Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.10.22

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Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

Good Wednesday morning.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist’s latest ad injects presidential politics into the Democratic Primary for Governor. But it’s not about the current guy, or the former one. Instead, it focuses on “the Hug.”

The 15-second ad highlights his 2009 embrace of former President Barack Obama, which many cite as the moment Crist was exiled from the Republican Party.

At the time, the then-Republican Governor was willing to work with Obama to pull Florida out of the Great Recession.

The ad features footage of Obama saying: “Gov. Crist shares my conviction that creating jobs and turning this economy around is a mission that transcends party, and that’s exactly what he’s doing.”

A decade-plus later, Crist summed up the symbolic value of that hug in a tweet unveiling the ad: “I will always put Floridians over politics — always have and always will.”

The video was met with scoffs from Nikki Fried’s gubernatorial campaign, which attempted to put the moment in context by noting Crist was an adamant supporter of former U.S. Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election and even called Sarah Palin “very impressive” and a “great candidate.”

Fried’s campaign also highlighted Crist’s Obama-era statement negatively comparing Obama to former President Jimmy Carter, calling him a “different thing” — “too much, too fast, too soon.”

“Charlie Crist only believes in one thing: himself,” said Keith Edwards, Fried’s Communications Director. “Floridians don’t need any more fair-weather politicians, and that’s why they’re going to elect Nikki Fried to be their next Governor.”

To watch the ad, please click the image below:

Here are some other thoughts:

🙃🙃 — Looking for more info on the FBI raid? Don’t hold your breath. While Florida Politics was the first news outlet to break the news, we don’t know much more about it … and it seems most other media is just as in the dark as we are. We could speculate, of course, but there are many better sources for that — David French’s take is a good starting point.

⏫🐴 — There’s still time to right the ship, but Republicans are doing a bang-up job impersonating the 2016 Atlanta Falcons. The latest evidence of a momentum shift toward Democrats comes from FiveThirtyEight, which says Democrats are leading Republicans on a generic ballot test for the first time since November. Sure, it’s only a 0.1% lead, but they were down 2% a month ago.

🔟👀 — There are dozens of state House elections on the Primary ballot this year, but far fewer are worth your time and attention. Need some direction on which ones to watch? The City & State’s Tristan Wood has you covered with a list of 10 Primary races to keep your eyes on over the next two weeks.

➡️🏫 — Students in some Florida school districts are heading back to class today, so there’s no better time to highlight the Florida lobbyists and political associations that shape the state’s education policies and budget.


@JDVance1: “They had a warrant.” They had a warrant in 2016, too, based entirely on a fake political opposition memo.

@DavidAFrench: A lot of people are losing their minds … without seeing the warrant, the warrant application, or the supporting materials. Neither the former President nor the FBI are above the law. Take a breath and wait until we see the basis for the warrant before judging its merits.

@KevinSixx13: Republicans are responding stronger to Mar-a-Lago being searched than they did for the Uvalde school shooting.

@CPoliticDitto: I haven’t seen Republicans THIS angry since Sesame Street told them to get vaccinated, or the green M&M got less sexy, or Michelle Obama told their kids to do jumping jacks, or Barack wore a tan suit or

@MichaelKeaton: Lots of “if they can do this to a former President, they can do it to you” talk out there PRECISELY. No one is above the law.

@VoteRandyFine: Never been more grateful the founders put the #2A in the Bill of Rights.

@ElectProject: Did the macho macho men who gave us the insurrection start their civil war yet? Maybe I’m just getting too old and can’t hear the bombs dropping anymore

@JayAtarah: “The red wave just got bigger” Y’all are literally calling for the FBI & DOJ to be abolished and for a civil war to begin; how do you think that’ll go down with swing voters?

@BillKristol: Man, August has been a newsy month. Lucky it’s almost over.

@NickMcCarvel: Doing some interviews around Serena’s pending retirement today: “Does it matter that she didn’t get to that 24th Slam?” The answer is no. “Who does she stand alongside in terms of female athletes and accomplishments?” No one — she stands alone.


Early voting begins for Primaries — 3; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 7; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 8; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 11; 2022 Florida Primary — 12; launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 18; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 21; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 21; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 23; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 29; 2022 Emmys — 33; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 36; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 36; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 57; deadline to register for General Election — 61; 22-23 NHL season begins — 62; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 76; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 76; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 77; Early voting begins for General Election — 81; 2022 General Election — 90; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 93; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 93; FITCon 2022 begins — 99; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 99; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 103; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 103; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 104; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 112; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 112; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 128; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 191; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 209; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 226; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 251; 2023 Session Sine Die — 268; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 268; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 296; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 345; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 450; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 464; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 597; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 716; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 716; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 821; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 996.


Donald Trump’s 2024 GOP rivals rally behind him after FBI search” via Matt Berg, Marissa Martinez and Matt Dixon of POLITICO — Ron DeSantis jumped out tweeting that the FBI search was “another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the regime’s political opponents.”

And he has been quickly joined by others who could be competing against Trump in a primary next year.

Governors like South Dakota’s Kristi Noem and Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin called the FBI’s actions “unprecedented” and “stunning.” Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said the search was “next-level Nixonian … to target a former President and political rival.” Rick Scott said the Joe Biden administration had a “history of going after parents & other political opponents.”

Several prominent Republicans compared the situation to how other countries’ leaders handled political opposition. Sen. Marco Rubio released a series of tweets and videos comparing the move to what would happen in “Third World Marxist dictatorships.” Rubio’s comments particularly resonate with Florida’s Hispanic voters — many who fled communist regimes in Cuba or Venezuela.

“We’ve never been a country where people who take power, like becoming President, now use that power to persecute their past or future political opponent,” Rubio said in a video filmed outside at night. “We’ve never seen that — until tonight.”

Will the Mar-a-Lago raid become a rallying cry? Image via AP.

—“What rivalry? Ron DeSantis rallies GOP to Trump’s defense after FBI Mar-a-Lago search” via Zac Anderson of USA Today

—“For Republicans, Mar-a-Lago search offers new chance to rally around Trump” via Chuck Todd, Ben Kamisar, Bridget Bowman and Alexandra Marquez of NBC News

—“Rick Scott on FBI’s raid at Mar-a-Lago: Feds are like Nazi Germany’s Gestapo” via Anthony Man of the Orlando Sentinel

FBI search of Trump property prompted by concerns over sensitive documents” via Sadie Gurman, Alex Leary and Aruna Viswanatha of The Wall Street Journal — Federal agents searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in part because they believed additional classified information remained at the private club after the National Archives retrieved more than a dozen boxes of White House documents from the resort earlier this year, people familiar with the matter said. The FBI met U.S. Secret Service employees Monday morning outside Mar-a-Lago to alert them they were executing the warrant. After the search, the federal agents hauled away roughly 10 more boxes, a person with knowledge of the operation said.

FBI’s search of Trump’s Florida estate: Why now?” via Zeke Miller, Eric Tucker and Michael Balsamo of The Associated Press

—“Watch videos of the raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida” via Bojan Pancevski and Brett Forrest of The Wall Street Journal

Trump search was unprecedented, but records case will be tough” via Erik Larson and Zoe Tillman of Bloomberg — While the search is “uncharted territory” for the U.S., it isn’t a foregone conclusion that Trump is in serious legal jeopardy, said former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers. “The bar for charging classified information cases is very high, and a Presidential Records Act criminal violation is unlikely for a variety of reasons having to do with the statutory language of the relevant crimes and the potential penalties,” she said. Among those penalties is the prospect that any conviction might bar Trump from holding office again.

If Trump illegally removed official records, would he be barred from future office?” via Charlie Savage of The New York Times — The law that has attracted particular attention is Section 2071 of Title 18 of the United States Code, which makes it a crime if someone who has custody of government documents or records “willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies or destroys” them. Section 2071 is not limited to classified information. If convicted under that law, defendants can be fined up to $2,000 and sentenced to prison for up to three years. In addition, the statute says, if they are currently in a federal office, they “shall forfeit” that office, and — perhaps most importantly, given widespread expectations that Trump will seek re-election again — they shall “be disqualified from holding” any federal office.

—”Here’s what’s next for Trump after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago” via Tierney Sneed of CNN

Suddenly, it’s the right that wants to defund law enforcement” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Following concerns about being unfairly targeted by unchecked members of law enforcement, a new movement has emerged calling for agencies to be stripped of power and funding. This isn’t the left’s “defund the police.” It’s the right’s “stop the FBI.” It’s the GOP’s explicit opposition to boosting staff at the IRS. We should at no point grant law enforcement a reflexive benefit of the doubt that it is operating with complete directness and objectivity, certainly. Any use of governmental force — from arrests to searches to financial reviews — should be conducted with transparency and evenhandedness, which demands our collective oversight and scrutiny. But it is impossible not to notice how the response to the Mar-a-Lago search and the IRS expansion reveal the gulf in what sorts of oversight Americans fear.

Now, it’s the right’s turn.

After Mar-a-Lago search, users on pro-Trump forums agitate for ‘civil war’ — including a Jan. 6 rioter” via Ben Collins and Ryan J. Reilly of NBC News — Some users on pro-Trump internet forums told users to “lock and load,” agitated for civil war and urged protesters to head to Mar-a-Lago in the hours after news broke that the FBI searched Trump’s Florida compound Monday. On Monday night, the username “bananaguard62,” posted the top reply to the “lock and load” post. “Are we not in a cold civil war at this point?” the account asked. Another user responded, “several points ago.” Another top reply quoted a notorious antisemitic, Nazi rallying cry.

Trump should make the search warrant public” via Hugh Hewitt of The Washington Post — Citizens need to know whether this is a reasonable search based on probable cause of some crime by someone with access to Mar-a-Lago, as a judge has clearly decided there is probable cause to conclude, or yet another unmerited strike at the 45th President by the latest in the long line of former federal officials who have tried to take Trump down a peg, or behind bars, and failed. The American public needs to see the warrant, all of it. Trump has a copy; he should make it public. It likely lists the items to be seized and the laws allegedly violated. Former prosecutors say that the affidavit supporting the warrant is probably sealed, and Attorney General Merrick Garland can seek to unseal it.

— 2022 —

Nikki Fried reflects on tumultuous political atmosphere, criticizes DeSantis following federal search of Trump’s FL home” via Danielle J. Brown of Florida Phoenix — Fried held a news conference near the Florida Governor’s Mansion, where DeSantis and his family live. Last evening, the Governor tweeted, in part, that the search at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach “is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents.” “If we all take a step back and reflect, we are all saddened to see where we are in history. No one wants to see a past President’s house searched — the first time in American history,” Fried said. “We are more divided today than we have been since the Civil War.”

Nikki Fried reflects on our tumultuous times.

—“Fried calls for restraint while slamming DeSantis for ‘hypocrisy’” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics

Fried adds $28K to broadcast buy Fried’s gubernatorial campaign has spent another $28,375 on broadcast ads. The purchase, made through Canal Partners Media, is for a campaign that began Aug. 4 and ended Aug. 9 in the Tampa media market. According to AdImpact, Fried and her political committee have now spent a combined $2.15 million on ads. Crist, her chief rival in the Democratic Primary for Governor, has spent $2.88 million on ads.

Assignment editorsFried joins local activists in Miami to rally for reproductive rights and abortion access; 7:30 p.m., Cantina La Veinte Waterfront; 495 Brickell Ave., Miami. RSVP at [email protected].

‘Charlie is the leader this moment calls for’: Daniella Levine Cava endorses Charlie Crist for Governor” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Levine Cava is throwing her support behind U.S. Rep. Crist’s bid to retake the Governor’s Mansion this year. At a gathering in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, Levine Cava announced her endorsement of Crist, whom she called an “absolute fighter for Floridians … especially those that call Miami-Dade home.” “Charlie is exactly who we need to address Florida’s affordability and housing emergency, combat the rising climate crisis, and unite our great state against divisive politics our current Governor continues to inflame,” she said.

Assignment editorsCrist will participate in early voting events across the state; 6:30 p.m., Palm Beach early vote event; 7 p.m., Rural Counties for Democracy virtual meet and greet. Location and Zoom link upon RSVP at [email protected].

Happening tonight:

— 2022: CONG —

The Florida conservatives likely heading to Congress, thanks to DeSantis” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — DeSantis’ redistricting push all but guarantees Florida’s congressional delegation will be more Republican-leaning for years, meaning the once reliable swing state will continue to trend further red. Democrats have complained loudly about the new redistricting map but their legal challenges to block the changes ahead of this year’s elections did not succeed, although the litigation is ongoing. “This is exactly what DeSantis wanted to accomplish with his extreme and racist gerrymander: sending dangerous far-right candidates to Congress who will push Republicans’ radical agenda,” said Nebeyatt Betre, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Save the date:

Mike Waltz rails against ‘extreme left takeover’ in new ad — Republican U.S. Rep. Waltz released an ad for his CD 6 re-election campaign calling for voters to push back against “the extreme left takeover” in Washington. “As a kid, I’d sell my toys at the flea market so my family could eat. As a soldier, I saw radicals turn against their country and fight their own neighbors,” Waltz says in the ad. Never thought I’d see that again. Not here in our own country, but today U. S. Citizens who hate America are glorified and good American families can’t put food on the table. It’s just wrong.” The Waltz spot is airing in the Orlando market.

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

Happening today — Republican candidates in Florida’s 7th Congressional District will participate in a debate at the Seminole Republican Women, Federated, 6 p.m., Oviedo Cultural Center, 357 Center Lake Lane, Oviedo.

Linda Stewart vouches for Randolph Bracy in CD 10 ad — Sen. Bracy’s campaign for Florida’s 10th Congressional District is out with a new ad featuring Democratic Sen. Stewart. In the 30-second spot, Stewart says, “I know he will continue to be a champion for equality for all women’s reproductive rights, gun reform, and working to turn our economy around. Sen. Bracy is not only my colleague, but he is a friend.” Bracy is one of several Democrats competing for the Central Florida seat, open this year due to U.S. Rep. Val Demings running for U.S. Senate rather than re-election. Bracy’s ad is airing in the Orlando market.

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

‘Soviet-style behavior’: Trump-endorsed Anna Paulina Luna responds to Mar-a-Lago search” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Trump-endorsed congressional candidate Luna is denouncing the FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, calling it “Soviet-style behavior.” In a video released Tuesday morning, Luna called the raid “inexcusable” and “worse than Watergate.” “Americans have absolutely lost faith in our justice system. And frankly, while this is happening, just imagine what the world is thinking,” Luna said in the video. “My prayers and thoughts are with you, Mr. President. We will not back down. We will not be silenced,” she said in a statement.

Political committees drop cash on CD 13 ads — Two political committees have launched ad buys in the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Stand for Florida, backing Republican Kevin Hayslett, spent just shy of $100,000 on a new cable flight from starting today to ending Aug. 23. The ads will air on Discovery, Fox News and The History Channel within the Tampa market. Meanwhile, Conservative Outsider PAC made a $30,900 ad buy that covers broadcast ads airing Wednesday through Aug. 21 within the Tampa media market. The FEC database of independent expenditures does not indicate which candidate the political committee is backing in the race.

Appellate court restores Jerry Torres to CD 14 ballot — for now” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Torres has been restored to the ballot, for now. An appellate court placed a stay on a decision by Leon Circuit Judge John Cooper to disqualify Torres in Florida’s 14th Congressional District. But a hearing will still be held next week to determine if he remains a valid candidate. Torres immediately told supporters that votes for him would not go to waste. “I have been reinstated to the FL-14 Primary ballot by an appeals court which stayed the decision of a trial court. Votes for me will now count,” he said.

Alan Cohn returns to Tampa airwaves in CD 15 ad” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Longtime Tampa Bay television viewers will see a familiar face on the airwaves. Cohn just announced a six-figure ad buy for his first television ads of the cycle. The ads are broadcasting now in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. “I’m humbled and honored to be in this early position of strength in this race for the 15th,” said Cohn. “The quick, organic growth of our campaign allows us to communicate this positive vision for our community, and it’s that vision and set of bold, commonsense beliefs that will propel us to victory in November.” The ad presents Cohn as a public servant focused on accountability instead of partisanship.

Eddie Geller goes on TV in CD 15” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A catchy web video with a retro jingle introduced Geller to voters last year. Now, the Democratic congressional candidate has an ad going up on TV. This time, it’s not the candidate’s sense of humor but his progressive bona fides given the spotlight. “This confirms what we already knew: Eddie is the only Democrat in this race who can fight back against the Republican messaging machine,” campaign spokesperson Derek McDonald said. A title card calls Geller “The progressive for Congress,” clearly positioning himself as the candidate on the left in a competitive Democratic Primary.

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

Mark Ober endorses Laurel Lee for CD 15 — Former State Attorney Ober is endorsing Lee in the race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District. “As someone that has spent a good deal of their life working to protect and serve my community, I can recognize that same integrity and principles in others, which is why I’ve chosen to endorse Laurel. She knows what it takes to lead, fight, and defend, and she understands the integral role that our law enforcement plays in our communities,” Ober said. Lee, a former Florida Secretary of State, is one of five Republicans running for CD 15, which is expected to perform Republican in the fall.

— 2022: LEG. —

Resurfaced video of James and Mariya Calkins sparks controversy around Russian ties” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — After a YouTube video began circulating this week depicting James and Mariya Calkins taking part in a New Year’s celebration in Russia, the couple have faced criticism from some in the area ahead of the Primary Election later this month. James is currently a County Commissioner in Santa Rosa, he first won the seat in 2020, and Mariya is a candidate for the state House, aiming to fill Rep. Jayer Williamson’s shoes after he announced he was stepping down earlier this year.

To watch the video, please click on the image below:

Meet the Florida Democrat other Democrats want out of office” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — State Rep. Daisy Morales has always been an unusual politician. Two years ago, after the Orlando Sentinel endorsed her opponent and published stories she didn’t like, Morales sent a news release demanding the journalists be fired. This year, a bunch of her fellow Democrats is asking as well. In a rare intraparty rebuke, more than 20 high-profile Democrats and progressive groups are asking the voters of House District 44 to oust Morales and replace her with the challenger in the race, Democratic party activist Jennifer “Rita” Harris.

Four Democrats, one Republican in battle for new Florida District 93 seat” via Jorge Milian of The Palm Beach Post — Matt Willhite’s decision to leave the state House to run for the Palm Beach County Commission has left newly drawn District 93 wide-open. Four Democrats, youth director Shelly Albright, social worker Seth Densen, legislator staff member Tom Valeo and Port of Palm Beach Commissioner Katherine Waldron, are competing in the Aug. 23 Primary essentially to replace Willhite, whose old District 86 covered much of the same territory as District 93. The winner will face Republican Saulis Banionis, a Wellington physician running unopposed, in the November General Election.

Happening tonight:

Jason Bearden owned a delinquent military surplus business in Hawaii” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Bearden has touted his career as a veteran and business owner. But there’s a conspicuous gap in his LinkedIn resume. For about four years, he operated a business called Sta-Tactical that ultimately was shut down for delinquency by the state of Hawaii. In operation from May 2011 until 2015, the Kaneohe, Hawaii-based company sold military surplus including gun stocks, slings and backpacks. State records, which list Bearden as the agent of record for the business, show annual filings for the first year of business were not filed until March 2013. Every year afterward, filings were ruled as delinquent.

— 2022: D-BALLOT —

Biggest challenge, gangs, transparency: Candidates for Jacksonville sheriff provide their take” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — As they gathered for a Northside forum to state reasons why they should be Jacksonville’s next sheriff with two weeks before their Special Election, the city had just logged its 93rd homicide of the year. And as four of the five sheriff candidates spoke about their race, city leaders were still investigating why the department was hit by “detected suspicious activity” over the weekend that caused computer problems but did not impact officer response times or service levels, police said. The biggest challenge is ensuring the Sheriff’s Office is the “proper steward” of the $500 million budget, said retired Officer Tony Cummings. He said the department is “wasting money.”

Miami-Dade’s District 8 has the only incumbent running for County Commission” via Tess Riski of the Miami Herald — Among the 19 candidates vying for five Miami-Dade County Commission seats this year, lawyer Danielle Cohen Higgins is the only incumbent on the ballot. This is the first time Cohen Higgins faces an election in District 8 because she was appointed to fill the seat of her predecessor, Daniella Levine Cava, who was elected Miami-Dade County mayor in late 2020. Levine Cava has endorsed Cohen Higgins in this race.

Danielle Cohen Higgins is the sole incumbent in the Miami-Dade County Commissioner’s race.

If ‘experience matters,’ foreclosure Judge Andrea Gundersen may lose her race Aug. 23” via Noreen Marcus of Florida Bulldog — Broward foreclosure Judge Gundersen is running for re-election with the motto “experience matters.” Primary voters just have to figure out if her experience is good or bad. On Aug. 23, they’ll decide whether they want Gundersen to continue presiding over Broward County residential mortgage foreclosures. They have the choice of replacing her with Lauren Alperstein, a well-connected divorce and family lawyer from the prominent Boies Schiller Flexner law firm. Low-key, earnest, and devoted to pro bono work, she’s nothing like the scrappy, folksy Gundersen.

5 candidates contend for vacant Polk County judge seat” via Gary White of The Lakeland Ledger — Polk County voters will choose only one judge in this election cycle. Five candidates are running to become a county court judge with the 10th Judicial Circuit, based in Bartow. The position in Group 8 is open because Judge Susan Barber is vacating her seat to seek a position as a circuit judge. Barber faced no opposition and will assume her new title in January. County judges oversee cases in such areas as criminal, civil, evictions and small claims. The 10th Judicial Circuit includes Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties.

Divided Orange County Commission puts measure to cap rent increases on ballot” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — A sharply divided Orange County Commission decided 4-3 Tuesday to let voters say if rent increases should be capped. Commissioners Emily Bonilla, Maribel Gomez Cordero, Mayra Uribe and Nicole Wilson agreed to move a rent stabilization ordinance to the Nov. 8 election ballot. Mayor Jerry Demings and Commissioners Christine Moore and Victoria Siplin voted no. About 60 people told Commissioners whether they were for or against putting the measure before voters. Orange is now the first county in Florida to forward a rent-control referendum.


DOJ asks court to dismiss Fried’s lawsuit against Joe Biden administration — The U.S. Justice Department has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Fried challenging a federal law that blocks medical marijuana users from buying guns, Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reports. Fried’s lawsuit is against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which requires gun buyers to disclose whether they use marijuana. The motion to dismiss was filed by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton on behalf of the Biden administration in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The motion noted that the Florida Department of Health’s medical marijuana consent form states marijuana can impair “the ability to think, judge and reason.”

State agency says Miami drag show violated ‘lewdness’ laws. Could anyone be arrested?” via David Ovalle and Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — When Florida’s top business regulator targeted a daytime Wynwood drag-queen show seen by children as a public nuisance, it proclaimed that the restaurant was violating a series of Florida criminal laws against “lewdness.” So, if that’s the case, will anyone face criminal charges? The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation maintains the case is only being handled as a license-compliance matter. Miami police and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said no complaints had been sent to them for prosecution.

Will a drag show nuisance complaint lead to an actual arrest?

DeSantis removed him. What’s next in Andrew Warren’s fight for his job?” via Sue Carlton of the Tampa Bay Times — “This is not about the state attorney in Hillsborough County being suspended,” Warren told one interviewer. “This is about democracy being overthrown.” DeSantis accused Warren of incompetence and neglect of duty for statements Warren signed saying he would not enforce laws prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors or laws limiting abortion. But Warren had never ruled on any of these cases, which had never come before him. Florida has no such gender-affirming law for him to consider. So, what happens next? The matter is ultimately decided by the Florida Senate but is expected to land in a courtroom first. “We do believe there is a place for the judiciary to interpret the Constitution,” said Warren’s attorney, David Singer, who plans to file a writ of quo warranto motion challenging the removal.

Survey of UF faculty finds academic concerns, willingness to leave for job elsewhere” via Douglas Ray of The Gainesville Sun — A recent survey of University of Florida faculty shows that concerns over academic freedom persist despite efforts by administrators to address issues raised over the past year and calm fears. The survey found that more than 83% of respondents strongly disagree with the statement that the UF Board of Trustees ensures the university is free from undue political influence. Faculty also said they would leave UF if offered a comparable job somewhere else, with 47% strongly agreeing and another 24% somewhat agreeing.

Florida rations monkeypox vaccines as case count rises — The number of monkeypox cases in Florida has nearly doubled over the past week to 985, but the Florida Department of Health has been forced to ration its supply of vaccines from the federal government, Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida reports. The 72,000 vaccine doses allocated by HHS, which will be delivered in installments through October, are not enough to keep pace with the virus’ spread. The virus primarily impacts men who have sex with men, and the risk of infection is much lower among other populations. “That being said, due to the lack of monkeypox vaccines from the federal government, we are expecting infections to increase,” DOH spokesperson Jeremy Redfern said.

Push for lawmakers to reestablish incentives for films shot in Florida” via Jolena Esperto and Jasmine Singletary of WINK — Film Florida said our state is the only one in the southeast without an economic development program to attract film and television productions and that costs us billions. Florida has not offered the film industry tax incentives to shoot here since 2016. So, it’s no surprise the industry is dying here. Eric Raddatz, a writer, director, producer, and actor in Florida said, “the truth is, we are missing out on billions of dollars of revenue.” Raddatz said Florida’s indifference is Georgia’s gain. Georgia’s Governor said his state has already brought in $4.4 billion this year.

Alzheimer’s Brain Bus visits Tallahassee — Touring the publicly funded Alzheimer’s Brain Bus on Tuesday were representatives from the Department of Elder Affairs, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Agency for Healthcare Administration, and the Departments of Health and Children and Families. The Department of Elder Affairs supports the Brain Bus; the Alzheimer’s Association Florida Chapters manages it. Since 2004, the bus has toured the state to raise awareness and provide support services to rural and underserved communities. Over the last year, it visited all 67 counties in Florida, with more than 176 in-person stops.

All aboard the Brain Bus.


School’s back with not enough teachers or bus drivers and safety concerns” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Central Florida school leaders hope the new year that starts Wednesday is unremarkable, without the COVID-19 disruptions that marred the past two. But they know the 2022-23 academic year faces its own challenges. Public schools are starting classes without enough teachers or bus drivers, so in Orange County, some teenagers will be dropped at their campuses as early as 6:30 a.m., and elementary and middle school bus riders will be transported home later than usual.

Wednesday is ‘game day’ for Bay District Schools. What parents should know about the first day” via Samantha Neely of The Panama City News-Herald — Set your alarm clocks and get your backpacks ready, school starts Wednesday for Bay District Schools students. As students and parents prepare for another school year, BDS officials offer their tips and tricks for navigating the first day back to school. Director of Communications Sharon Michalik said staff members have been working hard all summer to prepare. She added that the first day of school is where their planning all comes to fruition, so everyone is excited to start again.

It’s go-time at Bay County Schools.

Brevard County has 143 teaching vacancies days before start of school year, district says” via James Sparvero of Click Orlando — Brevard Public Schools said the district has 143 classroom teaching openings just two days away from the start of the 2022-23 school year. The teachers’ union said the district had more than 200 openings just a few weeks ago. In addition to new hires, the district said some substitute teachers are expected to fill the vacancies. Whatever their reason for resigning, the district said it is mailing former teachers, encouraging them to return. Last year, the district started the year with more than 90 classroom vacancies, the most it had ever seen before 2022.

Pinellas committee recommends removal of 5 books ahead of school year” via Sam Sachs of WFLA — The Pinellas County Schools Committee of Library Media Specialists reviewed dozens of books ahead of the coming school year. Of the titles they read through, five were recommended for restriction and five for removal. However, final decisions on books are decided by school principals, individually. A representative for the Pinellas County School system noted that the committee does not ban books, instead making recommendations based on several criteria set by state law. The review process occurs yearly.

Seminole County schools to require parents’ consent for first-aid services” via Anthony Talcott of Click Orlando — Seminole County Public Schools announced Monday that the district will require parents and guardians to provide consent for school staff to provide first-aid to their children. Parents will need to have their consent on file with the district before school clinic assistants can use certain materials, such as ice packs, Band-Aids, wound coverings, anti-itch creams or taking a student’s temperature, on students. If the school does not have consent on file, parents will be notified each time their child goes to the school clinic for care, officials said. Officials added that in this case, parents will be expected to pick up their children if they appear sick, unwell or need first aid care.


Biden signs $280B CHIPS Act in bid to boost U.S. over China” via The Associated Press — Biden signed a $280 billion bipartisan bill to boost domestic high-tech manufacturing, part of his administration’s push to boost U.S. competitiveness over China. Flanked by scores of lawmakers, union officials, local politicians and business leaders, Biden feted the legislation, a core part of his economic agenda that will incentivize investments in the American semiconductor industry to ease U.S. reliance on overseas supply chains for critical, cutting-edge goods. The White House sought to begin selling the immediate impacts of the semiconductor measure, noting that Micron, a leading U.S. chip manufacturer, would announce a $40 billion plan to boost domestic production of memory chips.

With the stroke of a pen, Joe Biden gives a massive boost to the nation’s semiconductor industry.

Inside Biden’s hot streak, from the poolside to the Capitol” via Yasmeen Abutaleb and Tyler Pager of The Washington Post — Biden sat by the White House pool on Saturday, taking in the Washington heat and phoning Senators as his long-stalled economic agenda was on the brink of passing the Senate. It was a heady but fragile moment, and Biden wasn’t leaving anything to chance. Win streaks have not been the rule for Biden, who has faced low approval ratings and cascading crises. The turnaround on the budget bill, Biden’s most startling victory, resulted from a decision to reverse himself sharply and let Senators negotiate among themselves, rather than playing a leading role.

Brandon returns, darkly: Democrats turn an insult into a pro-Biden meme” via Matt Viser of The Washington Post — Meet Dark Brandon. Over the past few weeks, Democrats have attempted to co-opt one of the most searing catchphrases that Republicans have pinned on Biden, turning the “Let’s go, Brandon” meme around and reclaiming it as their version of Biden fan fiction. The new liberal-driven meme is meant to depict Biden as having superpowers, able to smite an al-Qaida leader and pass legislation through Congress with ease. The tone reflects the shift in outlook at the White House, from a struggle to accomplish items on Biden’s agenda to a mood of more swaggering confidence.

Tweet, tweet:

With deal in hand, Democrats enter the fall armed with something new: Hope” via Shane Goldmacher and Katie Glueck of The New York Times — Vulnerable incumbent Democratic Senators are holding events promoting the landmark legislation they passed over the weekend. The sweeping legislation has kicked off a frenetic 91-day sprint to sell the package by November and win over an electorate that has grown skeptical of Democratic rule. Democratic strategists, advisers and lawmakers running in competitive seats all expressed optimism that the legislation would deliver the party a necessary and powerful tool to show they were focused on lowering costs at a time of economic hardship for many. They argued crucial constituencies could quickly understand its key provisions.

Marco Rubio receives an award from the Florida Police Chiefs Association Annual Awards Luncheon in Palm Beach Gardens.

Crist calls on Biden to intervene in jeopardized beach renourishment project” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Crist is calling on Biden to protect Pinellas County’s coast against erosion. In a letter addressed to the President, Crist asks Biden to intervene in a recent decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that stalls plans to shore up a 9-mile stretch of sand from Clearwater to north Redington Beach, the Sand Key Shore Protection Project. “For decades, the Army Corps of Engineers has been an important partner in supporting our tourism-based economy and protecting our community from the threats posed by climate change,” Crist said in a statement.


Merrick Garland vowed to depoliticize Justice. Then the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago.” via Perry Stein of The Washington Post — When Biden tapped Garland to lead the Justice Department last year, he selected a cautious appeals court judge known as a political moderate who could build consensus. He would try to convince the public and lawmakers that he was an apolitical Attorney General. The FBI’s highly unusual, court-approved search of Mar-a-Lago Club put Garland square in the middle of a vast political firestorm. Republican allies on Capitol Hill denounced Garland and pledged to turn the tables and investigate the Justice Department. Sen. Josh Hawley said the Attorney General should resign or be impeached.

Merrick Garland vowed to be apolitical. That was before the raid.

House panel can demand Trump’s tax returns, appeals court rules” via Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — A federal appeals court panel rejected Trump’s effort to block a House committee from obtaining several years of tax returns. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the Ways and Means Committee’s request complied with the law, that it was made in support of potential legislation on matters like the Presidential Audit Program and that the request did not violate the separation of powers, particularly given Trump’s status as a former President. The ruling is the latest legal victory for the House against Trump, though it will likely be appealed to the full bench of that appeals court or the Supreme Court.


FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago forces a reluctant Palm Beach into spotlight once more” via Susannah Bryan and Shira Moolten of the Orlando Sentinel — Supporters from around the region headed straight for the town of Palm Beach on Tuesday to show their discontent with the FBI’s raid. Before noon, a crowd of angry supporters gathered near Trump’s oceanfront estate to defend their hero and blast what they consider a Gestapo-like FBI. “We’re here protecting our right not to be invaded by the FBI,” said Christina Dalgino, a Deerfield Beach resident with a red “Make America Great Again” cap perched atop her head and a “Trump 2020″ flag draped over her shoulders. “They’re coming for everybody. We’re next.”

Palm Beach is in the spotlight, again.

Landlords increasing monthly tenants’ rents in Islamorada must give 60-day notice, per new ordinance” via Jim McCarthy of Keys Weekly — Landlords who raise a monthly tenant’s rent by more than 5% must give more notice time, per an ordinance Islamorada council members approved on Aug. 4. In June, the dais directed the village’s attorney firm to draft an ordinance that mirrors Miami-Dade County’s new law requiring landlords to give advance notice. For month-to-month tenants, landlords must give 60 days’ written notice. As of now, landlords only need to give 15 days’ notice to a tenant paying month to month.


Uhurus ramped up their tactics in 2017. Was it related to July FBI raid?” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — After the FBI last month raided the St. Petersburg headquarters of the Uhuru Movement over alleged ties to Russian interference in U.S. politics, some candidates and observers of the 2017 and 2019 St. Petersburg elections are looking at escalations by the Uhuru candidates those years in a different light. A federal indictment unsealed on July 29 alleges that a Russian official named Aleksandr Wiktorovich Ionov consulted Uhuru candidates for local office in 2017 and 2019 as part of a campaign “to sow discord and mistrust” in U.S. political systems.

Did a change in strategy five years ago lead to the raid on Uhurus?

Pinellas committee recommends removal of 5 books ahead of school year” via Sam Sachs of WFLA — The Pinellas County Schools Committee of Library Media Specialists reviewed dozens of books ahead of the coming school year. Of the titles they read, five were recommended for restriction and five for removal. However, final decisions on books are decided by school principals individually. A representative for the Pinellas County School system noted that the committee does not ban books, instead making recommendations based on several criteria set by state law. The review process occurs yearly.


Turnover woes grow for Manatee County with public safety director’s mysterious departure” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Mystery surrounds the employment status of Manatee County Public Safety Director Jacob Saur, who seems to have been terminated just months before he is supposed to testify in an ethics case against Commissioner Vanessa Baugh. Questions swirled about Saur’s employment status with the county after Deputy County Administrator Robert Reinshuttle sent an email to County Commissioners and top administrative brass on July 26 indicating Saur had been let go, insinuating the county would not be replacing him. Manatee County has remained silent on the situation and has refused to confirm Saur’s departure.

The departure of Jacob Saur is surrounded by mystery.

A quick overview of the Manatee County School Board District 2 race” via Samantha Gholar of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Three seats are up for nonpartisan election for the Manatee County School Board on Aug. 23. Voters have begun mail-in absentee ballots and in-person early voting begins on Aug. 13. Three candidates are competing for the seat with a four-year term representing District 2, Susan Agruso, Harold Boyd, Jr. and Cindy Spray. Because the race is nonpartisan, all voters can participate in the election. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the two candidates receiving the most votes will advance to a runoff election in November.


Feds seizing vintage Scott Maddox cars to help pay judgment in public corruption case” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Two vintage cars owned by Maddox may head to auction as the federal government seeks to collect on fines imposed against him as part of his sentence on public corruption charges. The former Tallahassee Mayor and City Commissioner was sentenced Sept. 9 to five years in federal prison for taking bribes from vendors and undercover FBI agents in exchange for his official help with their projects. As part of his sentence, he was ordered to pay $70,000 for bribe money he and co-defendant Paige Carter-Smith got from Uber, one of their secret lobbying clients, and another $76,763 in restitution to the IRS.

Scott Maddox is losing a couple of sweet rides.

What you need to know about the Gainesville Commission District 3 seat” via Javon L. Harris of The Gainesville Sun — Voters have a chance to select a new Gainesville Commission majority this election cycle, as four of the seven seats are up for grabs. Aside from the Mayor’s chair, three other seats fall in Districts 2, 3 and 4 could be decided during the Primary Election on Aug. 23. If candidates don’t reach over 50% support from voters, a runoff election will be held on Nov. 8. Three contestants qualified to run for District 3, a seat being vacated by David Arreola, who is term-limited and running for Mayor. The district covers most of the southwest portion of town.


GOP hysteria over the Mar-a-Lago search is an invitation to violence” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — The threat of political violence from far-right extremists has been growing for years, but calls to arms reached a fever pitch in pro-Trump social media after Monday’s court-ordered search at Trump’s Florida compound: “When does the shooting start?” “Summertime was made for killing fields.” “Lock and load.” In such a dangerous and unstable time, we need leaders to appeal for calm. Instead, Fox News and other outlets exploded with talk of “war” and “assassination,” an “attack” on the country and Trump supporters, and calls for revenge against a “corrupt” American “KGB.” Elected Republicans erupted in cries about the “weaponized politicization” by a Democratic “Gestapo” and a “tyrannical FBI,” and the need to “make sure these tyrants pay the price.”


Jihadists are on the rise across Africa — The U.S. and its allies must remain vigilant” via Marco Rubio for The Hill —The American public’s attention may have shifted away from radical Islamic terrorists, but that doesn’t mean jihadists have stopped sowing death and destruction. Nor did the recent death of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri end the terrorist threat. On the contrary, extremists continue to spread instability and chaos across the globe. Al-Qaida affiliates in Africa’s Sahel region pose some of the greatest dangers. Al-Qaida affiliates are particularly gaining ground in Mali, especially as France withdraws its forces in response to the military coup in Bamako. The jihadists are already turning the country into a launching pad for attacks throughout the region, and al-Qaida’s leadership is thrilled at the prospect of additional victories.

Trump has been preparing for this moment for a long time” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Few things have made more obvious former Vice President Mike Pence’s designs on a 2024 Presidential bid than his tweet following the FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Pence’s response to the search was not to urge Americans to withhold judgment. Instead, it was to echo Trump’s deeply political line of argument. He shared the “deep concern of millions of Americans over the unprecedented search of the personal residence of President Trump,” Pence wrote. Pence’s argument that the FBI was politically motivated certainly derives largely from the narrative that Trump and his allies constructed to backstop that position.

End Trump raid secrecy.” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — There’s a line at the end of an Axios newsletter that sums up everything wrong about media coverage and public discussion of the FBI’s unprecedented raid on the home of Trump. “These investigations are top secret,” Axios’ Mike Allen wrote. “So more likely than not, we won’t get the full picture any time soon.” The bad word is secret. Excessive secrecy gave rise to wild, absolutely crazy speculation during the years of the Trump-Russia “collusion” investigation. Little bits of information would leak, upon which journalists and other talking heads would build elaborate structures of speculation. In no time, supposedly reasonable people were fantasizing about the President being a Russian asset. It was nuts, but that’s how secrecy and speculation work together.

In Florida, the prescription is politics, not health” via Randy Schultz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Friday featured the state’s alleged chief public health officer asking the Board of Medicine to disregard all credible research and ban treatment for transgender children. Department of Health Secretary Joseph Ladapo, whom DeSantis appointed, previously claimed that masks don’t help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and questioned the proven effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Now Ladapo has further discredited himself and the department by siding with other quacks who consider gender dysphoria merely a passing state of mind. Consider who Ladapo is using to make his case.

Assault on abortion access underscores urgent need for health care reforms” via Tina Polsky of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Here in Florida, DeSantis and the Republican Party have had their sights set on dismantling abortion protections and punishing women for seeking abortions for years. Last legislative session, they succeeded in passing a 15-week abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest, modeled after a similar ban in Mississippi, which was at the heart of the Supreme Court decision. Folks should be very clear-eyed about how far they are willing to take this. DeSantis and fellow Republicans in the Legislature want to ban abortion and arrest anyone who seeks their own abortion.

Throw the book at Florida man who used a rifle to settle a parking dispute” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — When someone abuses the right to bear arms and jeopardizes public safety, the consequences must be severe. That’s why we were pleased to see that a Clearwater man faces a felony charge for wielding a rifle during a parking dispute. This potentially lethal episode was about parking, something most of us witness thousands of times during our adult lives without pulling a gun. We all get ticked off from time to time, but most of us know how to control our worst impulses. That brings us to David H. Berry. He grabbed his semi-automatic rifle and pointed it at a lawn guy, twice threatening to shoot him.


— ALOE —

Norwegian Cruise Line joins others relaxing COVID-19 restrictions” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Norwegian Cruise Line and its sister lines Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises are rolling back COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements next month, the latest cruise line to relax rules enacted during the pandemic. The three cruise lines, all under Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, LTD, will adjust their protocols as of Sept. 3, under which vaccinated guests 12 and older will no longer be required to do any pre-cruise testing ahead of sailing, and unvaccinated guests will be allowed to sail.

Disney World begins transforming Magic Kingdom for Halloween” via Ashley Carter of Spectrum News — With Disney World’s big Halloween event Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party set to return in a matter of days, Magic Kingdom has begun making its fall transformation. Fall decorations have started to appear at the park. Halloween pumpkins are now visible along Main Street, U.S.A., including outside City Hall, the Main Street Fire Station, the Harmony Barber Shop, and the Emporium. The pumpkins feature assorted designs or carvings, with some themed to their location in the park. Other decorations have already been installed, including garlands and wreaths made of fall leaves and flowers, and scarecrows.

Disney World starts getting into the holiday spirit. Image via @AshleyLCarter1/Twitter.

As Spider-Man turns 60, fans reflect on diverse appeal” via Aaron Morrison of The Associated Press — There are legions of fans of Spider-Man, who this month marks 60 years in the vast, imaginative world of comic books, movies, and merch. Among those fans are devotees like Tyler Scott Hoover, a professional Spider-Man cosplayer and model who doesn’t resemble the longtime “canon” presentation of the character. However, in the cinematic and comic universes, a Black Spider-Man is now a reality. “The older I got, slowly but surely, I saw how relatable the character was,” Hoover says. “He had to work through his struggles while still maintaining a secret identity and doing good for the people. That kind of moral compass is powerful, especially for an impressionable mind.”

Pac-Man is the latest random toy to earn a live-action film” via Fletcher Peters of The Daily Beast — A number of bizarre brand-based projects are already in the works, and now, Hollywood has really upped the ante with: here comes a live-action Pac-Man film. How you can make a yellow chomping circle into a live-action event is beyond me. Didn’t we already have The Emoji Movie? But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Jane the Virgin alum Justin Baldoni has assembled a team under his Wayfarer Studios production company, though as of now, the actor hasn’t joined the film’s cast. He’s currently only set to serve as producer.


Best wishes to Angie Herron (recently featured in INFLUENCE Magazine), Democratic communications consultant Josh Karp, and Tyler Sununu, president of the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities.


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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