Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 02.01.17 – Donald Trump rolls out SCOTUS pick; Rick Scott rolls out a budget

in Peter/Top Headlines by

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

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


If confirmed by the Senate to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch would fill the seat of the man he seeks to emulate as a judge.

He would be the first justice to serve alongside a colleague for whom he worked. Gorsuch described his former boss, Justice Anthony Kennedy, Tuesday as one of the judges who brought him up in the law.

President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died nearly a year ago. Trump said he was delivering on his pledge to choose someone in Scalia’s mold.

Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Denver for the past 11 years, said he adheres to Scalia’s approach to the law, evaluating the Constitution and laws by how they were understood when they written. He also shares with Scalia a flair for writing.

But unlike the sometimes irascible Scalia, Gorsuch approaches his work with a courtly manner more reminiscent of Kennedy.

Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the bipartisan National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, has known Gorsuch since they worked as clerks on the federal appeals court in Washington, though for different judges.

“His opinions stand out for his prose and analysis and he gets along really well with both sides,” Rosen said.

While abortion rights groups immediately criticized the nomination, Rosen said Gorsuch’s record on the issue is sparse.

In a book Gorsuch wrote laying out the case against assisted suicide and euthanasia, Rosen said, Gorsuch was careful to avoid making a religious case for his views, focusing instead on philosophy.

“He has been careful not to say what he thinks about abortion or marriage equality,” Rosen said.

In any event, with Kennedy remaining on the court, there are five votes to preserve abortion rights and gay rights, no matter Gorsuch’s views. Should Kennedy, 80, or liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 83, or Stephen Breyer, 78, leave the court in the next four years, Trump then would have a chance to appoint a justice whose vote could perhaps flip the court on abortion, gay rights and a range of hot-button issues.

It’s unclear how quickly majority Republicans might be able to move Gorsuch’s nomination through the Senate or whether Democrats will try to block him. Gorsuch could join the court in time for the last arguments of the term in the spring.

TWEET, TWEET: @AlexConant: Very impressed w/ @PressSec strategy tonight. Great reveal event, followed by making East Room a spin room for ecstatic senators on live TV

BILL NELSON REACTION: “I will base my decision on a full examination of Judge Gorsuch’s judicial record and his responses to senators’ questions.”

MARCO RUBIO REACTION: “Judge Gorsuch is a highly qualified, mainstream jurist, which is why he was unanimously confirmed to the circuit court by the Senate in 2006. By all accounts he has the right temperament and experience for the job, and I’m pleased to see him nominated to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Most importantly, he is committed to the principles of original intent and judicial restraint. This is critical, because too many in the federal judiciary today believe it is appropriate for judges to invent new policies and rights instead of interpreting and defending the Constitution as it is written.”

TWEET, TWEET: @GBennettPost: [email protected]FLGovScott offers bilingual praise for @realDonaldTrump pick of @JusticeGorsuch


Thumbs up from Gus Bilirakis: “Judge Neil Gorsuch is a steadfast conservative who has dedicated much of his life to upholding the Constitution. I applaud President Trump’s decision to nominate him to the U.S. Supreme Court, filling the seat of the great constitutional scholar, Antonin Scalia. Judge Gorsuch will serve the court and the American people well. I hope my colleagues in the U.S. Senate confirm him quickly so the court can carry on its work with a full bench.”

Thumbs down from Lois Frankel: “The Republicans hijacked President Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court and now, sadly, President Trump is bowing to his more extreme supporters. Based on his judicial record, Neil Gorsuch will tip a narrowly divided court in a dangerous direction. This nomination puts serious issues at stake, like a woman’s constitutional right to make her own personal health care choices, getting money out of our politics, and ending political gerrymandering. We need a Supreme Court Justice whose record reflects mainstream values and respect for the fundamental rights of all Americans.”

Thumbs up from Pam Bondi: “I’m thrilled with Gorsuch — will base decisions on law and Constitution-not own policy preferences or personal feelings.”

Thumbs up from Richard Corcoran: “@realDonaldTrump – true to his word – nominated a judge worthy of the Scalia legacy & committed to the separation of powers. #HomeRun”

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Several Florida leaders and elected officials will hold a press call at 10 a.m. to call on Sens. Nelson and Rubio to reject President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Rep. Daisy Baez; Tony Lima, the executive director of SAVE; and Damien Flier, the spokesman for Why Courts Matter Coalition are expected to be on the call. To RSVP and receive dial-in information, email  [email protected]

DCCC PUTS 2018 TARGETS ON FOUR FLORIDA REPUBLICAN CONGRESS MEMBERS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Brian MastMario Diaz-BalartCarlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The DCCC listed those four among 59 targeted nationally in a midterm memo circulated to various Democratic allies. The DCCC’s rival, the National Republican Congressional Committee, scoffed.

POLL SHOWS CHARLIE CRIST WOULD BEAT DAVID JOLLY IF A REMATCH IS IN THE CARDS via Florida Politics– In a new StPetePolls survey of CD 13 voters, Crist would edge out Jolly by about eight points if such a rematch were held today. Crist would get nearly 49 percent, compared to Jolly, who gets just under 41 percent. Nearly 11 percent of respondents were undecided … Crist received the support of almost 72 percent of Democrats, along with nearly 24 percent of Republicans. Those numbers are significantly better than his Republican predecessor; Jolly wins only 69 percent support from voters of his own party, while getting 18 percent of Democrats.

SHOT: @SLRoss528: Spotted on Adams Street @SaintPetersblog and Gwen Graham. Hmmm.

CHASER: @SaintPetersBlog: Just helping @GwenGrahamFL celebrate her birthday. Nothing to see here.

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RICK ROLLS (GET THAT?) OUT HIS BUDGET – Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday released a nearly $83.5 billion proposed budget for 2016-17 that is more than 1 percent larger than this year’s budget. Here’s a few key items you should know about:

Education: Scott wants to increase spending on public schools by $815 million, which translates into a 4 percent increase for each student. Scott is also proposing the elimination of the contentious “Best and Brightest” teacher bonus program. Instead, Scott wants to spend $58 million on several recruitment and retention programs, including one that gives scholarships to teachers who teach in rural districts.

Property taxes: The governor’s increased money for public schools relies on a rise in property values that is expected to generate nearly $558 million in additional local property taxes. Schools in Florida are paid through a combination of state and local money. House leaders say they will oppose Scott’s proposal.

 – Pay raises: Scott is not recommending any across-the-board pay raises for state workers, but he is recommending performance bonuses that could be worth up to $1,500 for each employee. He is also recommending a five percent pay raise for the state’s highway patrol troopers, wildlife officers and state law enforcement agents. Scott also is recommending pay raises and bonuses to correctional officers and probation officers.

Prisons: The budget proposal calls for a nearly $127 million increase for the Department of Corrections. The money would be used for pay raises, the hiring of additional of correctional officers, as well as money to create a special mental health unit at a prison in Wakulla County.

Tuition: The governor wants to keep college and university tuition at its current levels.

SCOTT’S $83.5 BILLION STATE BUDGET GOES HEAVY ON TAX HOLIDAYS via Florida Politics  Scott’s budget would include cuts to business taxes and rents; a one-year sales tax exemption for college textbooks; and a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday. Back-to-school fairs would enjoy a tax exemption. There would be a nine-day disaster-preparedness tax holiday; a three-day veterans’ sales tax holiday; and a one-day camping and fishing sales tax holiday.

SCOTT SPENDING PLAN SETS DEO BUDGET AT NEARLY $1.3B via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools– Scott is recommending a $163 million increase in funding for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity in his proposed 2017-18 budget … the boost will bring the DEO budget to nearly $1.27 billion. Scott’s ask includes $85 million in economic incentives – a contentious issue with some lawmakers. Scott’s budget will also give DEO $300 million from settlement money for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

BUDGET PROPOSES MORE SCIENTISTS, RESEARCH TO FIGHT ZIKA VIRUS via the Miami Herald – Scott is recommending the state spend $2.9 billion to support the health department in the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1 — an increase of $54.6 million over the current year. And though Scott has recommended that the number of employees at the health department remain at the current level of 14,065, he is calling for new funding for the agency to hire 21 epidemiologists and to invest more in infectious disease research to help fight Zika and other public health threats. … Scott’s budget proposal recommends the agency spend $1.9 million for epidemiology, disease surveillance and outbreak control measures. His budget, too, recommends spending an additional $2.2 million to establish a recurring source of funds to make Florida more competitive for peer-reviewed federal grants through the National Institutes of Health.

SCOTT BUDGET PROPOSING CUTTING $156 MILLION FROM TRI-RAIL OVER CONTRACT via Florida Politics – Scott is proposing cutting $156 million in state funding for Tri-Rail development unless the South Florida Regional Transit Authority reverses its decision to award a controversial half-billion contract to a lone qualified bidder … The proposed 2017 state budget now includes an item calling for “no funding” until the authority withdraws, cancels or otherwise terminates the authority’s Notice of Intent for awarding its operating contract to Herzog Transit Services. On the line is $156 million the state had programmed for Tri-Rail’s capital outlay from the Florida Transportation Trust Fund.

RICHARD CORCORAN: ‘NO INCENTIVES’ IN HOUSE BUDGET via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Corcoran hasn’t backed down from his stance that incentives, favored by Gov. Scott, are little more than “corporate welfare” that he won’t allow in the state’s yearly blueprint for spending … there is “no chance” VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s public-private tourism organization, will be funded at previous levels. It got $76 million for the current budget year, and is asking for the same amount for 2017-18.

TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout[email protected]MyFLHouse has canceled most of its meetings planned for next Tues save 1 – presentation of @FLGovScott budget Ready to rumble?

KUDOS to the POLITICO Florida team for its coverage yesterday of Scott’s budget. Its team of reporters sliced and diced Scott’s proposed budget into a a dozen pieces and served up about that many stories about the Governor’s very political document. As Matt Dixon likes to say, “Go Pro.”

HOW SCOTT’S BUDGET ROLL OUT PLAYED – Miami Herald, Teachers get a top focus in Florida governor’s budget – “Scott wants the state to spend $58 million in the next budget year on a handful of initiatives — and those don’t include a controversial teacher bonus plan that lawmakers, with Scott’s support, have advanced in recent years.” Tampa Bay Times, Scott’s vanilla budget – “With two years left in his second term and an expected U.S. Senate campaign looming, the governor is becoming more irrelevant in Tallahassee as strong-willed legislative leaders pursue their competing priorities.” Miami Herald, Scott puts provision in proposed budget to block trade with Cuba – “Port directors put plans to sign any MOU with Cuba on hold … that didn’t prevent Scott from putting wording in his new budget that says no money can be ‘allocated to infrastructure projects that result in the expansion of trade with the Cuban dictatorship because of their continued human rights abuses.’” Tampa Bay Times, Scott proposes $83.5 billion state budget – “The  tax cut plans and his quest revive the state’s program to give tax breaks to private businesses has already been coolly received by state lawmakers who say tough budget conditions will make both ideas difficult to agree to.” Orlando Sentinel, Scott pushes tax cuts, jobs programs in budget proposal – “… a spending recipe with familiar ingredients: big tax cuts for businesses, millions for jobs programs, more money for schools and spending cuts for hospitals and health-care programs.” NBC Miami, Scott Proposes Nearly $83.5 Billion Budget – “Sending out a direct shot to some of his critics in the GOP-controlled Legislature, [Scott] framed his budget as way to maintain Florida’s economy and to grow jobs.” WPTV, Scott outlines $83 billion budget, wants to cut taxes & boost schools this year– “He may have trouble convincing legislative leaders to go along with his plan.” Naples Daily News, Scott doubles beach spending to $50 million in proposed budget – “General revenue would supply $40 million, with $10 million coming from the state’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund … ‘We’re going in the right direction,’ said state Sen. Jack Latvala.”


“The Governor is wrong in expecting Florida taxpayers to give away their tax dollars to businesses that want to come and compete against them in the market. We believe that his broad based tax cuts should be matched with common sense spending cuts, and that the legislature should work to give as much money back to the Florida families and entrepreneurs that are the real keys to economic development.” — Chris Hudson, state director for Americans for Prosperity-Florida

“AIF applauds Governor Scott’s proposed budget that fights for the future of employers and employees in our Sunshine State. His proposed spending plan, which includes $618 million in tax cuts and $85 million for economic incentives to businesses, will go a long way in continuing to help our state achieve the prosperity and growth our Florida families deserve.” – Tom Feeney, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida

“Providing women the opportunity to detect cancer early when it is most survivable is something that everyone deserves, no matter who they are or where they live. The state has supported this program in the past and it’s critically important that House and Senate leadership step up to ensure more women have access to it, not less. This program has been a lifesaver for hundreds of women in Florida because it provides access to evidenced-based screenings, which are the most important tools for detecting breast and cervical cancer early and improving survival rates.” — Heather Youmans, senior government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

“Thanks to the strategic investments Governor Scott has made in Florida’s airport system, we continue to be prepared to handle record volumes in traffic and operations while at the same time making critical improvements to keep our workers and passengers safe.” — Lisa Lyle Waters, president and CEO of the Florida Airports Council

“Florida Health Care Association is grateful  to Governor Scott for his continued support of quality care and services for Florida’s frailest elders. We appreciate him fully funding Medicaid for nursing center services and for initiating the dialogue on the creation of a Prospective Payment System. In addition, his ‘Fighting for Florida’s Future’ Budget will help to further streamline the background screening process, allowing qualified employees applying at our centers to enter the long term care workforce faster so they can more quickly begin caring for nursing center residents.” — Emmett Reed, executive director of the Florida Health Care Association

“The conservative estimate that Florida could be paying nearly $45 million a year in claims for ineligible dependents receiving benefits is astonishing. Florida Tax Watch commends Governor Scott’s commitment to reducing the burden on Florida taxpayers and for seeking innovative solutions to increase efficiencies throughout state government.” — Dominic M. Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch

“There has never been a more important time to focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in our state’s schools. Throughout the world, there is a growing demand for employees who can seamlessly fill positions in STEM fields, and Governor Scott’s investments will help ensure Florida students are prepared to compete in this global economy.” — Andy Tuck, vice chair of the State Board of Education

“On behalf of vulnerable girls in our state, we appreciate Governor Scott’s investment in prevention services in Florida. Under his leadership, more girls and young woman have access to education, counseling, and trauma informed services so that they can reach their full potential and successfully transition to adulthood.” — Mary Marx, president and CEO of the Pace Center for Girls

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will highlight his proposed fee cuts during a press conference at 10 a.m. at BCIndustries, Inc., 5008 Tampa West Blvd. in Tampa.

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ADAM PUTNAM AGREES: BUSINESS EXPERIENCE ESSENTIAL FOR GOVERNOR’S JOB via Florida Politics – “I think someone having business experience that they bring to public life is very helpful,” said Putnam… after a speech at The Associated Press annual Legislative Session planning session at the Capitol. “As a guy who is part of a small business, I get it,” he said. “You have a better feel for what regulations mean, what the paperwork translates to, and things that often sound like a good idea in Tallahassee, by the time they get to Main Street businesses, they’re a hot mess. It’s helpful to know what it means to create jobs in this state.”

MAYBE WE SHOULD SPEND SOME MORE MONEY ON DCF – CHILD WELFARE WORKERS IN FACEBOOK LIVE HANGING THREATENED WITH CONTEMPT via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald – Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia had scheduled a hearing to examine the suicide last week of Naika Venant, a troubled teenager who had been in and out of foster care since 2009. Sampedro-Iglesia opened her hearing by noting that child welfare administrators entrusted with Naika’s well-being had failed to show up. Naika was assigned to the foster home by the Center for Family and Child Enrichment, a case-management agency under subcontract with the Department of Children & Families … Sampedro-Iglesia said she was issuing an “order to show cause,” which requires child welfare workers to appear before her and explain why they should not be held in contempt. The order was not immediately signed.

PRESS ORGANIZATIONS FILE BRIEF IN WORKERS’ COMPENSATION RATE HIKE APPEAL via Florida Politics – The Associated Press, Florida Press Association, and Florida First Amendment Foundation have entered the legal battle over whether the state’s Sunshine Law covered the organization behind the state’s workers’ compensation premium increase. In a friend-of-the-court brief, the three accused the National Council on Compensation Insurance, or NCCI, of employing “an evasive device” to get around its legal obligation to calculate premiums in the sunshine. They pointed to a section of the insurance code requiring organizations like NCCI, which proposed rates to the Office of Insurance Regulation, to open deliberations and documents to the public.

LAND PURCHASE SOUTH OF LAKE O REMAINS TOP PRIORITY FOR JOE NEGRON via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Securing funding to purchase land south of Lake Okeechobee remains a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron. But Negron could face a tough road ahead. Gov. Scott did not include money for a proposed Everglades reservoir in his 2017-18 budget, and House Speaker Corcoran has dismissed the idea of bonding to pay for Negron’s project. The Stuart Republican appears unfazed, saying it is his obligation to convince people the project is appropriate. “I’m going to use the time I’m here to say enough is enough. We’ve been talking about southern storage for 20 years,” he said during the annual legislative planning session hosted by the Associated Press in Tallahassee on Tuesday. “It’s not a new idea. It’s not a radical idea. The time for talking is over. The time for action is now.”

JANET CRUZ READY TO SUPPORT CORCORAN ON ENTERPRISE FLORIDA via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Cruz … pledged that Democrats would continue to fight for increasing funding for public education, particularly for teachers, health care coverage for low-income Floridians and support for public hospitals. Afterward, pressed for where that money might come from, she offered to do away with corporate development incentives provided by Enterprise Florida, incentives that were vigorously defended by Gov. Scott, but targeted by Speaker Corcoran for major reform, at the same conference. “I understand the importance of attracting business, but in a good economy, do we really need to spend that money to attract businesses? Won’t they come to Florida?” Cruz challenged. “I think in a good economy these corporations find their way to Tampa without incentives.”

CRUZ SAYS DEMOCRATS HAVEN’T DONE ENOUGH TO CONVINCE VOTERS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – “I don’t think as Democrats we’ve done a good enough job at articulating how our core values have a direct impact on ensuring Florida families can continue to climb the economic ladder of success,” Cruz told reporters … More funding for public education, better access to health care and a focus on clean water will help the state’s economy grow, Cruz said, and help avoid budget shortfalls such as the projected one this year. “Our state doesn’t have a revenue problem or a spending problem,” she said. “What we have is a problem in priorities.”

FIRST IN SUNBURN – JEFF BRANDES TO FILE MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGISLATION — Sen. Brandes is expected to filed legislation today that would repeal current state law dealing with low-THC cannabis, and replace it with a proposal designed to encourage competition in the medical marijuana industry while safeguarding patients and making sure medical marijuana is available as provided in the Florida Constitution. Under the proposal, vertical integration, which is currently outlined in state law, is not required. Instead, medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs) can obtain any combination of four function licenses — cultivation, which allow for the growth and harvesting of marijuana; processing, which allows for the conversion of marijuana into medical marijuana products; transportation, which allows for the delivery between licensed MMTCs and direct delivery to qualified patients; and retail. Retail facilities would be restricted by population, and under Brandes’ proposal, local governments would retain the authority to regulate zoning and other safety standards.

TRAVIS HUTSON TELECOM BILL WOULD PRE-EMPT RIGHT OF WAY REGULATION via Florida Politics – Hutson, chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries committee, filed the “Advanced Wireless Infrastructure Deployment Act” (SB 596) … The bill, among other things, would prohibit the Department of Transportation and certain local governments from prohibiting, regulating or charging for placing small wireless facilities in rights of way. Under Hutson’s bill, local governments can’t require applicants to perform services unrelated to the approval that’s being sought, like reserving fiber or pole space for the governmental agency. It also can’t ask the applicant to “provide more information to obtain a permit than is required of electric service providers and other communications service providers that are not wire les providers.” The bill also prohibits agencies from limiting “the placement of small wireless facilities by minimum separation distances or a maximum height limitation.” However, agencies can limit the height of a small wireless facility to no more than 10 feet above the tallest existing utility pole.

HAPPENING TODAY – PALM BEACH DELEGATION, SCHOOL BOARD MEET — The Palm Beach County legislative delegation is scheduled to hold a workshop with the county school board at 2 p.m. at Fulton-Holland Educational Services Center, 3300 Forest Hill Blvd. in West Palm Beach.

HAPPENING TODAY — SOUTHWEST FLORIDA LAWMAKERS TALK SESSION — The Chamber of Southwest Florida will host a panel discussion about the 2017 Legislative Session at 11:30 a.m. at The Crowne Plaza at Bell Tower Shops, 13051 Bell Tower Drive in Fort Myers. Participants are expected to include Sens. Lizbeth Benacquisto and Kathleen Passidomo, and Reps. Matt CaldwellByron DonaldsDane EagleHeather Fitzenhagen, and Bob Rommel.

The bill will also eliminate barriers to entry participants looking to operate in the state by eliminating existing requirements, like how long cultivators has been in business or the capacity of product that can be grown. Additionally, the bill would add paraplegia, quadriplegia and terminal conditions to the current constitutional list of debilitating conditions; restrict patients and caregivers from cultivating their own marijuana; establishes criteria for caregivers and requires background screening of caregivers; establishes criteria for the transportation and delivery of marijuana and medical marijuana products to patients; grandfathers in existing dispensing organizations as MMTCs; and applies a sales tax to sales of marijuana and medical marijuana products.


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FORMER ABA HEAD WARNS OF POSSIBLE DANGER TO JUDICIARY FROM CONSTITUTIONAL PANEL via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The upcoming Constitution Revision Commission will likely take on the state’s judicial branch, and “the focus will not be on strengthening it,” the former president of the American Bar Association said …  retired Florida lawyer Martha Barnett, who was a Holland & Knight senior partner, said she expects an effort to “restrict, narrow and weaken the judicial branch … And if that happens, it is to the peril of the life and liberty of the people of this state,” she said during a panel discussion at The Associated Press’ annual Legislative Session planning meeting.

SUPREME COURT: ATTORNEYS CAN COLLECT FEES FOR CLAIM BILL WORK via Florida Politics– The Legislature can’t limit the amount of attorney fees to be paid out of money it OKs for a claim bill, a narrowly divided Florida Supreme Court decided. The 4-3 opinion was one of nine in an unusual out-of-calendar release from the court. In the claim bill opinion, the majority sided with the Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley law firm, which represented Aaron Edwards, a brain-damaged man who received a $15 million claim bill from the Legislature. The “contingency fee contract” between the firm and Edwards’ mother called for attorney fees of 25 percent … The majority said lawmakers may approve or deny a claim bill but they can’t “impair an pre-existing contract” between an attorney and a client.

WATCHDOG GROUP TRYING TO OBTAIN DELETED MESSAGES FROM FORMER HEAD OF PTC via Jeff Patterson of WFLA-TV – Kyle Cockream was … at the center of an investigation into the PTC’s relationship with the heads of companies he was charged with regulating. Cockream resigned, but his actions before he left the job are now the subject of a new investigation. The Sunshine Group made a public records request to find out about his relationship with the cab companies. In court an attorney for Hillsborough County revealed Cockream wiped his phones clean of data, including his company phone, his personal phone and the phones of six PTC employees. Records show Cockream frequently called phones belonging to lobbyists and the heads of local cab companies. “So, what we conclude from that is there are definitely hundreds of missing public records,” said attorney Andrea Flynn Mogensen, with the Sunshine Group.

FORMER STATE LAWMAKER DAN GELBER WILL RUN FOR MIAMI BEACH MAYOR via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald – Gelber filed paperwork to run for mayor. He went to City Hall with his family, including his father, former Beach mayor Seymour Gelber. The filing puts Gelber, a former federal prosecutor, into contention with Michael Grieco, a former state prosecutor. So far, the two are the only mayoral candidates in the November election, but candidates can file until early September. Gelber, 56, spent nearly a decade as a federal prosecutor and a decade in the Florida Legislature before running for Florida Attorney General in 2010. He has since founded Gelber Schachter & Greenberg, a boutique law firm based in Brickell.

SECOND ON FLA. POLITICS (BECAUSE MARC CAPUTO PISSED ON THE EMBARGO) –BALLARD PARTNERS GOING NATIONAL, OPENS D.C. OFFICE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics— Brian Ballard, the firm’s president, announced this week Ballard Partners has opened an office in the nation’s capital. The announcement comes just weeks after President Donald Trump, who Ballard supported, took the oath of office. “There is great enthusiasm with President Trump’s new administration in Washington. We are thrilled to be part of this excitement with the opening of our new Ballard Partners office in our nation’s capital,” said Ballard in a statement. “We have assembled a first class team to lead our office in Washington, and we look forward to representing our clients on a path to success at the federal level.” That top-notch team includes Susie Wiles, who ran Trump’s successful Florida campaign. She’ll split her time between Washington, D.C. and Jacksonville. … Sylvester “Syl” Lukis has been tapped to lead the D.C. office. Lukis, a senior partner in Ballard Partners, brings more than 40 years of experience in government and representing clients Florida and Washington, D.C. to the position. … Dan McFaul has also joined Ballard Partners, bringing with him 20 years of experience on Capitol Hill. McFaul served as the chief of staff for newly U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, was a staffer on Trump’s transition team, and was the chief of staff and communications director for former Rep. Jeff Miller. He also served as former Rep. Joe Scarborough’s legislative director and deputy press secretary.


Stacy Arias, Southern Strategy Group: RELX, Inc.

Brad Ashwell, Brad Ashwell: Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Ygrene Energy Fund Florida

Ron Pierce, Edward BriggsNatalie King, RSA Consulting: Environmental Professionals of Florida

Angela Dempsey, PooleMcKinley: Magic Leap

Carole Duncanson, CLD & Associates: Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida

Mercer Fearington, Southern Strategy Group: Modern Health Concepts; Renovate America, Inc.

Jon Johnson, Johnson & Blanton: Marquis Software Development

Rob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida; March of Dimes

Michael Kesti, Government Relations Group: Sea Vee Boats

Paul Mitchell, Southern Strategy Group: Florida Argentum

Jim Naff, Smith Bryan & Myers: Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners

Eli NortelusDavid Roberts, Akerman: AltaSci, LLC.

Jerald Paul, Capitol Energy Florida: Associated Industries of Florida

Louis Rotundo, Louis Rotundo: CBSync, LLC.

Christopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: George Hackney, Inc., d/b/a Trulieve

Nancy Black Stewart, Nancy Black Stewart PA: City of Westlake

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to OB, Senator Oscar Braynon and former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.

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