Last Call for 8.1.23 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Florida-based business Mercola Market was recently “debanked” and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis wants answers.

After the business, which sells health supplements and other items, had its Chase accounts terminated without explanation, the CFO sent a letter to JP Morgan Chase asking whether the decision was based on the personal views of Mercola Market’s owner, Dr. Joseph Mercola.

Notably, Mercola wrote a book that was critical of COVID-19 vaccines and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Chase also closed his personal accounts as well as those tied to the other executives and their family members.

“I understand that Chase may be unable to fully explain this issue due to federal law, but this situation brings up broader concerns for me regarding government overreach and influence,” Patronis wrote in a letter addressed to JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

“Recently, it was revealed that the federal government went to great lengths to censor and suppress information on social media channels like Twitter. The release of the so-called ‘Twitter Files’ shined a light on intense pressure from the federal government to limit dissenting opinions from political opponents and stifle free speech. As you can imagine, federal government using their power to impede social media channels is alarming but pales in comparison to the impacts it could have if used against our financial institutions and businesses,” he continued.

Patronis asked Dimon to clarify whether the account closures were made at the behest of the federal government; for additional justifications on why the accounts were closed and whether they will be reinstated in the future; and whether other Floridians who bank with Chase should be “fearful” their accounts may be closed “based on their personal opinions, political leanings, or religious beliefs.”

While Mercola CEO Steven Rye and conservative media have insinuated a correlation between Mercola’s beliefs and Chase’s actions, Chase said the accounts were closed “because of unexpected activity on this or another Chase account.”

A Chase representative told Rye that the company could not disclose the exact reasons for the closures “for legal reasons.”

Mercola had previously received a warning from the FDA over claims he made promoting the efficacy of certain supplements in treating COVID-19.

Evening Reads

—“Ron DeSantis’ staff exodus stuns experts as campaign loses ‘loyal soldier’” via Darragh Roche of Newsweek

—“Meet the ‘scholars’ who created Florida’s new Black history curriculum” via Judd Legum of Popular Information

—”DeSantis sharpens critique of Donald Trump but faces huge odds” via Stephen Collinson of CNN

—“DeSantis’ economic demagoguery” via Dominic Pino of National Review

—”Weak, small and reckless: How DeSantis, Republican Napoleon, met his Waterloo” via Sidney Blumenthal of The Guardian

—”DeSantis’ super PAC burned through $34 million as he slid in polls” via Maggie Haberman, Shane Goldmacher, Jonathan Swan and Nicholas Nehamas of The New York Times

—“Another week brings another new low for DeSantis in Morning Consult poll” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—”Why Trump’s PAC is almost broke” via Li Zhou of Vox

—”The first great crisis of a second Trump term” via David Frum of The Atlantic

—“Trump’s rivals can’t compete with his version of masculinity” via Amelia Thompson-DeVeaux and Meredith Conroy of FiveThirtyEight

—“The fun gap” via Jim Newell of Slate

—”American Bar Association plans to honor Andrew Warren, the Florida prosecutor DeSantis suspended” via Michael Moline of the Florida Phoenix

Quote of the Day

“There is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact: There were no redeeming qualities of slavery.”

— Vice President Kamala Harris, rejecting Ron DeSantis’ invitation to debate the merits of Florida’s new African American history standards.

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Last Call is published by Peter Schorsch, assembled and edited by Phil Ammann and Drew Wilson with contributions from the staff of Florida Politics.

Staff Reports


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