Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.28.20

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Here's your AM rundown of people, politics and policy in the Sunshine State.

President Donald Trump paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, according to a bombshell report Sunday in The New York Times.

Trump, who has fiercely guarded his tax filings and is the only President in modern times not to make them public, paid $750 in taxes to the federal government the year he was elected, 2016, and $750 again his first year in office.

Speaking at a news conference at the White House, Trump dismissed the report as “fake news” and said he has paid taxes, though he gave no specifics.

Donald Trump hasn’t paid federal taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, and only paid $750 in 2016.

The disclosure, which the Times said comes from tax return data it obtained extending over two decades, comes at a pivotal moment ahead of the first presidential debate Tuesday, and weeks before a divisive election.

A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Alan Garten, and a spokesperson for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press on the report.


Breaking overnight — “Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, armed, barricades self in Fort Lauderdale home, police called” via Local 10 — Police responded to a home in the upscale Seven Isles neighborhood around 4 p.m. in reference to a man barricaded inside a house. When officers arrived on the scene, they made contact with the woman, the man’s wife, who had called 911. She told police that her husband was armed, had access to multiple firearms inside the house and was threatening to kill himself. … Police have not confirmed that the barricaded man was Parscale, who worked for Trump, but records confirm that the property in the 2300 block of Desota Drive in Fort Lauderdale is owned by Parscale, 44, and his wife, Candice. Local 10 spoke to neighbors who also said it was the home of the former advisor to the President.

… A statement from President Trump’s Campaign Communications Director, Tim Murtaugh, states: “Brad Parscale is a member of our family and we all love him. We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible.” Fort Lauderdale Police said that man was transported to Broward Health Medical Center where he was placed under a Baker Act.

Good news about a good personPersonnel note: Jennifer Johnson joins Florida Behavioral Health Association” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Florida Behavioral Health Association announced Monday that it has hired Jennifer Johnson as its next Senior Director of Public Policy. Johnson comes to FBHA from the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability. Johnson has been at OPPAGA for 15 years. She started as a legislative analyst and worked her way up to staff director for the Health and Human Services Policy Unit, a position she has held for the past three years. “I am fortunate to have had a meaningful career in the health and human services policy arena,” Johnson said. “I have developed a strong understanding of how policies and laws, and their implementation in communities across Florida, affect vulnerable populations and individuals.

Congrats to Jennifer Johnson, the next Senior Director of Public Policy for the FBHA.


@CoreyGJohnson: [Robert] Mueller and a whole slew of IRS agents failed the nation. Point blank and the period.

@PeterBakerNYT: Lucky to have been hired many years ago by Ben Bradlee. This is what he would have called a “holy shit story.”

@TheKateBradshaw: The amount Donald Trump paid in taxes in 2016 is less than two car payments on my 2017 Mazda 3.

@NateSilver538: We’re at a weird moment where — amid understandable concern that Trump could steal or delegitimize a close election — people seem to have forgotten both that the most likely outcome is a fairly emphatic [Joe] Biden win *and* that Trump has a decent chance (20-25%) to win legitimately.

—@Rickklein: [Hillary] Clinton won political moderates by 12 points. Biden leads among them by 47 … Clinton won independent women by four points. Biden leads among them by 57 points.

@NateMonroeTU: The mind struggles to imagine what people like [Ron] DeSantis would do if a terrorist attack killed nearly 14,000 Floridians. I imagine we’d be debating dropping a nuclear bomb on someone. But for the pandemic? “We see people dying — it sucks …,” he told POLITICO. Cool cool.

@SStaffordTweet: I’ve changed my tune. COVID is too dangerous to play college football responsibly. #shutitdownFSU


First presidential debate in Indiana — 1; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 5; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 8; first vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 10; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 16; second presidential debate scheduled in Miami — 17; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 18; NBA free agency (tentative) — 20; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 22; HBO debuts 2000 presidential election doc ‘537 Votes’ — 23; third presidential debate at Belmont — 24; “The Empty Man” premieres — 25; 2020 General Election — 36; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 43; The Masters begins — 45; NBA draft — 51; “No Time to Die” premieres — 53; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 53; College basketball season slated to begin — 58; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 65; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 65; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 80; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 88; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 132; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 145; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 160; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 277; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 284; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 298; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 306; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 403; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 406; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 438; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 502; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 555; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 736.


How it happened: From law professor to high court in 4 years” via Zeke Miller, Colleen Long and Michael Balsamo of The Associated Press — Within weeks of Trump’s victory, incoming White House counsel Don McGahn and a handful of other attorneys set about drawing up lists of potential nominees for more than 100 federal judicial vacancies. Amy Coney Barrett was not well known in political circles in Indiana and almost unheard of nationally. But she found herself on the list of potential picks for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in large part thanks to McGahn. A fellow Notre Dame alum, McGahn knew Barrett from conservative legal circles. Barrett faced a bruising nomination battle for the appellate seat in 2017 that caught the attention of Trump, who was impressed with her ability to keep her cool under critical questioning by Democratic Senators.

President Donald Trump walks with Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a news conference to announce Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court. Image via AP.

The big questions about Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Whether Barrett is confirmed isn’t the only hugely important question here; so, too, is exactly how we could get to that point. And with November’s election looming either shortly after or shortly before the confirmation vote, there is plenty of pressure on both Republicans and Democrats to play their cards right. Democrats and their base are apoplectic that Republicans are moving forward with the nomination, despite saying in 2016 that the winner of the presidential election should be allowed to make such a nomination. But being out for blood isn’t always the best strategy. For Democrats, there will be plenty of pressure from the base to do something — anything — to prevent a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

The bombshell consequences of Barrett” via Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post — No issue is more pivotal in considering a Supreme Court nomination than the candidate’s view of when to overturn a case she considers wrongly decided. No nominee in history has written as extensively on this seemingly obscure topic as Judge Barrett, whom Trump is expected to name to replace Ginsburg. “I tend to agree with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it,” Barrett wrote. In the arid language of law reviews, this is a bombshell, one that could explode across the landscape of constitutional law.

GOP invests $10M in boosting Donald Trump with Barrett confirmation” via Zeke Miller of The Associated Press — The Party is also incorporating Barrett’s nomination into its scripts that staffers and volunteers use when calling or knocking on voters’ doors, with a focus on social conservative Catholic and evangelical voters — particularly in swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida. The RNC on Saturday unveiled a website,, to allow supporters to contact lawmakers to urge them to put Barrett on the court. It also anticipates trying to fundraise off the confirmation fight, including Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris’ position on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Our teams will expose Democrats’ partisanship, aggressively promote the qualifications of Judge Barrett, and use this issue to galvanize voters to the polls in November,” said RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel.

America First Policies puts $5 million behind push — Conservative advocacy group America First Policies is making a $5 million ad buy to support Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The campaign includes TV, digital and direct mail ads. The first TV ad, “We,” will start running Tuesday during the presidential debate. It highlights a laudatory letter from the Notre Dame Law School factory which says, in part, that Barrett “is a brilliant teacher and scholar. She possesses all of the qualities that shape extraordinary jurists … intellect, wisdom, impeccable temperament and above all fundamental decency.”

To watch the video, click on the image below:

AFP praises Barrett’s nomination, launches $5M+ ad buy To help advance her nomination, America First Policies is committing more than $5 million on a national television, digital and direct-mail advertising buy. Our first national commercial “We” will be televised Tuesday, September 29 during the first Presidential debate. “Judge Barrett is a gifted jurist, a beloved mother of seven, and an exceptional choice for the United States Supreme Court, who should be swiftly confirmed,” says an AFP statement.

Chuck Schumer to Democrats: Focus on health care to beat Amy Barrett” via Burgess Everett of POLITICO — In a letter to his colleagues, the Senate minority leader lays out how Senate Democrats will try to build opposition to Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The New Yorker said that if Barrett is confirmed, it spells the end of Obamacare, which is slated to come before the Supreme Court after Election Day. “All the data show that with COVID raging, the number one priority for the American people is health care — its affordability, accessibility and quality,” Schumer wrote. “We must focus like a laser on health care because Judge Barrett’s record is so clear on this issue.”

What the Supreme Court fight means for the Senate Majority” via Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic — The struggle over Ginsburg’s replacement on the Supreme Court could help propel Democrats to the brink of a Senate majority in November’s election. But whether it lifts them over that threshold could turn on the terms of the confirmation fight. Given the nature of the states that will decide Senate control, the Democrats’ path to a majority may be much easier if they can keep the debate centered on economic issues — particularly the survival of the Affordable Care Act — rather than social issues, especially abortion. The reason: The confirmation fight is likely to further weaken the position of endangered Republican senators in Colorado, Maine, and Arizona. But even if Democrats flip all three, they will still likely need to win one more.

Voters believe winner of election should fill court vacancy, poll shows” via Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns of The New York Times — In a survey of likely voters taken in the week leading up to Trump’s nomination on Saturday of Barrett to the high court, 56% said they preferred to have the election act as a sort of referendum on the vacancy. Only 41% said they wanted Trump to choose a justice before November. More striking, the voters Trump and endangered Senate Republicans must reclaim to close the gap in the polls are even more opposed to a hasty pick: 62% of women, 63% of independents and 60% of college-educated white voters said they wanted the winner of the campaign to fill the seat.

Florida GOP leaders promoting Barbara Lagoa quickly pivot to Trump’s choice” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Barrett’s nomination was embraced by religious conservatives who promoted her to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Lagoa, an Atlanta-based federal appeals court judge and former Florida Supreme Court justice, had emerged as a front-runner, whose selection was touted as potentially helping Trump carry Florida in the Nov. 3 election. Lagoa was promoted by Florida U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and by Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, among other state Republicans. “I am one of the few Senators who has appointed people to the bench,” said Scott, a former two-term Florida Governor, who said Barrett has a “distinguished record of service to our nation.”


To get a reasonable idea of how the presidential race is playing out, state polling is the way to go — particularly in battleground states like Florida. There are outlets that offer a poll of polls, gauging how Trump or Biden are doing in select areas, then averaging the polls to get a general idea of who leads nationwide. Sunburn will be updating these forecasts as they come in:

CNN Poll of Polls: As of Sunday, the CNN average is steady with Biden still leading at 52% compared to 43% for Trump. The CNN Poll of Polls tracks the national average in the presidential race. They include the most recent national telephone surveys meeting CNN’s standards for reporting and which measure the views of registered or likely voters. The poll of polls does not have a margin of sampling error. As of Sunday, Biden is holding steady at a 77 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who has a 22 in 100 shot. FiveThirtyEight also ranked individual states by the likelihood of delivering a decisive vote for the winning candidate in the Electoral College: Pennsylvania leads with 32.4%, while Florida comes in second with 11.5%. Other states include Michigan (9.1%), Wisconsin (9.1%), Arizona (5.8%), North Carolina (4.9%), Ohio (4.8%) and Minnesota (3.5%).

PredictIt: As of Sunday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden dropping slightly to $0.57 a share, with Trump also dropping to $0.45.

Real Clear Politics: As of Sunday, the RCP average of polling top battleground states gives Biden a lead over Trump 49.8% to 42.8%. The RCP average also has Biden averaging at +7 points ahead.

Joe Biden continues to lead in polls of battleground states and nationwide. Image via AP.

The Economist: As of Sunday, their model predicts Biden is “very likely” to beat Trump in the Electoral College. The model is updated every day and combines state and national polls with economic indicators to predict a range of outcomes. The midpoint is the estimate of the electoral-college vote for each party on Election Day. According to The Economist, Biden’s chances of winning the electoral college around 6 in 7 or 85%; Trump’s chances are around 1 in 7 or 14%. They still give Biden a 97% chance (better than 19 in 20) of winning the most votes, with Trump at only 3%.


Post-ABC poll: Joe Biden maintains lead over Trump nationally in stable presidential race” via Dan Balz and Emily Guskin of The Washington Post — Biden and vice-presidential nominee Sen. Harris lead Trump and Vice President Mike Pence by 53% to 43 % among registered voters, statistically unchanged from the 12-point margin in a poll taken in August just before Democrats and Republicans held their conventions. Biden and Harris also have a 10-point advantage among likely voters, 54% to 44%. Biden’s lead narrows to six points among likely voters (49% to 43%) and among registered voters (47% to 41%) when Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen and Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins are included as response options in the survey.

—“Majorities in Michigan, Wisconsin say 2020 winner should get to fill Supreme Court seat” via Mark Murray of NBC News

—“Tight races in Georgia and North Carolina, while Supreme Court is another factor” via Anthony Salvanto, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus, Kabir Khanna and Elena Cox of CBS News

With five weeks left, Trump plays defense in states he won in 2016” via Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — The presidential battleground has shifted on the margins five weeks before Election Day, with President Trump still on defense as the contest with Democratic nominee Joe Biden is fought almost entirely in places that Trump won in 2016. Of the 13 states where Biden spent money on television last week, according to Biden’s head of paid media Patrick Bonsignore, only three — Minnesota, New Hampshire and Nevada — were won by Hillary Clinton four years ago. Of the 12 states where Trump is spending, all but Minnesota and Nevada are places that he won.

‘Everyone sees the train wreck coming’: Trump reveals his November endgame” via David Siders and Holly Otterbein of POLITICO — Following his defeat in the 2016 Iowa caucus, Trump accused Ted Cruz of cheating and said the results should be nullified. After winning the presidency that fall, Trump insisted, without evidence, that there was “serious voter fraud” in three states he lost to Clinton. Now, running behind Biden in the polls, the President complains the outcome will be “rigged.” After more than four years of nonstop voter fraud claims, insinuations that he might not accept the presidential election results and at least one float about delaying the November election, it’s no secret. Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power this week merely broadcasts his strategic intent in terms both parties can understand. As a result, Republicans can no longer truthfully deny that Trump may be unwilling to leave office in the event he is defeated. And Democrats must now confront the possibility they may not have the power to stop him.

Donald Trump is turning the election into a slow-moving train wreck.

At Pentagon, fears grow that Trump will pull military into election unrest” via Jennifer Steinhauer and Helene Cooper of The New York Times — Senior Pentagon leaders have a lot to worry about. But chief among their concerns is whether their commander in chief might order American troops into any chaos around the coming elections. Trump gave officials no solace when he again refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power no matter who wins the election. On Thursday he doubled down by saying he was not sure the election could be “honest.” His hedging, along with his expressed desire in June to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops onto American streets to quell protests over the killing of George Floyd, has caused deep anxiety among senior military and Defense Department leaders, who insist they will do all they can to keep the armed forces out of the elections. “I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military,” General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in written answers to questions from House lawmakers released last month.

Trump got a ‘kick out of’ the election fears he’s stoked. Inside the DOJ, there’s some panic.” via Asawin Suesaeng and Spencer Ackerman of the Daily Beast — In the closing months of his first term in office, Trump has taken the public approach of a wannabe authoritarian, but with the private perspective of a MAGA internet troll. Over the past week, Trump declined to commit to a peaceful, orderly transition of power, no matter who wins the 2020 presidential election, declaring at one point: “We’re going to have to see what happens.” To horrified voters, onlookers, and the Democratic opposition, it was another clear instance of the sitting President openly telegraphing his plans to seize power, something some administration officials fear will soon take form within the federal government and among major party organs. But to Trump, it was … funny as hell. According to two people familiar with the matter, hours after the President stepped away from the cameras, Trump continued following the fallout in the press, including on cable news, and began privately remarking how amusing it was that his answer was making media and liberal heads explode, and also predictably dominating TV coverage.

Bill Barr said to have told Trump about investigation into discarded Pennsylvania ballots that President seized on as evidence of widespread fraud” via Amy Gardner, Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Attorney General Barr personally told Trump this week about an investigation into nine discarded mail ballots in northeastern Pennsylvania that the President later touted as evidence of widespread election fraud, according to a person familiar with the conversation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal administration discussions. The conversation came as Trump has fixated on the subject of voter fraud with aides, administration officials said, asking for information on the topic and updates from his campaign advisers and legal team about voting lawsuits. He has repeatedly lambasted voting by mail as susceptible to widespread fraud, despite evidence to the contrary.

—“Trump campaign sues to block mail-in ballot rule changes” via The Associated Press

—“Republicans argue against electronic Ohio ballot application” via Julie Carr Smyth of The Associated Press

Biden has upper hand over Trump in debate expectations game” via Justin Sink and Tyler Pager of Bloomberg — An even passable performance by the former Vice President might come off looking like a win in a debate that has taken on outsize importance after COVID-19 limited the candidates’ in-person campaigning. But if the gaffe-prone Biden stumbles, or looks even a little like the caricature Trump has painted of him, his campaign may be damaged. There are two more presidential debates to go, but first debates — like first impressions — have a way of sticking to candidates. A good debate performance by Trump could help revive his faltering campaign.

Trump readies a debate onslaught — and Biden allies worry” via Sean Sullivan and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Trump is gearing up to launch blistering personal attacks on Biden and his family in the first presidential debate on Tuesday, while Biden is bracing for an onslaught and worried allies are warning the Democratic nominee not to lose his temper and lash out, according to people with knowledge of the strategies in both camps. Trump has told associates he wants to talk specifically about his opponent’s son Hunter Biden and mused that the debates are when “people will finally realize Biden is just not there,” according to one adviser. The President is so eager to lay into his rival that he has called aides to test out various attacks.

Nancy Pelosi begins mustering Democrats for possible House decision on presidency,” via Politico — Speaker Pelosi has begun mobilizing Democrats for the possibility neither Joe Biden nor President Donald Trump will win an outright Electoral College victory, a once-in-a-century phenomenon that would send the fate of the presidency to the House. Under that scenario, every state’s delegation gets a single vote. Who receives that vote is determined by an internal tally of each lawmaker in the delegation. This means the presidency may not be decided by the party that controls the House itself but by the one that controls more state delegations in the chamber. Right now, Republicans control 26 delegations to Democrats’ 22, with Pennsylvania tied and Michigan a 7-6 plurality for Democrats.

In a contested election, this Florida congressional race could decide the next President” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Trump’s recent attacks on voting integrity have opened a Pandora’s box of unlikely “what if” scenarios for after the election, the kind that keeps constitutional scholars awake at night. In doing so, Trump has unwittingly elevated a handful of contested congressional races where the outcome could conceivably determine who is the next president. The contest between Democrat Alan Cohn and Republican Scott Franklin for Florida’s 15th Congressional District is one of them. Under the Constitution, the House of Representatives settles disputed presidential elections in a vote where each state’s congressional delegation speaks as one voice. And as it stands, Florida’s delegation includes 14 Republicans and 13 Democrats.

Tweet, tweet:

Assignment editors — Trump will hold a rally in Sanford on Friday. The “Make America Great Again” event will be held at the Orlando Sanford International Airport at 7 p.m. Doors open at 4 p.m. Media must request credentials by Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Trump widens Latino vote push in Miami with Colombians, Cubans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans” via David Smiley and Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Trump surrounded himself Friday at his Doral golf resort with entrepreneurs from Nicaragua, Colombia, Puerto Rico and Honduras while delivering a message of economic prosperity he hopes will lead a broader cross-section of Florida’s diverse Hispanic population to embrace him over Biden. “Hispanic Americans enrich our nation beyond measure,” Trump said from the Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom at the Trump National Doral Miami, sounding little like the candidate who four years ago launched his campaign using nationalist rhetoric. “They champion our shared values.” With polls showing a tight race in the nation’s largest swing state, Trump came to Miami Friday to woo the tens of thousands of Hispanic voters in Florida who are believed to remain undecided.

Trump campaign stop sets stage for fierce battleground in Jacksonville area” via David Bauerlein and Andrew Pantazi — Trump‘s campaign rally at Cecil Airport marked the first personal appearance of a presidential candidate in Jacksonville this election season, though Trump and Biden have been warring on the airwaves with ads coming so often that they sometimes appear back-to-back on television screens. Thousands of Trump supporters filled bleachers for Trump’s speech. That energy will carry over for the Republican Party of Duval County through Election Day, county Chair Dean Black said. “It drives enthusiasm through the roof,” Black said. “It lets everybody know it’s real. It’s go time.”

Donald Trump’s Jacksonville rally sets up a battle royale in Duval. Image via AP.

—“Photos: Patriot Ride 2020 for Trump in Jupiter Farms” via the Palm Beach Post

Mike Bloomberg unveils $40M Florida TV ad buy” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Bloomberg announced Friday that he’s blanketing Florida airwaves with a $40 million TV ad buy, the first since he pledged to spend $100 million in the Sunshine State to defeat Trump. The massive buy, being made through the Bloomberg-funded Independence USA PAC, comes the same week that nearly 5 million vote-by-mail ballots are being sent to Florida voters at the start of what effectively is a monthlong Election Day in the nation’s largest swing state. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, last week announced he would spend $100 million in Florida in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election. Earlier this week, he announced he was spending $16 million to help a group trying to pay off felons‘ outstanding court debts, a step required for them to regain their voting rights under Amendment 4, a measure approved by Florida voters in 2018 as a framework for felons to have their voting rights restored.

— “Big money flows to Donald Trump to counter Mike Bloomberg” via Alex Isenstadt of Politico

It’s ‘now or never’ for ex-Trump aides weighing speaking out” via Jill Colvin of The Associated Press — With just weeks left before the Nov. 3 election, now is the moment of truth for current and former Trump administration officials debating whether they, too, should step forward and join the chorus of Republican voices trying to persuade on-the-fence voters to help deny Trump a second term. “It’s now or never,” said Miles Taylor, former chief of staff at DHS, who has been working to recruit others to join the effort. In interviews, Taylor has accused Trump of routinely asking aides to break the law, using his former agency for explicitly political purposes, and wanting to maim and shoot migrants trying to cross the southern border.

Many of President Donald Trump’s former staffers, including one-time chief of staff John Kelly, are debating whether to speak out against the President.

Ex-White House aide launches ads aimed at getting mothers to vote for Trump” via Nolan McCaskill and Daniel Lippman of Politico — An alumna of President Trump’s White House is launching a new political action committee on Monday with a seven-figure national TV and digital ad campaign to bolster Trump’s support with a key demographic: moms. Moms for Safe Neighborhoods — a group founded by former White House aide Jessica Anderson that goes by MOMS for short — is investing $3 million in an ad campaign targeting suburban moms. The group will air a 30-second spot on networks and shows that appeal to suburban women, such as NBC’s “Today,” A&E, Bravo, Lifetime, E!, Oxygen and select shows on Fox News.

The Fox News decision desk controls the fate of American democracy” via Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate — The Supreme Court opening created by Ginsburg’s death has put the potential legal issues surrounding November’s election into what newspaper writers like to call “sharp relief.” With Ginsburg gone, there will be at most four justices who can be counted on to reject whatever openly partisan attempts the Trump campaign might make to invalidate Democratic ballots in swing states. If Trump is going to re-create his 2016 map, it will mean putting together a string of comeback victories that turn on tiny differences in the statewide vote counts. It is those vote counts that his reelection campaign is already litigating in lower courts — and that he, in recent days, has started to make ominous noises about needing a justice to help him mess with.

Wait, what? —Trump suggested naming his daughter Ivanka as his running mate in 2016, according to new book by Rick Gates” via Rosalind Helderman and Tom Hamburger of The Washington Post — As Trump’s top campaign aides began a discussion in June 2016 about who the presumptive Republican presidential nominee should select as his running mate, the candidate piped up with an idea. “I think it should be Ivanka. What about Ivanka as my VP?” Trump asked the assembled group, according to a new book by his former deputy campaign manager Gates, set to be published Oct. 13.


Never-Trumper group vows $10M campaign to appeal to Republican voters” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Republicans and Independents for Biden announced Friday it will spend $10 million in battleground states including Florida to convince Republican voters to vote against Trump. The group intends to spend the money starting in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, on television, digital, and direct-mail campaigns. It seeks to make the case that Trump is incompetent and lacks decency and must be ousted by voting for Democratic presidential nominee Biden. The group is affiliated with The Lincoln Project, a group formed by so-called “Never-Trumper” Republicans who already have aggressively campaigned against Trump for much of the year. The first effort is a 1-minute video commercial called “Daughters.” It focuses on reaching suburban Republican women, seeking to make the case that Trump expresses rampant misogyny and promotes a culture that disrespects and bullies women, threatening their daughters’ place in America.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Lincoln Project ad ties Republican Senators to ‘the most dangerous President’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The never-Trumper group’s new 60-second commercial “The Choice” pulls no punches. It offers blistering condemnations of Trump, starting with his hurried effort to put another conservative on the Supreme Court before the election, then on the coronavirus crisis, unrest in America, racial hatred, and other topics. “The Choice” accuses Republican Senators of abandoning America in the pursuit of power and loyalty to Trump. As the commercial does so, photos flash by of Republicans in the Senate, including Scott and Rubio. The commercial doesn’t stop there. “He encourages violence and trades in division and hate,” the narrator declares. “His supporters know this about him. They just don’t care. They can’t be shamed. But they must be stopped.”

To watch the video, click on the image below:

— 2020 — 

Assignment editors — Sen. Joe Gruters, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, and Florida House Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls will announce their opposition to the proposed Amendment 2 at a virtual news conference, 2 p.m. Registration @

Fractions of felons will be able to vote in November” via Dara Kam of News Service of Florida — With Florida’s Oct. 5 voter-registration deadline looming, felons and their advocates are scrambling to clear up outstanding court-related debts or take advantage of special programs so they can vote in November. The race against the clock intensified after an Atlanta-based appeals court this month upheld a Florida law requiring felons to pay “legal financial obligations” before they can vote. Backers of what appeared as Amendment 4 on the state’s 2018 ballot maintain that it affects more than 1 million Floridians who lost their voting rights after felony convictions and who have completed their time in lockup. But just a fraction of the so-called “returning citizens” targeted by the measure will be able to participate in the Nov. 3 election.

Former NFL star Michael Vick working to clear way for Florida ex-felons to vote” via Kyle Hightower of The Associated Press — Vick went with some of his family members to try to vote in 2011, the former No. 1 draft pick who made a career on his elusive ability on the football field was sacked by news he didn’t expect: He wasn’t eligible. “I found out because I had a felony on my record that I couldn’t vote,” Vick recalled in the first episode of the documentary miniseries by More Than a Vote, the political empowerment organization spearheaded by LeBron James. “That was just one of the things I did not know was taken away from me once I was incarcerated and got a felony on my record.”

Former Falcons and Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is working with the LeBron James-led political empowerment group More Than A Vote and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to help other former felons pay fines that prevent them from voting. Image via AP.

Susan B. Anthony List endorses Kat Cammack, Anna Paulina Luna — Citing their anti-abortion stances, the Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Republican congressional candidates Kat Cammack and Anna Paulina Luna. Cammack is running to succeed U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. Luna is challenging U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. “Floridians deserve strong leaders who will always fight for their values. Kat and Anna are models for a new generation of authentic pro-life, pro-woman leadership, voices that are much needed in the fight to protect life,” SBA List political director Kaitlin Makuski said. “Their convictions are deeply personal — they will work tirelessly for the unborn in Congress. I encourage you to do all you can to support Kat and Anna.”

Assignment editors — Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy is hosting a drive-thru yard sign pick up event to start distributing yard signs in a socially distant way for the upcoming election, 5 p.m., SemDems Office, 250 S. Ronald Reagan Blvd., Longwood.

Almost an oxymoron‘: Rising star Byron Donalds is a Black conservative aiming for national office” via Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press — Brooklyn-born Donalds, who’s running for Florida District 19, has used what he learned growing up poor to power his political rise. As the Nov. 3 election nears, Donalds is campaigning hard, working social media, making the rounds of talk shows and agreeing to debates with his Democratic opponent, Cindy Banyai. It’s strategy he learned from his first love: basketball. ‘To me, how you warm up is how you play. It’s about getting your mind organized, focused and ready for the game,’ he said. ‘If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.’”

New TV buys — In CD 16, Democratic state Rep. Margaret Good expanded her cable buy by $26K as she challenges Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan. So far, she has spent $878K on TV ads. In CD 18, Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast spent another $23K on a broadcast for a total of $548K in ad spending this cycle. In CD 26, the Democratic National Campaign Committee added $112K to its cable buy backing U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and has spent $2.72 million to date. Meanwhile, Republican nominee Carlos Gimenez added $26K to his cable buy and has spent $82K in all. CD 27 Republican nominee Maria Salazar spent another $113K on broadcast ads airing through Election Day making for $1.07 million spent on ads this cycle.


‘Solutions not Revolution’ touts Jason Brodeur opposition to ‘defunding the police’ — A new 30-second spot in Brodeur’s bid for Senate District 9 offers Attorney General Ashley Moody and Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma speaking out against a ‘radical revolution’ to defund the police. “Brodeur supports common-sense solutions to improve policing, not abolish it,” the voice-over says. “Brodeur will work with both parties to root out bad apples and enhance training.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Megadonor Barbara Stiefel boosts Patricia Sigman campaign” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democrat Patricia Sigman got a huge boost from South Florida philanthropist and Democratic donor Barbara Stiefel, who gave $100,000 to Sigman’s independent political committee for her election to an open seat in Senate District 9. The donation, received Sept. 11, quickly was forwarded into the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. That committee is essentially running Sigman’s campaign and is currently airing a barrage of TV commercials for her in the Orlando market. Sigman is battling with Republican former Rep. Jason Brodeur for the seat opening in SD 9, which represents Seminole County and parts of southern Volusia County.

Patrick Henry reports $41K infusion of donations for HD 26 rematch” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Former Democratic Rep. Henry reported a significant infusion of cash in his campaign account. It could make a difference in his effort to take back his seat from Republican Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff. The Daytona Beach Democrat reported an extra $41,274 in cash donations between Sept. 5 and 18. Fetterhoff reported just $13,390 in new contributions in the same reporting period. The bulk of Henry’s jump in support comes via a $25,000 check from the Florida Democratic Party, which counts the seat high on its legislative priorities. The party also provided in-kind staff support in the neighborhood of $2,614. Miami Rep. Nicholas X. Duran’s FFP also chipped in $1,000. And the Future Now federal PAC, which focuses on flipping state legislative seats nationwide, also put $1,000 into the pot for Henry.

Fred Hawkins launches attacks on Barbara Cady in Osceola race for Florida House” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — The contest for an open seat in the Florida House is heating up with Republican candidate Fred Hawkins launching a barrage of attack ads on Democrat Barbara Cady, including one in which he claimed Cady thinks voters “are stupid, racist, white trash,” a false claim that Hawkins’ campaign failed to substantiate. That ad, received by voters in the mail this week, picks up on the theme of other recent mail pieces, which paint Cady as “just another progressive” and a “radical leftist.” One ad said she “called for an end to the Second Amendment.” Another claimed she “can’t be trusted to fully fund our police.” Cady said the attacks are baseless.

The battle between Republican Fred Hawkins and Democrat Barbara Cady has taken a turn to the nasty.

Florida GOP pumps $50K into Michael Owen’s campaign to narrow gap versus Andrew Learned” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Republican Owen saw his highest fundraising report this period, narrowing the fundraising gap between Democratic opponent Learned as the two race for House District 59. Owen raised $70,200 this period, which spanned Sept. 5 through Sept. 18, while Learned raised $20,546. That haul brings Owen’s total contributions to $201,038, inching closer to Learned’s $219,377 haul so far. The Republican’s overall fundraising includes $85,900 to his campaign from his own pocket. Owen received a $50,000 boost from the Florida Republican Party, an amount that now makes him more financially competitive with Learned — but the money didn’t stay in his pockets for long.

Jennifer Webb posts record campaign fundraising period with $30K haul” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Democrat Webb now has a $163,175 lead over Republican challenger Linda Chaney in the race for House District 69. Webb raised $30,779 this period, which spanned Sept. 5 through Sept. 18. Chaney brought in $2,000 in the same span, following a previous high in which Chaney brought in $30,770 — including a $25,000 contribution from the Florida Republican Party. After this period, Webb has $193,912 cash on hand, while Chaney has $30,737 left in her coffers, despite the incumbent spending more than double Chaney.

Fiona McFarland now on even financial footing with Drake Buckman in HD 72” via Jason Ogles of Florida Politics — McFarland reported a significant influx in donations, taking in $38,290 between Sept. 5 and 18. Buckman collected $13,610 over the same period. Since filing early last year, McFarland has raised a substantial $293,003 to run in the battleground district. But she used up more than a quarter-million of that winning the Republican primary. That left her, until recently, with a cash disadvantage to Buckman, who has raised just $95,905 but avoided any primary. But after the recent infusion of resources, McFarland reports $58,182 on hand to Buckman’s $55,988. Additionally, McFarland’s Friends of Sarasota political committee raised another $5,000, all courtesy of venture capitalist Howard Cox, and now has $12,521 in the bank.


Florida Democrats launch down-ballot ad campaigns — The Florida Democratic Party is investing in a $400,000+ digital ad buy that focuses on down-ballot candidates. The campaigns will include more than a dozen region-specific ads highlighting local candidates and will be anchored by a statewide spot titled “Missed,” which stresses the importance of voting for Democrats at every level of government. “Missed” and regionally targeted ads will run on Connected TV, Facebook and YouTube through Election Day. The ad leads voters to where residents can register to vote, request a vote by mail ballot, and find all the Democratic candidates on specific down-ballot races for their area.

To watch “Missed,” click on the image below:

Resident sues Key Biscayne over ballot question to approve sea rise spending” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — A new lawsuit takes aim at one of the most hotly contested topics in the Village of Key Biscayne: a bond proposal of up to $100 million to create a steady funding stream for large-scale resilience projects on the low-lying barrier island. The question of whether to approve the proposal is set to go in front of voters on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. The complaint, filed Friday on behalf of resident Gustavo Tellaz by Miami lawyer David Winker in the 11th Judicial Circuit, contends the ballot question violates three rules set by Key Biscayne’s charter, the governing document of the village.


Florida’s total COVID-19 case count passes 700,000. South Florida reports no deaths” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — As the state pushes into what it calls Phase 3 of its reopening, the state’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 1,882 new cases and 10 deaths, none of which came from South Florida. Less data collection and data entry over the weekend usually means lower numbers for new cases and deaths on Sundays. Even so, no deaths being reported out of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Florida’s three most coronavirus-ridden counties, deserves notation. As of 11:31 a.m. Sunday, the AHCA’s said there were 2,103 current hospitalizations, down four from Saturday morning. Broward dropped 11 to 202, while Miami-Dade was up three to 271; Palm Beach, up 10 to 121; and Monroe up one, to three.

Gov. DeSantis pushes for full-stadium Super Bowl, wants NFL seats filled this fall” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Addressing reporters Friday in St. Petersburg, the Governor urged NFL stadiums to move toward filling their seats as the season progresses. DeSantis wants “to be able to show that we’re going to be able to host the Super Bowl in February. We expect to do a full Super Bowl. We want to show we’re going to be able to do that.” The Governor focused specifically on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the second time in 22 days, focusing on near-term and long-term considerations.

Ron DeSantis is looking toward a full stadium for February’s Super Bowl in Tampa. Image via AP.

Richard Corcoran tells Miami schools to open by Oct. 5 or prove exceptions” via Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — Commissioner Corcoran wrote a letter to Miami-Dade County Public Schools calling for schools to be fully open by Oct. 5 or ask for exemptions on a school-by-school basis. The School Board received Corcoran’s three-page letter, which was addressed to Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman. He begins the letter by expressing “grave concerns” about the board’s Monday vote for a delayed start to a soft and conditional opening of schools Oct. 14 with all schools opening for those who wish to return to the schoolhouse on Oct. 21. The School Board will meet Tuesday at 1 p.m. for a special meeting held in person at the school district’s downtown headquarters to discuss the next steps.

Florida’s college students view COVID-19 as no big deal and ‘just want to get it over with’” via Cindy Krischer Goodman and Lois Solomon of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In Florida, the number of young people with coronavirus is soaring, driven by college towns where super-spreader students want to live normal lives and show no fear of getting sick. Over the last month alone, Florida has seen a 23% jump in cases in the 15-24 age group, about 20,302 new infections — a trend that mirrors what is happening nationwide. “At this point, the thinking has become ‘I’ll get it over with and get antibodies and move on with my life,” said 20-year-old Brittany Gendler. A junior who lives off-campus, Gendler says most of her friends at the University of Florida have COVID-19 or are recovering from it.


Palm Beach County official says businesses can still be fined under mask mandates, despite Governor’s order” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A Palm Beach County official says the county can still force businesses to implement mask mandates despite a state order that kneecapped mask enforcement mechanisms for individuals. The state order, issued by DeSantis, did not fully invalidate mask mandates. It did, however, preempt local governments from collecting fines from individual violators. The order’s language did not speak to fines levied on businesses. According to an email from Jon Van Arnam, Palm Beach’s Deputy County Administrator, county officials still believe they can force businesses to comply with county rules requiring masks.

PBC Administrator Jon Van Arnam still believes the county can enforce mask ordinances.


Atlantic Beach girl, 12, dies from COVID-19” via Dan Scanlan of the Florida Times-Union — Elizabeth McNew, a virtual student at Mayport Coastal Sciences Middle School, died after being moved to intensive care on Sept. 19, her mother said. Elda McNew said the entire family had been taking every precaution against the coronavirus in recent months, from masks and use of disinfectant to virtual school and staying home. Then her husband and son tested positive. But while they had minor or no symptoms, it was Elizabeth who woke her up late one night saying “I can’t breathe right,” Elda McNew said. Elizabeth was so ill the next morning, she had to be taken to Wolfson Children’s Hospital by ambulance, her mother said. Elda McNew said she hoped her daughter’s death would at least get others to wear their masks and take precautions against the virus.

The parents of Elizabeth McNew, 12, said she died after her battle with COVID-19.

Panama City seeks federal reimbursement for $128K in pandemic costs” via Jacqueline Bostick of the Panama City News Herald — Panama City Commissioners recently approved an agreement with the county to be a sub-recipient of CARES Act funding. To date, the city has spent $128,000 on related expenses and plans to seek reimbursement. “It is unknown how much money will be reimbursed to the city from the CARES Act funding. The city entered into a sub-recipient agreement with Bay County in order to be eligible for reimbursement,” city officials stated in an email. It also remains unclear when funds will be approved for reimbursement or when disbursements will be made.

COVID-19 rates lower than expected in Sarasota and Manatee schools” via Ryan McKinnon of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Sarasota and Manatee county school districts continue to have hundreds of students and staff in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19, although fears of massive outbreaks of the virus occurring in schools have not materialized. Sarasota County Schools reported 18 new cases of COVID-19 within the district since Saturday, bringing the total to 45 students and 12 staff coming down with the virus since school resumed Aug. 31. Manatee reported seven new cases this week. Board members in both districts said they are pleased with the low numbers of positive cases and said they had feared the big story in September would be widespread outbreaks on campuses.


Fewer than 1 in 10 Americans show signs of past coronavirus infection, large national study finds” via Ben Guarino of The Washington Post — Fewer than 1 in 10 Americans showed signs of past infection with the novel coronavirus as of late July, suggesting that most of the country may still be vulnerable to infection, according to one of the largest studies of its kind published Friday in the journal the Lancet. That proportion is an estimate based on the percentage of dialysis patients whose immune systems produced coronavirus antibodies. It is unclear how strong a defense antibodies might confer or for how long. But, combined with similar results from studies by the CDC and other institutions, it’s evident a large majority may not be protected against the disease.

Military suicides up 20%; leaders say virus stresses an already-strained force” via The Associated Press — While the data is incomplete and causes of suicide are complex, Army and Air Force officials say they believe the pandemic is adding stress to an already strained force. And senior Army leaders — who say they’ve seen about a 30% jump in active-duty suicides so far this year — are looking at shortening combat deployments. Such a move would be part of a broader effort to make the well-being of soldiers and their families the Army’s top priority, overtaking combat readiness and weapons modernization. Army leaders say they can’t directly pin the increase on the virus, but the timing coincides.

Military suicides are up by one-fifth; the COVID-19 pandemic is the suspected cause.


No forgiveness: Small business is still on hook for rescue loans” via Zachary Warmbrodt of POLITICO — Banks, which lent their own money with the expectation that it would be repaid by the government, have been submitting applications for loan forgiveness to the SBA since Aug. 10. But the lenders say the agency has been silent on whether any of the applications will be accepted. The SBA has received 96,000 forgiveness applications — representing fewer than 2% of the total loans — but has not approved or denied any of them. “No bank I know anywhere in the country has received any money from the SBA,” said Brad Bolton, president and CEO of Community Spirit Bank in Alabama. The confusion is creating potential headwinds for small businesses as they struggle to emerge from a recession.

Confusion over the rules for ‘forgivable’ SBA COVID-19 loans could mean bad news for small businesses. Image via AP.

Already facing its worst crisis since 9/11, airline industry set to cut more than 35,000 jobs this week” via Ian Duncan, Lori Aratani and Michael Laris of The Washington Post — Employees facing furlough will be victims of the ongoing devastation the pandemic has inflicted on airlines, which have seen demand for travel drop precipitously since March, but also of a Congress that says it wants to protect their jobs aid and yet has been unable to reach agreement on a bill to do so. Leaders of the Association of Flight Attendants, along with other labor groups were in Washington to make a final push for an extension of the Payroll Support Program. At a news conference, their frustration was clear. “What Congress and the administration did back in March was a remarkable effort to save the U.S. economy and to save aviation,” United Airlines chief executive Scott Kirby said.

SeaWorld is hiring new employees after mass layoffs” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — SeaWorld spokeswoman Lori Cherry said the company encourages terminated employees to reapply and hopes they fill up the majority of the new positions. It comes as the company undergoes a restructuring that changes job descriptions and whether positions are full-time or part-time. The company also is hiring more for the upcoming holidays. The company is advertising 20 new Orlando jobs in bartending, food service, animal care, theatrical services and other fields, areas where SeaWorld Entertainment had mass terminations earlier this month.

Will Canadian snowbirds still flock to Sarasota amid COVID-19?” via Laura Finaldi of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Scott Follows and his wife have been coming to Florida in the winter for six years, and Sarasota for three. When they’re in town, they watch live music at Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse, hang out with their friends at Sun N Fun RV resort and play pickleball, a common pastime for Southwest Florida snowbirds who come to the area every winter.  But this year, there will be no beaches, no pool time, no socializing with fellow snowbird friends and definitely no pickleball. The possibility of contracting COVID-19 is enough to keep the Followses in Canada, even if it means enduring a cold, hard winter.


COVID doctors find a turning point in life-threatening cases” via Jason Gale of Bloomberg — When two brothers fell critically ill with COVID-19 around the same time in March, their doctors were baffled. Both were young — 29 and 31 years old — and healthy. Yet within days, they couldn’t breathe on their own and, tragically, one of them died. Two weeks later, when a second pair of COVID-stricken brothers, both in their 20s, also appeared in the Netherlands, geneticists were called in to investigate. What they uncovered was a path leading from severe cases, genetic variations, and gender differences to a loss of immune function that may ultimately yield a new approach to treating thousands of coronavirus patients.


August revenue collection report brings ‘good news,’ Bill Galvano says” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Senate President Galvano told media that Florida’s August Revenue Collections exceed post-pandemic estimates by $177 million. “We are already on the path to recovery and what the Governor is doing here today is just going to continue that path and perhaps accelerate it,” Galvano said with DeSantis at his side. According to a collection report, Florida generated $2.46 million in August revenue. What’s more, twelve key revenue sources came in above estimates by a combined $210.2 million. Galvano described the extra revenue as “good news” that should inspire “confidence.” While the change in tide is welcomed news to the Senate President, he acknowledged that Florida remains financially impacted by the pandemic.

Bill Galvano
Bill Galvano has good news about the state’s August revenue numbers. Image via Herald-Tribune.

Florida is leaving the state’s exonerated inmates penniless” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times — A state law allows exonerated people who demonstrate their innocence to receive $50,000 for each year of incarceration, with a cap of $2 million. But there is a catch. The law excludes those who have prior felony convictions. That caveat makes Florida unique among states that compensate those who are exonerated. “Innocent people are innocent people,” said Seth Miller, executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida, a legal organization that works to exonerate the wrongfully convicted. “When the state takes away someone’s liberty and wrongfully incarcerates them for three or four decades, they deserve recompense for that.”


Escambia pleads directly to Trump for Sally individual assistance” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News Journal — Citing $100 million in damage to private residences and businesses, a contingent of local and state officials are calling directly on Trump to approve emergency disaster aid for individuals affected by Hurricane Sally. The President has previously approved a “major disaster” declaration, which should allow the county to recoup 75% of the money it spends on debris removal, infrastructure repair and emergency protective measures. However, the President has yet to approve individual federal assistance, which would unlock grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover.

Victims of Hurricane Sally are appealing directly to Donald Trump for help. Image via WBTM.

’That’s a slap in our face’: Homeowners face bankruptcy after Sally. Why won’t FEMA help?” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — The post-Sally landscape is a sobering reality for thousands of families in Escambia County who are past dealing with the initial shock of the storm, and are now preparing for the long road ahead of recovery and rebuilding — potentially without the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “It’s a nightmare, and psychologically and physically draining,” said Marty Wynn, who lives in the hard-hit Bristol Park neighborhood in Cantonment. His home was destroyed, and he’s been living with his mother until he can get on his feet. “I’m 60 years old. It’s just bad. We’re suffering. People here are tired, we haven’t been getting any help. You can see people are just now getting out here.”

Removals of Skanska barges underway, but no timeline for completion yet” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News Journal — The vessels were dislodged from their moorings during the hurricane and have washed up around the Pensacola and Escambia bays. A dozen of them landed on private properties, and the others have come to rest under Pensacola Bay Bridge, near Naval Air Station Pensacola, near the Garcon Point Bridge and various other locations. A Skanska representative said four salvage companies were engaged in the overall barge retrieval process, and that the first barge was removed from the shoreline of private property in Milton.

Hurricane Sally pushed Skanska barges onto private property, creating a challenge to remove. Image via the Pensacola News Journal.

Sally victims face near-record prices for building materials in COVID fallout” via Madison Arnold of the Pensacola News Journal — The family of Jay Cook owns a tree farm in Panama City that saw 25% of its crop wiped out in Hurricane Michael in 2018. Michael’s destruction of some of the area’s lumber, followed by the coronavirus pandemic that sent many millworkers home this year has caused a dramatic rise in lumber prices. Now Pensacola residents are battling both high-demand and high prices for recovery and rebuilding materials as they respond from Hurricane Sally. “Luckily our trees were only about 10 years old, so they were still really flexible, so that’s what saved us,” Cook said, adding that the majority of the crop would’ve been lost had they been older.


Bomb threat closes NAS Pensacola base, everyone asked to shelter in place” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — NAS Pensacola has been secured after officials received a bomb threat. The threat came in via a telephone call to the base’s security office, according to NAS Pensacola spokesperson Jason Bortz. Security immediately closed both gates and plan to keep them closed until further notice. Bortz said the threat was made against a building on the east side of the base. He said the building was evacuated and base security is sweeping the building to ensure it is safe. Those on base are asked to shelter in place. “We take every threat seriously, so we’re doing everything we can to make sure it’s safe,” Bortz said.

A bomb scare caused NAS Pensacola to lockdown briefly.

Tommy Hazouri extends JEA investigative committee deadline and Rory Diamond resigns from panel” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — The special investigative committee will move on without the original chair Diamond, who has been one of the strongest critics of the sales process. He stepped down from the panel, which will meet Monday to chart its next steps. Hazouri issued a memo that announced that the Sept. 30 deadline for the special committee will have a new ending date of Dec. 31. Hazouri’s memo said he and the committee are “committed to seeking the truth, as the people and City Council will not stop until we have exhausted every effort in our investigation.” Diamond said it was “just time to step off” and his resignation wasn’t a protest of anything.

Childhood education advocate Dave Lawrence honored with ‘Sand In My Shoes’ award” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald — Lawrence Jr. has spent more than two decades working to equalize the playing field for all children in Florida. As chair of the Children’s Movement of Florida, Lawrence has helped expand access to children’s health insurance, education and literacy. It is that civic-mindedness that has earned Lawrence the prestigious 2021 Sand In My Shoes award from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, given to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional public service in the metro area. “David joins a prestigious group of business leaders who have created a lasting impact in our community across various industries, including education, entertainment, finance and health care,” said Alfred Sanchez, President and CEO of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.


Police are using the law to deny the release of records involving use of force, critics claim” via Hannah Knowles, Mark Berman and Shayna Jacobs of The Washington Post — Two months after the family of Daniel Prude tried to obtain police body-camera footage showing Prude naked, handcuffed and hooded on a Rochester, New York, street, nationwide protests against police violence were gaining momentum — and officials did not want the video to be made public. The video was ultimately given to Prude’s family after a monthslong legal battle and made public, sparking outrage and protests and costing the police chief his job. The case highlights what some families, victim advocates and lawyers say is a persistent issue amid a nationwide push for police transparency: As viral videos bring unprecedented scrutiny to police officers’ use of force, they allege that authorities are using and sometimes abusing the law to deny and delay the release of police records.

Daniel Prude, a Black man who ran naked through the streets of Rochester, New York, died of asphyxiation after a group of police officers put a hood over his head. His family waged a monthslong battle for police video of the incident. Image via AP.

Man pulls gun on St. Petersburg protesters during live broadcast” via Josh Solomon and Jamal Thalji of the Tampa Bay Times — There were a series of confrontations downtown between the St. Pete Protest movement and small groups of counterprotesters and other individuals shadowing and yelling at the demonstrators at several points through the night. St. Petersburg police saw the gun incident on social media and are gathering information. The tense situation unfolded while downtown was packed with people crowding into bars and restaurants the day after DeSantis lifted all remaining statewide coronavirus restrictions — allowing bars and restaurants to return to normal capacity. On this night, several individuals and a small group of counterprotesters waving American flags, a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag and other flags repeatedly sought them out.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

A call for justice and a demand for change at Black Futures Matter rally” via Austen Erblat and Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Participants in a Black Futures Matter rally hit the streets to address the impact of police violence on the Black community, a promise to never forget those they’ve lost and a determination to make their voices heard in the wake of the fallout surrounding the shooting death of Breonna Taylor. The crowd wove through the streets of Fort Lauderdale chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Black Futures Matter,” while holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” “Defund the Police” and “Breonna’s Life Matters.” Lenisha Gibson, 27, a community organizer from Fort Lauderdale, said the event was meant to help the Black community heal from their experiences with police brutality and the disproportionate way COVID-19 has impacted people of color.

Coral City Camera helped Miami through the pandemic. Now Disney wants to park ships in its place” via Jenny Staletovich of WLRN — Miami’s popular reef cam, Coral City Camera, might be losing its home to a new dock for Disney Cruise Line. Camera creator Colin Foord said he learned this month that PortMiami had quietly applied for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct the new berth near the port’s east end, where the camera has been livestreaming since late last year. It’s not clear where the permit was posted for public review. Foord found out from a camera fan in Colorado. “We’re now just trying to reach out to people at Disney to let them know that this is going to be an impact,” he said Thursday, wondering at the need for the expansion. “Why are we spending $335 billion of county money, expanding a cruise ship port during a time when basically the entire industry is at a standstill and no one really knows when it’s going to come back?”


Barrett deserves to be on the Supreme Court” via Noah Feldman of Bloomberg — I disagree with much of her judicial philosophy, maybe even most of her future votes and opinions. Yet despite this disagreement, I know her to be a brilliant and conscientious lawyer who will analyze and decide cases in good faith, applying the jurisprudential principles to which she is committed. Those are the basic criteria for being a good justice. Barrett meets and exceeds them. It is better for the republic to have a principled, brilliant lawyer on the bench than a weaker candidate. That’s Barrett. To add to her merits, Barrett is a sincere, lovely person. I never heard her utter a word that wasn’t thoughtful and kind — including in the heat of real disagreement about important subjects.


Trump loves low blows, but voters want a clean debate. Biden shouldn’t take the bait.” via Colbert I. King of The Washington Post — Tuesday’s presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland is not expected to be anything like the “Rumble in the Jungle” between boxers Muhammad Ali and George Foreman on Oct. 30, 1974, in what was then known as Zaire. But if Trump behaves true to form in his first face-to-face exchange with former Biden, count on an onstage spectacle just the same. Fox News’s Chris Wallace will moderate, and once again Trump just can’t resist the urge to try to work the referee. This time Trump is predicting that the “radical left” — not known to have a lot of sway at Fox — will somehow force Wallace to go easy on Biden.

How to debate someone who lies” via Richard A. Friedman of The New York Times — When Biden debates Trump on Tuesday, he will have to figure out how to parry with an opponent who habitually lies and doesn’t play by the rules. As a psychiatrist, I’d like to offer Biden some advice: Don’t waste your time fact-checking the President. If you attempt to counter every falsehood or distortion that Trump serves up, you will cede control of the debate. And, by trying to correct him, you will paradoxically strengthen the misinformation rather than undermine it. Instead, Biden should use more powerful weapons that will put Trump on the defensive — and also tell the audience that the President is a dishonest narrator.

—“I was a Republican Governor of Pennsylvania. I’m voting for Biden.” via Tom Ridge for The Philadelphia Inquirer

Marco Rubio and Senate stand small when it comes to the Supreme Court” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Florida’s senior Senator could stand up in the Senate chamber and proclaim, “I said in 2016 that we should not consider a nomination made in the last year of a president’s term. Therefore, I will vote no on this nominee.” Rubio could say that, but he won’t. He — and others like him — will pretend the doctrine he applied when Obama nominated Merrick Garland does not apply to Trump. Rubio and his fellow Republicans won’t be the only members who will check their principles at the door of the Senate chamber.

Will Gov. DeSantis’ coronavirus gamble payoff?” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — It’s now clear. Controlling COVID-19 is on us, the people of Florida. DeSantis made that apparent during a news conference in downtown St. Petersburg when he announced the lifting of the remaining statewide coronavirus restrictions on businesses. Restaurants can open at full capacity. So can bars, unless municipalities have restrictions in place. Concert halls and sports venues can fill back up, with some social-distancing protocols. Personal responsibility — making good choices — has always played a role in the fight against the virus. But now it’s more important than ever, no matter what you think of the Governor’s decision. The Governor genuinely seems to feel that reopening is what’s best for the state at this time.

Joe Henderson: DeSantis bets his political future against COVID-19” via Florida Politics — Effective immediately, all businesses can open, and local authorities can’t stop them. DeSantis effectively shredded mask mandates by eliminating the fines some cities imposed for face-covering violations. DeSantis called forgiving the fines (unless you’re an ex-felon trying to vote) an “act of executive grace.” The pandemic crushed Florida’s economy and led to horrific job loss. Cities like Orlando are especially hurting. Arguably, throwing them a lifeline is the right move. Is this a good time to mention what’s happening while Florida is rushing to reopen? Medical experts have warned for months to expect a new wave of infections in the fall. Well, it’s the fall. And there is a new wave of infections.

Anna Eskamani: Protest laws are a DeSantis power grab” via Anna Eskamani for the Orlando Sentinel — Nearly 700,000 Floridians have been infected by COVID-19, and nearly 14,000 have died. More than a million Floridians have lost their jobs, and hundreds of thousands remain unemployed. The ongoing pandemic is the worst health and economic crisis in Florida’s history, and Floridians are begging for help — and leadership. But DeSantis has ignored their pleas. Instead, this week he announced that his top legislative priority is not fixing the unemployment system or ensuring better access to health care, but an abuse of power aimed at suppressing Floridians’ First Amendment rights. DeSantis claimed his proposal is designed to protect law enforcement from “mobs.” Nonsense. In reality, it’s a power grab designed to silence critics.

Flailing with COVID, DeSantis tries to distract public with anti-protester law” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s death count is among the highest in America, and the death rate is higher than most states. DeSantis knew he was in trouble. So, he tried to change the subject. DeSantis staged a news conference to announce new plans to crack down on protesters and show his support for police. Basically: Forget all these COVID deaths. Let’s talk about all these nasty looters in other parts of the country. And let’s make it a crime to attack cops. DeSantis said he wanted to send a message: “If you throw a brick and hit a police officer, you’re going to jail.” Do you really think you live in a state where that’s not already a crime?


Last week, DeSantis relaxed about all the regulations designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— This relaxation of the rules includes Miami-Dade … one of Florida’s coronavirus hot spots. The county’s School Board doesn’t want to reopen all classrooms until mid-October, but Education Commissioner Corcoran says he is having serious concerns about that. He wants in-person instruction to start two weeks sooner.

— The Governor has also banned mandatory mask rules imposed by cities and counties and has pardoned all the inconsiderate asshats who got a ticket for refusing to wear one.

— There’s a meme circulating on Reddit that sums it all up: Florida as “God’s Waiting Room — now with shorter wait times.” But DeSantis says the state can get back to business as usual because Florida is prepared for a second wave.

Michael Carlson, of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, discusses how your homeowner rates are going up because of all the intermediaries.

— And finally, a Florida Woman raised $12,000 dollars to help pay the final expenses of three murder victims — but spent it all on herself instead.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Samuel L. Jackson to play Nick Fury in new Marvel Disney Plus series” via Joe Otterson of Variety — Samuel L. Jackson is set to reprise the role of Nick Fury in a new Marvel series currently in development at Disney Plus, Variety has learned exclusively from sources. The exact plot details of the show are being kept under wraps, but multiple sources say Jackson is attached to star with Kyle Bradstreet attached to write and executive produce. Like all the other Marvel shows at Disney Plus, Marvel Studios will produce. Reps for Jackson, Bradstreet, and Disney did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.

Samuel L. Jackson and Nick Fury are heading to Disney+.

Disney World performers say they’re out after 32 years” via Matthew Palm of the Orlando Sentinel — Disney’s Grand Floridian Society Orchestra announced that after playing for 32 years at Walt Disney World its last day would be Oct. 3. “It’s hard to find the words but, sadly, our days at the Grand Floridian are over,” the ensemble posted on its official Facebook page. “In fact, as of Oct 3, 2020, our days at WDW will come to an end as well.” The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, where the orchestra generally played, had been closed for months but reopened last week. In August, Disney rebranded the group as the Disney Society Orchestra and installed the musicians in the Hollywood Studios theater formerly home to “Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage.”


Belated happy birthday wishes to Cynthia Henderson, Leslie Ingram, Tanya Jackson of PinPoint Results, Darren Richards of Tucker/Hall, Brittany Davis Wise, communications director for the State University System,


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

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as 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.

One comment


    September 28, 2020 at 8:34 am

    The fake president’s pudgy little hand says it all. An epic failure and unparalleled fraudster.

Comments are closed.


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