Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 1.16.22

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We salute the Florida Senate for showing some backbone. But U.S. Rep. Al Lawson isn't feeling the love just now.

While the Legislature focuses on high-profile issues such as abortion rights, gun laws, education and so on, the Miami Herald reported on something that deserves more attention.

The House is considering a measure that would make it easier for lawmakers to hide the sources of their donations.

The bill would prohibit any government body from requiring corporations, associations, and nonprofits from disclosing their direct or indirect financial support to any entity.

Rep. Toby Overdorf, a Palm City Republican, is sponsoring the bill.

“Many of the donors want to stay anonymous, or they do [give] a tremendous amount of money, and they don’t need to let everybody know how much money they’re giving to certain organizations,” he told the Herald.

That’s the money quote right there, so to speak.

Mr. Overdorf, that desire for anonymity is the problem. Money fuels nearly everything in Tallahassee, and the public deserves to know where it’s coming from.

The Senate is considering a similar bill.

Campaign finance laws are complicated to the point where they can make your eyes glaze over, but they’re also vital. And they aren’t limited to one major party or the other.

Anything that chips away at knowing where the money comes from basically tells the public that it’s none of their business.

Now, it’s on to our weekly game of winners and losers.

Winners

Honorable mention: Navel gazers. The Oxford Languages dictionary defines navel gazing as “self-indulgent or excessive contemplation of oneself or a single issue, at the expense of a wider view.”

With that in mind, it must be Christmas in January for those who follow the increasingly entertaining dance between Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Will Trump run again for President?

If so, is DeSantis content to put his ambitions on hold in deference to the man who, without question, sent him on a rocket ride to the Florida Governor’s Mansion?

Pass the popcorn!

The Washington Post weighed in with a story headlined, “The burgeoning Trump-DeSantis clash.”

The Post noted, “DeSantis has declined to say that he’d defer to Trump — which is reportedly the chief source of the tension.”

Indeed, the Governor behaves like someone with his eyes on a higher prize. His loyalty to Trump appears to go only so far. That seems to hit the big guy’s feelings.

“He clearly sees DeSantis as, at best, an ingrate who won’t defer to him and, at worst, a real problem come 2024,” the Post wrote. “Trump doesn’t seem content to let the situation play out, but rather wants to force DeSantis to declare his intentions and back down in a way that DeSantis has pretty pointedly declined to.”

That’s not all. The Lincoln Project took a look at the Trump-DeSantis “divorce” and Vanity Fair noted that DeSantis could turn into Trump’s “nightmare.”

Sure, the presidential race is more than two years away. Still, this soap opera is irresistible and hugely entertaining theater. The real news will come later.

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Casey DeSantis. Florida’s First Lady announced she completed her final chemotherapy treatment as she battles breast cancer.

“She’s fought really hard, and we think she has responded very well,” her husband said at an event in Hardee County. “She’s still got stuff to do, but that’s a big milestone because that’s nasty stuff when they’re doing that.

“I just wanted to let everyone know she got that, she ran that gauntlet, she’s doing well. We look forward to continue having good news over the ensuing weeks and months.”

Casey tweeted her thanks to her husband.

“Thank you for being by my side from the beginning, but especially yesterday as we celebrated my FINAL Chemo Treatment together,” she wrote. “I’m grateful, very humbled, and blessed.”

The biggest winner: Senate independence. We know DeSantis has enormous power over the Legislature. The Governor almost always gets what he wants.

That’s why it was refreshing, and maybe a little surprising, that the Senate stuck with its draft congressional map for redistricting instead of obediently going along with a controversial map offered by DeSantis.

POLITICO reported that the Governor’s map gave Republicans a more decisive advantage as the 2022 midterms near. DeSantis’ proposals appear to give Republicans 18 seats that Trump would have won in 2020. The Senate’s map has 16 likely Republican seats.

The Senate approved its draft with a bipartisan 31-4 vote.

“I want to thank you for a wonderful product; this is a great way to end the redistricting process,” Jacksonville Democrat Audrey Gibson said.

As we know, though, that “wonderful product” could trigger a showdown with the Governor, who doesn’t react well to dissent.

However, Senate President Wilton Simpson has shown he will stand up to DeSantis if he believes it’s called for. Notably, he harshly criticized Joseph Ladapo, DeSantis’ hand-picked Surgeon General, over a dust-up with Democrat Sen. Tina Polsky.

Losers

Dishonorable mention: Trump’s taxes. The former President and current Florida Man lost his battle to shield his financial records from New York prosecutors. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling means he must turn over eight years of personal and corporate tax returns as part of an investigation into possible shady deals.

The New York Times noted, “The Supreme Court’s order set in motion a series of events that could lead to the startling possibility of a criminal trial of a former U.S. President. At a minimum, the ruling wrests from Mr. Trump control of his most closely held financial records and the power to decide when, if ever, they would be made available for public inspection.”

The big guy was not happy. He called it “a continuation of the greatest political witch hunt in the history of our country.”

He also repeated his false claim that he won the 2020 election.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Hospital fast food. Tampa General Hospital has a well-earned reputation for top-notch care. However, The Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine took the hospital to task for offering McDonald’s burgers and fries in its cafeteria.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that the nonprofit representing more than 17,000 physicians, including more than 1,000 in Florida, made its point dramatically.

It erected an illuminated billboard 10 feet tall and 36 feet wide on car-clogged Adamo Drive near downtown Tampa. In a dig at the McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” slogan, the sign reads: “I’m Not Lovin’ the Ventilator! High Fat Fast-Food Can Contribute to Obesity, Putting Covid Patients at Risk For Intubation.”

It urged people to tweet “Go #FastFoodFree” at TGH.

The hospital countered that it offers a variety of healthy food items. A statement from TGH read in part, “We believe our team members, physicians, and visitors can make their own choice in what they choose to eat while on campus.”

The billboard will stay up until Feb. 12.

The biggest loser: Al Lawson. DeSantis’ proposed congressional maps put a bullseye on the U.S. Representative from Florida’s 5th Congressional District.

If adopted, it could essentially legislate Lawson’s seat out of existence.

Yes, the Senate draft maps likely would allow Lawson to stay in office, but the Governor’s Office labeled his current district an “unconstitutional gerrymander.”

Lawson, a Tallahassee Democrat, lambasted DeSantis once news of the Governor’s maps became public.

“It is evident that DeSantis is trying to restrict minority representation, specifically African American voters,” he wrote in a statement.

“I will ensure the people of Florida’s 5th district have the representation in Congress they rightfully deserve. My district includes a large minority and urban core, (and) protecting minority voting access is critical to serving the needs of this area.

He didn’t stop there.

“I am confident that this attempt by the Governor to dilute the voting rights of my constituents is in clear violation of the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution,” he wrote in a statement.

“Voting rights advocacy organizations like Fair Districts, the NAACP, and other community interest groups have not had the opportunity to weigh in on the Governor’s partisan proposed map, which would negatively affect people of color. More importantly, the voters have not weighed in.”

Remember how we praised the Senate for its proposed map earlier in this piece? Well, DeSantis holds veto power over maps, although that certainly would trigger a court challenge.

“For the congressional map it requires my signature,” DeSantis noted Friday. He then raised concerns about the Senate map’s alleged constitutional issues in CD 5.

“We had lawyers who had concerns about what they were doing,” he said. “So that process will work itself out and we’ll hopefully end up with a product that makes a lot of sense.”

Translation: stay tuned.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


9 comments

  • Mark Knopf

    January 23, 2022 at 7:18 am

    Very interesting

  • Tom

    January 23, 2022 at 8:47 am

    You left one out Joe.
    Florida has $4 billion more in projected revenue collections. To be clear this is due to the America’s Governor and his efforts to make Florida the economic liberty state. His example and the states growth has been a economic example for all states. Florida’s is liberty, freedom, growth and opportunity for all people’s. No racial barriers, just all striving.
    Education, school choice with scholarship expanded for less fortunate. Freedom bell rings thanks to Gov DeSantis. Everyone wants to come to Florida and live in freedom! Let
    It ring and sing!

    • tom palmer

      January 23, 2022 at 11:13 am

      That freedom is contingent on following the DeSantis party line. You don’t mention the influence of federal stimulus money on the state’s financial situation.

    • Sister Aponi Catori, Saint Kateri Elementary

      January 23, 2022 at 2:31 pm

      Oh heavens, Tom Tom, if only your ill-informed wishes were true. Like most red states, “Florida the economic liberty state” still receives more federal dollars to spend than it contributes in federal taxes. That makes Florida a federally dependent state. Some would even say a welfare state.
      And Tom Tom, when you beat your drum to tunes like “Everyone wants to come to Florida and live in freedom! Let It ring and sing!” well, that’s just bleeping embarrassing, bless your heart.

  • Kathy

    January 23, 2022 at 11:09 am

    Amusing. So, we won’t know which politicians are bought by which corporate donors, in turn we won’t know which politicians are beholding to which corporations.
    Desantis’ amazing budget, lol. Does it still include the $500 million from the Seminole Compact Revenue? He stated he was going to leave that line item of “anticipated revenue as he knew he would get the Compact passed”. An acquaintance has an extremely wealthy aunt near death and has purchased vehicles for her 2 sons in anticipation of an inheritance windfall which is not guaranteed. She must have taken economics and accounting classes with “America’s governor”.
    Thank you to the Florida Senate for refusing Desantis’ map project. What a pompous ass drawing lines to protect his party rather than his citizens. No surprise there. He will, undoubtedly, veto what the Senate believes serves the people (not that my “representatives” represent me) and pull a “trump” putting his wants before constituents rights.

  • tom palmer

    January 23, 2022 at 11:17 am

    Florida was a pioneer in open records and open meetings pushed by Democratic administrations. Republicans seem intent on undoing this and leaving the public in the dark again on how their elected officials operate.

  • Tom

    January 23, 2022 at 5:54 pm

    Palmer, Sista, and sad Kathy. Are you three Nikki fraudsters? Wah, Wah & Wah.
    What a bunch of babies.
    First, thanks to America’s Gov freedom rings and sings. All God’s people’s enjoying the beautiful, best state in America. Peeps working, enjoying the great environment, families happy, kids being educated, unlike Dums blue state tyrants. Young people with hope, seniors inoculated #1 in USA. People want a be Floridians thanks to America’s Governor. The revenue stream is sales taxes off the charts and real estate document tax. It’s not the compact sad kathy. It’s not fed stimulus palmer, its not gettin more fed largesse sista, saints be praised.

    DeSantis had made Florida the place to be.
    Rising tide lifts all boats” People’s want freedom, opportunity, life, and their children’s future. Stop your whining and thank almighty God for this wonderful man, lovely courageous wife, beautiful kids. Great family example for youts. Tallahassee to WH Oval Office. DeSantis wins bigly Nov 22.
    Let it ring and sing!!

    • Kathy

      January 24, 2022 at 11:42 am

      Wow and lol. It is nice to be able to make a comment which turns into name calling and assumptions. You are a class act.

      • Tom

        January 24, 2022 at 1:57 pm

        I Am a legend!
        Get your facts straight!
        Don’t act wounded.
        I play hardball.
        It’s additional sales tax and transfer housing docs, revenue. It is due to America’s Gov. He is a inspirational leader. Have a nice day.

Comments are closed.


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