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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.12.19

I believe it was George Bernard Shaw who said that youth is wasted on the young.

The latest issue of INFLUENCE Magazine aims to disprove that.

Meet the Rising Stars of Florida politics. There are so many of them that we had to abandon the name — “30 Under 30” — we previously titled this feature. I guess that’s what happens when you have a new administration in the Capitol and so many fresh faces in the capital.

We received more than 1,000 e-mails nominating up-and-comers throughout the state to this prestigious list. To be honest, it was a challenge determining who was the cream of the crop. Yet many of the same names kept popping up and were being sent to us from trusted sources in The Process whose judgment we value.

The 2019 class of Rising Stars is involved in every aspect of Florida’s political world. They are fundraisers and lobbyists, public relations executives, and legislative staffers. Their resumes are extensive; and in 10 years, they’ll be running Florida — if not the world.

It’s hard to believe they are only a couple of years removed from the classroom. In fact, a few are still on campus.

This is the seventh year we’ve assembled this kind of list, and it’s kinda cool to see how some of our earliest honorees are now dominating #FlaPol. Bold names like Katie Betta, Kevin Cate, Ryan Duffy, Dane Eagle, Toby Philpot, Tom Piccolo, Chris Sprowls, Skylar Zander, and Christian Ziegler were all recognized, sometimes for the first time in the media, on our pages.

In fact, what’s really cool is seeing some of our past honorees now out on the 2020 presidential campaign trail. See if you recognize some of the names in Scott Powers’ rundown of the Floridians making an impact on the race.

Keeping with the spirit of recognizing up-and-coming talent, we asked Rochelle Koff to tell us about who are the rising stars of Florida’s culinary world. And Rosanne Dunkelberger spoke with our in-house craft beer master, Josh Aubuchon of Holland & Knight, about some of the best new pours throughout the Sunshine State.

To contrast all of this, I asked one of our reporters, Jim Rosica, to interview someone in The Process who has, arguably, seen as much as anyone. Who better than Arthenia Joyner to fit this bill? The civil rights advocate and former lawmakers share with our readers some of the best insights we’ve been privileged to share.

I wrote this intro last month while flying home from my family’s summer vacation. It was probably the best downtime I’ve ever enjoyed. I’m home refreshed and recharged — and hopeful for the future so beautifully represented on the pages of INFLUENCE Magazine.



@SethAbramson: If you want to understand what an absolutely *enormous* scandal [Jeffrey] Epstein‘s death is, understand this: in the whole American criminal justice system, no inmate was more in danger of suicide or homicide than Epstein. And *everyone* in law enforcement knew it. And now Epstein’s dead.

@StrandJunker: Hillary Clinton could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and do nothing, and they would say she shot Jeffrey Epstein.

@MarcoRubio: Scrutiny of how #Epstein was able to commit suicide is warranted. But the immediate rush to spread conspiracy theories about someone on the “other side” of partisan divide having him killed illustrates why our society is so vulnerable to foreign disinformation & influence efforts

@JKBJournalist: I’m going to leave this here but add one fact: Epstein never ever denied what he did and once compared it to stealing a bagel.

@ChrisSprowls: August 10th is Tay Sachs Day in Florida, and that is no coincidence. August 10th is also the birthday of a brave 4-year-old boy named Drew. Drew and his family have shown us all the true meaning of courage and perseverance in their battle with Tay Sachs Disease. … Today, we recognize those families who battle this rare genetic disorder every day, and we remain committed to finding a cure for rare diseases like Tay Sachs. Join me in praying for Drew and his family today.

@SamanthaJGross: Just hearing that Bill Monroe, a true leader in the FL medical marijuana sphere and a great source of mine, has passed away. Bill was a Navy vet, dad to two high school boys, advocate and advisor for medical marijuana treatment centers across the state. RIP.


Taylor Swift’s new album, ‘Lover,’ released — 11; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 12; St. Petersburg primary election — 15; UCF Knights football opens vs. Florida A&M — 17; USF Bulls football opens vs. Wisconsin Badgers — 18; FSU Seminoles football opens vs. Boise State — 19; Labor Day — 21; CNN hosts candidate forum on the climate crisis — 23; First Interim Committee Week for 2020 Session — 35; “Morning” Joe Scarborough releases “This Ends Badly: How Donald Trump Conned America” — 36; MSNBC hosts candidates event on climate in D.C. — 38; “Joker” opens — 53; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 77; 2019 General Election — 85; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 87; 2020 Session begins — 155; Iowa Caucuses — 175; New Hampshire Primaries — 183; Florida’s presidential primary — 218; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 347; 2020 General Election — 449.


Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein kills himself in N.Y. jail; U.S. inquiry launched” via Julie Brown of the Miami Herald — Epstein, 66, allegedly tried to harm himself several weeks ago, so at one point he was on suicide watch, though it appears that he was taken off suicide watch since then. The Department of Justice released a statement saying in part, “Lifesaving measures were initiated immediately by responding staff. … Epstein was transported by EMS to a local hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries, and subsequently pronounced dead by hospital staff.” Palm Beach lawyer Jack Scarola, who represents several victims, said an investigation is called for into how Epstein was able to, once again, get authorities to look the other way.

Jeffrey Epstein takes his own life; now what?

—“Lauren Book responds to Epstein suicide” via Melissa Razdrih of Florida Politics

—“Rick Scott calls Epstein a ‘coward’ in the wake of his suicide” via Melissa Razdrih of Florida Politics

—“Florida party leaders weigh in on Epstein conspiracies” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

U.S. attorney: Epstein abuse probe steadfast despite his death” via Jim Mustian, Michael Sisak and Michael Balsamo of The Associated Press — Epstein, accused of orchestrating a sex-trafficking ring and sexually abusing dozens of underage girls, had been taken off suicide watch before he killed himself in a New York jail. Attorney General In announcing the investigation, William Barr said he was “appalled” to learn of Epstein’s death while in federal custody. “Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Barr said in a statement. The federal investigation into the allegations remains steadfast, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said. He noted in a statement Saturday that the indictment against Epstein includes a conspiracy charge, suggesting others could face charges in the case.

Unsealed documents detail alleged Epstein victim’s recruitment at Mar-a-Lago” via Josh Gerstein of POLITICO — A trove of court documents detail allegations by an alleged victim of wealthy financier Epstein that while working as a teenage locker room attendant at Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago resort nearly two decades ago she was recruited to give Epstein massages that often involved sexual activity. The roughly 2,000 pages of records released by the Manhattan-based 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals also show the same woman, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, appears to have claimed she had sex with a series of prominent men — including former politicians — at Epstein’s direction while working as a staff masseuse for the investment adviser, who eventually came under investigation in 2006 for sex trafficking over his involvement with teenage girls.

For Epstein’s accusers suicide marks another setback” via Mike Baker of The New York Times — Epstein’s suicide in a Manhattan federal jail left accusers around the globe shocked and angered that they would never see him face a full reckoning for his exploits. After years of setbacks, they said they had come so close, with Epstein behind bars and a reinvigorated prosecution eager to air allegations of sexual abuse that had long been obscured. Several accusers, some speaking through lawyers, said they hoped that authorities would continue their investigation, focusing on other people in Epstein’s circle who they said had helped recruit, train and coerce his victims. Federal prosecutors have indicated they are looking beyond Epstein. Federal charges filed against him last month included a charge of conspiracy.

Epstein suicide sparks fresh round of conspiracy theories” via David Klepper and Amanda Seitz of The Associated Press — Online theorists quickly offered unsubstantiated speculation — including some retweeted by Trump — that Epstein’s death wasn’t a suicide, or it was faked. Some of his accusers have described being sexually abused by the wealthy financier’s friends and acquaintances. The combination created fertile ground for theories and misinformation to breed on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Other theories, however, have been easily debunked. For example, days after his arrest, online memes and Facebook statuses wrongly claimed the Barack Obama administration, to protect former President Bill Clinton, forged a once-secret deal in 2008 in Florida that allowed him to plead guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution to avoid more serious charges.

Epstein is dead, but it could take years to unravel his vast estate” via Andrew Boryga of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Although Epstein has long been rumored to be a billionaire, recent court documents suggest his fortune is worth a little over $559 million. Spencer Kuvin, a Palm Beach attorney who represented three of Epstein’s victims in a first federal case against him over a decade ago, does not doubt that new victims who have come forward will go after Epstein’s estate. However, Kuvin is also quite confident that those victims will face an uphill legal battle before they ever see a penny. “It’s going to be a legal mess for years to come,” he said. Kuvin said he did not know any specifics about what might happen to Epstein’s wealth and whether Epstein left behind a will.

What happens to Epstein’s money and homes now? Can feds seize everything?” via Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — The dozen or more new victims who came forward after Epstein’s July arrest will never get their day to face him in court. And what kind of financial compensation the future holds for them, if any, is uncertain. In an indictment filed in the Southern District of New York in July, federal prosecutors laid out their intention to confiscate Epstein’s properties that were used to facilitate the sexual abuse of minor victims. However, his death poses a significant challenge in using asset forfeiture to provide restitution to the multimillionaire’s alleged victims. “It is going to be complicated,” former federal prosecutor Jeff Marcus said.


Amendment 4: Ron DeSantis asks state Supreme Court to clarify when ex-felons can vote” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis’ letter to the court comes in the wake of controversy over a law he signed in June which he said helps clarify Amendment 4, but that critics claim restricts the felon voting rights overwhelmingly backed by voters in November. DeSantis appointed three of its seven justices shortly after he took office in January, in his remaking of the court into a conservative majority. Amendment 4 states that felons would have voting rights restored upon the “completion of all terms of sentence including parole or probation.” The Amendment also was meant to be “self-implementing” and take effect automatically. Tensions mounted after DeSantis and Republican legislators insisted a bill needed to be passed to clarify the Amendment.

Ron DeSantis is calling on the Florida Supreme Court to clarify Amendment 4, which allows former felons to regain the right to vote.

Some lawmakers late in disclosing their finances” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — More than five weeks after the July 1 deadline and more than a week after late notices were sent out to lawmakers, 25 percent of the 64 Democratic state Senators and Representatives failed to comply with the law, compared to only 3 percent of the 96 Republican lawmakers. Florida requires its elected officials to file financial disclosure forms with the Commission on Ethics that calculate their net worth by listing assets and debt. They must also list all sources of income. By law, the forms had to be at least postmarked by July 1, but the state gives officials a grace period before automatic fines kick in. If the forms still haven’t arrived by Sept. 3, the state will begin fining officials $25 a day up to a maximum $1,500.

First on #FlaPol —On second thought, Joe Gruters postpones immigration ‘listening tour’” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Gruters and state Rep. Cord Byrd intended to kick off a tour of select cities on Aug. 19. The lawmakers served as chief sponsors for a so-called sanctuary city ban. Last week, the tour announced it would add a stop in Miami after many called for the immigrant-rich community to be included, as reported by the Miami Herald. Now, it appears more likely the stops will happen during the next Legislative Session. Byrd and Gruters also recently attended the National Conference of State Legislatures. Both men were asked about their immigration bill this year, so Gruters know interest remains high. The postponement of the tour comes a week after a mass shooting in El Paso that left 31 dead.

Happening todayGruters will speak during a meeting of the Pinellas County Republican Party, 7 p.m., Feather Sound Country Club, 2201 Feather Sound Dr., Clearwater.

Chris Latvala again files ‘Jordan’s Law’” via Janelle Irwin Taylor Florida Politics — Latvala filed HB 43, mostly the same as what he proposed last year. Under Latvala’s bill, the Florida Court Education Council would establish standards for instruction for judges who handle dependency cases including those that involve recognizing and responding to head trauma and/or brain injury in children under six. It would also require notification to appropriate agencies and officials if a parent or caregiver is currently the subject of a child protective investigation for child abuse, abandonment or neglect or in cases where a child has been returned to the home under judicial supervision. The information would be centrally compiled in a Florida Crime Information Center database to ensure anyone involved in child protection has access to the information.

Michael Grieco again pushing for Florida to adopt conversion therapy ban” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Grieco has refiled legislation (HB 41) attempting to ban the practice of “conversion therapy” throughout the state of Florida. As the bill’s language explains, “the term ‘conversion therapy’ means any practice or treatment performed on an individual with the goal of changing the individual’s sexual orientation.” The measure includes examples such as “efforts to change behavior, gender identity, or gender expression, or efforts to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward an individual of the same gender.” Grieco’s bill explicitly does not apply to efforts to support individuals going through a gender transition. “LGBTQ Floridians deserve to have their rights protected like every other person in this state,” Grieco said of the legislation.


As white supremacy festers in America, Florida police agencies report few, sometimes even zero, hate crimes” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The issue of hate-fueled violence caught the attention of Florida Senate President Bill Galvano after a gunman upset about a “Hispanic invasion” opened fire in El Paso killing 22 people. Galvano ordered an investigation into “white nationalism” in Florida and its role in violence. When lawmakers review statistics, they’ll see suspiciously low numbers. Florida law allows prosecutors to seek enhanced penalties for crimes motivated by a person’s race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homeless status, or advanced age. Florida reported 169 hate crimes statewide in 2017, up 36% from the previous year, according to the most recent statistics available from the state attorney general. But the number is much lower than what other jurisdictions report.

Senate President Bill Galvano is ordering an investigation into ‘white nationalism’ violence in Florida.

Ashley Moody draws heat for opposing assault weapons ban” via John Kennedy of the GateHouse Capital Bureau — After 31 people died in mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, the Florida assault weapons ban has drawn heightened attention — along with Moody’s opposition to it. “Does it really surprise anyone that Ashley Moody would become an early and vehement opponent to a ban on assault weapons through the constitution?” asked Ben Pollara, a consultant with the campaign, Ban Assault Weapons Now. Out of six ballot proposals Moody has sent to the Florida Supreme Court for review, only the assault weapons ban opposed by the NRA and the utility deregulation — opposed by dozens of business groups, cities and professional associations — have been labeled “misleading” by the Attorney General.

Florida man arrested after shooting threat on Facebook” via The Associated Press — Florida authorities are charging a 26-year-old man they say posted a threat on Facebook that he was about to have his semi-automatic rifle returned and people should stay away from Walmart. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Richard Clayton north of Orlando. The agency said Clayton posted his threat the day after a gunman in El Paso, Texas, killed 22 people and injured two dozen at a Walmart. Investigators said the post read, “3 more days of probation left then I get my AR-15 back. Don’t go to Walmart next week.” A department spokeswoman said Clayton was not on probation. The agency said it appears Clayton follows white supremacist ideology.

What Reggie Garcia is reading —Banned behind bars: 20,000 books can’t be read by Florida inmates; the list may surprise you” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — “How to Leave Prison Early” is not welcome in Florida prisons. The Department of Corrections has declared the how-to book on work release, parole, and clemency off-limits for the 96,000 inmates in state custody. “It makes no sense. All it does is explain Florida law to help inmates and families understand their options and eligibility,” said the book’s author, Garcia. Garcia’s book is among the publications banned by the Department of Corrections in what critics call a punitive interpretation of a 1987 court ruling that allows the state to restrict inmates’ First Amendment rights. Garcia’s book tripped the security alarm when he identified the inmate in a case he used as an example.

Tweet, tweet:

Florida tried to fix guardianship system. Rebecca Fierle case reveals it’s still broken, critics say” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — Even those who have worked within the system say there should be more oversight, enforcement power and transparency and that changes are needed both at Office of Public and Professional Guardians and within the judicial system. “If you know that there’s a cop around the corner with a radar gun, you are less likely to speed,” said recently retired Ninth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jose Rodriguez, who ran the guardianship division there for three years. “We don’t have a radar gun, let alone a cop.” OPPG, the watchdog agency, now operates with a staff of just four employees.

Kids are at risk as religious exemptions to vaccines spike in Florida” via Ryan Mills of the Naples Daily News — Religious exemptions for kindergartners spiked last year, up 20 percent from the previous year — the biggest jump in the past five years. They’re also the reason why a majority of Florida’s counties aren’t meeting what are considered safe levels of immunizations. When vaccination rates fall below 95 percent, schools and communities could lose “herd immunity,” or the ability to protect against outbreaks. Last year, 42 of 67 counties failed to meet that threshold for kindergartners in public and private schools, up from 35 counties the year before and 27 in the 2016-17 school year. Last year, 6,472 kindergartners attended Florida schools with religious exemptions. That’s a 245 percent increase from the 2008-09 school year when 1,877 kindergartners had religious exemptions.

Florida wants to buy Irma-flooded homes. Is it the start of a retreat from sea rise?” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — Some communities — North Miami, for instance — have bought out flood-prone properties in the past, but this is the first time the state has managed a program of this size that removes once-valuable real estate from the market. Permanently. The threat of rising seas in the most vulnerable state in the nation is only going to increase demand for government buyouts — currently a last-resort option that climate adaption managers, mindful of political push back, call “relocation.” Many activists put it more plainly. They call it retreat from land not worth the cost of saving, or simply beyond saving. “This is retreat. This is not only an acknowledgment, it’s putting some real money in it,” said South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard.

South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard is calling the purchase of Irma-flooded homes ‘a retreat’ from rising sea levels.

Judge scrutinizes health contract law” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — At the heart of the contentious fight is a new state law sparked by a feud between one of Florida’s largest cancer-care companies and physicians who used to work for the firm. The doctors are fighting against non-compete restrictions that 21st Century Oncology placed on physicians working for the firm. The physicians’ efforts were boosted by the new law, which, among other things, negates the no-compete clauses. The oncology firm has asked U.S. District Judge Mark Walker to strike down the law. “The only purpose the law serves is to let a few physicians out of their contracts,” George Levesque, a lawyer representing 21st Century Oncology, told Walker. The oncology firm sued the state shortly after DeSantis signed the bill, a priority of House Speaker José Oliva, earlier this summer.

Happening today — The Florida Public Service Commission will start what could be a multiday hearing about energy-conservation goals for electric utilities, 1:30 p.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.

Happening today — The Education Estimating Conference will consider student financial-aid issues, noon, 117 Knott Building.

Happening today — Staff members for state Sen. George Gainer and Rep. Jay Trumbull will join the Junior Leagues of Florida State Public Affairs Committee in Bay County for a back-to-school red carpet event. Students will receive backpacks full of school supplies, 7 a.m., Lucille Moore Elementary School, 1900 Michigan Ave, Panama City. Contact for more information.


Cuba feels the pinch of the Donald Trump administration’s travel restrictions” via Mimi Whitefield of the Los Angeles Times — Trump, in a June 2017 speech in Miami, declared his new policies toward Cuba would bypass “the military and government to help the Cuban people form businesses and pursue much better lives.” Many Cubans say, however, that their private businesses have slowed to a crawl as many relatively free-spending Americans are removed from the visitor mix. At Fusterlandia, where artist Jose Fuster has covered practically every inch of his home and workshop in mosaic tile and begun to cover walls, bus stops and nearby homes as well, the neighborhood on the outskirts of Havana is hurting.

Jeanine Pirro and Matt Gaetz get into heated argument over gun control” via Mediaite — Pirro was arguing in favor of expanding background checks, saying President Trump called her to indicate his support for the proposal which is opposed by many conservative Republicans and the National Rifle Association. Pirro, who was in Sydney for her show, noted the lack of mass shootings in Australia. … “Nobody would suggest in the United States we would want Australia’s solution. They confiscated all the guns. You know who did what Australia did? Venezuela,” Gaetz said. We need more of what Senator [Lindsey] Graham discussed, red flag laws and federal support for communities who want to do that.”

National service may decrease gun violence, Michael Waltz says” via Florida Politics — Army veteran and Republican U.S. Rep. Waltz is suggesting a response to the rivers of blood from mass shootings in America cannot be found in gun control but rather in “getting young men off the couch” and into national service. Waltz, the first Green Beret elected to Congress, stopped short of advocating a national military draft but argued on FOX News that community service might ease what ails people who turn into killers. The congressman from St. Augustine Beach spoke to FOX News’ Martha MacCallum in response to the massacres that took place in El Paso and Dayton two weekends ago.

Climate change activists to deliver ‘science lesson’ to Ross Spano” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Voters from Spano’s CD 15, the group TB Climate Action, Extinction Rebellion, the Hillsborough County Democratic Environmental Caucus, Indivisible East Hillsborough and the Tampa Bay Sierra Club are planning to deliver climate change textbooks to Spano’s district office in an effort to educate him on the issue. The event is at 10 a.m. at Spano’s Brandon office located at 10101 Bloomingdale Avenue. Spano appeared on WFLA’s Politics on Your Side in an interview with host Evan Donovan in which he blatantly denied that climate change was human-made. Pressed further on the issue, Spano rejected consensus from 98 percent of climate scientists that the issue is the result of human interference and is a serious health, economic and environmental concern.

Angry constituents are giving human-made climate change denier Ross Spano a science lesson.

Happening today — U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, who chairs the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, will discuss the impact of climate change on the future of Florida agriculture, 2 p.m., Hilton University of Florida Conference Center, 1714 S.W. 34th St., Gainesville.

— 2020 —

Can anyone catch Joe Biden?” via Lisa Lerer, Sydney Ember and Reid Epstein of The New York Times — This summer has been full of predictions about an early Biden demise as a presidential candidate, be it from a poor debate performance or some gaffes, like his comment that “poor kids” are just as bright as “white kids.” But Biden has rebounded repeatedly, maintaining a commanding, crowd-drawing position in the contest. Now, as he works to solidify that lead, a new political dynamic is energizing and clarifying the purpose of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Senator Kamala Harris and the rest of the Democratic field: To emerge as the leading rival to the former vice president. If a formidable rival is to emerge to Biden, political watchers say, it is likely to happen in Iowa.

Is there anyone who can catch Joe Biden?

Biden says he was vice president when Parkland shooting happened” via Emma Kinery of the Orlando Sentinel — Biden told reporters in Iowa that “those kids in Parkland came up to see me when I was vice president.” But when they visited Capitol Hill to talk with members of Congress, lawmakers were “basically cowering, not wanting to see them. They did not want to face it on camera.” The former vice president was making a point about the changing conversation around gun violence in this country, and how as more and more ordinary people are touched by mass shootings, they are more likely to call for action. The statement was the latest in a string of gaffes that have plagued Biden on the campaign trail.

Seven Republicans call for Ethics Committee investigation into Joaquin Castro” via Chris Marquette of Roll Call — “Seven Republican members of the House Freedom Caucus are calling on the House Ethics Committee to investigate Texas Democrat Joaquin Castro for publicly posting on Twitter the names and workplaces of constituents who donated to President Donald Trump.”

— MORE 2020 —

With assist from Yang Gang, Andrew Yang expands lead in poll” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The former tech executive has managed to grow his lead in an ongoing Progress Florida straw poll of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. The online survey shows Yang with 35 percent support as of Friday morning. In second place is U.S. Sen.Warren of Massachusetts at 20 percent. She’s followed by U.S. Sen. Sanders of Vermont at 14 percent, former Vice President Biden at 12 percent and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 5 percent. Online polls are not considered scientific, due to their susceptibility to such manipulation. But so far, Yang’s supporters seem to have been the main ones to take advantage.


Happening today — State political candidates and committees are required to file reports showing finance activity through July 31.

Ana Maria Rodriguez takes in more than $82K in first month of SD 39 candidacy” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — GOP Rep. Rodriguez is attempting a jump to the Senate after just a single Legislative Session in the House. And if her first month of fundraising is any indication, it looks like plenty of people are supporting the move. Rodriguez raised just more than $57,000 to her own campaign coffers, adding another $25,000 through Ethics and Honestly in Government, a political committee. But anyone thinking this race is in the bag for the Republicans should pump the brakes. Democratic candidate and Pinecrest Vice Mayor Anna Hochkammer earned even more in her first month as a candidate back in April. Hochkammer pulled in just over $105,000 during that first month.

Will Jim Boyd enter state Senate race this week?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Manatee County enjoyed a high level of influence this year thanks to state Sen. Galvano serving as Senate President. But who will succeed the Bradenton Republican when he leaves in 2020? For months, the Manatee-area Republican party has waited on a decision from one person, former lawmaker Boyd. “It is my understanding he is very interested in running,” Galvano says. He There’s a reason to think a Boyd candidacy could all but take Florida Senate District 21 out of contention. Democrat Amanda Linton, a first-time candidate, has already filed. But this will be a difficult seat to flip.

Former state Rep. Jim Boyd could enter the race for Florida Senate as soon as this week.

Republican lawmakers announce committee week fundraiser” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The event is slated for 5 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Governors Club. The fundraiser is aimed at boosting the campaign accounts of Republican Sens. Gayle Harrell and Debbie Mayfield, who are running for reelection in 2020. The event will also benefit Jennifer Bradley and state Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez. Bradley is looking to succeed her husband, Senate Budget Chief Rob Bradley, in North Florida’s Senate District 5. Rodriguez is running for Senate District 39, which is currently held by Republican Sen. Anitere Flores. Flores, who is term-limited, is listed on the host committee for the event as are Sens. Kathleen Passidomo, Lizbeth Benacquisto and Kelli Stargel.

Former Islamorada Mayor Jim Mooney joins race to replace Holly Raschein” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Islamorada Councilman and former Mayor has joined the House District 120 race to replace term-limited Raschein. Mooney joins attorney Alexandria Suarez as the only two candidates filed in the contest so far. Both are Republicans. Mooney says he began considering a 2020 run about two years ago, when several of his would-be constituents suggested he run for the seat once it becomes open. Though he didn’t commit then to running in 2020, Mooney says that as the time to file got closer, he warmed to the idea of representing the district in Tallahassee. “I love the state of Florida, bottom line,” Mooney said. “So for me, it’s not just about the district.”


Pivotal meeting ahead for Duval School Board and Jacksonville City Council” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — Three months after the Duval County School Board requested a half-cent sales tax referendum, the board will sit down with the Jacksonville City Council in a rare joint meeting that will be like a family reunion among family members who haven’t always gotten along. The three-hour session could mend the strain, or keep stirring the pot that’s boiled over with charges and countercharges of “hostage-taking” and assertions of who’s acted like grown-ups in the debate over putting the referendum for schools on the ballot. City Council member Tommy Hazouri said that at some point the council needs to vote on the School Board’s request for a referendum. “It looks bad for us,” Hazouri said.

Jacksonville City Council member Tommy Hazouri says the slow walk on a school-tax referendum is making them ‘look bad.’

Good read —Jacksonville City Councilman Rory Diamond takes on veteran suicide” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Diamond has been outspoken on issues of the day like the proposed school sales tax (he’s a skeptic as the proposal currently is constructed), but he’s also addressing issues that unfortunately are timeless. One such concern is veteran suicide. Diamond has been a staunch advocate of the PAWS Act, which would fund service dogs for vets who need them. Diamond, whose K9s for Warriors nonprofit is leading the way when it comes to helping veterans who have PTSD and related post-service adjustment issues, has been especially vocal on this issue.

Hundreds protest Confederate statue in Lake County: ‘It is dividing us’” via Tess Sheets of the Orlando Sentinel — Hundreds of people flocked to the lawn outside Lake County’s courthouse Saturday in a show of dissent for a Confederate statue expected to make a home of the county’s historical museum despite persistent disapproval from many Lake residents. The statue, an effigy of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, won a spot in the museum when Lake County commissioners last month approved its introduction in a 3-2 vote, siding with museum curator Bob Grenier, who bid state legislators last year to acquire it. But the vote didn’t discourage the roughly 400 objectors attending the protest Saturday, who remained steadfast in their disapproval.

Lake County residents protest against moving the Edmund Kirby Smith statue to Tavares. Image via WESH.

Lakeland could be the exception to Florida’s broadband laws” via  Sara-Megan Walsh of the Lakeland Ledger — Florida is one of 26 states that have laws that either restrict or outright ban municipally-owned broadband networks. Lakeland officials’ predecessors had the foresight to obtain a certificate to provide communication services from the Florida Public Services Commission in 1994. At the time, it was to create a telephone network, according to city spokesman Kevin Cook, but it was never completed. The document will exempt Lakeland from “most” of the state’s business and procedural requirements to operate a broadband utility. If a municipality-owned broadband utility can’t show a profit after four years, the state requires it to hold a public hearing on whether to continue services.

Many Hispanics in Manatee live in fear they will become targets of racist violence” via Jessica De Leon and Sara Nealeigh of the Miami Herald — At La Marketa, a The Hispanic market in east Bradenton, business has been slow in the wake of the mass shooting in El Paso. Customers are fearful that a Hispanic business could become the target of racist-driven violence like the attack at the Walmart in El Paso that left 22 people dead. El Paso police say the alleged gunman confessed to targeting Mexicans during the attack. Some, such as store owner Angel Guerrero, fear going out to any public places, including restaurants and bars, and just go from work to home. “It’s ugly,” Guerrero said. “The store has been quiet. Quiet, quiet.”

Frank Kruppenbacher, FLVS board member had outside connections, but was it a conflict?” via Beth Kassab of the Orlando Sentinel — As a member of the board of the Florida Virtual School, Robert Saltsman’s duties included overseeing the work of Kruppenbacher, the school’s former general counsel who reported directly to Saltsman. But while he was Kruppenbacher’s boss at the virtual school, Saltsman worked as a consultant for Kruppenbacher’s personal law firm as well as a representative for companies owned by Kruppenbacher and his wife. At the same time, Kruppenbacher was the powerful chairman of the Orlando International Airport board overseeing a $4.2 billion capital spending budget there and Saltsman was a lobbyist for one of the biggest construction companies and other high-profile vendors that bid for work at the airport. Neither man disclosed their outside connections during public meetings.


I’m a gun owner and NRA member. I support red-flag laws to help stop mass shootings.” via Rick Scott for The Washington Post — Let me be clear: I am a gun owner, a member of the National Rifle Association and a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. But the horror of Parkland demanded a swift, practical legislative response to try to prevent future such nightmares. In Florida, about three weeks after the Parkland shooting — and after the views of experts in mental health, education and law enforcement were taken into account — I signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act into law, surrounded by the families of those who tragically lost their lives. Now, in the aftermath of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Washington should stop the partisan bickering and get to work on solutions.

Why are Florida Republicans so afraid of people voting?” via The New York Times editorial board — Florida’s Republican lawmakers decided Amendment 4 was too much democracy for their taste. DeSantis signed a law passed on party lines that effectively reinstates the ban for most of them, and for hundreds of thousands more people not yet registered. As the lawmakers surely knew when they wrote the law, they would be re-disenfranchising many people who just had their rights restored. Florida Republicans insist that their new law is simply expressing the will of the voters because the Amendment allowed for restoration of voting rights only “upon completion of all terms of sentence including parole or probation.” And the law provides alternatives for people who can’t pay, including community service. Don’t fall for these arguments.

Joe Henderson: Red flags are flapping on Mike Hill gun bill” via Florida Politics — Hill filed a bill to overturn Florida’s so-called “red flag” provision for gun sales. HB 6033 won’t pass and probably won’t get out of committee. So why is he wasting the House’s time on a doomed and loony idea? Hill is the same guy who was laughed along with a suggestion from the crowd at a rally that Old Testament-style execution to deal with gays. The idea of keeping guns away from people who show unmistakable signs of being a danger to fellow humans is so basic that, dare I say it, even Mike Hill should see the logic. Maybe that is asking too much, though.


Personnel note: Courtney Hendricks becomes new Open Government Coordinator for Ron DeSantisHendricks replaces Olivia Boney, who said last week she was taking on a new role within the Governor’s Office, that of DeSantis’ North Florida Regional Representative. Hendricks now will process public records requests sent to the Executive Office of the Governor. The Bradenton native studied sociology at Florida State University, graduating in 2013. She is new to government work, having most recently been an executive assistant at Lexington Christian Academy in Lexington, Kentucky and an administrative assistant at Community Christian School in Tallahassee. Deputy General Counsel James Uthmeier oversees the Office of Open Government.

Dr. Ronald F. Giffler named President of the Florida Medical Association” via Melissa Razdrith of Florida Politics — His installment took place during the 2019 FMA Annual Meeting at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. He is the latest in a succession of 142 presidents before him. He is a Medical Doctor (MD) and holds a Juris Doctorate (JD), as well as a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) and is a Fellow of the College of American Pathologists (FCAP) among his credentials. According to a release, “Board-certified in anatomic and clinical pathology, Dr. Giffler is President and CEO of FirstPath™, a physician-operated lab based in Pompano Beach. He is also Medical Director of Laboratory Services for Broward Health, one of the nation’s largest public health systems.”

Congratulations to Dr. Ronald Giffler, the FMA’s new president.

AppointedLloyd Freckleton to the Daytona State College District Board of Trustees.

Spotted — At the Florida Medical Association Annual Meeting in the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, which installed Dr. Ronald Giffler as the new president: U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Senate President Galvano, state Sen. Gayle Harrell, state Rep. Dan Daley and presenter Rich Heffley.

— ALOE —

It’s the Perseid meteor shower! Here’s how to watch the annual show” via Johnny Diaz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — This year’s shower is expected to peak overnight Monday into Tuesday according to But a full moon may hamper viewing compared to previous years. That means that a typical viewing of more than 60 fireballs per hour will be down to 15-20 per hour this year. NASA recommends that stargazers stay up late or wake up early on the evenings of Sunday into Monday and Monday into Tuesday. Astronomers suggest that the best times to view the Perseids will be between 2 a.m. and dawn. No special equipment (telescopes or binoculars) will be needed to watch the light show.

Astronomers give some hints on how to view the upcoming Perseid meteor shower.


Belated happy birthday wishes to Brice Barnes, Jack Cory, Jim DeFede of CBS 4 News, Chris Hart, Josh Karp, former Sen. Jeremy Ring and Matt Surrency. Celebrating today are former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, Rep. Matt Caldwell and Alex Blair.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

The post Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.12.19 appeared first on Florida Politics – Campaigns & Elections. Lobbying & Government..