Delegation for 8.15.23: Remapping — fight fair — fentanyl — another impeachment?

U.S. Capitol Washington, D.C.
A possible re-redistricting could put Aaron Bean in the hotseat.

Shifting lines

The decennial redistricting process meant every congressional district in Florida took a new shape in 2022. But developments in court over the weekend signal another significant change could be on the way — at least in North Florida.

Minority groups led by Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute sued the state shortly after Gov. Ron DeSantis approved a map that cut the number of Black-performing districts in Florida in half.

However, over the weekend, a stipulation agreement was released in which the state acknowledges eliminating a congressional district spanning from Tallahassee east to Jacksonville. It took away a minority access seat and did not replace it. The state still argues that the prior seat, put in place by the Florida Supreme Court in 2015, violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

Aaron Bean is keeping a close eye on the re-remapping of his district.

As both sides prepare to argue before a judge on Aug. 24, expect North Florida’s congressional delegation to watch proceedings closely. Two individuals — sitting Rep. Aaron Bean and former Rep. Al Lawson — may focus more closely than others.

Lawson, who served in Congress from 2017 through 2021, represented the controversial district. The new map forced him in 2022 to run in a Republican-leaning seat against Rep. Neal Dunn, a friend and colleague. Lawson lost the race and told Florida Politics he ran mainly at the urging of others. If the current map survives a court challenge, he won’t run in that Tallahassee-centered district again. But if the Court reinstalls a configuration of his old seat, he will explore a return to Congress.

“I am going to consider it,” Lawson said. “I’ve had a long time of service. It’s a part of me, helping people, especially those who have problems and people who are less fortunate. It’s on me to make a decision, and it’s a decision I have to make with my family to determine what I would do if it’s restored.”

But the stipulation agreement does make Lawson optimistic his old district will return. A Florida constitutional amendment forbids diminishment of the right of Black communities to elect a Representative of their choice, something the state has conceded the map does.

On the other side of the aisle, the map halted Lawson’s congressional career, but it jump-started Bean’s. The Fernandina Beach Republican won election to the House in November, easily defeating Democrat LJ Holloway in a Republican-leaning seat drawn from pieces of Lawson’s district and other more conservative parts of Northeast Florida.

The first-term Congressman now awaits a ruling on whether another reconfiguration is in order. As a Florida state Senator last year, Bean voted in favor of both the current congressional map and versions that largely preserved Lawson’s old seat.

Now, Florida judges will determine whether Florida law deems his jurisdiction illegal or if the U.S. Constitution demands it stand. Bean, for now, will not elaborate on how he thinks the courts will rule.

“We will not comment on pending litigation, and Congressman Bean is very proud to represent and serve his constituents and community in Congress,” Bean spokesperson Sarah Bascom says.

Arguments are scheduled in Leon County Court on Aug. 24.

Fair fight

Iowa held its state fair this weekend, and the event was flooded with Florida politicians.

The marquee names, of course, were Florida’s top presidential contenders, former President Donald Trump and DeSantis. But in an unmistakable snub of Florida’s chief executive, half the Republicans in Florida’s House delegation also stumped in the Hawkeye State for the former commander in chief.

Donald Trump causes a stir at the Iowa State Fair. Image via AP.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Trump loyalist who also campaigned heavily for DeSantis’ first bid for Governor, tossed one of the sharpest barbs at his former House colleague, per Semafor’s David Wiegel.

Standing at the Steer ’N’ Stein restaurant, Gaetz said meat could be prepared rare or well, “but the most done you can be is Ron DeSantis.”

Rep. Carlos Giménez, meanwhile, attacked President Joe Biden’s campaign over the continued legal threats against Trump. Just days after the fair, Trump was indicted for the fourth time, now facing charges in Georgia.

Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, one way he won the presidency was basically by jailing all of his opponents,” Giménez, a Cuban-born immigrant, said, as reported by Fox News. “And so, is President Biden taking a page out of Ortega’s playbook by trying and throwing as much as he can against probably his chief rival? No, not probably his chief rival, putting his chief rival in jail?”

As for DeSantis, he hit all the key stops for reaching potential Iowa Caucus goers, including sitting for a “fair-side” chat with Gov. Kim Reynolds. There, he continued to make the case that Florida offers a model for the nation, and many voting with their feet show the appeal.

“I just look at real estate values in Naples,” DeSantis said. “When those are going up, I know Chicago has done something stupid again and people are fleeing. So that’s what’s happened.”

But he also faced frequent taunts from Trump supporters, while officials with the DeSantis-backing super PAC Never Back Down nearly came to blows with the Trump team at an area diner.

Focus on fentanyl

August recess allows delegation members to visit with officials and promote concerns in the Sunshine State.

Sen. Marco Rubio met with Sheriffs in North Florida to discuss the pervasiveness of fentanyl in their communities. Florida’s senior Senator led a roundtable, sitting alongside Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook at her office and sharing a table with law enforcement from nearby counties.

Marco Rubio hits the road in the battle against fentanyl.

After hearing stories of deputies finding low-level drugs like street marijuana, the Miami Republican said constituents must be mindful. Illicit drugs can’t be trusted as safe.

“These are not (Food and Drug Administration)-approved products. You don’t know what’s in there and how much,” Rubio said, according to News4Jax.

Cook said that a warning is warranted.

“I want to tell you this as a parent and as a Sheriff, you need to talk to your kids,” Cook said. “We are seeing fentanyl being laced into almost anything and everything. And a child, or a young person that could be experimenting with drugs, or something as simple as marijuana, if it’s laced with fentanyl, this could kill them.”

Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper pointed to a porous border with Mexico as the source of many narcotics.

Safe kids tour

Meanwhile, Sen. Rick Scott embarked on a “Keeping Our Kids Safe Tour” of all Florida counties. Up for re-election next year, the Naples Republican stressed school safety and anti-fentanyl legislation he has supported in Washington.

He launched his tour last week in North Miami, where he detailed threats facing Florida families.

“Unfortunately, the fentanyl crisis continues to rage, AI has started to creep into our kids’ lives, the border is wide-open, and I hear from parents that they’re constantly worried about their children — it is time to act,” he said.

Rick Scott is touring to promote safety for our kids. Image via Rick Scott’s Office.

“That is why I have introduced extensive legislation that keeps our kids safe. We need to build a world that they are safe to grow up and go to school in, and I am fighting to give parents the comfort of waking up, dropping their kids off at school, and feeling reassured that they will return home every single day. We’ve made progress, but I won’t stop fighting until we get this all done.”

Scott’s Office noted he filed the END FENTANYL Act and OPIOIDS Act to combat the fentanyl crisis, the DATA Act to hold Big Tech accountable for threats on children from social media and the School Guardian Act and Luke and Alex School Safety Act to improve security on campuses.

Degenerate agendas?

Are students afraid to pray in school? Gaetz wants to ensure they have the right to do so without fear of repercussions.

“Our country’s education policy forbids students and faculty from praying while endlessly promoting degenerate LGBTQ and anti-White propaganda,” he said in a statement first reported by News Nation and appearing on his official House website.

The Fort Walton Beach Republican introduced the National Prayer in School Act, which would protect the freedom of faculty and students to pray on campuses. He first promised to file the legislation at Turning Point Action’s 2023 Action Conference. Now draft legislation has been released.

Matt Gaetz wants school prayer to be codified.

The legislation followed a Supreme Court ruling 6-3 that a Washington school could not fire a college football coach for a prayer at the 50-yard line.

Gaetz was once considered an LGBTQ ally for stances like allowing same-sex couples in Florida to adopt children but has more recently been on the opposite side. His recent “degenerate” assessment came months after he voted against a bill to codify same-sex marriage.

Oh snapper

Off the North Florida coast, Rep. John Rutherford toured the reefs near Saint Augustine that are home to a significant red snapper population.

The Jacksonville Republican made the trip with a team of researchers from the University of Florida, Florida Sea Grant, and the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, who together have employed $3.3 million in federal funding to conduct a 30-month independent count of red snapper in the waters.

Rutherford praised the scientific efforts underway in the waters.

John Rutherford gets an update on the red snapper population off St. Augustine.

“For too long, a lack of good data has limited South Atlantic red snapper seasons and restricted anglers from accessing the red snapper population off of the First Coast,” Rutherford said.

“I am encouraged to see the cutting-edge science and learn about new methods that are being used to create independent assessments of the South Atlantic red snapper population, and I am confident that the data collected by the research team will help us better assess the state of red snapper fisheries and care for this ecosystem, without jeopardizing our state’s fishing industry.”

Members of the delegation have looked at the independent count, which included habitats not included in sampling for federal stock assessments while advocating for more fishing in the waters.


A congressional delegation touring several South American nations will include the first Afro-Cuban member of Congress. Rep. Maxwell Frost will meet with officials in Colombia, Brazil and Chile.

The Orlando Democrat said U.S. relations with all three nations will impact his constituency.

Maxwell Frost is heading to South America to strengthen ties with the U.S.

“As Central Florida continues to be an epicenter for tourism and migration from South America, I look forward to being able to visit the democracies of Chile, Brazil, and Colombia firsthand to help strengthen the U.S.‘s relationship with these critical countries as we continue to chart a path forward for foreign policy rooted in our fight for freedom and democracy and against the climate crisis,” Frost said.

His office said he would meet with heads of state but also with political leaders and progressive activists.

Bundling funds

President Biden’s decision to couple Ukraine war funding to other budget requests may be costing support. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Palm Harbor Republican, said the budget request for $24 billion in aid to the eastern European nation and $4 billion to stop the flow of fentanyl shows a warped sense of priorities.

Gus Bilirakis says some spending priorities are mixed up.

“Once again, President Biden’s America-last approach to governing is completely tone-deaf and out-of-touch with the harsh economic realities facing American families,” Bilirakis said. “We cannot keep fueling inflation by spending money we don’t have to fund an endless war in Europe while ignoring national security threats here at home.”

He slammed the bundling of funds.

“There has been a complete and utter lack of transparency and accountability for the billions of American tax dollars, supplies, and equipment that have already been sent to Ukraine,” Bilirakis said. “There is also no clear plan for establishing what constitutes a successful resolution to this conflict. As far as I’m concerned, the answer to the President’s most recent request is an emphatic and unwavering no!”

Meanwhile, Republicans supportive of aiding Ukraine voiced concern about tying the request to other money. Rubio expressed anger that the proposal also put $12 billion for replenishing the Disaster Relief Fund on the block.

“President Biden is holding Floridians and other Americans hostage by tying critical domestic disaster relief to foreign military aid,” Rubio said. “This is the type of cynical political manipulation I warned about earlier this year, and it further undermines trust in the Biden Administration.”

Rubio said many of his GOP colleagues have a reason for skepticism about foreign spending.

“We’ve seen incredible bravery by the Ukrainians over the last 18 months, but we’ve also seen U.S. stockpiles dwindle, European countries slow walk critical supplies, and China grow more aggressive toward the U.S. and our national interests,” he said. “We cannot give a blank check to continue the status quo.”

Salary erosion

Following delays in a beach renourishment in Pinellas County, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna said it’s time for the Army Corps of Engineers to get moving or risk their paycheck.

The St. Petersburg Republican said she wants to invoke a rule allowing Congress to deny the salary of the official in charge of the project.

“After talking to the beach Mayors here in Pinellas, we as a group decided that we will be filing to Holman rule the Secretary of the Army Corps,” Luna posted on social media. “We are done playing games. You don’t get to mess with our homes and endangered species.”

The Holman Rule, named for the late Indiana Rep. William Holman, allows Congress to adjust federal operations budgets. Luna’s Office said she intends to offer an amendment to an appropriations bill to defund the salary of the Army Corps of Engineers Assistant Secretary Michael Connor.

The William Holman Rule allows Congress to adjust spending for operations budgets.

The goal is to pressure the Army Corps to renourish a critically eroded stretch of beach from Clearwater Pass to John’s Pass. The federal agency hasn’t started on that because officials announced last year they want every beachfront resident to sign off on a “perpetual easement agreement.”

Urging impeachment

Rep. Greg Steube says it’s time for Congress to impeach Biden.

The Sarasota Republican filed articles of impeachment alleging the Democratic President supported son Hunter Biden’s drug use, hiring of prostitutes and selling influence overseas.

“It’s long past time to impeach Joe Biden,” Steube said. “He has undermined the integrity of his office, brought disrepute on the presidency, betrayed his trust as President, and acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice at the expense of America’s citizens.”

Greg Stube files articles of impeachment for Joe Biden.

Steube pointed at discovery and accusations leveled in the House Oversight Committee. Committee Chair James Comer, a Kentucky Republican, made public bank records that showed the Biden family has made $20 million from foreign nationals.

“The evidence continues to mount by the day — the Biden crime family has personally profited off Joe’s government positions through bribery, threats and fraud,” Steube said. “Joe Biden must not be allowed to continue to sit in the White House, selling out our country.”

The same day, Steube also filed the Helping Understand Narcotics Traces at the Executive Residence (HUNTER) Act. That follows up on the discovery of cocaine in the White House last month.

To date, no source of the narcotics has been identified.

On this day

Aug. 15, 1971 — “Richard Nixon orders 90‐day wage‐price freeze, asks tax cuts, new jobs in broad plan” via The New York Times — President Nixon charted a new economic course by ordering a 90‐day freeze on wages and prices, requesting federal tax cuts and making a broad range of domestic and international moves designed to strengthen the dollar. In a 20‐minute address, televised and broadcast nationally, the President appealed to Americans to join him in creating new jobs, curtailing inflation, and restoring confidence in the economy through “the most comprehensive, new economic policy to be undertaken in this nation in four decades.”

Aug. 15, 2021 — “Fall of Kabul: a 20-year mission collapses in a single day” via The Guardian — As Taliban gunmen entered the capital, Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, and America abandoned its embassy in panic. Even the militants themselves were surprised by the speed of the takeover, co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar admitted in a video statement in the evening. Now the group faces the challenge of ruling, he added. They are expected to proclaim a new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan soon. Many in Kabul do not trust promises made by the former insurgents of an amnesty for their old enemies and those, like women’s rights activists, who sought a different future for Afghanistan.


Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch, compiled by Jacob Ogles, edited and assembled by Phil Ammann and Ryan Nicol.

Staff Reports

One comment

  • M. Mouse

    August 15, 2023 at 2:24 pm

    Matt Gaetz needs all the prayers he can get! Like Pinocchio, he’s still trying to become a real boy!
    If he ever gets there, he can start working on becoming a real man!
    Squeak! Squeak!

Comments are closed.


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