Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

Mike Fasano, it’s none of your business who requests public records

What a difference four years can make. Especially in the world of politics.

Elected officials change their positions. Sometimes it can happen when new facts emerge, or because of a desire to follow the will of the people who elected them to serve. And then there are the other scenarios.

Take my friend Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano.

In 2012, Florida’s First Amendment Foundation gave him the Friend of the First Amendment award in part for complaining that the Public Service Commission was demonstrating a “lack of access to public records.”

Last week, Fasano posted comments on social media condemning a person for asking his office for public records. “We received public records request for Tax Collector personnel file from @AlexHolzbach Data Targeting. Shame!”

The beauty of Florida’s Sunshine laws is that anyone can ask for any document and does not need to provide a reason. Have we entered an era where someone receiving a paycheck from the taxpayers feels that it’s acceptable to shame people requesting records?

And if that’s the case, let’s examine the issue that elicited this sort of response from Fasano.

C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times wrote about the Pasco County Property Appraiser race.

Gary Joiner, the candidate endorsed by Fasano, is Fasano’s employee at the Tax Collector’s office. Bowen uncovered information that Joiner has some serious problems at work. He’d been suspended for having an affair with another employee and then later after it ended, he sent her unwanted messages and made unwanted advances.

When questioned about his actions, Joiner lied to investigators. When the truth came out, instead of losing his nearly $100,000 a year position, he was no longer allowed to be alone with any female employees at the Pasco Tax Collector’s office.

All of these facts were based on information printed in the Tampa Bay Times, and the story repeatedly referenced Gary Joiner’s personnel records. Naturally, a story like this turns heads.

Perhaps the request for Joiner’s personnel file was made to further delve into this issue. Perhaps it was an attempt to fact check the Tampa Bay Times story.

The bottom line is this: it’s none of Fasano’s business why someone asked for it. If Fasano wants to publicly shame someone, maybe he should start with his employee/endorsee’s bad actions and leave our constitutional right to public records out of it.

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Mike Huckabee for Florida Governor?

Mike Huckabee for Governor (of Florida)?

The former Arkansas governor and two-time Republican presidential hopeful is said to be eyeing a run for the Governor’s Mansion in 2018. That’s what two prominent Florida Republicans with statewide cachet (one a top ranking lobbyist, the other a well-known member of the Florida Legislature) have told FloridaPolitics.com in recent days.

Although it’s difficult to game-out a path to victory for Huckabee, the former presidential candidate has taken an active role in Panhandle politics, endorsing Matt Gaetz for Congress and getting linked to a political committee in Walton County.

Gaetz, who recently attended a fundraiser with Huckabee and said he had not heard any “Huckabee in 2018” rumors, thinks highly of his north Florida neighbor,

“Mike Huckabee is beloved in Northwest Florida,” said Gaetz. “He could count on a lot of support from this area if you were to seek public office again.”

Continued Gaetz, “He is the conscience of the Republican Party.”

Huckabee, who lives in the Panhandle, served as the governor of Arkansas from 1996 until 2007. He was one of the longest serving governors in the state’s history, and, according to his website, he left a legacy of “tax cuts, jobs creation, the reconstruction of his state’s road system,” and education reforms.

He first ran for president in 2008, where he was heralded as a conservative champion. He lost the nomination bid to John McCain, but kept a high profile in the years that followed. He hosted his own Fox News show, and wrote a dozen books over the years.

Huckabee decided to give it another go in 2016, but didn’t make as much an impact as he did eight years earlier. He dropped out of the race in February, after a poor showing in the Iowa Caucuses.

He has remained politically active, though. So far this year, his political committee has given $12,000 to campaigns. That sum includes a $1,000 contribution to Matt Gaetz’s congressional campaign. Huckabee endorsed Gaetz in Florida’s 1st Congressional District this week.

If he were to take the plunge (and win), Huckabee would follow Sam Houston to be the second governor elected in two states.

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Debbie Wasserman Schultz would make history were she to lose party chair and re-election in same year

Outgoing DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is facing the strongest challenge of her congressional career back home in South Florida from Democrat Tim Canova.

And if Wasserman Schultz is unsuccessful in the Aug. 30 primary, a new Smart Politics report finds that she will be only the second party leader – either Democratic or Republican – to lose both a position as chair and elected office in the same year.

It will be the first such occurrence in 150 years, dating back to 1866, when New York Republican Henry Raymond became the party’s second chair following Edwin Morgan in 1864.

Raymond subsequently won a seat in the New York 6th Congressional District as a Unionist, serving a single term.

Smart Politics also notes that the only party leader to both lose both an elected seat and chairmanship end in the same year was 1866, New Jersey Governor Marcus Ward replaced Raymond as head of the Republican Party. Later that year, the freshman failed in his bid for re-nomination to the congressional seat, losing to Charles Spencer.

Wasserman Schultz certainly prefers to be on another short list – party chairs re-elected to their U.S. House seat the same year they ended their chairmanship. Tennessee Democrat Cordell Hull did that in 1924, while and Massachusetts Republican Joseph Martin did the same in 1942.

Only one party leader lost his re-election effort while he was serving as party chair – and continued to act as the party leader – William Butler of Massachusetts. Smart Politics writes that Butler became RNC chairman in 1924, then appointed to the U.S. Senate after Henry Cabot Lodge died later that year.

Butler remained in both roles until he lost a 1926 special election to former Democratic governor and U.S. Senator David Walsh. However, Butler remained chair of the GOP until 1928.

Recent history shows a better strategy for exiting party chairs is to wait at least a year to run for elected office: Republicans George H.W. Bush (who served as both vice president and president) and Haley Barbour (governor of Mississippi) and Democrats Steven Grossman (who served as treasurer of Massachusetts), Ed Rendell (former governor of Pennsylvania), Terry McAuliffe (elected governor of Virginia on his second attempt), and Tim Kaine (U.S. Senator from Virginia and current Democratic vice presidential nominee).

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Sunburn for 07.27.16 – The Big Dog howls one more time

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

BILL CLINTON TELLS A LOVE STORY 

There have been millions of words, decades of video and reams of commentary devoted to their story. It’s been dissected, defended and decried at kitchen tables and on cable news, in tabloids and classrooms.

But on Tuesday night, as millions of voters watched and with the political stakes as high as they’ve ever been, Bill Clinton tried to make sense of it all and make the case for his wife, the newly minted Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“In the spring of 1971, I met a girl,” he began.

 The former president’s tenth address to a Democratic convention was by far his most personal, a 42-minute tour through wedding proposals and Halloween parties, the deaths of parents and movie marathons.

Perhaps their worst moments — the Monica Lewinsky scandal, impeachment and legal battles that followed — were conspicuously omitted.

Instead, Bill Clinton cast himself as a passenger in his wife’s life, reshaping the story of much of their decades in politics.

The goal was to make Clinton, perhaps the most famous female politician in the world, yet a public figure her aides claim remains unknown, relatable to voters. He cast her as a liberal heroine of her own story, who fought for education reform, health care, civil rights, the disabled, 9/11 first responders and economically depressed rural areas.

“She’s the best darn change-maker I’ve ever met in my entire life,” he said. “This woman has never been satisfied with the status quo on anything. She always wants to move the ball forward. That is just who she is.”

He never once mentioned GOP nominee Donald Trump by name, dismissing Republican attacks on Clinton as “made up” and a “cartoon alternative.” Rather, Bill Clinton focused nearly exclusively on his wife’s achievements and how she’d influenced him.

MORE TAKEAWAYS FROM DAY 2 OF THE DNC

– Glass ceiling shattered – 

“We just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet,” a smiling Clinton declared as she made a surprise appearance on video at night’s end, to the roar of delegates.

“This is really your victory,” she said, predicting that many more women will be nominated for president — and elected.

Clinton’s long political resume — secretary of state, senator, first lady — has sometimes obscured the historic nature of her candidacy. Her supporters noted that Clinton’s achievement came nearly a century after women gained the right to vote in 1920.

Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski nominated Clinton, saying she was acting on behalf of “all women who have broken down barriers for others.” Mikulski was the first Democratic woman to be elected to the Senate in her own right.

– Gun violence victims remembered –

Hoopla and celebration gave way to somber moments as the convention showcased “mothers of the movement” — women whose children died in gun violence.

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teen killed in 2012, said that no mother “would have signed up” for the assignment.

Fulton said Clinton has the compassion to support grieving mothers and the courage to fight for gun legislation. “This isn’t about being politically correct. This is about saving our children,” she said.

Clinton has made gun safety a foundation of her presidential campaign, vowing to push for expanded criminal background checks and a renewal of a ban on assault weapons.

Philadelphia’s police union complained that Clinton was showcasing killings by police without giving equal time to the families of fallen officers. Clinton’s campaign said two members of law enforcement also are on the convention schedule.

– Protestes continue –

Moments after Clinton claimed the nomination, a group of Sanders supporters left the convention hall and marched to a nearby media tent to protest what they said was their being shut out of the party.

Unmoved by Sanders’ plea for unity, thousands of people chanting “Bernie or bust!” took to the streets under the hot sun. By early evening, a large crowd had formed outside the subway station closest to the Wells Fargo Center as delegates inside were on the verge of nominating Clinton for president.

Still, in the convention hall itself, the party seemed much more united behind Clinton than it had been on the first day, when Sanders supporters frequently jeered any mention of her name.

BERNIE SANDERS BACKER’S SWIPE AT HILLARY CLINTON SPARKS TEXAS SKIRMISH FIELD via Will Weissert of The Associated Press – During the delegation’s breakfast in Philadelphia, Russell Lytle took the stage with fellow backers of the Vermont senator. He expressed concern about the direction of the party before telling the crowd, “We are currently condemning our currently presumptive nominee.” That caused an uproar, with shouting among backers of both Sanders and Clinton. Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa briefly suspended the proceedings. Tensions between the two factions have made the Democratic convention rowdy at times. On Monday, Sanders delegates booed some of the speakers from the convention floor. After the breakfast, Lytle of Denton, Texas, released a statement he signed by hand. “In a moment of passion, while reaching out to my fellow members of the Texas delegation,” it read, “I spoke one sentence that did not reflect my intention of promoting productive dialogue.” Lytle also said he had voluntarily withdrawn his convention credentials, a largely symbolic move.

HOWARD DEAN HAS OFFICIALLY MADE PEACE WITH THE DEAN SCREAM via Amber Phillips of the Washington Post – … for whatever reason, Dean chose the 2016 Democratic convention to share with the world that he’s made peace with the past. On Tuesday night, he was giving a speech on behalf of Hillary Clinton and her commitment to health care reform when he ended it with what was an unmistakable rendition of the Dean Scream.

howard dean

ELIZABETH BANKS MOCKS DONALD TRUMP’S SMOKY SILHOUETTE via Callum Borchers of the Washington Post – Trump’s wrestleresque entrance at last week’s Republican National Convention sure was memorable. … Apparently even Democrats took notice. At the Democratic convention in Philadelphia on Monday, actress Elizabeth Banks mimicked Trump’s arrival, with back light, “We are the Champions” — and tongue firmly planted in cheek, of course.

elizabeth banks

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BILL NELSON: IT WAS A ‘MISTAKE’ FOR CONVENTION ORGANIZERS NOT TO FEATURE MORE FLORIDIANS via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillumspeaks Wednesday and Syrbina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, will speak … But that’s it, a thin showing from the biggest swing state in the country. “They should have had maybe a mayor in South Florida. But you can’t be perfect in everything,” Nelson said at the Florida delegation breakfast. Nelson also defended Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “Debbie’s my friend and she has worked so hard to have this a successful convention and it is going to be.” … We hear Nelson may regret the mistake comment as he’s learned of more Florida participation. Rep. Lois Frankel and Val Demings will join Nancy Pelosi for a Democratic women address. And more Florida names will be released soon.

NANCY PELOSI THANKS FLORIDA DEMOCRATS FOR FIGHTING FOR REDISTRICTING via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Pelosi … praised Florida Democrats for fighting for fairer representation in Congress and the state Legislature. “We love that delegation. We want more,” Pelosi said while speaking at the Florida Democratic Delegation Breakfast at the Marriott hotel in downtown Philadelphia … Pelosi gave a shoutout to Florida Democratic Party leaders Allison Tant and Scott Arceneaux, but showered that love to the entire audience “for leading the way in our country to more representatives and fairer redistricting … Because of your work, we will pick up seats to gain a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives,” she gamely asserted, as she received a hearty round of applause for depicting that scenario. Pelosi then shifted toward discussing the gun shooting massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last month, in which 49 people were slain. She said she was impressed with how the community came together in the wake of the tragedy. “Never forget that word community has that word — unity — in it. A very important word for us to succeed” …  Pelosi said that she hopes that Orlando could ultimately become “the tipping point” regarding the politics of gun control. “All the world is looking at Florida,” she said about this November’s presidential battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. “The difference will be made in Florida to elect the first woman president of the United States. That’s thrilling.”

AT DNC ‘WOMEN OF THE HOUSE’ PRESENTATION, FLORIDA CANDIDATES TALK UP HILLARY CLINTON’S GOOD POINTS via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics – Seventh District candidate Stephanie Murphy, 10th District candidate Val Demings and 21st District Rep. Lois Frankel represented Florida in the evening’s lineup. Murphy, who served as a national security specialist with the Department of Defense from 2004 to 2008, said Clinton would be the candidate most suited to fighting ISIS in the most effective way. “We need to be strong and smart to destroy ISIS,” she said, “not reckless and rash. We need to make sure the military has the resources they need.” Demings, who once served as Orlando Police Chief, said you didn’t need to be a chief to see the need for gun control – especially after the Pulse shooting and other recent tragedies. “I know firsthand the tragedy that gun violence inflicts on families,” she said. “After Pulse, which happened in our city, Congress refuses to even disarm hate.” Clinton, she said, would enact sensible gun control. Frankel spoke passionately about the need to care for veterans and law enforcement, saying Clinton was the presidential candidate who could do that the best. Will “The military and police embody our highest ideals,” she said. “Service, selflessness, bravery. We have to ensure support, health care and any training they need, and continue to improve the lives of our veterans.”

EXCLUSIVE INSIDER’S VIEW OF THE DNC via Ben Pollara of LSN Partners

For all too many of us gathered in the birthplace of Americandemocracy (lower case “D”) day 2 of #DNCinPHL began in a cold,darkened, overpriced hotel room, with a headache, a hangover, and thegrim realization that this week has only started. My day began likethat, to be sure. I laid in bed at 7:30 am staring at my phone, waiting for the inevitable text from Alex Heckler asking me where I was. It never came, because Alex told me later that he slept until8:30 am, which for him is like what 11 a.m. is to most people.

At the lobby restaurant of the Ritz Carlton, we convened for a buffet breakfast and to sort out the day’s credentials. Erin plopped a stack of manila envelopes in the center of the table, each bearing our names, or the names of donors whose credential pick up’s Erin was diligently coordinating. Miami-Dade County fundraiser, man about town and former Clinton ’08 intern, Brian Goldmeier was hungrily eyeing Heckler’s suite passes.

The scene in the restaurant was, to quote Sarah Silverman, “ridiculous.” A quick scan of the immediate, 15-foot radius of our table revealed retired general and one-time presidential hopeful, Wes Clark; MSNBC’s Willie Geist, Mike Barnacle and a table of producers; and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine wearing a Hillary baseball cap as he dined. A couple morose looking Debbie Wasserman Schultz aides meandered around the lobby. Former Florida congressman Ron Klein could be seen dashing out the front door to jump in an Uber.

Overheard on an elevator this afternoon: “is it over yet?” Everyone in the packed car nodded in silent agreement.

Tuesday ended with an orgiastic culinary feast at the Reading Terminal Market. The nexus of the flavor universe was at the spot right between the Moonpie and cheesesteak station. Bill Clinton supposedly showed up there at some point.

THE LONG FALL OF DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ via Molly Ball of The Atlantic – Few Democrats will miss Wasserman Schultz, who was widely seen as an ineffective leader. She was a poor communicator whose gaffes often caused the party headaches; a mediocre fundraiser; and a terrible diplomat more apt to alienate party factions than bring them together. “Only Donald Trump has unified the party more,” Rebecca Katz, a Democratic consultant who supported Sanders in the primary, told me wryly. The litany of Wasserman Schultz’s offenses during the primary was familiar to supporters of Sanders and other Clinton rivals: scheduling debates at odd times, shutting Sanders out of the party’s data file, stacking convention committees with Clinton supporters. But her tenure was rocky long before that—in fact, within a month of her being named in 2011 to finish the term of Tim Kaine, who had just been elected to the Senate, Democrats were starting to grumble about her. When her term ended after Obama’s re-election, there was more sniping about her leadership, and Obama’s advisors urged him to bring in someone new, but Wasserman Schultz made it clear she wouldn’t go without a fight, according to reports at the time and my sources inside the DNC. And so the White House chose the path of least resistance and kept her in. “Good fucking riddance,” one former top DNC staffer during her tenure told me of Wasserman Schultz’s ouster. “But she was convicted for the wrong crime.”

THE TRUTH IS DWS DELIVERED. REINCE PRIEBUS DIDN’T. via Matt Bai of Yahoo News – What was shocking about those emails wasn’t that the party was in cahoots against Bernie (this seemed clear enough after he was forced to sue the Democratic National Committee for access to its voter files), but rather how much time the chairwoman and her senior aides seemed to have for reading stories and coming up with pointless schemes. For instance, during the primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky, DNC officials hatched a plan to expose Sanders as a closet atheist. Because apparently a Jewish socialist with a thick Brooklyn accent is just another guy at the John Deere dealer in Wheeling, but being a secular humanist is a total deal breaker. I spoke to a few longtime Republican operatives in the past few days who had come to the exact opposite conclusion. They viewed the Democratic leaks not with glee, but with palpable envy. That’s because whatever Wasserman Schultz tried to do for Clinton and the Democratic establishment in her underhanded way is exactly what Priebus completely failed to do as his party was being overrun … Republicans undertook what they actually called an “autopsy” after their losing 2012 campaign — in an effort, I guess, to diagnose whatever flesh-eating virus had transformed Mitt Romney into the leader of the walking dead. The unstated goal was to shore up support for an establishment candidate and lessen the time he would have to spend playing to an activist audience before pivoting toward a general election. And the party took this recommendation quite seriously — only it was the wrong party.

HAPPENING TODAY – SHERROD BROWN, MARK WARNER AND TAMMY BALDWIN ADDRESS DELEGATION — The Florida delegation will hear from Sens. BrownWarner, and Baldwin, Reps. Frederica WilsonTed DeutchLuis Gutierrez, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, former Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum during the delegation breakfast at 8:30 a.m. at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. The convention starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

DONALD TRUMP KNOCKS DEMS FOR NOT MENTIONING ISIS AT CONVENTION via Jeremy Diamond of CNN – Speakers at the first day of the convention largely focused on healing intraparty wounds rather than foreign policy … A PolitiFact analysis confirmed that none of the speakers at the DNC said the words “ISIS,” “Islamic,” “terror,” “terrorist” or “terrorism” … “We need to change our foreign policy to focus on defeating and destroying ISIS, a word you didn’t hear last night at the Democratic convention. You didn’t hear it. They don’t want to talk about it,” Trump said at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention. He continued, “Because in a very true way they really established ISIS because of weakness. The people in this room know better than anybody else what I mean by weakness.”

THE CREATOR OF THE VIRAL PRO-TRUMP ACT ‘USA FREEDOM KIDS’ NOW PLANS TO SUE THE CAMPAIGN via Philip Bump of The Washington Post – Within hours of their performance at a Trump rally in Pensacola January, the U.S.A. Freedom Kids were a sensation … Three preteen girls in star-spangled outfits crisply working through simple choreography as they lip-synced an upbeat update to “Over There.” That infectious performance kicked off a flurry of media appearances. Now, though, the relationship is different. Jeff Popick, father of the smallest Freedom Kid and author of “Freedom’s Call” (the song performed at the Trump rally), [plans] to file a lawsuit against the campaign for violating its agreement with the group. “This is not a billion-dollar lawsuit,” Popick said. “I’m doing this because I think they have to do the right thing. And if this means having to go through the court system to enforce them doing the right thing, then that’s what I have to do. I’m not looking to do battle with the Trump campaign, but I have to show my girls that this is the right thing.” Popick is quick to explain that the agreement was not written down, but, instead, involves promises from various agents of the Trump campaign which he says were then broken. “These are guys that insist they’re straight shooters,” Popick said, “‘You may not like what we’re going to say, but we mean what we say and we say what we mean’ — and they just would not say anything of any substance! I’ve invested a lot of time, effort, money … and it’s just been complete silence.”

INTERESTING READ – TRUMP’S LONG HISTORY OF CLASHES WITH NATIVE AMERICANS via Shawn Boburg of The Washington Post – Trump claimed that Indian reservations had fallen under mob control. He secretly paid for more than $1 million in ads that portrayed members of a tribe in Upstate New York as cocaine traffickers and career criminals. And he suggested in testimony and in media appearances that dark-skinned Native Americans in Connecticut were faking their ancestry. “I think I might have more Indian blood than a lot of the so-called Indians,” Trump said [in 1993] … Trump’s harsh rhetoric on Native Americans was part of his aggressive war on the expanding Native American casino industry during the 1990s, which posed a threat to his gambling empire. The racially-tinged remarks and broad-brush characterizations that Trump employed against Indian tribes for over a decade provided an early glimpse of the kind of incendiary language that he would use about racial and ethnic groups in the 2016. … His battles with Indian casinos also reveal Trump’s contradictions: Even as he was bashing the industry publicly, Trump was quietly trying to strike partnerships with some tribes.

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ALAN GRAYSON’S EX-WIFE CLAIMED DOMESTIC ABUSE OVER 2 DECADES via John Bresnahan, Marc Caputo and Jake Sherman of POLITICO – Lolita Grayson called police on her husband at least two times in Virginia and two more times in Florida, sought medical attention on at least two occasions and said that, in one instance, he had threatened to kill her, according to a police report. The congressman, who asserted Lolita Grayson battered him in 2014, vehemently denies he engaged in any abuse during their 25-year marriage, which ended last year in a bitter annulment that she is now appealing. The first reported incident described by the documents was in 1994; the final one was in 2014. Lolita Grayson also called Orange County sheriff’s deputies in 2005 to lodge another abuse complaint, but prosecutors filed no charges in that incident or any of the others. Only the 2014 incident has been previously reported. “I want the people to know my story so they know what kind of man Alan Grayson really is,” Lolita Grayson, 56, said in … her first public comments on the issue. She provided police and medical records related to 1994 and 1999 incidents in Fairfax County in Virginia, and sheriff’s reports concerning 2005 and 2014 incidents in Orange County, Florida. “I requested the medical records and police records so people could read what doctors and police officers wrote,” she stated. “I read many of these records for the first time. These are very painful memories and horrible experiences.” Through his lawyer, Mark NeJameGrayson denied ever striking or abusing Lolita Grayson.

HOUSE OF CARDS TWEET OF THE DAY: @RepUnderwoodSC Alan Grayson, always snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. And if someone knows about pushing reporters…

GRAYSON IMPLODES via Kevin Robillard and Marc Caputo of POLITICO – Grayson‘s Senate campaign began disintegrating … as supporters and a top consultant abandoned him in the wake of a POLITICO report detailing decades of domestic-abuse allegations from his wife. The fallout could have the effect of drying up hard-to-come-by cash for the struggling campaign, just as vote-by-mail ballots are about to go out for Florida’s Aug. 30 primary. “Unfortunately, this deeply disappointing revelation means progressives have no great options in the Florida race for Senate,” Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee said in a written statement that announced they were pulling their endorsements. Revolution Messaging, the progressive digital consulting firm that powered Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ insurgent presidential campaign, has dropped Grayson as a client and isn’t allowing him use of its email technology, potentially a major blow to a candidate who has relied on small-dollar donations. The Communications Workers of America, a union that also endorsed Grayson, said it will need to examine what happened before deciding whether to pull its endorsement. After these recent revelations, Democrats say more leaders might join with [HarryReid, who previously called on Grayson to quit the race. “Senator Reid didn’t think his opinion of Grayson could get any lower, but it has,” a spokesman for Reid said. Grayson added fuel to the fire when he attended a POLITICO event during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia where he refused to answer questions and then falsely accused POLITICO reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere of pushing him. Grayson then threatened to have Dovere arrested. “You’re getting in my way, my friend. You’re assaulting a member of Congress. You’re pushing me. Have this guy escorted out, please,” Grayson said. A spokesman later said Grayson told Dovere to contact his staff with questions but he instead confronted the congressman in a tense exchange captured on video.

LIBERAL GROUPS WITHDRAW ENDORSEMENT OF GRAYSON FOLLOWING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE REPORT via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America both cut ties with the Orlando Democrat, citing a POLITICO report claiming Grayson‘s ex-wife reported domestic violence to police on four occasions. “After today’s revelations of years of police reports about allegations of domestic abuse involving Alan Grayson, we are no longer willing to support and are formally withdrawing our endorsement of him in the race for U.S. Senate,” leaders with PCCC and DFA said in a joint statement. The groups also called on Grayson to donate their members’ campaign contributions to a domestic violence charity in Orlando. It appears PCCC and DFA will not endorse Grayson’s chief opponent … Patrick Murphy. The groups’ statement says “progressives have no great options in the Florida race for Senate.”

ARE REPUBLICANS TRYING TO PULL A TODD AKIN IN THE FLORIDA SENATE RACE via Mike Debonis of the Washington Post – Suspicions about a GOP effort to boost Grayson over Murphy have been aroused, in part, by media tracking data, which show at least one GOP-affiliated group appearing to target Democratic primary voters rather than a broader swath of the Florida electorate. The American Future Fund, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group with ties to GOP super donors Charles and David Koch, has spent $1.5 million on a 30-second cable TV ad highlighting Murphy’s vote in support of the Export-Import Bank. The ads, according to tracking data obtained by The Washington Post, target networks that attract a disproportionate share of Democratic viewers, including MSNBC, while eschewing GOP-heavy networks, such as Fox News Channel. Also arousing suspicions are the markets in which the ad is airing — Democratic strongholds like West Palm Beach and Gainesville are seeing the ad, while GOP-heavy areas like Fort Myers and Pensacola are not. The American Future Fund did not respond to emails seeking comment. To several Florida Democrats, the whole thing carries shades of the ultimately successful 2012 effort by Sen. Claire McCaskill to promote Rep. Todd Akin in the GOP primary — the candidate McCaskill believed, with good reason, was the most beatable in the Republican field. McCaskill’s campaign produced a sly ad that played up Akin’s conservative bona fides to GOP primary voters. “I know they feel [Murphy] is a bigger threat than Grayson to Rubio,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings. “I think that some of their thinking is to drive down Patrick’s positives to negative territory and to boost Grayson, because Grayson wouldn’t stand a chance with Marco.”

MEANWHILE… LETTER FROM BARACK OBAMA ENDORSING PATRICK MURPHY HITTING MAILBOXES via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – “I’m proud to endorse Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy for the United States Senate. He’s had my back and now I have his,” the president writes in his letter. “Patrick has been a tireless champion for middle-class families, and a defender of the economic progress that American workers and business have made.” The letter goes on to say Murphy has fought to “strengthen Medicare and Social Security, reform our criminal justice system, and protect a woman’s right to choose” … Obama goes on to say Murphy will stand up to Republicans who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, fight for the minimum wage, make college more affordable and promote renewable energy to combat climate change. “Floridians can count on Patrick Murphy to stand up for them every day as their next Senator,” he said. “I’ve counted on Patrick Murphy — and you can too.”

WILL THIS STILL HAPPEN? GRAYSON, MURPHY TO DEBATE ON WFTV’S CENTRAL FLORIDA SPOTLIGHT via WFTV 9 News – Channel 9 Eyewitness News brings Central Florida voters an exclusive one-on-one debate between Florida’s two leading Democratic candidates for United States Senate Friday, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. … Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson have agreed to sit down and answer key questions on the issues that impact Central Florida, before the Aug. 30 Florida primary … anchor Greg Warmoth moderates the debate which includes national security concerns, economic issues on national and state levels, Florida’s environment and gridlock in Washington, D.C.

CARLOS BERUFF’S LOANS TO CAMPAIGN TOP $4M IN GOP SENATE PRIMARY via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Beruff has loaned his campaign $4.1 million, according to recently posted campaign finance reports. Beruff … said he would spend upward of $15 million in personal funds. So far, he has used the money to blanket the state with campaign ads promoting his background and attacking incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio in the GOP primary … Since Rubio announced he would be running for re-election in late June, nearly all of Beruff’s campaign cash has come from personal loans. He raised just over $215,000 from donors during the past fundraising period. Beruff spent $4.2 million during the last reporting period and has $125,209. Rubio has been dominating the polls since getting back in the race, but Beruff has continued to fund TV ads in media markets across the state to help boost his name identification and chip away at Rubio’s large lead.

FOR GRAHAM FAMILY, IT MAY BE TIME FOR ANOTHER OF THEM TO RUN FOR FLORIDA GOVERNOR via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – In a mega-state where political dynasties are remarkably common (BilirakisCastorMeekDiaz-BalartMack) nobody should underestimate the strength of the most politically successful Democratic name in modern Florida history. That’s especially true when the gregarious oldest daughter of former two-term governor and three-term U.S. Sen. Bob Graham has already shown her considerable political skill. In 2014, she defeated a GOP congressman in heavily Republican north Florida. Graham is one of several potential Democratic candidates for governor addressing Florida delegates at their daily convention breakfasts this week. So is Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Miami Beach Mayor and businessman Philip Levine. South Florida state Sen. Jeremy Ring, another businessman, also is exploring a run, while so far the only likely top tier Republican candidate is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. The lack of experience in elective office is likely to be a plus and minus for Graham. Skeptics will call her too inexperienced, while others will see a woman who is neither a career politician nor a rookie. “For most political offices, the central question is judgment. Does this person bring to the office the ability to analyze, organize and execute on whatever the problem happens to be,” said Bob Graham, 79, adding that his daughter has that judgment as well as a knack for bringing people together and bipartisan cooperation. The eldest of his four daughters leans on him for advice regularly. He said they have disagreed at least initially on some decisions — such as her support for the controversial Keystone Pipeline — but not after she explains the process she went through to make that decision. After eight years of Gov. Scott learning about a state he had only recently adopted before running for governor, the Graham family’s Florida roots are likely to be part of her message. “That love that we have for the state is something we will bring back to the governor’s mansion if I’m lucky enough to run and win,” Rep. Graham said. Her family clearly is on board.

CLUB FOR GROWTH CALLS NEAL DUNN A “CHARLIE CRIST REPUBLICAN” IN NEW CD2 AD —Club for Growth Action released a new 30-second spot to oppose Dunn in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. “Who is Neal Dunn? He’s a former lobbyist who claims he’s a Republican, but he’s donated thousands in campaign money to Democrats. Dunn was a big backer of Charlie Crist. Dunn even supported Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in Florida.” The 30-second spot — called “Dunn Who?” — will throughout the district on broadcast and cable. The Club for Growth PAC endorsed Republican Mary Thomas in January.

BOB POE PROMISES TO ‘RESTORE TRUST’ IN NEW CD 10 AD — The Orlando Democrat hones in on violence in the Orlando area his new  30-second spot. “Police brutality has gone unchecked for far too long in Orlando. Police chief Val Demings oversaw it, and did nothing. And ‘nothing’ is not what we need in Congress right now. We need to restore trust and take action,” he said in the advertisement. Poe promised to hold police accountable, make sure they get training they need, and require body cameras. The ad — called “Action” — is part of Poe’s $1 million ad buy.

FUNDRAISING FOR SOLAR ENERGY AMENDMENT SLOWS IN JULY via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Contributions to Consumers for Smart Solar fizzled out … State records show the fundraising committee — which is backing the solar-energy ballot initiative — received no contributions between July 2 and July 15. The two-week period marks the two most recent fundraising periods. The group has raised more than $16 million since July 2015. The group spent $615 between July 9 and July 15. All told, the committee has spent more than $13.8 million. Consumers for Smart Solar ended the most recent fundraising period with nearly $2.2 million cash on hand.

POLL SHOWS MIKE HILL WITH A DOUBLE DIGIT LEAD OVER DOUG BROXSON IN SD 1 RACE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Internal polling shows Hill holds an 18-point lead over Broxson. Conducted by Data Targeting, the poll found 43 percent of respondents said they would support Hill if the Republican primary were held today; while 25 percent said they would back Broxson. The survey found 30 percent of likely Republican primary voters polled said they were unsure … 52 percent of voters living in Escambia County said they supported Hill, compared to 16 percent who said they would back Broxson. In Santa Rosa County, 30 percent of respondents said they would vote for Hill if the election were held today; while 43 percent picked Broxson … 46 percent in Okaloosa County said they would pick Hill; while 54 percent said they were unsure … 46 percent who self-identified as very conservative said they would support Hill; while 24 percent said they would pick Broxson … 39 percent had a favorable opinion of Hill; while 6 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of him … 39 percent of respondents said they hadn’t heard of him.

OUTSIDE GROUP TARGETS DEBBIE MAYFIELD WITH NEW WEBSITE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – … to point out Mayfield’s record and hold the Vero Beach Republican — and an electioneering committee aligned with Mayfield — accountable. “Debbie Mayfield’s deception about her record is well documented on this website,” said David Bishop, a spokesman for The Accomplished Conservative Leaders Fund. “As we approach the upcoming Republican Primary in the Senate District 17 race, it’s vital that voters get Mayfield’s full record before casting their ballots.” The website, according to the committee, focuses on several areas, including her voting record and personal loans to her campaign. State records show The Accomplished Conservative Leaders Fund, an electioneering communications organization, is not affiliated with a particular candidate or organization. The group has received $350,000 — the bulk of its contributions — from Citizens United for Liberty and Freedom, Rep. Ritch Workman’s political committee.

ENDORSEMENT WATCH

Patrick Murphy, running for U.S. Senate, has been endorsed by Lauren Poe, the Mayor of Gainesville.

Neal Dunn, running for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, has been endorsed by the National Association of REALTORS.

Mary Thomas, running for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, has been endorsed by the Gun Owners of America.

Greg Steube, running for Senate District 23, has been endorsed by the Florida Right to Life PAC.

Matt Hudson, running for Senate District 28, has been endorsed by the North Collier Professional Firefighters and Paramedics.

Bobby Powell, running for Senate District 30, has been endorsed by the Florida Retail Federation.

Jonathan Tallman, running for House District 4, has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

Chuck Clemons, running for House District 21, has been endorsed by Bobby Schultz, the Sheriff of Gilchrist County.

Beth Tuura, running for House District 47, has been endorsed by former state Rep. Karen Castor Dentel.

Lange Sykes, running for House District 54, has been endorsed by Brian Barefoot, the mayor of Indian River Shores.

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

STATE REGULATORS VOTE TO INCREASE SOME CANCER-CAUSING TOXINS IN STATE WATER via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Florida regulators voted to approve a new water quality standard  Tuesday that will increase the amount of cancer-causing toxins allowed in Florida’s rivers and streams under a plan the state says will protect more Floridians than current standards. The Environmental Regulation Commission voted 3-2 to approve a proposal drafted by state regulators that would increase the number of regulated chemicals from 54 to 92 allowed in rivers, streams and other sources of drinking water … But the proposal, based on a one-of-a-kind scientific method nicknamed “Monte Carlo,” is being vigorously criticized by environmental groups who warned that it will allow polluters to dump dangerous amounts of chemicals in high concentrations before they trigger the limits of the new rule. “Monte Carlo gambling with our children’s safety is unacceptable,” said Marty Baum of Indian Riverkeeper, an environmental group based in Indian River County. He and more than three dozen other environmentalists warned that the state’s attempt to devise a new way to assess the risk of toxic chemicals on human health will result in higher concentrations of chemicals being dumped into Florida rivers and streams. Under the proposal, the acceptable levels of toxins will be increased for more than two dozen known carcinogens and decreased for 13 currently regulated chemicals. The proposal also will reduce impose new rules on 39 other chemicals that could be dumped into Florida rivers and streams that are currently not regulated. The agency defended the proposal, and its new Monte Carlo approach — also known as “probabilistic analysis” — saying it is more responsive to Florida variables by shielding people who consume large amounts of fish from the buildup of dangerous toxins.

FIRST MEDICAL POT DISPENSARY OPENS ITS DOORS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Trulieve, the approved provider in northwest Florida, officially opened the first medical cannabis store in the state, in a strip mall in northeast Tallahassee. “This is an historic day for the state of Florida,” CEO Kim Rivers told a roomful of reporters and medical cannabis advocates. The company was recently granted dispensing authorization by Florida’s Department of Health. Trulieve is now the first medical marijuana provider to offer statewide delivery and make an in-store sale in Florida. It will offer both the low-THC, or non-euphoric, strain previously OK’d by the state and the higher-THC strain allowed for terminally ill patients, Rivers said. Its marijuana is grown indoors to avoid using pesticides and other chemicals. The store’s opening caps off an often frustrating journey for patients and their caregivers who had clamored for medical cannabis in the Sunshine State.

HIALEAH DECISION SPURS CHALLENGE FROM HORSE GROUP via CBS Miami – A dispute involving the representation of quarter-horse owners and trainers at Hialeah Park has led to a legal challenge against state gambling regulators. The Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, which has represented owners and trainers at the track, filed the challenge last week, arguing that the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation improperly issued licenses to Hialeah. The case stems from a decision by Hialeah to enter an agreement with a newly formed organization, the South Florida Quarter Horse Association, to represent owners and trainers. The department’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering issued racing and cardroom licenses to Hialeah after the formation of the new association, which the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association argues, in part, is a “captive” group.

1 MILLION SIGNED UP FOR ‘DO NOT CALL’ LIST via Florida Politics – One million phone numbers now are on the state’s Do Not Call List, which restricts telemarketers and others from making sales calls to Floridians. Of those, 928,000 were added since “[AdamPutnam worked with the Legislature in 2012 to remove the fee to join” …  The list makes it “illegal for solicitors to call or text numbers on the state’s Do Not Call List, with penalties of up to $10,000 per violation,” the release said. To get on the list, visit FreshFromFlorida.com, or call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352). Spanish speakers should call 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832). Each subscriber can enter six phone numbers that will remain active on the list for five years, the release said.

DUKE ENERGY FLORIDA BRINGS 17 ACRE OSCEOLA COUNTY SOLAR POWER PLANT ONLINE via Florida Politics – Osceola County Commissioners will celebrate the newest Duke Energy solar plant providing Central Florida consumers clean, renewable power. The Osceola Solar Facility … contains 15,000 solar panels and is roughly the size of 13 football fields. The plant, which officially began operation May 12, produces nearly 4 megawatts of carbon-free energy. The solar plant will be honored at the Aug. 1 Osceola County Commission meeting, according to a Duke Energy news release. At 1:30 p.m., Duke Energy representatives and commissioners will hold an event to sign a commemorative solar panel. The panel will be on display at the commission office at 1 Courthouse Square, Room 4700 in Kissimmee. Advanced Green Technologies designed and built the solar plant on 17 acres next to an existing Kenansville Duke Energy substation.

PERSONNEL NOTE: HILL+KNOWLTON STRATEGIES PROMOTES RON BARTLETT via Florida Politics – The global PR and communications agency made Bartlett “general manager of Florida, overseeing the firm’s offices in Tampa and Tallahassee,” according to a press release. Bartlett, a Tampa Tribune veteran who joined H+K in 2000, was most recently deputy general manager of Florida. He also was senior vice president in charge of Florida’s public affairs team, working on legislative, regulatory and public policy issues, the release said. He succeeds Harry Costello, who becomes chairman of the firm’s Florida operations. “I am truly excited to lead a team that includes a terrific mix of highly seasoned, veteran communicators along with the best and brightest young professionals in the business,” Bartlett said.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Christina Grant: Johnson & Blanton: Florida Hospice & Palliative Care Association

Nick Iarossi, Capital City Consulting: Oportun

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Mr. Orange Juice, David Shepp.

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Sunburn for 07.26.16 – FLOTUS for POTUS

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

THE FIRST LADY STEALS THE SHOW

Bernie Sanders said he is “proud to stand with” Hillary Clinton, while Michelle Obama said Clinton has “the guts and grace” to be president, as Democrats strove to appear unified at their national convention in the face of a political firestorm over hacked emails.

Democrats looked to defuse tensions by announcing that outgoing party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz would not take the stage. She has long been a focus of criticism from Sanders and his backers for her apparent bias in Clinton’s favor.

Many of Sanders’ supporters weren’t appeased, and they jeered as speakers lauded Clinton.

Here are the top takeaways from Monday’s opening day of the Democratic National Convention:

– Sanders urges unity –

Seeking to avoid a nationally televised display of disunity, Sanders urged his supporters to back Clinton.

The Vermont senator tried to settle roiling tensions between his ardent, left-leaning supporters and the party’s rank-and-file that back Clinton. He spoke directly to supporters, sent them texts and made an appeal as the final speaker Monday.

He told the convention that “Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States.”

“If you don’t believe this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country,” he said.

– FLOTUS steals show – 

Not even Sanders could quiet the shouts of his die-hard supporters — but Michelle Obama did. She delivered a sharp attack on Trump — without ever mentioning his name.

She said she wants to see elected “someone who understands that the issues a president faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters.”

That was a clear reference to Trump, the tireless tweeter.

She lauded Clinton as a woman with a heart and as a future president who never “buckles under pressure” or takes the easy way out.

– Big names –

Other big names on the first night included Elizabeth Warren, who delivered the keynote address. The Massachusetts senator is a favorite of liberals.

“I’m with Hillary. This choice is personal. It’s about who we are as a people,” she said.

Warren called Clinton “one of the smartest, toughest, most tenacious people on this planet,” contrasting her decades-long record of public service with Trump, whom she described as “a man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone.”

There were also big names from the entertainment world, including comedian Sarah Silverman, and musicians Demi Lovato and Paul Simon.

– That email controversy –

Democratic leaders long knew they would have a tough time unifying the party at the convention after a tough primary campaign. The hacked emails made it that much harder.

The 19,000 Democratic National Committee emails, posted by Wikileaks over the weekend, showed that top officials at the supposedly neutral DNC favored Clinton over Sanders in the primaries.

The FBI announced Monday it was investigating how the hack occurred.

Clinton’s campaign, citing a cybersecurity firm hired to investigate the leak, blamed Russia and suggested the goal was to benefit Trump’s campaign. Trump dismissed that suggestion in a tweet: “The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails.”

Whatever the origins, Wasserman Schultz bore the brunt of the political fallout. Long a controversial figure, she announced on Sunday afternoon she would resign.

– GOP gloats –

Republicans who suffered through a gaffe-plagued convention in Cleveland last week watched the Democratic drama with delight.

Trump said in a tweet: “Wow, the Republican Convention went so smoothly compared to the Dems total mess. But fear not, the dishonest media will find a good spinnnn!”

THAT MOMENT WHEN SARAH SILVERMAN RIPPED INTO SANDERS SUPPORTERS via Aaron Blake of the Washington Post – After a day full of tensions between Sanders supporters and the Democratic Party, the first few hours of the party’s convention on Monday featured plenty of distractions, and things seemed to be moving forward. Then Sarah Silverman showed up. The comedian was a Sanders supporter in the primaries, and she came to the stage with Clinton supporter and fellow “Saturday Night Live” alum, Sen. Al Franken. It was a good idea in theory: two comedians trying to bring some levity to the situation and defuse it with humor.
silverman gif

Silverman tried to make jokes. She noted that Clinton, who was most recently secretary of state, “was a secretary, and now she’s going to be president.” The crowd got louder. Silverman added, “I will vote for Hillary with gusto.” She concluded her speech by saying, “As I continue to be inspired and moved to action by the ideals set for by Bernie, who will never stop fighting for us, I am proud to be a part of Bernie’s movement, and a vital part of that movement is making absolutely sure that Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United States.”

The crowd got louder. By that point, though, Franken and Silverman had also run out of material and were being asked to stretch their segment due to a problem with musical guest Paul Simon‘s organ. It got a little awkward as they stalled and people chanted. And then Silverman said this: “To the Bernie-or-bust people, let me just tell you: You’re being ridiculous.”

— “Bernie Sanders’s big connection speech was the same speech he gave when he first endorsed Hillary Clinton” – via Phillip Bump of the Washington Post

AMID DNC DISCORE, COMMITTEE OFFS APOLOGY TO SANDERS – The Democratic National Committee is offering its “deep and sincere apology” to Bernie Sanders, his supporters and the entire party for what it calls “the inexcusable remarks made over email, the AP reports. The statement from incoming interim party leader, Donna Brazile, and six other officials says the comments in the emails ‘do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process.’ The statement wasn’t signed by the outgoing DNC head, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

FBI SUSPECTS RUSSIA OF HACKING DNC via the Daily Beast – The FBI suspects that Russian government hackers breached the networks of the Democratic National Committee and stole emails that were posted to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks. It’s an operation that several U.S. officials now suspect was a deliberate attempt to influence the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. The theory that Moscow orchestrated the leaks to help Trump, who has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and practically called for the end of NATO, is fast gaining currency within the Obama administration because of the timing of the leaks and Trump’s own connections to the Russian government, the sources said on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing and developing quickly.

— “The DNC’s leaked emails show it had no idea how to rig an election” via Jordan Weissman of Slate

SANDERS DELEGATES REVOLT ON CONVENTION FLOOR via Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — Enraged Sanders allies shouted down speakers, ignoring appeals from Sanders himself to project unity. Senior Clinton and Sanders aides huddled throughout the evening in the convention center’s boiler room and on the floor, strategizing about how to prevent an embarrassing display of discord when the convention’s prime-time schedule begins — and features remarks from Sanders, First Lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. But as speaker after speaker strode to the dais and urged delegates to back Clinton, pro-Sanders delegates chanted “Bernie” and “No TPP!” a reference to the multinational trade deal that Sanders railed against.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 25: Delegates and attendees in support of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) hold up signs on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Delegates and attendees in support of Sen. Bernie Sanders hold up signs on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

… In the moments before the convention gaveled in, Clinton aide Marlon Marshall and Sanders deputy campaign manager Rich Pelletier huddled to discuss preventing visible disruptions by Sanders allies. Throughout the opening hours, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver and senior strategist Mark Longabaugh, along with Marshall, Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook and senior adviser Charlie Baker worked to soothe the discord, passing instructions to Sanders floor whip leader Robert Becker and Clinton’s floor whip leader Donnie Fowler. Sanders sent out a last-minute text message to his delegates encouraging them to “not engage in any kind of protest on the floor.”

SANDERS DELEGATES EXPLORING CHALLENGE OF TIM KAINE SELECTION via Adam Behsudi of POLITICO – Sanders supporters are moving toward a toward a challenge of (Kaine’s) selection as presumptive vice presidential nominee, accusing Clinton of failing to roll back ‘some of the worst neo-liberal policies’ with her choice of running mate. ‘There’s serious interest right now and exploration as we speak of a formal challenge,”‘Norman Solomon, a California delegate and national coordinator for the Bernie Delegates Network, said at a news conference Monday. The network represents about 1,250 of the 1,900 delegates that have pledged support for Sanders. Kaine’s selection riled Sanders supporters, who accuse the Virginia Democrat of being too closely tied to Wall Street and fault him for his past strong support for trade deals.

— “The Bernie protesters outside the gates won’t change anything, but I respect them” via Charles Pierce of Esquire

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AL GORE, A CONVENTION NO-SHOW, ENDORSES CLINTON via Joey Garrison of The Tennessean – “I am not able to attend this year’s Democratic convention, but I will be voting for Hillary Clinton,” Gore said in the statement. “Given her qualification and experience — and given the significant challenges facing our nation and the world, including, especially, the global climate crisis — I encourage everyone else to do the same.”

DWS JEERED DURING ADDRESS TO FLORIDA DELEGATION via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Give credit – or incredible chutzpah – to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who kept her word and addressed a raucous scene at the Florida delegation breakfast at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Philadelphia Monday morning. It did not go well.

Seemingly half of the crowd of several hundred people, which included the delegates and other Democrats, stood up and booed her mercilessly, some holding up signs reading, “E-Mails,” referring to the trove of Democratic National Committee emails that were published by Wikileaks … There were DWS supporters as well, but they were drowned out by the fervent opposition. Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant tried to quiet down the crowd, to little avail. “Let’s hear from our speaker today.”

As members of the crowd and reporters rushed the stage, Mary Lou Ambrose, president of the Largo/Mid-Pinellas Democratic Club said to this reporter, “I want you to know that everybody in Pinellas County disagrees with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and wants her out.” Wasserman Schultz left the stage after speaking for a little more than five minutes.

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Stephanie Grutman Zauder – “Debbie is the hardest working public servant. DNC chair is the most thankless job and she consistently takes the bullets for all of us so we can continue to fight the good fight. She is our family and one of the most influential people in my life. Thank you for your service and your friendship.”

— “DWS now faces battle for her South Florida seat” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald

— “Bob Graham tells Florida delegates Debbie Wasserman Schultz ‘deserves our recognition’” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

— “Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen on what Hillary Clinton needs to do Thursday night” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

— “Susan Sarandon sits with Florida Bernie delegates at DNC 2016” via Kristina Webb of the Palm Beach Post

susan sarandon - post

TWEET, TWEET:

castor

kriseman

KAINE WILL FUNDRAISE IN FT. LAUDERDALE AUG. 2 via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – Kaine will appear at an evening fundraiser at the Fort Lauderdale home of lawyer Mitchell Berger. “It will be his first fundraiser in the nation,” Berger said.

HAPPENING TODAY — BILL NELSON, NANCY PELOSI ADDRESS THE DELEGATION — Sen. Nelson, House Minority Leader Pelosi, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Reps. Lois FrankelKathy Castor, and Keith Ellison, and Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, will address the Florida delegation at 8:30 a.m. at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. The convention starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

AN EXCLUSIVE INSIDER’S VIEW OF THE DNC via Ben Pollara of LSN Partners – An Honored Guest is better than a Special Guest which is better than an Arena Guest. Nothing beats a Floor Delegate pass, but those are fewand far between. Honored Guest passes are orange, whereas Special Guest passes are turquoise, making them difficult to distinguish from Arena Guest passes, which are green.

Still with me?

Welcome to the credentials shuffle that is #DNCinPHL. This isn’t even the half of it. There are “overlays”. Those are the passes that get you super special secret access within the convention hall. There’s a club level, a suite level, a better suite level!

This first day is mostly figuring it all out and what means what. What color pass is VIP and what is pedestrian. What the hot suites are, and why you can’t get it. In case you were wondering, Florida is well represented at this convo.\

Moskowitz’s are in full force. Rep. Jared Moskowitz is working the floor (with David Richardson, toying with Fox News), whipping votes for HRC, including that of his father, Florida Democratic Party legend, Mike “the Mosk” Moskowitz. Jared Rosenstein, an honorary Moskowitz, is there too.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been spotted all over Philly, though not by me personally. I did see Ana Cruz and Justin Day, from the Tampa contingent.

Christopher George Korge – fundraising behemoth – is a constant presence at these things, taking care of all his Florida ilk throughout. Korge was last spotted bringing a horde of Florida donors through the SEPTA train to the Wells Fargo Center.

Night one is a wrap. FLOTUS killed it. Bern was the anti-Cruz. We all live to see another day.

Holy sh*t, there are three more days of this.

BY THE WAY, NO ONE LIKES PHILLY:

— @MeganLiberman: To be totally objective and nonpartisan: the logistics at DNC are appalling. Squalid hotels, sweltering workspace, no directions. Chaos.

— @NYTnickc: Logistically: >

— @TheFix: Comparing Philly and Cleveland right now in terms of convention logistics is like comparing Cavs and 76ers. No comparison.

— @MarkHalperin: Hard fact of life: reporters unhappy w/logistics are less likely to write positive stories. Philly is lovely but…

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY: TUESDAY’S ROLL CALL SAYS IT ALL – On Tuesday night, Clinton is to become the first woman presidential nominee of a major party. The result is foreordained, but the roll call of the states will nonetheless be an emotional coda for Bernie Sanders supporters whose passion and energy took the Vermont senator from fringe candidate to serious contender. Some things to watch for at the Democratic convention on Tuesday:

Roll call – All of the energy and angst of the hard-fought primary battle between Clinton and Sanders will culminate in the roll call of the states. Each state delegation will get a chance to announce how its delegates are voting. Sanders delegates have pushed to have their votes fully tallied. Sanders has left open the possibility that Clinton could receive the nomination by acclamation — or unanimous nomination — at the end of the roll call. That may not satisfy his delegates. Some are ready to boo or even walk out if there is a unanimous nomination. In 2008, Clinton halted the roll call midway through to call for then-Sen. Barack Obama‘s approval by acclamation, or unanimous vote.

First dude – The spouse of a presidential nominee always gets some love at a party convention. And Bill Clinton‘s speech Tuesday night will pique extra interest since he hopes to be the first first man. Bill Clinton also carries the extra title of ex-president and is a beloved figure to party faithful. But the former president carries with him the baggage of numerous scandals and investigations from his years in the White House. And Clinton, famously protective of his wife, can get in trouble when he gets carried away in defending her. Watch how he’s introduced: Hillary Clinton has joked that she’s still working on what to call her husband if she’s elected, offering “first dude” and “first mate” as possibilities.

Mothers of the movement -Hoopla and celebration will give way to a somber moment when the convention showcases “mothers of the movement” — women whose children have died in gun violence. The speakers will include the mothers of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, both killed by police. The moment will not be without controversy: Philadelphia’s police union complained that Clinton was showcasing killings by police without giving equal time to the families of fallen officers. Clinton’s campaign responded that two members of law enforcement also are on the convention schedule.

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at www.capcityconsult.com.***

NATE SILVER: DONALD TRUMP WOULD MOST LIKELY WIN THE ELECTION IF IT WERE HELD TODAY via Allan Smith of businessinsider.com – In his “Now-cast” election model for who would win if ballots were cast, Silver gave the Republican nominee a 57.5% chance of winning the presidency. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had a 42.5% chance of securing the nation’s highest office if voters were to take to the polls Monday … Silver’s model had Trump winning in the swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire. He would win 285 electoral votes in Silver’s model. It’s the first time in Silver’s “Now-cast” forecast that Trump has been projected to win. Silver raised eyebrows on Twitter when he pointed out “how plausible it is that Trump could become president.”

— “Donald Trump bounces into the lead” via Jennifer Agiesta of CNN

HAPPENING TODAY:

TRUMP INVITE2

and

trump invite

TRUMP POSTPONES MEETING WITH HISPANIC LEADERS IN MIAMI via Beth Reinhard of the Wall Street Journal – … because several key participants are unavailable, according to the campaign. The postponement comes on the heels of a national convention that showcased few Latinos but a lot of angry rhetoric about illegal immigration. Trump was supposed to meet with Hispanic leaders in Miami earlier this month but canceled the event because it was scheduled the day after the shootings of police officers in Dallas. The group spoke by phone with campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Last week’s national convention was a missed opportunity for the Trump campaign to reach out to Hispanic voters, said Daniel Garza, executive director of the LIBRE Intitiative, a nonpartisan Hispanic advocacy group.

— “Trump hosing Reddit AMA during DNC on Wednesday” via Engadget

‘TATS FOR TRUMP’ INKS TATTOOS FOR CAMPAIGN DONATIONS via Collin Breaux of the Panama City News Herald – An event in Panama City Beach dubbed “Tats for Trumps” traded a Trump presidential campaign donation for a permanent or temporary political tattoo. … The event, which also featured voter registration, was hosted at Electroluxe and organized by the Trump Bay County campaign.

DAYS UNTIL: Domestic absentee ballots go out in primary – 0; Early voting begins in primaries – 24; Primary elections – 34; Deadline to register to vote in Primary Election – 6; Deadline to register to vote in General Election – 76; Absentees sent in General Election – 69; Early voting begins in General Election — 94; General Election – 104.

THE BALLOTS ARE IN THE MAIL — Elections officials across the state will begin mailing the first wave of vote-by-mail ballots Tuesday. The mailing marks the first day of a mandatory seven-day mailing window, which closes Aug. 2. More than 1.7 million have already requested their vote-by-mail ballots for the Aug. 30 primary. That number includes ballots being sent to Floridians living overseas, including members of the military. Overseas ballots needed to be sent to voters by July 16. Republicans accounted for more than 740,000 of those requests; while Democrats accounted for more than 657,000 requests. More than 268,000 no party affiliation voters requested ballots. Floridians have until Aug. 1 to register to vote or change party affiliation to vote in the Aug. 30 primary. Florida is a closed primary state, which means Floridians must be a registered Republican or Democrat to vote in their party’s primary.

CARLOS BERUFF SAYS IT’S TIME TO GET TOUGH ON TERROR IN NEW AD via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – In a new advertisement, the Beruff campaign takes aim at Sen. Marco Rubio for not supporting Trump’s proposal for a temporary ban on immigrants from the Middle East, a position Beruff supports. “Terror in France, in California and now right here in Florida. Donald Trump wants a temporary ban on immigrants from the Middle East, but Marco Rubio opposes Trump’s ban and Marco refuses to secure our borders,” an announcer says in the 30-second spot. The advertisement — called “Tough on Terror” — then shows Rubio saying the proposal “is never going to become the law of the country.”

77% OF FLORIDA VOTERS NOW BACK MEDICAL MARIJUANA BALLOT INITIATIVE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The survey — conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research on behalf of the United for Care campaign — found 77 percent of likely Florida voters said they supported the ballot initiative. The survey found 20 percent were opposed to it, while 3 percent of likely voters said they were undecided. Kevin Akins, a pollster with Anzalone Liszt Research, said the survey showed support for medical marijuana in Florida “is stronger than ever.” He said the survey found “a broad and diverse coalition of voters” support the amendment. “I’m obviously pleased at these levels of support, but I’m also not surprised,” said Ben Pollara, the United for Care campaign manager. “The notion of allowing medical decisions to be made by doctors and patients, not politicians, is simply not controversial. Floridians are compassionate and they know that marijuana can help alleviate suffering.”

CAROL JENKINS BARNETT FAMILY TRUST GIVES $800K TO DRUG FREE FLORIDA via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – State records show the organization raised $805,000 between July 9 and July 15, the most recent fundraising period. That sum includes a single $800,000 donation from the Carol Jenkins Barnett Family Trust, and brings its total fundraising haul to more than $8.1 million … Carol Jenkins Barnett is the daughter of George Jenkins, the founder of Publix Super Markets. She is a longtime supporter of programs benefiting children, and, according to Forbes, has served as the chairman and president of the Publix Super Market Charities, which donates millions each to nonprofit organizations that support education and the homeless. Records show the family trust gave $540,000 in 2014 to Drug Free Florida. The group ran a successful campaign against the 2014 medical marijuana ballot initiative, and is ramping up its efforts ahead of the 2016 election.

— “Florida’s first pot dispensary opens without fanfare” via News4Jax

EMILYS LIST ENDORSES STEPHANIE MURPHY FOR CD 7 – The nation’s largest resource for women in politics, endorsed Murphy, who’s running in Florida’s 7th Congressional District. … “Unlike her opponent, Republican Congressman John Mica, Stephane will work to end gender discrimination in pay, expand health care for women and protect women and families from violence. EMILY’s List is proud to support Stephanie in her bid for election in this crucial swing district.”

NATIONAL DEMOCRATS BACKING POLITICAL ROOKIE IN RARE CHALLENGE TO JOHN MICA via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Veteran Republican Mica [is] facing a dynamic he has not seen over his near quarter-century in Congress: a viable Democratic opponent. This year, Mica is likely to face Democrat Stephanie Murphy, a businesswoman and Rollins College professor, in the general election. After a recruiting scramble, the Democratic Congressional Campaign persuaded her file for the seat one day before the qualifying deadline. She’s a political rookie, but will have plenty of help after a redistricting legal challenge made knocking off Mica one of the DCCC’s top priorities. Mica’s seat has been redrawn to include a younger and more Hispanic electorate. The 7th Congressional District … immediately piqued the interest of the DCCC, but the group’s recruitment efforts got off to a tough start … During her first week in the race, she raised $126,000, a number boosted by some party heavy weights. She got $10,000 from a political action committee controlled by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, $5,000 from the DCCC, and $2,000 each from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and second-ranking House Democrat Whip Steny Hoyer. A political action committee controlled by Pelosi also gave Murphy a $5,000 check. Murphy loaned $11,000 to her campaign, which has $115,000 in the bank. Mica is also revving up a political machine that has not always needed to raise large sums of money to win re-election. One of the early DCCC strategies, like they are doing in other races around the country, is tying Mica to Trump. In the group’s TV ads in connection with the Republican National Convention, the DCCC tried to link 10 vulnerable House Republicans – including Mica – to the New York billionaire. In the two ads, the DCCC slammed the targeted Republicans as Trump’s sidekick, labeling Trump a “bully.”

HOUSE GOP LEADERSHIP SAYS THEY LOOK FORWARD TO ‘HAVING CONVERSATION’ WITH DAVID JOLLY via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Could the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) be coming to help save the day for Jolly after all? The relationship between the Pinellas County Congressman and the committee responsible for electing Republicans to Congress seemed to be in tatters after Jolly’s appearance on “60 Minutes” back in April, when Jolly repeated the charge that he was told at a meeting with the NRCC after being elected in 2014 he needed to raise $18,000 every day. NRCC Executive Director Rob Simms claimed that was a lie. The Jolly camp said it wasn’t. Jolly was on the CBS news program to hype his STOP Act, a proposal that would bar members of Congress from personally soliciting campaign donations. NRCC officials appeared to take the proposal personally, and have indicated they wouldn’t be there to support him financially after Jolly announced he would quit his race for the U.S. Senate to run for re-election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. But that was then. “We look forward to having conversations with him in about what kind of race he intends to run,” said NRCC Chairman Greg Walden … “It’s a much more difficult challenge for any Republican,” he added, referring to how court-imposed redistricting last year skewed CD-13 to be more Democratic-oriented.

RICK KOZELL TAKES AIM AT CLINTON IN CD 18 AD — In a new advertisementKozell said Clinton “sold her power to the highest bidder, jeopardized our national security, and then lied about it. Hillary is what’s wrong with Washington, and we have had it with corrupt political insiders.” Kozell, one of six Republicans vying to replace Rep. Patrick Murphy in the U.S. House, vowed to “defend the Constitution, shred Obamacare, and stand up against the lobbyists and the liberal special interests”

DAN BONGINO LAUNCHES NEW RADIO AD IN CD 19 RACE – The latest 30-second spot from the former Secret Service agent, called “Tired,” focuses on the grassroots nature of his campaign and anti-establishment appeal. “While my opponents have been busy fighting over who has the most insider-D.C. connections, I’ve been busy in the streets talking to you,” Bongino says. Referencing heavy advertising from his opponents, Bongino distinguished his message. “It’s not the commercials, it’s the broken promises in them.” Bongino is seeking the seat currently held by Curt Clawson, which covers parts of Lee and Collier counties.

ETHICS COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST RITCH WORKMAN via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The complaint — filed by Ronald Thomas July 20 — calls on the state’s Commission on Ethics to “immediately investigate” reports that Workman … used taxpayer dollars to send a newsletter to voters outside of his state House district. The complaint stems from a July 8 report by Matt Dixon at POLITICO Florida [saying] a vendor hired by Workman reimbursed the state $3,500 after sending a taxpayer-funded newsletter to voters outside of his House district. The newsletter … was sent to voters in Senate District 17, which includes Brevard and Indian River counties. The complaint alleges the mailer was “clearly intended to introduce Workman to voters that did not know him and was meant to benefit his candidacy, as evidenced by hiring his campaign consultant/lobbyist to perform the work.” Workman’s district — House District 52 — covers part of Brevard County. But the newsletter went to a broader group of voters inside Senate District 17. “In comments to POLITICO, Rep. Workman admitted that he sent a taxpayer-funded newsletter outside the district into the seat he is campaign for; admitted that he used taxpayer money to pay his campaign consultant/lobbyist to perform work at the time he was being paid with Workman’s campaign funds,” according to the complaint.

MY TAKE: 15 PICKS THAT STAND OUT AMONG THE FLORIDA REALTORS’ 2016 LEGISLATIVE ENDORSEMENTS via Florida Politics – In the ultra-competitive race for Senate District 1 … Doug Broxson over Mike Hill, both currently serving in the Florida House … Dean Asher in SD 13 … They’re staying out of SD 23, but they’re backing Matt Hudson over Kathleen Passidomo in SD 28 … rallying behind Jeff Clemens in SD 31, where Irv Slosberg is also running … Mel Ponder over Wayne Harris and Jonathan Tallman in the competitive Republican primary for HD 4 … Democratic incumbent Loranne Ausley in HD 9 … Cord Byrd in HD 11, Clay Yarborough in HD 12 and Terry Fields in HD 14 … Former Florida GOP Chairwoman Leslie Dougher over Katherine Van Zant in HD 19 … in HD 21, they like Wenda Lewis over Chuck Clemmons … in HD 41, Sam Killebrew … Alex Barrio over Amy Mercado … Rebecca Smith in the battleground seat of HD 60 … Democrats Ben Diamond and Eric Lynn appear to be trading endorsement blows in the race for HD 68 … Realtors are backing Lynn … the four-way Democratic primary for HD 87, the Realtors are backing David Silvers … Kelly Skidmore over Emily Slosberg in HD 91.

ENDORSEMENT WATCH

Hans Tanzler, running for Florida’s 4th Congressional District, has been endorsed by St. Johns County Commissioner Rachael Bennett.

Francis Rooney, running for Florida’s 19th Congressional District, has been endorsed by the American Conservative Union.

Bob Cortes, running for re-election to HD 30, has been endorsed by the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association Political Action Committee.

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

FLORIDA COUNTIES WEIGH OPTIONS FOR USE OF ‘LOW INCOME POOL’ DOLLARS DUE TO RULE CHANGES via Christine Sexton of POLITICO – Florida legislators crafting this year’s state budget assumed that counties would contribute up to $240 million that could be used for Medicaid matching funds. But just one month into the new state fiscal year, questions linger as to whether the counties will agree to send the money to Tallahassee now that the federal government has changed the rules regarding the Low Income Pool, or LIP. Those tracking the issue say changes on how the state can operate the program, combined with the 2017 expiration of the federal Medicaid 1115 waiver, may make now the perfect time for state and local leaders to reconsider the expansion of Medicaid. Though it was funded at $2 billion just two years ago, the federal government made sweeping changes to the program and reduced the amount of money available to the state from $2 billion in fiscal year 2014-15 to just $600 million in the state 2016-17 fiscal year. Among other things, the new rules preclude counties that contribute local tax dollars from receiving a guaranteed rate of return on their funding. Another change: the feds require the state to place hospitals into one of four tiers based on the amount of uncompensated care hospitals provide … analysis shows that Hillsborough County is slated to contribute $35 million in local tax dollars to Tallahassee this year to fund LIP. If Hillsborough submits the $35 million in local dollars – but the state doesn’t collect the full $240 million with the help from other counties – Tampa General could “receive significantly less than” than what it was appropriated in the current fiscal year budget. Conversely, If Hillsborough County doesn’t contribute local tax dollars and the full $240 million is collected, the hospital “will nonetheless be eligible for its full allotment.”

FLORIDA ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE via FloridaHealth.gov – As of Monday, there were five new travel-related cases with two in Miami-Dade, one in Okaloosa, one in Orange and one involving a pregnant woman. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms associated with the Zika virus last between seven to 10 days. There are now 310 total cases in Florida; by county (number of cases): Miami Dade (95), Broward (51), Orange (37), Osceola (17), Palm Beach (15), Seminole (11), Polk (11), Hillsborough (9), Pinellas (7), Brevard (6), Duval (6), Lee (6), Pasco (6), Alachua (5), Volusia (5), Collier (4), Clay (3), St. Johns (3), Citrus (2), Okaloosa (2), and a single case each in Charlotte, Escambia, Highlands, Lake, Manatee, Martin, Okeechobee, Santa Rosa and St. Lucie with 48 cases involving pregnant women.

IN ORLANDO, SURGEON GENERAL: PRECAUTION BEST METHOD TO FIGHT ZIKA VIRUS via Terrance Harris of the Associated Press – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy toured a mosquito control facility in Orlando on Monday and said now is the time to start taking precautions to prevent the spread of the Zika virus. … He suggested using insect repellent, staying in air-conditioned spaces, wearing long sleeve shirts and pants and getting rid of unnatural standing water in neighborhoods and around homes such as bird baths, water in old tires or even a small bottle cap of water. If you have visited recently an area known for transmission of Zika, you should avoid unprotected sex because that is a known way of transferring the virus, he said.

REGULATORS WANT TO ALLOW MORE TOXIC CHEMICALS IN FLORIDA’S WATER via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The governor-appointed Environmental Regulatory Commission will vote on a rule proposed by state regulators that would increase the number of regulated chemicals allowed in drinking water from 54 to 92 chemicals and raise the allowed limits on more than two dozen known carcinogens — all currently regulated — from levels that are from 20 percent to 1,100 percent higher than current standards. The agency is reducing the allowed limits on 13 currently regulated chemicals, two of which are considered carcinogens. The dozens of chemicals are among those released by oil and gas drilling companies (including fracking operations), dry cleaning companies, pulp and paper producers, wastewater treatment plants and agriculture. Many of these industries have come out in support of the new rule.

For environmentalists, the proposal is an unacceptable no-brainer. “Toxic algae blooms in South Florida are making people sick, hurting our economy, closing our beaches and the Rick Scott administration wants to legalize even more toxic chemicals in our water?” said Linda Young, director of the Florida Clean Water Action Network, which is fighting the rule. “It’s so crazy it seems unreal, and they’re not even embarrassed by it.”

DEO WINS AMENDED JUDGMENT IN LOAN PROGRAM LAWSUIT via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Circuit Judge Terry Lewis … granted the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) the new sum of $1.26 million against the Black Business Investment Fund of Central Florida (BBIF) … The department won before, but wanted its final judgment against the investment fund changed to add prejudgment interest of almost $202,000. That request follows an appellate decision that added the prejudgment interest, money that accrues on a monetary award from the time of the plaintiff’s injury or damage to when a judge orders the award. The department had first sued the BBIF in 2013, saying it had overcharged participants in the Economic Gardening Business Loan Pilot Program and should have returned the money. The $8.5 million program in question, a low-interest loan program for the state’s small businesses, was created by lawmakers in 2009 as a response to the then-ongoing recession. DEO coordinated the loan program; BBIF was picked as a loan administrator. The program allowed administrators to get a loan origination fee, payable at closing, of 1 percent of each loan and to take a yearly “servicing fee” of 0.625 percent of a loan’s outstanding principal balance.

PETA WINS ROUND IN PUBLIC RECORDS FIGHT OVER MONKEYS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A judge has allowed People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to intervene in a public records lawsuit involving an animal research lab. Circuit Judge Terry Lewis issued his order … “…PETA shall be considered for all purposes a party defendant in this action, and all pleadings and papers shall be served upon PETA’s counsel of record,” the order says. The group’s public records request “triggered” the suit, court records show. Primate Products, Inc. wants a court order to prevent the state’s Department of Agriculture from releasing records it says contain “trade secrets.” Lewis also denied the company’s motion for summary judgment … PETA asked for copies of veterinary certificates for animals the company ships to researchers. Florida’s agriculture department regulates the movement of research animals into and out of the state. It kept copies of Primate Products animals’ vet certificates. But the company has said the paperwork had “customer and supplier information,” and since the “primate supply business is very competitive, with only a handful of companies in the market, and disclosure of such information to (our) competitors would cause harm to (our) business.” Primate Products breeds and sells “nonhuman primates for use in biomedical research,” the suit says.

LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

On and off: Portia Palmer has been named interim Clerk of the House, and the post previously held by Bob Ward, who is retiring.

Off: Benjamin Smith is no longer a legislative assistant for state Rep. Jim Boyd of Bradenton.

Off: Rebekah Hurd is no longer a legislative assistant for St. Cloud state Rep. Mike La Rosa.

Off: Kristin Bradstreet is no longer a district secretary for state Rep. Kathleen Passidomo of Naples.

Off: Anna DeCerchio is no longer a legislative assistant for Palm Coast Republican state Rep. Paul Renner.

On: Omar Raschid has become legislative assistant for Republican state Rep. Chris Sprowls of Tarpon Springs.

On: Austin Nicklas is the new legislative assistant for Republican state Sen. Aaron Bean of Jacksonville.

Off: Michael Nachef is no longer legislative assistant for Republican state Sen. Garrett Richter of Naples.

DUKE ENERGY PUSHES DEVELOPMENT IN CENTRAL FLORIDA via therealdeal.com – Duke Energy is trying to expand its customer base in Central Florida by promoting the development of business parks there. The utility company has identified two locations with good potential for development as business parks: 94 acres in the City of Alachua and 456 acres midway between Ocala and Gainesville. The owner of the Alachua site agreed to work with Duke. The 456-acre site is located near Interstate 75 in Irvine, a community in unincorporated Marion County. The land is zoned for up to 500 homes and commercial development on as many as 300 acres. Duke has used an internal site-readiness program to evaluate over 200 locations in its six-state service area and to lure $3.6 billion of capital investment.

QUESTIONS LINGER OVER ORANGE COUNTY PROPERTY APPRAISER RICK SINGH’S 1988 ALLEGED RETAIL THEFT via Florida Politics – What does not appear anywhere on Singh’s bio is something a little less impressive: a disputed arrest in 1988 at the Zayre Department Store in Fern Park. Singh, who was 25 at the time, had been briefly detained for allegedly trying to return a computer he didn’t purchase. Although Singh insists the decades-old episode was nothing more than a mix-up, some believe he was technically under arrest for the crime of retail theft … the situation gets complicated when Singh, born Paramand Singh in August 1962, sought to change his first name legally in 2010. That request is what could prove troublesome for Rick Singh. On the official name change request, dated Nov. 18, 2010, Singh checked that he had “never been arrested for or charged with, [pleaded] guilty or nolo contendere to, or been found to have committed a criminal offense, regardless of adjudication.” Whether that statement is strictly true — or, at worst, possible perjury — is the source of debate. According to a form dated June 22, 1988, — titled Arrest/Notice to Appear — and signed by Seminole County Sheriff Deputy N. Fowler, Zayre security officer Chuck Brott said that Singh entered the department store and began acting suspiciously … Brott saw Singh remove a Commodore 64 C computer from the store shelf and bring it to the service desk. The narrative describes Singh next appearing to fill out, sign and return a store credit receipt. Brott intervened, identifying himself as a security officer, accusing Singh of seeking to return the item by claiming the computer was his, even though he had no receipt … Brott escorted Singh to the security office, giving him the legal Miranda warnings. Twenty-eight years later, Singh continues to dispute he was arrested. “This is not true,” Singh told FloridaPolitics.com. “I was not arrested. I was not taken into custody. There is no judgment on this.” In Singh’s case, however, the question of whether he was arrested is not academic, particularly in light of his signed affidavit for a name change. It could be much more severe … Florida Statutes define perjury as “whoever makes a false statement, which he or she does not believe to be true, under oath in an official proceeding in regard to any material matter.” Under Florida law, it is a third-degree felony. If Singh had no reason to believe he had been arrested, he likely had not committed perjury by stating that he had not been arrested; the statute requires him to make no statement “which he does not believe to be true.”

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA  On the heels of a tumultuous Republican convention, the Democratic National Committee is now rocked by its own email scandal forcing the DNC Chairwoman to resign. On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum reveals plans for his remarks alongside President Barack Obama, Tim Kaine and others. So far Gillum is the only Floridian with a speaking slot at the DNC and he says his message will be focused on unity. Gomes also talks with Jarrett Hill, a former Tampa Bay reporter, who was first to break the story about similarities between Melania Trump’s speech and a speech Michelle Obama gave in 2008. Plus, Brian Burgess, former spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott and now publisher of The Capitolist media site, reacts to Scott’s speech and discusses other highlights from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

VOLUNTEER FLORIDA, JAMES MADISON INSTITUTE TO HOST #BRINGABOOK INITIATIVE –  Volunteer Florida and the James Madison Institute announced a service initiative in conjunction with the James Madison Institute’s Annual Policy Summit in Orlando Aug. 18-20 at the Rosen shingle Creek resort, 9939 Universal Blvd. The #BringABook book drive will benefit the Central Florida Urban League and the Learning Tree at South City in Tallahassee. Volunteer Florida and JMI will collect new or gently-used elementary school level books in the Policy Retreat event registration area. JMI’s 2016 Annual Policy Summit will bring together statewide leaders to help set the Institute’s policy agenda for the year.  Authors, speakers, researchers, and economists will also be on hand to address attendees. “JMI has been a longtime supporter of civics education initiatives,” said Dr. Bob McClure, JMI president and CEO. “Our Preston A. Wells, Jr. Center for American Ideals regularly hosts education opportunities for K-12 and college students, such as book clubs and featured speaker seminars, and we are thrilled to support literacy projects in our larger Florida community through this service project book drive.”

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

MISS FLORIDA FORCED TO GIVE BACK TITLE AFTER MAKEUP CONTROVERSY ON SOCIAL MEDIA via NBC 6 News South Florida – Organizers of the competition ordered 24-year-old and Miss Miami Beach, Genesis Davila, to turn in her crown. She’s accused of using professional help with her hair and makeup on a night she was not allowed to, a violation of pageant rules. An Instagram photo confirmed that Davila was with an artist who’s unaffiliated with the pageant. Producers say the professional help is an unfair advantage. Davila … says she was visiting a family friend in her mother’s hotel room. “I still feel like I’m Miss Florida USA because I was crowned Miss Florida USA that night,” Davila said. “Even though all these false accusations and allegations and rumors have been wandering all over social media, I know that I have proof to show the world that none of this is true. The crown now goes to the runner-up, who is from Sunny Isles Beach.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Richard Stark and Jason Steele.

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Democrats take on Donald Trump’s record as businessman

Democrats at their national convention are going after Donald Trump‘s business record.

Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is questioning where the Republican presidential nominee’s products were made.

Here’s what Casey says: “Dress shirts – Bangladesh. Furniture – Turkey. Picture frames – India. Wine glasses – Slovenia. Neck ties – China.”

He adds, “Why would Donald Trump make his products in every corner of the globe but not in Altoona, Erie or here in Philadelphia?”

And Sen. Kristen Gillibrand of New York recalls Trump’s comments about U.S. wages being too high.

She says Democrat Hillary Clinton “knows that in the richest country in the world, it’s unacceptable that a mom with two kids working full time still lives in poverty.”

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Al Gore tweets endorsement of Hillary Clinton

Former Vice President Al Gore is endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but he says he is “not able” to attend the Democratic National Convention this week.

In a trio of tweets Monday, Gore said that he’s voting for Clinton “given her qualifications and experience — and given the significant challenges facing our nation and the world.” He did not tweet his reason for not attending the nominating convention.

Gore, an outspoken activist on the issue of global warming, specifically said that Clinton would help to raise awareness on the issue.

Gore was the Democratic nominee for president in 2000, but he lost the general election in a highly contentious race against George W. Bush.

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15 picks that stand out among the Florida Realtors’ 2016 legislative endorsements

On Friday, the Florida Realtors PAC made its endorsement for the 2016 election cycle.

There are more than 400 candidates who have qualified to run for the 160 seats in the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate. According to a release from the organization, candidates were evaluated on numerous factors, including their voting record on issues that are relevant to the real estate profession.

Among these issues, says Bill Furst, chair of the Florida Realtors PAC Trustees, is how to make “Florida a fair regulatory and low tax state that helps create and maintain a vibrant state economy and strong real estate market.”

Most of the Realtors’ endorsement are in line with those of other pro-growth organizations, such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries.

Here are some of the Realtors’ recommendations which stand out.

— In the ultra-competitive race for SD 1, the Realtors are backing Doug Broxson over Mike Hill, both of whom are currently serving in the Florida House.

— It’s shocking to see the Realtors backing Dean Asher in SD 13 (just kidding, we all know Asher is a top priority for the profession).

— The Realtors are weighing in in one tough Senate primary and staying out of another: They’re staying out of SD 23, but they’re backing Matt Hudson over Kathleen Passidomo in SD 28.

— The Realtors are rallying behind Jeff Clemens in SD 31, where Irv Slosberg is also running.

— The Realtors endorsed Mel Ponder over Wayne Harris and Jonathan Tallman in the competitive Republican primary for HD 4. Neither AIF nor the Chamber endorsed in this race, so winning the Realtors’ backing may be one way for Ponder to separate himself from the field.

— Like AIF, the Realtors are backing Democratic incumbent Loranne Ausley in HD 9.

— There are a slew of open seats up for grabs in northeast Florida. In HDs 11-14, there are a slew of candidates running. Some organizations are taking a wait-and-see approach before endorsing in these races. Not the Realtors PAC. It’s making bets on Cord Byrd in HD 11, Clay Yarborough in HD 12 and Terry Fields in HD 14.

— The Realtors PAC likes former Florida GOP Chairwoman Leslie Dougher over Katherine Van Zant, wife of incumbent Charles Van Zant, in HD 19.

— The Realtors are also playing in HD 21, another wide-open seat. They like Wenda Lewis over Chuck Clemmons and four other candidates in this seat.

— One of the most competitive races is in HD 41 where Sam Killebrew is facing off against Charles Davis in the GOP primary. Killebrew earlier won AIF’s endorsement. He now has the Realtors.

— In one of the few open Democratic primaries, the Realtors have endorsed Alex Barrio over Amy Mercado.

— Rebecca Smith is the Realtors preferred choice in the battleground seat of HD 60.

— Democrats Ben Diamond and Eric Lynn appear to be trading endorsement blows with each other in the race for HD 68. The Realtors are backing Lynn.

— In the four-way Democratic primary for HD 87, the Realtors are backing David Silvers.

— The Realtors are backing Kelly Skidmore over Emily Slosberg in HD 91.

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Questions linger over Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh’s 1988 alleged retail theft

As Orange County Property Appraiser, Rick Singh has amassed what could be considered a notable resume.

For example, he was the first ever state-certified appraiser elected to the county position, having brought what the appraiser’s website calls nearly 20 years of “hands-on experience” to the post.

What does not appear anywhere on Singh’s bio is something a little less impressive: a disputed arrest in 1988 at the Zayre Department Store at 145 State Road 436 in Fern Park.

Singh, who was 25 at the time, had been briefly detained for allegedly trying to return a computer he didn’t purchase.

Although Singh insists the decades-old episode was nothing more than a mix-up, some believe he was technically under arrest for the crime of retail theft.

And while the unpleasant incident, misunderstanding or otherwise, did not prevent Singh from having a career in the Orange County Property Appraiser’s office, the situation gets complicated when Singh, born Paramand Singh in August 1962, sought to change his first name legally in 2010.

That request is what could prove troublesome for Rick Singh.

On the official name change request, dated Nov. 18, 2010, Singh checked that he had “never been arrested for or charged with, [pleaded] guilty or nolo contendere to, or been found to have committed a criminal offense, regardless of adjudication.”

Whether that statement is strictly true — or, at worst, possible perjury — is the source of debate.

According to a form dated June 22, 1988 — titled Arrest/Notice to Appear — and signed by Seminole County Sheriff Deputy N. Fowler, Zayre security officer Chuck Brott said that Singh entered the department store at about 1 p.m. and began acting suspiciously. This concern led Brott to start observing the young man through a two-way mirror.

Brott saw Singh remove a Commodore 64 C computer from the store shelf and bring it to the service desk. The narrative describes Singh next appearing to fill out, sign and return a store credit receipt.

It was then Brott intervened, identifying himself as a security officer, accusing Singh of seeking to return the item by claiming the computer was his, even though he had no receipt.

Brott escorted Singh to the security office, giving him the legal Miranda warnings.

Singh chose to waive his constitutional rights, explaining he was merely going to ask a question about the computer. The store model — similar to a computer Singh said he already owned — was so to “make it easier on the employee.”

After he had brought the computer to the service desk, Singh said the employee, listed as a Mr. Williams, automatically began filling out the slip of paper, handing it to him without question.

When interviewed by Brott, Williams said Singh asked to return the merchandise and was told he couldn’t receive cash for the computer, but only store credit. The report concludes with Brott telling Singh that Zayre’s had intended to prosecute. The charge listed on the report is “retail theft.”

Twenty-eight years later, Singh continues to dispute he was arrested.

“This is not true,” Singh told FloridaPolitics.com reporter Scott Powers in a July 18 interview. “I was not arrested. I was not taken into custody. There is no judgment on this.”

The situation was nothing more than a misinterpretation, he added.

“I took a computer back to the store,” he added. “They were actually working on my computer.”

When shown a copy of the report from 1988, with the header “Arrest/Notice to Appear,” Singh replied he “had no idea.” Singh then argued it was he who suggested bringing in the Sheriff’s Office to resolve the complaint.

“This was not an arrest. An arrest is when you are seized and taken into custody,” Singh said. “I feel I was profiled.”

As for why the report just recently came to light, Singh said it was because of the political “silly season.” Singh is currently running for re-election, facing Republican Edward DeAguilera and write-in candidate Christopher Casler.

A few details seem to support Singh’s argument. Is a “Notice to Appear” different from an arrest? Did Singh get an arrest or a notice to appear? Did he know if there is a difference?

Also, much of the report was left blank — date, location and time of arrest, and booking. The deputy’s narrative description of what happened does not include language indicating Singh was arrested, though it did explicitly say he was read Miranda rights — a constitutional requirement for those under arrest.

Todd Brown, Chief Investigator for the State Attorney’s Office for the 18th Judicial Circuit (Seminole and Brevard counties), says even a “notice to appear” is legally considered an arrest.

Notices to appear are given instead of formal arrests, Brown told FloridaPolitics.com earlier this month. They do not need to include bookings or any other unpleasantries.

Often, Brown said, they are given for misdemeanor offenses in which there is no reason to believe a suspect would not appear. He added that it would not be surprising if most people who receive a notice to appear — as in Singh’s case — mistakenly believe they have NOT been arrested.

That these notices are technically arrests, Brown suggested, is something that only law enforcement and officers of the court are aware; it not necessarily apparent to a layperson.

Brown later said he could find no records in the 18th Judicial Circuit relating to the incident of July 22, 1988. One possible explanation is that the incident occurred before the court began digitizing records, making the records so old that if there were any other proceedings by the State Attorney.

They probably would be in the paper archives, Brown said.

While all this could just amount to a 28-year-old incident of alleged shoplifting, one in which Singh contends he did nothing wrong — and, for the record, no charges were ever filed — available information seems to suggest another explanation. The circumstances could also be interpreted — at least by some — as Singh being under “arrest,” even though it was a technicality.

Nevertheless, Singh continues to maintain vigorously he was not arrested, and official (pre-digital) records also appear to bear this out.

In Singh’s case, however, the question of whether he was arrested is not academic, particularly in light of his signed affidavit for a name change.

It could be much more severe.

Florida Statutes define perjury as “whoever makes a false statement, which he or she does not believe to be true, under oath in an official proceeding in regard to any material matter.” Under Florida law, it is a third-degree felony.

If Singh had no reason to believe he had been arrested, he likely had not committed perjury by stating that he had not been arrested; the statute requires him to make no statement “which he does not believe to be true.”

Singh certainly may not have been arrested. On the other hand, ask anyone who has been detained (or otherwise held) by the authorities for any number of youthful indiscretions — shoplifting, rowdiness, underage drinking and the like. They may not have been under arrest, per se, but it certainly felt as if they were.

The argument here is whether it is reasonable that Singh thought he was not “under arrest” in these circumstances.

In the end, this could all be just a giant misunderstanding. But one thing is sure: Singh’s brief run-in with the law — along with his name change — raises more questions than it answers.
Rick Singh documents_Page_4Rick Singh documents_Page_5Rick Singh documents_Page_1Rick Singh documents_Page_2Rick Singh documents_Page_3

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Florida Virtual School entrepreneur Ed Mansouri to focus on new WeatherSTEM tech project

Entrepreneur Ed Mansouri
Entrepreneur Ed Mansouri

Ed Mansouri, the nationally renowned software pioneer who developed the cutting-edge learning management system used by the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) since 2003, will be transitioning away at the end of this year, after a proud partnership with FLVS, to focus his efforts more fully on his equally impressive new WeatherSTEM educational technology.

Mansouri will continue working closely with FLVS leadership to position the online institution for ongoing success with its new learning management system partner.

Weather data-gathering units installed all over the state by Mansouri’s organization inform the WeatherSTEM website and mobile application to provide real-time, localized temperature, humidity and lightning measurements.

Mansouri and his team also have been developing curriculum for Florida’s K-12 students in the topical domains of weather and agriculture, with the content driven by live data from weather stations placed at local schools. His vision and generosity translated to donating and installing a WeatherSTEM unit in at least one school in each of Florida’s 67 counties, as requests from other schools, emergency operations centers, farms and universities keep rolling in.

“Ed’s dedication to measurably helping Florida’s students and educators is evidenced by his donation of so many state-of-the-art weather stations and accompanying data to schools across our state,” said Michael Olenick, a member of the State Board of Education and former member of the board of trustees of the Florida Virtual School. “His technology is unmatched and offers unique and superior opportunities for students, and also for safety officers, groundskeepers and coaches. The model he has created with WeatherSTEM is a stellar example of a positive public-private partnership, and I’m excited about the already great response from the schools, universities and other organizations who understand its potential and value.”

Mansouri will focus the same science/technological mastery and ingenuity that he applied toward the Ucompass Educator platform to now bring WeatherSTEM to classrooms, emergency operations centers, agriculture businesses and beyond.

“In any conversation with Ed, you quickly realize you are in the presence of someone whose considerable talents define real brilliance and whose creative genius powers the breakthroughs that make him a bold and fearless pioneer in new frontiers of learning,” said Ron Sachs, a good friend of Mansouri. “Ed’s WeatherSTEM project features impressive cool technology and learning-as-fun curriculum tools that will teach a new generation of Florida students how to open up new horizons in their knowledge base — and enhance their own careers, and the lives of us all, in the near future.”

The ever-humble Mansouri reflects unbridled enthusiasm for WeatherSTEM and what its effectiveness and success can mean for Florida and the nation.

“The goal for WeatherSTEM is to promote awareness and understanding among young people about the impact of weather on their daily lives and to advance meteorological education,” said Mansouri. “I’m excited about having the time and opportunity to put more of my energy and resources into WeatherSTEM because the weather and data skills these students acquire today will enable them to advance their careers and interests in any field in the future.”

Mansouri’s lifelong passion has been meteorology. He graduated from Penn State University with a major course of study in both engineering and meteorology and completed his master’s degree in meteorology at Florida State University.

This fall, he will be returning to FSU to pursue a Ph.D. in meteorology and help conduct groundbreaking research in predictive lightning studies, which could be the breakthrough to save lives and learn from one of nature’s most potent energy forces.

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