Good Tuesday morning.
Before we get into it all, here’s a top o’ the burn birthday shoutout to Rob Johnson of The Mayernick Group. He’s a great dad and husband, partner and friend. Here’s to you, Rob.
Twitter didn’t kick Donald Trump off its site because he is conservative. Twitter booted the ex-President because Trump is a serial liar who incited an insurrection hoping to overturn an election he lost.
Trump is a con man impersonating a conservative, and he rose to power on a platform of deception that damaged the nation.
Let’s keep that central fact in mind as we review the decision Monday by a federal appeals court that unanimously upheld the right of social media companies to moderate content on their platforms.
It’s another smackdown of a law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to punish big tech companies for “censoring” conservatives. A lower court ruled the law unconstitutional, setting the stage for Monday’s decision.
Judge Kevin Newsom from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had none of Florida’s junk argument. He laid it out while writing for the three-judge panel.
“Not in their wildest dreams could anyone in the Founding generation have imagined Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or TikTok. But ‘whatever the challenges of applying the Constitution to ever-advancing technology, the basic principles of freedom of speech and the press, like the First Amendment’s command, do not vary when a new and different medium for communication appears,'” Newsom wrote, quoting from a 2011 decision on this issue.
Conservatives get a lot of mileage playing the victim on matters like this. But it follows that if the demon-possessed big-tech companies persecute them so much, how come they control so many state Legislatures, including all three branches in Florida?
What Trump did, and dozens more “conservative” charlatans mimicked, was lie through his teeth about everything. Twitter gave him a global microphone to push the lie of a stolen 2020 election.
That, in turn, led to the insurrection of Jan. 6, and people died.
Shame on DeSantis for lacking the integrity to call out Trump’s garbage.
And while we’re at it, what was Attorney General Ashley Moody reading before she took to Twitter to praise the decision?
“We are pleased the court recognized the state’s authority to rein in social media companies and upheld major portions of Florida’s law leading the way in doing so,” she wrote. “We will continue to vigorously defend Florida’s authority to demand accountability from Big Tech.”
Huh? Does Florida’s top legal eagle live in an alternate universe? The state won on a few minor points, but the decision scalded DeSantis on the big ones. That is especially true about banning candidates from the platforms.
Newsom wrote that social media sites’ “so-called ‘content-moderation’ decisions constitute protected exercises of editorial judgment.”
Translation: If Trump, DeSantis, or anyone else wants to create their platform, they can say whatever they want. But if they use Twitter, Facebook or any other site, there are rules.
The argument supporters make for the Florida law is that they should be able to lie with no consequences. That has been their game plan, and it’s a gross contortion of the First Amendment.
It’s one thing to get your facts mixed up and put out bad information, but quite another to embark on deception deliberately.
It’s not censorship to stop stuff like that. Instead, it’s a public service.
Markel Trial Day 6: Things the jury won’t hear, but matter — Before the jury entered Courtroom 3G on Monday morning, state prosecutors and defense attorneys squared off in front of Judge Robert Wheeler with a few wins and losses for each side in the process.
The first issue was the admissibility of dozens of recorded jailhouse calls by Sigfredo Garcia, recorded over the past week, following jury selection. Some were between himself and defendant Katherine Magbanua, and others were between himself and Magbanua’s attorney, Tara Kawass, who was “preparing him to be a witness” on her client’s behalf.
Kawass argued these calls should be kept from the jury and prosecutors alike, as they represent her “work product” and “defense strategy.” Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman argued that there’s no attorney-client privilege and no expectation of privacy for these conversations. However, Wheeler ruled that calls between Kawass and Garcia would not be admissible.
The calls between Garcia and Magbanua are another story and include a substantial amount of Spanish or Spanglish that requires translation and transcription. To Wheeler, “it’s too late in the game” and “too prejudicial to the defense” to include the Spanish language calls, but the conversations in English would be allowed.
The jury also didn’t get to hear a battle waged by defense attorney Christopher DeCoste on a secondary phone number for Luis Rivera — one that had been saved in his client’s iPhone under Rivera’s nickname, Tato. DeCoste insisted that the state had never provided this evidence in discovery, and that evidence of communication between his client and this number would change defense theory and strategy.
But Assistant State Attorney Sarah Kathryn Dugan prevailed. Wheeler ruled that no discovery violation had occurred and that if there had been an omission, it was not willful or substantial.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@MGerryDoyle: in the last nine months, the U.S. Air Force has evacuated a war zone, handled weapons airlifts for like a dozen or more countries supplying Ukraine and now is on baby formula duty
—@RepStephMurphy: The Trump tariffs contribute to inflation, harm U.S. families & companies, & haven’t stopped the CCP from violating trade rules. The (Joe) Biden administration should repeal or reduce these tariffs. Keeping a failed policy in place isn’t tough on China; it’s bad for America.
—@ConnCarroll: Do Democrats realize how crazy and out of touch they look after everything they said about Georgia’s new voting laws?
—@MarcACaputo: Florida Gov. @ is used as a measuring stick at a Gov. @ re-election rally, where @ pointed out Georgia repped from COVID first and Kemp, “got our economy roaring before the guy to the south of us did.”
It was a pleasure to meet with @GovRonDeSantis this afternoon to discuss various topics of interest. As always, we commend his support for Israel and the Jewish community as a whole. pic.twitter.com/vn1tcZ0Zuv
— Israel in Miami (@IsraelinMiami) May 23, 2022
—@AGAshleyMoody: We are pleased the court recognized the state’s authority to rein in social media companies and upheld major portions of Florida’s law leading the way in doing so. We will continue to vigorously defend Florida’s authority to demand accountability from Big Tech.
Humbled to join @ElbazStarinsky & Rabbi Oirechman today at the site of the Chabad of Tallahassee fire. As my office finalizes our fire investigation, preliminary results suggest it was accidental. Please retweet & join me in donating to the recovery at: https://t.co/mtY2U38GgV pic.twitter.com/y8WxqxzMn3
— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) May 23, 2022
—@SkylarZander: @ is proving again today why he is going to be missed in the Legislature. Asking great questions and trying to get answers to solve Florida’s insurance crisis.
—@MDixon55: So, high profile and rare election-year Special Session that put huge spotlight on property insurance rates, and they won’t actually dip before the 2022 midterm elections. Lots of layers to the Tallahassee onion this week
—@ArielCohen37: The CDC has recalled several varieties of JIF peanut butter due to a salmonella outbreak.
— DAYS UNTIL —
2022 Florida Chamber Prosperity & Economic Opportunity Solution Summit — 1; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 1; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 3; Hyundai Air and Sea Show National Salute to America’s Heroes, sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association — 4; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 9; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 14; ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ premieres — 17; Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 24; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 35; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 45; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 56; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 58; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 77; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 85; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 89; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 99; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 101; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 107; 2022 Emmys — 111; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 135; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 153; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 154; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 154; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 171; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 177; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 181; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 181; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 182; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 204; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 268; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 286; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 304; 2023 Session Sine Die — 346; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 346; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 374; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 430; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 514; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 675; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 794.
—SPECIAL SESSION —
“Senate moves on property insurance bills as insurers, trial lawyers clash” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The Senate advanced two bills aimed at reducing costs for property insurance companies and eventually driving down rates for homeowners, but only after hours of fierce debate between insurers and trial lawyer groups. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed SB 2D and SB 4D, as the groups blamed each other for rising rates and litigation costs.
“This is a problem that is getting worse,” said Sen. Jim Boyd, who is sponsoring both bills. “Homeowners are suffering increasing premium rates, and the markets are dropping, and carriers are fewer than they were before.”
The main bill, SB 2D, holds several provisions aimed at reducing litigation costs and claim losses for insurers: limiting attorneys’ fee multipliers to “rare and exceptional” cases, installing an optional roof deductible for up to 2% of the home, and requiring contractors soliciting customers to tell consumers the penalty for filing a fraudulent claim against an insurer.
Another measure sets up a $2 billion reinsurance fund, backed by state taxpayer money, to cover eligible companies looking to buy reinsurance over the next two years.
“Homeowners won’t see insurance rate cuts for 18 months, or maybe never, Senator says” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s 7 million homeowners can forget about any immediate relief from rising property insurance rates coming out of this week’s special session. Boyd, the sponsor of two bills aimed at stabilizing the ailing insurance market and curbing abuses in the roofing repair industry, said during the bill’s only committee hearing Monday that rate reductions would take up to 18 months or they might not happen at all. “Right now, in terms of rate relief, there is no immediate impact,” said Boyd, an insurance agent himself.
— “Bobby Powell asked to put experts ‘under oath’ in special session; ‘Let’s make sure it’s true,” via Danielle J. Brown of the Florida Phoenix
“Florida won’t stop rising insurance rates without combating climate change” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — Like other insurers, Chubb has been raising prices for its property insurance products by double-digit percentages in recent months. But while insurance industry lobbyists in Florida have sought to blame soaring rates on frivolous claims and lawsuits churned out by unscrupulous roofers and lawyers, Chubb recently cited a different factor. “Part of that is a reflection of revised views, given climate change,” Chubb Chair and CEO Evan Greenberg told investment analysts during a company earnings call last month. Legislative leaders recently unveiled a package of changes that focus heavily on making it more difficult to sue insurance companies and slashing the fees attorneys can earn in insurance lawsuits, which would deter them from taking on such cases. But what you won’t find in the Legislature’s reform package is anything to combat climate change.
“If you can’t legislate, regulate: Altmaier enacted property insurance policies lawmakers didn’t OK” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — After the Florida Legislature failed to pass legislation to rein in the property insurance crisis during the regular session that ended March 14, Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier took matters into his own hands, using his power to make changes to such policies.
PIFF calls property insurance agreement a ‘positive step forward’ — The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida said the legislative agreements in HB1D and SB2D are a “significant step forward, building upon legislative successes in 2019.” The bills mainly address litigation, such as blocking AOB assignees from using the one-way attorney fee law and limiting attorney fee contingency risk multipliers. “We must continue to chip away at the litigation-for-profit machine that encourages lawsuits — primarily benefiting trial lawyers — and increases claims costs and the overall cost of property insurance. With further reforms, we will help improve conditions in the market, and Floridians will benefit,” PIFF President and CEO Michael Carlson said. “With this deal, the Legislature will continue to make progress in addressing Florida’s human-made insurance litigation crisis, which has been a chronic contributor to increasing insurance rates and market instability.”
“Daniella Levine Cava urges Legislature to act on housing affordability, insurance, condo safety” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — As state lawmakers reconvened Monday for a weeklong Special Session targeting property insurance reform, Miami-Dade Mayor Levine Cava reminded each Legislative chamber’s leader that there are many other related issues that similarly need addressing, most notably the current housing affordability crisis and condominium safety. In an open letter to Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls, Levine Cava called this week’s Special Session “provides the ideal venue” for lawmakers to take on those problems.
— The Senate will consider its property insurance reform bills (SB2D/SB4D) during a Floor Session, 1 p.m., Senate Chamber.
— The House will convene for a Floor Session, 1 p.m., House Chamber.
— The House Appropriations Committee will consider bills (HB1D/HB3D) to reform the state’s property insurance system, 1:30 p.m., Room 212, Knott Building.
— The House Rules Committee will meet to set the chamber’s Special Order Calendar, 7 p.m., Room 404, House Office Building.
>>>Gov. DeSantis will hold a press conference at Havana Magnet School. Dane Eagle also set to be there. 10:00 a.m.
“Ron DeSantis wants insurance market problems fixed before diving into Citizens” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — DeSantis signaled confidence lawmakers will pass effective property insurance reforms during the Special Session this week. And he does not believe those will result in rate increases for homeowners using Citizens Property Insurance. “This homeowners’ insurance, this has been something that’s been a problem with the state for a long time,” DeSantis said. While DeSantis had been optimistic reforms passed and signed in 2021 would assist, he said the Legislature ultimately didn’t do enough to stop rising costs on consumers.
“New Florida program helps ‘hometown heroes’ buy their first homes, DeSantis says” via Lisa. J. Huriash of the Orlando Sentinel — To help people buy homes in the communities they serve, a new program will assist “vital” workers among 50 professions with down payment and closing costs, DeSantis said Monday. The initiative, called the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program, begins on June 1, as the state faces rising costs in housing. The state’s initiative will cost taxpayers $100 million. There are 1,000 lenders involved in the program to start aiding essential workers, such as police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses and teachers, among other professions.
“Appeals court blocks key parts of DeSantis’ Big Tech censorship law” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — A federal appeals court ruled Monday it is unconstitutional for Florida to prohibit social media companies from banning politicians, dealing a blow to DeSantis’ push to combat what he declares to be online censorship. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction blocking critical parts of Florida’s social media law pushed by DeSantis, writing that meddling with the platforms’ content-moderation policies ran afoul of the First Amendment. DeSantis and other Republican leaders argued that social media companies were biased toward conservatives and censored political speech.
—”DeSantis signs bill authorizing $3.2M for woman harmed in grisly crash with state employee” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics
—”DeSantis signs bill clearing $5M for boy rendered quadriplegic by hospital error” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics
“Leon County judge dismisses Pinellas County election bill lawsuit” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper has ruled to dismiss the case brought by Pinellas County against a new statute that would put two of the Commission’s single-member seats up for election in 2022. The ruling from Monday’s hearing sides with the state’s motion to dismiss the case, brought by the Board of County Commissioners. The lawsuit sought a preliminary injunction to block changes brought by a provision of the new election law. The Board hoped to overturn a portion of one of DeSantis’ priority bills (SB 524), which he signed near the end of April. Several Commissioners felt the County was targeted by lawmakers because the measure only affected Pinellas County.
“House Democrats likely to pick Fentrice Driskell as leader after Alexander sexual harassment scandal” via James Call of USA Today Network — Florida House Democrats are expected to meet Tuesday morning at the state Capitol to elect Rep. Driskell as their caucus leader for the 2023 and 2024 Legislative Sessions. No opposition to Driskell’s ascension appears to have formed as shellshocked Democrats gather in Tallahassee for a Special Session on property insurance. The minority party was unsettled two weeks ago when Leader-elect Rep. Ramon Alexander announced he would not pursue re-election to the House due to sexual harassment allegations against him.
Happening today — Rep. Kevin Chambliss will hold a virtual town-hall meeting, 6 p.m. Zoom link here. Meeting ID: 83050071835. Code: 871729. Facebook Live link here.
“Lobbying compensation: Metz Husband & Daughton nears $1.7M in Q1” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Q1 total was buoyed by a legislative compensation report that showed $1.16 million in earnings. Combined with an estimated $500,000 in executive branch pay, the firm earned $1.66 million last quarter. Warren Husband and James Daughton worked alongside lobbyists Doug Bell, Leslie Dughi, Allison Liby-Schoonover, Aimee Lyon, Andy Palmer, and Karl Rasmussen last quarter and represented 92 clients between their legislative and executive reports. Amscot Financial led the firm’s legislative compensation report with $51,000 in payments over the three months. It was followed by Attorneys’ Title Fund Services at $45,000 and American Express at $35,000. The firm’s median earnings estimate increased from the last quarter when it earned an estimated $1.48 million.
“Lobbying compensation: Smith Bryan & Myers tops $1.5M in Q1” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Led by Matt Bryan, the firm’s roster includes Teye Carmichael, David Daniel, Thomas Griffin, Jeff Hartley, Lisa Hurley and Jim Naff. They represented 85 clients in the Legislature, where they earned $865,000. Their 85 executive branch contracts provided the remaining $635,000. The top of SBM’s legislative compensation report showed six clients that paid $25,000 apiece for the quarter. The set included The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, which led the opposition to this year’s alimony reform bill. Nearly three dozen other legislative lobbying contracts measured in at $15,000. Several of those companies hailed from the health care industry. Based on SBM’s median earnings estimate, the firm is on an upswing. Their $1.5 million Q1 total tops the $1.3 million they posted last quarter and the quarter prior.
— 2022 —
“How DeSantis’ Florida became a model for Republicanism after Donald Trump” via Josie Ensor of The Telegraph — Some see DeSantis as offering a vision of the future of Republicanism, one governed by the politics of identity. As one Miami pundit put it, DeSantis’ Florida has become a “laboratory of possibility” for the political Right. Even in the queues for Splash Mountain, behind enemy lines, DeSantis has admirers. DeSantis’ calculation is simple: in the age of Trump, the path to popularity comes through generating outrage among liberals. In GOP circles, it has come to be known as “owning the libs,” and DeSantis is a master.
“Ready for Ron PAC urges DeSantis to run for President in 2024” via Fred Lucas of Fox News — A new political action committee has formed attempting to draft DeSantis to run for President in 2024, and it’s run by a Republican consultant heavyweight who has been a veteran of campaigns involving former GOP Presidents Ronald Reagan and Trump. DeSantis, running this year for a second term as Governor, has consistently led polls among Republican Primary voters if Trump isn’t a contender. However, when Trump is included in the polling, DeSantis usually runs a distant second. “Ready for Ron” registered with the Federal Elections Committee and has made an ad buy to garner attention for the petition. Like other PACs, under FEC rules, it is independent and cannot coordinate with DeSantis.
“Batter up: DeSantis pays homage to baseball past in new fundraising pitch” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis was an accomplished baseball player. He learned the game in the Sunshine State, complete with a trip to the Little League World Series. DeSantis would eventually take the diamond for Yale University. DeSantis is in a different field of play now, standing in the batter’s box at press conferences most days, as pitch after pitch comes in from the situational hurlers of the Florida media. In a new promotional effort for his re-election campaign, the Governor yet again turns the tables on his adversaries in the working press and uses the baseball motif to frame the narrative and cull more donations for what has been a dynamic fundraising push thus far for the re-election bid.
Nikki Fried wins Democratic Environmental Caucus straw poll — Agriculture Commissioner Fried won a straw poll of the Governor Primary held by the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida, a group that candidates who “preserve, protect and enhance Florida’s natural resources.” They held the straw poll on May 15 and included Fried, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Sen. Annette Taddeo. Fried’s campaign touted the win and pointed to her recent victories in the Young Democrats and Black Caucus straw polls. “For too long, Florida Governors have failed to honor the sacred pact every Floridian has with our salt air, our sandy beaches, the river of grass, and our precious waterways,” Fried said, adding that climate change “is the No. 1 generational challenge we face, and one we can’t afford to ignore any longer.”
“Florida Democratic Party files ethics complaint on Marco Rubio’s Twitter use” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The Florida Democratic Party has filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Rubio for allegedly using official U.S. Senate resources on his campaign’s Twitter account, citing the same rule that prompted a complaint against his possible Democratic challenger last year. The complaint against Rubio filed Wednesday cites seven specific instances in which the Twitter account found on his official campaign website, @marcorubio, tweets links from his official Senate account @SenRubioPress, the Senator’s account for official business. Rules expressly forbid mixing campaign activities and official business, but Rubio’s staff denied that he did so.
“Florida Family Action endorses Wilton Simpson for Agriculture Commissioner” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — One of Florida’s most vocal socially conservative groups endorsed Simpson’s bid for Agriculture Commissioner. “When it comes to protecting our food, agriculture and natural resources, there is no candidate more qualified than Wilton Simpson,” said John Stemberger, Florida Family Action President. Stemberger’s voice has boomed, especially in Republican circles. The endorsement should help shield the Trilby Republican from a challenge from the right, though that concern largely seemed assuaged when DeSantis backed Simpson and primary challenger Chuck Nadd promptly suspended his campaign. The endorsement comes a day after Simpson landed the endorsement of Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and one of the nation’s most influential fiscal conservatives.
“Elizabeth Warren, other progressive leaders, back Maxwell Frost in CD 10” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — “We need more community organizers in Congress, and he will fight tooth and nail for working people — to fix our rigged economic system, raise wages to keep up with rising costs and get our nation’s housing crisis under control,” Warren, a 2020 Democratic candidate for President, said in a release. The campaign also announced endorsements from Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Jamie Raskin of Maryland, People for the American Way President Ben Jealous, labor and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, the Communications Workers of America, and Way to Lead. Frost’s campaign also announced several local endorsements: Rev. Derrick Hutchinson of New Life Church COGIC in Orlando, Osceola County Clerk of Courts Kelvin Soto, and Orlando LGBTQ+ organizers Robin Witt and Matthew Inman.
“‘Putting politics before everything else’: Kelli Stargel’s daughter speaks out against mother’s congressional run in viral TikTok” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — In a TikTok that has garnered over 64,000 views, Stargel’s daughter, Hannah, recounts what she considers hypocrisies between her parents’ political facade promoting conservative, family-first policy and their relationship with their children. “After numerous years of telling me I was hard to love, putting me through tons of years of neglect, putting politics before everything else, and honestly, just being a horrible, horrible person to look up to — is this really somebody you want up in D.C. passing laws for you and your children, telling you what to do with your body?” Hannah Stargel said on TikTok. Hannah told Florida Politics that she decided to speak out after her mother announced her congressional run, after years of promising to step away from politics.
To watch the clip, click on the image below:
Broward Teachers Union backs Jared Moskowitz for CD 23 — The Broward Teachers Union on Monday endorsed Moskowitz in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. “We’re thankful Jared was the Director of Emergency Management during the first year of the pandemic because his work ensured that teachers had access to masks, testing, and vaccines and that schools maintained important safety policies,” BTU President Anna Fusco said. “In the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, Jared was an active presence in helping our community through the crisis as he prioritized the safety of our entire learning community. For that, we will always be grateful. Jared will be the advocate that teachers and schools need in Washington.”
—“Florida Republican Assembly announces slate of endorsements” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
— MORE 2022 —
“‘Trusted conservative’ Jessica Baker first on TV in HD 17” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Baker launched the first ad of the 2022 cycle Monday in Jacksonville’s House District 17, a Southside district that includes the University of North Florida. The 30-second cable spot, “The trusted conservative we need,” depicts Baker — a prosecutor in the 7th Judicial Circuit, a “military wife” and a mom — as a Republican stalwart who will stand shoulder to shoulder with DeSantis in legislative battles to come. The ad touts endorsements from Jacksonville’s last two sheriffs, incumbent Mike Williams and his predecessor, Rep. John Rutherford, relying on trusted commodities to introduce Baker, a first-time candidate for office.
To watch the ad, click on the image below:
“Rachel Plakon picks up Paul Renner’s endorsement in HD 36” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Renner endorsed Plakon Monday in her bid for the House District 36 seat. Plakon faces Rich Santos and Angel Perry in a Republican Primary Election for HD 36, covering northern Seminole County. With redistricting, the new district covers Heathrow, Lake Mary, Sanford, Geneva, and parts of Longwood and Winter Springs. For the past eight years, the western portion was represented by Plakon’s husband, Rep. Scott Plakon. He is term-limited out. The district appears to have a slight Democratic lean, based on the past couple of General Elections results. However, no Democrat has filed to run there.
Ardian Zika endorses Kevin Steele as successor in HD 55 — Rep. Zika is backing Republican candidate Steele in the race to succeed him in the House. “I can think of no better person to continue my fight for American values than Kevin Steele. Kevin is a bold leader who values hard work, a strong education for our kids and is determined to make life better for every Floridian. He has my complete endorsement to continue our fight to keep Florida Free,” Zika said. Steele, a Dade City businessman, faces Gabriel Papadopoulos and Brad Sollberger in the Republican Primary for House District 55.
“Nick DiCeglie backs Jason Holloway for HD 58” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — State Rep. DiCeglie has announced his endorsement of Holloway for House District 58. DiCeglie, an Indian Shores Republican, was first elected to the Florida House in 2018. He is now seeking a state Senate seat. “I am proud to endorse Jason Holloway for Florida House,” DiCeglie said. “He’s a Pinellas native with a sincere devotion to the families and businesses who live here, and he is a proven conservative who we can count on to give Gov. DeSantis the support he needs in Tallahassee. I look forward to working with him in the future.”
— STATEWIDE —
Jimmy Patronis, Israeli Consulate tour site of Chabad fire — CFO and State Fire Marshal Patronis and Israeli Consul General Maor Elbaz-Starinsky toured the site of the Chabad of Tallahassee, which recently burned down. The fire is currently being investigated by the state Division of Investigative and Forensic Services, which Patronis oversees, to determine the cause and origin. “I was humbled today to give Israeli Consul General Maor Elbaz-Starinsky a tour of the site of the Chabad of Tallahassee and FSU that was tragically devastated by a massive fire just a few weeks ago. It’s truly painful to see the complete destruction a fire of this magnitude can cause, but I’m thankful that no one was hurt in this blaze. … The bonds between Israel and Florida run deep and we are here to support the Jewish community in Tallahassee and at FSU as they continue to recover,” Patronis said.
Cord Byrd to attend FSE Summer Conference — New Secretary of State Byrd will attend the Florida Supervisors of Elections Annual Summer Conference/Convention on Tuesday, where he is scheduled to hold a media availability at 10:45 a.m. FSE meets at least twice a year, once in the summer and midwinter. In addition to Byrd, the event will be attended by Supervisors of Elections staff, state officials and Division of Elections staff. This year, the summer conference is in the Juniper Ballroom of the Hotel Effie Sandestin, 1 Grand Sandestin Blvd. in Miramar Beach. FSE President Marion County Supervisor of Elections Wesley Wilcox and Incoming President and Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley will also be at the media availability.
“Equality Florida head Nadine Smith named one of Time’s ‘100 Most Influential’” via Jack Evans of the Tampa Bay Times — Smith, the St. Petersburg resident who founded Equality Florida a quarter-century ago, is one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2022. “Her work is an inspiration for LGBTQ organizations around the world, providing a blueprint on how to make progress for our communities through strong commitment and perseverance,” wrote novelist Kristen Arnett, also a Floridian, in the publication’s section on Smith. Smith said Monday’s recognition wouldn’t have been fathomable to her teenage self, who came of age amid the AIDS epidemic and in a social climate where being openly gay could cost someone their job or family.
“Florida grad says gay without using the word in brilliant speech” via Trudy Ring of The Advocate — His principal, Stephen Covert, had warned Zander Moricz, the first out class president at Pine View School in Osprey, against discussing his gay identity and LGBTQ+ activism while speaking against graduation in light of Florida’s recently adopted “don’t say gay” law, which restricts school-sponsored mention of sexual orientation and gender identity. The administration threatened to cut him off if he did so. “I must discuss a very public part of my identity. This characteristic has probably become the first thing you think of when you think of me as a human being,” he said. “As you know, I have curly hair.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Joe Biden says U.S. would intervene militarily if China invaded Taiwan” via Andrew Restuccia, Ken Thomas and Josh Chin of The Wall Street Journal — Biden said the U.S. would respond militarily to defend Taiwan if China tries to take it by force, sparking uncertainty over whether the U.S. was moving away from its long-standing policy of “strategic ambiguity” as the White House looks for ways to check Beijing’s growing clout in Asia. Biden’s comments were met with anger from Beijing and praise from Taipei. Congress is committed to selling defensive weapons to Taiwan, but Washington has previously avoided saying whether it would intervene directly in the event of an invasion, a so-called policy of strategic ambiguity.
“As Biden zeros in on student-loan forgiveness decision, voter anxiety grows” via Andrew Restuccia of The Wall Street Journal — Biden, in the coming weeks, is expected to decide whether to put forward a student-loan forgiveness plan aimed in part at motivating young voters to cast ballots in November’s elections. At the University of North Carolina, and in neighborhoods across the surrounding Research Triangle area, there are signs that whatever approach he takes could leave swathes of voters dissatisfied. Students and recent graduates with heavy debt worry that Biden’s plan will be too weak after the President and his advisers signaled they are considering relief that could be far less than the $50,000-per-borrower sought by prominent Democrats.
“In new book, Kellyanne Conway takes aim at many targets — except Trump” via Ashley Parker of The Washington Post — In 2015, Conway found herself en route to pick up her kids at elementary school, simultaneously pushing back against an attempt by Michael Cohen, then Trump’s personal attorney and fixer, to rig the annual Conservative Political Action Conference’s buzzy straw poll, which her firm was running, in Trump’s favor. Her memoir is peppered with references to “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” a term she uses to refer to the media and the political left, who she says were unable to accept the reality that Trump vanquished Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“Supreme Court limits inmates’ challenges based on bad legal help” via Adam Liptak of The New York Times — Ruling against two Arizona death row inmates, the Supreme Court on Monday sharply cut back on prisoners’ ability to challenge their convictions in federal court by arguing that their lawyers had been ineffective in state court proceedings. The 6-to-3 decision split along ideological lines. Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said that a federal court considering a habeas corpus petition “may not conduct an evidentiary hearing or otherwise consider evidence beyond the state-court record based on ineffective assistance of state post-conviction counsel.” He based his decision on language in a 1996 federal law limiting habeas corpus petitions, the judicial system’s interest in finality, and state sovereignty.
“Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson taps Palm Beach County public defender as clerk” via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County assistant public defender Claire Madill will become one of Brown Jackson’s four clerks. The elite position, which Madill once described as “being struck by lightning,” means she will work alongside Jackson, crafting opinions that will help determine the law of the land. While Madill declined to comment, Public Defender Carey Haughwout applauded Jackson’s choice. “She’s just fabulous,” Haughwout said of Madill. “She’s brilliant. She’s energetic. She’s creative. She’s just one of those people looking to see how the law can redress grievances and help people.” Assistant Public Defender Paul Petillo, chief of the appellate division when Madill was hired in 2017, said he was stunned when he received the Michigan native’s resume.
— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —
“Jury selection in school shooter’s trial upended by T-shirt” via The Associated Press — The already slow slog of picking jurors in the penalty trial of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz hit a new stumbling block Monday when a potential juror’s T-shirt honoring those killed and traumatized in the 2018 massacre resulted in the dismissal of her entire group of 10. The woman, a 58-year-old high school teacher, wore a T-shirt in the burgundy and silver colors of Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that read “Teacher Strong.” Cruz pleaded guilty in October to murdering 17 and wounding 17 others. The trial will decide whether he is sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.
“Two separate groups of Cuban migrants land in South Florida” via The Associated Press — Authorities said that two separate groups of migrants from Cuba landed in South Florida on Sunday. The first group of 10 migrants made landfall in the Florida Keys early Sunday. They were taken into custody and are the subjects of an investigation, Chief Patrol Agent Walter Slosar of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a tweet. The second group of six migrants swam ashore near Golden Beach in Miami-Dade County several hours later after their vessel capsized. There were no reported injuries, Slosar said.
“As liquified gas exports surge at Port Everglades, risk of catastrophic accident on roads or rail increase” via Dan Christensen of the Florida Bulldog — More than a half-million men, women and children in South Florida who live near truck and rail routes used to ship surging supplies of volatile liquefied natural gas are at risk of a potentially catastrophic accident, according to a national non-profit environmental advocacy group. Those residents, as well as 228 schools and 13 hospitals, are within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s recommended one-mile evacuation radius if an LNG “tank, rail car, or tank truck is involved in a fire.” The group is calling on Broward County commissioners to “protect residents by halting the transport of liquified gas at the Port.”
“‘Bold, fresh leadership’: Daniel Perez backs Kevin Marino Cabrera for Miami-Dade County Commission” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — State Rep. Perez, a future Speaker of the House, has endorsed government relations specialist Cabrera for the Miami-Dade County Commission seat representing District 6. Cabrera’s campaign on Monday announced Perez’s endorsement, who in a statement said he is “proud to endorse” Cabrera. “District 6 residents deserve bold, fresh leadership that will fight to tackle the problems that matter most — inflation and the cost of living, and housing affordability,” said Perez, who is on track to become Speaker in 2024.
Happening today — Meghan McCain, daughter of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, will speak to the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches, noon, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Cohen Pavilion, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.
— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —
“Tampa Bay has ‘high’ COVID-19 levels, masks recommended indoors” via Ian Hodgson of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties are among eight Florida counties with “high” community levels of COVID-19. Sarasota, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe are other high-risk counties. Under the CDC’s guidelines, a “high” community level is the threshold when federal health officials recommend that all residents wear a well-fitting mask in public indoor spaces in those counties. However, the CDC itself does not list the Tampa Bay area as having “high” community levels. Instead, the Bay Area’s three counties are “medium” risk, according to the CDC’s website.
“Report: Ex-UCF provost sought position for husband, made racially insensitive remarks” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Elizabeth Dooley broke barriers as both the first woman and African American to be No. 2 in command at one of the nation’s biggest universities. But her tenure as University of Central Florida (UCF) provost was short-lived. Under fire, she resigned from her position in April 2020 as the school investigated her for abusing her power to help her husband find a job, for making disparaging racial comments about White people, and other misconduct. Since stepping down as provost, Dooley has remained on the University of Central Florida’s tenured faculty and is currently paid nearly $400,000 as an education professor.
Happening today — The Florida Polytechnic University Board of Trustees meets, 11 a.m., Florida Polytechnic University, 4700 Research Way, Lakeland.
Happening today — The Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board meets, 9 a.m., SFWMD offices, 7601 U.S. 301 North, Tampa.
“Disney visitor reports $40,000 credit card fraud after losing Apple Watch at Epcot” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — A woman who lost her Apple Watch while riding The Seas and Nemo and Friends at Epcot claimed someone used it to charge about $40,000 to her credit card last month. She said the watch was not returned promptly after she lost it on the ride, as promised by an employee. The day afterward, she said she began receiving fraudulent charges on an unlimited American Express credit card linked to the smartwatch. The woman’s name is redacted from an incident report because she requested anonymity under a state law protecting crime victims.
— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —
“Garrett Dennis resigns from Jacksonville City Council, announces run for U.S. House seat” via First Coast News — City Councilman Dennis announced Monday that he will run for a position in the U.S. House and resign from Jacksonville City Council to do so. Dennis says he will run for Florida’s 14th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives, currently represented by Kathy Castor. “I will fight hard to make sure the residents of District 14 are not left behind by the Republican politicians in Tallahassee,” said Dennis.
“Newest Mayport littoral ship commissioned as future of other ships hangs in budget balance” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Despite plans to retire Naval Station Mayport’s existing lineup of littoral combat ships, the U.S. Navy has been celebrating the commissioning Saturday of its newest LCS, the USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul. “You prepared this ship to take her place in the fleet during challenging times,” Jodi Greene, a former Navy deputy undersecretary who was the ship’s sponsor, said. Greene said crew members have “already proven your strength and determination in getting ready for this momentous day.” The ship will be based in Mayport alongside eight vessels the Navy aims to decommission after the service’s 2023 budget takes effect. More are still in production and expected to reach Mayport over the next few years.
Assignment editors — Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey and challengers Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier and Michel Ibrahim will debate at the Network of Entrepreneurs & Business Advocates luncheon, 11:50 a.m., Capital City Country Club, 1601 Golf Terrace Drive, Tallahassee. Register online here.
“14,000 Escambia County voters must update their registration to get mail-in ballot” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — More than 14,000 voters in Escambia County last week got a notice from the Supervisor of Elections Office that their registration lacked the required personal identification information to receive a mail-in ballot. Escambia County Supervisor of Elections David Stafford told the News Journal his office sent out the notice because of a new elections law passed by the Florida Legislature that requires the information to be on the registration of anyone requesting a mail-in ballot. The new law, passed in 2021, has been the subject of a federal court battle for its provision changing the requirements for how often voters must request mail-in ballots, restricting the use of drop boxes and changing rules surrounding voter registration groups.
— TOP OPINION —
“Florida’s property insurance crisis could have been avoided” via Adam Hattersley for the Tallahassee Democrat — When it comes to figuring out how we got into this predicament, there’s a lot of finger-pointing going on. Insurance companies want to blame consumers, while consumers say the insurance companies’ mishandling of claims is to blame for this mess. At some point, though, you must look at leadership. We’re in this situation because instead of using annual Legislative Sessions to tackle real issues facing Floridians, Florida’s leaders have squandered much of their time and spent the rest of it doing favors for big businesses. While Florida homeowners watched as their property insurance costs tripled and their policies got canceled, lawmakers focused on earning cheap political points and picking frivolous culture war fights.
— OPINIONS —
“America must lead the world in renewing the promise of ‘never again’” via Rick Scott for The Washington Times — It is time for America to lead our freedom-loving partners across the world to renew our commitment to “never again,” support the massive humanitarian efforts underway to aid Ukrainian refugees and those who are helping them, and forcefully condemn the genocide occurring at the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. Whether we like it or not, we need to recognize the evil in our world. It exists in the governments of communist China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Russia. They want a different world, one where the enemies of democracy, human rights and sovereign nations issue the orders, and the United States and our allies do what we are told. They will bully and crush anyone in their way if they are allowed. I, for one, and I know I am not alone, will not accept this.
“America’s supply chains are too efficient. What we need is a resilient economy” via Marco Rubio for Newsweek — Over the last several months, parents scrambled to find infant baby formula after the provisional closure of a production plant in Michigan. Supply chain disruptions are always an inconvenience, one that Americans are becoming increasingly familiar with. But in this case, they could mean life or death. The sad truth is that for years, politicians, corporate CEOs, shareholders, and consumers alike have ignored the need for resiliency and redundancy. There was a naive belief that major, long-term supply chain disruptions were a relic of the past.
“The echoes of America’s hypocrisy abroad” via Howard W. French of Foreign Policy — In the Philippines, unfolding dramatically throughout that month, a popular movement built around gigantic street protests had begun to crumble the once unassailable authority of the longtime dictator and U.S. client Ferdinand Marcos. It is time we see this crisis of democracy as it spreads in more and more Western countries as being linked with outcomes in the so-called developing world, where decades of Western mouthing of the values of democracy overseas with no corresponding investment have finally come home to roost. Events in the Philippines offer an ideal opportunity to think about the hard work of creating lasting democracy in the wake of long-standing authoritarian rule.
— ALOE —
“‘Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One’ trailer officially arrives” via Ryan Parker of The Hollywood Reporter — The trailer for Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One has finally arrived. And the preview is nothing short of mind-blowing. In true Tom Cruise fashion, the first look at the highly anticipated installment in the billion-dollar action-spy franchise is bursting at the seams with explosive action and eye-popping stunts. The official Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One trailer release comes after an apparent leak over the weekend. Twitter users who shared the leak were quickly slapped with a copyright takedown. The initial glimpse of the Paramount film was screened at CinemaCon last month.
To watch the trailer, click on the image below:
“LARPing goes to Disney World” via Neima Jahromi of The New Yorker — In 2012, Disney spent 4 billion dollars to buy Lucasfilm, which produces the “Star Wars” films and TV shows and acquired not just the imaginations at Lucasfilm but those of its fans. The creation of the Galactic Starcruiser suggests a wager: many “Star Wars” enthusiasts, not content with repeat viewings of “The Mandalorian” or dressing up as a Stormtrooper at a convention, will pay to experience this fantasy universe through live-action role-play, or LARP. In a LARP, players, often in costume, improvise stories and borrow from such genres as medieval fantasy, science fiction, and vampire movies. For more than a decade, Imagineers have been looking into LARPS and interactive theater and running “playtests” in the parks. In 2019, Disney opened Black Spire Outpost, which put some of its experiments into practice.
“Tourism thriving in Florida ahead of Memorial Day weekend” via The Associated Press — Tourists have returned to Florida in numbers surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Officials at Miami International Airport are projecting the “busiest Memorial Day weekend ever.” Passenger traffic at the airport was up 17% over the last 30 days, compared to before the pandemic hit in 2020. The airport is currently averaging 150,000 passengers a day compared to 126,000 daily in 2019, a previous all-time high. Similar growth in tourism is being seen statewide in Florida, which never had mandatory statewide mask mandates and was primarily open for businesses throughout the pandemic, even when the state was getting battered by the delta wave that killed thousands of Floridians last summer.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today are Zach Colletti, Jillian Lane Wyant, and Cheryl Martell. Happy belated birthday to the Eskamani twins, Anna and Ida.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.