland and Virginia are not yet seeing the spikes underway in some southern and Western states that reopened faster, and with fewer restrictions, than states on the East Coast. But as Virginia prepares to enter a Stage 3 reopening on July 1, with Maryland and the District likely to follow soon after, experts say there is little doubt that some kind of surge will happen soon. “There’s nothing that’s changed about the virus,” said Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “We’re the ones changing. As we’re reopening, it’s just so important to be vigilant.”

Marco Rubio brings out the American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act” via Kevin Derby of Florida Daily — Rubio, introduced a proposal to reform the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act” to help Americans married to foreign nationals. “No American should be denied a federal stimulus check because they are married to a foreign national who is not a U.S. citizen,” Rubio said. “In March I worked to pass the bipartisan CARES Act to provide economic stimulus payments to North Carolina as we battle this pandemic,” Thom Tillis said.


DeSantis signs into law bill to speed up recounts” via The Associated Press — The law gives the supervisors of elections in the state’s 67 counties the option of employing auditing systems that are separate from the machines and software used for the initial ballot counts. Critics urged him to veto the bill, saying they were concerned about the possibility of tampering because only one vendor is currently eligible to supply the machines and software. They also maintained the new system can be risky because it relies on digital images of the original paper ballots.

A new law signed by Ron DeSantis would speed up the recount process, a move that critics warn is filled with potential problems.

DeSantis signs 15 bills, budget awaits action” via the News Service of Florida — DeSantis signed 15 bills from this year’s Legislative Session, including a measure aimed at helping protect firefighters from cancer-causing chemicals. Most of the newly signed measures were low profile during the Session that ended in March, but the firefighter-protection bill (SB 1092) had support from state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. The bill sets up a program that will provide grants to local fire departments to buy equipment and provide training to help shield firefighters from exposure to cancer-causing chemicals. “Floridians depend on their local firefighters every day to come to their aid at a moment’s notice,” Sen. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican who sponsored the measure with Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff.

DeSantis signs 15 bills including streamlining Space Florida financing” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

— “DeSantis approves fund to limit firefighter cancer” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics 

Regulators eye plan on utility pandemic costs” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Public Service Commission should approve a plan that could lead to Gulf Power Co. eventually recouping coronavirus-related costs from customers. Gulf, the largest utility in Northwest Florida, said in a filing it received about $6 million less in customer bill payments in April than it ordinarily would have collected during the month. About $2.1 million is considered “bad debt,” up from the historical average for April of about $300,000, the company said. Also, the utility said it had millions of dollars in costs for safety-related measures stemming from the pandemic, including monitoring the health and temperatures of employees and contractors at power plants and other facilities and buying personal-protective equipment such as masks and gloves.

Brace for insurance shock: Windstorm premiums are soaring in Florida again” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — Home insurance is getting a whole lot more expensive, a wallet punch for residents of a state that already has the highest property insurance rates in the nation, not to mention a staggering unemployment problem from a surging pandemic. Major insurance companies are raising windstorm premiums in Florida as much as 33 percent and dropping tens of thousands of customers, signaling an end to the nearly decadelong lull in prices. At the same time, some companies also are canceling thousands of home policies to reduce risks of corporate losses. This year, reinsurance prices rose by an estimated 26 percent.

Florida restaurant fined $314K+ for stealing tips, wages” via The Associated Press — Federal officials say a Florida restaurant chain with six locations has been fined more than $314,500 for taking employee tips and wages. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the Vietnamese chain Pho 79 “illegally diverted” federal overtime pay and tips for 65 employees. On average, the fine would come out to about $4,800 per employee. The Labor Department found that Pho 79 had a number of violations, including forcing some employees to work virtually unlimited hours, taking all tips from workers and did not keep a record of employee hours worked.

Justice — A Florida appeals court has dealt a devastating blow to Sarasota’s controversial “To Catch a Predator”-style sex stings, ruling unanimously that deputies crossed the line and entrapped a man who wasn’t looking to break the law, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.  The Sheriff’s stings, which were exposed as deceptive and over-aggressive over the years by investigative reporter Noah Pransky, have put dozens of men behind bars for preying on children – even though they were never looking for children in the first place.  The defendant who won his appeal reportedly spent four days talking to an undercover deputy, whom he thought was an adult, before she told him he was actually talking to a minor; even though he tried to disengage from the chat, deputies kept trying to convince him to “overcome his trepidation.”

— 2020 —

Trump admits it: He’s losing” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — The president has privately come to that grim realization in recent days amid a mountain of bad polling and warnings from some of his staunchest allies that he’s on course to be a one-term president. Trump has endured what aides describe as the worst stretch of his presidency, marred by widespread criticism over his response to the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide racial unrest. His rally in Oklahoma last weekend, his first since March, turned out to be an embarrassment when he failed to fill the arena. Trump has time to rebound, and the political environment could improve for him. But interviews with more than a half-dozen people close to the president depicted a reelection effort badly in need of direction and an unfocused candidate who repeatedly undermines himself.

Even Donald Trump is starting to admit he’s losing.

Trump faces mounting defections from a once-loyal group: Older white voters” via Alexander Burns and Katie Glueck of The New York Times — Republican presidential candidates typically carry older voters by solid margins, and in his first campaign Trump bested Hillary Clinton by seven percentage points with voters over 65. He won white seniors by nearly triple that margin. Today, Trump and Joe Biden are tied among seniors, according to a poll of registered voters. In the six most important battleground states, Biden has established a clear upper hand, leading Trump by six percentage points among the oldest voters and nearly matching the president’s support among whites in that age group. That is no small advantage for Biden.

A Sun Belt time bomb threatens Trump’s reelection” via Natasha Korecki and Marc Caputo of Politico — The explosion of coronavirus cases in Sun Belt states is becoming another albatross for President Trump’s reelection hopes — and creating a new opening for Joe Biden and Democrats in November. Republican governors in Florida, Arizona and Texas followed Trump’s lead by quickly reopening their states while taking a lax approach to social distancing and mask-wearing. Now each of them is seeing skyrocketing coronavirus caseloads and rising hospitalizations, and Republican leaders are in retreat. It’s hard to overstate the gravity of the situation for Trump: Lose any one of the three states, and his reelection is all but doomed.

The Lincoln Project is trolling Trump. But can it sway voters?” via Tina Nguyen and Elena Schneider of POLITICO — Reed Galen knew you can trigger a Trump freakout with a little bit of planning and pop psychology. Galen co-founded the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump PAC run by Republicans, with the goal of convincing Americans to vote against him in November. What they hadn’t expected, though, was that Trump would single out nearly every person involved in the Lincoln Project by name. The Lincoln Project has successfully established itself as a squatter in Trump’s mental space, thanks to several factors: members each boasting hundreds of thousands of social media followers, rapidly cut ads that respond to current events and a single-minded focus on buying airtime wherever Trump is most likely to be binging cable news that day, whether it’s the D.C. market or his golf courses across the country.

Workers removed thousands of social distancing stickers before Trump’s Tulsa rally, according to video and a person familiar with the setup” via Joshua Partlow and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — In the hours before Trump’s rally in Tulsa, his campaign directed the removal of thousands of “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” stickers from seats in the arena that were intended to establish social distance between rallygoers. The removal contradicted instructions from the management of the BOK Center, the 19,000-seat arena in downtown Tulsa where Trump held his rally on June 20. As the crowd entered the day of the rally, the Trump campaign handed out masks and small bottles of “Make America Great Again 2020” branded hand sanitizer. Trump had wanted every seat packed, and he told advisers coming in on Air Force One and at the arena, he was displeased that the crowd was not larger.

Kamala Harris once went after Joe Biden, but now there’s only bonhomie as the vice-presidential tryouts continue” via Sean Sullivan and Annie Linskey of The Washington Post — Harris last year unleashed one of the most searing attacks of the Democratic presidential primary against Biden, his wife, Jill Biden, called it the “biggest surprise” of the race. Even eight months later, the former second lady said it was “like a punch to the gut.” On Friday, a far different dynamic was on display. Harris smiled broadly as she introduced Jill Biden as “our next first lady.” Jill Biden closed her eyes and put her hands over her heart as she recalled how Harris’s op-ed on Black maternal health touched her. Some aides and associates of Biden and Harris said the tension between the two camps started to recede with the passage of time.

Florida Democrats recoil at Karen Bass VP float” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — Florida Democrats are rising in opposition to the news Joe Biden is vetting a running mate who once lamented the death of “Comandante en JefeFidel Castro. An early ally of Biden’s presidential campaign, Bass’ name surfaced this week as a possible vice-presidential pick who could help balance his ticket because of her deep progressive roots and her activism against police brutality, an emerging issue in the presidential race. Bass‘ comments about the longtime Cuban leader following his death in 2016 are politically poisonous in Florida and even more toxic in Miami. Bass’ congressional office pointed out that her remarks were similar to those made by President Barack Obama at a time when the U.S. sought better relations with Cuba.

Rep. Karen Bass’ name as a VP pick is causing distress among Florida Democrats.

Facebook to label all rule-breaking posts — even Trump’s” via Barbara Ortutay of The Associated Press — Facebook said that it will flag all “newsworthy” posts from politicians that break its rules, including those from Trump. Separately, Facebook’s stock dropped more than 8%, erasing roughly $50 billion from its market valuation, after the European company behind brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Dove announced it would boycott Facebook ads through the end of the year over the amount of hate speech and divisive rhetoric on its platform. Later in the day, Coca-Cola also announced it joined the boycott for at least 30 days. Now, Facebook is all but certain to face off with the president the next time he posts something the company deems to be violating its rules.


DeSantis doesn’t rule out masks for Jacksonville GOP convention” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — As Jacksonville Mayor Curry faces scrutiny for not issuing a mask mandate, DeSantis isn’t guaranteeing the Republican National Convention will also go maskless. The Republican National Committee moved its nominating convention for Trump from the originally-planned host city Charlotte, North Carolina, in part because the state wouldn’t promise a maskless convention without social distancing. With the convention now in Jacksonville, Curry has made clear the city won’t require masks in the meantime. But when asked about requiring masks at the convention, DeSantis didn’t make the same guarantee.

Can Trump beat the Florida convention curse?” via Craig Pittman of POLITICO — The RNC will mark the fifth time that a political convention has been held in Florida at the height of the state’s molten summer. The first three, all held in Miami Beach, were marred by riots, major political miscalculations and the kind of odd behavior that has become the hallmark of everything connected with Florida. The last one, held eight years ago in Tampa, was even wilder. Even before it begins, the Jacksonville convention is already under a cloud. The dream of a full-scale, old-fashioned spectacle to celebrate Trump’s nomination seems liable to turn into a nightmare scenario.

Florida RNCs were not exactly good omens.

About 200 Florida doctors sign open letter to Mayor Lenny Curry calling RNC hosting ‘medically disrespectful to citizens’” via Erica Santiago of First Coast News — About 200 Florida-based doctors, including many from the First Coast, signed an open letter to Curry, calling for the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville to be postponed and for the use of masks to be mandated in the city. The letter notes that more than 40,000 people are expected to attend the RNC from all over the country. “Allowing this number of people to descend on Jacksonville is unequivocally provocative of disease, predictably harmful, and medically disrespectful to the citizens of this city, much less the rest of the country,” the letter said. Doctors also warn there will be an increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations, long-term health problems and deaths as a result of the convention.


Judge chips away at mail-in ballots case” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — A federal judge tossed out an effort by left-leaning groups to require county elections officials to pay for postage for mail-in ballots. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle held a status conference in preparation for a July 20 trial in the case. The trial is expected to last at least 10 days and will come a little more than three months before the November elections. In one of the lawsuits, the organization Priorities USA and other plaintiffs have urged the judge to extend a deadline for mail-in ballots to be returned and require free postage for the ballots. They’re also challenging a provision in Florida law restricting paid workers from collecting mail-in ballots.

Amanda Makki shores up support among veterans” via Florida Politics — Republican congressional candidate Makki announced another wave of endorsements from veterans in her bid to flip CD 13. The bulk endorsement included many names more familiar for their service in Congress than the military. Topping the list: Iowa U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, the first female combat veteran ever elected to the U.S. Senate. The campaign also touted endorsements from U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, a retired Army Major and U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, a veteran of the War in Afghanistan and the first Green Beret elected to Congress. Perhaps the most unique endorsement on the brag board: Robert O’Neill, the member of Navy SEAL Team 6 who claims to have fired the shot that killed Osama bin Laden.

Amanda Makki is courting the veteran vote in CD 13.

Scott Franklin’s congressional bid scrambles Polk Republicans’ support for Ross Spano” via Gary White of The Ledger — The Harrell family’s financial support helped U.S. Rep. Spano gain office in 2018, and when Spano launched his reelection campaign the Harrells again opened their checkbooks. Jack Harrell, a prominent backer of local Republicans, contributed $2,700 to Spano’s campaign last August, and three months later his son, Will Harrell, gave $250. Now, though, the Harrells are putting their money behind a candidate seeking to deny Spano a bid for a second term in Congress — Scott Franklin, a Lakeland City Commissioner who surprised many by entering the Republican primary for District 15 in March.

— “Franklin works quickly to balance money disadvantage” via Gary White of The Ledger

Business relationship to doc found with child porn dogs William Figlesthaler” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A business partner of Naples Republican congressional candidate Figlesthaler was arrested on child pornography charges eight years ago. Reports from the time show Figlesthaler, a Naples urologist, quickly severed ties with Dr. Nicholas Franco, a physician at the practice. But the association with someone connected to such a disturbing crime is creating problems for Figlesthaler’s campaign for Congress as he runs on his private-sector record as a successful business owner. Figlesthaler’s campaign says a past employee’s conviction shouldn’t reflect poorly on the candidate. Spokespeople for the campaign say it’s inappropriate to report on the years-old case now.

Senate Republicans demand Heather Fitzenhagen fire staff, stop ‘baseless attacks’” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Senate Republican leadership says Fitzenhagen needs to fire her campaign consultants or face their wrath. Hours after launching a television ad comparing the Fort Myers Republican to Nancy Pelosi and blasting her record on immigration and gun control, the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a public ultimatum. “While Fitzenhagen is free to enter any race she chooses, her attempts to destroy the GOP majority must end now,” reads an email from the committee. Republican leadership, including Simpson and Senate Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo, last year endorsed Estero Republican Ray Rodrigues for the seat.


SEIU Florida endorses Daniella Levine Cava in Miami-Dade County mayoral contest” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Florida chapter of the Service Employees International Union, one the state’s largest unions, is endorsing Levine Cava in the 2020 race for Miami-Dade County Mayor. Representatives from SEIU Florida announced their decision at a Friday morning news conference at Jackson Memorial Hospital. “Daniella Levine Cava’s life’s work in the private and public sector proves she is that fighter and is unwavering in her commitment to stand alongside working families in their pursuit of a better life,” said registered nurse Martha Baker, president of SEIU Florida.

Jean Monestime endorses fellow commissioner Levine Cava in Miami-Dade mayoral race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Miami-Dade Commissioner Jean Monestime is endorsing his colleague, Levine Cava, in the 2020 contest to be the next Mayor of Miami-Dade County. “I have served with Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava for years and she has earned my trust and respect,” Monestime said. “From the day she joined the dais, Daniella brought a sense of purpose and mission to deliver for our community with strong ethics and integrity.” Monestime mounted his own bid for the office after filing last fall. He withdrew his name from the running in April. Commissioner Monestime isn’t the only new supporter for Levine Cava’s campaign. Former Chairman of the Public Health Trust Larry Handfield also says he’ll back Levine Cava.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Jean Monestime is putting his support behind his colleague Daniella Levine-Cava for Miami-Dade Mayor.

Six current and former female officials endorse Alex Penelas for Miami-Dade Mayor” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Six new current and former female elected officials are backing former Miami-Dade County Mayor Penelas as he seeks a return to that job. Sunny Isles Beach Vice Mayor Larisa Svechin, Virginia Gardens Councilwoman Debra Conover, North Miami Beach Commissioner Barbara Kramer and North Miami Beach Commissioner Fortuna Smukler are endorsing Penelas’ bid. Former Hialeah Councilwoman Isis Garcia-Martinez and former Coral Gables Commissioner Jeannette Slesnick also say they’ll back Penelas, who held the mayoral post from 1996-2004.

She hasn’t charged a cop for a fatal shooting in 27 years. Amid protests, election nears.” via David Ovalle and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — The statistic has been chanted at rallies, printed on fliers and posted on tweets: During 27 years in office, State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle has never charged a cop for a fatal shooting while on duty. Since 2016 alone 73 police shootings, fatal and nonfatal, have come up for review before her office. Fifty-four are closed. Eighteen remain open. Just one resulted in a criminal charge. Her office has charged plenty of officers for other crimes. But as protests against police brutality have unfolded across the United States, and Fernández Rundle seeks an eighth full term as Miami-Dade’s top law enforcement officer, her record on police shooting cases and in-custody deaths have emerged as the central theme of the campaign.


First on #FlaPol —Ruth’s List Florida taps new interim CEO” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The Ruth’s List Florida Board of Directors named Barbara Zdravecky as the organization’s new interim CEO effective retroactively to June 24. “Barbara is widely respected, a consummate professional and deeply committed to women’s rights. We are thrilled she will lead us through this historic election cycle” said Board Chairperson, Sen. Arthenia Joyner. Zdravecky previously served for 24 years as the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. She also coordinated the merger of the Orlando and Collier County affiliates to expand the regional organization to service more than 45,000 patients in 22 counties. Prior to Planned Parenthood, Zdravecky worked in hospital administration, and as a psychiatric nurse.

Barbara Zdravecky is the new interim CEO of Ruth’s List. Image via Sarasota Magazine. 


Joe Biden’s best Veep pick is obvious” via Frank Bruni of The New York Times — Whatever his wobbles, Biden has, from the start of his presidential campaign, got one thing exactly right: The 2020 election is a battle for the soul of America. That’s not just a pretty slogan. It’s the stomach-knotting truth and it’s the frame he should use for choosing his running mate. It’s why he should pick Sen. Tammy Duckworth. She’s best described by words that are musty relics in his venal and vainglorious circle: “sacrifice,” “honor,” “humility.” Duckworth, a former Army lieutenant colonel who lost both of her legs during combat duty in Iraq, is a choice that makes exquisite emotional and moral sense. Largely, but not entirely, because of that, she makes strategic sense, too.


You want a Confederate monument? My body is a confederate monument” via Caroline Randall Williams of The New York Times — If there are those who want to remember the legacy of the Confederacy, if they want monuments, well, then, my body is a monument. My skin is a monument. I am a Black, Southern woman, and of my immediate white male ancestors, all of them were rapists. My very existence is a relic of slavery and Jim Crow. As far as family history has always told, and as modern DNA testing has allowed me to confirm, I am the descendant of Black women who were domestic servants and white men who raped their help. What is a monument but a standing memory? An artifact to make tangible the truth of the past. My body and blood are a tangible truth of the South and its past.


Number crunchers at the Florida Department of Health keep cranking out dismal news: The state set a record for coronavirus cases Friday, then we broke that record Saturday. And it was almost as bad Sunday. 

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Over the past three days, the state reported more than 27,000 new cases of COVID-19. For context, consider this: Almost 20% of all the cases reported in Florida over the past three months took place over the last three days. But Gov. DeSantis says it’s not because Florida reopened too soon.

The state reported 258 new deaths in the past week … bringing the total number of Florida fatalities to 3,518.

— Time is running out for the Governor to sign the new state budget and the coronavirus is making his job a lot tougher. State tax collections dropped by almost $800 million in May alone.

— Things are getting nasty in the GOP primary for Senate District 27. The Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has begun campaigning against a fellow Republican because they think she’s been playing footsie with the Democrats.

— Florida Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson says business leaders need to embrace the calls for change coming from the Black Lives Matter movement. Wilson believes this the perfect chance to make a difference in Florida’s poorest communities.

— What better time to have a baby than the middle of a campaign for Congress amid a public health crisis. Congratulations to Rep. Eagle and his wife Brooke on the birth of their son Ronin.

— Checking-in with a Florida Man accused of trying to steal an airplane for a cross-country visit to his girlfriend.

To listen, click on the image below:


— ALOE —

How an app for discovering Black-owned restaurants is dealing with skyrocketing demand” via Emily Birnbaum of Protocol — EatOkra’s mission is to connect users with Black-owned restaurants in their area. It’s not a delivery service; it explicitly points users toward apps like DoorDash or Seamless when restaurants have that option. But this latest flurry of attention has catapulted EatOkra from a hobby app to a “professional” service. And suddenly, the app also has competition. Earlier this month, UberEats added a feature that compiles local Black-owned restaurants and waives delivery fees for orders from them through 2020.

Majors confronting short time period before opening day” via Jay Cohen of The Associated Press — When major leaguers report next week for spring training 2.0, or perhaps more accurately, baseball’s first summer camp, time will be one precious commodity with about three weeks to go before opening day. “We’re going to have some live batting practices the first day they show up. Day 1 and Day 2. … Multiple ups for the starters,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said on a video conference call. “These guys are prepared for that. They’ve been hungry for it.” All across the majors, the race is on to set up travel plans and work out the final details for training ahead of an unforgiving season of just 60 games. After intake coronavirus tests and a mandatory quarantine period, while awaiting results, full-squad workouts likely will begin next weekend.

Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny pauses in the dugout before a spring training baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. When major leaguers report next week for spring training 2.0 — or perhaps more accurately, baseball’s first summer camp — time will be one precious commodity with about three weeks before opening day. Image via AP.

‘The Simpsons’ to recast characters of color, ‘Family Guy’ actor stops voicing Black role” via Rick Porter of The Hollywood Reporter — In a big shift, the producers of The Simpsons say they’ll no longer use white actors to play characters of color on the long-running animated series. Additionally, one of the principal voice actors on Family Guy says he’ll stop playing the show’s main Black character. “Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have White actors voice non-White characters,” the show said in a statement. The move by The Simpsons represents a major shift for the show, which for years resisted calls that a South Asian actor take over the role of Apu from Hank Azaria. Azaria has since stopped voicing Apu.

Disney’s live-action ‘Mulan’ officially pushed back again!” via Rebekah Barton of Inside the Magic — The Walt Disney Company confirmed that Mulan will now release in theaters on August 21, 2020. The latest Disney live-action remake was originally slated for a March 27 release then moved to a July 24, 2020, theatrical debut. It still seems as if Disney intends to release Mulan to movie theaters instead of sending it straight to Disney+, which was also rumored at one point and seemed to gain steam following the streaming release of Artemis Fowl. Many major North American theater chains, such as struggling AMC and Cinemark, planned their phased reopening processes around the July releases of Disney’s Mulan and Nolan’s thrilled Tenet. Warner Bros. has also delayed Tenet’s release date, pushing the movie to August 12.

Disney’s ‘Mulan’ gets yet another delay.

Disney World fans sweep up passes for reopening theme parks” via DeWayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Walt Disney World’s annual passholders moved in swiftly Friday morning to pick up the coveted passes that will grant them access to the theme parks when they start reopening next month. By 6:30 a.m., the online system indicated there were no further reservations for passholders on July 11, the opening day for the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The reservation process is a new wrinkle in the Disney World experience. All visitors, including annual passholders, must have a “park pass” reservation for a specific day along with an admission ticket or valid annual pass. Park hopping will not be allowed, at least temporarily, upon Disney World’s reopening.


Celebrating today is top operative, Christian Ulvert. Belated birthday wishes to egg farmer Wilton Simpson, Sen. Lori Berman, as well as Leticia Adams of Disney, Brian Bailey of I Love the Burg, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, entrepreneur Tony DeSisto, and Tara Laxer.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey 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, 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
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