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Here’s why Rick Baker’s latest ads are so awful

How awful are mayoral candidate Rick Baker‘s new television ads?

They’re so awful that the Rick Kriseman campaign is paying to sponsor a post on Facebook that essentially promotes them.

Think about that for a moment: Baker’s opponent is so confident that ads designed to make a positive impression on voters actually end up doing the opposite that he’s willing to spend campaign dollars to boost their reach.

Baker released two ads last week. Both stress the former mayor’s accomplishments while leading City Hall from 2001 to 2010.

In the first ad, a group of people sitting at a table in a restaurant chat about all the great things about St. Petersburg including such things as dog parks and the Dali Museum.

“You know that’s all because of the mayor, right?” a waitress asks.

“Kriseman?”

The waitress laughs and says, “No, Mayor Rick Baker.”

She gestures behind her and the video cuts to a picture of Baker in sunglasses. Baker removes the glasses and says, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

Remember that moment during the 2016 presidential campaign when Jeb Bush blurted out, “Please clap” during a speech? Watching these commercials is like that.

It’s cringe-worthy.

A second ad has two people are in a record store and the clerk asks if they’re searching for the Rick Baker records. He points them out — Beach Drive, the Grand Prix, the “great Midtown comeback.”

Then the woman asks, “What’s this?”

The clerk says, “Kriseman record? No one’s buying.”

Baker enters, again wearing sunglasses. The clerk asks, “Hey, Rick, what you got?”

“New releases.”

The second spot is not as bad as the first. But that’s like saying the second Star Wars prequel was not as bad as the one that featured Jar Jar Binks.

Of course, the Baker campaign is proud of the ads. Those inside the campaign say the spots work because they’re giving supporters something new to talk about after Baker underperformed in the primary. They’re relieved that Baker is finally saying something that does not involve the word “sewers.”

Want to know how bad these ads are? Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith likes them.

On Sunday, he wrote that they are “fun, memorable and presumably not intended to be taken too seriously.”

This from the reporter whose last major pronouncement was that Andrew Gillum was the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for governor.

One of Smith’s go-to sources is Adam Goodman, the ad maker who cut these spots for Baker. After Baker finished behind Kriseman in the primary, I argued that Baker should fire Goodman and bring in new creative. I argued that Baker’s ads neither properly introduced the former mayor nor did they offer voters a rationale for giving Baker a third term in City Hall.

Obviously, Baker went in another direction. And that’s his prerogative. I’m sure Baker and Goodman like these ads. Maybe Baker, Goodman, and Smith are right and I’m wrong. But I’ve spoken to consultants and operatives on both sides of the aisle and almost all of them are critical of the ads.

“I can’t stop watching it. So bad,” texted one veteran GOP consultant.

“I bite my tongue on a lot of bad commercials, but this one is just so, so bad,” tweeted Democratic ad maker Kevin Cate.

Even the folks Adam Smith spoke with were taken aback.

“The sunglasses almost make me cringe,” said Richard Hughes, the chief creative officer of St. Petersburg-based ClearpH Design Firm, noting that his younger designers were especially turned off by that and the ads could actually turn off younger voters. (Hughes told Smith he thought Baker’s rebranding effort was “fun and memorable,” which is almost exactly what Smith himself said he thought of the ads … hmmm.)

Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so maybe, just maybe these ads are effective.

I, for one, don’t think they are and now believe Baker is in no man’s land, like a tennis player stuck between the service line and the back baseline.

Baker no longer has the opportunity to introduce (or reintroduce) himself to St. Petersburg voters. He just has a laundry list of projects he worked on (don’t forget about the dog parks!). Voters really have no clue about what he’s done since leaving office, such as his work at USF-St. Petersburg or toward revitalizing Sundial.

But neither is Baker articulating a clear vision for what he’d do. About the future, he says, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” WE KNOW, that’s the damn point.

Meanwhile, the sewage system issue Baker mistakenly based much of primary campaign on no longer seems to resonate with voters (if it ever did), but Kriseman and his allies can continue to tie Baker to Trump because, well, Baker really doesn’t have an effective counter.

But here’s why Baker’s ads are genuinely so awful. It’s not their hipster vibe or flimsy message, it’s their opportunity cost.

To Baker needed to raise more money than Kriseman and then pummel him on the airwaves. Just like Jeb Bush was supposed to do in the 2016 presidential primary.

Instead, Kriseman is, at worse, not losing to Baker on the airwaves, while out-organizing him in the GOTV and field components.

No wonder Kriseman and his supporters are telling each other to “please clap” at Baker’s ads.

Jeb Bush: Donald Trump has ‘done well’ ahead of Irma

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, appearing on MSNBC Friday afternoon, had some praise for President Donald Trump‘s handling of hurricane preparation.

Bush, who saw eight storms during one two-year period in his tenure, noted that Irma is “bigger and meaner” than anything he dealt with before.

On Friday, he expressed confidence in the Trump Administration’s handling of the twin-bill of Harvey and now Irma, lauding an “understanding in Washington,” noting that “support from FEMA will likely be there” for Florida after Irma.

“They’ve done well. The President has had the right balance,” Bush said, “going [to Texas] without creating distractions from recovery efforts. FEMA has done its job.”

Bush was less laudatory about the disaster relief/debt ceiling hike bill that Trump pushed through with the help of congressional Democratic leadership.

While Bush is “thankful for FEMA funding,” his gratitude does not extend to a real faith in Trump’s philosophical consistency.

“I’m not surprised about anything the President does or says,” Bush said.

Bush noted that America is in a “fiscal crisis,” with $20 Trillion in debt, and $60 Trillion in “contingent debt.”

Trump is “going to have to rely on conservatives and Republicans to carry out the agenda,” Bush said, though how much buy-in Trump has with conservatives at this point is an open question.

Bush’s unease over the bill mirrors that of Sen. Marco Rubio, who messaged heavily Thursday about the “politically cynical” bill that allowed for $15.25B in Harvey relief funds in exchange for another debt ceiling hike.

Billionaire blasts Donald Trump ‘dreamer’ decision

A prominent Republican fund-raiser turned critic of President Donald Trump said Thursday it would be a huge economic mistake not to let young undocumented immigrants, called “Dreamers,” remain in the United States.

“There is something wrong in separating families,” Miguel “Mike” Fernandez said, after delivering a speech to students and faculty at Florida A&M University. “That is a universal wrong. We are doing that in DACA.”

DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows children brought to the country by their undocumented-immigrant parents to remain in the U.S. Former President Barack Obama put the program in place by executive order.

But the Trump administration this week rescinded the order, with an effective date of six months, giving Congress time to enact its own version of a DACA plan.

The Cuban-born Fernandez, who is a billionaire Miami businessman, supported Jeb Bush in last year’s presidential primary, but broke with his party over Trump’s anti-immigration stances and spent some $3 million in a campaign against Trump.

“If the president talks about Mexicans, murderers, criminals, rapists and so on, these (the Dreamers) are the very best. These are the opposite,” Fernandez said. “These are the students who are working hard. They are going to be tomorrow’s taxpayers.”

Fernandez, 65, who has created a number of health-care companies and later sold them, said Florida has more than 32,000 immigrants protected under DACA, and he estimates they will pay $6.7 billion in taxes over their lifetimes.

“It’s an economic issue,” he said. “Throw them out?”

Fernandez’s own story as a Cuban exile who came to the U.S. as a 12-year-old with his family was the focus of his speech to the FAMU students. Despite his enormous economic success, Fernandez repeatedly emphasized that he did not believe he had any great talents.

“I’m as average as they come,” he said.

He also talked about the many setbacks in his life, including business failures, three failed marriages, two heart attacks and cancer.

“You have to adjust,” Fernandez said. “There is not a linear path to success. Actually, I guarantee you that failure is a necessary step towards your success. If you haven’t failed, you haven’t pushed yourself hard enough.”

Fernandez distributed 700 copies of his autobiography, “Humbled by the Journey,” and took time after the speech to sign dozens of copies and talk to individual students.

Fernandez’s candor was also on display. Earlier in the day, he sent an email to the Tampa Bay Times calling state House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, who supports the elimination of DACA, a “bully” and an “intellectual midget.”

“They are just facts,” Fernandez said when asked about the comments. “That’s my opinion of the guy.”

Fernandez, who said he has given about $30 million to Republican causes over the last 15 years, also expressed “disappointment” in Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, although he had given $100,000 to help Putnam’s Republican gubernatorial campaign.

“I think that we lack in this country people who speak and stand on their backbone,” Fernandez said.

“He’s a guy who was fairly normal in his position until he is faced with an opponent who is more to the right. He feels he has to move to the right,” Fernandez said. “I move to where I am, and that’s who I respect.”

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Hurricane raises temperatures within Florida Capitol Press Corps

Despite getting rave reviews for his handling of pre-landfall Hurricane Irma, some in the Capitol Press Corps remain unsatisfied with Gov. Rick Scott, accusing him of being less forthcoming than his predecessors during the worst weather threat in a generation.

As South Florida awaits the arrival of a potentially deadly Category 5 storm — and the bedlam it has already caused — one reporter feels the governor is still not doing enough, accusing Scott of holding back essential information to media, and by extension the public, during one of the most severe public threats in recent history.

In an email to Scott spokesperson McKinley Lewis — cc’d to several other reporters — Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald suggests the governor and his staff are “going backward” in providing real-time emergency information to Floridians in the path of the Category 5 storm.

Timeliness is essential since Irma is scheduled to begin passing through Florida starting sometime Saturday evening.

As Irma approaches southeast Florida and the Keys, with the storm possibly making landfall in the Miami area this weekend, a shift of only a few miles west — staying offshore even slightly — could save lives and prevent billions of dollars in damage. And a slight move to the east could bring the center of the storm straight up through Florida, with even more catastrophic results.

Klas is also questioning a lack of audio access to briefings, as well as a failure of state officials to distribute timely situation reports to the public. She says both are a distinct departure from the administrations of both former Govs. Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist.

In an email obtained by FloridaPolitics.com, Scott communication director John Tupps replies that it is standard practice to not invite the media to briefings on law enforcement or military actions. However, once the information is ready, the information is immediately made public.

“We do not invite the media to briefings that contain detailed movements of military units or tactical law enforcement lifesaving efforts when in progress,” Tupps said. “However, this information is immediately released once it is ready to be made available. This is standard practice – and our goal is to ensure that our military can share this information with counties officials directly.”

Tupps also pointed out that over three days, Scott has held ten media briefings across the state – including two in Tallahassee with the Klas’ own Miami Herald.

“He has answered questions from the media at each one of his press conferences – including questions from the Times/Herald Bureau,” Tupps added. “Hurricane Irma is unprecedented, and making comparisons to weather events from nearly a decade ago is irresponsible and very inaccurate … The Governor has worked nonstop to keep Floridians and our visitors fully aware of the dangerous storm – including many press releases, information handouts and social media posts.”

The text of Klas’ letter is below (h/t to Diane Roberts):

From: Mary Ellen Klas <meklas@miamiherald.com>
Date: Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, at 10:49 a.m.
Subject: Questions about public access to information

With the most damaging and dangerous storm rapidly approaching our shores, the ability of the media to provide assistance to help inform the public with real time and accurate information is more important than ever. It is also easier than ever with the emergence of smartphones, social media, and hardened telecommunications and satellite technology.

At the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times, we have every intention of operating through the storm and providing updated and accurate information to the public on our website and Twitter feeds. We have removed our paywalls, deployed staff and resources, fortified our headquarters and are determined to do our job.

The last time Florida was tested to this degree was during the hurricane seasons of 2005 and 2006 and while it was a time with little social media presence, the internet and online news was a constant and important force.

So why would the Scott administration choose to go backward from the accessibility provided to the public and the media during the Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist administrations?

McKinley asked me to provide my questions in writing. None of these is new to you since we have presented them to McKinley and other administration PIOs over the past few days. Our goal is not to write a story but to get you to open up to a level that was once expected for Florida. I hope we can achieve that.

Meanwhile, please provide us with answers to the following by 3 p.m. today:

* Why is the media no longer given audio access to the briefings from key officials in the command center?

* Why have you rejected requests to allow the media to attend the briefings if the audio is not available?

* Why are situation reports not distributed to the public and media in real time? (Please refer to the FLSERT archives for reference of how this was handled during other natural disasters by previous administrations.)

* Why have you rejected requests to have EOC command officials brief the media about issues and updates on a daily basis as previous administrations have done?

* Current and former officials who were actively involved in previous state emergencies speculate there has been no practical change but a leadership change and a change in the philosophy and approach to openness.

Please explain what protocols and documentation of events at the EOC have changed since the Bush and Crist administrations?

 

Paulson’s principles: Money, money, money!

It has been said that money is the lifeblood of politics. If so, many members of the Florida congressional delegation are very healthy, while others are on life support.

This is based on second quarter financial reports covering funds raised, funds spent and cash on hand. In contrast to the general assumption, money does not guarantee political success. Just ask Jeb Bush, who quickly raised over $100 million in his quest for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. The money produced no primary wins and only three delegates.

Candidates who raise large sums of money do so either to scare off political opponents, to prepare for a serious challenger, or to stockpile funds to run for higher office. The biggest war chests among the Florida congressional delegation are held by incumbent Republicans who are considered safe.

Small campaign accounts do not necessarily signal a political problem. In many cases, a small campaign account is a sign that the incumbent faces no serious opposition. Democrat Alcee Hastings, representing District 20 in Miami, only has $92,074 in his campaign account. That signals that Hastings has never faced a serious challenge since winning a congressional seat in 1992.

Those with the largest campaign accounts include Republican Vern Buchanan in District 16 ($1,982,876), Republican Ron DeSantis in District 6 ($1,674,185), Republican Carlos Curbelo in District 26 ($1,078,588) and Democrat Charlie Crist in District 13 ($1,121,494).

Crist, serving his first term in Congress, is perhaps Florida’s best-known member of Congress and a prodigious fundraiser. Curbelo represents one of two Florida congressional districts held by a Republican that has a large Democratic advantage. Curbelo is more threatened than most members of Congress. Both Buchanan and DeSantis represent districts with a marginal Republican electorate. DeSantis’ district has a +4 Republican advantage and Buchanan’s district has a +6 Republican advantage.

Only one challenger taking on an incumbent has raised over $50,000. Louis Sola made a personal loan of $99,000 to his campaign account.

Two former members of the Florida congressional delegation filed campaign reports, signaling their hopes to keep their options open to another congressional run.

Former Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns raised $51,704 and has $1,579,227 in his campaign account, more than all but two of the current members of the delegation.

Democrat Alan Grayson, who represented District 9, filed paperwork in District 11. Grayson raised $68,532 and has $455,584 in the bank.

It is still very early with 19 months to go before the 2018 congressional elections. Some candidates have not announced and still have plenty of time to do so. What we do know, based on past history, is that two-thirds of the delegation face no serious threat. The other third who are in marginal districts or who have angered their constituents are going to raise as much money as they can to retain their seat.

There is one truism in Congress: Every member of Congress thinks they are indispensable.

___

Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg specializing in Florida politics and elections.

Ashley Moody’s ready to take over as AG on ‘Day One’

In the race for Florida’s next attorney general, former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody has emerged as the early front-runner.

That perception is not based on name recognition, since as a judge she rarely had the opportunity to make news, but on two other relevant pieces of evidence — her prodigious fundraising since declaring her candidacy in early June, and that she’s a member of the Republican Party, the dominant party in statewide elections in Florida for the past two decades.

Despite the fact that she’s won the endorsement from current AG Pam Bondi and seemingly every Republican in Hillsborough County, she remains a cipher to most of the state, which made her appearance before the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee on Tuesday night a noteworthy event.

Moody spent most of her 13-minute speech giving context to her impressive resume. A fifth-generation Floridian who went to Plant High School in South Tampa, Moody attended the University of Florida and was appointed to the state’s Board of Regents while still at Stetson Law School by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.

She then went through the rest of her professional biography, beginning as a defense attorney at Holland and Knight, where worked she worked on business disputes.

Acknowledging how the court system is an adversarial process, the 42-year-old Moody said it was ironic, since “I really don’t like fighting, I don’t like acrimony. I like working on problems and trying to solve problems together. That’s my nature.”

Saying she wanted to get into the courtroom more, she became a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Middle Attorney’s office during the George W. Bush era, where she worked under U.S. Attorney Paul Perez, first in Jacksonville, then in Tampa.

“It was a great experience, and I loved standing up and saying I was Ashley Moody and I represented the United States of America.”

At the age of 31, she decided she wanted to get into the family business, which was to become a judge, following in the footsteps of her father and stepfather. She won an election for Hillsborough Circuit Court in 2006, becoming at that time the youngest judge in Florida.

“It showed that I had the experience, the judicial temperament, and the ability to hear all sides before making a final decision, and that’s what I try to bring to the bench with that approach to problems,” she said.

Moody said that it was the urge to want to do more which compelled her to run for attorney general. She says the skills required for the attorney general position are the skills that she has honed over her career as an attorney, prosecutor and judge.

“Of all the things that the attorney general’s office handles, I have experience,” she said. “It would be impossible for someone to come in that has not had the experience in any of these areas and start the job effectively on day one,” she declared. “Impossible. It would take so long to get up to speed in these particular areas to make any sort of lasting impact.”

Jacksonville state Rep. Jay Fant is the only other Republican in the race to date. Tampa attorney Ryan Torrens is the lone Democrat. Moody is crushing both in fundraising, with more than $720,000 in combined campaign contributions from her own account and her PAC (Fant has more than $200,000 in his PAC and his campaign account; Torrens is just shy of $29,000 raised).

Moody joked about how she became less popular once she quit the bench as a powerful judge to become a political candidate, and a Republican one at that. She said that she was “not inclined” to get into partisan politics, since it has become very polarized, and almost decided not to enter because of those concerns. Her husband Justin (a federal agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration) convinced her that it was important for someone who hasn’t done politics to run for such an important position with her qualifications.

She then took a few questions from the audience and seemed unprepared for the first one: a question about where she stood on the drive for a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore the voting rights of former felons who have served their time.

Florida is one of just four states that denies the right to vote to all former felons until they petition for rights restoration. A lawsuit filed earlier this year said that more than 10,000 are waiting for a hearing on their restoration applications.

But Moody said the system seems to be working just fine.

“I would like to study it more before I give it a definitive answer, but I think there are historical reasons that we haven’t let felons vote, and I think that there are reasons for that,” she said. “Now we have a process that they can obtain their rights after they’ve been convicted, and certainly I would invite that if they are eligible … so there’s a process for restoring rights and I think that the process that we have is fine.”

Daniel Perez defeats Jose Mallea in HD 116 GOP primary

Daniel Anthony Perez is heading to the general.

Perez defeated Jose Mallea in the special Republican primary to replace Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in House District 116. Unofficial election results posted to the Florida Division of Elections website show Perez received nearly 55 percent of the vote, compared to Mallea’s 45 percent.

Perez will face Democrat Gabriela Mayaudon in the special general election on Sept. 26.

Perez is an associate at Cole, Scott & Kissane in Miami. The first-time candidate is the former vice-chair of the Miami-Dade County Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board and is a member of the Cuban American Bar Association. He took heat early in the campaign after the Miami Herald reported he took his engagement photos in Havana earlier this year.

Mallea has an extensive background in politics, including running Sen. Marco Rubio’s successful U.S. Senate campaign in 2010. He also served as chief of staff to former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, and served stints in the federal government, working at the U.S. Department of State and the White House.

His political background influenced his campaign — both positively and negatively. He scored endorsements from former Gov. Jeb Bush, former House Speaker Will Weatherford, state Sen. Rene Garcia, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

But outside groups attacked Mallea for his work in the mayor’s office, saying he helped usher in massive tax increases; while Perez released a Spanish language ad saying he betrayed Rubio when he worked as Bush’s Hispanic outreach director during his 2016 presidential campaign.

First elected in 2010, Diaz resigned his seat, effective Sept. 26, to run in the Senate District 40 special election, which was also Tuesday. Diaz received nearly 58 percent of the vote to defeat former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who received nearly 26 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

Jeb Bush, Mark Cuban: Donald Trump dragging down GOP, billionaires

President Donald Trump‘s performance in the White House will make it harder for Republicans — and billionaires — in the coming elections, two of his most prominent critics said Saturday.

Billionaire businessman Mark Cuban and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush lashed out at the Republican president during separate remarks at a summer festival in New York City’s Central Park.

Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, said he may challenge Trump in 2020.

“If he lasts four years, I’ll be there to kick his (butt),” Cuban declared as the young New York crowd roared. “We’ll see. I’m not making any proclamations yet.”

Cuban also warned that Trump “might ruin the path” for another billionaire outsider to run for president in the future.

“He’s not setting the best example,” Cuban said.

After six months in office, Trump and his party have failed to enact any major legislation. His poll numbers are near historic lows and an investigation into Russian interference in the last election is focusing on his closest aides and family members.

Energized Democrats hope they can capitalize on the GOP’s political struggles in next year’s midterm elections when the House majority is at stake.

Bush, a regular target of Trump’s personal attacks during the 2016 Republican primary election, said he would not run for president again. He also tried to distance his party from the new president, noting that Trump was registered as a Democrat in recent years.

“He’s not really affiliated with the party, just to be clear. He’s Trump,” Bush said, speaking less than a mile from Trump Tower.

Bush also lamented the rise of celebrity politicians — Cuban, among them — as he pondered the future of the GOP.

“We may have really talented people that are really good on TV being our leaders for a while until we sort things out,” Bush said, noting that Cuban was on Saturday’s speaking program. “Ideas and policy really matter. It’s not just about personality.”

He said Republicans have “a huge opportunity” with control of the White House and both chambers in Congress. Should the GOP squander that, he said, Republicans may struggle in 2018 and 2020.

Despite the criticism, Bush said he’s rooting for Trump to succeed.

“I find him deeply troubling in a lot of ways. But I pray for him every night. And I pray for our country every night,” Bush said. “I care about my grandkids.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Jose Mallea releases ad featuring Jeb Bush ahead of HD 116 primary

Jose Mallea is bringing in some star power — Florida politics, style — in the final days of his special House District 116 primary campaign.

On Monday, Mallea campaign released a Spanish-language radio advertisement featuring former Gov. Jeb Bush. The ad comes just one week before the special Republican primary in the race to replace Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, who resigned effective Sept. 26, in House District 116.

“Governor Bush is one of Florida’s greatest leaders, and I am honored to have him behind our campaign,” said Mallea in a statement. “I plan to keep working hard in the home stretch of this primary to make sure District 116 has a representative in Tallahassee who will work hard for conservative policies that will improve education and increase opportunity for everyone.”

Bush endorsed Mallea in May, saying in a statement at the time that Mallea, a senior advisor to his 2016 presidential campaign, was “the right leader for District 116.”

According to a translation of the advertisement provided by the Mallea campaign, Bush calls Mallea a “trusted friend that’s going to defend us.”

“Jose will use his Republican values to work for you in the Florida Legislature,” he says in the advertisement, according to the translation provided by the campaign. “That’s why I am asking for you to vote for Jose on July 25.”

Mallea faces Daniel Perez in the July 25 primary. The winner will face Democrat Gabriela Mayaudon in the Sept. 26 special general election.

Diaz resigned to run in the special election to replace Sen. Frank Artiles, who resigned earlier this year amid scandal, in Senate District 40. The primary in that race is also scheduled for July 25.

Personnel note: Kim McDougal joins GrayRobinson lobbying team

Kim McDougal, Gov. Rick Scott‘s former chief of staff, is joining GrayRobinson‘s Tallahassee office as a Senior Director of Government Affairs, the law firm announced Friday.

“Kim brings tremendous insight and invaluable experience to our firm, and will also substantially increase our expertise in the education policy and appropriations areas,” said Jason Unger, managing partner of the Tallahassee office. “The breadth of her governmental experience cannot be underestimated as a resource to our clients.”

She “will advise and lobby for clients in all sectors on both policy and appropriations issues, while she continues her passion by also focusing on education-related issues,” a press release said.

“Her experience at the highest level in state government provided her in-depth knowledge on both policy and appropriation issues as well as how state government functions and how to effectively navigate through Florida’s entire state government.”

McDougal, who was chief of staff from April 2016 to May of this year, was Scott’s fifth chief of staff since he took office in 2011, following, in order: Mike Prendergast, Steve MacNamaraAdam Hollingsworth, and Melissa Sellers (now Stone). Former communications director Jackie Schutz is now chief of staff.

Our story from March 2016 when McDougal was hired is here. Her last reported yearly salary with the state was $170,000.

Here’s the rest of the release:

McDougal began her public service career with the State of Florida in 1989 as a program auditor with the Office of the Auditor General, and she later worked for the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability.

During her 10 years with the Florida Legislature, she worked on a wide array of policy areas, but the majority of her policy work focused on K-20 education policy. McDougal has worked as a senior advisor or in a leadership role for many of Florida’s Education Commissioners.

She also worked for Gov. Jeb Bush in several roles within the Executive Office of the Governor, including the Policy Coordinator for Education in the Office of Planning and Budget.

McDougal served Gov. Scott’s administration for almost four years, beginning as a special advisor on education, then serving as Policy Coordinator for Education in the Office of Planning and Budget, then joining the Senior Leadership Team as Policy Director and subsequently serving as Legislative Affairs Director.

While serving as Scott’s Chief of Staff, McDougal was responsible for directly serving and advising the Governor and regarding the over 100,000 executive branch employees and the administration of an $83 billion state budget.

She graduated from the Louise S. McGehee School, a private all-girls school in New Orleans, then got her bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and her master’s and doctoral degrees from the Florida State University College of Education.

McDougal has resided in Tallahassee since 1984.

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