Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.8.24

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Want to know everything about Florida politics? Let Sunburn fill the gaps.

Good Monday morning.

Welcome to the world William John Uthmeier, son of Jean and James Uthmeier, was born July 6 and weighed 7 lbs., 2 oz. We’re told baby and mom are doing very well.


Spotted — First Lady Casey DeSantis running the annual Montana Freedom 5K in Bigfork County. “I was looking around, we were here and I said, ‘what an opportunity to come and run,’” DeSantis said before the start of the race. “I’m having a great time, and this is a real privilege to be able to run in some of the most beautiful country in America.”


The deadline to reserve advertising in the forthcoming edition of INFLUENCE Magazine, featuring the Great Communicators of Florida politics, has been extended to Wednesday, July 10. The deadline to submit final artwork is Wednesday, July 17 (we’re dropping this edition before the Primary.) If you are interested in reserving ad space or are ready to submit your artwork, please email [email protected].


Keep an eye on the second meeting of the FEIC on Amendment 4. Chris Spencer, whom we missed this weekend while he was in the ‘burg, will be serving as a representative of the Governor’s Office. A noteworthy topic likely to come back up for this meeting is whether Amendment 4 could mandate taxpayer-funded abortions at the state level, as has happened in several other states.


:gift_heart:Resilience against terror and pain: Sunday marked 272 days since Hamas killed more than 1,100 Israelis and took 250 hostages. There 120 still held captive, including an 8-month-old baby living without his parents somewhere in Gaza, where militant extremists use human shields while housing hostages in civilian homes. Christian Ulvert, President and founder of EDGE Communications, was part of a 12-person delegation to Israel last month that witnessed firsthand the struggles Israel and democratic values face in the aftermath of that attack. Read his heartfelt account here.


David Zeckman has joined Lumen Technologies as Director of the tech company’s government affairs efforts in Florida.

Zeckman comes to Lumen with extensive experience in state and federal government and in private-sector consulting. He will represent Lumen in the Legislature and work with local officials and policymakers to support Quantum Fiber builds and storm recovery efforts.

Lumen Technologies expands its footprint in Florida with David Zeckman.

Zeckman previously worked as Chief of Staff at the Florida Department of Management Services, where he was responsible for the agency’s day-to-day operations, which included state purchasing, real estate development and management, telecommunications, fleet and federal surplus property, state human resource management, People First, state group insurance and the Florida retirement system.

Before DMS, Zeckman was the Bureau Chief of Compliance and Accountability at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which has since been renamed the Florida Department of Commerce.

Zeckman has also consulted for the California state government, including the California Department of Public Health, where he assisted with the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery efforts.

At the federal level, Zeckman worked as the Deputy Assistant Administrator over the Office of Mission Support at the Environmental Protection Agency, a position that required him to be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the office, which oversaw human resources, facilities and critical assets, procurement and grants and information technology.


@JKeeey4: Le soulagement est à la hauteur de l’inquiétude de ces dernières semaines, il est immense. Félicitations à tous les Français qui se sont mobilisés pour que ce beau pays qu’est la France ne se retrouve pas gouverné par l’extrême droite

@BenjySarlin: Every possible outcome here is “Sorkinesque,” we’re completely off the map of normal things that happen in July of a presidential election. It’s all the kind of stuff you’d make a movie about.

@NateSilver538: The fact that HUNTER BIDEN, who has enormous conflicts of interests among, uh, other problems, is serving as a de facto gatekeeper/chief strategist, suggests a pretty big crisis of legitimacy.

@Umicvoter: Adam Schiff on Meet the Press: “Joe Biden should be mopping the floor against Donald Trump. Joe Biden is running against a criminal. It should not be even close and there’s only one reason it is close and that’s the President age”

@RobReiner: It’s time to stop fucking around. If the Convicted Felon wins, we lose our Democracy. Joe Biden has effectively served US with honor, decency and dignity. It’s time for Joe Biden to step down.

@Chamath: When a company loses revenues or customers, it drops prices or improves service. Otherwise, it goes bankrupt. This basic tenet should also be understood by state legislators. And California and New York need to hear the message more than anyone. If all the mobile, wealthy people leave California and New York, and mostly middle and lower-income people are left to pay their exorbitant taxes and deal with rampant crime, both states will fail.

Tweet, tweet:

@JasonWeida: A federal judge sided with Florida to protect doctors and patients from the Biden admin’s new @HHSGov rule. The judge agreed with Florida that Biden’s new rule would have forced doctors to adhere to radical gender ideology and was motivated not by science, but by politics. Big win for Florida, doctors and patients and the truth.

—@JohnMorganEsq: Cathy Jordon passed away this week. With her brave help we legalized #MedicalMarijuana in Florida. And with her memory blazing we will pass recreational this year in Florida. Vote #YesOn3!!

@c350Zee: Here’s where Florida is about to drive the national issue on climate change bc textbook makers aren’t gonna make a Florida-only edition when we’re not putting up the money to buy

@DrBobMcClure: How time flies! When I first started, Myspace was the social media of choice, gas was $1.88 a gallon, and there was not a grey hair on my head. I would never have lasted this long without working with some of the smartest, most competent and kind people I have ever known.


Katy Perry’s ‘Woman’s World’ drops — 3; Republican National Convention begins — 6; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 15; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 18; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 18; Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday begins — 22; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 40; Democratic National Convention begins — 42; Florida Primary — 43; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon, begins — 44; second Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 48; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 48; Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday begins — 56; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 61; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 61; Vice Presidential Debate — 80; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 104; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 111; Florida TaxWatch’s 45th Annual Meeting — 119; 2024 Presidential Election — 120; second half of Yellowstone season five premieres — 125; Legislature’s 2025 Organizational Session — 134; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 134; ‘Mufasa: The Lion King’ premieres — 152; MLS Cup 2024 — 153; College Football Playoff begins — 166; Fiesta Bowl — 177; Peach, Rose & Sugar Bowls — 177; Orange Bowl — 185; Sugar Bowl — 187; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 221; the 2025 Oscars — 242; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 244; 2025 Session ends — 304; ‘Moana’ premieres — 351; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 385; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 385; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 492; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 530; ‘Avengers 5’ premieres — 666; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 683; FIFA World Cup 26™ final — 703; FIFA World Cup 26™ final match — 741; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 894; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,034; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 1,993; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,714.


Donald Trump running mate decision nears, with JD Vance, Marco Rubio at center of talks” via Marianne LeVine and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Rubio’s allies argue that the Cuban American Senator could help Trump make inroads with non-White voters; is telegenic; has valuable foreign policy experience; and is popular with some Republican donors. According to people familiar with the President’s thinking, Trump sees Rubio as a good messenger for his agenda.

While Trump and Rubio clashed sharply during the 2016 GOP Primary, with Trump nicknaming him “Little Marco” and Rubio calling the former President a “con man,” the two worked closely together while Trump was President, especially on U.S. foreign policy toward Latin American countries.

Donald Trump’s VP pick is coming soon.

One notable obstacle for Rubio is that he and Trump are Florida residents. Under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, a Florida elector can’t vote for the ticket if Trump and his running mate are both residents of the same state.

Democrats are already attacking Trump’s potential vice-presidential candidates more broadly and seeking to tie them closely to the top of the ticket, with the Democratic National Committee sending out regular emailed news releases about the Trump “MAGA Veepstakes.”

Last month, Trump was asked in Pennsylvania if he had picked a vice-presidential candidate.

“In my mind, yeah,” Trump replied, according to NBC News. He said he plans to announce his choice “right around the convention.”

“Maybe a little before, but could be at the convention,” Trump said. “We’ll have some great people.”

Rubio says Project 2025 doesn’t speak for Trump” via Mia McCarthy of POLITICO — “Think tanks do think tank stuff. They come up with ideas, they say things,” Rubio said in an interview with host Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But our candidate for President is Donald Trump.” Rubio was specifically asked about comments from the leader of Project 2025, Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts. In an interview with Steve Bannon’s “War Room,” Roberts said a “second American Revolution” will be bloodless “if the left allows it to be.” “Well, he’s not running for President, is he?” Rubio said when asked if he was comfortable with Roberts’ comments. “Our candidate’s Donald Trump. I didn’t see Donald Trump say that.”

—“‘That’s the reality’: Rubio backs Trump plan to nix abortion ban from GOP platform” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

—“Rubio points out problem with potential Harris-Newsom ticket as Joe Biden reels” via Danielle Wallace of Fox News

—“In choosing a V.P., Trump is elevating the next generation of Republicans” via Michael Bender of The New York Times


Jill Biden to visit Tampa Monday. Will she talk about her husband’s health?” via Kirby Wilson and Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — In a critical week during which Biden will try to fend off growing Democratic concerns that he is unfit to seek re-election, First Lady Jill Biden is coming to — of all places — Tampa. Details about Jill Biden‘s Monday event were sparse, with the campaign writing in an emailed news release Saturday that the particulars of the first lady’s event were yet to be announced.

Shot — “Biden thought he had it under control. Then it got worse.” via Michael Scherer, Tyler Pager and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post

Chaser — “Biden narrows gap with Trump in swing states despite debate loss” via Gregory Korte and Mark Niquette of Bloomberg

The buzz around Biden’s health grows louder.

Sen. Mark Warner works to gather Senate Democrats to ask Biden to exit race” via Leigh Ann Caldwell and Liz Goodman of The Washington Post — A number of tactics are being discussed as Senators with growing concerns are weighing the best way to relay their worries to the President. Among the options under consideration is a meeting at the White House between Senators and Biden. Even if some Senators do not want Biden to drop out, advocates for the meeting argue they could use that forum to air candid concerns in person. Though no sitting Democratic Senator has publicly called for Biden to step aside, they’ve privately shared increasing concerns with one another over the past week as they fight an already uphill battle to maintain the Senate majority.

Senior Democrats privately look for Biden to withdraw as he campaigns in Pennsylvania” via Luke Broadwater and Robert Jimison of The New York Times — The virtual session just before Congress returns to Washington Monday after a holiday recess gave Democratic members a chance to vent their concerns in a semiprivate manner at a time when Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and other high-level Democrats will have to decide how aggressive and public they want to be in elevating questions about the President, given his recent defiant statements. Jeffries can now go to Biden and tell him privately that many of his top lieutenants in the House do not believe he has a viable path to re-election. During a virtual meeting convened by Jeffries, the minority leader, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, and at least one other senior Democrat said they believed it was time for Biden to exit the race.

—”As Biden digs in, more supporters look to push him out” via Katie Glueck, Nicholas Nehamas and Lisa Lerer of The New York Times

‘Blitz Primary’ could open up Democratic race if Biden drops out” via Morgan Chalfant of Semafor — A pair of well-connected Democrats is offering an optimistic plan that would involve the President stepping down as the nominee and the party announcing a “blitz Primary” process ahead of the August convention. Their idea goes something like this: Biden would step down as the Democratic nominee in mid-July and announce the new system. Potential candidates would have a few days to throw their respective hats in the ring. The Democratic Party then would begin a Primary sprint in which the six candidates who receive the most votes from delegates pledge to run positive-only campaigns in the month leading up to the convention. The “blitz Primary” would involve weekly forums with each candidate moderated by cultural icons (Michelle Obama, Oprah, and Taylor Swift are among the names floated in the memo) to engage voters. The nominee would ultimately be chosen by the delegates using ranked choice voting before the start of the Chicago convention on Aug. 19.

—“Donors pledge $2 million for ‘mini-Primary’ if Biden drops out” via Theodoric Meyer of The Washington Post

These obscure Democrats could soon become kingmakers” via Nick Corasaniti and Taylor Robinson of The New York Times — They are lawyers and School Board members, labor activists and faith leaders, lifelong Democrats and party newcomers. Some of them just turned 18, others are pushing 80. These people make up the 3,939 delegates to the Democratic National Convention. In the event Biden drops out, they would be vaulted from the obscurity of extras at a quadrennial television extravaganza into a group with the fate of the party — and, in the view of many Democrats, the future of the country — on their shoulders. Many are loath to even consider that as an option, remaining steadfastly loyal to the President as he affirms his commitment to remaining in the race. And some find themselves overwhelmed by the possibility.

Some Biden Florida donors worry about candidate’s age, ability” via Nina Moske and Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — Even as Biden, 81, held a rally Friday where he vowed he would stay in the race, Floridians who have contributed to the President’s re-election effort in recent weeks are less sure. The Tampa Bay Times spoke with 10 of Biden’s donors in Florida and found they are grappling with the same questions as Democrats around the country: To beat Trump in November, is it time for Biden to step aside? So far, Biden has dug in his heels. Relatively few Democratic leaders, donors and operatives have publicly urged him to drop out of the race. But the debate performance raised serious questions among even some of Biden’s biggest fans.

‘The stakes are far too high’: Shevrin Jones urges Dems to keep backing Biden” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — One shaky night behind a debate lectern shouldn’t discourage Democrats from supporting Biden’s campaign for a second White House term, according to state Sen. Jones. Jones, a Miami Gardens Democrat and Biden campaign surrogate, said progressives must be steadfast behind the incumbent. He added that Biden’s accomplishments, when contrasted with Trump’s divisive rhetoric and felony convictions, should make deciding between the two a no-brainer this November. “Joe Biden will be remembered as one of our best, most impactful Presidents — a two-term President,” Jones said.

Shevrin Jones stands tall for Biden. Image via Colin Hackley/Florida Politics.

— “Alan Clendenin calls on Biden to leave presidential race, Kamala Harris to carry Democrats’ torch” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics

Trump to hold rally in Doral on Tuesday” via Owen Girard of Florida’s Voice — Trump will hold a rally in Doral on Tuesday evening at the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort. “President Trump will underscore how Joe Biden’s failed presidency is having catastrophic consequences on Floridians and Americans alike,” Trump’s campaign said. Doors will open at 2 p.m. and the rally is expected to start at 7 p.m. “Florida families are being smothered by high inflation on everyday goods, with prices up across the state by 21.4% since Biden took office,” the campaign said. “Biden’s lies about the state of our economy have been costly for Floridian households, who have lost  $28,812 on average each year.”

Poll: Young voters in 12 states, including Florida, think Trump’s felonies disqualify him” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Under-30 voters in a dozen states — including Florida — are further souring on Trump’s candidacy in the wake of damaging court verdicts against the former President, newly released polling figures show. Seventy-four percent of voters 18-29 in Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin think Trump, as a convicted felon, shouldn’t be allowed near the White House again. That includes a majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents, according to Washington-based public research firm The Generation Lab, which surveyed 1,080 young voters in early June for Voters of Tomorrow, a Generation Z-led progressive election engagement organization.

— 2024 — FLORIDA —

“‘Pot Daddy’ John Morgan is face of new million-dollar ad campaign for recreational marijuana ballot measure” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Smart & Safe Florida is spending $1.1 million on the dual one-minute radio ads that feature Morgan, who is already ubiquitous on the television and radio airwaves due to his near-constant ads promoting his law firm. Morgan had agreed to become the “voice” of the effort. Recreational marijuana needs a “yes” vote from 60% of voters in November to pass. One of the radio ads featuring Morgan has a July 4 feel to it by noting that “nearly 250 years ago our nation declared our independence. Now it’s time for us to declare independence from laws that demand jail time for simply having or consuming marijuana.” A second ad entitled “Criminal Justice” contends that the amendment’s passage will allow the police to “fight real crime, not fake crime.”

John Morgan lends a little star power to recreational marijuana.

Abortion rights supporters won’t get their amendment passed without Republican women like Audrey McNiff” via Gabby Deutch of POLITICO Magazine — McNiff’s activism on this issue is particularly powerful because, despite her commitment to abortion rights, she is not a Democrat. In fact, she’s a lifelong Republican. “During my meaningful years, Roe v. Wade was enforced. For me, my girlfriends, my relatives, my girlfriends’ relatives, we always felt that there was some protection if we ever needed to make that difficult decision to have an abortion,” McNiff said. “It was a choice that I had, and I want to make sure that other generations have that choice as well.” That makes the retired banker a window into not just how Amendment 4 might pass in Florida but also into how widespread the support for abortion rights in both parties — and how that might not actually end up helping Democrats in elections.

GOP, Rick Scott struggle to navigate politics of IVF” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It’s an election-year battle that has U.S. Sen. Scott touting himself in new ads as a “grandpa” who supports in vitro fertilization and Democrats traveling the state with a 20-foot-tall inflatable IUD. In the post-Roe era, Florida voters are likely to hear a lot more about birth control and fertility treatments, the latest fronts in a fierce fight over abortion and reproductive rights. Even anti-abortion politicians like Scott are anxious to distance themselves from the less popular stances some abortion opponents are taking. At the same time, Democrats raise the specter that IVF and contraception could indeed be targeted if Republicans win in November. “He’s basically doing what is politically convenient for him right now and not what Floridians’ values represent,” said Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat running to unseat Scott. “He’s trying to win his re-election. He understands he is facing a real threat.”

— 2024 — DOWN-BALLOT —

Super PAC Fight For Florida launches with ad boosting Mike Haridopolos” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A new super PAC is out with an ad supporting Haridopolos’ bid for Congress. It hits as the Fight For Florida PAC launches independently from Haridopolos’ campaign. “Mike Haridopolos is a proven leader who will fight for Florida’s 8th Congressional District and bring Florida values to Washington,” said Fight for Florida PAC Senior Advisor Chris Hartline. “Fight for Florida PAC will help reintroduce Mike to voters in his district, highlight his record of championing the needs of Floridians in the state Legislature, and emphasize how he will fight for them in Congress. We’re confident he’ll have a big win in the August Primary and the November General Election and will support his efforts every step of the way.”

To watch the ad, please click the image below:


—2024 — DOWN-BALLOT 2 —

Orlando-area state Senate candidate charged with $48K theft from HOA” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — A candidate for a Lake County-based state Senate seat is charged with stealing $47,722 from a homeowners association whose finances she managed and is facing trial in September. Cheryl Blancett, who goes by CJ, has been charged with grand theft of $20,000 or more, a second-degree felony. The charges were first reported by VoxPopuli, a website that covers West Orange County news. The alleged offenses occurred in 2018 and 2019 while Blancett was managing finances for Sawgrass Estates in east Orange County. Blancett, 63, said Friday in a text that her attorneys had advised her not to discuss the case. “The bogus case against me was filed maliciously and lacking probable cause,” she wrote. “I feel the filing was politically motivated.”

Cheryl Blancett is no fan of her HOA. Image via Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Dem shift blocks Tom Fabricio’s automatic re-election A last-minute race change has prevented Fabricio, a two-term Republican lawmaker, from winning re-election unopposed for a second consecutive time. Democrat Stanley Jean-Poix, a retired police lieutenant, said he shifted his candidacy from House District 107 to District 110 after a “strategic request from the Florida Democratic Party.” State records show he filed for the change on June 13, one day before the qualifying deadline. He went from being one of seven Democrats in HD 107 to Fabricio’s lone opponent in HD 110, a Miami-Dade district spanning Miami Lakes, Palm Springs North and Hialeah. “The decision to shift my campaign was not made lightly, especially given my deep connections and commitments to the constituents of District 110,” Jean-Poix said. “However, the opportunity to expand our Democratic impact and bring about significant change in District 110 is essential for our shared goals of community advancement and political balance.”

Happening this week:


Group seeks to resurrect lawsuit against Ron DeSantis over migrant flights” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO — The group that sued DeSantis over flights sending undocumented migrants from the southern border to Martha’s Vineyard wants another shot at the Republican’s administration in federal court. An attorney representing the migrants on Thursday asked a Massachusetts court to once again take up the case alleging that the Republican Governor, as well as current and former top aides, misled some 50 migrants as a publicity stunt. Seeking to revive the legal challenge that was scaled back by a judge in April, the group made several tweaks attempting to more clearly tie the DeSantis administration to the controversial operation.

Health department data captured in cyberattack, hackers claim” via Lawrence Mower, Romy Ellenbogen and Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — A hacker group claims it has breached the Florida Department of Health and gained access to a large amount of potentially sensitive data on Floridians. The RansomHub ransomware group said in a post on the dark web that it will release 100 gigabytes of department data unless the state pays an undisclosed amount of money.

Hackers say the Florida Department of Health data was breached.

Textbook authors told climate change references must be cut to get Florida’s OK” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Textbook authors were told last month that some references to “climate change” must be removed from science books before they could be accepted for use in Florida’s public schools. A high school biology book also had to add citations to back up statements that “human activity” caused climate change and cut a “political statement” urging governments to take action to stop climate change, said Ken Miller, the co-author of that textbook and a professor emeritus of biology at Brown University. Both Miller and a second author who asked not to be identified said they learned of the state-directed changes from their publishers, who received phone calls in June from state officials. But according to his publisher, a 90-page section on climate change was removed from its high school chemistry textbook and the phrase was removed from middle school science books, he said.

Florida Republicans protected insurance companies from competition. Florida homeowners are now paying higher prices” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — In 2007, Florida fundamentally changed its home insurance market. It involved Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. Like any other insurance company, Citizens was legally required to set rates that were “actuarily sound.” However, unlike any other insurance company, Citizens was also forced to set higher rates than everyone else. It was nakedly anti-competitive protection for the for-profit insurance industry. It did not want to be undercut on price by a nonprofit alternative free of shareholders demanding a return on their investment. And it forced many Floridians to pay higher-than-necessary prices to insure their homes.

Changes at American Coastal Insurance after Florida OIR action on ‘No-Fly List’” via William Rabb of Insurance Journal

‘I already work my max hours’: Study finds Floridians must work 100 hours a week to afford housing with minimum wage” via Marilyn Parker of WFLA — Some say it’s almost impossible to find an affordable house in Florida. A new report from the National Low Income Housing Commission finds that the average person working for minimum wage in Florida must work around 100 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom home in the state. “I already work my max hours; if I get another job on top of school, I’m dead,” Andrew Cevasco said. Leah Miller works in affordable housing and said she doesn’t know how people are ever going to be able to afford their own housing and ever get out of the rental market. “I believe it, it’s this, that’s the sad thing is that today’s wages are not at all equal to what it costs to live here,” Miller said. “Prices are increasing because wages need to go up. And it’s just hard to find that balance. And I’m not sure what needs to give.”

Medicaid managed care plans popped with more than $33M in liquidated damages last year” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — The Florida agency that oversees Medicaid imposed more than $33 million in sanctions against the health plans responsible for providing coverage in the past fiscal year. Data culled by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) shows that as of June 28, the agency took 288 final actions during the fiscal year that started on July 1, 2023. All but one of those final actions resulted in liquidated damages, totaling $33.2 million. Even though Medicaid is financed through state and federal tax dollars, most of the program is run through privately held companies with contracts with the state to offer Medicaid coverage. The AHCA data shows that Sunshine Health had the most final actions taken against it with 36, followed by UnitedHealthcare with 35 and Humana Medical Plan with 33.

Medicaid fraud unit becomes fourth body to reject ‘Tooth Fairy’ case” via Florida Politics — Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) has turned down a case into Jacksonville dentist Howard Fetner, citing a lack of new evidence. That marks the fourth local or state body to reject the case, which alleges that Fetner — along with five employees of a dental management company Fetner was running — may have committed Medicaid billing fraud worth up to $1.3 million. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office (SAO) originally looked into the allegations, which garnered flashy headlines dubbing it the “Tooth Fairy case.” But the Miami-Dade SAO dropped the charges last year after failing to find sufficient evidence of fraud, with the accused dentists dubbing the probe a political witch hunt.

New law will require transparency for red light cameras. Some Florida cities are making a killing” via Daniel Rivero of WLRN — In the tiny city of West Miami, the sound of a red light camera shutter might as well sound like a cash register. Every month, the town of about 7,000 residents regularly snaps thousands of automated photos of people suspected of violating traffic laws. The money derived from six red light cameras amounts to more than 15% of the city’s total revenue, far higher than most other cities that run the programs. The cameras are expected to generate a total of $1.45 million in revenue for the city this year, making them the second largest source of funds, after property taxes. The total estimated revenue for the city this year is $9.2 million. As a new law requiring more transparency for red light camera programs comes into effect, WLRN has analyzed data for South Florida cities, which make up about half the cities in Florida that operate the programs.


Judge Aileen Cannon grants Trump’s request to pause some deadlines in classified documents case amid immunity questions” via Lisa Rubin and Megan Lebowitz of NBC News — U.S. District Judge Cannon on Saturday granted Trump’s request for further briefing on the issue of presidential immunity in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case and delayed certain deadlines. In the order, Cannon afforded special counsel Jack Smith the right, but not the obligation, to file a submission on the use of classified information at trial. At the same time, she paused two upcoming deadlines for Trump and his co-defendants. Smith’s brief is now due on July 18, and a reply from Trump’s team is due on July 21.

Matt Gaetz and Kyle Rittenhouse advocate for gun rights at Florida rally” via Sha’De Ray of WEAR — U.S. Rep. Gaetz attended a gun rights rally on Saturday. The Congressman also brought out two guest speakers, one of them being Second Amendment rights activist Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse said he’s an outreach director for Texas Gun Rights. “Fighting for our God-given rights because our constitution was based on biblical principles not a lot of people recognize that I am fighting for the second amendment,” Rittenhouse said. “I am putting pressure on different politicians that don’t do the right thing as you know. When people in politics do the wrong thing, the grassroots like to spring up and will come after you. That’s part of what I’ve been doing fighting to keep all rights sacred.”

Matt Gaetz offers supporters a special guest.

This American company lectures on social justice while funding groups linked to global terrorism” via Matt Mackowiak of Townhall — Patagonia is renowned not only for its quality outdoor gear but also for its outspoken stance on environmental and social issues, often pushing progressive policies and criticizing conservative ones. However, this self-righteous posturing hides the unsettling reality of Patagonia’s hypocrisy, as it funds groups linked to global terrorism while lecturing Americans on social and environmental justice. Since 2016, Patagonia has sent over $139,000 to the Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ), linked to Palestinian terrorist groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). This raises urgent moral questions for any organization receiving funding from Patagonia. Groups like Captains for Clean Water, which aims to restore and protect Florida’s water resources, should disavow Patagonia’s actions and return the funding.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

DeSantis keeps a safe distance from Broward appointees” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — You can study your Broward sample ballot all day long and you won’t see the name DeSantis anywhere. He’s not on the August Primary ballot, but he’s in the background. DeSantis altered the course of public education in Broward and he could again. Two DeSantis appointees to the Broward School Board will face voters for the first time on Aug. 20. Republicans Torey Alston and Daniel Foganholi were both appointed by DeSantis to represent solidly Democratic districts. Alston replaced one of four Board members DeSantis suspended in 2022 following the release of a grand jury report that sharply criticized the Board’s record on construction and school safety. Foganholi was appointed instead of a candidate who won his election but whose eligibility was challenged because of a past felony conviction.

Daniella Levine Cava campaign crosses $5M raised toward re-election as Miami-Dade Mayor” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — After a haul of roughly $650,000 in June, Levine Cava says she has now amassed more than $5.2 million to defend her job as Miami-Dade County Mayor. Levine Cava’s camp said nearly 4,000 individual contributions have flown into her campaign account and political committee, Our Democracy, since she made history in 2020 as Miami-Dade’s first woman Mayor. That includes 1,500 contributions under $100 and an average donation of $300. A tally Florida Politics conducted of Levine Cava’s fundraising numbers since December 2020 — not counting the second half of June 2024, which pends reporting — found Levine Cava’s team may have undercounted her gains. Through mid-June, county campaign finance records show she raised $5.49 million.

—“Ken Griffin gives $500,000 to back Miami-Dade’s Democratic Mayor” via Anna J Kaiser of Bloomberg

Daniella Levine Cava reaches another fundraising milestone. Image via Daniella Levine Cava for Mayor.

Miami’s State Attorney announces changes in her office as misconduct allegations swarm” via Brittany Wallman of the Miami Herald — Amid a growing chorus of complaints that state prosecutors are cheating in court to “win at all costs,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said her office is reviewing allegations of misconduct and reassigning some prosecutors and will create a forum for vetting “systemic” issues facing the criminal justice system in this county. Fernandez Rundle’s comments to the Miami Herald came just hours after she met with representatives of the Miami chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, who’d handed her a binder of misconduct allegations six weeks ago. Defense lawyers said prosecutors’ misbehavior robs defendants of a fair trial and could lead to an innocent person being framed.

Bryan Paz-Hernandez celebrates knocking on 4,000 doors for Miami-Dade Commission bid” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — High school teacher Paz-Hernandez is celebrating a grassroots milestone this week. He said he and his campaign team have now knocked on more than 4,000 doors in the Miami-Dade Commission district, which he hopes to serve at County Hall after this year’s election. Paz-Hernandez is also blasting his incumbent opponent, Rob Gonzalez, for skipping a recent forum featuring him and another District 11 candidate that a local homeowners’ association held last month. He said his broad outreach efforts and willingness to discuss his vision for Miami-Dade’s future, contrasting with Gonzalez’s apparent reticence, should sway voters his way.

Women are sex objects in sadomasochistic novel by man hired to train Miami prosecutors” via Brittany Wallman and Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — A lawyer who was just hired to train young prosecutors at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office is the recent author of a Rated-R novel with sadomasochistic themes depicting women as sex objects and a transgender woman as an “it,” a “he-beast” and “the thing.” “Explore a woman’s desire for submission as she stands accused of being the infamous “Sex Toy Killer,” the book blurb says. Last week, Steve Gosney was sworn in as a new hire for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, run by Katherine Fernandez Rundle. He was hired amid a slate of changes Fernandez Rundle made in response to judicial findings and defense lawyers’ complaints that some of her prosecutors violate the legal rules of criminal court. Gosney told a social media audience that the state attorney liked his “passion for ethics.”

Palm Beach County State Attorney candidates tout their years of experience” via Abigail Hasebroock of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Many candidates are now in the running to become Palm Beach County’s top prosecutor, filling the seat being vacated by longtime State Attorney Dave Aronberg. After serving three terms, Aronberg isn’t seeking re-election. Facing off in the Aug. 20 Primary will be three Democrats, Alexcia Cox, Gregg S. Lerman and Craig Williams, and two Republicans, Forrest Freedman and Sam Stern. The Primary winners will advance to the Nov. 5 General Election, where Adam Farkas, a candidate with no party affiliation, also will be on the ballot. At a recent forum, the five Primary candidates each answered questions describing their qualifications, strengths and weaknesses, and why voters should pick them.

Inspector general stands by claim that ex-City Manager violated Fort Lauderdale charter” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The county’s ethics watchdog stands by its claim that Greg Chavarria — who until recently was top boss at Fort Lauderdale City Hall — violated a charter rule that requires city managers to live in town. The Broward Office of the Inspector General says it considered arguments made by the Mayor and Chavarria’s attorney but remained unswayed. On April 2, Chavarria announced plans to resign from his $291,000-a-year job on June 1, citing personal reasons. Investigators used SunPass records to substantiate an allegation that Chavarria did not appear to live in Fort Lauderdale until September 2023 — 14 months after he took over as city manager. The Inspector General concluded that Chavarria in engaged in criminal misconduct when he changed his address with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to that of a condo that was not his legal residence.

David Rivera wants to go to Venezuela for presidential election. But Miami indictment in his way” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — Rivera, a former Miami-Dade Congressman who built his reputation on bashing the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, wants to travel to Venezuela for work as a consultant for an opposition candidate challenging Venezuela’s socialist President in the upcoming election. But the Republican has a slight problem. Rivera has been indicted in Miami on charges of being an unregistered foreign agent for President Nicolas Maduro’s government, stemming from his work as a consultant to help the U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, improve its tarnished image in the United States. A Miami federal judge now must decide whether Rivera can make the trip, a request that prosecutors will strongly oppose.

David Rivera’s plans have changed.

A billionaire-backed group is trying to get rid of Florida’s largest teachers’ union” via McKenna Schueler of Caring Class Revolt — A new teachers “union” that is reportedly financed at least in part by the anti-union Freedom Foundation will soon appear on the ballot with the United Teachers of Dade, an existing teachers union in Miami-Dade County that represents nearly 24,000 public school educators and school staff. United Teachers of Dade, the largest local teachers union in the state, was recently forced to petition the state for an election to recertify due to consequences of a state law in Florida approved last year. Specifically, the union was forced to petition for recertification after reporting less than 60% dues-paying membership in annual paperwork — a threshold they’re now required to meet under Florida law to remain certified. The new “union” — the Miami Dade Education Coalition — boasts itself as a viable alternative that wants to replace United Teachers of Dade.

Lewis, Longman & Walker heads into fourth decade of practice by focusing on new blood” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Half a dozen lawyers have been added to Lewis, Longman & Walker, and firm leaders say by intention they’re aiming for some younger legal eagles. Two more lawyers are set to be added in the Fall when more younger lawyers might be added to the roster. “Our ability to grow and evolve is more than a matter of professional pride,” said LLW President and Shareholder Michelle Diffenderfer. “It sends a strong message to current and future clients that we are building on our past and adapting for the future.” In addition to staff additions, Lewis, Longman & Walker is looking to celebrate its 30th anniversary by holding a reception at a special event on Marco Island later this month. The event will occur during the 38th Annual Environmental Permitting School in Collier County.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Ahead of new Florida homelessness law, Orlando area weighs more shelters” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — With just three months until a law kicks in rewriting how Florida deals with its homeless, local governments across Central Florida are confronting an urgent need to shelter more of the fast-growing number of people sleeping outside. On Oct. 1, cities and counties will be required to enforce bans on sleeping on public property, including the sidewalks and parks where many unsheltered individuals often spend the night. That is leading to fears law enforcement may be pressured to arrest them. Come Jan. 1, local governments could face legal action from residents, businesses, or the attorney general for failing to comply with the new law. While the law allows the construction of so-called sanctioned encampments, none of Central Florida’s local governments have said they plan to do so. Such campsites are allowed if a county doesn’t have adequate shelter space, but the law places detailed and expensive parameters on those sites without adequate state funding to support them.

Orlando is looking to give some (more) shelter.

Fired employee: Osceola sheriff leered at nude photo rather than disciplining deputy who shared it” via Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — A fired Osceola County deputy is accusing Sheriff Marcos Lopez of “a troubling pattern of selective enforcement and protection of his allies,” claiming Lopez made lewd comments to a subordinate who shared a nude photo of a fellow employee rather than disciplining him. The accusations made by Samantha Sanchez emerge from a letter she submitted for an evidentiary hearing with an Appeals Board. This comes nearly a year after she reported her ex-boyfriend and alleged Lopez friend Alex Valentin for domestic violence, for which he is now being prosecuted in Orange County. Among her charges is that Lopez, a married man, told Valentin upon seeing the nude photo of a civilian employee that he would “f the crap out of her,” according to what appears to be a screenshot of a text conversation between the two men. It violates state law to share such a photo without consent, although the recipient of the photo is not liable.

Ex-Orange County school counselor sues, claiming she worked in ‘rat-filled’ classroom and was unfairly fired” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — A former Apopka school counselor is suing for $200,000 and accusing Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) of ostracizing her by sending to work in a rat-filled portable classroom before unfairly firing her. Donna Williams Mathurin, who is Black and age 56, blamed age and racial discrimination age for why her $65,598-a-year contract wasn’t renewed this year. School officials denied her claims made in the federal lawsuit. “While the district does not comment on specifics included in any complaints, we deny any allegations of unlawful discrimination and look forward to the opportunity to vigorously defend our position against any allegations,” OCPS spokesperson Michael Ollendorff said. Florida Politics requested a copy of her personnel file, but the School District declined to release it, saying it was not a public record.

Orange County TDT hits $28M, with highs and lows” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — In the theme park capital of the world, the hotel tax revenue hit about $28.4 million for May. For Orange County officials, the latest tourist development tax (TDT) update seems to be a mixed bag whether Orlando’s tourism industry is growing or declining. “May 2024 collections were higher than May 2023 collections by $2.2 million or 8.3%,” Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said in a news release. “Compared to last month, May collections were lower than April collections by $1.9 million or 6.3%. On a fiscal year-to-date basis, collections are down by $1.1 million or 0.4%.”

Hoteliers announce bipartisan slate of endorsements in state, local races” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — A powerful hospitality lobbying group from Central Florida is releasing a new set of endorsements for upcoming state and local races. The Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association’s (CFHLA) PAC and PC is recommending a group of Democrats and Republicans. “We are confident that if elected, each of these candidates will be champions for policy solutions that not only support the hospitality industry and its workforce, but the continued vitality of our state and local community,” said Robert Agrusa, the association’s CEO and President. “We strongly encourage our members to stand with each of these candidates who will fight to keep Central Florida the best place to work, play, live and visit.”

Vice Mayor Scott Stiltner, conservationist Derek LaMontagne vie for Port Orange Mayor” via Brenno Carillo of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — On Aug. 20’s ballot, Port Orange residents will decide on a new Mayor. Current Mayor Don Burnette is running for the Volusia County Chair’s job. Current Vice Mayor and City Council District 4 representative Stiltner is vying to take his place and is facing off against LaMontagne. But that’s not all as far as changes in Port Orange. City Council District 3 representative Drew Bastian can’t run again due to term limits and that seat will also see a new member: Barry Pitek or Shawn Goepfert. Stiltner’s seat is also now open and being contested by Joseph Mialki III and Lance Green.

Don Burnette looks to go elsewhere; a battle brews at home.

Polk County approves public notices both online and in newspapers” via Paul Nutcher of The Lakeland Ledger — The Polk County Commission passed four measures regarding public notices on Tuesday that will change how it disseminates public information about pending government decisions. A public hearing on an ordinance allowed public notices to appear online instead of publishing them in newspapers. That ordinance passed unanimously, as did three other measures. The Board also unanimously approved three additional items in a group vote without discussion to further change the publishing of public notices in multimedia formats. Traditionally published inside print newspapers, legal notices announce upcoming agenda items at public meetings, tax increases, sheriff’s auctions and many other notifications of pending actions by government agencies within the newspaper’s area of circulation.

Could Disney+ derail a wrongful-death lawsuit after a woman died at Disney World?” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — To fight a wrongful-death lawsuit, Disney is bringing its Disney+ and My Disney Experience App service terms as ammunition into the court case. It’s a move that might surprise the millions of people who subscribe to watch their favorite Disney movies or make a reservation at the theme park using the app. The suit stems from a woman whose family says she died from her severe food allergies on her Disney World vacation. The woman’s widower, Jeffrey Piccolo, was a Disney+ subscriber in 2019 and had Walt Disney World tickets linked in his My Disney Experience App for his wife’s fatal trip last year.


New independent poll shows overwhelming support for Rays stadium deal” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — A new survey shows overwhelming support for the Tampa Bay Rays stadium deal, with limited opposition. The poll, conducted by SEA Polling among 400 likely St. Pete voters, found that 57% of respondents either strongly or somewhat support the deal, while only 36% strongly or somewhat oppose the deal. Friends of Gina Driscoll, the political committee supporting City Council member Gina Driscoll, commissioned the survey. The overall poll asked several questions, including about residents’ top issues facing the city, their preferences in local municipal elections and whether they thought the city was heading in the right direction.

The support is better than you may think.

Ruth’s List Florida backs ‘sane leader’ Patricia Alonzo in long shot Hillsborough County Commission bid” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Ruth’s List Florida, a group that supports pro-choice Democratic women for office, is backing Alonzo in her race for District 2 on the Hillsborough County Commission. Alonzo is mounting a long-shot bid that likely pits her against incumbent Ken Hagan, a Republican who has served for over two decades. Ruth’s List backed Alonzo as part of a trio of endorsements, including Laura Kelley for House District 111 in Miami-Dade County and Anne Douglas for Orange County School Board. While Alonzo faces an uphill battle defeating a longtime incumbent with a funding advantage, the group sees a path to victory. “Laura Kelley, Anne Douglas, and Patricia Alonzo are strong leaders in their communities,” Ruth’s List Florida CEO Christina Diamond said.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

FSU makes Top 3 in performance-based funding metrics; FAMU on ‘watch list’” via Tarah Jean of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State and Florida A&M universities both show a drop in their performance-based funding (PBF) metric scores this year, with FAMU being on the Board of Governors’ “watch list.” But in spite of FSU’s drop, it maintains its Top Three status in the Florida State University System — tied with the University of South Florida for the third highest scores — along with the University of Florida coming in second place and Florida International University in the lead. The board met on the University of Central Florida’s campus last week to discuss this year’s metrics, where the 12 universities in the state’s system are judged on how well they perform in 10 categories designated by the board for a possible 100 points.

FAMU makes the grade — again.


Lee Commission candidate Matthew Thornton releases redacted military document to prove service” via Eric Daugherty of Florida’s Voice — GOP Lee County Commission District 3 candidate Thornton has been embroiled in a local controversy surrounding his military service, and on Friday released his separation document to the public, known as a DD214, to put speculation to bed. The release comes after Florida’s Voice News Director Anita Padilla pressed Thornton for the documents to go public, as he had been claiming a year of service in the U.S. military. With outgoing state Rep. Spencer Roach, Padilla recalled her recent conversation with Thornton and how he said he was released from the U.S. Coast Guard due to knee injuries. “Did he say he’s going to get [the DD214] to you?” Roach asked.

Matt Thorton’s military service has come into question.


Biden’s defiant delusion” via David Axelrod of CNN — Early in the interview Friday, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Biden if he had watched his disastrous June 27 debate with Donald Trump that has created an existential crisis for the Biden campaign.

The President paused and appeared to search his memory. “I don’t think I did. No,” he said quietly.

Biden could be excused for wanting to put his awful debate performance in the rearview mirror. That was his purpose Friday in sitting down for the interview — to try and quell the panic that has gripped the Democratic Party.

He didn’t succeed.

To be sure, the President turned in a more energetic performance than he had on that woeful debate night, when he sometimes appeared lost and incoherent. In the interview, he stoutly touted his record and assailed Trump’s character in a fashion his supporters had hoped he would on the debate stage.

“Well, it came to me I was having a bad night when I realized that even when I was answering a question, even though they turned his mic off, he was still shouting. And I let it distract me … I realized I wasn’t in control.”

That, in a nutshell, is the Republican attack. That an aged Biden is not in control, and that’s why his debate misfire was so devastating.

When Stephanopoulos asked the President if he would take an independent medical evaluation, complete with neurological and cognitive exams and release the results, Biden demurred and deflected.

“I take a cognitive test every day,” he said, pointing to the taxing duties of the presidency.

Maybe, but most Americans, having watched him lately, would grade him poorly on that score.


The conspiracy of silence to protect Biden” via Olivia Nuzzi of New York magazine — Those who encountered the President in social settings sometimes left their interactions disturbed. Longtime friends of the Biden family were shocked to find that the President did not remember their names. At a White House event last year, a guest recalled, with horror, realizing that the President would not be able to stay for the reception because it was clear he would not be able to make it through the reception. The guest wasn’t sure they could vote for Biden since the guest was now open to an idea that they had previously dismissed as right-wing propaganda: The President may not really be the acting President after all.

I’ve defended Biden for years. Now, I’m asking him to withdraw” via Bill Scher of Washington Monthly — I wasn’t inclined to say that Biden couldn’t win because of his advanced age. Last year, I argued the opposite — as with every other incumbent in the past 100 years, Biden was likely to be re-elected as long as the economy kept improving, which it has. But the CNN debate and Biden’s feeble attempts at damage control after the debate have irrevocably altered the political landscape. The risk of continuing the campaign is too great. Biden should withdraw. The problem is that Biden wasted that time, avoiding unscripted public events for seven days after the debate debacle, save for a couple of radio interviews that aired yesterday. Now he’s farther behind in the polls with no clear path to recovery.

It’s time to get used to the idea of President Kamala Harris” via David Rothkopf of the Daily Beast — Harris has notable advantages over other candidates: She is already Vice President and offers continuity with the current administration, so it would be easier for her to maintain access to funds raised for the Biden-Harris campaign; she has strong and growing support from party leaders; and she is already the acknowledged leader within the administration on issues likely to be decisive in the campaign, such as women’s reproductive freedom. Indeed, while Harris got off to a low-key start as Vice President — in part because some close to Biden made the mistake of too tightly limiting her responsibilities during the first years of the administration — in the past year, she has enjoyed great success with a much higher profile role.

Jim Clyburn is right about what Democrats should do next” via Ezra Klein of The New York Times — The most important comment I saw a Democrat make last week was from Rep. Clyburn, the South Carolina elder statesman who saved Biden’s campaign in 2020 and is one of its co-Chairs in 2024. In an interview on CNN, Clyburn said that if Biden leaves the race, the party should hold “a mini-Primary.” If Democrats need to choose another candidate, they need to make the process as competitive and open as possible. Harris would be the front-runner, and there’s a good case to be made that she’s underrated. But she needs to prove her mettle. To anoint her because it would minimize conflict would be madness. Democrats have spent so much time imagining what could go wrong if Biden steps down that they struggle to imagine what could go right. But this is a party suffused with talent. This is a party that knows how to win where it needs to win.

DeSantis, I urge you to reconsider slashing arts funding in Florida” via Jorge Pérez for the Miami Herald — Like countless other Floridians, I was shocked to learn that DeSantis had made the shortsighted decision to eliminate more than $32 million in arts and culture grants from our state’s forthcoming budget. I couldn’t disagree more with DeSantis’ view that these cuts were made in “the best interests” of the state. With his decision, the Governor is actively working against the cultural framework so many of us have dedicated our lives to building. He also sends a dangerous message to the state’s many city and county governments: the arts are not worth our time or money. Nothing could be further from the truth. Benefiting everything from public art museums to youth and senior-focused programs, these dollars are a critical lifeline for long-running and nascent arts organizations from Miami to Jacksonville. These initiatives touch the lives of millions of people of all ages — giving them hope, widening their horizons and inspiring immense creativity. It is no overstatement to say the arts are a foundational part of our society.

Why DeSantis vetoed a farmworker housing bill passed unanimously by state lawmakers” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — DeSantis always defaults to cruelty. This has recently taken the form of a DeSantis veto of legislation that was passed unanimously by both houses of the Florida Legislature. The vote was 113-0 in the House and 34-0 in the Senate. The bill made it easier for the state’s agricultural industry to provide the necessary living accommodations to import “legally verified agricultural workers” to pick Florida’s crops. The bill became necessary, in part, because of the stringent immigrant labor law that DeSantis signed last year.

Electric companies eye increases, foreshadowing dark time for Florida consumers” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Two major Florida electric companies are asking regulators to sign off on substantial rate increases that would affect about 3 million customers, drawing objections from consumer advocates and watchdogs who believe those hikes are based on unneeded spending sprees, place too much of a burden on poor people and are flat-out unfair for two companies that already charge among the highest residential rates in the nation. The proposed increases from Duke Energy and Tampa Electric are remarkable in their own right. But the possible rate hikes also foreshadow a more costly future for millions of other residents serviced by Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest utility, which is expected to ask for higher rates next year.

Pinellas’ smart approach to Florida’s homeless camping ban” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — A new state law that takes effect in October could make it even harder for the homeless to get by in Florida. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is rightly getting a jump on what could be the best possible response. The new law bars cities and counties from allowing anyone “to regularly engage in public camping or sleeping” overnight on any public property, including public buildings or grounds, such as parks and the right of way. Under some conditions, local governments may designate a piece of public property as a camping ground, but they must provide these sites with basic amenities, such as security and sanitation. The law also authorizes local residents, businesses, and the state Attorney General to take civil court action against cities and counties that fail to enforce the statute.


— ALOE —

Pongamia trees grow where citrus once flourished, offering renewable energy, plant-based protein” via The Associated Press — An ancient tree from India is now thriving in groves where citrus trees once flourished in Florida, and could help provide the nation with renewable energy. As large parts of the Sunshine State’s once-famous citrus industry have all but dried up over the past two decades because of two fatal diseases, greening and citrus canker, some farmers are turning to the pongamia tree, a climate-resilient tree with the potential to produce plant-based proteins and a sustainable biofuel. For years, pongamia has been used for shade trees, producing legumes — little brown beans — that are so bitter wild hogs won’t even eat them. But unlike the orange and grapefruit trees that long occupied these rural Florida groves northwest of West Palm Beach, pongamia trees don’t need much attention.

Pongamia are the new citrus. Image via AP/Marta Lavandier.


Best wishes to Rep. Juan Carlos Porras, as well as Republican super activist Peter Cracchiolo, Sebastian Leon, Doug Mannheimer, and Kareem Spratling.


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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