Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
Today’s SachsFact is brought to you by the public affairs, integrated marketing and reputation management experts at Sachs Media Group: Tip your hat to Stetson University, which this week marks its 126th anniversary under that name. Six years after it was founded as DeLand Academy, the school was renamed to honor hat manufacturer John B. Stetson, a major benefactor and founding trustee. The university recorded several Florida firsts, including the first collegiate newspaper and first schools of law, music and business administration. The campus is home to the oldest education-related buildings in Florida, earning it a place on the National Register of Historic Places. So hats off to this outstanding institution!
DAYS UNTIL Mother’s Day: 3; Jacksonville’s Mayoral Election: 12; Debut of Mad Max: Fury Road: 7; Special Session (Maybe) 24; Major League Baseball All-Star game: 67; Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts: 225 (revised per Chris Carmody’s request); First Day of 2016 Legislative Schedule: 250; Florida’s Presidential Primary: 312; Florida’s 2016 Primary Election: 481; Florida’s 2016 General Election: 552.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to one of the true pros of the governmental affairs industry, Jennifer Green. As a birthday present to herself and her team, she just signed a solid new client, Advanced Energy Economy.
FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Rep. Chris Latvala: “Having lunch at Pete and Shortys to discuss with my campaign team our strategy for collecting petitions to qualify for reelection next year. While the democratic party sends robo calls and mailers into the district we are going to do what we did to win in the first place… meet voters face to face at their doorstep.”
TWEET OF THE DAY via @BethReinhard: More Rick Scott: wouldn’t say if considering 2018 Senate run. “I think it’s more interesting to be president” but says he isn’t running
STORY YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN: “Jeb Bush administration invested Florida pension money in p*rn purveyor” via the International Business Times
RON DESANTIS LAUNCHES SENATE BID, ALLY FIRES PREEMPTIVE SHOT AT CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis … launched his 2016 Senate bid with the backing of three conservative groups known for butting heads with the GOP establishment. The Club For Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks all announced endorsements of DeSantis soon after he made his campaign official.
DeSantis is the first Republican in the race. But amid growing anticipation that Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera will also enter the GOP primary, Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli took a shot at the potential DeSantis rival.
“Carlos Lopez-Cantera is not a conservative,” Cuccinelli said. “He supported Charlie Crist‘s budget that raised taxes by $2.2 billion, he supported in-state tuition for illegal aliens, and he’s supported wasteful spending at the state level. If he runs, we will actively oppose his nomination.”
As a member of the state House in 2009, Lopez-Cantera joined every other Republican legislator except one in supporting a $2.2 billion package of motor vehicle fee increases, a cigarette-tax hike and other revenue-boosting measures that then-Republican Gov. Crist approved.
FREEDOMWORKS PAC OUT EARLY TO ENDORSE RON DESANTIS FOR U.S. SENATE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
FreedomWorks PAC endorsed … DeSantis … in his run for U.S. Senate.
“I’m proud that Congressman DeSantis is the first endorsement of the 2016 cycle by FreedomWorks PAC. Congressman DeSantis is a fiscal conservative leader who will bring much-needed leadership on important issues to the U.S. Senate,” FreedomWorks PAC Chairman Adam Brandon said in a prepared statement. “Congressman DeSantis has been a leader on everything from reducing federal spending, trying to stop ObamaCare, and opposing Common Core. I’m confident that our members will be very excited to help him win in November.”
FreedomWorks PAC is the political action committee formed from FreedomWorks, a leading Tea Party-based group co-founded by former U.S. Rep. Dick Armey and now led by Matt Tibbe.
FLORIDA DEMS CREATE NEW WEBSITE BLASTING RON DESANTIS via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
That didn’t take long. … DeSantis announced he is an official candidate for the U.S. Senate , the Florida Democratic Party responded immediately with a website, RonDeSantis2016.com, that features a large picture of the 36-year-old representative with the words, “Ron DeSantis: For the Tea Party.”
“The last Tea Party Congressman to run for U.S. Senate in Florida suffered a resounding defeat because of just how out of touch he was with the values of Florida’s middle class,” says FDP spokesperson Max Steele. “If anything, Congressman Ron DeSantis would be an even bigger disaster for Florida’s families than Connie Mack. He’s a risk Floridians can’t afford, and we will make sure voters know it. This website is just the beginning of our campaign against Congressman DeSantis’ Tea Party record.”
The site hits DeSantis with a litany of criticisms … a long record of supporting anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant legislation. … Wants to end Medicare as we know it. … Disagrees with the majority of Floridians who believe love is love and support marriage equality for all. … A strong and vocal opponent of a woman’s right to choose, equal pay for equal work for women. … Even voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.
DESANTIS HAS THE RESUME BUT CAN HE WIN? via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times
Two years ago, just a couple months into his rookie term, DeSantis said he had no higher plan … Now because of the planning by Rubio, DeSantis has his chance.
… By his own telling, he’s got quite the background.
“Ron DeSantis is a native Floridian of humble beginnings who knows the value of hard work. To put himself through school, he performed every odd job imaginable — sweeping floors, collecting trash, moving furniture, parking cars, serving as an electrician’s assistant, and coaching baseball clinics,” reads his official Congressional bio. “He earned a bachelor of arts, magna cum laude, and was the captain of the varsity baseball team at Yale University. He also graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, Ron earned a commission in the United States Navy as a JAG officer.”
But here are the downsides.
No one really knows DeSantis, which isn’t an insurmountable problem, especially given no one really knows the leading Democrat, Rep. Patrick Murphy. Other Republicans considering the race, chiefly Bill McCollum and Carlos Lopez-Cantera, have higher profiles. Rep. Jeff Miller, who heads the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, is also looking to enter the race.
DeSantis’ conservative voting record would help against those primary opponents, and a number of outside groups, including Club for Growth, will be standing by with financial support. But DeSantis’ record could be a challenge in the general election. DeSantis is very conservative; he once voted against aid for Hurricane Sandy victims, for example.
CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA TELLS SUPPORTERS HE’S LIKELY RUNNING FOR SENATE via Patricia Mazzei and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald
Lopez-Cantera appears poised to enter the … race to replace … Rubio, telephoning political donors and activists over the past few days to gauge their support and indicate his strong interest in launching a bid …
… If he runs, Lopez-Cantera, who has been considering a bid for weeks, could be on the ballot with Rubio, a close friend and fellow Cuban American. Their candidacies could mutually benefit each other, with Lopez-Cantera standing in for Rubio as Rubio campaigns nationally and Rubio attracting more big-name donor attention to Lopez-Cantera. Like Rubio, Lopez-Cantera has been a favorite of Miami auto magnate Norman Braman, a prominent benefactor.
WELCOME TO THE FLORIDA GOP’S WORST-CASE SCENARIO via Jose DelReal of the Washington Post
DeSantis … announced that he would run for the Senate seat … teeing up a possible intra-party fight for the Florida GOP that some Republicans fear could weaken them ahead of a competitive general election. … Several other Republican candidates with closer ties to the GOP establishment — mostly notably Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera — are likely to enter the race as well, setting up a primary battle that mirrors the tea party vs. establishment fights of recent election cycles.
That potential fight became more apparent after the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth — which both have anti-establishment tendencies and have stood behind tea party insurgents in recent cycles — immediately endorsed DeSantis. The SCF pledged to begin raising money for DeSantis’s campaign immediately while the Club pointed out DeSantis 95 percent rating on its congressional scorecard.
FRED COSTELLO NOT RUNNING FOR OPEN DESANTIS SEAT via Gary Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel
In a move that could affect the sharp-elbowed House Speaker 2020 race, state Rep. Fred Costello … announced he would not run for Congress to replace … DeSantis …
“I came in second out of seven when I ran in 2012 and remain passionate about the need to restore American values and re-establish States’ Rights, many friends, colleagues, patients and media representatives have contacted me asking if I am planning to run for U.S. Congress. While I believe I am well positioned to be competitive in the Congressional race, I have decided that I can best serve Floridians by remaining in the Florida House of Representatives,” Costello said in a released statement.
DeSantis beat Costello in a crowded Republican primary on his way to general election victory in 2012.
Costello is a supporter for Rep. Eric Eisnaugle … for House Speaker for the 2020-2022 term. That race heated up this session when Orange County Republican chair Lew Oliver sent a scathing email to party leaders alleging Republican Party of Florida chairman Blaise Ingoglia, who is also a House member, was threatening Central Florida lawmakers with the withdrawal of party support if they didn’t back him for Speaker over Eisnaugle. Ingoglia denied the charges, but Eisnaugle did lose several pledges in the freshman class of House Republicans.
With Costello staying put, it provides more support to Eisnaugle hanging on to a lead in the Speaker race.
Costello is instead backing former U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams, who won a seat in Congress in 2010 in the tea party wave but then lost a primary to U.S. John Mica when Congressional maps redrew them into the same district in 2012.
MORE TRAIL MIX
INSIDE JEB BUSH’S LONG GAME: A BET ON PEAKING LATE via Matea Gold and Robert Costa of the Washington Post
At a luxury Miami hotel last month, one of Jeb Bush’s chief strategists stood before hundreds of top GOP fundraisers to deliver an unsubtle message: The former Florida governor will not be one of the “presidents of August.”
During his closed-door presentation at the 1 Hotel in South Beach, Mike Murphy dismissed buzz-fueled candidates who rise fast early only to flame out once the primaries begin. Murphy ridiculed the early spate of presidential polls — many of which show Bush lagging, particularly in Iowa — as “noise meters.” And he insisted that the Bush team is patiently playing a long game, one that will not be upended by the actions of his rivals.
Murphy’s talk was aimed in part at quieting pockets of anxiety that have been percolating among Bush supporters who are beginning to worry whether he can excite Republicans in the same way that many of his younger rivals are already doing.
In particular, Bush’s backers wonder when, exactly, he is going to formally get in the race and start making his case to voters in earnest.
The answer: not any time soon. Bush, who has already stockpiled record sums, intends to hold back from officially declaring his bid for at least another month, according to people familiar with the plan.
The strategy is being driven by a confident, tightly knit group of Bush advisers, who are focused on amassing as much money as possible now for his allied super PAC on the theory that a considerable cash advantage will enable Bush to outlast his competitors.
TWEET, TWEET: @MarcoRubio: I lived in Vegas for a few years growing up, and still have great memories. This is a state I want to win. So, no pressure @Hutch4Nevada!
HAPPENING TONIGHT: Former State Rep. Doug Holder will hold an evening reception in support of his bid for Senate District 28. The event begins 5:30 p.m. at The Francis, 1289 North Palm Avenue in Sarasota, Florida. Questions and RSVPs are through Meredith O’Rourke at Meredith@TheOrourkeGrp.com.
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FLORIDA HOUSE AND SENATE AGREE TO HOLD JUNE SPECIAL SESSION
The Florida Legislature will hold a June special session to pass a new state budget, but what will be included in that budget is still undecided. House and Senate leaders told members to return to the state Capitol from June 1 to June 20 for a special session.
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli called it a “very good day” after the House and Senate were able to agree on the first step in the budget special session.
“While significant discussions lay before us, today marks a very good day for Florida as we have reached agreement on dates for a budget Special Session,” Crisafulli said in a press release. “We look forward to working with our partners in the Senate as we make continued progress in the weeks ahead.
But Senate President Andy Gardiner and Crisafulli have not yet released an official proclamation that spells out what items will be voted on during the 20-day session. Legislators must pass a budget by June 30 to avoid a government shutdown.
HAPPENING TODAY – NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER AT THE STATE CAPITOL
Gov. Scott, Commissioner Adam Putnam, pastors, students and other leaders will be taking part in the 64th consecutive, annual observance of the National Day of Prayer at the Florida State Capitol on the 22nd floor, from 11:30 a.m. -1:15 p.m..
RICK SCOTT LEAVES MEETING WITH HHS SECRETARY BURWELL EMPTY-HANDED via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times
Gov. Scott’s trip to Washington in search of a way to plug Florida’s hospital funding shortfall didn’t pay off.
Scott met with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell … about renewing a $2.2 billion hospital funding program for Florida. HHS has told Florida the program is being phased out.
Afterward, Scott told reporters “we don’t have a resolution” to the funding dispute.
“Now we’re in a time crunch,” Scott said. “If we don’t have an answer our only solution is a base budget. That’s what I’m working on now, is to make sure that we keep government working. Let’s remember, this started with a federal government program for low-income families. Low income families deserve to have an answer.”
Scott and Burwell’s session had the potential to be awkward. After all, the governor is suing her. Burwell is named as a defendant in Scott’s recent suit alleging that the Obama administration is trying to force Florida into expanding Medicaid by ending the LIP program.
SYLVIA BURWELL TELLS SCOTT HIS LIP IS TOO BIG via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics
Florida’s request for $2 billion in supplemental Medicaid funding is too high, Burwell told Scott at a meeting, according to a release issued by the federal government.
The release also says that a preliminary view of the proposed amendment “falls short” of the principles that concern the government. The release, dubbed a “readout,” also points out that Burwell told Scott that whether a state receives federal funding for an uncompensated care pool is not dependent on whether it expands Medicaid.
She advised though, that HHS “is continuing to engage” with Florida on the LIP proposal.
MORE: “Rick Scott is from Mars; Sylvia Burwell is from Venus” via the Palm Beach Post
KATHY CASTOR SAYS RICK SCOTT IS “FIGHTING FOR A WASTEFUL, INEFFICIENT OUTDATED POT OF DOLLARS” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
Tampa Bay area Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor helped the state get an extension of LIP funding, but she says that there’s a reason why the government no longer wants to provide that type of funding.
“The Governor has known for years that the Low Income Pool will be expiring,” Castor told Florida Politics in her West Tampa district office. “I know, because I fought for extension of the LIP in previous years. And I believe in it. But now, the health system is changing, and that is the not the most efficient way to bring dollars back to the state of Florida. They would come, they would go to a committee, they are subject to political pressure. Some dollars are not going where they should. It’s not as much money. It’s wasteful, and it’s inefficient.”
“Those monies under Medicaid expansion come directly and flow into Medicaid payment rates, that go directly to doctors, hospitals, community health centers and providers,” she said. “So Governor Scott is fighting for a wasteful, inefficient outdated pot of dollars. He should be working in Florida’s best interest, in fighting the most efficient, most robust, most effective expansion of health services under Medicaid, just like Florida businesses are advocating, Florida hospitals, patients, community health centers – there is a consensus across the state, and he can not be trapped in his ideological cage of ‘I oppose everything President Obama does.’ He needs to set that aside and work in the best interests of Floridians.”
TWEET, TWEET: US Rep. Corrine Brown calls Scott the Wizard of Oz, urged CMS to hold firm. Says gov and House “indifferent” to suffering of Floridians
RENE GARCIA WANTS IN ON SCOTT’S HOSPITAL COMMISSION via Christine Sexton of Florida Politics
Garcia sent the governor a letter on Wednesday expressing his interest in serving on the new healthcare and hospital commission the governor created through an executive order.
“Our state is facing many critical healthcare challenges and our hospitals are an important partner in providing services to Floridians in need of medical treatment,” Garcia said in a letter to Gov. Scott. “My constituents include many patients of the Jackson Memorial Health Care System.”
Additionally, Garcia, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, noted that he represents the county whose taxpayers contribute the largest amount of local dollars to help fund the Low Income Pool program. Garcia said as chair of the Senate healthcare spending panel he has “had the opportunity to study and evaluate various options to address the healthcare needs of our state in a manner that makes the best use of taxpayer dollars.”
Scott created a commission through executive order and there has been significant interest in serving on the panel. The order did not name the members of the commission, advise how many people would serve on the commission or spell out when the commission would begin meeting. Scott said the commission, which will take a closer look at healthcare costs in Florida, could be helpful as the state prepares for a budget special session June 1-20.
FOOLISH, FOOLISH HOSPITALS, YOU AWOKE A SLEEPING GIANT via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News
Calling Scott a lame duck is like calling Betty White a retired actress … we were hearing the “lame duck” line a lot. The media loved it. But now, except for a growing rumble in the beanstalk, it’s gone eerily quiet.
Lobbyist Bruce Rueben and Sen. Tom Lee — probably more than any others — are responsible for waking the sleeping giant … by shoving this fight on LIP funding and Medicaid expansion down the throats of the House and the governor. Bad idea. Scott is up, alert, fully engaged on health care and the budget, and God help those who want to see this Medicaid expansion through.
Certainly it didn’t help that a Senate panel refused to confirm Scott-favorite John Armstrong, the state surgeon general, after Armstrong wouldn’t answer questions on Medicaid expansion. That came a day after the governor said he could no longer support expanding Medicaid because of doubts about the federal government’s promise to pay for it.
Whatever side of the issue you’re on, if you’re responsible for a hospital operating in Florida, you know Florida Hospital Association President Rueben, tone deaf and arrogant, overplayed his hand and incurred the giant’s wrath.
Scott showed it to us … as he prepared for a trip to Washington to meet with Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. When a reporter asked him what he would tell federal officials about the Senate plan to extend private insurance coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income Floridians, Scott was uncharacteristically direct. “It’s not going to happen,” he said.
He wasn’t ducking the question. He wasn’t smiling. Frankly, he looked comfortable and never sounded less like he was working off a script. “There’s no support in the House,” he said. “I’m not going to support it. It’s not a program that’s worked.”
FOR HUMAN RESEARCH, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH GETS ‘GOLD SEAL’ via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics
The Florida Department of Health was the first health agency in the nation to earn the “gold seal” from a nationally recognized accrediting agency for its protocols involving human research. … Members of the Department of Health’s Institutional Review Board met in Tallahassee to discuss ways the state can improve its Human Research Protection Program in order to keep its accreditation.
Not only was the DOH the first accredited public health agency, it was the first accredited organization in the state. In all, there are nine organizations that have the accreditation: including the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa as well as the University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida.
The Jaeb Center for Health Research Foundation in Tampa was the mostly recently accredited program in the state, receiving accreditation March 16, 2015. The Tampa-based research center focuses its research on projects involving eye disorders of Type 1 Diabetes.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Doug Bruce, Colodny Fass: Osceola Legislative Effort
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CONTEXT FLORIDA: STUPID & EVIL, ENVIRONMENTALISTS, JUDICIAL CAMPAIGNS AND VOTER CHOICE
On Context Florida: Diane Roberts asks which is worse: stupid and evil, or smart and evil. It’s a thought experiment: you can apply it to, say, George W. and Jeb Bush, Rick Scott and Adam Putnam, the Florida House, etc. They don’t deserve to be in the same paragraph as the word “thought,” she says. As Bruce Ritchie was sitting in the press gallery looking down into the darkened Senate chambers on the last day of the 2015 Legislative session, he was reminded of how the environment usually seems to lose amid debate and controversy. However, Ritchie believes some environmentalists think lack of legislation could be a good thing. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, a ruling that Mark Ferrulo says will affect future judicial campaigns across the country. Ray Hudkins asks us to imagine if all Florida voters had a choice in elections. Most lawmakers – and by most, Hudkins means nearly every single one of them – simply do not have to answer to the vast majority of voters in their communities.
FLORIDA MAN WANTS TO REPLACE STRIP CLUB WITH SENIOR HOUSING via the Associated Press
The owner of a Daytona Beach strip club wants to help clean up the neighborhood by replacing Club Topic with an apartment building for senior citizens. … The plan is preliminary. But last week Will Bittorf removed the `For Lease’ sign outside the building where strippers once danced on a small stage. He says it only attracted people who wanted to open adult businesses.
Bittorf says a 26-story 1,500-unit building would help spruce up East International Speedway Boulevard. And he’s talked with officials about his plan.
For now, Bittorf is keeping the club open so he doesn’t lose its liquor license. He calls the neighborhood more than seedy, adding that it’s sad “when a strip club is the nicest place on the street.”
FLORIDA WOMAN SEEKS RESCUE FROM BOYFRIEND IN ONLINE PIZZA ORDER via the Associated Press
A central Florida woman helped save herself and her children by sending a message in an online pizza order that asked employees to call 911 because she was being held hostage.
The Avon Park Pizza Hut employees spotted what Cheryl Treadway wrote in the comment section of her online order. Employees recognized Treadway as a regular customer and called the sheriff’s office.
Highlands County Sheriff’s deputies went to the home, where they were greeted by Treadway, who was carrying a small child. She told them her boyfriend, Ethan Nickerson, 26, was inside the home, armed with a knife. Her other two children were also inside.
Treadway and the child were escorted to safety. … Lt. Curtis Ludden started talking to Nickerson through a closed door.
“His first words were, of course, `I’m not coming out because I know I’m going to jail,'” Ludden told a TV station.