Friday, 9 December 2022
728 x 90

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.30.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Is a Democratic “blue wave” coming for Florida?

While Florida Democrats relish the possibility of electing a Democratic governor this year, something that hasn’t happened in nearly a quarter-century, polling in two Tampa Bay-area districts show the wave down-ballot may be no more than a ripple.

New polling in Florida’s 12th Congressional District gives a decisive lead — nearly 20 points — to incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis over Democratic challenger Chris Hunter, a former FBI agent, federal prosecutor and first-time candidate.

Gus Bilirakis has a solid lead in CD 12.

Conducted July 28 by StPetePolls for Florida Politics, the CD 12 survey gives Bilirakis 49 percent; Hunter gets just under 30 percent, with about 21 percent undecided.

A similar dynamic is in Florida’s 16th Congressional District, but with only a nine-point spread. StPetePolls also found incumbent U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan leading Democrat David Shapiro 44-35 percent.

Both polls used more than 600 likely Florida voters (615 and 681, respectively), and each has a +/- 4 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level.

Indeed, the key to any Democratic gains in the midterms will rest on name recognition, something with which both Shapiro and Hunter struggle.

More than half of respondents hold a favorable opinion of Tarpon Springs Republican Bilirakis (51 percent), and only 28 percent unfavorable. Compare that to the relatively unknown Hunter, whose favorable is just under 25 percent, 16 percent unfavorable and a significant 60 percent unsure.

As for Buchanan, respondents gave the Longboat Key Republican 44 percent favorable to 38 percent unfavorable, and 18 percent unsure. Shapiro fares slightly better than his fellow Democrat, with 34 percent favorable, 29 percent unfavorable and 38 percent unsure.

In CD 16, negative ads and accusations are rampant on both sides — including revelations that Buchanan purchased a million-dollar yacht immediately after he helped pass GOP tax cuts; Shapiro was found to have invested in gun and ammo manufacturers, despite vowing to “ban all weapons of war.” No doubt, Buchanan attacking his opponent by name helps raise Shapiro’s name recognition with voters.

No such thing as bad press, some might say, and Shapiro is fundraising off the attacks.

Nevertheless, those numbers, and the fact that incumbency holds significant weight with voters, puts Hunter and Shapiro at distinct disadvantages — and hence the inherent trouble with any down-ballot blue wave in Florida.


—@RealDonaldTrump: Is Robert Mueller ever going to release his conflicts of interest with respect to President Trump, including the fact that we had a very nasty & contentious business relationship, I turned him down to head the FBI (one day before appointment as S.C.) & [JamesComey is his close friend.

—@RepTedDeutch: Trump’s “wall” won’t make us safer, but it will continue to explode GOP deficits & betray our values. Now he wants to lock the government doors to stroke his ego and play politics?

@SteveSchale: Poll comes out this morning not only showing Gwen Graham with 9pt lead, but also with substantial lead in favorable name ID over likely GOP choice. At 5pm, a D.C. secret money group announces another negative ad against her. Yeah, I think we all know what’s going on here.

@AndrewGillum: Stand Your Ground is not colorblind. If we are going to talk about it, we have to talk fully about it … just think if the shoes had been reversed? Now what are we going to do about it? Call it out. Demand change. And vote.

—@JeremySheftel: .@RonDeSantisFL: “I’m a blue-collar guy.” *Only person wearing sports jacket at 2016 Adam Putnam Friends of Florida Ag BBQ on a ranch in Zolfo Springs* Meanwhile … @adamputnam: bags pythons with his bare hands alongside wounded Florida veterans in the Everglades.

@MacStipanovich: As it turns out, one of the greatest benefits to me of having joined the Marine Corps and fought in Vietnam 50 years ago is that it gives me unassailable moral high ground from which I, like an old monkey, can hurl poo at the right-wing uniform fetishists who infest Twitter.

@ScottforFlorida: Congratulations to Florida native Chipper Jones on his induction to the Hall of Fame today!

@JackShafer: When they came for the straws, I said nothing.


Deadline for filing claim bills — 2; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in West Palm Beach — 3; Florida’s back to school sales tax holiday begins — 4; Republican gubernatorial debate in Jacksonville — 9; School begins in the first 19 Florida districts — 11; Start of the U.S. Open — 28; Primary Election Day — 29; College Football opening weekend — 31; Labor Day — 35; NFL regular season starts — 38; Future of Florida Forum — 58; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 85; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 86; General Election Day — 99; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 120; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 197; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 218; 2020 General Election — 827.


Registration deadline for primary is today — Floridians face a Monday deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 28 primary elections, which include races for governor, Cabinet seats and, in many areas, congressional and legislative seats. Voters who want to change party affiliations before the primaries also must do so before the Monday deadline. As of June 30, Florida had more than 12.9 million registered voters, with registered Democrats slightly outnumbering registered Republicans, according to the state Division of Elections website. Miami-Dade County had the largest number of registered voters at 1.39 million, while Broward County was next at more than 1.14 million. Lafayette County had the fewest registered voters at 4,297, while Liberty County had 4,341.

—“As voter registration deadline approaches, numbers show Dems lost ground over past year” via John Lucas of The Capitolist


San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz endorses Bill Nelson” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Cruz‘s decision to publicly support Nelson as well as Congressman Darren Soto underscores the degree to which the Donald Trump administration’s failure to provide aid and other assistance after Maria devastated Puerto Rico last fall has become a common campaign issue on the mainland as well as the island. “Do you think Donald Trump respects us? Trump sees a Boricua, and he sees paper towels,” Cruz said during a get-out-the-vote stop in Orlando, recalling how the president visited the island after the hurricane and insulted many for dispensing paper towels to storm survivors as if he were shooting a basketball. “You deserve people that take your opinions into account. And two of those people are Darren Soto and Sen. Bill Nelson,” Cruz went on. “It’s very simple, don’t complicate it. Do you want Donald Trump to keep doing what he does? Stay home. But if you want real change, the kind of change that moves people to be better. It’s simple: register to vote and vote.”

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz.

Nelson throws sand at Rick Scott for signing new beach law” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Stopping by Santa Rosa Beach in Walton County, Nelson urged Scott and the Republican-led Legislature to call a special session to repeal the measure prompting waterfront homeowners to restrict public access to the beachfront. “Beachgoers should be able to enjoy the sun and the sand without being harassed and without worrying whether they’ll be arrested and what they’ve been experiencing on our beaches is just not right,” Nelson said. Walton County is ground zero in the fight, but it’s causing concern among many ocean- and gulf-side communities. The law, which took effect July 1, overturned 2016 action by the Walton County Commission which declared the public had customary use rights to the county’s 26-miles of dry sand beach along the Gulf of Mexico.

Scott’s fortune could top $500 million, according to federal filing” via Matt Dixon and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Scott’s family fortune could be upward of $500 million, a number much larger than he has reported in the past because Florida did not require the governor to include massive investments held by his wife, according to federal financial disclosure forms … The forms were filed as part of Scott’s bid for the U.S. Senate, and answer a question long asked by Florida political observers: How much is Scott really worth? The two-term governor told state election officials this year that his net worth was $232 million, a number that did not include investments held by his wife, Ann. Holdings under her name, which previously were not disclosed publicly, are worth between $171 million and $208 million, according to Scott’s Friday filing. Federal financial disclosure forms only require that ranges be reported when reporting the net worth of an asset. Including assets under Ann’s name, the total net worth is at least between $254 million and $510 million but could be much higher. Because assets worth more than $1 million are only listed as “over $1 million,” the number is likely much higher.

Scott’s Donald Trump dilemma: Wooing independents without alienating the president’s followers” via Ledyard King of USA TODAY — Lately, the bromance has cooled a bit. The governor still talks regularly with the president, and he’s planning to join Trump during an official tour of a Tampa school. But he’ll skip the nearby political rally Trump is holding for Ron DeSantis, who is vying for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. And Scott is not shy these days about publicly disagreeing with the president at key junctures such as administration’s policy on separating immigrant families at the border, arming teachers, or Trump’s oft-stated doubts that Russia meddled in the last election. He’s also parted with Trump on certain policies, such as gun control (Scott signed a law raising the minimum age to buy guns from 18 to 21) and made it a point to welcome Puerto Ricans leaving the hurricane-ravaged island. “I’m going to be with the president when it’s good for Florida. I’m going to be against the president when it’s not good for Florida,” Scott told reporters earlier this month when pressed to respond to the president’s denials about election interference at the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

For Scott, a gusher of oil, gas and energy campaign money” via Steve Bousquet of The Tampa Bay Times — America’s oil and gas industry is making a serious investment in Gov. Scotts U.S. Senate campaign. Scott’s midyear campaign report shows at least $880,000 in contributions from oil, gas and energy executives and employees to his campaign and from the industry to a pro-Scott super PAC. The industry is generally aligned with Republican candidates. Scott’s campaign or pro-Scott PACs report donations from Murray Energy PAC, Chevron Employees PAC, Occidental Petroleum PAC, Marathon Petroleum Employees PAC, Valero PAC, Chemstream, Consumer Energy Solutions and Complete Drilling Solutions.

Spotted: Gov. Scott, state Rep. Paul Renner and Speaker-designate Jose Oliva at this weekend’s Koch Network event in Colorado Springs. Others in attendance include Tennessee U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn and Nevada’s Adam Laxalt.


Matching funds headed to seven candidates” via the News Service of Florida — Republican gubernatorial candidates DeSantis and Adam Putnam and Democratic candidate Gwen Graham were among seven statewide candidates who qualified for state matching funds. Florida Division of Elections spokeswoman Sarah Revell said letters were also being sent — advising candidates that they will receive matching funds — to Republican Ashley Moody and Democrat Sean Shaw, who are running for attorney general; Republican state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis; and Republican Denise Grimsley, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner. Candidates are eligible to receive matches of individual contributions of $250 or less. No public money is dispensed until candidates for Cabinet positions reach $100,000 in such relatively small-dollar contributions received since last September. For gubernatorial candidates, the threshold is $150,000.

Candidates spar, protesters come out at Sarasota GOP rally” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Roughly 1,200 people came out to see 41 GOP candidates, from Scott to gubernatorial candidates DeSantis and Putnam and on down the ballot. Scott’s speech was interrupted four times by four different protesters. One jumped on a table and called the governor a “liar.” The protests were organized by Dream Defenders, a criminal justice reform group that sent out a news release afterward criticizing Scott for taking campaign money from private prison operator GEO Group. “They can’t get people to go to their rallies, so they came to our rallies,” Scott quipped during one of the interruptions, adding later that: “We have 1,000 people here, and they have four. I think we’re going to do well.” Each protester was escorted out of the arena by police.

To view the protest, click on the image below:

[embedded content]

American Conservative Union endorses DeSantis — Speaking to a crowd of supporters in Kissimmee, American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp praised DeSantis’ conservative record, military background and leadership in Congress before announcing the organization’s official support for DeSantis. “Ron DeSantis is a conservative warrior with a proven record of leadership. He’s served our nation in Iraq, fought for conservative principles in Congress, and I know he’ll be a great governor for Florida.” Best known for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the ACU is the nation’s original conservative political organization.

DeSantis insults Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, then fundraises off it” via Jennifer Bendery of The Huffington Post — After attacking Ocasio-Cortez all week, DeSantis is now fundraising off his attempts to malign the New York Democratic congressional nominee — by saying that he is the one under attack. In a campaign email, DeSantis says Ocasio-Cortez “is accusing me of having a problem with her personal identity” … “These attacks are political correctness run amuck,” his letter continues, perhaps meaning “amok” there. “When attacked, I will always defend my principles.” DeSantis justified calling 28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez “this girl … or whatever she is” by pointing out that she once called herself “a girl from the Bronx” on Stephen Colbert’s TV show. He’s insulted her intelligence and identity as a democratic socialist. The only response she’s had to any of it is to clarify in a tweet that she is “a Puerto Rican woman.” That response was apparently too much for DeSantis, and now he needs donor money to fend off such words.

Wealthy Florida Democrats say their blind trusts won’t be like Scott’s” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Around the time they disclosed their own finances last month, three of the five Democrats running to replace Scott said publicly that they would either transfer their assets into a blind trust or at least consider doing so. The reason: a blind trust managed by a third-party ostensibly allows a public official to make conflict-free financial decisions because they don’t know what assets they hold or how and whether their decisions affect their own personal wealth. Businessmen Jeff GreeneChris King and Philip Levine each said last month that a blind trust was an option on the table should they become Florida’s governor. Levine’s campaign says it’s not the blind trust that’s been the problem, but the people who oversee and use it.

The Collective Super PAC pitches in another $1 million for Andrew Gillum” via Elizabeth Koh of the, Miami Herald — The Collective Super PAC, a political group working to support black candidates, is boosting its support of Gillum‘s candidacy by another $1 million as direct contributions to the Gillum campaign and the affiliated political committee Forward Florida, in in-kind support and television advertising. It will include a nearly $500,000 ad buy which will air in Tampa Bay, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville next week. The group’s statement did not name Graham as the target of the ad — titled “Zero Regrets” — but it said the ad “focuses on one of Gillum’s primary opponents, who continues to tout progressive credentials despite voting with banks, supporting the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline, and publicly undermining President Obama‘s Affordable Care Act to get reelected.” The Collective’s 501(c)(4) arm, Collective Future, has previously contributed $266,000 to Forward Florida. The parent group’s largest contributors this cycle have included George Soros, ACTBLUE, Priorities USA and Planned Parenthood.

Coffee and conversation: Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum visited Puerto Rico this weekend, where he spent an evening in Lares, visiting La Hacienda Lealtad coffee plantation, meeting with agricultural leaders and elected officials.

At Clearwater town hall, Gillum calls to make “stand your ground” election issue in November” via Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times — Gillum, with NAACP leaders, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and several clergy, spoke inside Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 10 days and a five-minute drive removed from the parking lot where Markeis McGlockton, 28, was fatally shot by Michael Drejka, 47. “This comes down to electing elected officials who understand that their top priority needs to be the repeal of ‘Stand Your Ground,’?” Gillum said. McGlockton’s immediate family sat in the front row, along with another 150 members of the audience, who filled the brick building’s pews. Gillum, the most prominent black candidate for governor, insisted the law disproportionately helps those who kill black victims. “We … know that ‘stand your ground’ is not colorblind,” he said. “Because of the color of my skin, I represent a certain level of threat.”

EMILY’s List puts Gwen Graham over $10M mark in total fundraising” via Florida Politics — Graham posted a major haul in her new campaign finance reports thanks to a $400,000 cash infusion from EMILY’s List … That six-figure donation went to the former congresswoman’s political committee, Gwen Graham for Florida, on July 17. In all, Graham’s new reports showed $732,700 in contributions for the reporting period covering July 14 through July 20 — $630,100 in committee cash with another $102,600 in hard money fundraising for her campaign account.

—“Margaret Good and Graham swinging for glass ceiling” via Jacob Ogles of SRQ Magazine

Jeff Greene plows another $3 million into Governor’s race” via the News Service of Florida — … bringing the total to $13.6 million since Greene entered the race last month. Greene, a Palm Beach billionaire, loaned $3 million to the campaign on July 16. The $13.6 million includes loans and contributions from Greene, who has almost totally self-funded his campaign. During an interview, Greene didn’t put a limit on how much he will spend … “As of now, I know that I’ve probably spent a little more than Gwen Graham, less than Philip Levine,” Greene said. “There are only five weeks left, I don’t have any idea what it will take.”

Chris King thinks voters want something new” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — There’s one historical similarity between Scott’s victory eight years ago and King’s campaign this year. Both men had the good fortune to run in the first midterm point of an unpopular president of the opposite party, who had carried Florida. The 2010 midterm was so bad for the Democrats, they lost in four congressional seats and failed to win a U.S. Senate race. Nobody thinks a “blue wave” this year, if there is one, is going to run that deep in Florida. In fact, it may be more like a ripple, as the Republicans have a history of reuniting after the primaries and flooding the general election with money and organization. “I may be naive, I may be idealistic, but I think ideas matter,” King said in an hourlong session with the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board last week. “These are unusual times … Let’s swing for the fences. Let’s do something big and win.” We’ve still got a month before Democrats and Republicans select this year’s nominees. Maybe King’s bold new — some would say politically hopeless — approach can motivate the millennials and boost his lagging poll numbers.

Assignment editors —King will continue his statewide “Keeping the Promise” tour on health care, 1 p.m., Sumter County Democratic Party headquarters, 300 S. Main St., Wildwood.

Assignment editors — Levine this morning will help unveil a mural featuring Joaquin Oliver, a victim of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The mural is designed to spur action against gun violence. That’s at 11 a.m., Levine campaign headquarters, 2215 N.W. 1st Place, Miami.

Cannabis crusaders: From left to right, medical marijuana patient & “warrior” Cathy Jordan, husband Bob Jordan, marijuana physician Barry Gordon and Democratic candidate for Attorney General Sean Shaw, at a Friday night fundraiser for Shaw at the Starlite Room in Sarasota.

Assignment editors — Rep. Frank White, a Pensacola Republican running for Attorney General, is slated to speak tonight to the Women’s Republican Club of Miami, Federated. That’s at 6:30 p.m., John Martin’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, 253 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables.


Silver screen star Doris Day’s group gives dog racing ban a boost” via Florida Politics — Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban greyhound racing at Florida dog tracks got a $1.5 million boost from a foundation established by Day, the critter-loving movie star who’s devoted much of her life to rescuing animals. The Doris Day Animal League contributed last week to the Committee to Protect Dogs, a group backing the ballot measure known as Amendment 13, according to committee co-chairwoman Kate MacFall. The money will be spent on a $1.85 million ad buy, starting in October, for advertising spots in the Tampa, Miami and Orlando media markets. “Truly this is a turning point … for the campaign, that Doris Day made this a priority and her generosity to help the greyhounds,” MacFall told The News Service of Florida.

Doris Day in 2014. (Image via the Doris Day Animal Foundation)

Endorsements keep coming for greyhound racing-ban campaign” via Florida Politics — Former lawmaker and now Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano has endorsed the Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign. The campaign announced Fasano’s support in yet another list of endorsements released late Thursday … The campaign is promoting passage of Amendment 13, put on the November ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC). The proposal, which needs at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution, aims at ending commercial dog racing in the state … Also endorsing was Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan.

Javier Manjarres plays loose with the facts in new campaign mailer” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Manjarres, who runs the right-wing blog The Shark Tank, recently sent the mailer to voters as he tries to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch. Next to a picture of Manjarres are the words, “U.S. Air Force,” presumably touting his service in the military. That’s despite a lack of easily searchable records tying Manjarres to the Air Force … we contacted the Air Force directly, speaking with Mike Dickerson at the Air Force Personnel Center. He indicated there is a record of a “Javier Manjarres,” with the same date of birth as the candidate, joining the U.S. Air Force. Those records show Manjarres listed with the rank of “Airman Basic” before being separated from the Air Force in September 1990 before completion of his basic military training. While it may be technically accurate that Manjarres did sign up for the Air Force, readers and voters can decide for themselves whether his attempt to associate himself with the Air Force is proper given that he did not even complete basic training, according to records.

Scoop – Florida Democrats recruit replacement for Carrie Pilon — Just ahead of the Monday deadline, Florida Democrats have settled on who will tag in for Pilon in the race to unseat Sen. Jeff Brandes in Senate District 24: Lindsay Cross. Cross is an environmental scientist who directs advocacy group Florida Wildlife Corridor. She has just over three months to cobble together a campaign to take on the incumbent Republican. While SD 24 is winnable for a Democrat, at least on paper, Brandes has already raised more than $700,000 to secure his final term in the Senate, and for the last several weeks has been running solo for the Pinellas County seat. In addition to having one of the better-funded campaigns this cycle, the forward-thinking Republican lawmaker has one of the best-organized re-election operations as well. The good news for Cross: She faces no opposition in the primary, nor has any third-party candidate stepped into fill the void since Pilon withdrew. She and Brandes will go head-to-head in the Nov. 6 general election.

Six months after shooting, Parkland students return to their first political battleground” via Elizabeth Koh of the Miami Herald — About a dozen speakers urged attendees to stay invested in their political system, just blocks away from the looming state Capitol building. Organizers registered people to vote, and dozens of attendees waved signs reading “grab them by their midterms” and depicting Xs over the NRA. “Coming back just seeing how far we’ve come as a movement and how far we’ve come as a community, we’ve come full circle,” said John Barnitt, 17, a co-organizer of the Florida bus tour. When busloads of Marjory Stoneman Douglas students last arrived in Tallahassee, they drove in under cover of night, amid days of funerals for their classmates and the relentless glare of television cameras trained on the nation’s latest school shooting. But they were determined to take that attention and harness it, as Tallahassee became their first test for making political change. They circled from lawmaker’s office to lawmaker’s office with signs and a clear demand: Do something.

School Board candidate Ryan Petty has history of controversial tweets” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Petty, the father of a slain Parkland student who is making a high-profile bid for the Broward County School Board, has a history of making provocative comments on Twitter. In comments written mostly between 2008 and 2013, he often made jokes or sarcastic remarks that mention blacks, Jews, Muslims, gays, liberals and unions. Some of the tweets could be seen as disparaging, but the context is often unclear because some of the full Twitter conversations are not visible and sometimes include users whose accounts no longer exist. In an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board, Petty said he regretted some of the emails while others were taken out of context. “I understand the concerns about the tweets when you look at them one at a time out of context,” he said. “I have friends and family who are gay, Jewish and other minorities. I love and respect and care about them and don’t harbor any racism, anti-Semitism or anti-anything.”


Gov. Scott this month rejected everyone — 32 in all — recommended by The Florida Bar to fill vacancies in six of the state’s Judicial Nominating Commissions (JNC), the panels that recommend lawyers to be appointed judges.

His rejections now add up to at least 125 of the Bar’s recommendations for JNC openings that Scott has summarily declined to consider since taking office in 2011, according to Bar records.

Why it matters: The nine-member JNCs, made up of lawyers and non-lawyers, hold great sway over who becomes a judge in Florida.

The broadside: His critics, such as personal injury attorney Christian D. Searcy of the Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley firm, have said Scott “aims to make the judiciary just another branch of the Governor’s Office” by stacking the JNCs with loyalists. (Full disclosure: Searcy was one of Scott’s rejectees in 2015.)

The defense: But former spokeswoman Lauren Schenone, now working on his U.S. Senate campaign, last year said Scott aims to “appoint JNC members who share his vision that judges will follow the law and serve humbly. The voters that elected him expect that.”

How it works: A judicial nominating commission has nine members. “Five members are appointed directly by the Governor, and the Bar sends nominations to the Governor to fill the remaining four spots,” according to the Bar’s website.

The governor must select from the Bar’s recommendations, but state law allows for the governor to “reject all of the nominees recommended for a position and request that the (Bar) submit a new list.”

Daniel Nordby, Scott’s general counsel, wrote Bar President Michelle Suskauer on July 17 and told her the governor — “after careful consideration” — had rejected six entire slates of candidates.

Nordby asked the Bar to start over and offer different recommendations for all the current openings, for the JNCs for the 2nd and 3rd District Courts of Appeal, and the 9th, 15th, 17th and 18th Judicial Circuits. He did not give a reason.

Wrote Nordby: “Thank you for your important work” — which nonetheless will have to start anew.

In related news: Florida Supreme Court JNC to pick new leaders — The Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission announced it would “meet telephonically” 5:15 p.m. this Friday (Aug. 3) to select a new chair and vice-chair. The current chair is attorney Jason Unger of the Gray Robinson law firm’s Tallahassee office; the vice-chair is lawyer Nilda Pedrosa of Coral Gables. The panel also includes others close to Gov. Scott, who fills vacancies on the state’s highest court: insurance lawyer-lobbyist Fred Karlinsky, Governor’s Office general counsel Daniel Nordby, and Jesse Panuccio, acting U.S. Associate Attorney General and former head of Scott’s Department of Economic Opportunity. (A full list is here.) The call-in number for the meeting is (888) 240-2560; conference ID is 428002816.


NRA, Republicans refute GOP sheriff’s stand-your-ground claims” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – In explaining why he didn’t arrest the shooter, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told reporters on July 20 that his hands were tied because the stand-your-ground law “created a standard, that is a largely subjective standard” for the use of deadly force by a shooter. Gualtieri also suggested his office could be civilly liable simply for arresting the shooter, and he stressed how Florida lawmakers last year changed the 2005 law concerning immunity from prosecution. But on each of those three counts — immunity, civil liability and subjectivity — experts say Gualtieri is just wrong. “Nothing in either the 2005 law or the 2017 law prohibits a Sheriff from making an arrest in a case where a person claims self-defense if there is probable cause that the use of force was unlawful,” said Marion Hammer, Tallahassee’s NRA lobbyist who helped shepherd “stand your ground” through the GOP-led Florida Legislature.”Nothing in the law says a person can sue the Sheriff for making an arrest when there is probable cause,” Hammer added in an emailed statement.

Christian Bax quits as state’s top medical marijuana regulator” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Bax, director of Florida’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), has stepped down after a controversial three-year tenure that frustrated patients, angered lawmakers, and witnessed an explosion in litigation. His resignation is effective Aug. 10. Deputy director Courtney Coppola will serve as interim director, Department of Health spokesman Devin Galleta said Friday. Bax’s resignation letter, released later Friday (see below), did not reveal his plans. … Gary Stein, a medical marijuana historian and advocate, acknowledged that Bax “had a herculean task, made infinitely harder by his lack of experience and probable pressure from above … I wish him well, but he didn’t belong there, and he didn’t get the support that he needed … Rather than giving him more infrastructure, they gave him more lawyers.”

Bax out: Christian Bax, former director of the Office of Compassionate Use at the Florida Department of Health.

First on #FlaPolPersonnel note: More out the door at Health — Gov. Scott’s office on Sunday night confirmed that both Department of Health interim communications director Devin Galetta and general counsel Nichole Geary have resigned; Galetta’s last day was Friday. The latest departures follow last week’s news that Office of Medical Marijuana Use director Bax had also resigned. His last day is Aug. 10. With the term-limited Scott leaving office in January, expect many more of these announcements in the months ahead.

State appeals conservation funding case — Legislative leaders have appealed a Leon County circuit judge’s ruling that the state has not properly carried out a 2014 constitutional amendment that requires spending on land and water conservation. Attorneys for House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron filed a notice of taking the case to the 1st District Court of Appeal. The notice of appeal was filed after Circuit Judge Charles Dodson of Tallahassee refused to grant a rehearing in the case. Dodson last month ruled that lawmakers failed to comply with the voter-approved constitutional amendment, which required using money from a real estate tax to bolster land and water conservation. Environmental groups filed legal challenges against the state, contending that lawmakers had diverted portions of the money to other expenses.

Clash emerges on education amendment — two decades later” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — The Florida Supreme Court is now considering a case about whether the state has properly carried out the amendment — and the two factions of the long-adjourned Constitution Revision Commission have injected themselves into the case on opposite sides. The latest move came when the group of six Republican appointees asked for permission to file a friend-of-the-court brief that would oppose a stance that the 10 “framers” took in a brief early this month. The Supreme Court granted permission for the additional brief. The groups include movers and shakers of 1990s-era Florida politics. Among the framers’ group is former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, former Supreme Court Justice Gerald Kogan, and former House Speaker Jon Mills. Among the opposing group are former Senate President and Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings and former Senate President Jim Scott. The underlying lawsuit at the Supreme Court involves a voter-approved 1998 constitutional amendment that said it is a “paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.” The amendment fleshed that out, in part, by saying adequate provision will be made for a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high-quality system” of public schools.

Feds now MIA in FIU bridge records case” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The federal government is now ‘missing in action’ in a lawsuit over records on March’s pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University that killed six people. U.S. Attorney Christopher P. Canova of the Northern District of Florida had asked a Tallahassee judge to delay any rulings while his office decides whether to get involved in the lawsuit … The latest deadline for Canova’s office to file a notice about participating was Wednesday (the last filing is here). As of Thursday morning, the court clerk’s office said it hadn’t received the new filing, and none was docketed by late Thursday. The case is set for a status hearing 11 a.m. Tuesday, which was noticed to Canova’s office. Spokeswoman Amy Alexander did not respond to an inquiry.

The feds are MIA over the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge that collapsed earlier this year.

No good way to prevent suicide by train, experts concede” via Jeff Ostrowski of the Palm Beach Post — Brightline has drawn attention to a fraught and little-discussed public-health problem: people who end their lives by getting in front of a fast-moving train. Experts say there’s no easy fix — and they caution that the very act of debating and trying to prevent the practice might bring the unintended effect of increasing the number of people using trains to end their lives deliberately. From July 2017 through June 2018, four people killed themselves in southern Palm Beach County by jumping in front of Brightline trains … The deaths left passengers stranded and engineers traumatized. “It’s still a tiny proportion of suicides nationally,” said Cathy Barber of the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center … Barber frets that media coverage of train-related suicides exacerbates the problem particularly given the lethal effectiveness of locomotives. For vulnerable people considering hurting themselves, news reports serve not as a warning but as an invitation, Barber said. Dozens of research studies have established links between media coverage of suicides and the likelihood of suicide by vulnerable people. “Publicity can only create harm,” Barber said.

Florida Forest Service sending more help for California wildfires — Ag. Commissioner Putnam this weekend said the Florida Forest Service is deploying an “Engine Strike Team” to assist in combating wildfires in California. “Our wildland firefighters are always prepared to provide unwavering support to other states, and I am grateful for their dedicated service,” he said in a statement. The team was assembled from across North Florida and consists of 10 wildland firefighters, one strike team leader and one mechanic. Hauling five brush trucks, they will report to their assignment in California on Wednesday. Last week, the Forest Service deployed an “Initial Attack Hand-Crew” of 20 firefighters to help suppress the Ferguson Fire on the Sierra National Forest in California.


The Tampa Bay Times editorial board has endorsed state Rep. Shaw of Tampa in the Democratic primary race for Attorney General, saying he “has the broader experience and better grasp of state politics” than his opponent, Hillsborough attorney Ryan Torrens. On the Republican side, the Times editorial team recommends former Hillsborough Judge Moody for Attorney General because she “is a solid conservative with a strong grasp of the role of Attorney General and the importance of access to legal representation in every community.” Moody will face off against state Rep. White. The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board has endorsed Democratic state Sen. Gary Farmer of Fort Lauderdale for re-election, saying he has “the knowledge, oratorical skills and energy to help revivify a statewide Democratic Party that during the past quarter century has proved itself increasingly adept at losing elections.” Farmer faces former state Rep. Jim Waldman in the Senate District 34 Democratic primary. The Sentinel editorial team also recommends the re-election of Democratic state Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Coral Springs, citing his “effectiveness and competence” in a Republican-led Legislature. Moskowitz’ only opposition is Democratic hopeful Imtiaz Mohammad.


Joe Henderson: Trump headed to familiar ground in Tampa again” via Florida Politics — The president is no stranger to Tampa. He has visited this city multiple times, both as a candidate and now as president. The state fairgrounds venue is where he appeared just a few days before his victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. One memory was how the media was kept basically in a holding area for the entire evening. We couldn’t even leave to use the restroom, even though one was located just a few feet from the entrance to the media area. Security, they told us. Well, OK. But it also seemed like a convenient way to keep the then-candidate’s favorite target, those annoying truth-seekers called the media, in an area where he could lob verbal grenades in our direction. And he did. He wanted people to boo us. He was successful. So, while Tuesday’s rally will be a party for Republicans and should be quite a show, those other issues aren’t fake news. Candidate Trump bragged that he alone could fix them. Well, any time now …

Florida’s great green algae disaster — we asked for it … us and Rick Scott” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — For the past eight years, we stood by as the state decimated its environmental and water-protection agencies and repealed checks on sustainable growth. Every step, we were warned: “Don’t do it! Things will go bad!” But we paid them no mind. We watched as politicians shut down water-quality monitoring stations, stocked environmental boards with developers, slashed staff at the agencies that check for pollution and cut back on land-preservation programs. Then we re-elected them. And now our state is cloaked in gloppy blue-green algae that is shutting down businesses, killing animals and sending people to the hospital. Who is most to blame? Well, some Democrats want to blame all Republicans. But that’s not fair. Some Republicans have been enviro-champions, especially in the state Senate. It is, however, fair to blame Rick Scott.


Gov. Scott names Scott Plakon to Alzheimer’s Disease Advisory Committee — Days after state Rep. Plakon’s wife’s untimely death, Scott appointed the lawmaker to the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Advisory Committee. “Following the tragic loss of his wife, Susie, to Alzheimer’s, I know that Rep. Plakon will be a strong advocate and committed partner in the fight to end Alzheimer’s in Florida,” Scott said. “My wife Ann and I send our thoughts and prayers to Scott and his family during this difficult time, but we also know that this is a disease we must fight and that Scott will help lead Florida in this effort.” Scott Plakon, a Sanford Republican, lost his wife Monday, days after the couple’s 33rd wedding anniversary. Susie Plakon, 57, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years before her death. News of her passing inspired bipartisan messages of condolence from around the state.

Appointed — Judges Jamie Grosshans and John Harris to the 5th District Court of Appeal; Michael Linn to the 19th Circuit Court.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Greg Black, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Utilities Inc. of Florida

Travis Blanton, Jon Johnson, Darrick McGheeEric Prutsman, Johnson & Blanton: Chrysalis Health

Dean CannonRheb HarbisonKim McDougalJoseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Florida Society of Health-System Pharmacists

Gladys Delgadillo: The Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Leslie Dughi, Greenberg Traurig: Florida Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, Florida Farm Bureau General Insurance Company

George Feijoo, Gary Guzzo, Floridian Partners: Coastal Care Services, Payer Pro Healthcare Consulting Group, EPICMD Technologies

Timothy MeenanKarl Rasmussen, Meenan: Solis Health Plans

Kristin Strobel, BGR Government Affairs: Neurocrine Biosciences


Maxin “Max” Lyn Reiss, Ph.D., of Tallahassee and Seagrove, Florida, passed away peacefully July 25, 2018, from uterine cancer, having beaten breast cancer in 2014. She was a uniquely loyal, thoughtful, purposeful and attentive professional; a loving mother, wife, friend and mentor.

— As teenagers, Maxin Munchick and Andrew Reiss, Tallahassee’s veteran restaurateur, met at summer camp in North Carolina in 1965; many adventures ensued in their love story, including a hitchhike to Woodstock.

Maxin and Andrew Reiss.

— They married in Miami Beach in 1970, and spent time in Europe and Aspen, Colorado, before settling in Tallahassee. Their 48-year marriage was a model of partnership and commitment, inspiring many others for its strength and stability.

— Dr. Reiss’s professional life was purely dedicated to helping individuals with special needs to live more independent and fulfilling lives through the science of behavior analysis.

— After receiving her Ph.D. from Florida State University, she co-founded Behavior Management Consultants (BMC) in Tallahassee in 1980 and later became its president and chief executive officer.

— Over the course of her 40-year career, she led the consultants of BMC in helping others to live better and happier lives. Her leadership included the mentorship and guidance of young behavior analysts and students, who now perform their work based on the highest ethical and professional standards that Dr. Reiss taught and modeled.

— Max did not waver in her drive to “do what is right” to preserve the dignity of every individual whose life she touched.

In her honor and memory, the family has established the “Maxin L. Reiss Memorial Fund for Improving Lives Through Behavior Change.” All proceeds will directly benefit individuals with developmental, behavioral or mental health needs, who otherwise could not access the skills of professional behavior analysts. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to “Maxin L. Reiss Memorial” through this link: or can be sent by check to Alyson Goodman (for Maxin L Reiss Memorial Fund), ℅ Behavior Management Consultants, 1339 East Tennessee Street, Tallahassee, FL, 32308.

— ALOE —

After years on the move, Tom Cruise relocates to Florida” via Tim Swift of — People magazine reported that the “Mission Impossible” star bought an apartment near the Church of Scientology’s international headquarters. Cruise sold his California home for $39 million in 2016 and has been living in hotels, mostly in London, as he films movies around the world. The magazine said Cruise was renovating the apartment but has been spotted walking around Clearwater. “He’s very relaxed when he’s here,” a friend told the magazine.

Daylight savings uncertainty leaves wedding time in limbo” via Mike Ferguson of the Lakeland Ledger — Marie Moore and Joel Hile, both in their mid-50s, are set to get married on Nov. 10 at Allen Barn in Fort Meade. “We put on the invitations between 5 and 11 (p.m.),” Moore said. “We want to have the ceremony at the actual sunset. That will change, of course, depending on daylight saving time.” In March, Gov. Scott signed a law putting Florida into the adjusted time, but not until the U.S. Congress OK’s the change. The bills have all been referred to committee discussions, but it’s not clear if this topic will come up before the joining of Moore and Hile. Moore said it’s been tough to find an answer to her question. “I haven’t been able to find out anything from anybody,” Moore said. “It’s just so frustrating not knowing.”

’Real service dogs don’t ride in carts.’ People respond to new warning signs at Publix” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — “For food safety reasons, only service animals that are specifically trained to aid a person with disabilities are permitted within the store. Service animals are not permitted to sit or ride in shopping carts.” The rule about service animals at the Lakeland-based supermarket chain isn’t new … But the signage — which includes an encircled paw print with a slash through it next to type set off in bold that gives a no-no to let your dog ride in a shopping cart — is by design. We are, after all, living in a time when people have bedeviled condo boards, airlines, restaurants and other community places by calling all sorts of critters, like peacocks, squirrels, miniature horses and hamsters, “service” or “emotional support” animals. American Disability Rights seemed to champion the new signs in a tweet it posted that read “Four on the floor! and had among its hashtags, #stopdisabilityfraud.”

Publix is taking a stand against fraudulent ‘service animals.’

Twitter is not testing an ‘edit’ button” via Jane Lytvynenko of BuzzFeed News — Speculation started when a user noticed she could edit her tweet, but that was likely because of a browser extension like “Covfefe” or “Better TweetDeck” that deletes the old tweet and reposts a new version. Rumors were fanned by Mashable, which quickly wrote a since-corrected post about the function.

Happy birthday belatedly to our good friend (us saying that will probably get him in a lot of trouble) Tre Evers, as well as Debbie Ressler and Crystal Stickle. Celebrating today are two solid politicos, Buzz Jacobs and Rhett O’Doski.


The Bark Box

« »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.