Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.24.24

Sunburn Orange Tally (8)
Start the day HOT — with a dose of the best in Florida Politics.

Good Monday morning.

Law and lobbying firm GrayRobinson is bringing aboard Gretchen Lyn Koehler as its Chief Marketing Officer.

Koehler has worked as a legal and financial services executive for 20 years, including as Omni Bridgeway’s Chief Marketing Officer for North America. She later founded Executelligence, a consultancy specializing in executive coaching, and professional development training for executives and professionals at professional services firms.

“I’m thrilled to join GrayRobinson and work alongside the firm’s exceptionally talented attorneys, advisers, consultants, and professionals to drive success and innovation in Florida and beyond,” said Koehler.

GrayRobinson hired Gretchen Lyn Koehler to serve as Chief Marketing Officer.

Koehler will be based in GrayRobinson’s Miami office and, under GrayRobinson President and CEO Dean Cannon, she will serve as a member of the firm’s administrative leadership team and oversee client development and marketing operations.

“Gretchen’s depth of experience leading marketing and client development efforts at several major law and financial firms, coupled with her Juris Doctor and entrepreneurial spirit, is the ideal combination as we advance our firm’s client development strategies,” said Cannon.

In addition to Omni Bridgeway and Executelligence, Koehler’s résumé includes leading business development and marketing for Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP and Kenyon & Kenyon LLP (now merged with Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP). She began her career as an attorney at White & Case LLP before transitioning into practice development, and then becoming a marketing manager at Dechert LLP.

Koehler holds a law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago. She is admitted to practice law in New York State and is a certified professional coach.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@SeanSpicer: Trump should start Thursday’s debate by yielding his time to Biden with a simple question: Can you name every member of your cabinet

@RonBrownstein: The challenge for Biden in clawing back minority support is that in these polls Trump backing is internally consistent w/minority discontent re Biden eco record. Here 28% of Blacks & 35% of Hispanics say Biden eco policies have hurt them. That’s a strong starting point for Trump

@DaBeard: Because of the Florida Governor’s unexpected elimination of all arts grants, 41% of state arts organizations will cancel public events and 35% must cut programming for children. Even in the Great Depression, the state managed to fund some arts programs.

@MearKat00: I can keep driving in the left lane in my beloved home state.

@VoteRandyFine: I just gave an impromptu speech to 200 Israeli heroes at a military base. Greatest honor of my political career. Nothing even comes close. If someone recorded it, I’ll share.

@MDixon55: The comms office that oversees elections for the third biggest state in the country has long been lacking

Tweet, tweet:

@EWErickson: Had to skip church this morning. In the middle of Sunday school, the alarm went off on my phone to tell me the brisket was ahead of schedule. Got home just in time. Jesus forgives. Brisket does not.

@SwiftieNatural: Taylor really led a whole stadium in screaming “FUCK THE PATRIARCHY” in front of not one, but TWO future kings of England. I simply have no choice but to respect that.

— DAYS UNTIL —

CNN Presidential Debate — 3; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 4; Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Disney World — 5; Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday begins — 7; Universal Mega Movie Parade debuts — 9; Donald Trump’s felony sentencing — 17; Republican National Convention begins — 20; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 29; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 32; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 33; Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday begins — 36; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 54; Florida Primary Election — 56; Democratic National Convention begins — 56; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon, begins — 58; second Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 62; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 62; Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday begins — 70; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 75; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 75; Vice Presidential Debate — 94; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 118; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 125; Florida TaxWatch’s 45th Annual Meeting — 133; 2024 Presidential Election — 134; second half of Yellowstone season five premieres — 139; Legislature’s 2025 Organizational Session — 148; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 148; ‘Mufasa: The Lion King’ premieres — 166; MLS Cup 2024 — 166; College Football Playoff begins — 179; Fiesta Bowl — 190; Peach, Rose & Sugar Bowls — 191; Orange Bowl — 199; Sugar Bowl — 201; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 235; the 2025 Oscars — 256; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 258; 2025 Session ends — 318; ‘Moana’ premieres — 365; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 399; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 399; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 506; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 544; ‘Avengers 5’ premieres — 680; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 697; FIFA World Cup 26™ final — 717; FIFA World Cup 26™ final match — 755; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 908; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,048; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,007; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,729.

— TOP STORY —

Ron DeSantis signed a law directing hospitals to ask about immigration status. Medicaid spending on undocumented immigrants plummeted.” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO — The amount of money that Florida’s Medicaid program spends to provide emergency health care to undocumented migrants has dropped significantly after DeSantis launched a multipronged crackdown on illegal immigration amid his unsuccessful Primary bid for President. DeSantis signed a law last year directing hospitals that accept Medicaid to ask patients about their immigration status when they seek treatment. While the law does not force patients to provide hospitals with an answer, immigrant rights groups feared the mandate would scare migrants away from seeking urgent medical attention. The DeSantis administration and other Florida Republicans say any marked decreases in spending are signs his immigration crackdown is working.

Asking about immigration status has a chilling effect on Medicaid claims.

— 2024 — PRESIDENTIAL —

Disappointment and ‘depression’: Joe Biden’s biggest fundraisers watch their advantage vanish” via Elena Schneider and Lauren Egan of POLITICO — Biden’s campaign planned to bury Trump in an avalanche of cash. Instead, his allies are bracing for a slugfest without the benefit of a fatter wallet, as financial reports showed Trump outraising Biden in back-to-back months, hauling in huge sums after his 34 felony convictions and erasing Biden’s long-standing financial edge. Democrats in recent days largely downplayed Trump’s new financial lead in the same way Trump’s allies had when Biden was running ahead in the money race — saying the President would have enough money to compete. But privately, several Democratic strategists and donors were reeling.

Joe Biden’s biggest supporters are dismayed that he is losing his advantage.

Biden settles on a message against Donald Trump: He’s even worse than before” via Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — President Biden quietly revealed his campaign’s master strategy to defeat Trump last month at a private fundraiser outside Seattle. “Let’s get to the message of the campaign,” Biden told a crowd of about 100 who had gathered in a sprawling lakeside mansion. Reading from a teleprompter, the President declared that Trump is now a greater threat to the country than during his time in office. “When he lost in 2020, something snapped in him,” Biden said, a bumper sticker slogan he has been repeating ever since. The notion that the former President changed — becoming more self-obsessed, more dangerous and more extreme — has since been seeded throughout Biden’s campaign.

Trump tries some debate prep on the campaign trail” via Lisa Kashinsky of POLITICO — Trump might be eschewing formal preparations for Thursday’s debate — but that doesn’t mean he isn’t thinking about it. In fact, Trump couldn’t stop talking about his upcoming bout against Biden as he rallied in the President’s adopted home turf of Philadelphia on Saturday night. Over the course of nearly 90 minutes, Trump interspersed talk of his economic plans and complaints about his criminal conviction in New York with musings about the potentially consequential political clash. He mocked Biden for holing up behind closed doors at Camp David to prepare for the debate, suggesting the President would turn to illicit substances to boost his performance.

Trump says he’s privately decided who his running mate will be” via Stephanie Lai of Bloomberg — Trump said he’s made up his mind on who he’ll select as his vice presidential nominee — but hasn’t told the Republicans vying for the position his decision yet. Trump said during a stop Saturday at a cheesesteak restaurant in Philadelphia that his running mate would be attending next Thursday’s debate in Atlanta. While his showdown with Biden doesn’t have an audience, many of the top vice-presidential contenders are expected to attend a watch party hosted by Trump’s campaign. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has previously said he would announce his choice at or shortly before the Republican National Convention, which begins July 15 in Milwaukee. But Trump may decide to make the announcement earlier, in part to distract from coverage of his July 11 sentencing on 34 felony counts in a New York hush-money case.

Trump is focused on Doug Burgum, JD Vance and Marco Rubio as his VP search enters the home stretch” via Henry J. Gomez, Jonathan Allen, Dasha Burns, Carol E. Lee, Matt Dixon and Olympia Sonnier of NBC News — As Trump zeros in on a vice presidential running mate, two top finalists are emerging: North Dakota Gov. Burgum and Sen. Vance of Ohio. A third prospect, Sen. Rubio, remains in contention, sources said. But doubts about his enthusiasm for the job and concerns about navigating a constitutional hang-up that would require Trump or Rubio to establish residency in another state have persisted in ways that could jeopardize his chances. Publicly, Trump has said he expects to announce his choice closer to or at the Republican National Convention, which begins July 15 in Milwaukee.

—“Trump ‘tiny hands’ joke rules out VP contender: Ex-aide” via Mathew Murphy of The Daily Beast

Trump campaign bets big on Minnesota, Virginia with new field offices” via Olivia Rinaldi of CBS News — The Trump campaign is expanding its ground game in Minnesota and Virginia as it puts Biden’s campaign on its heels in traditionally Democratic states. The memo details that the campaign is in the process of securing leases for eight “Trump Force 47″ offices in Minnesota, and 11 campaign offices in Virginia. “Trump Force 47″ is the nickname for the joint effort between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee’s grassroots volunteer canvassing program. In addition to the offices, the campaign has hired new staff to manage its ground game in Virginia and Minnesota and is building out teams.

—“Trump’s get-out-the-vote plan is bonkers” via Bill Scher of Washington Monthly

— 2024 — FLORIDA —

Abortion rights campaign is ready to go door to door across Florida” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — It took a grassroots effort to get the abortion rights initiative on the November ballot. Now, the Amendment 4 campaign, which raised $8 million during the first two weeks of June, is starting its first volunteer statewide canvassing drive this weekend. More than 200 volunteers are signed up to go knocking on doors in Tallahassee, Gainesville, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Lakeland, Miami Beach and five other cities. “We know that Floridians do not like to be told what to do. That resonates across party lines,” said Natasha Sutherland, Communications Director for the Yes on 4 campaign seeking to change Florida’s Constitution to end the six-week abortion ban and limit government interference on abortion.

The next step for Amendment 4 is door-to-door canvassing.

— 2024 — DOWN-BALLOT —

Matt Gaetz attacks Aaron Dimmock’s DEI background in 6-figure ad buy” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A new ad from U.S. Rep. Gaetz’s campaign slams Republican Primary opponent Dimmock as a devotee of woke ideology and Washington lobbyists. As the ad displays images of violent riots that accompanied some Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in 2020, a narrator says Dimmock “swore allegiance to BLM” as “rioters burned out cities.” “Dimmock is backed by the lobbyists who hate Matt Gaetz,” a narrator says. “Aaron Dimmock isn’t conservative. He’s not even a Floridian. Stand up to the swamp. Say no to the BLM-supporting DEI instructor Aaron Dimmock.” The “Raging Liberal” ad will run for 12 days on digital and TV, reaching voters in Florida’s 1st Congressional District. The Gaetz campaign said it spent six figures on the ad buy.

To listen to the ad, please click the image below:

Phil Ehr lands support of SEIU, nation’s leading public employee union” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Democratic congressional candidate Ehr has secured the support of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “It is with great pleasure that we extend our endorsement and support to Ehr’s campaign for Congressional District 28 from the members of the SEIU of Florida,” said Martha Baker, president of the SEIU Florida State Council. “Together we are committed to uniting workers to improve the quality of their lives, the services they provide, and the communities in which they live and work.” The union support came after Ehr was the only Democrat to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez in Florida’s 28th Congressional District, a seat flipped red just two election cycles ago. Ehr, a Miami-Dade Democrat, had previously waged a U.S. Senate campaign but dropped out of the statewide race in October and ran for Congress instead.

Police unions line up behind Sam Greco for HD 19” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Florida Fraternal Order of Police and Florida Police Benevolent Association are throwing their support behind Greco’s campaign to succeed in House District 19. Florida FOP President Steve Zona said, ” … You have served our country in the U.S. Navy and understand the definition of sacrifice. There is no better qualified candidate and we know, to our core, you will fight tirelessly for us in Tallahassee.” The association-wide endorsement was issued after members of the local-level FOP branch, Lodge District 2, said Greco was their candidate of choice. Meanwhile, Florida PBA President John “Kaz” Kazanjian said, ” … With your military service and conservative values, we trust in your commitment to ensuring that the votes you cast in Tallahassee will always have the best interests of our members, their families, and their communities in mind. ”

—2024 — DOWN-BALLOT 2 —

‘Partisan politics should have no role’: State Attorney Andrew Bain touts independence, but DeSantis looms large” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Orange-Osceola State Attorney Bain is drawing fire for a political evolution that took him from a registered Democrat to an appointee of DeSantis — and now has him running as an independent for the job of Central Florida’s top prosecutor. Five years ago, Bain was a registered Democrat, voter records show, but he switched to no-party affiliation in 2019. When he kicked off his campaign earlier this year, he signed paperwork that he intended to run as a Republican. He said that was an oversight he quickly corrected. He’ll appear on the ballot as NPA, meaning an independent without party affiliation and not aligned with either Republicans or Democrats. Bain said his background demonstrates he is independent-minded and will leave partisanship out of the courthouse. But his opponents are painting Bain as a puppet without firm convictions who is beholden to DeSantis.

Andrew Bain vows independence, despite his appointment by Ron DeSantis.

This is actually huge —Supreme Court allows judicial candidates to declare political ideology” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Florida Supreme Court cleared the way for judicial candidates across the state to openly declare their political ideology — as long as they don’t disclose their party affiliation. The high court’s decision was tucked in a ruling over how to penalize a St. Johns County judge who told potential voters in a 2022 campaign voicemail that she was a conservative. Judicial races are supposed to be nonpartisan, but the high court ruled her statement was ethically permissible. “To describe oneself as a ‘conservative’ does not signal bias, pro or con, toward anyone or on any issue,” the justices ruled, overriding the findings of the Judicial Qualifications and the admission of the judge facing discipline, County Judge Casey L. Woolsey. Judges have been publicly scolded for even admitting their political party registration. “The statement ‘I am a conservative’ is not partisan, either inherently or, as the JQC believed, when made during an election campaign in a predominantly Republican community,” the court ruled.

— STATEWIDE —

Still resonating — “DeSantis vetoes all arts grants in Florida” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — For the past 10 days, Richard Russell has been rattled, poring over budgets and working the phones in an attempt to limit the consequences of DeSantis’s veto pen. Russell, the general director of the Sarasota Opera on Florida’s Gulf Coast, had expected his nonprofit organization to receive a state grant of about $70,000 once DeSantis signed a budget that state lawmakers had approved in March. But in a move that stunned arts and culture organizations, DeSantis vetoed the entirety of their grant funding — about $32 million — on June 12, leaving them scrambling to figure out how to offset the shortfall. “It’s not going to close us,” Russell said. “But it is a gap that I am going to have to figure out how to make up, and if I don’t find alternate sources of funding, that could be someone’s job.”

DeSantis takes his red veto pen to all public arts funding.

Ethics watchdogs sound alarms as DeSantis signs legislation limiting complaints” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Government watchdogs are criticizing a revision in Florida ethics laws signed by DeSantis. “This law undermines the will of the people and will allow corruption to go unchallenged,” said Amy Keith, Executive Director of Common Cause Florida. The controversial measure (SB 7014) passed in the Senate on a 26-4 vote and in the House on a 79-34 party-line vote. Born in the Senate Ethics Committee, the legislation purportedly seeks to limit time frames for investigating ethics complaints. It also requires public complaints be based entirely on a filer’s personal knowledge of wrongdoing, which sponsors said was to discourage “frivolous” complaints.

DeSantis loosens restrictions regarding lethal force during bear encounters” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — DeSantis approved legislation (HB 87) making clear that Floridians can kill a bear if the animal is threatening a person’s life, pet or property. Rep. Jason Shoaf sponsored the legislation, dubbed the “Self Defense Act.” Sen. Corey Simon carried the Senate companion (SB 632). Current law already allowed individuals to kill a bear in life-or-death situations. The new legislation seeks to make clear that individuals won’t be punished in other circumstances. The bill language says no administrative, civil or criminal penalty is appropriate if a person “reasonably believed that his or her action was necessary to avoid an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to himself or herself or to another, an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to a pet, or substantial damage to a dwelling.”

DeSantis kicks bill regulating left lane driving to the curb” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Legislation making it a ticketed offense for drivers to hang in the left lane was just kicked to the curb. DeSantis vetoed the bill (HB 317), which had passed on a 113-3 vote in the House and drew no opposing votes in the Senate. DeSantis suggested that the proposed law would allow for unfair enforcement. “The language of this bill is too broad and could lead to drivers in Florida being pulled over, ticketed, and fined for driving in the furthest left lane even if they are not impeding the flow of traffic or if there are few or no other cars in the immediate area” reads a transmittal letter from the Governor. “In addition, the bill could potentially increase congestion in Florida’s urban areas as drivers may decide to not utilize the furthest left-hand lane at all for fear of being ticketed.”

Make the grade: DeSantis won’t dumb down grad school requirements for veterans” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — DeSantis vetoed a bill (SB 494) that would have waived Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) requirements for certain service members and veterans. But DeSantis said the entry exam requirements serve a purpose. “Standardized tests are a necessary component of a rigorous, merit-based admissions process,” DeSantis wrote. “While the motivation behind this legislation is laudable, it is not clear that waiving these tests will be beneficial to our institutions or even, in many cases, to the students themselves.” The waiver would have been available to those who served in the U.S. Army, Florida National Guard or U.S. Reserves actively or who were honorably discharged.

Floridians veterinarians can soon treat animals over web video” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Coughing canines can now see a veterinarian remotely. DeSantis has signed the Providing Equity in Telehealth Services (PETS) Act (HB 849). The legislation seeks to grant similar ability to veterinarians to see patients through telehealth as those used by physicians dealing with a human clientele. The legislation had been championed by Sen. Jenn Bradley in the Senate and Reps. Sam Killebrew and James Buchanan in the House. “Huge win for Floridians with pets,” said Buchanan, a Venice Republican. “This legislation will increase access to care for our best friends, our pets, and drive down costs for Floridians. Major sponsors were Republicans, but the bill was co-sponsored by numerous Democrats and ultimately passed through both chambers of the Legislature without drawing a single dissenting vote.”

Florida slow to fund EV chargers along highways, despite federal money” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida lags behind most states in disbursing millions in federal money to add more electric vehicle chargers along major highways. This has frustrated an unlikely group: gas stations. An organization called the Charge Ahead Partnership, representing household names like Wawa, Buc-ee’s, Busy Bee and other major chains, is urging Florida’s government to open applications for the money because they want to get in on the business of EV charging. The state is slated to receive $198 million over five years from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program, which was created as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law Congress passed in 2021.

Florida drags its feet on installing EV chargers statewide.

State delays Black History Museum Task Force’s last meeting until days before report deadline” via Jackie Llanos of the Florida Phoenix — The Florida Museum of Black History Task Force has a week to submit a report to DeSantis and legislative leaders with recommendations for creating a self-sustaining museum, but now state officials have postponed the group’s last meeting one day before it was set to take place. The Florida Division of Historical Resources moved the meeting one week back, from Friday to June 28, mere days before the report’s deadline. An announcement about the new date appeared on the Department’s website Thursday afternoon. Likewise, members of the task force found out about the change less than 24 hours before the 9:30 a.m. meeting scheduled in Tallahassee.

Florida’s unemployment rate holds steady at 3.3% for May” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Florida’s relatively stable monthly unemployment rate held steady in May. FloridaCommerce officials released the new jobless figures showing that the unemployment rate was 3.3% for May. That’s unchanged from the April unemployment figure in the Sunshine State. The previous month’s jobless figure ticked up slightly from March, which posted an unemployment rate of 3.2%. Florida also maintained a jobless rate that remained lower than the national figure by 0.7 percentage points. It’s the 43rd straight month Florida had a lower unemployment figure than the national rate. The U.S. unemployment rate for May was 4%. The Miami-Dade area had the lowest unemployment rate in May among Florida’s large metropolises. The jobless rate there was 2.2%, though it was a 0.1-percentage-point increase from the April unemployment figure of 2.1%. Fort Lauderdale also recorded a modest jobless figure for May, at 2.8%.

Advocates say so far, Florida’s new plans to heal polluted springs still fall short” via Molly Buerig of Central Florida Public Media — As the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) works on required revisions to its Basin Management Action Plans, or BMAPs, some environmental advocates worry the pending changes still won’t do enough to restore polluted Florida waters to good health. BMAPs are supposed to reduce nitrate pollution levels in Florida’s freshwater springs and aquifer/groundwater. That 2016 law identified 30 Outstanding Florida Springs, mandating FDEP to create 20-year water quality improvement plans for any of the 30 OFS determined to be impaired, or polluted. But BMAPs adopted by FDEP in 2018 don’t comply with the law, according to an appellate court’s ruling issued last year in a case brought by Florida Springs Council. The nonprofit advocacy group had argued Florida’s BMAPs were “legally and scientifically inadequate;” after losing in court initially, FSC filed an appeal.

Attorney says immunity deal in ‘Tooth Fairy’ case raises questions that need answers” via Florida Politics — After Gainesville State Attorney Brian Kramer declined to take up a case related to Jacksonville dentist Howard Fetner, an attorney representing dentists fired by Fetner is raising more questions surrounding the “Tooth Fairy” case. William Spicola represents dentists he says were fired by Fetner for raising concerns about “incorrect billing codes.” Spicola has pushed for Fetner to be investigated regarding a South Florida “Medicaid billing scheme.” In a letter to Kramer, Spicola thanked him for his work and acknowledged the jurisdictional hurdles Kramer faced that led him to decline the case. Kramer argued that any wrongdoing would have occurred in Miami, and thus the 8th Judicial Circuit covering Gainesville was an improper jurisdiction to look into Fetner. But Spicola points to multiple issues that arose from Kramer’s brief look into the case that he wants addressed.

Appointed Marcus Chambers to the Florida High School Athletic Association Board of Directors.


—D.C. MATTERS —

Gaetz hits the road to reshape the Republican Party” via Natalie Andrews of The Wall Street Journal — Eight months after plunging the Republican Party into a deep crisis, Rep. Gaetz says he doesn’t want to divide the GOP. He wants to make it to be just like him. “I’m trying to reshape the House in my image,” he said. Gaetz said it is a Republican who can “end the wars, shut the border, reduce the spending” and is a “fighter.” The sharp-tongued Gaetz has been the antihero of Republicans’ fevered spell running the House, engineering the ouster of Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker last year. He remains a leading voice of the party’s conservative populist wing, unabashedly pro-Trump while a hard-liner on the budget and foreign aid, regularly aggravating colleagues, some of whom see him as a grandstander who undercuts Republicans’ efforts to govern.

Matt Gaetz doesn’t want to split the GOP; he just wants to remake it in his image.

What’s left for the Supreme Court to decide? Here’s the list.” via Mark Sherman and Lindsay Whitehurst of The Associated Press — The Supreme Court is headed into its final week with about a quarter of the cases heard this year still undecided, including ones that could reshape the law on everything from abortion to social media. The justices are also still weighing whether Trump is immune from criminal prosecution in the election interference case against him, roughly two months after hearing arguments. The court heard 61 cases this term, and 15 remain unresolved.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Lauderhill seeks investigation of Commissioner’s use of city car” via Angie DiMichele of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Lauderhill elected officials requested what will be the third recent investigation into Commissioner Denise Grant, this time regarding travel reimbursements for an official trip to Tallahassee in 2022. Grant, who is running for Mayor, was the subject of two investigations in 2023: A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation related to reimbursement documents and an investigation by an outside law firm into allegations of workplace harassment that coincided with the FDLE investigation. The FDLE investigation focused on reimbursement requests Grant submitted after an official trip she took to Tallahassee in March 2023. She was accused of attempting to be reimbursed for an already-paid cost of her hotel room during the trip, which totaled over $800, by altering a hotel invoice and was accused of requesting $567 in mileage reimbursement for driving a personal car, though she drove a city-owned car. City employees are only allowed mileage reimbursements for personal cars.

Denise Grant is under investigation for a third time.

Key West City Commission to decide fate of City Manager” via Timothy O’Hara of Keys News — The Key West City Commission will meet next week to decide the fate of embattled City Manager Albert Childress after at least two Commissioners called for the meeting to vote on keeping or firing him. As of Friday, Commissioners will meet at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 26, at Key West City Hall on White Street, to possibly vote on terminating Childress’ contract, which would cost roughly $93,000 in severance pay. The Commission could postpone the vote, as it has brought in an outside attorney because of a potential conflict of interest, and some Commissioners have said they have not had enough time to speak with her and have the facts to vote on Wednesday.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Frozen fees: Governor nixes potential hike in wastewater assessments in Brevard Co. water district” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — It looks like a cap on stormwater management fees assessed by the Melbourne-Tillman Water Control District will remain at the same level. DeSantis vetoed a local bill (HB 821) that would have increased the maximum level of those fees. State law allows the District to charge $25 per acre on residential properties, $8.50 per acre on agricultural land and $52.50 per acre on commercial land. The legislation would have doubled the amount the district could charge. DeSantis didn’t want a part in that. “This will likely lead to Brevard County taxpayers paying higher fees,” DeSantis wrote in a veto transmittal letter.

State postpones final meeting on Black History Museum, a blow to Eatonville’s fading hopes to win it” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Friday’s scheduled meeting of the state task force studying sites for the first Florida Museum of Black History was abruptly postponed, dealing a blow to Eatonville’s fading hopes to be the museum’s home. With its final session now scheduled for June 28 and a June 30 legal deadline to complete its work, the group would have little time to reconsider its previous choice of St. Augustine, task force Chair and State Sen. Geraldine Thompson said. While the task force’s website provided no explanation for the delay in the meeting, and Thompson herself was surprised by it, Florida Department of State representative Mark Ard said in an email. “The Department of State required additional time to finalize the draft report prior to submitting it to the task force for their review,” he wrote. “The report is over 400 pages and we felt that it was necessary to postpone the meeting to allow the Task Force adequate time to review the draft report prior to their final meeting now scheduled for June 28 at 9:30 a.m.”

Eatonville’s bid for the Florida Museum of Black History is a long shot.

Orlando eyes cameras to write school-zone speeding tickets” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — In hopes of cracking down on speeders, Orlando may deploy cameras across the city to write tickets in school zones. The City Council Monday is expected to consider a plan to install the devices near 23 schools, which would photograph offenders driving at least 10 mph over the speed limit and issue a $100 infraction. Much as happens with Orlando’s red-light cameras, those caught would receive a ticket in the mail with a link to a recording of their offense. City officials also have plans to pursue adding cameras to as many as 60 more schools. “We have found when the cameras are used appropriately the speed cameras can reduce traffic fatalities … by 20-37%,” said Tanya Wilder, the city’s transportation director. She cited data from the Transportation Research Board, which found nationwide, 25,000 children are injured, and 100 are killed annually walking to and from school due to speeding in school zones.

After Spring student protests, UCF considers camping ban” via Alissa Gary of the Orlando Sentinel — The University of Central Florida may ban camping on campus and limit the duration of protests in the wake of pro-Palestinian demonstrations that roiled colleges and took over university lawns across the country this Spring. UCF’s Board of Trustees is to take up new regulations dealing with “use of university facilities; events and protests” on Tuesday. Florida State University’s trustees approved a similar change to their policies Thursday, banning tents, the blocking of entrances to buildings and the wearing of hoods that cover protesters’ faces. UCF’s proposal would prohibit camping — an activity not mentioned in current rules — and limit the length of protests and other “expressive activities” to five days in a row and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. most days. The university defines “expressive activities” as ones that are “exercises of free speech” under the First Amendment. They include taking part in marches, protests, parades and picket lines, the proposed regulation says.

— LOCAL: TB —

At St. Pete Pride, an atmosphere of unity despite record-breaking heat” via Gabrielle Calise, Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Gabrielle Lazor, and Nina Moske of the Tampa Bay Times — The St. Pete Pride parade and festival returned to the downtown waterfront Saturday, drawing an estimated 300,000. The most popular event during St. Petersburg’s monthlong Pride celebration returned in a flurry of glitter and rainbows — and record-breaking temperatures.

St. Pete is ready to show its Pride.

Madeira Beach Mayor resigns, calls out ‘corruptive behavior’ in letter to residents” via Genevieve Curtis of Fox 13 — There’s a shake-up at Madeira Beach City Hall after Mayor Jim Rostek abruptly resigned last Friday, but not before sending a letter to the city’s residents outlining a series of concerns surrounding what he calls “corruptive behavior.” He said his concerns with leadership is the reason he had to walk away. “What is going on with this small town is all wrong,” said Rostek. “I am sorry that I have to walk away. It is for my health. Please keep up the fight. I will always try to have your back. Please continue to do what’s right,” Rostek said. Rostek said the stress of City Hall dealings resulted in a series of health scares.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Donna Deegan’s stadium deal is winning City Council support with amendments” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — The stadium deal negotiated by Mayor Deegan is on track for the City Council to give its support after a whirlwind series of meetings this month. City Council President Ron Salem set up the fast-track review and Council members only made minor changes to the core of the deal that would do $1.4 billion of work on EverBank Stadium. The city would pay for $775 million of the cost and Jaguars owner Shad Khan would pay the rest while agreeing to sign a 30-year lease extension to keep playing football in Jacksonville.

Donna Deegan and Ron Salem gets the Jaguars’ stadium plan back in the City Council’s good graces.

State Attorney Jack Campbell and DOJ resolve Hispanic discrimination allegations” via James Call of USA Today Network — Campbell, the state attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit, and the federal Justice Department reached an agreement Thursday to resolve allegations that Hispanic defendants are routinely denied plea agreements for driving without a valid driver’s license. As part of a settlement with the agency, about 100 staff members in the state attorney’s office for the six-county region will be trained on the prohibition of discrimination based on race outlined in Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Allegations of racial profiling came to light in April 2023 when a newly transferred assistant prosecutor to the circuit’s Monticello office found a sentencing guideline “cheat sheet” tacked to a wall.

FSU Board of Trustees OKs $3 billion 2024-25 operating budget, largest in FSU history” via Tarah Jean of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State University’s Board of Trustees approved a $3 billion operating budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year — a record-breaking amount that now stands as the largest in FSU history. Trustees voted to approve the spending plan during a full Board meeting Thursday, and it includes allocations for capital projects such as Doak Stadium improvements and seating enhancements, the College of Business Legacy Hall, a new Football Operations Facility, and a future Academic Health Center. The operating budget is a 14.3% increase from last year’s $2.62 billion budget. “This budget will help us advance our bold agenda and pursue the ambitious goals outlined in our strategic plan,” FSU President Richard McCullough said. “These funds will allow us to create more opportunities for our students, retain and hire outstanding faculty and staff and make a positive difference in the state of Florida and beyond.”

Former Florida Department of Revenue employee charged with grand theft, FDLE says” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — A former Florida Department of Revenue employee has been charged with having “deposited 168 money orders that appear to have been stolen” from the department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) said in a Friday news release. Paula Lynne Mrozek, who also goes by Paula Lynne Burke, was charged with felony grand theft over $750 but less than $5,000, the release said. The 52-year-old Tallahassee resident was booked into the Leon County Jail, where she was later released on $2,500 bail, court records show. This week’s charges follow her February arrest, when she was “charged with altering money orders intended for motor vehicle taxes and depositing them into her personal bank account while she worked for DOR,” FDLE said.

Escambia Supervisor of Elections sued for disqualifying would-be opponent” via Tom McLaughlin of the Pensacola News Journal — Attorney Bruce Childers claims that when he left the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office on June 12 after filling out paperwork to qualify as a candidate to run against sitting Supervisor Robert Bender, a senior qualifying officer told him, “You’re complete … You’re all good.” It would not be until six days later, Childers wrote early Friday in a Facebook post, that he would find out that he was not, in fact, all good. “On Thursday, June 20, I received an email from the qualifying officer, not even from Robert Bender himself, that I was disqualified because I ‘failed to provide a copy of the full and complete financial disclosure Form 6,’” Childers wrote.

— LOCAL: SW FL —

Sarasota County Commission workshop on ‘impacts of illegal immigration’ sparks criticism” via Christian Casale and Heather Bushman of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A busy week for the Sarasota County Commission preparing for next year’s budget concluded on Friday with a contentious but largely symbolic special meeting about the costs of illegal immigration. The two-hour special meeting on the “impacts of illegal immigration” in Sarasota County saw around 30 residents and members of advocacy groups speak out against the agenda. It identified few specific local budget impacts and ended ambiguously, without Commissioners addressing any costs they intended to address as they formulate the 2024-25 spending plan, now estimated at more than $2 billion. Commissioners spoke little on the purpose of the meeting, but Commissioner Neil Rainford considered it productive.

‘Bring pets inside’: Cape Coral police say bear spotted, tell residents leave it alone” via Dave Osborn of the Fort Myers News-Press — Cape Coral police reported an unwelcome visitor Sunday morning. A Florida black bear was spotted near Cornwallis Parkway “and headed toward the river,” Cape Coral police said on its Facebook page about 10 a.m. Cornwallis is an east-west street that runs from Del Prado Boulevard South to the Caloosatchee River. “FWC is aware. For the time being, please bring all pets inside. Please also bring cat food or dog food inside that may attract the bear,” the Facebook post said. “LEAVE IT ALONE. Do NOT try to take pictures. Do NOT try to go find the bear.” Residents in May reported seeing a black bear out for an early morning stroll in downtown Fort Myers. City police said the bear was in the area of Broadway and Victoria Avenue.

A black bear is spotted in Cape Coral. Police say to leave it alone.

— TOP OPINION —

The Trump running mate who would threaten the blue wall” via Michael LaRosa for The New York Times — There is one person on Trump’s reported shortlist of running mates who has the ability to carve a Pennsylvania-shaped slice out of the so-called blue wall of Rust Belt states that Democratic presidential candidates typically need to win: U.S. Sen. Rubio.

That sound you’re hearing is the collective explosion of heads from my friends in the Democratic Party, followed by admonitions that “Latinos do not vote as a monolith.” That’s true: Cuban, Venezuelan, Dominican and Mexican Americans, as well as Puerto Ricans, do not vote in unison.

But Latino voters have something in common: their Latin American roots and the pride that comes from casting a vote for someone who looks and talks like them. Rubio would break a significant cultural barrier as the first Latino on a national ticket. We’ve seen how that feeling of cultural and identity pride can marshal voters and transcend ideological and partisan preferences, and it should never be underestimated.

Seldom do running mates play an outsized role in our presidential contests, as most voters focus on the top of the ticket. But Rubio gives Trump something no other presidential candidate has offered — the chance for Latinos to vote for one of their own to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

— OPINIONS —

Forget conventional wisdom. Trump needs the debate more than Biden.” via E.J. Dionne Jr. of The Washington Post — There’s the romantic view of presidential debates, and there’s the realist’s view. Viewers of Thursday’s debate between Biden and Trump would do well to be realists. Do not expect bursts of eloquence that will live on in history. Pay attention instead to which of these men better understands whom he needs to talk to. This will show you who has the discipline to win and be a decent President. Debates are not about everyone watching. Many will absorb it the way I took in the glorious Boston Celtics playoff run: as partisans rooting unreservedly for victory, cheering every great moment and worrying about every mistake.

Seeking answers to a Florida public records crisis” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Florida has an extremely serious public records problem, and some very committed people want to fix it. That won’t be easy, because the people responsible for this crisis — DeSantis and the Legislature — are the same people they must rely on to fix the system. For decades, Florida had one of the strongest public records laws in the country. The Florida Constitution and state law both guarantee a right of access to records of the state and of local governments, though the Legislature adds new exemptions year after year. The underlying law is clear. “Every person who has custody of a public record shall permit the record to be inspected and copied by any person desiring to do so, at any reasonable time, under reasonable conditions, and under supervision by the custodian of the public records,” it says.

In signing anti-ethics bill, DeSantis sides with crooked politicians” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union — DeSantis signed legislation that will gut the ability of local ethics watchdogs to investigate allegations of corruption, a bill whose most toxic and sweeping provisions were late-hour additions and hardly debated before their passage. DeSantis ignored the pleas of ethics officials and good-government advocates who hoped he’d veto the measure, throwing in his lot instead with crooked elected officials whose misdeeds will now have a greater chance of flying beneath the radar. Not every Florida county and city has a local Ethics Commission, but in those that do, like Miami, Jacksonville, and Palm Beach, the offices can sometimes play critical roles in sniffing out and policing misconduct by local elected officials. That will likely end with DeSantis’ signature.

DeSantis selfishly guts Florida’s arts and culture funding for a budget gimmick” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — John Delaney, a former Republican Mayor of Jacksonville who later became president of the University of North Florida and Flagler College, has what’s become a kind of ready-made line when he needs to defend much-maligned liberal arts programs in higher education — the types of things Tallahassee legislators like to target with budget cuts. “We want to be Athens, not Sparta,” he’d say. “We need artists, actors, teachers, poets, writers.” Some of the larger line items DeSantis vetoed last week out of the $116 billion budget were about $32 million for arts, culture and museum grants and related projects, a stunning blow to hundreds of organizations across the sprawling state: children’s choruses, opera houses, symphonies, theaters, zoological societies, cultural councils. This was a cruel, crude and first-of-its-kind across-the-board gutting the Governor didn’t even try to justify. We can only guess at DeSantis’ strange hostility toward arts and culture funding, but it’s difficult to avoid concluding from this blackout that DeSantis must view Florida’s cultural institutions as a threat to the peculiar political culture he is trying to cultivate.

Science, not stridence, will solve Florida’s water problems” via Nicole Kirchhoff of the Tampa Bay Times — This Spring, a blue-green algae bloom caused officials to issue a health alert around the Alva Boat Ramp in Lee County on the Caloosahatchee River. It got some press, and I was hearted by how the media simply reported on it, and that advocacy groups didn’t race to assign blame to any particular stakeholder. While I didn’t take water samples, I’d bet that sewage fed the bloom. No Lake Okeechobee discharges were occurring and strong rains had soaked dry ground after months of blue skies in an area where many businesses and residences rely on septic tanks. On an annual average, approximately 70% of the water that makes it to the Gulf of Mexico comes from the local basin, not Lake Okeechobee.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Warriors are taking over Disney World this week” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — 230 athletes will be at the Department of Defense’s Warrior Games at Walt Disney World starting Friday through June 30. The public is invited to attend the free athletic showcase of active-duty military and veterans competing in wheelchair basketball, swimming, track and other sports. It’s the second time Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports has hosted The Games since 2022. And Disney’s connection to the military runs deep. “We are humbled to again welcome these heroic service members and veterans, their families and supporters to ESPN Wide World of Sports,” said Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle. “Their sacrifice has allowed us the freedoms we enjoy daily, and we are honored to be able to witness their spirit of determination, boldness and loyalty come alive during The Games.”

American warriors descend on Disney World.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady, Rep. Dianne Hart, Blake Dowling, one of St. Pete’s best, Mario Farias, Katie Flury, Tara Price, and our dear friend Rich Newsome.

___

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 FloridaPolitics.com, 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.



#FlaPol

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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