Winners and Losers of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 5.22.22

Florida finally passed badly needed condo reform, but state Rep. Randy Fine went a tweet too far over the line/

Marco Rubio threw a hissy fit after his hometown Miami Heat urged fans to contact him and demand “commonsense gun laws.”

Uh, Senator, what’s wrong with the organization exercising its First Amendment right to freely speak about a burning social issue after the horror in Uvalde, Texas?

But no, Rubio played the classic card Republicans use after mass shooting tragedies — the old “let’s not politicize this” gambit.

“The NBA doesn’t like to talk about the billions they make from a China that enslaves Uyghur Muslims and harvests their organs, But they have no problem politicizing a horrific tragedy in America,” Rubio tweeted.

He kept going.

“The (Miami Heat) runs commercials calling #Florida a racist state,” he tweeted. “But because (NBA China) is worth $133 million for each team, they say nothing about how China puts Muslims in concentration camps & allows no one to vote.”

The commercial that set Rubio off never says Florida is a racist state, not even close. It was the team’s response to the (cough) voting “security” measures pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Those “security” measures appear to disproportionately target the favored options Black people used to vote — mail and drop boxes.

And the announcement about “commonsense gun laws” came from the Heat, not from the NBA’s central office.

It’s disingenuous for Rubio, a favorite of the National Rifle Association (NRA), to criticize anyone for politicizing the Texas tragedy. No one plays the political game better than the NRA, which stuffs Rubio’s coffers with cash.

Rubio loves to denounce totalitarian regimes in China and Cuba, where the government crushes dissent. But he’s saying that the Heat should just shut up and dribble, as Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham famously said when LeBron James expressed a political opinion.

Athletes and teams have as much right to use their platforms for social justice as Rubio has to push his agenda.

It’s called freedom.

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

Honorable mention: DeSantis. His undeclared campaign for President just picked up more steam.

Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of 2022. Then, Newsweek did a cover story on the Governor, headlined “President DeSantis?

“His every utterance seems calculated to send progressives into a frenzy. He’s one of the most prolific political fundraisers in America. His endorsements of other like-minded America First conservative candidates help those beneficiaries pull ahead in crowded Primaries,” reporter Steve Freiss wrote.

“And the worst-kept secret in American politics is that he wants to swap out his Sunshine State address for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as soon as possible.”

Oh, who is that? Donald Trump?

“No, the politician is not Donald Trump but rather Florida Governor Ron DeSantis,” Freiss wrote.

He added that DeSantis “lately seems bent on executing just about every page of the former President’s political playbook — only with a sunnier demeanor, less offensive language, and fewer of the personal antics that make Trump so polarizing.”

Former Gov. Jeb Bush wrote the tribute to DeSantis in Time.

“His approach works. It’s one that has allowed Florida to emerge from the pandemic as a national model of personal freedom, economic growth, environmental protection, and education excellence,” Bush said.

“Florida continues to see record population growth, unemployment remains below the national average, the private sector is growing, and Florida remains a national leader in school choice.”

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Big tech. It wasn’t all cake and balloons for the Governor.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals gave DeSantis a bloody nose. The three-judge panel unanimously agreed with the major parts of a lower court decision that struck down the Governor’s ballyhooed attempt to keep major social media platforms from banning conservatives.

“Put simply, with minor exceptions, the government can’t tell a private person or entity what to say or how to say it,” Circuit Judge Kevin Newsom wrote. Newsom added that. “We hold that it is substantially likely that social-media companies — even the biggest ones — are ‘private actors’ whose rights the First Amendment protects.”

Newsom was appointed by — wait for it — Trump!

The biggest winner: Condo reform. It took a Special Session to get it done, but Florida lawmakers finally passed much-needed condominium reform.

In both chambers, the vote was unanimous nearly a year after the 12-story collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside killed 98 people.

The Miami Herald reported that an engineer warned in 2018 that the building had a “major error” in the drainage that had caused “major structural damage.”

Florida’s new law requires more frequent and vigorous building inspections, especially if they’re within three miles of the coast.

It also requires developers to keep a cash reserve sufficient to pay for needed repairs. The reserve fund was a major sticking point during the Legislative Session, eventually leaving lawmakers unable to agree.

House members remained insistent that the fund was necessary, and the Senate agreed during the Special Session.

A judge also recently ruled that survivors of the collapse will share in a $96 million settlement.


Dishonorable mention: Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. It seems like inflation is affecting public records too.

A routine records request by Anne Schindler, an executive producer at Jacksonville’s First Coast News, drew this shocking response.

The Sheriff’s Office said sure. You can have them. Just send us $87,401, and we’ll get right on it.

Jacksonville Times-Union columnist Nate Monroe detailed the exchange, but it comes down to a simple fact. These are PUBLIC records. Anyone who works in government or the public sector understands this.

If a member of the public or media wants to see something, the law says they can. The institutions are allowed to charge, but what the Sheriff’s Office demanded was absurd.

It begs the question: What are they hiding?

Schindler was following up on a story she broke about rogue cops. In Jacksonville, the State Attorney’s Office kept a list of local cops who couldn’t be trusted. And as Monroe wrote, “a police officer who was, remarkably, removed from the list for unclear reasons.”

We ask again: What are they hiding?

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Ghost candidate. Three people face multiple criminal charges for their alleged participation in a “ghost candidate” scandal in the Senate District 9 election in 2020.

Republican Jason Brodeur won the race over Democrat Patricia Sigman by 7,644 votes. Independent Jestine Iannotti was third with 5,787 votes.

The office of Seminole-Brevard State Attorney Phil Archer announced the indictments against Iannotti, James “Eric” Foglesong and Benjamin Paris following an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Fogelsong is a veteran Central Florida political consultant, and Paris is the Seminole Republican Chair.

The charges against the three stem from alleged campaign finance violations.

“Some NPA candidates, commonly referred to as ‘ghost’ candidates, have been used by political parties as a way to close elections or siphon off votes. While not illegal per se, many have questioned the ethics of the practice,” Archer said in a statement. “However, when that candidate and the partisan political operatives involved violate election finance laws by illegally funding those races and filing false reports, it is the responsibility of government to act.”

Columnist Scott Maxwell noted that The Orlando Sentinel started poking into the story shortly after the election.

“For 21 months — as Sentinel journalists pulled public records, knocked on doors and studied election laws — the political insiders laughed and tried to downplay our work, saying we had a big pile of nothing,” he wrote. “A dozen criminal charges seems like something to me.”

The biggest loser: Randy Fine. It’s not even close.

After President Joe Biden’s emotional reaction to the horror of the mass murder of children in Uvalde, Texas, the state Representative from House District 53 proved that he’s a punk who craves attention.

He keeps doing and saying stupid things while deluding himself into thinking he’s clever and tough.

Fine tweeted, “I have news for the embarrassment that claims to be our President — try to take our guns and you’ll learn why the Second Amendment was written in the first place.”

Well, we have news for you, Mr. Fine.

First, Biden doesn’t claim to be the President; he IS the President.

Second, Fine is the embarrassment, as he repeatedly proves.

And finally, that sure sounded like a threat to the President of the United States. The Miami Herald editorial board urged the Secret Service to investigate.

Good idea.

“Biden can go on TV and not wait one minute before he blames the GOP and demands guns be seized. That’s apparently peace and unity,” Fine told Florida Today.

“We respond, and we’re riling people up. If POTUS wants to politicize a tragedy, he should expect people to get angry in return.”

Biden never said he was coming for anyone’s guns. He didn’t blame the GOP.

He did correctly say that “the gun manufacturers have spent two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons, which make them the most and largest profit. For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.”

Facts matter to most of us, but apparently not to Fine.

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.


  • Tom

    May 29, 2022 at 6:58 am

    Winner Still Champion:

    America’s Gov wins convincingly again, dominates the political landscape.

    With his effective skill and quiet leadership of legislators he drove the consensus towards passing Homeowners insurance , and revised in honor of surf side, the condo Assoc safety regs. These both are highly effective and bipartisan bills. Passed with great LBJ like consensus and support.

    Florida’s economy continues to prosper under America’s Gov., employment jobs, wage growth and financial stewardship with $21 billion in state reserves. Collected with state revenues, over $700 million in state revenues monthly.
    Gov Ron sets the example. Rising tide for all not a few, in which Florida’ offers that. Everyone proposers in Florida. Middle class, blue collar, and working class benefits.

    And Time magazines acknowledgement of America’s Governor, with their editors right to delete and ex Gov Bush’s forward signifies Gov Ron’s emergence on the nautical scene. Gov Ron dominates the conservative Repub. movement.

    His legislative agenda and success is the example of conservative governance.

    America’s Governor, rising tide for all. Not a few like Dems.

    • Tom

      May 30, 2022 at 10:59 am

      Hey Joe H.

      Sounds like you are supporting Tammany hall tactics for unlawful non resident voters. Private sector managed drop off voting boxes, not acceptable. Illegals voting not acceptable, voting clusters not acceptable, endless mail in “fraud” voting, not acceptable Joe.
      Voter ID is acceptable. Your criticism of Gov Ron not acceptable on these matters. Just saying.
      We must have fair non Tammany hall elections.

  • Tom

    May 29, 2022 at 8:01 am

    Winner and people’s champion. America’s Governor.

    America’s Gov dominates and owns agenda.
    Two key Florida bi partisan bills passed.
    Key leadership gets homeowners insurance passed and revised Florida’s condo Assoc safety inspections, in honor of Surfside.

    Along with the best state economy in country, 3.0% unemployment, 8.7% wage growth and $21 billion in state financial reserves, America’s Gov demonstrates great leadership.

    No doubt Time magazine recognized his impact on winning Covid and governing Florida correctly. They have editors review, and asked Jeb Bush for introduction.

    Joe, FYI local jurisdictions don’t get to apply illegal methuselah in voter fraud, like unlimited mail in ballots, and corrupt voter boxes. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have had recent abuses and country cases of such. Trying to guise Tammany hall tactics into legal corruption under the hat of minority access is a lie.

    Florida under America’s Gov is a beacon of freedom, liberty, justice and opportunity.
    A rising tide for all under America’s Gov.

    • SteveHC

      May 29, 2022 at 8:16 am

      Meh… but certainly feel free to erect on your front lawn that little shrine to DeSantis that you seem to desire so strongly, it MIGHT attract a few “thoughts and prayers” from a random passer-by once in awhile…

      • Tom

        May 29, 2022 at 9:01 am

        Steve hc, fTypical leftist ignorance!
        Facts are funny things for you extremists. Enjoy, LMAO.
        America’s Gov #1. The best!
        Do for America, what he’s done for Florida.

    • Tom

      May 29, 2022 at 10:36 am

      FYI addendum to winners/losers:

      Civiqs poll out on 5/28 has Potus Biden approval at 33% in Florida! Joe that’s your biggest loser. 57% disapprove. With 10% undecided.

      You Dum Dems are in for a state wide shellacking. Chameleon, Fraud, Dum Demings, have no chance.

      America’s Gov and Marco win bigly.
      Major shellacking coming with new Congress, 40 to 70 house seats. Biden recession this fall only makes it potentially worse.

    • Sister Biscuit, San Pasqual Culinary-Veterinary Institute

      May 29, 2022 at 10:51 am

      My God you are a blowhard. So many words and so little to say, over and over and over. Bad dog!
      No treat for you, bless your heart.

      • Tom

        May 29, 2022 at 1:54 pm

        Keep it simple for stupid Sista!
        Glad you got the message.
        Truth needs to be repeated many more times!
        Praying for your conversion Sista!

  • SteveHC

    May 29, 2022 at 8:08 am

    Fine LOVES to talk like a quintessential Flori-DUH “redneck” tuffie but inevitably winds up coming across like the dim-witted, local-yokel political bully that he seemingly strives to be but can’t quite actualky pull it off to any real effect.

  • Brandon

    May 29, 2022 at 10:45 am

    I am no fan of Sen. Rubio but he still wins in November so he is a winner. Yes, Big Tech may have won in court but most hate them and DeSantis and Republicans will still dominate this state. Winners there.

  • Ocean Joe

    May 29, 2022 at 11:14 am

    News flash, Tom. Not everyone is prospering.
    Millions of renters on edge over whether they will be priced out of their homes with nowhere to go. Children having to change schools or losing their dog because the next place won’t accept them. Empathy won’t hurt you Tom, renters may not live in the Villages, but they pick up your garbage, staff the service industry, fix your roof, and without them you and Rick Scott would have to go back north.
    Homeowners with mortgages seeing monthly payments rise due to insurance) while wages dont, because Florida’s GOP always takes the side of business against the consumer.
    (Remember, we had to pass a minimum wage law by conts. amendment because you guys wouldn’t hear of it in the legislature).
    Florida’s most important asset: our environment, being trashed for 25 years. Continued denial of any serious approach to climate, in order to avoid offending the deniers.
    Attacks on the freedom to teach our history, not a sanitized plantation owner style version, along with undercutting our public schools in favor of private schools.
    Your rising tide claim is reminiscent of Reagan’s voodoo economics and trickle down. If you’re wealthy and have time to be here congrats. But lets not forget about the folks struggling to make ends meet. Blame Biden if you like, but dont gloss over what’s really going on.

    • Tom

      May 30, 2022 at 4:14 am

      Joe. Who do you mean? The 2.5 million illegals? Trying to get them to vote unlawfully,

      BTW, The rental moratorium was a ill advised action. Freezing rental properties just created more inflation. The $1.9 billion partisan spending bill last March and the $1 billion bill after is super inflationary. Inflation was 1.9% when Biden Harris took office. They have destroyed the economy.

      DeSantis has been a outstanding Gov. His Covid efforts are now recognized as correct, along with economy, Florida’s economy is bottom up. Rising tide for all, not a few.

    • Tom

      May 30, 2022 at 10:49 am

      Hey BTW Ocean Joe.

      Hows the fake Steele dossier, fake alpha bank and mueller hoaxes.
      Big lie paid for by the Hillary. What a crock of Adam Schiff in a Nancy Pelosi nanny sack for chuck schuemer. How you like the lies now.
      Using the Feds for political purpose, scurrilous.

  • Tom

    May 29, 2022 at 2:57 pm

    Sorry Ocean, facts don’t support what you say.
    Florida is prospering under any reasonable economic metric. 3.0% unemployment, 8.7% wage growth, $21 billion is reserves. Consecutive job growth leads USA.

    Booming tourism, manufacturing jobs, real estate taxes, contractors, Realtors industry, suppliers etc, Florida collects over $700 million in taxes and month. Over 500,000 jobs avail.

    People know that the Gov is in there side. Fighting for blue collar, middle class, working class. Raises and bonuses for educators, law enforcement, first responders.

    Biden’s moratorium on housing was disaster, could that with Florida boom. No Democrat can stop in flight migration! Full of Adam Schiff.

    Florida is the palm to be, not the blue state dead end states. It’s is a rising rise for all.
    Unlike Biden Harris economic ruin.

    Massive wave election coming. Biden’s approval 33% will sink party in Florida and beyond! 70 House seats, recession by Labor Day is a disaster for Dums. DeSantis is the rising tide for all.

    Sorry Joe, start swimming to ocean! Just saying Joe.

  • Tom

    May 29, 2022 at 3:08 pm

    Joe, It’s called supply side and it works.
    3.0% unemployment in Florida. Leads the country, wage growth, manufacturing, tourism, real estate, construction rehab, etc, Florida collects $700 million a months. 8.7% wage growth, $21 billion reserves. Under any reasonable economic metric Florida is the beacon.

    You can’t place s a moratorium freeze on rents and not see a dramatic increase in housing. Legislature and Gov expended $200 million for housing recipients.

    Facts don’t support you Joe. Florida is the economic liberty, personal freedom and liberty!
    America’s Gov on the suds of the peeps. Blue collar, middle class, working class. Rising tide for all.

  • Tom

    May 29, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    It’s called supply side economics.
    3.0 unemployment, 8.7 wage growth.
    Rising tide for all. Get on board!

Comments are closed.


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