Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.24.22

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When you need to know what's up — Sunburn gives you the low down.

Good Friday morning.

Do Floridians owe Donald Trump a ‘thank you?’

If former President Trump had not endorsed Ron DeSantis for Governor four years ago, we’d be three-and-a-half years into the Andrew Gillum administration.

Should we be thanking Donald Trump for steering Florida away from Andrew Gillum?

There was a time when a Gov. Gillum was seen as likely. Polls in the lead-up to Election Day consistently showed him with the edge over DeSantis.

Some made the outcome seem inevitable. For those who don’t remember, Quinnipiac released a poll showing Gillum up by a touchdown the day before the election.

But DeSantis managed the upset — and make no mistake, it was an upset. DeSantis may be a rising star today, but five years ago, he was a backbencher Congressman who polled two points behind Carlos Lopez Cantera in the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

When he filed for Governor, he was considered little more than a pre-fight warmup for Adam Putnam.

Trump changed that with a tweet.

The DeSantis campaign took that endorsement and drove it until the wheels fell off in the Primary, even producing a TV ad where DeSantis repeats many of Trump’s catchphrases to his young children.

Sure, Republican Primaries are not General Elections. But Trump did more than offer an endorsement. He also showed up to campaign for DeSantis in person, headlining campaign rallies for him in the final stretch of the race.

Trump wasn’t setting presidential popularity records at the time (or ever), but his consistent, visible and vocal support helped DeSantis’ campaign overcome blunders that some thought would kill his campaign. Gillum had blundered, too — the seeds that led to his recent federal indictment had already started sprouting, but they mainly were brushed off.

The result: DeSantis by about 32,000 votes.

It’s impossible to know how many Floridians turned out for DeSantis on Election Day because he was Trump’s man, but 32,000 would be a conservative estimate.

So, Donald Trump, thank you for saving Florida. Maybe.


U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist’s campaign for Governor will show another $600,000 raised in its campaign finance report covering the first half of June.

The campaign said the new money flowed in from more than 8,000 individual donors and put Crist’s to-date total near the $11 million mark.

Charlie Crist makes decent bank. Again.

The new report also puts Crist’s campaign on track for its fourth consecutive $1 million month — once the rest of June’s receipts are reported.

“The people of Florida deserve nothing less than a Governor with a heart who is ready to fight for them each and every day — I could not be more humbled to receive their support in our campaign’s mission to deliver compassionate leadership back to our state,” Crist said in a news release.

“This November, we’re going to make Ron DeSantis a one-term Governor so we can start tackling the real issues facing our neighbors and put the people first. I’m ready to fight alongside you for a Florida for all.”

Crist also touted momentum outside the money race, highlighting recent endorsements from Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, the Florida chapter of SEIU, and Sen. Annette Taddeo, a former rival in the gubernatorial Primary.

The other prominent Democrat in the race, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, hadn’t highlighted her mid-June numbers by Thursday evening. However, Friday is the deadline for submitting reports covering June 1-17.


@Twitter: ratios build character

@GeorgeHahn: Why would innocent people need preemptive pardons?

@MarcoRubio: The gas tax holiday is stupid The small savings will create more demand of the same limited supply & actually lead to higher prices

@AndrewWarrenFL: Disappointed but not surprised by SCOTUS striking down a reasonable regulation on concealed carry. Scalia even said 2A is not unlimited. Gun laws are as American as gun ownership; they’ve gone hand-in-hand throughout our history. More guns with less oversight make us less safe.

@JackPosobiec: Trump really saved Florida when he pushed DeSantis past Gillum 0.4% difference in 2018 and Gillum would be Governor today

@BiancaJoanie: Despite not qualifying to be on the ballot this fall, David Rivera tells Telemundo he’s going to campaign in West Kendall & The Hammocks regardless

@MDixon55: Any job posting for a Florida political reporter should include the line “must be willing to wear suits and/or dress clothes in or around Disney resort pools”

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@ChrisLatvala: I do not understand how the Angels can have the 2 greatest players on the planet and be as bad as they are.


2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 4; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 14; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 25; 2022 Sunshine Summit begins — 28; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 29; Beyoncé rolls-out seventh solo studio album ’Renaissance’ — 35; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 47; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 54; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 54; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 58; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 68; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 68; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 70; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 78; 2022 Emmys — 80; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 83; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 105; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 122; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 123; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 123; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 139; FITCon 2022 begins — 146; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 146; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 150; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 150; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 151; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 159; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 159; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 173; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 237; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 255; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 273; 2023 Session Sine Die — 315; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 315; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 343; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 399; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 483; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 644; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 763.


Ron DeSantis said Legislatures could give election to Donald Trump, a month before John Eastman” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Two days after the Nov. 3 election, when votes were still being tallied in several states, DeSantis told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, “I would also tell [Republicans], especially if you’re in those states that have Republican Legislatures like Pennsylvania and Michigan and all these places, call your state Representatives and your state Senators.

“Under Article 2 of the Constitution, presidential electors are done by the legislators and the schemes they create and the framework,” DeSantis continued. “And if there’s departure from that, if they’re not following law, if they’re ignoring the law, then they can provide remedies as well.”

Such a strategy ultimately wasn’t necessary for Florida.

But some Republicans in Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia, where Biden had defeated Trump, had been preparing to go forward with such a plan, according to evidence obtained by the (Jan. 6) committee.

Ron DeSantis was among the first to float the idea of lawmakers throwing the election to Donald Trump. Image via AP.

Florida companies dump millions into backdoor fundraising channel for DeSantis” via Zac Anderson of the Tallahassee Democrat — DeSantis pushed through a blockbuster gambling deal last year that gave a big prize to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which secured exclusive rights to offer sports betting in the state. Now DeSantis is running for re-election and the Seminole Tribe is making a $2 million contribution that could help the Governor secure another term.

The $2 million doesn’t show up in state campaign finance reports. It didn’t go into DeSantis’ political committee. Instead, the Tribe gave the money to the Republican Governors Association, which has been writing big checks to DeSantis’ committee, acting as a pass-through that allows some of the most significant special interests in Florida to funnel money to the Governor without as much scrutiny.

Republican and Democratic candidates have used these backdoor fundraising channels for years, but DeSantis appears to be taking it to a new level.

RGA is DeSantis’ largest donor (by far), contributing $13.4 million to his re-election bid. The group accounts for 11% of the $124 million DeSantis raised this cycle.

They include the parent company of Florida Power & Light, Florida-based prison contractor The GEO Group, Duke Energy, Florida Medicaid, and prison health care contractor Centene and Brightline train operator Florida East Coast Industries.

Some of these entities stand to make a lot of money off DeSantis’ policies.

—2022 —

DeSantis laughs off press ‘obsession’ with 2024” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “It’s just ridiculous,” the Governor contended. DeSantis, who was ahead of Biden and Trump in a poll released by the University of New Hampshire, again dismissed the idea that he was looking at a White House run even as the narrative of a GOP Primary clash with Trump will not go away. “What is this obsession with ’24? Like, we don’t even have the ’22 election,” DeSantis said. “I think it’s because the media knows that the Democrats are going to get hammered in 2022. They don’t want to talk about it.” “It’s just funny. It’s like, you know: ‘In a sure sign he’s plotting a political future, Gov. DeSantis is taking his kids to get ice cream’ or something like that.”

—“Why DeSantis can beat Trump in 2024” via Jonathan Chait for New York Magazine

Will he, or won’t he?

DeSantis roasts the media, wonders if there’ll be a ‘mea culpa’ for glorifying Andrew Gillum in 2018” via Joseph A. Wulfsohn of Fox News — DeSantis took a swipe at the media for the fawning coverage outlets had given to Gillum. Gillum, once seen as a rising star among Democrats who was narrowly defeated in the gubernatorial race by DeSantis, was indicted on charges including conspiracy and 19 counts of wire fraud, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday. The former Tallahassee Mayor is accused of acting with associate Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks to solicit funds using false representations and promises.

Charlie Crist, Nikki Fried court major union endorsements — Democratic gubernatorial candidates Crist and Fried are courting endorsements from the state’s major labor unions this week, but the unions are grappling with whether they should even endorse a candidate before the General Election. Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reported that labor unions are meeting in Orlando this week for the annual AFL-CIO conference. The Florida Education Association is pushing for the Committee on Political Education to join it in backing Crist, to no avail. That has left Fried with an opening to convince labor unions to hold off on issuing a Primary endorsement. If no endorsement is made by the time the conference ends, labor unions will be holding back their political infrastructure until after the Primary.

—”Addressing union workers, Fried says she makes DeSantis ‘nervous’ during Cabinet meetings” via Isaac Morgan of the Florida Phoenix

Walton County’s ‘grim reaper’ Daniel Uhlfelder qualifies to run for Attorney General” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News — Uhlfelder, who during the summer of 2020 stalked area beaches dressed as the Grim Reaper to protest the state’s decision to open its beaches amid a pandemic, has officially qualified to run for Florida’s Attorney General. Uhlfelder will face fellow Democrats Ayala Aramis and Jim Lewis in a statewide Aug. 23 Primary, with the winner moving on to a Nov. 8 contest against Republican incumbent Ashley Moody. A lawyer for 25 years, Uhlfelder attended college at Stanford and the University of Florida. In a news release sent out after qualifying Thursday, he said as Attorney General, he will work to strengthen voting rights, consumer rights, and fundamental human rights.

Aaron Bean drops $20K on CD 4 ads — Republican Bean’s campaign for Florida’s 4th Congressional District placed a $19,845 ad buy on Thursday. The flight, brokered through Mentzer Media Services, will air ads on Fox News within the Jacksonville media market from June 25-July 1. According to AdImpact, the new buy brings Bean’s total spent to $34,358 since he entered the race on June 3. He is one of six candidates who qualified for the ballot in the Northeast Florida district, including lesser-known Republicans Erick Aguilar and Jon Chuba. CD 4 is an odds-on Republican district, but Democrats drew two contenders in former state Sen. Tony Hill and education and health care advocate LaShonda Holloway.

Bad company: Mailer slams Anthony Sabatini for chilling with accused rapists, admitted sex traffickers” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Sabatini, a Republican congressional candidate, is being slammed for associating with accused sex criminals. “He’s cozy with pedophiles,” reads a direct mail piece hitting Central Florida inboxes. “Who else is he in bed with?” The salacious flyer was paid for the Citizens for Better Accountability PAC, and the headline just teases more pointed accusations. Many relate to the sordid cast of characters Sabatini associated with during his short stint in state politics, including Joel Greenberg, Cliff Maloney and Randy Ross. The mailer slams Sabatini for several issues, including his history as a registered Democrat.

Outside group antes $400K to support Kevin Hayslett in CD 13 — Stand for Florida, a PAC supporting Hayslett in the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, has put $400,000 behind a new ad touting him as the best option in the crowded Republican Primary. “Rioting. Lawlessness. The radical left will stop at nothing. We need someone to fight back,” the ad narrator says, adding that as a prosecutor, Hayslett “locked up dangerous criminals who threatened our way of life.” The ad concludes, “We need fighters who will stand up to radicals and put America first. We need Trump Republican Kevin Hayslett in Congress.” Currently, Anna Paulina Luna is seen as the front-runner for the Republican nomination in the Pinellas-based district, though polling has not shown her with majority support in the packed field, which also includes Amanda Makki and Christine Quinn.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

— MORE 2022 —

—“Police Benevolent Association endorses Nick DiCeglie for Senate run” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

Sharon Lettman-Hicks drops from HD 8 race after fraud charges in Andrew Gillum case” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Lettman-Hicks has dropped out of the race to replace Rep. Ramon Alexander in House District 8 after being charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud together with Gillum. Lettman-Hicks, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee’s longtime campaign associate, was part of a five-way Democratic Primary in the race to succeed Alexander until dropping out Thursday. Lettman-Hicks pleaded not guilty on Wednesday after the office of U.S. Attorney Jason Coody announced 20 charges against her. Gillum pleaded not guilty to those and one other charge.

Sharon Lettman-Hicks’ campaign is the first casualty of Andrew Gillum’s downfall. Image via the campaign.

Audrey Henson raises $250K in first two weeks of HD 60 campaign” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Henson has collected $259,300 since launching her campaign for House District 60 just under two weeks ago. Henson’s campaign announced that the money raised comes without transferring any funds from her previous congressional campaign account. Henson was previously running for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, but at the start of June, dropped her campaign to instead run in HD 60. “Democrats assume that lower Pinellas belongs to them, and for over a decade, liberals have taken the great people of St. Pete and Pinellas Park for granted, using this seat as a steppingstone for higher political aspirations,” Henson said in a statement.

Hialeah Mayor Steve Bovo, City Council members endorse Kevin Marino Cabrera for Miami-Dade CommissionBovo and four members of the Hialeah City Council are backing Cabrera in the race for Miami-Dade County Commission District 6. “Kevin is the right leader, at the right time,” said Bovo, who joined Council President Carl Zogby and Vivian Casals Muñoz, Bryan Calvo and Luis Rodriguez in the endorsement. District 6 includes Virginia Gardens, Miami Springs and West Miami, parts of Hialeah, Miami, Coral Gables, and unincorporated Miami-Dade County. Cabrera also earned support from Trump, U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis, House Speaker-to-be Daniel Perez, and County Commission candidate Rep. Anthony Rodriguez.

County Elections Supervisor details her reasoning for no livestreaming of vote counting” via Mike Diamond of The Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link pushed back against requests to livestream the work of canvassers, claiming state law prohibits it. Sartory Link, appearing before County Commissioners Tuesday, responded to criticisms of her office made recently by those who identified themselves as advocates for “election integrity.” In an email to Commissioner Gregg Weiss, Katherine Quenneville said, “the camera never looks away or gets distracted.” Livestreaming would go a long way toward ensuring transparency, she said. But, according to Sartory Link, state law prohibits anyone from copying a voter’s signature. And livestreaming would make it easy to do that, she said.


DeSantis has a plan to protect … tax evaders?” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — Maybe the most bizarre piece of legislation that the Governor’s Office drafted before Session was this one: A bill attempting to interfere with efforts by other states to collect taxes. The proposal sought to stop employees of other states from auditing or collecting unpaid personal income taxes from people who live — or who merely own a second (or third or fourth) home — in Florida, unless they first obtained licenses as “out-of-state tax collectors.” And those licenses would have been expensive: $25,000 to apply; $50,000 for the permit itself and for every year it is renewed; and $75,000 for each physical office in the state. (It’s not uncommon for a state to have tax offices in other states.

DeSantis continues promoting permitless carry following SCOTUS ruling” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis is lauding the U.S. Supreme Court for its ruling Thursday that expands and protects the Second Amendment. DeSantis has vowed to expand Floridians’ ability to carry firearms, and the court’s 6-3 decision released Thursday morning is already pressing the issue. During an appearance in Fort Lauderdale Thursday afternoon, a reporter asked DeSantis whether the decision that Americans have a right to carry firearms in public affects his own plans. In Florida, DeSantis has promised to pass permitless carry legislation in recent months, vowing to pass such a proposal before leaving office. Such a law, dubbed “constitutional carry” by advocates, would remove the need for Floridians to acquire a permit to carry a handgun, although definitions differ on whether such legislation applies to open or concealed carry.

—“DeSantis praises Supreme Court decision striking down New York’s gun law” via Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

What the Supreme Court’s gun rights ruling means for Florida” via Chris Hippensteel of the Tampa Bay Times — The ruling doesn’t nullify any of Florida’s current firearm laws. But it may invite new challenges against them and increase barriers for any future gun control legislation in the state or across the country. Thursday’s decision expanded on a landmark 2008 decision that established the right to carry a gun for self-defense in the home, holding that the same rights apply to “ordinary, law-abiding” citizens carrying handguns in public. Florida currently bans open carry, which would allow individuals to carry firearms in a manner where they are visible to others.”

NRA’s Marion Hammer isn’t really retiring, just dodging lobbyist disclosure requirements” via Dan Christensen of the Florida Bulldog — Last week, the National Rifle Association announced that its longtime Tallahassee-based lobbyist Hammer will “step down” but “continue to serve as an adviser to the NRA.” That’s a curious turn of phrase. But it has a simple, unstated meaning: Hammer, 83, will soon be able to dodge regular disclosure to Floridians again the splendid sums the NRA regularly slips into her purse, currently more than $50,000 every three months. This time, perhaps, legally. Three years ago, after Florida Bulldog disclosed that Hammer, former NRA president, hadn’t filed any lobbyist compensation forms, a potentially costly infraction, since the state began requiring them in 2007.

You really didn’t think Marion Hammer was retiring?

DeSantis signs bill expanding Alzheimer’s funding and research” via Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — DeSantis signed a bill Thursday establishing the Ramping up Education of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia for You (READY) Act and touted record funding for Alzheimer’s and related dementia conditions. “We are working to make sure that any Floridian suffering from this terrible disease can access resources while also supporting innovative technologies that will open up doors for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients in the future,” DeSantis said at the signing of SB 806 at Broward Health Sports Medicine in Fort Lauderdale. Florida’s budget provides $52.3 million for the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative Program, which, according to a news release, is an increase of $12 million over the previous year.

What Ron DeSantis is readingKen Griffin moving Citadel from Chicago to Miami following crime complaints” via John McCormick and Juliet Chung of The Wall Street Journal — Billionaire Griffin is relocating his enormous hedge-fund firm Citadel from Chicago to Miami, the third major employer to announce the move of a corporate headquarters from Illinois in the past two months. In a letter to employees Thursday, Griffin said he had personally moved to Florida, a state that doesn’t collect personal income tax — and that his market-making business, Citadel Securities, would also transfer. He wrote that he views Florida as a better corporate environment and though he didn’t specifically cite crime as a factor, company officials said it was a consideration. Griffin has been the wealthiest resident of Illinois, so his departure will hurt state tax collections on both the individual and corporate sides. It could also be a blow to Chicago’s philanthropic scene.

What Jeff Brandes is reading — “Assessments on insurance bills could linger after another company goes belly up” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida homeowners could pay a 2% assessment on their insurance policies into 2024 and perhaps longer because of a series of insolvencies among property insurers, staffers of a state board overseeing insolvent insurers said. The Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA), which oversees the assets and claims of insolvent property insurance companies, approved a 1.3% assessment in March to cover the claims of St. Johns Insurance Company, which went bankrupt in February, to take effect July 1. That will be on top of a 0.7% assessment applied to policies in October. That assessment is slated to last until June 30, 2023, but could be extended for another year or even longer, as more insurers have fallen in the three months since FIGA has met. The latest came last week when Southern Fidelity was ordered into liquidation.


As Joe Biden touts gas tax pause, even some of his own officials balk” via Tyler Pager, Jeff Stein, Tony Romm and Cleve R. Wootson Jr. of The Washington Post — Biden appealed to Congress to suspend the federal gas tax, saying it was critical to reduce the pain Americans are feeling at the pump. “I promise you I’m doing everything possible to bring the price of energy down,” Biden said as images of oil pumps and gas stations flickered on the wall behind him. But the notion of a gas tax holiday was met with instant criticism, not only from members of both parties on Capitol Hill, but even from many officials within the administration who said privately that it would probably do little to significantly lower gas prices.

Joe Biden’s gas tax holiday is beginning to look like a hard sell. Image via NYT.

Sweeping Title IX changes would shield trans students, abuse survivors” via Moriah Balingit and Nick Anderson of The Washington Post — On the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the Biden administration proposed sweeping changes to the landmark law that would bar schools, colleges and universities from discriminating against transgender students, a move that comes as the battle over transgender rights moves to the front lines of the culture war. The proposal would also amend the rules governing how educational institutions investigate and resolve sexual assault and sexual harassment claims. Over concerns that people were being wrongfully punished, Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, revised the rules to make them more accommodating to the accused. Critics assailed the changes, saying they would discourage sexual assault survivors from coming forward to report assaults or harassment.

Biden is ‘weaponizing’ Title IX, says Education Commissioner Manny Díaz — The former Republican state Senator expressed the DeSantis administration’s opposition to changes to Title IX. It is the strongest statement to date in the feud between the Governor and the Biden White House. “The Biden administration is weaponizing Title IX to push their anti-science, woke insanity on America’s schoolchildren,” Díaz tweeted, first reported by Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO. “Make no mistake, Florida schools will continue to provide high-quality, unbiased education — not indoctrination.” Biden’s new Title IX proposal looks to include protections for transgender students while overhauling rules from the Trump administration on how schools deal with sexual misconduct complaints.

Supreme Court rules out suing police for Miranda violations” via The Associated Press — The Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement officers can’t be sued when they violate the rights of criminal suspects by failing to provide the familiar Miranda warning before questioning them. The justices ruled 6-3 in favor of a sheriff’s deputy who was sued after he failed to read a Miranda warning, “You have the right to remain silent,” it begins, to a Los Angeles hospital worker accused of sexually assaulting a patient. The issue in the case was whether the warning given to criminal suspects before they talk to authorities, which the court recognized in its Miranda v. Arizona decision in 1966 and reaffirmed 34 years later, is a constitutional right or something less important and less defined.

— JAN. 6 —

Matt Gaetz was one of them —Ex-Trump aides say six House Republicans sought pardons after Jan. 6” via Andrew Solender of Axios — Former Trump White House aides testified to the Jan. 6 select committee that six House Republicans sought presidential pardons in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. The testimony was played at the end of a hearing that included new details about lawmakers’ involvement in Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to probe his voter fraud claims.

Jan. 6 Committee: Gaetz asked Trump for pardon before and after Jan. 6” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Gaetz sought a pardon from Trump before and after the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the House Jan. 6 Select Committee revealed on Thursday. Other media outlets have previously reported that Gaetz sought a pardon from Trump in the closing month of his term, but Thursday’s revelation was the first time Trump administration officials confirmed on the record Gaetz sought a pardon. Former White House Senior Adviser Eric Herschman told the Jan. 6 Committee during a recorded deposition Gaetz had requested a pardon.

Matt Gaetz was quick to jump on the pardon train.

Jan. 6 committee hears of Gaetz’s fervor for Trump and request for ‘broad’ pardon” via Michael Moline of Florida Phoenix — Gaetz featured heavily during the congressional Jan. 6 hearings Thursday as part of a video chorus of extremist Republican lawmakers threatening to throw out the results of the 2020 presidential election. Gaetz also figured in evidence that Trumpist members of Congress, including himself, sought broad pardons for their roles in an election subversion project that culminated in the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol in 2021. Gaetz forwarded his request for clemency for himself and unnamed others through U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks. “The general tone was, we may be prosecuted because we were defensive of the President’s positions on these things,” Herschmann said via video deposition.

Feds search home of former DOJ official tied to Trump’s efforts to overturn election” via Katherine Faulders, Lucien Bruggeman, Alexander Mallin, Mike Levine, and Luke Barr of ABC News — Federal agents searched the Virginia home of former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark on Wednesday morning. It was unclear which federal agencies searched, but one neighbor who witnessed the law enforcement activity said they saw officials entering and exiting the Lorton, Virginia, home after arriving there early Wednesday. A spokesperson for the Fairfax County, Virginia, Police Department said its officers assisted with law enforcement activity at the house but deferred to the Justice Department for further comment. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., said they “can confirm there was law enforcement activity in that area yesterday” but declined to comment on specific individuals or the nature of that activity.

2020 election: Group of Florida Democrats braced themselves for interference if Trump lost” via Laura Cassels of the Florida Phoenix — Florida Democratic lawmakers were concerned during the 2020 presidential campaign that if GOP President Trump, a Florida resident and mentor of DeSantis, lost the popular vote in his home state, Republicans could cast the state’s electoral ballots for Trump anyway. “We long suspected the possibility of such a move if we (Democrats) carried the state of Florida,” said state Rep. Joe Geller, a South Florida Democrat and an official elector who would have cast a ballot for Biden in the Electoral College if the Democrat had won this state. “In fact, we convened a group of legislators and attorneys in the fall of 2020 to consider our options in the event our fears proved correct,” Geller said Wednesday.

Judge denies ban on Jan. 6 defendants’ contact” via The Ledger — A federal judge has denied a request from federal prosecutors to limit communications among local residents charged with the U.S. Capitol attack. Prosecutors filed a motion in April asking U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols of the District of Columbia to prohibit contact without a lawyer present among the defendants — Olivia Pollock of Lakeland; Joshua Doolin of Polk City; Joseph Hutchinson III, formerly of Lakeland and now living in Georgia; and Michael Perkins of Plant City. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Moeder argued that the four defendants were “extremely dangerous” and cited that a co-defendant, Jonathan Pollock of Lakeland, remained a fugitive.


Judge gives final approval to ‘remarkable’ $1 billion Surfside condo collapse settlement” via Linda Robertson of the Miami Herald — One day before the anniversary of the Surfside condominium collapse that killed 98 people, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman made his deadline and gave final approval to a $1 billion settlement of the second-largest class-action lawsuit in Florida history, which he praised in court on Thursday as “remarkable not only in terms of its size but for its speed.” More than two dozen defendants who were sued for negligence after the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South on June 24, 2021, agreed last month to pay $1,021,199,000 to resolve the wrongful death and personal injury claims of family members and survivors.

The Surfside settlement is locked in. Image via The Associated Press.

Bobby DuBose closes ground in money race for Broward County Commission” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — DuBose raised $11,990 in May and spent $1,842 of it. He received $1,000 checks from Representative Democracy, a political committee in Fort Lauderdale, chaired by House Democratic Leader Evan Jenne, who is being term-limited out of the House; Sheng Yang, a Weston engineer; CTS Engineering Inc. in Doral; Floridians for Fairness in Justice, Fort Lauderdale political committee; and Huey Rowe-Anderson, an engineer from Buford, Georgia. Denise Horland, a member of the Plantation City Council, gave DuBose’s campaign $200. The largest share of DuBose’s reported $1,842 in May expenditures was $555 paid to Perry Wings of Oakland Park for catering. He holds a total of $57,352 in his campaign account.


Orange County Commissioners move forward on rent control, ‘Tenant Bill of Rights’” via Stephen Hudak and Carolyn Guniss of the Orlando Sentinel — Commissioners directed Orange County’s legal staff Thursday to draft a precedent-setting ordinance intended to regulate rent increases at a time when housing advocates and cost-burdened tenants have told them they are being priced out of their homes. The board faces a tight timeline to get the measure on the Nov. 8 ballot. State law requires voters to approve rent controls. Elections Supervisor Bill Cowles said in an email he must have the ballot language for the ordinance no later than Aug. 23.

Bill Cowles says the clock is ticking for a Tenant’s Bill of Rights. Image via Orlando Sentinel.

Special Olympics to apologize to athletes for COVID-19 vaccine mandate, DeSantis says” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — The Florida Department of Health has dropped its threatened $27.5 million fine against Special Olympics International over the charity’s “unlawful” vaccine mandate for the recent USA Games in Orlando, although DeSantis said Thursday the organization will apologize to athletes who missed out because of the rule and pay for their lodging and travel to a Special Olympics Florida event in the fall. After receiving notice of the fine, the international organization rescinded its mandate three days before its USA Games opening ceremony on June 5. But the reversal came too late for some eligible athletes to attend.

Central Florida wastewater contains COVID-19 subvariants that more easily bypass immunity” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — As COVID-19 cases continue to creep up in Central Florida, additional evidence has emerged that previously infected or vaccinated people may have less protection against new omicron variants than other types of the virus. The omicron variant of COVID-19, first detected in the U.S. in November, is one of many mutations that have emerged as the COVID-19 virus attempts to spread by replicating itself. Omicron, seemingly better able to infect previously infected or vaccinated people than past variants, launched Florida cases to record highs last winter. From omicron, a more infectious strain emerged: BA.2. After BA. 2, seemingly more contagious strains emerged: BA. 2.12.1, BA. 4 and BA.5.

St. Pete police plan ‘all hands on deck’ effort to keep Pride events safe, chief says” via Natalie Weber of the Tampa Bay Times — The St. Petersburg Police Department is gearing up for an “all hands on deck” effort to provide security during this weekend’s Pride festivities, Chief Anthony Holloway said Thursday. All officers’ vacation days this weekend have been canceled so they can help with security for the events and other calls throughout the city, Holloway said at a news conference held at police headquarters. The agency’s Emergency Operations Center will activate Friday, with local, state and federal law enforcement, along with the city’s fire-rescue department, operating out of police headquarters to monitor safety and security.


Carol Whitmore slams Jason Bearden for reporting sign-yanking dispute to police” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Whitmore addressed a controversy over taking her opponent’s political signs. At a Holmes Beach news conference, she claimed signs were staked illegally and accused rival Bearden of frivolous complaints. “Let me ask my fellow citizens in Manatee County, do you want a County Commissioner who is going to call the cops on you for jaywalking? Jason Bearden would,” she said. “Do you want a County Commissioner with such a weak jaw that he starts crying over a few illegally placed signs? Jason Bearden did.” Whitmore, on June 11, turned in three Bearden signs to Holmes Beach police and admitted pulling them from local properties. One was on city-owned land, and the other two were on land owned by developer Shawn Kaleta without permission.

To watch Whitmore’s speech, click on the image below:


Heads of Collier County charity that honors slain cops arrested; founder charged with embezzlement” via Francisco Alvarado of the Florida Center for Government Accountability — A husband-and-wife team steering a Naples nonprofit has been hit with felony criminal charges. Rosemary Zore, president of the Robert L. Zore Foundation, was charged with embezzling from the nonprofit she formed in 2018 and named for her father, a Miami-Dade police officer killed in the line of duty in 1983. The Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement also charged Zore with failing to register the foundation properly. Her husband, Michael Randall, faces a single felony charge of failing to register as a professional solicitor after he took a cut of the proceeds from donations.

Flu cases hit high numbers in Southwest Florida in early summer; slowdown starting now” via Liz Freeman of the Fort Myers News-Press — Southwest Florida has been experiencing flu cases higher than normal this summer, but the numbers are starting to drop, according to hospital officials. Lee Health, the largest hospital system in Lee County, is reporting 304 flu cases for the week ending June 18 combined at its hospitals and outpatient settings. At the NCH Healthcare System in Collier County, there were 206 cases of flu for the first three weeks of June. A weekly breakdown from NCH was not readily available. A year ago, in June 2021, NCH had no flu cases when masks against COVID-19 were still being worn.


Fernandina Beach Commissioners dive into tree protection controversy” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Amelia Island’s trees are beloved by its residents, and problems with protecting those trees will go before the Fernandina Beach City Commission at the Commissioners’ workshop in a couple of weeks. The issue drew several people to this week’s Commission meeting to press their concerns that real damage is ongoing to the tree canopy. “In tree protection, we’re failing,” said resident Julie Ferreira. “Any talk about trees is just talk.” Tree protection zones, she said, were a joke throughout the city, and the city’s tree culture needs a change.


Gillum’s indictment is just more bad news for Florida Democrats” via the Miami Herald editorial board — He was a rising Democratic star who, in 2018, came close enough to being Florida’s Governor to trigger a statewide machine recount. Now Gillum, the former Mayor of Tallahassee, has been indicted in federal court on 21 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements — charges related to how he and a close associate raised and used money during his campaign and his time as Mayor. We don’t yet know if the allegations are true. Gillum, for his part, quickly denounced the case as politically motivated and said he would prove his innocence. But there can be no dispute that another round of negative publicity from Gillum’s problems is the last thing Democrats in Florida needed.


Call Florida’s Governor ‘Developer-Santis’ because he bows to builders’ every wish” via Craig Pittman of the Florida Phoenix — In his four years in office, our current Governor, DeSantis, has been saddled with quite a few nicknames, none of which refer to his sparkling personality. You never hear “Delightful-Santis” or “Delovely-Santis.” Instead, the top choice is “DeathSantis” because of his opposition to medically recommended measures to combat COVID-19. Anyway, I’ve got a new nickname for him. I think it’s the most accurate one yet: “Developer-Santis.” This one popped into my head last week when news broke that he’d signed into law a ridiculous bill, SB 1078. The signing threw lots of elections into an uproar and tossed some local officials out of office with their terms only half over.

Bill could kill or cripple Florida’s Conservation Districts” via Rob Long for Florida Politics — Last week, I was stripped of the office I’ve held for the last six years, the office I was re-elected to in 2020 by over 326,000 Palm Beach County voters. And I wasn’t alone. Many of the 280 elected volunteers serving on Florida’s Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) may have suffered the same fate. SWCDs have existed in all 50 states since the 1930s Dust Bowl. Florida has 56 of them. SB 1078 newly requires SWCD Supervisors to be engaged in or have 10 years of experience in agriculture or to own agricultural land. DeSantis waited three full months to sign SB 1078 on the night of June 15, less than 48 hours before the qualifying deadline for candidates. Those of us who weren’t even up for election suddenly became candidates. The updated qualifying paperwork wasn’t available to Supervisor of Elections offices until noon Thursday, June 16, giving us less than 24 hours to respond.

Corrine Brown? Again? It’s an insult to voters” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — But for a dubious decision by a federal appeals court, former Rep. Brown would still be serving out a five-year prison sentence for tax fraud and running an $800,000 scam charity. Instead, she’s running for Congress again, piling on the Democrats’ mounting political woes in Florida. Brown is a convicted felon. She avoided a retrial and possible return to prison by pleading guilty to a single felony count of corrupt obstruction of the internal revenue laws and was sentenced to time served of two years, eight months and nine days, and $62,650.99 in restitution to the government. She was one of three Black members elected to Congress from Florida in 1992 for the first time since Reconstruction.

If ‘Lightyear’ can spark a backlash, then no LGBTQ victories are safe” via Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post — “Lightyear,” Pixar’s latest attempt to frack its “Toy Story” franchise for profit, is not a very good movie. But it is a useful barometer of the current conservative backlash against LGBTQ rights. If people are truly angered by the lesbian relationship depicted in “Lightyear,” then maybe what seemed like a huge leap into a more tolerant future was just a moment of calm in an ongoing, and intensifying, culture war. Ahead of the release of “Lightyear,” conservative commentator Ben Shapiro warned that “Disney works to push a ‘not-at-all-secret gay agenda’ and seeks to add ‘queerness’ to its programming. … Parents should keep that in mind before deciding whether to take their kids to see ‘Lightyear.’”


Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at South Florida’s politics and other issues affecting the region.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion on National Homeownership Month and whether legislation can help level the playing field of the war between supply and demand.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A look at the latest on gun reform, Supreme Court decisions, and Jan. 6 Hearings; and candidate Alan Cohn will discuss his campaign for Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Rubio will discuss his campaign endorsement by law enforcement, what’s driving high gas prices, and potential gun legislation; and a look at what voters need to know about the August Primary.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Pollster Steve Vancore and News Service of Florida political reporter Dara Kam.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Steven A. Cohen Family Clinic at Centerstone Outreach Director Gen. Mike Fleming (ret) and Clinic Director Jodie Bielman; government law attorney and author Chris Hand.

— ALOE —

No Christmas in July, but Disney is already preparing for holidays” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Christmas feels far away in Orlando on a nearly 100-degree day in June. But at Disney World, the theme parks are already preparing for the holiday festivities. Disney World announced Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is back this year for 24 select nights from Nov. 8 — Dec. 22. Tickets go on sale for some Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests as early as June 30 and on July 7 for everybody else. Ticket prices will range from $149 to $199 per person. Tickets are limited, Disney said. Disney revealed the special-ticketed party would have three new photo opportunities themed for the 50th anniversary, and guests will get a special 50th-anniversary keepsake themed for the holidays to take home.

Let’s face it, we could all use some holiday cheer right about now.

George R.R. Martin, Emilia Clarke reveal Jon Snow spinoff details” via James Hibberd of The Hollywood Reporter — There are new details about the Game of Thrones sequel series in development that’s centered around Jon Snow. Saga creator Martin and Thrones stars Clarke and Gwendoline Christie all weighed in on the project, which The Hollywood Reporter exclusively broke last week. Writing on his blog, Martin revealed the project’s working title is Snow. Clarke noted in an interview with the BBC that Kit Harington is deeply involved with the project. “He has told me about it,” Clarke says. “And I know it exists. It’s happening. It’s been created by Kit, as far as I can understand, so he’s in it from the ground up. So, what you will be watching, hopefully, if it happens, is certified by Kit Harington.”


Celebrating today are Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady, Rep. Dianne Hart; Blake Dowling; one of St. Pete’s best, Mario Farias; Katie Flury of GrayRobinson; Tara Price, and our dear friend Rich Newsome.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, 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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