Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.3.23

Sunburn Orange Tally (8)
Get ‘burned first: Here’s your AM review of the news driving Florida politics.

Good Monday morning.

Is former Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren planning to launch a bid against, arguably, one of the biggest boogeymen in the state to Florida Democrats?

No sooner than I posted a photo of Warren with me at the Rays home opener, than I began getting messages from Democratic consultant friends asking variations of the same question.

“You know he’s running against Scott?” each asked rhetorically, referring to U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who is up for re-election next year.

Is Andrew Warren setting up for a Senate run?

Warren hasn’t announced anything officially, and this is mere speculation (based on a few text messages), but it certainly begs the question: Why the hell not?

Warren was twice elected State Attorney in a county that’s very swingy.

He unseated incumbent Mark Ober in what the Tampa Bay Times described at the time as a “stunning election night upset.”

Warren’s name was little known outside of political and legal circles before 2022 when Gov. Ron DeSantis unceremoniously (or ceremoniously, depending on who you ask) yanked him from office citing Warren’s pledges not to prosecute certain crimes related to nonviolent offenses and abortion.

That changed very quickly as outrage among Democrats bubbled over and Warren took extraordinary legal steps (which he is still taking) to right what he perceived as a wrong based on partisan overstepping. Now, Warren is not only a well-known name in Florida outside of Hillsborough County, but he’s also fairly well-known nationally — his story picked up in plenty of national media outlets.

Warren hasn’t always been quite so controversial.

Early in his tenure, he helped exonerate a wrongfully convicted man who served nearly 40 years in prison through the establishment of an overall popular conviction review unit, for example.

But in recent years that’s changed, and it could play well on a statewide stage if Warren can figure out how to harness the power of his progressive bona fides, while still managing to court moderate independents and Republicans.

To be sure, it would be a hard climb, but what has Warren got to lose in making the effort?

It appears no one else is willing to take a stab at it.

That’s at least the take from The Daily Beast, which reported just days ago that “leading state Democrats have been crickets about whether or not they’re interested in going against him.”

For his part, Scott seems to be banking they won’t. In response to the Daily Beast article, Scott tweeted a cartoon graveyard, with gravestones marking the names of past opponents who have all fallen to his largely self-funded, money-laden campaigns: Alex Sink in 2010, who Scott defeated for the Governor’s Mansion; Charlie Crist in 2014, who came up short against Scott’s re-election machine; and Bill Nelson in 2018, who Scott unseated from the U.S. Senate.

A fourth gravestone for 2024 shows a “your name here” place marker for whoever might dare challenge Scott, three times undefeated, again.

I often refer to Scott as the Eli Manning of Florida politics — he’s got the skill but not the respect.

But I’m not sure an aggrieved former prosecutor should be so quickly discounted.

Consider this.

Before his election as Governor in 2010, Scott was muddied up in a massive Medicare fraud scandal. At the same time, Warren was a federal, white-collar crimes prosecutor — the kind of prosecutor who goes after, you guessed it, Medicare fraud.

Oh, the fun they would have with that one!

I’m not saying he’s the best shot. But I’m not saying he’s not either.


@JebBush: (Alvin) Bragg’s predecessor didn’t take up the case. The Justice Department didn’t take up the case. Bragg first said he would not take up the case. This is very political, not a matter of justice. In this case, let the jury be the voters.

@DonaldJTrumpJr: Not a single person that visited (Jeffrey) Epstein Island was indicted other than G Maxwell who seems to be serving a 25-year sentence for sex trafficking minors to no one …

@MikeDuHaime: Being indicted may solidify some (Donald) Trump supporters, but it wins back absolutely zero voters who left him between 2016 and 2020. None. No independent who voted for (Joe) Biden thinks Trump is a martyr or victim suddenly worthy of support.

Tweet, tweet:

@JenOrsi: A reminder on the reminder that Florida ran a no-drama election in 2020 and 2022, gets its votes counted quickly and has not been a source of election questions. So why change anything?

Tweet, tweet:

@SkipFoster: If you gave me the choice of watching, in person, “Drive, Chip and Putt” or game 1 of the NBA Finals I’d get in the car and head to Augusta.


Tron Lightcycle/Run debuts in Walt Disney World — 1; Suits for Session — 2; ‘Air’ starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon premieres — 2; DeSantis visits Hillsdale College in Michigan — 3; NBA Play-In Tournament begins — 11; Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour in Tampa — 11; NBA playoffs begin — 13; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 13; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 15; DeSantis speaks at Utah Republican Party convention — 19; DeSantis speaks at the Jerusalem Post and Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem ‘Celebrate the Faces of Israel’ event — 24; 2023 Session Sine Die — 32; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 32; Florida Chamber 2023 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 36; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 45; ‘Fast X’ premieres — 45; Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres at Cannes — 47; Florida Chamber 2023 Florida Prosperity & Economic Opportunity Solution Summit — 54; NBA Finals begin — 59; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 60; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 74; Florida Chamber 2023 Florida Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 85; ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ premieres — 87; ‘Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning — Part One’ premieres — 102; Florida Chamber 37th Annual Environmental Permitting Summer School — 109; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 111; ’Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 118; Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ tour in Tampa — 135; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 203; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 217; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 299; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 311; Georgia Democratic Primary — 317; Michigan Democratic Primary — 330; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 362; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 417; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 480; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 480; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 509; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 522; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 587; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 733; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 760; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 949.


An eye on the White House? Ron DeSantis makes his pitch to PA conservatives” via Florida Phoenix — Over the last four years, DeSantis has positioned himself — for the moment at least — as the strongest GOP alternative to Trump, and he made sure his audience knew it Saturday in an address peppered with his accomplishments in “the free state of Florida.”

To DeSantis, those accomplishments start with an early and controversial reopening from the coronavirus era lockdowns that evolved into and a strong and consistent pushback against what he called the “Faucian dystopia” of vaccine and masking mandates.

Ron DeSantis gives his elevator pitch in Pennsylvania.

It wasn’t easy, DeSantis recalled Saturday.

As the number of COVID cases soared in Florida in the summer of 2020, DeSantis said, even staunch supporters noted that he was getting “hammered” in the press for his positions and many urged him to rethink.

He also poked the bear of gender identity issues, noting that in Florida doctors who perform gender identity surgeries on minors are now at risk of having their medical licenses revoked.

For many of these stances, DeSantis has been gathering strength through the last year as not only a conservative favorite but, at this early date in the presidential campaign cycle, one of the most formidable contenders for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

When it was over, he appeared to have made some converts.

—”In Pennsylvania, DeSantis again blasts ‘George Soros prosecutors,’ but won’t say Donald Trump’s name” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—“GOP hot ticket and DeSantis makes swing-state stop in Pennsylvania” via Charles Thompson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Super PAC backing DeSantis says it has raised $30 million” via Maggie Haberman of The New York Times —The super PAC that is likely to serve as the main vehicle supporting DeSantis in a Republican presidential primary has raised $30 million since March 9, a senior official with the group said on Sunday night. The sums raised for the super PAC, named Never Back Down, show the financial might that would back a DeSantis campaign, should he enter the presidential race, as expected, after the Florida legislative session ends in early May.

DeSantis just made life easier for parents who hate his book bans” via Bonnie Kristian of the Daily Beast — Florida’s universal school choice law will undoubtedly be lumped in with the state’s other controversial education policies. But there’s a crucial difference between this voucher law — which will make all Florida K-12 students eligible to opt out of public school, attend a qualified private or charter school, and take per-child funding of up to $8,000 with them — and those other policies. The rest try to tie Florida’s public schools to right-wing values. This school choice law doesn’t do that. It’s not an assertion of authority. It’s an escape hatch, and progressives who live in red states might want to get more comfortable with that idea. The longer public schools remain a central culture war battleground, the more they’re going to want an option to escape.

Ron DeSantis’ latest push for universal educational vouchers offers progressive an escape plan.

North Carolina poll shows DeSantis as GOP’s best bet in 2024” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Are Tarheel State voters yearning for “America’s Governor” to be the next President? One poll suggests that may be the case. A recent survey from Cygnal shows that DeSantis is the only potential GOP nominee tested who tops Biden in a hypothetical General Election next year. The Florida Governor took 44% support against just 41% for the Democratic President, and it seems voters are fairly locked in even though DeSantis is weeks away from launching a formal campaign. 34% of those polled said they “definitely” wanted DeSantis, with 32% “definitely” supporting Biden. The numbers are much worse for two other names tested. Neither Trump nor former Vice President Mike Pence topped Biden in the poll.

Gavin Newsom heckles DeSantis over latest Disney power struggle, on the Governor’s home turf” via Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider — Newsom of California praised Walt Disney World for its “master class” of putting DeSantis “back in his place” after the company created a loophole to maintain control of its land. “I guess there’s a new sheriff in town,” Newsom told Insider on Saturday, in a not-so-subtle reference to a comment DeSantis made when he appointed a new board to oversee Disney’s district. “It’s Mickey Mouse, back on top,” Newsom added. Walt Disney Studios is headquartered in Burbank, California, but the company holds powerful sway in Florida through the jobs and tourists Disney World brings. News broke this week that a law giving the Florida Governor power to take over Disney World’s governing board is likely toothless.

DeSantis rips into Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s indictment of Trump: ‘All about politics’” via Mary Kay Linge and Valentina Jaramillo of the New York Post — DeSantis continued to tiptoe toward the Republican Presidential Primary race with a visit to Nassau County Saturday, his second New York City-area appearance in less than six weeks, while taking a swipe at Bragg for his prosecution of Trump. “This guy is all about politics,” DeSantis said of Bragg, who he decried as “a menace to society.” “His whole thing is he doesn’t want people to be in jail; he wants to downgrade felonies to misdemeanors,” DeSantis said.

—”3 ways Trump’s indictment could help DeSantis and 3 ways it could hurt him” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times

—”Shevrin Jones shreds DeSantis’ position on Trump indictment” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—“Adam Schiff criticizes DeSantis over indictment comments” via Kelly Garrity of POLITICO

Chris Christie knocks DeSantis over potential Trump extradition: ‘Who the hell asked you?’” via Rema Rahman of The Hill — Christie on Sunday knocked DeSantis, who suggested last week his state would not cooperate in any potential extradition of Trump over an indictment filed in Manhattan despite having not received such a request. “I think it’s interesting that someone says they’re going to refuse to extradite someone who’s not asking,” Christie said. “I mean, Trump and his lawyers are negotiating a voluntary surrender, which is what they should do. It’s the responsible thing to do. And Ron DeSantis comes out and says, ‘I won’t extradite him.’ Well, who the hell asked you?” Christie said.

Chris Christie says DeSantis is jumping the gun on any potential Trump extradition.

DeSantis’ Disney fail is a reality check. Authoritarianism is hard.” via Ja’han Jones of MSNBC — Authoritarianism is harder than it looks. That’s the lesson DeSantis should take from his attempt to punish Disney for its opposition to a bigoted law banning classroom references to LGBTQ people. Last year, DeSantis urged Republicans in the state Legislature to strip Disney of its special district status in Orlando after the company came out against what critics have labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” law. DeSantis’ anti-Disney crusade may have garnered him praise in conservative circles, but the plan largely unraveled, and he was ultimately forced to settle for a compromise punishment.

Trump trashes DeSantis’ ‘sellout’ to insurance industry” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Trump is doubling down on his attacks of DeSantis’ “bailout” of insurance companies. In a new video, Trump again contended DeSantis favors privileged “globalist” insurance companies over the people of the Sunshine State. “DeSanctimonious is delivering the biggest insurance company bailout in global history. This is a gift to insurance companies and a disaster for the people of Florida,” Trump said. “He’s also crushed Florida homeowners whose houses were destroyed in the hurricane. They have been absolutely decimated. They’re getting pennies on the dollar.” Trump then offered a denunciation of Florida’s Insurance Commissioner for doing “absolutely nothing.”

No one Is talking about what DeSantis has actually done to Florida” via William Kleinknecht of Time — Omitted from the public debate about DeSantis’ policies is almost any discussion of his actual record of governance, what exactly he has delivered to the citizens of his state, especially those without seven-figure incomes and lush investment portfolios. Even a cursory dip into the statistics of social and economic well-being reveals that Florida falls short in almost any measure that matters to the lives of its citizens. More than four years into the DeSantis governorship, Florida continues to languish toward the bottom of state rankings assessing the quality of health care, school funding, long-term elder care, and other areas key to a successful society.


Florida Senate sets strict ‘heartbeat’ abortion law for vote after rolling over opposition” via John Kennedy of USA Today Network — A measure banning most abortions in Florida after six weeks of pregnancy was set for approval next week by the state Senate over fierce opposition from outnumbered Democrats. In a last-minute amendment added Thursday, the legislation was titled the “Heartbeat Protection Act,” by Sen. Erin Grall, sponsor of the measure (SB 300). “Once there is a heartbeat, we do not believe that an abortion should occur,” Grall told the Senate, which set Monday for a likely vote.

Erin Grall’s ‘heartbeat bill’ is steamrolling its way through the Legislature.

Legislation lowering Florida death sentence threshold nears DeSantis’ desk” via Douglas Soule of the Tallahassee Democrat — Legislation that would make it easier to get death penalty decisions in Florida is one step away from passing both chambers in the Capitol. The morning after the Senate passed the same legislation, the House Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 555 Friday, which would create the lowest death penalty threshold in the country. It nixes the state’s unanimous jury requirement so that it takes only eight out of 12 jury members to recommend a death sentence. The bill now heads to the House floor, where it must be approved before getting DeSantis’ expected signature.

Shell election bill prompts speculation on resign-to-run, voting reforms” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A shell elections bill filed late Thursday has speculation in Tallahassee running rampant. The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee dropped the bill (SPB 7050) with little information. The entirety of the bill’s text at the time it was published stated: “The Legislature intends to revise laws relating to elections.” Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’s office promised a final draft could be published as soon as Friday or as late as Monday before a deadline for amendments. The bill is slated for discussion at a Committee hearing on Tuesday, April 4, at 2 p.m.

House advances bill to eliminate Enterprise Florida” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — A bill that would eliminate Enterprise Florida (EFI), a public-private group that recruits businesses to expand or move to the state, passed through a House Committee despite concerns over the bill’s constitutionality, the ability of a state agency to handle its work and a tax break for the film industry that would also be axed. “The bill reduces government waste and streamlines the economic development efforts of the entire state,” said Rep. Tiffany Esposito, sponsor of HB 5. The bill passed on a 16-6 vote, with Rep. Anna Eskamani the only Democrat to join Republicans in favor of it.

Tiffany Esposito says ending Enterprise Florida helps eliminate governmental waste.

House passes slew of education bills” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO — Lawmakers in the Florida House passed several education bills Friday including key priorities such as pursuing partisan school board races and changing school start times statewide. While the proposals cleared their final House hurdle, they still await hearings and votes in the Senate. “We’re going to stay focused on what’s best for kids and their needs, not what adults may want,” House Speaker Paul Renner said after Friday’s floor Session. “I think that’s a common theme throughout the bills we’re putting to the floor this year.”

House passes parental rights bill restricting pronouns in schools” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO — House Republicans in Florida passed a wide-ranging education bill Friday targeting how teachers and students can use their pronouns in schools, building on the state’s parental rights law that critics call “Don’t Say Gay.” The proposal tightens restrictions on school lessons about sexual identity and gender orientation, which lawmakers say should happen at home. It also requires libraries to pull books from shelves within five days if someone objects to the content in change opponents contend amounts to censorship.

House upvotes bill restricting social media, student phone use in schools” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Legislation banning TikTok, Instagram and other social media sites on public school devices and networks sailed through the House, with every member present voting for the change. Representatives voted 110-0 for the bill (HB 379), which would require public school districts by July 1 to block access to social media on school-provided Wi-Fi and prevent apps for the platforms from being installed on school devices. Students would still be able to access the sites on their own mobile plans; however, the measure also would allow districts to adopt rules enabling teachers to confiscate and withhold the devices during class time.

Legislation to make School Board races partisan prepped for final House approval” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A measure that would have voters decide whether the Florida Constitution should be changed to make School Board races partisan is ready for a final vote. The legislation (HJR 31) supports one of DeSantis’ stated priorities. The bill covers ground voters have trod before. In 1998, voters agreed to make School Board elections nonpartisan. A bill last year seeking to change the status quo did not advance. If both chambers agree, voters will be asked to approve the change on the November 2024 ballot. In Committee, sponsors argued the change just cements what is already happening.


Reedy Creek ‘fix’ might have to wait, legislative leaders say” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — DeSantis’ administration is vowing to take legal action against the former Board members of the former Reedy Creek Improvement District over their move to cement The Walt Disney Co’s control over the district, but Senate and House leaders are unsure there’s a legislative solution to the issue, at least during the current Regular Session. “I think we’re going to take a look at it, I’m sure … to see what they actually did,” Passidomo told reporters. “It’s too early to do anything right now and we’ve got a lot on our plate for the rest of this Session, so I don’t anticipate doing anything in the near term.”

Resolving the Reedy Creek problem isn’t coming anytime soon.

Fentrice Driskell abandoned cemeteries bill clears all Committees” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — A bill that would codify the 2021 Abandoned African American Cemetery Task Force’s recommendations into law cleared its final Committee stop, with a unanimous nod from the State Affairs Committee. The bill (HB 49) would create the Historic Cemeteries Program and the Historic Cemeteries Program Advisory Council within the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. It would also facilitate abandoned and historic cemetery education and maintenance. The bill includes a $1 million appropriation for research on abandoned cemeteries and for grants to help repair, restore or maintain African American cemeteries.

House ready to vote on request to prohibit SNAP purchases of nonalcoholic drinks” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A House memorial asking the federal government to prohibit the purchase of certain nonalcoholic beverages using government food assistance did not go down easily with Democrats. The legislation (HM 581) is merely a recommendation to the federal government, but readying the memorial for final passage lit a debate on the House floor that ran almost an hour. The sponsors say they are trying to improve health by putting sweetened drinks and soda on the same level as alcohol and tobacco, which are also prohibited purchases under the government benefits program, known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Legislature passes bill requiring lactation spaces at courthouses” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — After years of failed attempts, Florida lawmakers have approved legislation to require lactation spaces in courthouses. The House unanimously passed SB 144 by Sen. Lori Berman, a lawyer who carried the measure to approval in a 39-0 vote by the Senate on March 15. The bill will mandate courthouses throughout Florida to provide lactation spaces for breastfeeding mothers by Jan. 1, 2024. The spaces must be clean, shielded from public view, free from intrusion while occupied and have at least one electrical outlet. Courthouses may be exempted from offering such spaces if doing so requires new construction or cannot be done at a “reasonable cost.”


Gun rights activists say permitless carry misses target, should be rejected by DeSantis” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — As the Senate prepares to pass a permitless carry bill, many hard-line conservatives say DeSantis should reject it. “This bill is a half-measure and is not what gun owners were promised,” said gun activist Matt Collins. “It isn’t true Constitutional Carry because it doesn’t include an open carry provision. This bill is weak and failed leadership on part of Gov. DeSantis and the Republican legislative leadership. Gun owners deserve better.” The Senate is expected to pass a bill (HB 543) that would eliminate Florida’s requirement for a concealed carry permit in public settings. The legislation has provoked strong feelings on both sides of the aisle, and Senate Republicans on Wednesday shot down a series of amendments proposed by Democrats.

Gun activist Matt Collins says permitless carry is not the right way to go.

Barney Bishop remembers to disclose lobbying clients — Bishop decided that he would comply with lobbying disclosure rules and informed the state that Small Business Pharmacies Aligned for Reform is indeed one of his clients. The registration comes after Bishop testified on their behalf in favor of the pharmacy benefit manager bill in a House Committee last week. It’s unclear whether Bishop intentionally failed to let the state know SPAR was one of his clients, or if he was simply distracted by the international attention he received for accusing one of the all-time great sculptors, Michelangelo, of being a pornographer.

Investigation shows 42% of Florida lawmakers have personal ties to real estate. Here’s why that may be a problem” via Clayton Park of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Builders and developers continue to add new condo high-rises and luxury homes in the very places most vulnerable to storm surges. And it’s not just because that’s where most people moving to Florida want to live. An investigation by the USA TODAY Network-Florida of the occupations and sources of income of state lawmakers found more than 40% — at least 66 out of 159 − have direct ties to the real estate industry. Connections include a land-use lawyer sponsoring growth management legislation; a homebuilder co-sponsoring legislation on building regulation; a big developer sponsoring legislation that would take away local control of setting limits on development; and a high-paid executive at a giant development firm co-sponsoring a bill to cap the fees his employer pays for economic impact.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Barney Bishop, Barney Bishop Consulting: Small Business Pharmacies Aligned for Reform

Mary Childs-Mayer, The Feighan Team: Accion Opportunity Fund

Evelyn Davis, Hawkins Parnell & Young: Florida Justice Reform Institute

Jose Fuentes, Max Losner, Becker & Poliakoff: Town of Medley

Avery Lopez, The Southern Group: Town of Miami Lakes

Andrew Winik, Osceola Clerk of the Circuit Court & County Comptroller


Assignment editors — House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell and Policy Chair Rep. Kelly Skidmore will hold a media availability: 9:30 a.m., Zoom link here.

—The Senate holds a floor Session: 10 a.m., Senate Chambers.

— The House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee meets: 10:30 a.m., Room 102, Reed Hall, House Office Building.


Public schools fear voucher program will wreak havoc on budgets” via Jeffrey Schweers of Florida Politics — Now that DeSantis has signed legislation that opens the voucher program to all school-age children in Florida, public school officials are anxious to see how the Senate and House will figure out how to pay for it. “We want to make sure we’re fully funded,” said Angie Gallo, an Orange County School Board member who was active in the PTA for years. “What we’re asking for is that it doesn’t harm public schools or children.” School Board members and district administrators won’t know the fiscal impact of the new law for at least another month, after the House and Senate resolve their differences and pull together a budget for the Governor to sign.

Jimmy Patronis urges Norway to reconsider ESG-based divestment from Israel” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Chief Financial Officer Patronis is criticizing Norway for considering divesting from Israeli banks. The Republican member of the Florida Cabinet wrote a letter to Norway Consul-General Heidi Olufsen slamming the decision. He said the country allowed misinformation from the United Nations to inform financial decisions. “My concerns underscore an alarming situation where a Western European nation may divest from the world’s greatest, most prosperous democracy in the Middle East, while maintaining significant investments in China in the name of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) scoring,” Patronis wrote.

Jimmy Patronis is calling for Norway to give up on ESG-based investing.

—”Patronis slams TikTok as ‘digital fentanyl’ with no place in schools” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Florida DCF touts $21M in grants for ‘Responsible Fatherhood’The Florida Department of Children and Families announced a $21.2 million grant through the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative. In 2022, DeSantis, joined by the Legislature, national, and community leaders, signed HB 7065 which created the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative to highlight the role fathers have in their children’s lives. Community-based nonprofit organizations are encouraged to apply through the Vendor Information Portal. Applications are live for three grants: the Comprehensive Needs of Fathers, the Evidence-Based Education Programs for Fathers and the Mentorship Programs for At-Risk Male Students.

Disability lawsuits surge in Florida. Are they removing barriers or ‘legal extortion’?” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — After opening Sanguich de Miami in 2018, the couple and their landlord were sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by Emilio Pinero, an amputee who lost both legs from the knees down. Pinero was not a random plaintiff, he’s a serial filer of disability access lawsuits, also known as a “tester” under ADA rules. Over the past decade, federal court records show, he has sued about 380 businesses in South Florida over ADA violations. He’s not alone. More than 11,000 similar suits have been filed since 2010. And the top 10 testers, a list that includes Pinero, account for nearly two-thirds of those cases.

Florida book-banning: How one former inmate fought the law, and she won” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — When you think about Florida as “the banned books state,” you’re probably thinking about schools. But Florida’s penchant for book banning extends to the state prison system, which bans more reading material for inmates than any other state, even Texas. The banned book in Florida that has drawn the most attention lately is Corrections in Ink: A Memoir by Keri Blakinger. As a teenager, Blakinger ice skated six hours a day in a failed quest to be an Olympics figure skater. Trying to make herself more petite for her male skating partners, she taught herself to throw up after every meal.


Hewing to precedent, Joe Biden plans to skip King Charles III’s coronation” via Tyler Pager of The Washington Post — Biden is not expected to attend the coronation of King Charles III next month, with first lady Jill Biden planning to lead the delegation to the United Kingdom, according to people familiar with the plans. Biden’s decision to skip the May 6 coronation is not unusual, say U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the trip has not yet been announced. No previous U.S. President has attended a British monarch’s coronation, and for the last coronation, Queen Elizabeth II’s, in June 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent a delegation in his place.

Regretfully, Joe Biden will not attend King Charles III’s coronation.

Biden’s limited options to respond to OPEC+’s surprise oil cut” via Ari Natter of Bloomberg — OPEC+’s surprise move to cut 1 million barrels a day of oil production is poised to raise U.S. fuel prices just as Biden is expected to launch his re-election campaign. He has a limited range of options with which to respond. Biden may go for another release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Don’t be surprised if there are more political attacks on the U.S. energy sector, which has ignored repeated pleas from Biden over the past year to accelerate production increases.

Social Security reserves projected to run out earlier than expected” via David Harrison of The Wall Street Journal — An economic slowdown, persistent inflation and weaker productivity growth will hurt Social Security’s finances, draining its reserves one year earlier than previously estimated, the government said Friday. Social Security won’t have enough money to pay all beneficiaries the amount they are entitled to starting in 2034, according to the latest report by the program’s trustees. Unless Congress takes action to shore up the program, beneficiaries will receive about 80% of their scheduled benefits after that point.

Remote trains carrying hazmat fall outside Congress’ push for rail regulation” via Julie Tsirkin of NBC News — Congress is pushing to mandate a specific crew size on trains following a series of dangerous incidents. But the legislation leaves out a type of train that regularly carries hazardous chemicals in major metropolitan areas with no licensed engineers onboard. The trains can carry chemicals like acidic poison, ethanol and sulfuric acid. And the Railway Safety Act of 2023 won’t stop the practice because of the bill’s exceptions for trains that “do not travel farther than 30 miles from the point of origin,” among other exceptions. Union Pacific has for 20 years used workers who are not licensed engineers or conductors to operate these trains using remote joysticks.

U.S., EU lawmakers feel cut out of Biden’s electric vehicle trade agenda” via Steven Overly and Barbara Moens of POLITICO — The United States and European Union are racing to settle their dispute over tax credits for electric vehicles, but their attempted fix is creating new problems for each of them back home. Lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic complain leaders are circumventing the standard approval process for free trade agreements in their attempt to heal the rift. The potential deal between the Biden administration and the EU would qualify European automakers for some of the taxpayer subsidies embedded in the Inflation Reduction Act, the $369 billion climate and tax legislation that the U.S. Congress passed last year.

Congress is trying to ban TikTok. Younger Americans don’t like that.” via Cooper Burton of FiveThirtyEight — The latest trend taking Congress by storm? A nationwide TikTok ban. A congressional hearing went viral last week, as lawmakers from both parties grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew for five hours over a range of issues, from how the app protects Americans’ data from being accessed by China to how it screens potentially harmful content from minors. Congress already banned TikTok from government devices in December, but lately, it has seemed poised to go a step further.

Congress grills Shou Zi Chew in its attempt to stifle TikTok.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas won’t call immigration at southern border a crisis” via Sharyn Alfonsi of CBS News — When he was less than a year old, Mayorkas and his family came to the United States as refugees, fleeing Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba. Today, he is the first immigrant to head the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. But it’s what he’s done about the large number of migrants crossing the U.S. border with Mexico that’s prompted protests by migrant advocates … and fiery attacks by Republicans who want to impeach him. Tonight, you will hear from Secretary Mayorkas about the efforts to push him out of office and why he refuses to call the situation on the southern border a “crisis.”

2 pro-impeachment Senators question motives behind Trump indictment” via Jonathan Swan, Maggie Haberman and Chris Cameron of The New York Times — Two Senators who voted to convict Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, one a Republican and one a Democrat, have raised concerns that Trump has been improperly targeted by the Manhattan district attorney, Bragg, even before they have learned the details of the indictment. “It’s just a very, very sad day for America,” said Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. “Especially when people are maybe believing that the rule of law or justice is not working the way it’s supposed to and it’s biased — we can’t have that,” Manchin said.

Under fire, Trump builds a wall in Congress” via Sophia Cai and Juliegrace Brufke of Axios — 37 House Republicans have endorsed Trump, including more than a third of the GOP members on Judiciary and Oversight, two Committees he’s pushing to investigate Biden and Manhattan’s district attorney. Trump’s endorsements, which also include five Republican Senators, reflect the congressional wall of support he has built to boost his 2024 Presidential campaign, and help him dig up dirt on his political and legal foes.

Republicans defend Trump by attacking criminal-justice system” via David Morgan of Reuters — Many Republicans in the U.S. Congress responded to Trump’s looming Tuesday arraignment by characterizing the criminal justice system as corrupt, in accusations that parallel their earlier broadsides against the nation’s elections after the former President’s 2020 defeat. Trump and his allies in the House of Representatives and Senate have used rhetoric that echoed his false claims of widespread election fraud in the buildup to the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

A popular phrase coined by a judge in 1985 led to the appearance of ham sandwiches on the Hill on Friday” via POLITICO — A phrase coined in the New York courts in the ’80s inspired a GOP stunt today by Rep. Barry Moore, in another Republican show of support to Trump following his indictment. After the news of Trump’s indictment broke Thursday, the Alabama Republican claimed that New York District Attorney Bragg “could indict a ham sandwich next.” Moore teased his office would be handing them out the next day. Moore kept his word on Friday, offering ham and cheese sandwiches from his office in Longworth.

Adam Schiff criticizes DeSantis over indictment comments” via Kelly Garrity of POLITICO — Rep. Schiff slammed DeSantis on Sunday for comments the likely GOP Primary candidate made about Trump’s indictment. DeSantis is willing to “say anything, do anything in hopes of becoming President,” Schiff, a California Democrat, told MSNBC’s Jen Psaki during an interview on the former Biden Press Secretary’s new show, “Inside with Jen Psaki.” DeSantis, who is expected to enter the 2024 presidential race, criticized the indictment delivered by a New York grand jury on Thursday, calling it “un-American.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene uses ‘60 Minutes’ interview to call democrats pedophiles” via Althea Legaspi of Rolling Stone — Rep. Greene was interviewed by Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes Sunday. The program was criticized for spotlighting the divisive congresswoman, who has touted conspiracy theories and called for more guns in schools even in the wake of tragedy, including following the school shooting in Nashville last week, which left three children and three teachers dead. “Democrats support, even Joe Biden, the President himself, supports children being sexualized and having transgender surgeries,” Greene said. “Sexualizing children is what pedophiles do to children.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene takes her conspiracy theories to ’60 Minutes.’

Sen. Chris Murphy says “there are not the votes” to pass an assault weapons ban in Congress” via Emily Mae Czachor of CBS News — In the wake of another deadly school shooting, Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut who is at the forefront of gun control legislation in Congress, has again called for action from federal lawmakers that could help reduce the risks of future tragedies involving assault weapons. While Murphy acknowledged during an appearance on “Face the Nation” Sunday morning that “there are not the votes” in the U.S. Senate as it stands to pass an assault weapons ban, which Biden has been pushing for since last year, the congressman discussed possible steps forward to increase gun control.


As Trump arraignment looms, New York City braces for a day of tumult” via Jesse McKinley and Chelsia Rose Marcius of The New York Times — Law enforcement officials and outside experts have not warned of major threats from Trump’s supporters or opponents this week. But New York City officials and police were already girding for protests near the courthouse and outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, where barricades lined the streets for several blocks surrounding the building on Sunday, amid camera crews and curiosity seekers.

Trump Tower is on red alert for indictment watch.

Some ‘Biden district’ Republicans hedge on Trump indictment” via Mary Ellen McIntire, Daniela Altimari, and Niels Lesniewski of Roll Call — The indictment of Trump drew an array of reactions from lawmakers in battleground districts: Some lashed out at Manhattan District Attorney Bragg, some expressed confidence in the legal process and some simply kept quiet. Like some of their other House GOP colleagues, Republicans representing New York battleground districts accused Bragg of politicizing his approach to the job for seeking a grand jury indictment of Trump rather than fighting other crime in New York City. Trump was under investigation for his role in paying hush money to a porn star ahead of his 2016 Election and is reportedly set to be arraigned on Tuesday. The indictment remains sealed.

Trump will plead ‘not guilty,’ seek to dismiss case, lawyer says” via Patricia Hurtado of Bloomberg — Trump, the first former U.S. President to be indicted, will plead not guilty when he appears in a Manhattan state court Tuesday to face criminal charges, his defense lawyer said. “We will very loudly and proudly say ‘not guilty,’” Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina said on an appearance Sunday on CNN. Tacopina said he believes Trump faces several misdemeanor charges and signaled a defense the former President is likely to launch, including assailing Bragg’s authority to bring state charges tied to a federal election.

Justice Dept. said to have more evidence of possible Trump obstruction at Mar-a-Lago” via Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey and Perry Stein of The Washington Post — Justice Department and FBI investigators have amassed fresh evidence pointing to possible obstruction by Trump in the investigation into top-secret documents found at his Mar-a-Lago home, according to people familiar with the matter. The additional evidence comes as investigators have used emails and text messages from a former Trump aide to help understand key moments last year, said the people, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing criminal investigation.

Trump lashes out against New York judge who will hear his criminal case” via Perry Stein and Shayna Jacobs of The Washington Post — Trump is quite familiar with New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, the judge who oversaw the grand jury that indicted Trump this week and will preside over the criminal proceedings that follow. Merchan, who has sat on the New York bench since 2009, also presided over the jury trial last year of Trump’s namesake real estate company, which resulted in a conviction in December, and the prosecution of the company’s longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. On Friday, the first former President ever charged with a crime lashed out at Merchan on social media, declaring that the judge “HATES ME.”

—”Jeb Bush questions Trump indictment, says jury should be ‘the voters’” via Jared Gans of The Hill

Trump raises over $5 million since indictment news” via Mike Allen of Axios — Trump has raised more than $5 million since news of his indictment broke late Thursday, over $4 million in the first 24 hours and over $1 million in the second 24 hours. The donation gusher validates the view of most top Republicans that the expected indictment from Manhattan District Attorney Bragg, at least in the short term, will help Trump’s effort to build a formidable lead for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. In announcing the initial $4 million haul, Trump’s campaign noted that over 25% of the donations came from first-time donors to him.

— 2024 —

Biden and his 2024 campaign: Waiting for some big decisions” via Zeke Miller and Will Wessert of The Associated Press — Biden has all but announced he’s running for re-election, but key questions about the 2024 campaign are unresolved: Who will manage it? Where will it be based? When will he finally make it official? Advisers have long said he planned to wait until after March, when the year’s first fundraising period wraps up. That was an effort to help manage expectations because many donors who gave generously to Democratic causes during last fall’s elections were looking for a break. But an announcement isn’t imminent even now, aides insist, and probably won’t come until at least after Biden returns from an expected trip to Ireland in mid-April.

Joe Biden has a series of big decisions on his calendar.

Trump indictment could boost GOP Primary bid, but hurt in a rematch with Biden” via Alex Leary of The Wall Street Journal — The indictment of Trump is unlikely to derail his 2024 White House bid and could help in the GOP Primary, but it could also further alienate swing voters turned off by the controversies that continue to swirl around him since he left office. The unprecedented nature of a former President facing criminal charges, in a case involving a hush-money payment to a porn star, carries many unknowns. But Trump’s strategy is already in view, following hard-hitting tactics he has used throughout a short, turbulent political career. Trump, who denies any wrongdoing in the case, is banking on Republicans siding with his claim that the system is out to get him and crush the movement he started.

What the Trump indictment means for DeSantis and the GOP” via Ross Douthat of The New York Times — There is a presumption among a certain kind of analyst that because Republicans morally deserve Trump they will be stuck with him no matter what. Having refused so many opportunities to take a righteous stand against him, they will be condemned to halt at the edge of a post-Trump promised land, gazing pathetically across the Jordan even as they cast in their lots with the False Orange Messiah once again. That assumption informs some of the reactions to the Trump indictment and the immediate rally effect that it produced among Republicans, with Trump’s leading challenger, DeSantis, not only condemning prosecutorial overreach but promising some kind of Floridian sanctuary should Trump choose to become a fugitive from New York justice.

Asa Hutchinson launches GOP 2024 bid, calls on Trump to drop out” via Andrew DeMillo of The Associated Press — Hutchinson, who recently completed two terms as Arkansas Governor, said Sunday he will seek the Republican presidential nomination, positioning himself as an alternative to Trump just days after he was indicted by a grand jury in New York. Hutchinson said Trump should drop out of the race, arguing “the office is more important than any individual person.” “I’m convinced that people want leaders that appeal to the best of America and not simply appeal to our worst instincts.”

Francis Suarez headed to New Hampshire after stop in Iowa” via Paul Steinhauser of Fox News — After a stop in Iowa a week and a half ago, Mayor Suarez of Miami is headed to New Hampshire. The visits to the first two states to vote in the GOP presidential nominating calendar are sparking further speculation that the Florida Republican is seriously mulling a White House run in 2024. Suarez will headline a morning event on Tuesday, April 18, which for more than two decades has been a must-stop in the Granite State for actual and potential presidential contenders from both major parties. “Look, I’m seriously considering a run. It’s something I discussed with my family. My family is on board,” the two-term Mayor said.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

South Florida set to receive millions in funding to tackle housing crisis, following state’s $711 million plan” via Amber Bonefont of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel — South Florida stands to see a multimillion-dollar infusion from the state to make housing more affordable as part of a new effort to tackle the affordability crisis that’s stretching many paychecks thin. DeSantis signed SB 102, also known as the “Live Local Act,” into law Wednesday, effectively redirecting tax revenue for affordable housing over the next 10 years and offering various incentives to developers to create more affordable housing.

Trump indictment: Palm Beach County GOP politicos say this will boost his campaign” via Stephanie Matat of The Palm Beach Post — Republicans in Trump’s home county said they stood by the former President as news broke Thursday evening of his indictment in his former home state of New York. Palm Beach County Republican Party Chair Michael Barnett said he stands behind Trump and said that he demands that Trump “be treated fairly and in accordance with the law … as everyone is entitled to.” “Ultimately, we believe that he will be cleared of any wrongdoing and will emerge stronger than before,” said Barnett, a longtime Trump ally who was appointed to the Palm Beach County Commission by DeSantis.

Michael Barnett is all-in on Trump.

Far-right influencer convicted in voter suppression scheme” via The Associated Press — A self-styled far-right propagandist from Florida was convicted Friday of charges alleging that he conspired to deprive individuals of their right to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Douglass Mackey of West Palm Beach was convicted in Brooklyn federal court before Judge Ann M. Donnelly after a one-week trial. On the internet, he was known as “Ricky Vaughn.” Mackey, who was arrested in January 2021, could face up to 10 years in prison. His sentencing is set for Aug. 16.

Fourth South Florida voter fraud case dismissed by Broward judge” via Angie DiMichele of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Broward County judge decided Friday to dismiss the case against another one of the 20 people arrested last August after investigations by DeSantis’ Office of Election Crimes and Security. Eugene Suggs is now the fourth South Florida resident whose case has been thrown out of court on the grounds that the Office of Statewide Prosecution does not have jurisdiction to prosecute, his attorney Lawrence Wolk said. Suggs was accused of voting illegally in the 2020 Primary and General Elections, a probable cause affidavit said.

Palm Beach trial to move forward for woman accused of voting in both Florida and Alaska” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A case against a woman accused of registering to vote in Alaska and Florida will proceed to court. Palm Beach Circuit Judge Cymonie Rowe denied a motion to dismiss charges against Cheryl-Ann Leslie. The Loxahatchee woman faces two counts of casting more than one ballot in the same election. She is accused of trying to vote in Alaska by fax days after voting in person at a Palm Beach County early voting location in the 2020 General Election. She is also accused of voting by fax in a Primary election in Alaska in August a day after her mail-in ballot was received in the Florida Primary.

The ancient discovery made on the Miami River is so significant it could derail development” via Andres Viglucci of the Miami Herald — The site of a major prehistoric archaeological discovery in Miami’s Brickell district is extensive and significant enough to merit protection from development under local laws. The analysis, to be presented to the city’s historic preservation board in a public hearing on Tuesday, could significantly up the ante in a growing effort by archaeologists, preservationists, Brickell residents and Native American activists to spare at least some of the ancient indigenous site, on the south bank of the Miami River, from planned high-rise development by prominent real estate developer Related Group.

Shore power: Cruise ships to get charged up at Port Everglades” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In the name of greener shipping, Broward County’s venerable Port Everglades is moving to join a small but growing group of ports worldwide that allow visiting cruise ships to plug into shore-based power sources for electricity. It’s an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by allowing massive ships idled at ports to shut down their engines and rely on local power grids. Every ship being built today for member companies of the Cruise Lines International Association is expected to be “plug-in ready,” the Washington-based trade group says. Thirty percent of the vessels have the capability now; another 30% are being retrofitted.

A ‘journey to freedom’: Lolita the orca will be released back into home waters after decades in captivity” via Bill Kearney of the South Florida Sun Sentinel — Lolita, the 57-year-old orca who’s been held in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium on Virginia Key since the 1970s, will be returned to her home waters in the Puget Sound, where she will live out the remainder of her days. At least that’s the promise made by Eduardo Albor, CEO of The Dolphin Company, which owns the Miami Seaquarium; Pritam Singh, environmentalist, philanthropist and co-founder of Friends of Lolita; and Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

To lure more customers, downtown Orlando to cover diners’ parking fees” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — In hopes to boost dinner-hour traffic downtown, Orlando officials are planning to pick up the tab on some parking expenses. Through a program approved by the Downtown Development Board, the city would cover the cost to valet your vehicle between 5:30 and 9 p.m. if the customer is eating at a participating restaurant. The board’s program also would cover two-hour metered spots throughout the day as well. “It’s a new dynamic for people coming downtown for dinner, which they hopefully can stay not just for that,” said David Barilla, the acting director of the Downtown Development Board.

Orlando says to come visit downtown; the parking is on them.

FDOT shares details on I-95 interchange project in Volusia County” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — A busy Interstate 95 interchange in Volusia County that gets lots of traffic during Bike Week could be rebuilt to help with congestion. No one from the public voiced concerns or gave feedback as the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) presented the $215.4 million project and disclosed it wants to replace the current I-95 and U. S. 1 interchange with a diverging diamond interchange. FDOT representatives explained the proposal during a virtual town hall meeting. FDOT said the $215 million price tag was higher than previously estimated and also now includes projected right of way costs. Two businesses, a Sunoco gas station, and the Florida Citrus World store, located on one parcel would get displaced.


Pinellas school officials now deny ‘Ruby Bridges’ film was banned” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — As Pinellas County attracts international attention over a parent complaint about the Disney movie “Ruby Bridges,” district officials have offered shifting stories about the way they responded. They’ve struggled to explain their initial action, an apparent ban of the film at one school, which would go against long-standing school district policy. Now they are blaming a miscommunication, and some school board members say they are upset at the way district administrators allowed the controversy to play out. The policy, reauthorized this year by the School Board, states that any challenged materials “will remain in use” until a review committee issues its recommendation on what to do with the items.

Opposition to ‘Ruby Bridges’ leaves Pinellas schools scrambling for an explanation.

‘Bridges’ film offers lessons, not message of hate, creators say” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — The tale of civil rights activist Bridges barrier-breaking integration of a New Orleans elementary school in 1960 is known worldwide, in no small part because of the Disney film that chronicled her effort. Now the story of how the film got challenged at a Pinellas County elementary school has become almost equally well known. Two people who took particular notice from their homes far from Florida were the film’s director, Euzhan Palcy, and its screenwriter, Toni Ann Johnson. Both chided the challenge to the movie on their social media pages, but neither sounded too surprised that it happened in today’s politically divisive environment that has landed U.S. schools at the heart of a culture war.

Email detailed plans to obscure Scientologists’ role in Clearwater project” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — When Arizona real estate developer Rodney Riley arrived in Clearwater last year, he unveiled a $350 million plan to revive prime waterfront property near downtown. The current landowners, limited liability companies tied to Church of Scientology members, had kept the lots largely untouched since buying there in 2019. Riley is not a member of Scientology, and he has gone out of his way to share that fact in early meetings with city officials. But an email obtained by the Tampa Bay Times lays out in detail that wealthy Scientologists recruited Riley to be the public face of the project instead of the church members.

This St. Petersburg church is too political, complaint to IRS says” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — Allendale United Methodist Church bills itself as a “social justice, anti-racist, LGBTQ affirming congregation of believers.” Its pastor, the Rev. Andy Oliver, has led the way, speaking out on inequality and perceived injustices behind and beyond the pulpit. The church has served as a backdrop for political campaigns, forums and rallies. Oliver is a regular at news conferences, demonstrations and TV appearances. Now, an IRS complaint — filed by a former mayoral candidate — is questioning if the church crossed a line and should have its tax-exempt status investigated. Vince Nowicki’s March 8 complaint charges that the Allendale church engages in political campaigns and engaged in excessive lobbying.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Daniel Davis and Donna Deegan to debate at UNF ahead of runoff in Mayor’s race” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville mayoral candidates Davis and Deegan will face off in a televised debate slated for April 20 at the University of North Florida, giving voters at least one chance to see them side by side in a high-profile setting. UNF and Action News Jax will co-host the upcoming debate. John Bachman and Tenikka Hughes, who are anchors for Action News, will moderate. “This is an important race for our city’s future, and UNF is pleased to provide a forum for mayoral candidates to discuss the issues that matter most to Jacksonville’s voters,” UNF President Moez Limayem said in the announcement.

Donna Deegan and Daniel Davis will face off for the cameras on April 20.

Bang for your buck: Jacksonville mayoral candidate campaign spent $291 for each vote she won” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — City Council member LeAnna Cumber’s fifth-place campaign for Mayor spent $291 for each vote she received, compared to $12 in spending by Donna Deegan for each vote she won in the first election. That huge spread shows that while raising money is essential to competing on the biggest stage of Jacksonville politics, it doesn’t guarantee success at the ballot box. Cumber’s campaign account and political committee spent a total of nearly $3.57 million, but she ended up netting 12,270 votes in the election Tuesday.

‘Bad faith’: City Council members blast legislation on city-owned utilities” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — State legislation that critics called a backdoor attack on the city’s ownership of JEA ran into unanimous opposition Tuesday by Jacksonville City Council members. Coming three years after the failed attempt to privatize JEA, the council’s resolution opposing a pair of state bills shows how ownership of JEA still cuts deep in Jacksonville politics. City Council member Brenda Priestly Jackson, who introduced the resolution, said when she began her term in 2019, she filed legislation calling for an end to the JEA sales process, and as she approaches the end of her term, she’s fighting again to protect local control of JEA.

On bus trip to Tallahassee, Black Floridians fight uphill battle at Capitol” via Desiree Stennett of the Orlando Sentinel — As about two dozen people milled quietly in and out of a small room just off the worship sanctuary inside Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church around 4 a.m. on Wednesday, a poster of Rosa Parks hung overhead declaring: “The choices you make in life determine your destiny.” All of them, ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-70s, rose hours before dawn and made the choice to take the round trip from the Parramore church to Tallahassee with Equal Ground, a nonprofit focused on building Black political power.

Social Security numbers, some patient treatment info involved in TMH cybersecurity incident” via Caitlyn Stroh-Page of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare provided an update to the community on what happened during the February cybersecurity incident. The notice was the first time TMH acknowledged its systems were accessed by a hacker, however TMH would not verify if a ransom was involved in the incident. “The investigation determined that an unauthorized person gained access to our computer network, and obtained certain files from our systems between Jan. 26 and Feb. 2, 2023,” TMH stated.

U.S. attorney in Pensacola pleads guilty to using position for husband’s financial gain” via Benajmin Johnson of the Pensacola News Journal — An assistant U.S. Attorney in Pensacola pleaded guilty to one federal charge of acting with a conflict of interest by using her position to award title search contracts to a company in which her husband had a financial interest. Kathryn Drey, chief assistant U.S. Attorney of the Civil Division, allowed her division to conduct 10 title search contracts with a company paying her husband as their attorney between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020. ”

18 therapy dogs sworn in at Leon County Courthouse” via Alicia Devine of the Tallahassee Democrat — In honor of 16 years of the Second Judicial Circuit Animal Therapy in the Courts Program, 18 therapy dog teams were sworn in at the Leon County Courthouse on Friday. A total of 36 dogs now serve the Second Judicial Circuit, encompassing Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties. A ceremony was held for the handlers and dogs where they took an oath to serve the community by providing comfort to those in the courtroom. Courthouse therapy dog teams work with child victims and witnesses of violent crime in dependency and criminal court.

Check out Gainesville’s first space-themed park designed for kids of all abilities” via The Gainesville Sun — Gainesville residents can once again enjoy the popular Westside Park after more than a half year of waiting. The city of Gainesville announced the park’s reopening after $2 million in renovations that added restrooms, new equipment, surfacing and more. The space-themed park is the first of its kind in Alachua County and was inspired by the nearby Solar Walk on Northwest Eighth Avenue. The colorful park, also known as Albert “Ray” Massey Park located at 1001 NW 34th St., offers residents their first social and sensory play experiences for children of all ages and abilities, including those in wheelchairs.


Lessons learned from Hurricane Michael help Southwest Florida rebuild after Ian” via Gail Levy of WINK — No two storms are ever the same, but the emotions evoked can hurt in all the same ways. Hurricane Ian barreled ashore in Southwest Florida as a dangerous, high-end Category 4 storm. Six months later, we’ve come a long way. Ryan Michaels, a meteorologist at WJHG, helped guide the community as they watched Michael make its way through the Gulf of Mexico, “An unprecedented storm system heading toward the panhandle, something we’ve never seen before, Category 4.” That was Oct. 10, 2018, the day Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach. Originally labeled a Category 4 storm, it was later upgraded to a Category 5.

Hurricane Michael gave SW Florida some hard lessons.

DeSantis chose the wrong college to take over” via Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic — Before this year, life at New College of Florida could feel like a retreat into a pleasantly forgotten corner of the country. Suddenly, the Sarasota campus found itself at the center of the culture wars. Christopher Rufo, the most outspoken new trustee, vowed to take it back. “We are now over the walls and ready to transform higher education from within,” he tweeted. New College has problems, some typical of left-leaning colleges. The bureaucracy that Rufo inherited was largely the result of directives from a DeSantis appointee in the state capital, not radical leftists on campus.

Retired: There will never be another hurricane named Ian” via Mark H. Bickel of the Naples Daily News — Highly anticipated. Highly expected. This would be the best way to describe the news coming out of Costa Rica today that the name Ian has officially been retired from the Atlantic Basin list of hurricane names. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Hurricane Committee met and decided Ian would be crossed off the list for future use. They posted the news on Twitter at 2 p.m. The Committee also retired Fiona. Fiona was a large and powerful hurricane, which hit communities in the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos.


In Florida, Passover’s solemn recommitment coincides with a dramatic assault on our rights” via Howard Simon for the Tampa Bay Times — Jews around the world along with friends and neighbors will celebrate Passover this week, commemorating the liberation of the Hebrew tribes from slavery under the pharaoh in Egypt.

The ceremony is governed by the Haggadah, which explains the order of the ritual meal (the Seder) and includes a moving rededication to the personal responsibilities of Jewish people to the struggle for human rights now and into the future stemming from our deliverance from slavery.

But this year, especially in Florida, Passover’s solemn recommitment coincides with the most dramatic assault on human rights — and the freedom to think and speak — in generations.

* Women have been relegated to second-class status, having lost control over their reproductive health care.

* Librarians are accused of “sexualizing” children to “rob them of their innocence” because of books available to voluntarily check out from the school library.

* Lesbians and gay men are vilified as “groomers” of innocent young children.

* Allegedly “woke” schoolteachers and college professors are accused of teaching about the role of race in our history, and its continuing impact on our institutions, in order to make white children feel uncomfortable and guilty about their ancestry.

Societies slide into authoritarianism (this is what is at stake in the battles raging in the streets of Israel) when checks on the power of the executive by an independent judiciary are eliminated.

Nevertheless, this Passover we can be inspired by those who came before us and mustered the courage to push back.


Never again Trump” via David Frum of The Atlantic — Whatever the reason, Republican interest in the DeSantis brand of Diet Trump has dwindled. DeSantis presented himself as a fearless tough guy. But when Trump started fights with him, DeSantis always backed down. The DeSantis campaign has been built on an impossible contradiction. His message to his party was: I offer you Trump’s style, minus Trump’s scandals. That offer only made sense on the assumption that Trump’s scandals were bad. Yet when any major new Trump scandal has erupted, DeSantis has jumped to deny or defend it. Now, with the indictment, DeSantis has again raced to Trump’s side. He has damned the indictment as “un-American” and repeated his “weaponization” language. But if all of this is true, then what would be the case for running against Trump?

How Disney outfoxed DeSantis — and why it’s not all so funny” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — If you look at Mickey Mouse’s hands, you’ll notice he doesn’t have a middle finger. But if he did, he most surely flipped it at DeSantis this past week. Florida’s Governor had told the world that he’d taken on Disney and won. But while DeSantis was busy tweeting, Disney operatives were busy working, quietly rewriting legal papers to ensure the Governor’s tough talk never amounted to anything more. Disney was playing 4-D chess while the Governor’s legal team was fumbling with a bag of checkers. And by the time Team DeSantis figured out what had happened Wednesday, its members could do little more than fume and pout.

The Florida attraction: It’s not just the money” via Charles W. Cooke of National Review — In news reports that describe the exodus from high-tax states, it is customary to read mostly about the savings: In Philadelphia, the Jefferson family paid this much; in Tampa, they’re paying less than half that! But that’s not the whole game. The vibe matters, too. Here, the crew at the DMV smiles at you. The people in the legislature seem to see you as something other than an irritation. The support staff at the tax office seems to be on your side. The forms you must fill in are short and to the point. Life is less encumbered here. It’s not just about the money.

Trey Lawrence: Patients deserve quality orthodontic care” via Florida Politics — In the last few years, orthodontists in Florida and around the country have noticed a rising trend of patients coming in for treatment after they either had no improvement or end up in a worse situation than when they started “mail-order orthodontic” treatments. In Florida, legislation to bring accountability to direct-to-consumer orthodontics to protect Floridians from potentially harmful and irreparable damage will be heard in the Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee. House Bill 503 is sponsored by Rep. Kim Berfield, while its companion, Senate Bill 356, is sponsored by Sen. Jim Boyd. Both bills add responsibility and transparency by requiring mail-order orthodontic companies to provide a dentist of record to consumers upon the use of the orthodontic device and throughout treatment.


— ALOE —

Did Miami, FAU runs to Final Four signal start of a golden era for college basketball in South Florida?” via Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It was already the morning after when Jim Larrañaga got in a golf cart underneath NRG Stadium after losing in the Final Four and talking to the national media. He was on his way back to the Miami Hurricanes locker room, back to his players, where the offseason already awaited. “A magic carpet ride,” he called UM’s first-ever run to a Final Four. Throw in Florida Atlantic’s similar run, and it was two carpet rides for a South Florida that never had one team in a Final Four. But now what? Is this the front end of a golden era of college basketball to awaken even our tepid market? Or a one-and-done shining moment to embrace?

South Florida’s road to the Final Four may usher in a golden age of college basketball.

Meet the 18-year-old who wants to be Disney’s next CEO” via Robbie Whelan of The Wall Street Journal — The Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger has said his top priority is finding his replacement within two years. An 18-year-old Disney superfan from the Phoenix suburbs thinks she would be a strong candidate. And she has already talked to Iger about the job. Cori Borgstadt, the young fan, has become a regular at annual shareholder meetings. She has asked Iger a question on all but three occasions, including in 2015, when she wondered what advice he would give to “a kid who wants your job someday.” Iger responded, “Well, one thing you can do is keep coming to our shareholders’ meeting.”

Orlando entertainment park opens ‘House of Cereal’” via Brittany Caldwell of WFTV — A new all-you-can-eat cereal bar arrived in Central Florida for those who love this breakfast food. The Dezerland Action Park Orlando opened the MILK House of Cereal this week for a breakfast of champions or an anytime meal. Guests can pick from over 100 cereal bases and even ones discontinued from stores.


Best wishes to Brad Ashwell, Alex Heckler of LSN Partners, Robert Mons, Ivette Arango O’Doski, and our ol’ friend Billy Schmidt.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Ryan Nicol, 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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