Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.17.24

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

Good Friday morning.

Breaking late Thursday — “State probes whether Rep. Carolina Amesty broke notary laws” via Annie Martin and Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — In a May 8 letter, the notary division of the Governor’s office told Dennis Warren, a retired law enforcement officer who lives in Seminole County, that based on his complaint it had opened an investigation into Amesty’s conduct as a notary. The Orlando Sentinel has detailed how licensing documents submitted to the state by Amesty’s family-run college included a notarized employment form from Robert Shaffer, a veteran educator who said he never signed it nor worked for Central Christian University, a small school on North Hiawassee Road. The document was signed and notarized by Amesty, 29, a Windermere-area Republican who was a university employee at the time. As a notary public, Amesty is a state-appointed official who can certify the authenticity of signatures on important documents.

Carolina Amesty is being investigated for some shady notarization.


@MarcoRubio: Today exposed what a perversion (Alvin) Bragg’s case against Trump is a felony indictment on a bookkeeping matter built on the testimony of (Michael) Cohen a pathological liar

Tweet, tweet:

@JacobOgles: An attorney for @ChrisMZiegler just said in court it took five days to download content of his phone, the largest download ever conducted by the Sarasota Police Department. Yet this resulted in no charges. He said evidence was ultimately exculpatory.


Special Election to replace Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill — 4; Dave Matthews Band 2024 Summer Tour begins in Tampa — 5; 72nd annual three-day Florida Folk Festival begins — 7; French Open begins — 8; Monaco Grand Prix — 10; Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 16; the 2024 World Cup begins — 26; DreamWorks Land officially opens at Universal Orlando — 29; season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ returns to Max — 31; CNN Presidential Debate — 41; Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Disney World — 42; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 43; Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday begins — 46; Universal Mega Movie Parade debuts — 47; Republican National Convention begins — 58; the 2024 World Cup ends — 62; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 67; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 70; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 71; Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday begins — 74; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 92; Florida Primary Election — 96; Democratic National Convention begins — 96; second Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 100; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 100; Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday begins — 108; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 113; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 113; first of three Presidential Debates — 123; Vice Presidential Debate — 132; second Presidential Debate — 136; third Presidential Debate — 146; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 155; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 159; Florida TaxWatch’s 45th Annual Meeting — 168; 2024 Presidential Election — 172; Legislature’s 2025 Organizational Session — 186; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 186; ‘Mufasa: The Lion King’ premieres — 200; MLS Cup 2024 — 201; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 271; the 2025 Oscars — 290; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 292; 2025 Session ends — 352; ‘Moana’ premieres — 402; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 433; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 433; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 540; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 582; ‘Avengers 5’ premieres — 718; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 735; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 946; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,086; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,045; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,767.


Sex, barflies, and videotape: Report details how GOP power couple prowled pubs for threesome partners” via Bob Norman of Florida Trident — While Moms For Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler and her husband, former Florida GOP Chair Christian Ziegler, fight in court today to keep law enforcement records related to the latter’s closed rape investigation from public view, a recently released police report provides startling details about the disgraced couple’s sexual practices.

The report, authored by Sarasota police Det. Angela Cox, recounts how Christian Ziegler went “on the prowl” in bars for women to bring home to Bridget, a Sarasota County School Board member who has backed a number of anti-LGBTQ measures at both the state and local level, for threesome encounters. While at the bars, Christian would surreptitiously photograph prospective women and text the photos to Bridget for approval, according to the report.

New details about Bridget Ziegler and the search for a threesome are unsettling.

Investigators found “numerous sexual videos” on Christian Ziegler’s phone involving the couple and other women, according to Cox’s report. The detective noted that it wasn’t clear if the women in the videos knew they were being recorded or not.

“There were numerous text messages between Bridget and Christian where they are on the prowl for a female and Bridget is directing him to numerous different bars in search of a female that they are both interested in,” Cox wrote of the Ziegler phone contents. “During these conversations, Christian is secretly taking photographs of women in the bars and sending them to Bridget, asking her if she wants this one or that one. Bridget is telling him to pretend to take pictures of his beer, so they don’t see him taking pictures of them.

“She tells him ‘Don’t come home until your dick is wet.’”

—“Christian Ziegler testifies about sex videos with multiple partners on his phone” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics


Florida’s hurricane fund in a ‘strong’ position heading into storm season” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — The fund — known as the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund — should have $10.16 billion available for the Atlantic hurricane season that starts June 1, according to estimates presented to an Advisory Council on Thursday. It has that much money available even though the fund has had to pay out billions in recent years due to devastating hurricanes such as Hurricane Ian. The latest estimates show that the fund is expected to have nearly $7 billion in the bank this year that it could then use in tandem with bonds to cover losses. The fund already has access to $3.25 billion in proceeds, and the latest estimates project the fund would be able to borrow an additional $6.8 billion if needed.

Florida is financially ready for the next big storm. Image via AP.

Florida breaks all-time tourism record in 2023 and single quarter record in 2024” via Owen Girard of Florida’s Voice — Florida confirmed a record-breaking 140 million total tourists in 2023, despite previous projections that the year saw a slight decline in numbers. VISIT FLORIDA also reported that the state saw its highest quarterly number of visitors in 2024’s Q1, with 40.6 million tourists. “Once again, Florida leads the nation as an unrivaled destination for tourists,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “These record-breaking numbers show that our work has made the free state of Florida even more attractive to visitors.” VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young said that the state was happy to welcome visitors in with “open arms.”

Jimmy Patronis wants new rules for dealing with EV battery fires” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — After Hurricane Ian swept through Southwest Florida in 2022, responders realized they needed to add another hazard to the list: fires sparked by flooded electric vehicle batteries. Now, Chief Financial Officer Patronis, whose Department of Financial Services also oversees the Division of State Fire Marshal, the Bureau of Fire Prevention and the Bureau of Fire Standards and Training, is pushing for new rules to install safety regulations surrounding the EV fires. “Today, we started rule-making to establish standards for dealing with EV fires. Lithium-ion batteries are the energy sources of our time and it’s an amazing technology. Unfortunately, while there are benefits to Lithium-ion batteries, there are dangerous drawbacks too,” Patronis said. “It is important that Floridians understand the dangers of technologies powered by lithium-ion batteries, especially if they live in coastal communities.”

‘Elites of FIFA’ shouldn’t be subsidized by Miami-Dade, Daniel Perez says” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Perez is urging Miami-Dade officials to reconsider a plan to spend up to $46 million to host seven World Cup soccer matches in 2026, saying no public funds should go to the “elites of FIFA.” Perez, the incoming Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, says he is against a county resolution authorizing Miami-Dade to pay World Cup organizers up to $21 million in cash support and provide free government services worth up to $25 million for the events, with the bulk of it covering “in-kind” or donated public safety staff expenses. “I am opposing all of it,” Perez said. “I don’t think that $46 million, whether it is in cash or in-kind, should be used toward FIFA when we have so many needs in our county.”

Miami shouldn’t have to pick up FIFA’s tab for the World Cup.

Florida Behavioral Health Association: Housing is an integral part of serious mental health treatment” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Top DeSantis administration officials appeared in St. Petersburg to tout the significant spending increases Florida has made for mental health funding. The administration also promoted its successes with housing programs meant to help people with a serious mental health condition successfully live, work and play in the community in which they live. Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris said the Legislature has, in recent years, increased the amount of recurring state dollars spent on housing for people with serious mental health illnesses. Harris said the funds are being spent on improving shelter operations, rental and mortgage assistance, utility assistance, rapid rehousing programs and transportation costs.

FNGA praises energy bill signing — The Florida Natural Gas Association is praising the Governor for signing legislation (HB 1645) that will “maintain and encourage reliable fuel sources for public utilities, remove federal and international control over Florida’s energy policies and allow consumers to choose their energy source.” FNGA executive director Dale Calhoun said, “This law strengthens natural gas infrastructure resiliency and reliability, which are critical to the state’s economy, the ability to recover from natural disasters, and the health, safety, welfare, and quality of life of Floridians. We commend Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for proactively assessing and planning for resiliency and for protecting Floridians’ access to energy.”

— 2024 — FLORIDA —

Judge strikes down part of Florida law targeting noncitizens helping with voter registration” via Eric Daugherty of Florida’s Voice — A federal judge has struck down a portion of recently changed Florida election law barring noncitizens from handling voter registrations for third-party groups. The law was changed by SB 7050 in 2023, which instituted a $50,000 fine for the organizations if they violate the noncitizen provision. The ruling was issued by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in a case involving multiple activist groups, including the League of Women Voters, NAACP, Hispanic Federation and Poder Latinx against the state. He ruled that the law’s provision violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Florida intends to appeal the decision and has already appealed a prior temporary injunction.

A judge finds unconstitutional a new law that bars noncitizens from helping with voter registration.

Happening today — Sen. Rick Scott will be joined by Florida business leaders in Jacksonville for a news conference highlighting the “Small Businesses for Rick Scott” coalition.

Scott, Marco Rubio buck Donald Trump, back Laurel Lee in CD 15” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Both of Florida’s U.S. Senators are endorsing U.S. Rep. Lee for re-election to Florida’s 15th Congressional District, a slight to Trump, who called on Republican candidates to challenge her in a Primary. Two Republicans heeded Trump’s call — Jennifer Barbosa and James Judge, though both could struggle to gain much traction against an otherwise popular incumbent. “Laurel Lee has been a great conservative partner in Washington as we fight to hold Congressional Democrats and the Joe Biden administration accountable for their disastrous policies that continue to fail Florida families, whether it be their tax-and-spend agenda that has caused skyrocketing inflation or dangerously allowing open borders,” Scott said.


17% of voters blame Joe Biden for the end of Roe” via Claire Cain Miller, Ruth Igielnik and Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times — Trump supporters and voters with less education were most likely to attribute responsibility for abortion bans to Biden, but the misperception existed across demographic groups. Twelve percent of Democrats hold Biden responsible, according to New York Times/Siena College polls in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin and a Times/Philadelphia Inquirer/Siena poll in Pennsylvania. “I think the buck stops with him, so he had the ability to fight that, and that’s not what I’m hearing that he did,” said Terri Yonemura, 62, an abortion rights supporter in Las Vegas who said she would not vote for Trump but is unsure about Biden, so may not vote at all.

Democrats condemn Matt Gaetz’s Proud Boys homage” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Gaetz described himself as “standing back and standing by” while attending Trump’s New York City trial. That’s a reference to Trump telling the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” in a 2020 debate with Biden, in response to a question urging Trump to condemn White supremacy. “Donald Trump is surrounding himself today with disgraced MAGA extremists like Matt Gaetz, who is shamelessly invoking Trump’s infamous call for the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by’ before they violently attacked our democracy on Jan. 6,” claimed DNC Rapid Response Director Alex Floyd. “This is just the latest in a long pattern of Trump and his allies stoking fear and violence, as they continue to cozy up to dangerous criminals and White supremacists, praising them at every opportunity and pledging pardons to convicted Jan. 6 rioters.”

Matt Gaetz echoes the Proud Boys, to the chagrin of Democrats.

House Ethics panel subpoenas DOJ for Gaetz records” via Jordain Carney of POLITICO — The House Ethics Committee has subpoenaed the Justice Department for information tied to the panel’s ongoing investigation into Rep. Gaetz. The panel served the DOJ with the subpoena, which the person familiar noted remains outstanding, earlier this year. House investigators demanded documents and other records to assist with their ongoing ethics investigation into allegations that Gaetz had sexual contact with a minor. The subpoena from the notoriously private Committee has not been previously reported. The Justice Department closed its investigation into Gaetz last year without filing charges.

Mike Waltz not ‘measuring curtains’ for job in Donald Trump White House” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Waltz told Fox News that he wasn’t making immediate plans to serve in a Trump administration, even after the former President said that he calls the Congressman when he wants to “know about the military,” which has stoked speculation that he might be Defense Secretary or even Vice President. “People start measuring curtains. We need to be talking about swing states’ turnout and getting him elected to save this country,” Waltz said from New York, where he and other elected officials were to show support for the former President in his “hush money” trial. Waltz acknowledged great interest in the GOP in supporting Trump, suggesting the former President’s VP search would be like a TV show he once starred on. “There’s a lot of people who want it.”

Peter Feaman alleges funny business in election of Florida’s RNC delegates” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — An outgoing Florida Republican leader is openly questioning how the state party chose its delegates to the Republican National Convention. Feaman, Florida’s former Republican National Committeeman, blasted an email to party members suggesting the party never held a proper election of delegations. “There was a rubber-stamp of Committee members preselected by an unknown cabal,” Feaman wrote. The list of delegates includes Attorney General Ashley Moody, Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson and Chief Financial Officer Patronis, as well as Trump’s two oldest sons, Don Jr. and Eric Trump. Feaman said he was distressed by a short notice meeting by phone.

At Justice Samuel Alito’s house, a ‘stop the steal’ symbol on display” via Jodi Kantor of The New York Times — After the 2020 Presidential Election, as some Trump supporters falsely claimed that President Biden had stolen the office, many of them displayed a startling symbol outside their homes, on their cars and in online posts: an upside-down American flag. One of the homes flying an inverted flag during that time was the residence of Supreme Court Justice Alito. “I had no involvement whatsoever in the flying of the flag,” Justice Alito said in an emailed statement to The Times. “It was briefly placed by Mrs. Alito in response to a neighbor’s use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs.”

Samuel Alito flies a symbol of ‘stop the steal.’ Image via The New York Times.


Democrat launches group to fight conservative takeover of School Boards” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO — A Florida Democrat who unseated a Moms for Liberty co-founder in a contentious school Board race is now leading an organization aiming to combat the influence conservatives have wielded on local education policies. The PAC, “Educated. We Stand,” is set to launch Thursday with the goal of “protecting, recruiting and electing” School Board members that will help “limit the influence of far-right extremists” across the country. “It is clear that the far-right’s assault on public education threatens our children’s futures and the foundation of our democracy,” Jennifer Jenkins, the Brevard County School Board member chairing the group, said. “With ‘Educated. We Stand,’ we’re not just fighting back; we’re defending the very essence of learning, curiosity, and inclusion in our schools.”

‘World on fire’: Guaranteed another term in Congress, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick reflects, looks ahead” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Cherfilus-McCormick went to Congress thanks to the slimmest possible victory, just five votes. Now, she’s secured another term without appearing on the ballot at all, after no candidate came forward to challenge her re-election. It was a last-minute surprise, and Cherfilus-McCormick will serve in the House at least until January 2027. “It feels great, and (is) a big relief,” she said. The Broward-Palm Beach County Democrat outlined her plans and priorities in a wide-ranging phone interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in which she also expressed puzzlement about why a celebrity threatened to run against her but never ended up backing up all his talk.

Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick’s seat is safe until 2027.

Ben Albritton, FRSCC endorse Keith Truenow to succeed Dennis Baxley” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Senate President-designate Albritton said Truenow, a sitting Representative, had the background and experience to serve the district well. “As a farmer, a business owner and a Veteran of the United States Air Force, Keith Truenow knows firsthand the challenges we face in the fight to keep Florida free and full of opportunity,” said Albritton, a Wauchula Republican. “I am proud to endorse Keith and look forward to welcoming him to the Florida Senate because I know he will stand with hardworking families to keep our taxes low, our communities safe, and our economy growing.” Truenow, a Tavares Republican, faces three Republican Primary opponents: Grocery mogul Bowen Kou, former Clermont City Council member Ebo Entsuah and small-business owner C.J. Blancett.

Lori Berman, Tina Polsky endorse ‘strong advocate’ Yvette Drucker for Senate” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Boynton Beach Sen. Berman won’t reach term limits for two more years, but when she does, she knows who she wants to succeed her. Berman is endorsing Boca Raton Deputy Mayor Drucker to take her Senate District 26 seat in 2026, and Boca Raton Sen. Polsky — a fellow Democrat — is backing Drucker as well. “It is incredibly important that we elect a strong advocate for the safety and well-being of our community and one that will fight for true progressive values, whether it be cracking down on gun violence, fighting for women’s access to reproductive health care, or protecting our voting rights,” Berman said in a statement.

Greg Folley launches new TV ad HD 81 — Republican Folley rolled out a new TV ad supporting his campaign for House District 81. “The liberal establishment has already started attacking me. I think they’re afraid I’m too conservative, that I’ll fight to secure the border, and fight Joe Biden’s taxes and inflation, that I’ll be a champion for our Constitution, and keep woke radicals from destroying girls’ sports,” he says in the ad. Folley is one of three Republicans vying for the seat currently held by Rep. Bob Rommel, who is term-limited.

To watch the ad, please click the image below:

Happening tonight:

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Florida Bar ramps up investigation into ex-Miami city attorney after ‘vile little man’ comment” via Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — The Florida Bar is ramping up its investigation into recently ousted Miami City Attorney Victoria Méndez, who was accused of misconduct for calling local filmmaker Billy Corben a “vile little man” during a live-broadcast City Commission meeting in January. In his complaint, Corben accused Méndez of “embarrassingly unprofessional antics” and knowingly making false accusations during her public outburst by suggesting that he had been secretly paid to lobby the Commission for her removal — an allegation Corben has repeatedly denied. On April 26, following a preliminary fact-finding inquiry, the bar notified Méndez that the case had been transferred to its Miami branch office, where bar counsel will be assigned to conduct further investigation per the bar’s discipline process. The escalation suggests the regulatory body was not satisfied by Méndez’s written response, in which she dismissed Corben’s complaint as little more than “his latest effort to harass me.”

Victoria Méndez gets investigated for calling Billy Corben a ‘vile little man.’ Image via Miami New Times/WLRN.

Miami insurer sues city over Joe Carollo’s legal fees” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami’s legal woes and the dire financial straits of embattled Commissioner Carollo continue. An insurance company for Miami filed a multimillion-dollar suit in federal court this week seeking to reclaim funds from — and stop future payment for — legal costs of defending Carollo against numerous lawsuits since 2018. QBE Specialty Insurance Co. is seeking $5 million. It paid most of that sum to the city this year to cover expenses from five lawsuits locals Bill Fuller and Martin Pinilla filed against Carollo, claiming he targeted their businesses with city resources after they supported his political opponent.

Closing some Broward schools? Here’s why they could get new life as charter schools” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Some schools may be on the Broward School District’s chopping block in a few years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean students won’t be able to get an education there. These campuses could get a second life as a charter school, due to a state law that gives charter schools access to surplus properties as well as zoning restrictions that could restrict a school site from being used for non-educational reasons. A state law that hasn’t been discussed during the district’s “Redefining Our Schools” efforts would give charter schools access to facilities the district no longer needs. The statute has been in effect for more than 25 years but has rarely been used, experts say.

Supporters of Broward Judge up for re-election blast opponent’s apparent revenge motive” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — No one expected Broward Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips to draw a challenger for her latest re-election campaign. But one Orlando lawyer with no apparent ties to Broward County qualified to run against Phillips, and the Judge’s supporters believe it’s a campaign with an ulterior motive that has nothing to do with wanting to win. Phillips is currently the Administrative Judge of the circuit civil division, second only to Chief Administrative Judge Jack Tuter, and a likely candidate to assume his office when he steps down early next year. She’s a 21-year veteran on the bench, originally appointed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.

First in Sunburn — “Alexandria Ayala not running for re-election to Palm Beach County School Board” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — After just one term on the Palm Beach County School Board, Ayala has decided to not run for re-election. Ayala said she won’t seek a second four-year term this year in the panel’s District 2 seat, where she has represented residents and students in a central part of the county since 2020. She vowed to continue working out of the office to improve local education matters. “It has been an absolute honor to serve the students, parents, educators, and District staff of Palm Beach County as their School Board member,” she said in a statement shared with Florida Politics.

Alexandria Ayala says one term is enough. Image via Facebook.

Mike Hernández appointed to Pembroke Pines Commission after historic, but lengthy, vote” via Jessee Scheckner of Florida Politics — After a lengthy voting process that Mayor Angelo Castillo proposed flipping a coin to settle, the Pembroke Pines Commission appointed government relations pro Hernández to a short term on the panel representing District 4. His appointment marks the first time a populous city in Broward County — and likely any municipality there — has had a Hispanic-majority Commission, Broward Commissioner Steve Geller told Florida Politics. Hernández, a former spokesperson for ex-Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez now working as a partner at LSN Communications, said he’s grateful for the trust Castillo and his fellow Commissioners showed in their vote.

West Palm Beach Commissioners, Mayor in line for massive pay raises” via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post — West Palm Beach City Commission members are expected to decide this month whether to sharply increase their pay and that of the Mayor. Commissioners gave preliminary approval to a recommendation from the city staff that their pay be increased by just under 32% to $46,112 per year from their current pay of $35,000. The Mayor’s annual pay would also rise by about 32%, to $197,625 from its current $150,000. The raises would be the first for Commissioners and the Mayor since 2016 when Commissioners got a 16.6% raise, and the Mayor got a 20% pay hike.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Calls to Orlando suicide, crisis lines spike amid economic strains” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — Central Florida has been deluged with calls from people considering suicide or facing other mental health crises in recent months, prompting social services leaders to sound the alarm. One source of the surge is coming from the financial pressures created by the high cost of housing. In April, the regional branch of the national 988 suicide and crisis line got 1,771 calls from 14 counties, the highest monthly total over the past year, 40% more than the 1,260 calls received in April 2023. Orange County alone saw 871 calls that month, up more than 200 from April 2023. The local 988 branch, managed by Heart of Florida United Way in Orlando, handled 20,000 calls for help from April 2023 to the end of April 2024, largely from people struggling with hopelessness, loneliness, and mental health concerns.

Orlando sees an uptick in calls to crisis help lines.

Volusia Sheriff’s deputy arrested for soliciting a prostitute, other charges, police say” via Frank Fernandez of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — A Volusia County Sheriff’s deputy was arrested after a woman reported he threatened her with arrest if she did not engage in a sexual act with him according to the Daytona Beach Police. The deputy was in plain clothes but driving a marked patrol car at the time, police said. The deputy, who has resigned, is also believed to have assaulted a second person earlier in the day. Stephen Corbin, 40, was charged with two counts each of bribery, battery, false imprisonment, and solicitation to commit prostitution, according to Daytona Beach Police. Corbin was being held without bond at the Volusia County Branch Jail.


Governor appoints Lisa Yeager to Pasco County Commission” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — DeSantis has appointed Yeager to the Pasco County Commission. She will fill the term of the late Gary Bradford, who died last month after a battle with leukemia. Yeager owns and is a partner in Boating Enterprises of Florida, a boat dealership based in Hudson. She previously served as the director of the Teen Parent Program for Pasco County Schools. She is also running for the seat which will be on the ballot as a Special Election concurrent with regular elections this cycle. She joins fellow Republican Christina Fitzpatrick and Democrat Daniel Ackroyd-Isales in the race so far. In addition to her work leading the Teen Parent Program, Yeager is a strong advocate for technical education and workforce development, which she has advocated for as a SAC Committee member for Marchman Technical College over her eight years of volunteer service with the school.

Lisa Yeager is appointed to the seat she is campaigning for. Image via Lisa Yeager’s campaign.

Florida dissolves Clearwater city workers union for failing to meet deadline” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — The union representing nearly 900 city of Clearwater employees has been dissolved after it failed to meet the registration requirements of a controversial new state law. The law, which took effect July 1, says public sector unions must enroll at least 60% of eligible employees. Local governments may no longer deduct monthly dues from paychecks, forcing unions to re-enroll existing members in a new payment system and recruit any additional workers needed to meet the threshold. Unions with less than 60% dues-paying members are required to petition the Public Employees Relations Commission within one month of their renewal date.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Governor appoints five to GRU Authority — The Governor appointed a new slate of members to the Board overseeing Gainesville’s municipal utility provider after the prior Board resigned en masse. The appointments include Eric Lawson, the CEO of HCA North Florida Regional Hospital, as well as former GRU general manager Ed Bielarski, Realtor Craig Carter, Campus Scooters owner David Haslam, and Gainesville Area Lacrosse President Chip Skinner.

Council questions Donna Deegan’s proposed $150 million for community benefits in stadium deal” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — The early reaction from City Council members to a proposed stadium deal brought questions from several Council members and outright opposition by Council member Rory Diamond to the city committing $150 million for a “community benefits agreement” that Mayor Deegan touts as a key accomplishment from her negotiations with the Jaguars. The community benefits agreement assembled by Deegan and the Jaguars would use $150 million from the team and $150 million from the city to pay for developing and enhancing city parks, revitalizing the Eastside neighborhood and doing countywide programs for affordable housing, workforce development and reducing homelessness. It would be the biggest community benefits agreement ever done by a franchise in the history of the NFL.

Rory Diamond is a hard no on $150 million for community benefits as part of the Jaguars’ new stadium.

City of Milton sues Mayor over public records” via Romi White of South Santa Rosa News — The City of Milton this morning filed a civil lawsuit against its Mayor, Heather Lindsay, seeking her compliance with Florida’s Public Records Act after she has refused to comply with the records requests, including some around 10 months old. The Council approved taking the action in a 6-2 vote last night with opposition from Council members Mike Cusack and Marilyn Farrow. Lindsay was absent from the meeting, marking her second consecutive absence from an official City meeting. City Attorney Alex Andrade, back on July 22, 2023, had submitted a public records request to Lindsay, seeking all communication between Lindsay and the former City Clerk Dawn Molinero, specifically cellular phone and emails regarding Scott Collins, who at that time was a candidate for City Manager. One month later, Lindsay was also asked to submit all emails, phone call logs, and text messages with Molinero and Molinero’s attorney, Matthew Hargraves, for July 1 through Aug. 23, 2023.

17-year-old girl was killed in Tallahassee tornado outbreak, marking storm’s 2nd fatality” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — The State Medical Examiner’s Office said that a second person — a 17-year-old girl — was killed in the severe storm system that spawned three tornadoes and triple-digit winds in Tallahassee. The 2nd District Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed two “weather-related deaths” in Leon County. The Tallahassee Democrat reported Wednesday on the death of 47-year-old Carolyn Benton, the other storm victim, who died when a tree crashed onto her mobile home off Aenon Church Road.

‘A terrible thing’: Tallahassee tornadoes wreck new house after couple moves in” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — MD Emran and his wife Annie Mia were about to spend their first full day in their new house in Tallahassee’s South City neighborhood when the tornadoes hit. They decided to spend their first night in it on May 9, the day before three tornadoes and 100-mph straight-line winds brought destruction to parts of Tallahassee and plunged most of the city into darkness. On the morning of May 10, Emran, a roadway designer for the Halff engineering consulting firm, got up and stepped into the washroom as his wife and their 19-month-old son lay in bed. A weather warning went off on their phone as the wind began whipping up debris outside their bedroom window. “Like a car crashing — that was the noise that we had,” Emran said. With the howling winds and the cracking of fallen trees outside, it was “too much noise,” he said. They opened the bedroom door to find the living room in shambles.

Dan Markel murder: Charlie Adelson, serving life sentence, moved to prison in South Dakota” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Adelson, who’s serving a life sentence in the 2014 plot to kill Florida State law professor Markel, has been moved again apparently. Florida Department of Corrections records show Adelson, a once-successful traveling periodontist from Fort Lauderdale, as being incarcerated in South Dakota. It doesn’t list a city or institution. Adelson was transferred on Thursday, according to an alert from the Florida Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) system. “The offender is now in the custody of an out-of-state facility in South Dakota,” the VINE notification said.”


Greg Steube has achieved a rare feat: Successfully forcing a bill to the House floor” via Anthony Adragna of POLITICO — Rep. Steube has a rare feat in modern congressional terms: Forcing floor consideration of legislation — on this occasion, a bill he crafted that would provide tax relief for losses due to federally declared disasters. He invoked a rarely successful procedural tool, the so-called discharge petition, to compel a floor vote on his legislation aimed at helping victims of hurricanes, wildfires and the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment. The Florida Republican hit 218 signatories — a majority of the House — of supporters on Wednesday.

Greg Steube does something unusual — forcing a bill on the House floor.

Collier Commissioners reject purchase price for land in Immokalee, offer less” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — Collier County has been eyeing the purchase of nearly 2,250 acres near Lake Trafford in Immokalee. The county could use the property to provide everything from new workforce housing and parks to improved stormwater management and fire operations to the rural town, with parts of the land set aside for conservation, protecting it from development forever. The price, however, could be a sticking point. A majority of County Commissioners balked at the asking price of $23 million. The price came in higher than the average valuation by two independent county-hired appraisers. One of the appraisers valued the property at $19.94 million, while the other put it at $21.6 million.

Challenge to Manatee County wetland buffer rollback dies. Is new Florida law to blame?” via Ryan Ballogg of the Bradenton Herald — A legal challenge to Manatee County’s controversial decision to reduce local wetland protections and allow more development on environmentally sensitive land has been dropped. At the suggestion of a developer interest group, Commissioners voted 5-1 in October to eliminate the county’s extra layer of wetland protections, drawing heavy criticism from environmental advocates and hundreds of residents. Board members argued that the decision reflects their commitment to individual property rights. The rule change will revert Manatee County to the state’s minimal rules, potentially allowing developers to build closer to sensitive wetland habitats and take less consideration of the environment in building plans.

Former SMH Board Chair appointed to fill unexpired term in at large Seat 3 until November” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Former Sarasota County Public Hospital Board Chair William “Bill” Noonan was appointed to temporarily fill the vacant at large Seat 3 position on the Board. The seat has been vacant since mid-April when Britt Riner stepped down to focus on a new role advocating for parents and children statewide. Noonan will hold the seat until the General Election in November, when voters will pick a new Board member in a race set to include Democrat George Davis and the winner of an Aug. 20 Republican Primary between Pam Beitlich and Mary Flynn O’Neill. The Hospital Board sets the strategic direction of the Sarasota Memorial Health Care System. Four seats on the nine-member Board are on the ballot this year.

Demtrius Petrow to run for North Port City Commission” via Daniel Finton of the North Port Sun — Petrow will run for Seat 1 on the North Port City Commission. The seat is held by Mayor Alice White. Petrow is currently the only candidate running against her. He has lived in the city for around five years. He was born and raised in Estonia and came to the United States from Europe. He became a citizen after a lengthy process where he spent time in Chicago and Syracuse. Now, living in North Port, he is eying his first position as an elected official to be a voice for the people. This is his first run for office.


When Trump met Hannibal Lecter” via Frank Bruni of The New York Times — Although he has always allowed himself the loopiest of digressions, frequently babbled pure nonsense, and found metaphors in strange and sinister places, a new oratorical preoccupation of his suggests a doubling of the bats in his belfry.

On numerous occasions, including a speech last weekend in Wildwood, New Jersey, Trump has swerved from the accusation that other countries are dumping criminals and institutionalized psychiatric patients on us to mentions of the fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter, aka Hannibal the Cannibal. You know, from “The Silence of the Lambs.” The character who once ate the liver of an impertinent census worker “with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” A role that won Anthony Hopkins an Oscar.

Trump is apparently implying that illegal immigration puts such monsters in our midst. But the “apparently” in that last sentence bears a load heavier than Atlas,’ because Trump’s remarks in New Jersey grew odder even than that lurid specter. After introducing Lecter, Trump celebrated him — as if he were a real person as if we should be impressed by his hunger.

But if our current President went on a tangent about how Pennywise, the child-killing clown in “It,” makes for a creative solution to the difficulty of finding an available babysitter on a Saturday night, few political observers would shrug it off as Biden being Biden. Trump’s supporters would demand a brain scan. They’d insist on a full cognitive work-up. I wouldn’t fault them.

But I’d ask them to listen hard when Trump moons over a maniac who turned his victims into victuals. And to feel an appropriate stab of indigestion.


Partisan mindlessness destroys our relationship with the truth” via David French of The New York Times — If you are a true partisan, you essentially become an unpaid lawyer for your side. Every “good” fact that bolsters your argument is magnified. Every “bad” fact is minimized or rationalized. When partisanship reaches its worst point, every positive claim about your side is automatically believed, and every negative allegation is automatically disbelieved. In fact, allegations of wrongdoing directed at your side are treated as acts of aggression — proof that “they” are trying to destroy “us.” You see this reality most plainly in the daily Republican theatrics surrounding Trump’s criminal indictments. Rather than wrestle seriously with the profoundly troubling claims against him, they treat the criminal cases as proof of Democratic perfidy. They believe every claim against Hunter and Joe Biden and not a single claim against Trump. The result is a kind of divorce from reality.

Still too little light on shadowy voucher schools” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Florida’s sweeping 2023 voucher expansion gives any parent in Florida roughly $8,000 in private school tuition to escape the surly bonds of a public system state lawmakers won’t adequately fund. And that’s where it ends. No state oversight of private schools. No way to know how the public money is spent. It’s just the way Tallahassee likes its voucher-funded private schools: shrouded in secrecy. Answering to no one. Others like it, too. Step Up for Students, a third-party administrator for the state voucher program, last week reported it has been fielding 4,000 calls and chats a day now that applications are open for the coming school year. Already, 380,000 Florida students are using vouchers, according to Step Up. Think of it as a largely invisible but sprawling school district, dwarfing even the 337,000 students enrolled in Miami-Dade, the third-largest public school district in the United States.

Million-dollar credit card fee study looms as potential juicy target for Ron DeSantis line-item veto” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist — With line-item veto authority vested in Florida’s Executive Office of the Governor, DeSantis policy staffers are busily combing through the legislature’s jointly-passed $117.5 billion state budget, looking for anything that doesn’t fit the Governor’s fiscal policy agenda. One potentially juicy target: a credit card interchange fee “study” that comes with a hefty price tag of $1 million. This budget allocation, found under “Legislative Support Services,” aims to explore the complex issue of interchange fees, which impacts both merchants and credit card companies. Interchange fees are the charges paid by merchants to credit card companies for processing transactions. These fees are collected by credit card companies and are used to fuel consumer loyalty programs and fraud protection services. However, merchants argue that the fees are an undue burden on their businesses and that the credit card companies end up pocketing most of the cash. Both sides have waged a lobbying war in Tallahassee the last few years trying to swing the regulatory pendulum one way or the other.

Protecting Florida’s youth from unregulated, intoxicating hemp products” via Kathleen Roberts for Florida Politics — Congress legalized hemp production in 2018, and Florida followed suit the next year. Since then, we’ve seen a boom in products containing intoxicating hemp-derived alternative cannabinoids like delta-8 THC. These products are largely unregulated, and can be sold anywhere — at gas stations, convenience stores, or so-called “smoke shops.” They are widely accessible and increasingly popular. It would be easy to assume that products that are so widely available have been evaluated to make sure they’re safe. Unfortunately, in the case of intoxicating hemp-based THC, that isn’t the case. According to the CDC, “use beginning in teen years or younger may affect brain development which may impair thinking, memory, and learning.” Moreover, there is an association between early marijuana use and schizophrenia. Given the risks, we should be seriously concerned about the prevalence of this unregulated drug among young adults.




ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Ryan Gorman, host of the Ryan Gorman Show, News Radio WFLA; Scripps News Washington Political Director Joe St. George; Tallahassee reporter Forrest Saunders.

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

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion of the upcoming hurricane season and reflect on 20 years since the hurricanes of 2004 that impacted Florida. Joining Walker are Spectrum Bay News 9 Chief Meteorologist Mike Clay and Spectrum News 13 Chief Meteorologist Bryan Karrick.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete and Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: The weekly Sunday show is launching as a joint weeknight show airing Monday through Friday at 7 p.m.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon and Leon County Democratic Executive Committee Chair Ryan Ray.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Mayor Deegan and Jacksonville City Council member Tyrona Clark-Murray.

— ALOE —

Disney, Fox and WBD unveil name of sports-streaming venture: Venu sports” via Todd Spangler of Variety — The joint venture of Disney/ESPN, Fox Corp. and Warner Bros. Discovery to package together a sports streaming bundle has a name — Venu Sports. “We are excited to officially introduce Venu Sports, a brand that we feel captures the spirit of an all-new streaming home where sports fans outside of the traditional pay TV ecosystem can experience an incredible collection of live sports, all in one place,” Pete Distad, CEO of Venu Sports, said. “As preparations for the platform continue to accelerate, we are singularly focused on delivering a best-in-class product for our target audience, built from the ground up using the latest technologies to engage and entertain discerning sports fans wanting one-stop access to live games.”

Disney/ESPN, Fox Corp. and Warner Bros. Discovery team up for a new sports streaming app.

IMAX unveils 2025 film slate, including ‘Superman’ and ‘The Fantastic Four’” via Scott Roxborough of The Hollywood Reporter — IMAX is going big for 2025, unveiling on Thursday that it will release at least 14 titles in its “filmed for IMAX” slate, features shot on IMAX film or Imax-certified cameras, more than double that of any previous year. Among the highlights going out on the widescreen format will be Disney’s Captain America: Brave New World, The Fantastic Four, and Tron: Ares; Warner Bros.’ still-untitled Ryan Coogler/Michael B. Jordan feature and its DC release Superman; Paramount’s Mission: Impossible 8; and Universal’s How to Train Your Dragon.

25 life hacks for surviving Florida summers” via Gabrielle Calise of the Tampa Bay Times — There’s no sugarcoating it: Summer is the most brutal time to be a Floridian. We’ve said goodbye to the snowbirds, Spring Breakers, and crisp mornings. The Palmetto bugs are back to sequester in your kitchens and hurricane season lurks around the corner. Florida natives and longtime residents from around the Tampa Bay Times newsroom pooled together our time-tested tips. Understand the two types of beaches around Tampa Bay: Gulf beaches, with gentle waves and sugar-fine sand, and bay beaches, like Gandy Beach and Courtney Campbell Causeway Beach. The first kind has the type of water you want to swim in, plus plenty of seashells to collect. The second one, not so much.


Celebrating today are journalist John Frank, Shannon Gravitte, VP for Public Affairs at AdventHealth, Julie Jones, former lobbyist Karen Skyers and Jeff Wright. Happy tenth wedding anniversary to a lovely couple, Erin and James Ballas.


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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