It takes a big man to admit a mistake.
Or not admit one, as the case may be.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday re-issued a proclamation supporting Pulse remembrances with a correction — adding references to the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities.
They were notably absent from the original proclamation that came out Tuesday evening, which often garnered scathing criticism from those communities and the state’s Democrats.
So what happened? DeSantis blamed “staff.”
“I was not involved in the proclamation,” he told reporters Wednesday.
The new proclamation adds references to those communities who made up the vast majority of the victims of the June 12, 2016 massacre at Orlando’s popular gay nightclub on “Latin night.”
And the document adds the word “hate” alongside the word “terrorism” as things Florida will not tolerate.
Further, DeSantis added a stop to his Wednesday schedule to include a visit to the makeshift Pulse memorial, on the grounds of the now-shuttered club, to pay his respects at 5 p.m.
As to DeSantis’ failure to fall on his own sword or name the guilty party, it was shrugged off by Tallahassee lobbyist and longtime Republican operative Mac Stipanovich.
“There is nothing to be gained by feeding a specific staff member to the lions other than making the lions happy,” Stipanovich tweeted.
“And doing so gratuitously would have a pernicious impact on staff morale and cohesion. The administration made an error and corrected it.”
“Somber memorials on anniversary of Florida nightclub rampage” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — In a proclamation, DeSantis ordered state flags to be lowered to half-staff and asked Floridians to pause to remember the victims of the 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. But he initially made no mention of the gay or Hispanic communities in the proclamation. Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani criticized the Republican Governor for the omission, calling the proclamation, “straight-washed.” DeSantis later tweeted that the state mourns the loss of life from the attack that “targeted the LGBTQ and Hispanic community, and Florida as a whole.” Later in the day, DeSantis and his wife, Casey, visited Pulse and laid bouquets of flowers outside the nightclub.
“Money for mental-health needs of Pulse survivors starting to dry up” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orlando United Assistance Center — the main agency helping survivors of the tragedy — vows to continue providing mental-health counseling, despite an end to the federal grant funding for the effort. But elsewhere, the assistance for those traumatized by the event is drying up. At the LGBT + Center Orlando, there is now a three-week wait for new clients, and another program has stopped accepting new clients. “Unfortunately, the ongoing opportunities for funding continue to diminish,” said Charlotte Melton, vice president of the Mental Health Association of Central Florida. “We’re … having to ask people already receiving help to [work toward less-frequent appointments] where they can.”
Please, it’s worth a listen — In the new He Said She Said podcast, Michelle and I broadcast live from the Florida Democrats Leadership Blue annual conference in Orlando, featuring interviews from Sean Shaw, Eric Johnson, and Screven Watson. Shaw talks about “People over Profit,” his nonprofit dedicated to ending corporate influence in politics. “Whether you’re a Democrat or you’re a Republican, a lot of people on both sides feel that the system is rigged,” Shaw says. Michelle talks about her first Democratic conference as an official member of the Democratic Party and swaps stories with Johnson about working on campaigns for former-Gov. Charlie Crist. Watson stresses how important Florida will be in 2020, “finding the next Bill Clinton,” and the importance of being relatable. Off politics: Peter and Michelle talk with fellow Disney lover Watson for a deep dive into everything Disney — Disney trivia, Disney World and (their favorite) Disney cruises. Download it today.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
EXCLUSIVE: Pres. Trump tells @GStephanopoulos he wouldn't necessarily alert the FBI if approached by foreign figures with information on his 2020 opponent: "It’s not an interference. They have information. I think I’d take it." https://t.co/O9Sg8m6G3A pic.twitter.com/TRZzxXxOtJ
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) June 12, 2019
— @MViser: “Joe Biden has done something no other Democrat has been able to do in this race: Command attention from all cable networks, and have them stream his entire event live.
— @GovRonDeSantis: I have directed today’s Pulse Remembrance Day proclamation be corrected and re-issued to include a direct reference to our LGBTQ and Hispanic communities who were attacked during this horrific act of violence at Pulse three years ago.
— @GwenGraham: .@GovRonDeSantis, You were nowhere to be found following the Pulse massacre in 2016 as Florida’s Democratic delegation demanded gun safety legislation. Was that a staff error too? Checking for my friend, @BJoeWolf.
— @AnnaForFlorida: Thanks for the corrected Pulse proclamation. Now time for real policy change to reflect our state’s commitment to equality: Pass an EO to provide protections to LGBTQ state workers & push the legislature to pass the Competitive Workforce Act in the 2020 legislative session.
— @SkylerSwisher: Worth remembering that sexual orientation wasn’t included in the anti-discrimination order DeSantis issued when he started as Governor.
— @Hammerhead1948: There is nothing to be gained by feeding a specific staff member to the lions other than making the lions happy. And doing so gratuitously would have a pernicious impact on staff morale and cohesion. The administration made an error and corrected it.
— @Fineout: Meant to circle back to this: @GovRonDeSantis today suggested the idea of holding special elections for constitutional amendments. Well, guess what? In order to do that for citizen initiatives … you would need to change the constitution
— @BruceRitchie: Ironic: The water is out at Florida DEP’s headquarters during the first Blue-Green Algae Task Force meeting there. So if you gotta go, you gotta go — next door!
— @MattYglesias: Why did we agree to start saying “deep fakes” instead of “fake videos” thus creating a situation in which any article about a fake video is going to need a clause explaining what “deep fake” means?
— @Aglorios: I’ve been at Moffitt for the past two days and am so grateful to have a job that gives me flexibility and colleagues who look out for me. Not all cancer patients are so lucky.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Madonna and Bruce Springsteen each release new studio albums — 1; Father’s Day — 3; USA vs. Chile in 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup — 3; Rick Scott hosts a Hurricane Preparedness Conference in Orlando — 4; Donald Trump formally announces his 2020 reelection campaign in Orlando — 5; Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Summit begins — 5; “Toy Story 4” opens — 7; First Democratic presidential debates in Miami — 13; “The Loudest Voice,” about Fox News and Roger Ailes, premieres — 17; “Spider-Man: Far From Home” opens — 19; Independence Day — 21; 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing — 37; “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” premieres — 43; Second Democratic presidential debates in Detroit — 47; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 72; St. Petersburg primary election — 74; UCF Knights football opens vs. Florida A&M — 77; USF Bulls football opens vs. Wisconsin Badgers — 78; FSU Seminoles football opens vs. Boise State — 79; Labor Day — 81; First Interim Committee Week for 2020 Session — 95; “Joker” opens — 113; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 137; Scott Maddox trial begins — 144; 2019 General Election — 145; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 147; 2020 Session begins — 215; Iowa Caucuses — 235; New Hampshire Primaries — 243; Florida’s presidential primary — 278; 2020 General Election — 509.
— TOP STORY —
“Whole Publix subs go on sale for $5.99 through June 19” via the USA Today network — Whole subs — yes, even the chicken tender sub — will go on sale. Normally, they are $8.99, but through June 19, they’ll be $5.99. The last time the subs were on sale was March. What’s even better is Publix subs are available to order through the chain’s Instacart service. Users can sign up for an account using email or a Facebook or Google account. Same-day orders are available.
— STATEWIDE —
ICYMI on HB 5, which will make it harder for citizens to amend the state constitution: “Ron DeSantis’ 5 o’clock news dump” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — … This past Friday, when the 4:47 p.m. email came from the Governor’s Office, (was when Gov.) DeSantis (disclosed) he had signed 38 bills. Buried in the middle of the list was HB 5, a draconian measure designed to put an end to the citizen initiative process in Florida … It’s no surprise that DeSantis signed HB 5. He signaled that he would, and if you believe press reports, he took the unusual step of resurrecting it on the last day of the Legislative Session … (But) this law will be fiercely litigated, and all or parts of it will likely be struck down as violating either the Florida Constitution, the U.S. Constitution, or both.
“DeSantis hints at more crackdowns on constitutional amendments in Florida” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis suggested he wants to make it even harder to change Florida’s constitution, even after signing into law a bill that already makes big changes to citizen-driven ballot initiatives. “I think it’s a good first step,” he said of the bill he signed last week, which imposes restrictions on who can collect ballots, how those people are paid and how the ballots are collected. “But I think we need to do more than just that.” DeSantis suggested one option would be for constitutional amendments to be voted on during their own elections. DeSantis said he was frustrated by the length of the ballots voters saw in November.
“DeSantis signs patient savings act, expects ‘downward pressure’ on health care costs” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The new law will give patients greater information about the costs of health procedures and services, as well as potentially reduced premiums when they shop for and find high-quality, lower-cost
“DeSantis, Matt Gaetz to make ‘major announcement’ in Shalimar” via GateHouse Media — DeSantis and Gaetz plan to make a “major announcement” at 10 a.m. Friday at the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, according to a post on Gaetz’s official House of Representatives page. Information about the event was not immediately available from the Governor’s office. Gaetz declined to say what the announcement will be or comment on whether it involves school safety measures. “I’m not going to scoop the Gov.,” Gaetz said.
“Survey: Republicans not sold on drug importation, but support eliminating PBMs” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — The Tarrance Group, a Republican research and polling firm, recently conducted a survey that shows only 46 percent of registered Republican and independent Florida voters support the importation of pharmaceutical drugs. The remaining 54 percent did not support the idea. The survey sampled 798 voters in six states, 133 of which were in Florida. The margin of error is 3.5 percent. Florida’s results were similar to the average response in Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, Maine and Ohio. In total, 56 percent opposed drug importation. Younger voters aged 18-44 bucked the trend, with 53 percent supporting the plan. But older voters, age groups 45-64 and 65-plus, opposed the plan. The 65-plus age group came in with 63 percent disapproval.
“Under new law, underage drinkers won’t get punished after calling 911 for help” via Matthew McClellan of FOX 13 News — Beginning July 1, people drinking under the age of 21 will not face legal consequences if they seek medical help for someone in danger. DeSantis signed the bill into law on Friday. The bipartisan bill was sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. David Silvers. It is an expansion of the “Good Samaritan Law” passed in 2012 that gives legal immunity to people who call to report a drug overdose. “The ‘Good Samaritan Law’ was an excellent piece of legislation, but it didn’t address a key component — which was underage drinking,” said Sen. Brandes. “No parent should ever have to experience the heartbreak of learning their child has died of alcohol poisoning.”
What Jose Oliva is reading, part 1 — “UCF construction spending investigation tops $1 million” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — The Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner law firm, which has been probing UCF’s construction spending since September, is expected to give an update on the ongoing investigation at a meeting of the Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system. In all, UCF has paid the Bryan Cave law firm just more than $1 million. The review is continuing under the Board of Governors’ direction, at the university’s expense. The Board of Governors recently released the firm’s “preliminary findings,” which detailed more than $61 million that university leaders had transferred to construction accounts dating back to 2012. It’s not clear whether the university actually spent the money.
What José Oliva is reading, part 2 — “Washington Supreme Court hears arguments about Legislature’s public documents” via RouteFifty.com — The Washington Supreme Court will likely decide what documents related to the state legislature must be released as public records. The judges, who heard oral arguments on Tuesday, will determine whether the legislature should be treated differently than other government agencies that have to release documents to the public. Legislators lost their case before a state superior court in January 2018, and weeks later rewrote part of state law to partially exempt themselves from disclosure requests. After 20,000 calls and emails arrived in Gov. Jay Inslee’s office, he vetoed the legislation.
“State task force tackles toxic algae” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — With a brief timeline for the five-member Blue-Green Algae Task Force to reach its initial findings, don’t expect proposals for massive state rule changes related to farming practices or moving away from septic systems. Task force member Michael Parsons, a professor of marine science at Florida Gulf Coast University and director of the Coastal Watershed Institute and Vester Field Station, said rather than replace regulations, as some environmental groups contend is needed, a more realistic approach would focus on “fine-tuning” existing rules. “In any field, if you make the rules too strong, too stringent, too unfair, they won’t be followed,” Parsons said.
The first meeting of @GovRonDeSantis Blue-Green Algae Task Force is happening now at @FLDEPNews in Tallahassee. Proud to have @ufwater @WendyDGraham on the Task Force representing @UF_IFAS and @uf Tom Frazer leading as Chief Science Officer of the State. pic.twitter.com/uVK51rVDtV
— IFAS Gov. Affairs (@IFASGovAffairs) June 12, 2019
“Warning about ‘warnings’: Florida Lottery fears grave losses from warning label bill” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Officials from the Florida Lottery painted a near-apocalyptic picture of revenue loss — eventually as much as $300 million yearly, according to one estimate — if a bill mandating new warnings on lottery tickets becomes law. They appeared at a Wednesday meeting of the Revenue Estimating Conference … The measure at issue (HB 629), passed during the 2019 Legislative Session, “amends current law by directing the Florida Lottery to contractually require vendors to place one of the following warnings prominently on the front of all lottery tickets: ‘WARNING: LOTTERY GAMES MAY BE ADDICTIVE’ or ‘PLAY RESPONSIBLY,’ ” according to a staff analysis.
“‘Bump stock’ ban ruling appealed” via the News Service of Florida — Attorneys for a group of plaintiffs filed a notice that they will take the dispute to the 1st District Court of Appeal. The notice does not detail the plaintiffs’ arguments, but they are seeking to overturn a dismissal issued May 10 by Circuit Judge Ronald Flury. The case stems from a law passed after the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The proposal included a ban on bump stocks, which are devices that make semi-automatic weapons mimic fully automatic firearms. About a week after then-Gov. Scott signed the bill, gun owners filed the bump-stock lawsuit as a possible class action.
Assignment editors — The Florida Association of Counties holds its annual conference, with expected speakers to include state Sen. Linda Stewart; state Reps. Chip LaMarca, Stan McClain and Melony Bell, programs start at 8 a.m., Hyatt Regency Orlando, 9801 International Dr., Orlando.
“Citizens Insurance grapples with lawsuits” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — As of April 30, Citizens faced 14,091 pending lawsuits, a nearly 14 percent increase from the 12,363 cases pending a year earlier. During the first four months of 2019, the insurer averaged 833 new lawsuits a month. That was down 22 percent from the same period in 2018, which was in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. In an indication of the volume of litigation, the Claims Committee of the Citizens Board of Governors approved adding 12 law firms to a list of firms that can help defend the insurer in claims disputes. Citizens, which had about 420,000 policies as of March 31, already contracts with more than 100 defense firms, according to information provided to the committee.
Florida citrus growers express gratitude for Irma relief — After the challenges of citrus greening and the devastation of Hurricane Irma, the state’s citrus growers were struggling to get back on their feet. Now, hurricane relief is finally on its way thanks to Gov. DeSantis, U.S. Ag. Secretary Sonny Perdue and Trump. Citrus packer Tom Mitchell penned a recent column in the Palm Beach Post and Florida Today. Former Congressman Tom Rooney chimed in with his support for hurricane relief in the Lakeland Ledger, Ft. Myers News-Press and Naples Daily News. In each column, grower’s express appreciation to DeSantis for unraveling the bureaucracy of the hurricane relief program. The Governor is expected to speak at the Florida Citrus Mutual Industry Annual Conference in Bonita Springs noon Thursday.
— THE TRAIL —
“League of Women Voters rushes to register ex-felons before July 1 deadline making it much harder” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The League of Women Voters is looking for lawyers to help citizens who were previously unable to vote due to felony criminal records register to vote. The League launched a training program for attorneys and nonlawyer volunteers to help citizens who have paid their debt to society register to vote without incurring penalties. The Florida Legislature passed an Amendment 4 implementing bill (SB 7066) that bill requires such citizens to have fulfilled all financial obligations associated with their record including court fees, fines and restitution. Opponents of the measure argued the bill subverted the will of voters who intended
“Tampa lawmakers help José Javier Rodríguez reelection
“Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey backs Allison Tant’s bid for HD 9” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Dailey, a former Leon County Commissioner who successfully ran for city Mayor in 2018, backed Tant, a former chair of the Florida Democratic Party. She is currently the only candidate filed for the seat. In a statement, he described her as a “friend” with a “heart of gold.” He and his wife Virginia hosted a fundraising event for Tant. “I have seen her firsthand mobilize on behalf of Tallahassee on issues ranging from hurricane recovery to lifting up the disability community,” Dailey said. “Her passion and compassion are a model for many, and I cannot think of a better person to represent our community.”
“Tech businessman, former cop Andrew Yeng files to run in HD 43” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Yeng has become the second candidate to file to run for HD 43 opening in 2020; incumbent Democratic state Rep. John Cortes has filed to run for Osceola County Clerk of Courts instead of for reelection. A native of Taiwan, Yeng last year ran for the Kissimmee City Commission, losing in a runoff election. A Central Florida resident for 25 years and an Osceola County resident for 15, Yeng has been active in a variety of ways in the community, including as president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida; president of the Florida Educational Alliance and by participating in political campaigns, including those for Cortes and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto.
“Race to replace Cary Pigman draws candidates” via the News Service of Florida — Republican J. Ned Hancock opened a campaign account to run in 2020 in House District 55, which is made up of Glades, Highlands, Okeechobee, and part of St. Lucie counties. Pigman, a physician who chairs the House Health Market Reform Subcommittee, cannot run again next year because of term limits. Hancock is the second Republican who has entered the race this month, joining Kaylee Alexis Tuck, who opened a campaign account last week. Also in the race is Democrat Tony Munnings Sr., who opened an account May 1 and did not report raising any money last month.
“Sybrina Fulton generates $5.5K since launching Miami-Dade Commission bid” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Fulton, the mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, managed to raise just over $5,500 in the 11 days since declaring her candidacy for the Miami-Dade County Commission. Fulton entered the District 1 race in May and started pulling in donations on May 20. The latest fundraising reports, which were due June 10, only show money raised through the end of May. Candidates often receive an inflated fundraising total upon launching their campaign. But Fulton’s $5,500 bankroll pales in comparison to her opponent, current Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III. Gilbert has raised more than $276,000 since opening his campaign account in January.
“Miami Young Republicans voter outreach campaign targets youth, Hispanics” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Miami Young Republicans have announced a campaign to reach out to Hispanic and young voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election to hand the Sunshine State to Trump once again. “We are launching what will be the largest effort in history in engaging with young voters and the Hispanic community in greater Miami to ensure President Trump’s reelection,” said Armando Ibarra, the group’s president. The two demographics being targeted by the group aren’t likely to give Trump majority support in 2020. But a sizable minority would go a long way in securing his reelection.
— 2020 —
“‘I think I’d take it’: Trump says he would listen if foreigners offered dirt on opponents” via Lucien Bruggeman of ABC News — Trump may not alert the FBI if foreign governments offered damaging information against his 2020 rivals during the upcoming presidential race, he said, despite the deluge of investigations stemming from his campaign’s interactions with Russians during the 2016 campaign. Asked by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office on Wednesday whether his campaign would accept such information from foreigners — such as China or Russia — or hand it over the FBI, Trump said, “I think maybe you do both.” “I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump continued. “If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”
“Trump tweets there are ‘74,000 requests’ for Orlando kickoff rally tickets at Amway” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — “Wow! Just got word that our June 18th, Tuesday, ANNOUNCEMENT in Orlando, Florida, already has 74,000 requests for a 20,000 seat Arena,” Trump wrote. “With all of the big events that we have done, this ticket looks to be the ‘hottest’ of them all. See you in Florida!” Amway’s capacity of 20,000 is listed as its NCAA basketball crowd size. Center stage concerts hold 19,700 and end-stage concerts hold about 16,000. Many previous Trump rallies have included standing-room-only areas. Orange County GOP Chair Charles Hart said that the request-to-availability ratio for tickets to the event is “epic even for his rallies. … This is a phenomenally hot ticket.”
“Lock him up? Dems weigh what to do about Donald Trump’s deeds” via Elana Schor of The Associated Press — Now top Democrats are grappling with fraught questions about whether to lock HIM up. Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris said in an interview that if she wins the White House, her Justice Department “would have no choice” but to pursue an obstruction of justice case against Trump after he leaves office. Harris’ comments come after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told fellow Democrats that she would rather see Trump defeated in the election, then imprisoned, than impeached in Congress. “Everyone should be held accountable,” Harris told NPR interview. “And the president is not above the law.” Nearly half of the more than 20 Democratic primary candidates are calling for the start of an impeachment inquiry, Harris and Elizabeth Warren among them.
“Elizabeth Warren leapfrogs Bernie Sanders in pair of 2020 polls” via Nolan McCaskill of POLITICO — Warren has overtaken Sanders nationally, according to a new Economist/YouGov poll, which puts the Massachusetts Senator ahead of her Vermont counterpart 16 percent to 12 percent. Former Vice President Joe Biden still leads all contenders with 26 percent support. Warren also polls ahead of Sanders in Nevada, where Democrats will caucus next February after the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Biden leads the first Monmouth poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers in Nevada with 36 percent support, followed by Warren at 19 percent and Sanders at 13 percent.
“Democratic presidential candidates weigh in on Pulse shooting anniversary” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — Pete Buttigieg said in a statement that the Pulse shooting wasn’t an attack on just one community, but an attack on LGBTQ Americans, Latinx Americans and Black Americans. The Beto O’Rourke campaign said O’Rourke “honors” the Pulse victims by unveiling his plan to protect LGBTQ rights. Harris tweeted, “Today we remember the 49 lives — mostly Latinx and LGBTQ+ — cut short from hate and gun violence three years ago. In their memory, let’s act to prevent the next heartbreak.” “As president, I will end the NRA’s reign & pass gun safety policy to save lives,” tweeted Cory Booker. “We can — and we will — build a nation built on love & respect for one another.”
Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry disrupts Joe Biden event — Terry, according to POLITICO Correspondent Natasha Korecki, “scream(ed) about Biden’s abortion flip-flop” at the Democratic presidential candidate’s event in Davenport, Iowa. “What about the babies!” he shouted. “Terry confirms he is the same person to disrupt a Buttigieg event where he screamed out about homosexuality,” Korecki
“Howard Schultz says he will not campaign this summer, citing health problems” via Axios — Former Starbucks CEO Schultz, who has previously said he is considering running for president as a centrist independent, will not campaign this summer after undergoing three separate back surgeries. Schultz’ announcement and subsequent press tour earlier this year set off a significant backlash from Democrats who believe running as an independent could help reelect Trump. Schultz has warned that Democrats nominating a candidate too far to the left would be damaging to the country but has nonetheless maintained that he will “not be a spoiler.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Trump’s net worth rises to $3 billion despite business setbacks” via Shahien Nasiripour and Caleb Melby of Bloomberg — Trump’s net worth rose to $3 billion, a 5 percent gain over the past year, thanks to a jump in the value of an office-building deal he once sued to prevent. The increase in Trump’s wealth reverses two years of declines and brings his net worth back to 2016 levels, according to figures compiled by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index from lenders, property records, securities filings, market data and a May 16 financial disclosure. It comes despite setbacks at his family company, including the cancellation of two new hotel chains and reduced business at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and seven golf courses.
“With classified filing, feds eye national security case against Mar-a-Lago intruder” via Jay Weaver and Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — Federal prosecutors disclosed they are developing a potential national security case against Yujing Zhang, the 33-year-old Chinese woman charged with unlawfully entering Mar-a-Lago with a stash of electronic equipment. They asked a federal judge to allow them to file “classified information” under seal. If the motion is granted, prosecutors will present the evidence directly to the federal judge in Zhang’s trespassing case during a private, closed meeting in the judge’s chambers. The prosecution’s motion indicates that she is a focus of a widening U.S. probe of possible Chinese espionage and suggests authorities have evidence she was likely not merely a “bumbling tourist” who accidentally found her way into Trump’s private estate in Palm Beach.
Happening today — Former Pennsylvania Congressman Jason Altmire, author of the book, “Dead Center: How Political Polarization Divided America And What We Can Do About It,” will speak to the Tiger Bay Club of Volusia County, 11:30 a.m., LPGA Clubhouse, 1000 Champions Dr., Daytona Beach.
— UNRIGGING THE ECONOMY —
To curb egregious government favoritism and corporate welfare — as well as “zombie tax extenders” — Americans for Prosperity is mounting a comprehensive campaign to create a stronger economy by leveling the playing field for everyone.
“Unrig the Economy” is a multiyear, multimillion-dollar movement which will utilize AFP grassroots activists to drive change at both the state and federal levels.
— The first phase includes direct mail and digital effort to “stop the Export-Import Bank’s reauthorization will target members of the House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees.”
— Other targets include stopping the renewal of so-called “zombie tax extenders” currently under consideration by the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees.
AFP-FL is calling on Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, as a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, to “lead on eliminating corporate welfare and special tax carveouts” which come from extended these expired tax perks — “zombie” tax extenders.
According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, 62 percent of Americans say the U.S. economic system mainly benefits those in power versus only 34 percent who say it mainly benefits all people.
“Government should pursue policies that create a level playing field where everyone is bound by the same set of rules,” says AFP President Tim Phillips. “Instead, politicians too often rig the game by picking winners and losers through subsidies, tax carve-outs, regulatory barriers or protectionist policies.”
— ALL RISE —
Judicial news: The U.S. Senate this week confirmed Thomas Barber to be U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Florida and Rodney Smith to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District.
In a statement, U.S. Sen Scott lauded the appointments, saying that “our state and nation needs qualified individuals committed to fairly and accurately interpreting our Constitution and laws — not activist judges.
“These two men have demonstrated their commitment to the principles of this nation and constitutional jurisprudence. Judge Barber and Judge Smith have impressive records of honorably serving the State of Florida, and I am proud to support their appointment to the federal bench today.”
Barber, 52, was named to the Hillsborough County Court by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2004 and was later elevated to circuit judge by Gov. Charlie Crist four years later. He has since been elected to the post.
Smith was appointed by Crist in 2008 to be a Miami-Dade County Judge, where he served until 2012 when Scott made him a circuit judge.
— LOCAL —
“Board of Governors expected to approve FSU President John Thrasher’s reappointment” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Edward Burr, chairman of the FSU’s Board of Trustees, is requesting the board approve the reappointment of Thrasher and the extension of his contract from Nov. 10 this year to Nov. 10, 2020. In September 2017, trustees unanimously agreed to the one-year extension for Thrasher, who was hired in November 2014. Trustees had approved asking that the Nov. 10, 2020 date be extended to Jan. 15, 2021, but the Board of Governors’ policy calls for one-year contract extensions. The governors, meeting at the University of South Florida, also will vote on reappointment of Florida Polytechnic University President Randy Avent and New College of Florida President Donal O’Shea.
“Andrew Gillum CRA vote tied to $320,000 loan to Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Gillum employer” via Steve Stewart of Tallahassee Reports — While Mayor of Tallahassee and a gubernatorial candidate, Gillum was the deciding vote as a member of the Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to award $281,760 to the Frenchtown Redevelopment Partners, LLC, a company that included Harold Knowles and Keith Bowers as “Officers/Directors.” Five months before the vote, the Northwest Florida Black Business Investment Corporation (BBIC) approved a $320,000 loan to Lettman-Hicks. The BBIC listed Knowles and Bowers as “Managers” (MGR). Lettman-Hicks is the owner of P&P Communications which employed Gillum in 2017. Records show he was paid $71,680 in 2017. Also, campaign records show Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign paid P&P Communications approximately $35,000 in rent from March 2017 to July 2018.
“Gillum consulting group entangled with Chris Chestnut legal woes” via Andrew Caplan of the Gainesville Sun — Gillum’s newly formed consulting business is now entangled in a legal battle between his business partner and childhood friend and a law firm owed nearly $800,000. A Martin County judge signed off on garnishing CJD Group for any compensation it pays to former attorney Chestnut, whose family has been very much a part of Gillum’s upbringing. Chestnut said CJD Group doesn’t pay him and the garnishment is a farce. “I have no affiliation with that other than that I’m on the paperwork,” he said. “I am not a paid employee. I don’t receive any benefit or compensation from it. Anything I’ve done, I’ve done as a volunteer.”
“Janet Cruz will raise private funds to ‘get the lead out’ of Hillsborough schools” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Cruz is launching a fundraising effort tentatively called “Get the Lead Out” after the Florida Legislature failed this year to pass a bill funding water filters in state schools built before 1986. Cruz hopes to raise $250,000 to purchase and install water filters at the 136 Hillsborough public schools constructed before 1986 that contain lead pipes. “There is no safe level of lead when it comes to children drinking from tainted water fountains,” Cruz said. Her office is working to create a nonprofit organization to facilitate the funds and oversee water quality improvements at schools. She also anticipates creating a type of digital platform — like a GoFundMe page or something similar to allow individuals to contribute small donations.
“After marathon meeting supporting I-275 expansion, division is stronger than ever” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — After more than six hours, including four hours of heated public comment, the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) approved moving forward with two controversial interstate projects. But opposing sides of the controversial Tampa Bay Next process are no closer to an agreement. In fact, they might even be further split. The MPO agreed Tuesday to include some highway capacity improvements to its annual Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP.) Those projects would add a lane to Interstate 275 between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. north of downtown Tampa to Bearss Avenue. That would make the busy stretch of highway four lanes in each direction. The other project would be to add a lane to the flyover ramp from southbound 275 to I-4.
“Top OUC executive resigns over falsely claiming a doctoral degree” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — An Orlando Utilities Commission vice president resigned after the Orlando Sentinel asked for verification of a doctoral degree indicated by the “Ph.D.” on his business cards and his office signage. Lee “Chip” Merriam, 65, was being paid $254,000 annually by OUC, where he had worked for a decade. OUC leaders confirmed that Merriam was leaving the city-owned utility. “We learned on June 11, 2019, that Merriam had not completed the postgraduate program requirements for the credentials he claimed to have.”
Rick Scott takes a shot at Rick Kriseman over Cuba — The GOP Senator criticized the Democratic Mayor of St. Petersburg over his plan to meet with Cuba’s ambassador to the U.S. “It’s a shame that some FL officials continue to play Patty Cake with the oppressive Cuban regime that oppresses its own people and supports the murderous regime of @NicolasMaduro,” Scott tweeted. “I urge Mayor @Kriseman to cancel his upcoming meeting and support freedom & democracy instead.” The Tampa Bay Times reported that Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and City Council chairman Luis Viera took a pass on the meeting. Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez will visit Florida June 23-25.
“Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo resigns as Tallahassee’s top cop” via Karl Etters of Tallahassee Democrat — DeLeo’s almost 6-year tenure, pockmarked by a consistent battle with crime and its public perception, came to an end Wednesday after he tendered his resignation to city leadership. He will remain TPD’s chief through July 5. Maj. Steve Outlaw will serve as interim police chief until a nationwide search is completed to fill the position. DeLeo sent an email to the entire department Wednesday morning … (He) acknowledged his sometimes tumultuous tenure: “There is an old saying, ‘May you live in interesting times,’ and my tenure has certainly been interesting,” he wrote.
“FHP shuts down marijuana growing operation in Wakulla County” via Markeith Cromartie of the Tallahassee Democrat — An individual tipped off FHP Tuesday about a residence growing marijuana. At about 2:30 p.m., FHP obtained a search warrant to search the home. The search yielded 14 marijuana plants for cultivation located in the backyard and six firearms with 110 rounds of ammunition. One person was arrested and charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and drug equipment. FHP did not disclose the name of the person arrested. The investigation is ongoing, and FHP said: “information is subject to change.”
“Court overturns $15.5 million malpractice decision” via the News Service of Florida — A South Florida appeals court ordered a new trial in a medical malpractice case in which a patient was awarded more than $15.5 million in damages. A three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal pointed to an improper jury instruction in the Broward County case filed by patient Stephanie Hollingsworth, who alleged she did not receive proper treatment for necrotizing vasculitis, a condition that involves inflammation of blood vessel walls. Hollingsworth filed the lawsuit against physician Yvonne Sherrer and a hospital not identified in the ruling. A jury found the doctor negligent and awarded $15.59 million in damages, prompting an appeal by Sherrer.
“Blue Origin investing more than $1 billion into space Coast to build ‘road to space’” via Emre Kelly of FLORIDA TODAY — The Jeff Bezos-led company is investing more than a billion dollars into the region to transform infrastructure — old and new — into gateways for its upcoming New Glenn rocket, a towering vehicle slated to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station no earlier than 2021. It will also be built, launched and refurbished here after landing on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean. “New Glenn is all about millions of people living and working in space,” Scott Henderson, Blue Origin’s vice president of test and flight operations, said Tuesday during a National Space Club Florida Committee luncheon in Cape Canaveral. “It sets the foundation for building an infrastructure required to get to space.”
“Reverse mortgages: 15,000 older Florida homeowners at risk of foreclosure and homelessness” via Melanie Payne of the Naples Daily News — Reverse mortgages, known as home-equity conversion mortgages, are available to homeowners over age 62 who want to tap into their homes’ equity. Borrowers make no loan payments as long as they live in the house. The money isn’t paid back until the homeowner dies or moves out. But what sounds like a great deal can have serious pitfalls. Unlike conventional home mortgages, things such as falling behind on taxes or insurance payments can quickly result in the mortgage company foreclosing. Instead of reverse mortgages providing a secure financial future for senior homeowners, nearly 15,000 older Floridians out of the 85,000 currently holding reverse mortgages are in danger of losing their homes in the coming years, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
— OPINIONS —
“Joe Henderson: Three years after Pulse massacre, nothing has changed” via Florida Politics — The people of Florida and their leaders always should remember the evil that on June 12, 2016. DeSantis ordered flags to fly at half-staff throughout the state. But simply remembering the murders of 49 human beings, many who were part of the LGBTQ community, is not enough. It will never be enough until Florida decides it’s not a good idea to have weapons of mass murder that are so easy to obtain. And that’s the problem. After leaders offered their thoughts and prayers following Pulse, did anything change? Yes, there was a lot of terror that night. But instead of being directed from a foreign shore, it happened because an unhinged bigot had a gun — actually, two of them.
“Mike Hill’s homophobia shows us why LGBT pride month is important” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — He is proof that homophobia not only lives, it gets elected. It shapes laws. It serves in the military. It goes to church. It’s all around us, and it’s why Pride Month matters. Hill burst onto the scene last month through a recording of a civic meeting where he and another person exchanged their thoughts on the Bible’s view of homosexuality. The other person misquoted the New Testament, saying it called for death to men who had affairs with men. Another audience member mentioned possible legislation along those lines. Hill chuckled and wondered aloud how that would go over. Hear his meaning: Not everyone deserves equal protection under the law. That’s why Pride Month matters.
“Politicians are sticking their face in your face — at your expense” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — You see it at election time when supervisors of elections put their photos on sample ballots and polling-place posters, giving themselves an unfair advantage in their reelection races. But, you’ve got to hand it to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who found a devilishly clever way to put her face and name before voters every day. Fried’s agency inspects gas pumps for credit card skimmers, safety and accuracy. And since taking office in January, her staff has placed a brightly colored sticker — featuring her name and smiling face — on every gas pump inspected, about 84,000 so far. Floridians didn’t fall off the tanker truck yesterday. Given the prominence of her name and photo, these stickers are clearly self-promotion at taxpayer expense.
“Trump is coming to Orlando. Please try not to lose your mind.” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — This is what happens at the mere mention this president’s name: Some people immediately lose the ability to reason. The late conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer called it “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” He was originally referring to Trump critics who lose the ability to think rationally or argue cogently. But it came to also refer to Trump supporters who behave similarly. Over on the Sentinel’s Facebook page, most any post about Trump’s plans to kick off his reelection campaign at the Amway Center quickly morphed into a Dumpster fire. Logic, civility and spelling were casualties. When my editor and I discussed whether I should write about the president’s upcoming visit, I thought: Why? To what end?
— NOTES FROM ELSEWHERE —
What Jeff Brandes is reading — “Driverless cars are going to disrupt the airline industry” via The Conversation — As driverless cars become more capable and more common, they will change people’s travel habits not only around their own communities but across much larger distances. Our research has … found a new potential challenge to the airline industry. Imagine someone who lives in Atlanta and needs to travel to Washington D.C., for business … (I)f they could have a fully driverless car take them there, … passengers could eat, drink, work and sleep during the 10-hour drive. They could leave whenever they want and pack whatever they want with no searches or scans.
What gaming lobbyist Marc Dunbar is reading — “Pennsylvania approves first ‘mini-casino,’ on the edge of Amish country” by The Philadelphia Inquirer via CDC Gaming Reports — Pennsylvania regulators on Wednesday approved Penn National Gaming’s proposed satellite casino in Berks County to attract gamblers from Philadelphia’s growing western suburbs, the first of five so-called mini-casinos licensed under a 2017 law expanding gambling. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted unanimously to grant a license for the Hollywood Casino Morgantown, which abuts a Pennsylvania Turnpike exit just beyond the Chester County border. Penn National aims to begin operations in Morgantown in late 2020. The proposed $110 million, 86,000-square-foot casino would be about half the size of the flagship Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville.
What Kate McFall (The Humane Society’s Florida state director) is reading — “New York poised to become 1st state to ban cat declawing” via The Associated Press — New York would be the first state in the U.S. to ban the declawing of cats under legislation approved by lawmakers at the request of cat owners, animal welfare advocates and many veterinarians who call the procedure cruel and needless. The bill, which would subject veterinarians to $1,000 fines for performing the operation, now heads to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.
— ALOE —
“Florida named the 2nd most fun state in America” via WFLA 8 — The state rides California’s coattails as the second most fun in America, according to a list from WalletHub. The company compared all 50 states based on 26 metrics related to entertainment, recreation and nightlife. Florida was in the top percentile for most restaurants per capita, tying both California and New York. It came in third for golf courses. With the constant heat keeping residents in shape, the state is fourth for fitness centers. It ranked sixth for arts, entertainment, and arts establishments.
“If Brooks Koepka is the future of golf, what does that future look like?” via Megan Schuster of The Ringer — Koepka‘s rise to prominence may have come only two years ago, but it’s already trickling out to the wider reaches of golf. We’re seeing it in gambling circles … course design and even youth academies. Tommy Fleetwood said: “Brooks gives us something to aim for,” and that “to have a guy like Brooks to look at, to want to know what he’s doing that’s better than me, it’s only going to help. It’s only going to help my career to have that to aspire to.” And just like the sport he’s come to represent; the State of Brooks is similarly difficult to forecast. Fans have remained trickier to win over.
“Lego struggles to find a plant-based plastic that clicks” via Saabira Chaudhuri of the Wall Street Journal — The world’s biggest toy maker in 2012 pledged to find and start using sustainable alternatives to its raw materials by 2030. Realizing the scale of the challenge, it invested $150 million to hire scientists and fund research and development. Lego has so far tested more than 200 combinations of materials, but just 2 percent of its products are from plant-based plastic. The Danish company says finding the material to hit its target is proving difficult. “I wouldn’t stake my family on it, but we have to believe we will do it,” says Tim Guy Brooks, Lego’s head of environmental responsibility. “We can’t say we inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow if we’re ruining the planet.”
“Uber tests drone food delivery, launches new autonomous SUV” via The Associated Press — Uber says the service should decrease food delivery times. It works this way: Workers at a restaurant load the meal into a drone, and it takes off, tracked and guided by a new aerospace management system. The drone then meets an Uber Eats driver at a drop-off location, and the driver will hand-deliver the meal to the customer. In the future, the company wants to land drones atop parked vehicles near delivery locations and secure them to the vehicle for the final mile of the delivery. Also, Uber announced that it would work with Volvo Cars to build a car that comes off the assembly line capable of driving autonomously.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Belated happy birthday to INFLUENCE 100’er Husein Cumber. Best wishes to Sen. David Simmons and our dear friend, the smart, fiery, and funny Allison Carvajal.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, Dan McAuliffe, and Drew Wilson.