Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.7.21

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Heat up your day with a dose of Sunburn, the premier first read of Florida politics and policy.

Happy Monday.

Floridians have been able to go out and enjoy restaurants, nightlife, and theme parks for a while. Now, other states are starting to catch up. Kentuckians left home for the bright lights of the town; Bostonians are getting ready for a party tonight; In Jersey, Rosalita played some pool and skipped some school. The song references are endless, but Diamond Dave said it best: Summer’s here, and the time is right for dancing in the street.

Unfortunately, some people couldn’t help themselves from ruining the party with endless arguing over Rebekah Jones. Is she full of crap? Is there a tinge of truth? Why go through the trouble of using Signal without blocking screenshots? The last one wasn’t really an argument; it’s an earnest question for our friend Jared Moskowitz. A couple of taps could have saved him some trouble over the weekend.

Still, it wasn’t all bad for the former FDEM director. The first episode of his new venture with Florida Politics kicked off Friday. Check out the State of Emergency pod here.

Gov. Ron DeSantis didn’t get bogged down with the Jones drama over the weekend — why get wrapped up in the small stuff when one of the world’s biggest cruise lines acquiesced to his vaccine passport ban? One wonders how he reacted to Royal Caribbean’s announcement. Did he start workshopping smug one-liners for his next presser right away, or did he allow himself a fist pump or two? Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

Actually, if we had a wallflower opportunity, we’d cash it in to see U.S. Sen. Rick Scott’s face when Donald Trump endorsed U.S. Rep. Ted Budd for Senate in North Carolina. Scott already had his work cut out for him as Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Now he has to account for the former President weighing in on swing-state GOP primaries. Here’s hoping the “Champion for Freedom” bowl really was from the dollar store — because it didn’t do jack.

The presidential participation award didn’t do jack to keep Donald Trump out of Senate primaries.

At least Trump left him enough time to either ditch U.S. Rep. Mark Walker or start repairing bridges.

Jon Rahm may have had the worst weekend of anyone, however. He notched a hole-in-one on Saturday morning, and by midday Sunday, he held a six-shot lead in the Memorial Tournament. He was well on his way to repeating as champion — he would have been only the second golfer to complete the feat, after Tiger Woods. But coronavirus cut his run short.

You hate to see it, but … really? Vaccines have been around for six months. He could have spent five minutes in a Kroger a few miles away from the course. Instead, his name is now a verb. C’mon America, don’t Rahm this up. Get vaxxed.

Anyway, it’s time to get positive — as in happy, not infected.

If you bet on Essential Quality to win the Belmont Stakes, well, you’re probably risk-averse. But you probably also had a good weekend. The odds-on favorite panned out, and (at least so far) there are no signs of anything shady like the Preakness a couple of weeks ago.

The NBA playoffs are starting to heat up, too. Unless you’re a Hawks fan — then they’re already on fire. Trae Young looked like a bona fide all-star in Game One against the Sixers. He put up 35 points and grabbed 10 boards in a lights-out performance. Let’s see if he can follow it up. The rest of the playoffs will be interesting either way. [The Mavs are the only club/None of the clubs] still in the running have landed a title this century, and only eight players across all teams that are still hanging on have a ring.

Finally, congratulations to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who welcomed their second child, Lilibet, to the world on Friday.


Tweet, tweet:

@PeterAtlantic: Former Pres. Trump, on Dr. (Anthony) Fauci: “Not a great doctor, but a helluva promoter.”

@MondaireJones: Manchin’s op-ed might as well be titled, “Why I’ll vote to preserve Jim Crow.”

@Pblest: There’s going to be a Joe Manchin interview in 2026, after he retires or loses by 25 points to that West Virginia state delegate who Facebook lived the Capitol riot, where he says something like, “I think my biggest weakness is I had too much faith in our government”

Tweet, tweet:

@RepValDemings: Why do we accept this violence in our communities? Surely we can do better. Surely we can come together and pass simple rules to keep guns away from those who should not have them. I truly believe we can get this right.

Tweet, tweet:

@BethMatuga: Dear Every Democrat on the Planet: “Critical Race Theory” is about to be our biggest problem for the next 10 years


‘Loki’ premieres on Disney+ — 2; Father’s Day — 13; Microsoft reveals major Windows update — 17; F9 premieres in the U.S. — 18; ‘Tax Freedom Holiday’ begins — 24; Fourth of July — 27; ‘Black Widow’ rescheduled premiere — 32; MLB All-Star Game — 36; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 46; second season of ‘Ted Lasso’ premieres on Apple+ — 50; the NBA Draft — 56; ‘Jungle Cruise’ premieres — 58; ‘The Suicide Squad’ premieres — 64; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 78; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 88; NFL regular season begins — 94; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 99; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 105; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 109; ‘Dune’ premieres — 116; MLB regular season ends — 118; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 123; World Series Game 1 — 142; Florida’s 20th Congressional District primary — 149; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 148; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 151; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 165; San Diego Comic-Con begins — 172; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 186; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 196; NFL season ends — 216; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 218; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 218; NFL playoffs begin — 222; Super Bowl LVI — 251; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 291; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 333; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 360; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 396; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 487; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 522.


State sees revenue bump in April” via Jim Turner of News Service of Florida — The Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research on Friday reported April general-revenue collections came in $797.2 million above a projection for the month. That gave Florida its ninth consecutive month exceeding revenue expectations as the state recovers from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. A report issued by the office noted the April revenue total is “by far, the greatest overage since the pandemic began in the 2020 calendar year.” The April figures — the forecast was set by the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference on April 5 — came after revenue topped forecasts for March by $299.6 million, February by $298.5 million, January by $246.7 million, and December by $336.7 million.

Florida is beating revenue expectations, again.

— 2022 —

Republican leader files ethics complaint against Nikki Fried” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Evan Power, chairman of the Leon County GOP, filed an ethics complaint Friday against Fried, chastising the gubernatorial contender for failing to disclose more than $400,000 in lobbying income. The complaint comes days after Fried amended financial disclosures to reveal hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional lobbying income from Igniting Florida, a consulting firm that lobbied lawmakers on behalf of the medical marijuana industry. The complaint further accuses Fried of failing to properly account for the “exponential increase” of both her net worth and personal effects since taking office. Fried recently acquired a home valued at more than $701,000. And though the house was reported on her 2018 and 2019 disclosure, the complaint alleges there was “no dip or increase in her income reported to substantiate such a purchase.”

Fight over charity’s big contract could shake up food distribution to South Florida’s hungry — and impact Governor’s race” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — An impending change in the distribution of government food aid in South Florida is prompting warnings that vital help for people who rely on food pantries to feed their families could be disrupted. The new distributor doesn’t have the infrastructure to carry out the job. “People are going to go hungry,” said Broward Mayor Steve Geller. The potential impact on people who need food aid has caused an unusual political uproar. It could have implications for Fried’s campaign for Governor. Her department awards the distribution contract. Elected officials from Broward County, the biggest Democratic county stronghold in the state, want her to reverse the decision that awarded the food distribution work to Farm Share, headquartered in Homestead.

A shake-up in food distribution could leave people hungry, says Steve Geller. Image via NBC Miami.

>>>Flashback to April 26 — “Feeding South Florida seeks formal hearing after losing state food assistance bid” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Sticker shock: DeSantis exaggerates cost of gas pump stickers with Fried’s picture” via Jon Greenberg of — Asked about her campaign, DeSantis dismissed Fried as someone who is more show than substance and “has done nothing in office.” “She put her face, spent millions of dollars to put her face on every gas pump across this state,” DeSantis said. The 120,000 stickers bought on Fried’s watch cost $5,027.16. From these records, it looks like Fried’s department spent $5.16 more than in 2014 for the same number of stickers under Adam Putnam. The sticker with Fried’s image really did happen, but DeSantis’ number is way off — he overshoots by a factor of 400, at least. The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate this claim Mostly False.

— “Fried bashes DeSantis’ transgender athlete ban as ‘big government’ move” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Huh? — “DeSantis vows to get ‘political apparatus involved’ in Florida school board races” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — On “Unfiltered with Dan Bongino,” DeSantis vowed to turn his “political apparatus” against Republican school board candidates who oppose his educational reforms. “We’re not going to support any Republican candidate for school board who supports critical race theory in all 67 counties or supports mandatory masking of school children,” DeSantis told Bongino. School board races in Florida are nonpartisan. “Local elections matter. We are going to get the Florida political apparatus involved so we can make sure there’s not a single school board member who supports critical race theory,” DeSantis added. Teachers will also be forbidden to “share their personal views or attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.”

Heads up — U.S. Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist will host a series of roundtables in Tallahassee, Tampa, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami, Orlando, and Gainesville this week to address voting rights and Florida’s recently passed voting reform bill. Crist will speak with “everyday voters impacted by voter suppression” and activists to help voters overcome those barriers.

Lindsay Cross jumps into HD 68 race to replace Ben Diamond” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Cross, an environmental scientist, is running for Florida House District 68, she announced Friday in an email. Cross is seeking the seat currently held by Rep. Diamond, who is not running for reelection, to instead seek Florida’s 13th Congressional District. “Our state is facing serious challenges that require bold and thoughtful leadership. From the environment to the economy, from health care to human rights, Tallahassee is failing our state,” Cross wrote. Cross previously ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Jeff Brandes for Senate District 24. Political watchers in the Tampa Bay area had speculated she would seek that seat again, with Brandes facing term limits and the race now open.

Lindsay Cross jumps in the race for Ben Diamond’s seat.

Raymond Adderly grew up fast after his dad’s murder. Now, at 17, he’s running for Broward School Board” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — At just 17 years old, Adderly will likely be the youngest candidate competing for a Broward County School Board seat this cycle. But he says he has been on a path toward public office since a tragedy over a decade ago. Murder claimed the life of Adderly’s father, Raymond Adderly Jr. Adderly, who serves as class president at Fort Lauderdale High School, wants his campaign to be a voice for students and others who he argues aren’t getting a fair shake from the current School Board. Adderly, who will begin his senior year in the fall, says two of his biggest issues are increasing mental health funding and focusing on school campus renovations, particularly in lower-income communities.

First on #FlaPol — “Margaret Good opens a new political committee. What’s up with that?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Good has largely stayed out of the spotlight since losing a congressional race last fall. But the formation of a new state committee signals a reentry into politics. Good on May 10 formed Build Local Power Inc., a new committee with a vague-for-now political scope. Organizing papers say it will focus on “candidate and ballot issues, statewide, legislative, multidistrict, countywide and municipal elections” and that the committee is “civic” in nature. The former state lawmaker chairs the committee. Fort Lauderdale lawyer Jason Blank, who chaired another Good-affiliated committee for years, serves as the new organization’s treasurer. David Lapovsky, a Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board member, was recently named as deputy treasurer.


Assignment editors — Gov. DeSantis will hold a press conference in Miami at 10:00 a.m. Florida National Guard Robert A. Ballard Armory. 700 NW 28th St. Miami.

Online groups ask federal judge to stop DeSantis’ Big Tech law immediately” via Jim Saunders of The News Service of Florida — With the law slated to take effect July 1, two online industry groups have asked a federal judge to quickly block a measure that DeSantis championed to crack down on large social media platforms. NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction, and they requested “expedited consideration.” They contend the law, passed by the Legislature in April, would violate First Amendment rights and harm companies’ efforts to moderate content. “At its core, (the bill) upends the rights of a targeted group of online services to decide what material to display and how that material should be presented,” a legal memorandum filed Thursday said.

A group is asking a federal court to shut down Ron DeSantis’ Big Tech bill.

Legislation that would crack down on China now on Governor’s desk” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — Two bills dealing with foreign influence were set on the Governor’s desk Thursday. The legislation comes on the heels of a news conference Thursday where DeSantis endorsed a theory that a lab in Wuhan, China, is the origin of the COVID-19. All events play into a narrative DeSantis, who is widely thought of as a contender for the 2024 presidential race, has been pushing since at least the start of the year that he is tough on China. DeSantis specifically called out China as a central threat at the initial unveiling of several bills that take aim at U.S. foreign adversaries. One of the bills (HB 1523) takes aim at foreign governments by updating trade secret law.

DeSantis signs law that limits impact fees after Orange’s 150% increase” via Jim Turner of The News Service of Florida — DeSantis signed 24 bills into law late Friday, including a measure that limits local impact fees imposed on builders and developers to help pay for infrastructure to handle growth, a bill aimed in part at Orange County. During legislative debate on the impact fees, Senate sponsor Joe Gruters pointed to recent increases in impact fees that exceeded 150% in Orange County and 80% in Hillsborough County. “This bill is all about predictability, to make sure that people can plan and go through a project and understand exactly what the cost is going to be,” said Gruters, who also serves as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Opponents countered that the impact fee increases by the two counties were the first hikes in nearly a decade.

DeSantis signs 3 military, veteran benefits bill” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed a slew of veteran-related bills into law Friday, including a measure that helps military families select schools tailored to their unique circumstances. The measure (HB 429) mandates the Department of Education to establish a Purple Star Campus Program in Florida. Under the program, schools will be recognized as a Purple Star Campus if they meet select requirements such as military liaisons and reserved seats for military-connected students. “We understand that people are coming and going from Florida all the time,” DeSantis said. Notably, Florida is just the 10th state to develop and implement a Purple Star School Program.

Ron DeSantis goes on a veteran bill signing blitz.

DeSantis signs off on sex-ed bill” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The newly signed law alters current measures, which allows parents to opt their child out of sex education and STD lessons by providing a written request to the school. But now, the legislation (HB 545) will strengthen parental notification requirements by requiring that school districts inform parents of the curriculum and materials on the district’s website homepage. The process must be explained to parents, giving them a chance to opt their children out. Rep. Linda Chaney, who filed the bill, originally sought to make sex ed an opt-in process, meaning parents would have to sign a consent form for their children to get that education. However, the bill was later amended to make the process opt-out instead, garnering more bipartisan approval.

DeSantis’ vetoes: Palm Beach County leaders looking for explanations” via Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — “Disappointing” was the overarching sentiment toward DeSantis, who on Wednesday left out of the budget a dozen requests for state dollars that would have gone toward Palm Beach County projects. “I’m very upset about the Governor’s vetoes,” Sen. Lori Berman said Thursday. “We are a donor county who sends our money to Tallahassee. I think we should be entitled to get some of our money back. It’s pretty disturbing.” DeSantis vetoed 12 Palm Beach County requests in all, from municipal needs to transportation assistance to youth programs, totaling more than $6.2 million. Added Berman: “I would have loved to know what reasons he had for vetoing these projects. I really have no idea what he was thinking.”


How long will Joel Greenberg spend in prison? Mix of factors complicates sentencing, experts say” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Greenberg will almost certainly face several years in federal prison, even if he cooperates extensively with prosecutors as required by a plea deal the former Seminole County tax collector struck last month. But, they add, it’s almost impossible to speculate exactly how much time U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell will mandate that Greenberg spends behind bars. Under federal law, Greenberg faces a mandatory minimum of 12 years in prison for the charges of sex trafficking of a child and identity theft. The trafficking charge also carries a maximum sentence of up to life in prison. But Presnell can deviate from that minimum if prosecutors, as expected, argue that Greenberg is providing valuable information on the criminal behavior of other associates.

So how long will Joel Greenberg stay behind bars? Image via CNN.

What it means to be a transgender athlete, fighting Florida’s new ban” via Brooke Baitinger of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — On the first day of the month dedicated to LGBTQ+ pride, when DeSantis signed a bill that bans transgender athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports, a bill dubbed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” Athletes caught in the crossfire say it’s anything but fair, and it will hurt all athletes. The law does not include language about transgender or intersex athletes, and leaves room for anyone to accuse any athlete of being too masculine, too strong, too fast, or just not feminine enough. After the accusations, the athlete would have to present their birth certificate “at or near the time of the student’s birth” to essentially prove their gender. That’s traumatizing enough if you’ve lived your entire life as a girl. It’s even more traumatizing if you’ve spent your whole life trying to prove you are one, the athletes say.


Florida Dept. of Health ends daily coronavirus reports tracking cases, deaths” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — The Florida Department of Health is ending its daily coronavirus reports used by health experts, doctors, and the media to track COVID-19 infections and deaths, turning instead to a weekly summary of the pandemic’s impact. “Florida is transitioning into the next phase of the COVID-19 response,” department spokesperson Weesam Khoury wrote in an email Friday. The move comes as more than 10 million Floridians have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, hospitalization rates continue to decline and new case positivity rates fall below the 5% benchmark. The state had already stopped producing its daily updates on COVID-19 infection rates among staff and residents at long-term care facilities.

Florida COVID-19 variants soared 80% in May, despite drop in new cases” via Lindsey Leake of USA Today — Variant infections increased 80% last month, Florida Department of Health data shows. By May 31, more than 18,500 cases were recorded across all of the state’s 67 counties except Washington. These make up just 0.8% of Florida’s over 2.3 million cases, but their increase has been astronomical. Two months ago, Florida had fewer than 3,000 variant cases. That number has more than sextupled — a 529% spike — since March 31. The CDC has identified five “variants of concern,” characterized by such factors as increased disease severity and hampered vaccine protection: Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351), Epsilon (B.1.427), Epsilon (B.1.429), Gamma (P.1). All are present in Florida. The state had the most variant infections in the country as of April 12.

Despite ‘vaccine passport’ ban, COVID-19 vaccination can still be required in Florida” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida’s so-called vaccine passport ban falls short, says the head of a Central Florida nonprofit legal organization that advocates for medical freedom and is against mandatory vaccinations. The bill (SB 2006) was signed into law by DeSantis on May 3, just days after it cleared both the House and Senate. It largely deals with emergency preparedness and state and local governmental authority during emergencies. It prohibits businesses, government agencies, and learning institutions from requiring patrons to show proof of vaccination or post-infection recovery from COVID-19 but doesn’t stop them from imposing screening protocols based on government guidelines to protect public health. Worse, says R. Shawn McBride, it preserves the state’s right to vaccinate anyone deemed a public health risk.

“Vaccine passports” may be illegal in Florida, but requiring vaccines is not.

Royal Caribbean reverses, won’t require passengers on U.S. cruises to be vaccinated” via Taylor Dolven of the Orlando Sentinel — Royal Caribbean International will no longer require any of its cruise passengers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 as it had previously planned to. The company said it would recommend passengers get the COVID-19 vaccine but not require it. The announcement is a reversal from previous statements and vaccine protocols the company submitted to the U.S. CDC last month that said it would require all passengers at least 18 years old and older to be vaccinated. “Guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated if they are eligible,” the company said in a statement. “Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols, which will be announced at a later date.”

DeSantis endorses COVID-19 lab leak theory” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis committed to the “lab leak” theory popular on the right., saying it was “almost impossible” that the coronavirus emerged naturally. The Governor endorsed the theory that COVID-19 emerged because of a leak from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, while offering more sharp critiques of Dr. Anthony Fauci and blasting the CDC in remarks after a news conference at an American Legion post in St. Johns County. In the final analysis, he blamed bureaucrats in both countries for the virus and the response. “I think this has been a disaster; what has happened. China has covered it up. They need to be held accountable. But the bureaucrats in the United States also need to be held accountable,” DeSantis said.

COVID wards are emptying out in South Florida. Doctors say it’s proof vaccines work” via Ben Conarck of the Miami Herald — At the height of Florida’s summer COVID-19 surge, there were more than 2,000 people hospitalized with the novel illness in the epicenter of Miami-Dade County. Now, with 1.2 million people in the county fully vaccinated, that number has dropped to below 300 for the first time since mid-October. The plummet comes as hospital COVID units are emptying out across the state, where fewer than 1,800 people are being treated for the disease statewide, compared to the late July height of about 9,500.


Masks worked via Axios — Exclusive polling data from our Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, which started in March 2020, shows that the respondents who reported never wearing masks were twice as likely to test positive for COVID as those who said they wore masks all the time. By the numbers: Just 11% of people who reported always wearing masks outside the home tested positive for COVID — compared to 23% of those who said they never wore masks.

Donald Trump and his allies try to rewrite, distort history of pandemic while casting Anthony Fauci as public enemy No. 1” via Matt Viser and Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post — Trump and his Republican allies have spent the past few weeks trying to rewrite or distort the history of the pandemic, attempting with renewed vigor to villainize Fauci while lionizing the former President for what they portray as heroic foresight and underappreciated efforts to combat the deadly virus. They have focused on the early moments of the coronavirus response and the virus’s origins, downplaying any role they may have played and casting others in the wrong. The central argument from him and his allies is that the possibility that the virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, instead of spreading from an animal to a human, was unfairly dismissed or covered up by scientists and media organizations bent on destroying the virus former President.

Donald Trump is floating the idea of making Anthony Fauci the ‘bad guy.’

Many long-haul COVID-19 patients report improvement after vaccination, surprising experts” via the Tribune News Service — A growing number of COVID-19 “long-haulers,” those with lingering long-term symptoms linked to the virus, are reporting sudden improvement after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Initial research has found that anywhere from 30% to 40% of these patients describe some symptom relief post-vaccination, the latest medical mystery posed by the new virus. Theories include the possibility that the vaccine might be stopping a harmful immune response in long-haulers or that the shot could be resetting their immune systems. Equally puzzling is why the shots seem to help some long-haul patients recuperate while others report no symptom improvement after getting immunized.


Joe Biden says it ‘makes sense’ for enhanced jobless aid to end in September” via Jeff Stein of The Washington Post — The White House appeared to subtly shift its public posture on supplemental federal benefits for millions of unemployed workers on Friday, following continued complaints from GOP lawmakers and business groups that these weekly payments are creating disincentives for some Americans to return to work. In remarks from Delaware about Friday’s jobs report, President Biden said that it “makes sense” for the $300 per week benefit to end in September, marking the first time the administration has explicitly endorsed their expiration. White House press secretary Jen Psaki also said Friday that Republican Governors “have every right” to curb the benefits, a step more than two dozen of them have taken in recent weeks.

Jen Psaki says Republican Governors ‘have every right’ to curb unemployment benefits. Image via AP.

Florida restaurant industry prepares for workforce return” via Jordan Bowen of Fox 13 — For Florida’s restaurant industry, it’s been a year of uncertainty marked by sales struggles and labor shortages, forcing some businesses to close for good, but now with more than half of all American adults vaccinated, the industry’s near future is showing some promise. Organizations like the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association pushed for the Governor to end the state’s participation in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which became official last month. Starting June 27, unemployed Floridians will no longer be able to collect $300 a week in federal benefits. Days after the announcement was made, Florida saw a major drop in unemployment filings.


Another COVID-19 side effect: Many kids head to summer school” via Carolyn Thompson of The Associated Press — Across the U.S., more children than ever before could be in classrooms for summer school this year to make up for lost learning during the outbreak, which caused monumental disruptions in education. School districts nationwide are expanding their summer programs and offering bonuses to get teachers to take part. The U.S. Education Department said it is too early to know how many students will sign up. But the number is all but certain to exceed the estimated 3.3 million who went to mandatory or optional summer school in 2019, before the pandemic. The expanded programs around the country have greatly increased the need for teachers and bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria employees.


Tweet, tweet:


At once diminished and dominating, Trump begins his next act” via Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — Trump commutes to New York City from his New Jersey golf club to work out of his office in Trump Tower at least once a week, slipping in and out of Manhattan without attracting much attention. Trump works there, mostly alone, with two assistants and a few body men. His political operation has also dwindled to a ragtag team of former advisers who are still on his payroll. Even without his favored megaphones and the trappings of office, Trump looms over the political landscape, animated by the lie that he won the 2020 election and his own fury over his defeat.

BombshellMark Meadows pressed Justice Dept. to investigate election fraud claims” via Katie Benner of The New York Times — In Trump’s final weeks in office, Meadows, his chief of staff, repeatedly pushed the Justice Department to investigate unfounded conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. Meadows asked Jeffrey Rosen, then the acting Attorney General, to examine debunked claims of election fraud in New Mexico and an array of baseless conspiracies that held that Trump had been the actual victor. That included a fantastical theory that people in Italy had used military technology and satellites to remotely tamper with voting machines in the United States and switch votes for Trump to votes for Biden. None of the emails show Rosen agreeing to open the investigations suggested by Meadows.

Mark Meadows pushed the Justice Department to dig deep into conspiracy theories. Image via AP.

Don’t overlook this — “Don McGahn tells House panel about Trump’s bid to undermine Bob Mueller probe” via Karoun Demirjian of The Washington Post — McGahn detailed for the House Judiciary Committee on Friday how Trump attempted to stymie a federal probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, bombshell revelations that might once have fueled additional impeachment charges. Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who led the Democrats’ exhaustive campaign to compel McGahn’s testimony, emerged from the meeting after nearly six hours but refused to discuss the closed-door interview. The committee’s top Republican, Rep. Jim Jordan, denounced Friday’s session as “re-litigating the Mueller report” and a waste of time.

Facebook gives Trump path to return — but not until at least 2023” via Cristiano Lima of POLITICO — Facebook announced Friday that Trump‘s account would remain suspended for at least two years, setting a timetable for his potential return after its oversight board criticized the company’s indefinite ban over his posts during the deadly Capitol riot. “Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols,” Facebook’s vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg said in a blog post. Even after 2023, the company said, further sanctions are possible if it still believes Trump poses a danger or if he breaks its rules again.

— “Facebook kicked the Trump can down the road again. Enjoy the respite.” via Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post

Trump called Arizona Senate President to thank her ‘for pushing to prove any fraud’ in election, emails show” via Amy B Wang of The Washington Post — Newly released emails sent to and from Arizona state Senators reveal that Trump and his lawyer Rudolph Giuliani reached out personally to urge GOP officials there to move forward with a partisan recount of the 2020 election, despite a lack of evidence of widespread fraud or other issues. Hundreds of pages of emails related to the GOP-ordered audit underway in Maricopa County were obtained by the nonprofit legal watchdog group American Oversight through a records request under the Freedom of Information Act. The group published them Friday, along with a scathing statement that decried the audit as a “sham partisan crusade.”

Donald Trump praises the Arizona GOP for the ‘audit.’ Image via AP.

Trump to GOP: Support candidates who ‘stand for our values’” via Steve Peoples of The Associated Press — Trump on Saturday pushed Republicans to support candidates who are loyal to him in next year’s midterm elections as the former President launched a new more active phase of his post-presidency. Trump teased the prospect of another presidential bid of his own in 2024. “The survival of America depends on our ability to elect Republicans at every level starting with the midterms next year,” Trump charged early in a rambling speech that spanned nearly an hour and a half. Trump’s speech was the opening appearance in what is expected to be a new phase of rallies and public events. His advisers are already eyeing subsequent appearances in Ohio, Florida, Alabama and Georgia to help bolster midterm candidates and energize voters.


JPMorgan freezes donations to Republicans who contested 2020 election” via Pete Schroeder of Reuters — JPMorgan Chase will resume making political donations to U.S. lawmakers but will not give to Republican members of Congress who voted to overturn Biden’s election victory. The country’s largest lender was among many corporations that paused political giving following the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots when Trump supporters tried to stop Congress from certifying the election. The pause will last through the 2021-2022 election cycle, which includes November’s midterm elections, after which JPMorgan will review whether to resume contributions to the lawmakers concerned on an individual basis.

JPMorgan is punishing Republicans who voted to overturn Joe Biden’s electoral win. Image via AP.

Capitol riot arrests reveal far-right Oath Keepers’ extremist influence in Florida, experts say” via Monivette Cordeiro and Desiree Stennett of the Orlando Sentinel — Out of 16 Oath Keepers indicted, at least seven are Florida residents, which experts say shows the organization may have more influence in the state than was previously known. The group’s influence in Florida may have gone unnoticed, too, because anti-government extremism is trending away from being dependent on group membership and toward individual radicalization, said Freddy Cruz, a research analyst with the SPLC. More people are beginning to believe and even act on the extremist ideology without ever formally joining a group, allowing some groups to go unrecognized while their ideas spread.

Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Mike Flynn and the prevalence of extremism in Sarasota-Manatee” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The four alleged insurrectionists arrested so far from Sarasota and Manatee counties include a pair of Oath Keepers, a Proud Boy, and the guy accused of stealing U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern. The Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys are among the most notorious extremist groups involved in the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, so it’s notable that both groups are represented among those arrested from the Sarasota-Manatee region. It’s another sign that extremist elements are active in the region. Proud Boys were visible at the “Save America Patriot Rally” held in Bradenton in April headlined by Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, and former Trump adviser Roger Stone.


Rick Scott doesn’t want TSA demanding vaccine passports for air travel” via Kevin Derby of Florida Daily — This week, U.S. Sen. Scott, showcased his bill which “would prohibit the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from requiring Americans to show proof of vaccination or produce a vaccine passport for domestic flights and protect the privacy of personal health information.” Scott brought out the “Freedom to Fly Act” last week and highlighted it this week. “My Freedom to Fly Act ensures families in Florida and across the country can travel freely and without the ridiculous government bureaucracy created by vaccine passports,” Scott added. Scott’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee last week.

Rick Scott wants to ground the notion of vaccine passports for air travel. Image via AP.

How two new Republicans want to reshape the GOP’s immigration agenda” via Olivia Beavers of POLITICO — Two members of Republicans’ House freshman class are swimming against the Trumpian tide to try to steer their party toward a more welcoming immigration strategy. Reps. María Elvira Salazar and Carlos Giménez are somewhat lonely voices in the GOP, in part because the migration influx soon after President Joe Biden took office gave Republicans an opening to paint Democrats as soft on the border. But the Miami Republicans are promoting separate frameworks to overhaul the nation’s flawed immigration system that could help their party build on the surprising inroads former President Donald Trump made with Latino voters last fall.

Happening today — U.S. Rep. Brian Mast and state Rep. Rick Roth will speak at the Palm Beach County Tea Party event, 7 p.m., Stadium Grill, 1203 Town Center Dr., Jupiter.


Possible cyberattack targets Villages, Leesburg hospitals” via Joe Mario Pedersen of the Orlando Sentinel — Experts are looking into a possible cyberattack Monday night in The Villages and Leesburg hospitals. The computer systems of The Villages Regional Hospital and the UF Health Leesburg Hospital showed signs of unusual activity, said Frank Faust, a spokesman for the University of Florida’s Health Central Florida. Staffers shut down multiple systems to protect patient information, Faust said, who said it didn’t affect patient care. IT teams from UF’s Gainesville and Jacksonville campuses are investigating the event and any potential risks involved, Faust said. The health care network also suspended all computer connections between UF Health Central Florida and UF Health’s other campuses in Gainesville and Jacksonville, as well as with the University of Florida.

Twitter CEO tells Miami audience of 15,000: Bitcoin ‘changes absolutely everything’” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald — As many as 15,000 Bitcoin users crammed into Mana Wynwood Convention Center on Friday to attend the world’s largest-ever cryptocurrency conference. Conference headliner Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and payments platform Square, made the bullish case for the cryptocurrency. He said Bitcoin and its underlying technology, the blockchain, is the world’s best tool for achieving financial freedom and fighting government censorship. “We don’t need the financial institutions that we have today,” Dorsey said. “We have one that is thriving … that is owned by the community.” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez opened the conference, saying he has been working to make Miami the “Bitcoin, blockchain and mining capital of the world.”

Jack Dorsey comes to Miami to preach the future of cryptocurrency. Image via Twitter.

Laura Loomer confronts Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey at Miami conference” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Loomer, an internet provocateur and congressional candidate, confronted Dorsey during a Bitcoin conference in Miami. Loomer, famously banned from most social media, accused Dorsey of meddling in elections and violating her rights. A rough video of Loomer trended on Twitter after the episode. In it, she can be heard shouting as security intervenes. “Censorship is a human rights violation,” she said. “You are interfering with elections like my own.” Newsweek was also covering the conference and further reported on her remarks. Dorsey later addressed the topic of censorship at the event, Newsweek reported. “I know there’s a number of you out there who disagree with a lot of actions that Twitter’s taken,” he said.

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Mayor’s South Beach alcohol restriction tested over Memorial Day weekend” via Martin Vassolo and David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Those who chose to make the South Beach strip their dance floor last Thursday morning — bringing their own speakers and alcohol — weren’t sobered by a new law banning alcohol sales after 2 a.m. in the city’s entertainment district. However, workers at Mango’s Tropical Cafe went home with $300 less each night over the busy Memorial Day weekend, said owner David Wallack, who videotaped the crowds outside his Ocean Drive club to illustrate his displeasure with the Miami Beach Mayor’s war on South Beach nightlife. The biggest test for the earlier cutoff is expected to come in November if the City Commission votes to put the now temporary policy on the ballot for permanent ratification.

In divided North Miami Beach, Publix gift card giveaway becomes another political fight” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — The city of North Miami Beach gave away hundreds of Publix gift cards worth $100 apiece to residents Saturday morning at Uleta Park, an effort meant to help people still reeling from the pandemic. But political battles cast a shadow over the event, as they have over seemingly every government-led effort in the Northeast Miami-Dade city in recent months. An April proposal by Commissioner Paule Villard to put $100,000 from the city budget toward the gift cards was approved by a 4-3 vote, with four Haitian American commissioners in favor and three white officials against. Since then, Mayor Anthony DeFillipo and other commissioners have raised a host of grievances, an increasingly frequent occurrence when they are on the losing end of a vote.

Why is county looking at a huge windfall?” via Wendy Rhodes of the Palm Beach Post — Take additional tax revenue — thanks in large part to booming construction and rising property values — throw in a big chunk of cash from the federal government and that means a boatload of money is sailing into Palm Beach County this year. More than $3 billion of new construction value was added to the county tax rolls as of Jan. 1, increasing the total taxable value of real estate in the county to $220.5 million and increasing the taxable property base by 5.05%. Appreciation of the county’s existing tax base accounted for 3.61% of that. The county is set to receive $290.7 million from the American Rescue Plan federal stimulus package, with another $197.9 million going directly to local municipalities.

Lake Wales City Commissioner Kristen Fitzgerald charged with threatening 11-year-old with firearm” via Dustin Wyatt of The Lakeland Ledger — Fitzgerald used a gun to threaten an 11-year-old boy who she’d picked up without the parent’s permission. Fitzgerald is not a caregiver, nor is she related to the boy, according to arrest records. While it is unclear what the nature of the relationship is between the boy’s family and Fitzgerald, the affidavit stated Fitzgerald was confronting the boy about an incident she alleges occurred between him and her 13-year-old daughter. Fitzgerald denied ever pointing the gun at the child, according to the arrest affidavit.

Happening today — Sen. Randolph Bracy, Rep. Kamia Brown, and Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson will discuss finding an Apopka fire station, noon, Apopka Fire Station 6, 2100 Ocoee Apopka Road, Apopka.

Assignment editors — St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman joins local advocates and Protect Our Care Florida for a virtual news conference calling for Congress to pass the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, 1 p.m. Zoom link here.

Clearwater explores adopting ranked-choice voting system” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — When City Council member Mark Bunker ran for office last year on a platform of standing up to the Church of Scientology, he said he didn’t expect support, or donations, from the business community and unions. With a modest campaign budget, he beat four opponents with 27 percent of ballots cast, all that he needed in Clearwater’s winner-take-all plurality system. As the city ponders a change to its election system, Bunker said the existing structure allows candidates like himself to have a voice. Earlier this year, Council member Hoyt Hamilton proposed the city move to a majority-win structure.


My trip to Europe is about America rallying the world’s democracies” via The Washington Post — On Wednesday, I depart for Europe on the first foreign travel of my presidency. In this moment of global uncertainty, as the world still grapples with a once-in-a-century pandemic, this trip is about realizing America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners, and demonstrating the capacity of democracies to both meet the challenges and deter the threats of this new age. As America’s economic recovery helps propel the global economy, we will be stronger and more capable when we are flanked by nations that share our values and vision for the future by other democracies.


If Joe Biden believes in science, he must fire Anthony Fauci” via Marco Rubio for Fox News — No effort should be spared to understand COVID-19’s origins. We cannot ignore common-sense possibilities just because they’re inconvenient for one political party or one nation. It was never “conspiratorial” to suggest that the first human infection of the coronavirus could have resulted from a laboratory accident. Some scientists were cautious to remain open to a range of possibilities, but others, like Dr. Fauci, dismissed the idea that the virus could have come from a lab. It was a massive failure in judgment for a prominent public health official, given his history of holding back the truth based on personal judgments about when he thinks the American people are “ready” to hear the facts.

Violent crime is spiking. We must still reimagine public safety.” via The Washington Post editorial board — The increase in violent crime in the United States today puts the most vulnerable citizens in danger and not only because of the immediate toll of this spate of shootings. The country has been struggling for a year to reimagine public safety beyond policing, and a rise in crime rates threatens to push cities back toward old patterns, imperiling the many overdue experiments in public safety finally taking place. Policymakers should resist. The administration has directed existing funds to similar efforts and pushed states to use grants and coronavirus relief aid to do the same. These strategies seek to interrupt cycles of violence by engaging with those most at risk and mediating conflicts as they arise, including through post-shooting hospital visits to discourage retaliation.

Broward’s breakdown in civility can only get worse” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A breakdown in civility has poisoned our public life since, oh, around 2016, and to see how things have deteriorated, check out the YouTube video of the latest biweekly brawl of the Broward County Commission, that is, if you can stand to watch it. Things are intensifying because of the looming special election for Congress to replace the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings. Debate and disagreement are fine, but respect for opposing views lacks here. The backbiting erodes the credibility of county government and sets a horrific example for the public. After a meeting on June 15, they will be back in mid-August, and unless the vacation does wonders for human behavior, the sniping will resume.

What David Johnson is reading — “Baseball is broken” via Devin Gordon of The Atlantic — In the social-media age, baseball is once again in the throes of a fun crisis, and given all the competition out there for our attention, this might be the big one. MLB must find a way to restore the equilibrium on the field, and that will require a fundamental shift in the game’s talent pool, away from power and back toward speed, back toward action on the basepaths, stolen bases, plays at the plate, extra-base hits that don’t leave the park. Home runs may count for more, but anyone who loves baseball knows that triples are way more fun. Breaking the cycle forever will require a fundamental shift in how MLB views itself in relation to the world beyond the foul lines.


Florida’s Department of Health decided it will not release the daily COVID-19 casualty reports anymore. From now on, it’s only once a week.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Speaking of COVID-19, Gov. DeSantis has joined the latest GOP parlor game: “Let’s Blame Fauci!”

Sen. Marco Rubio calls the President to fire Dr. Fauci, but Biden says that’s not going to happen.

— Florida courts have been working remotely since March 2020, but the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court says judicial circuits can reopen later this month and no later than August 2.

— The Governor signs three bills to help make life a bit easier for military personnel and their families stationed in Florida. Lawmakers say they have one goal.

— And finally, police are accusing a Florida Man of hurling his two-month-old son at officers as they tried to arrest him.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Florida teacher emerges as Tik Tok star, eyes Hollywood” via Christopher Spata of The Associated Press — In the jargon of the internet, Casey Hamilton is chaotic good. He is the human embodiment of “dance like no one’s watching,” with a disarming wholesomeness bred in his native Plant City. His TikTok account, @mrhamilton, has 5.6 million followers, and a lot of energy. He does voices. Maybe a spot-on Plankton from SpongeBob SquarePants, or the “how it feels to chew 5 gum” guy talking about how it feels to run a meth lab. Maybe an impression of the neighbor who knocked on his door to randomly offer him an entire ham. On a recent afternoon, he visited the Plant City post office to check his P.O. box and found it packed with fan mail. He’s moving permanently to Austin, Texas. He’s auditioning and recently booked a voice role as a teacher in a cartoon by a major entertainment company.

In Florida, 400 singers hope tune breaks world records” via Charles Runnels of The Associated Press — The song is called “400” for a good reason: It boasts a mind-boggling 400 singers — all growling, screaming, and doing their best to break a Guinness world record. Seven of those singers live in southwest Florida, but the sprawling death-metal track features people worldwide, including Mexico, Italy, South Africa, Canada, Bulgaria, Argentina, Russia, and across the United States. Fort Myers singer Bryan Riquelme has just four words on the 37-minute song: “The thoughts of thee.” Now they’re just waiting to hear back from Guinness World Records to confirm they broke the world record. Cape Coral singer Paul Lyons says he’s thrilled just to be part of the project, no matter what happens.

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Belated best wishes to Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez, former Rep. Seth McKeel and Cameron Lee Ulrich. Celebrating today are Sen. Jason Brodeur (fresh off a strong performance at the Central Florida Tiger Bay legislative wrap-up), Thomas Grigsby, and Nancy Stephens.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter SchorschPhil AmmannRenzo 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. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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