Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
FLORIDA POLITICOS HEAD TO D.C.
Watching wall-to-wall inauguration coverage this week? Be on the lookout for Floridians.
The Sunshine State will be well represented at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday. So who’s going? Well, the better question might just be who isn’t?
Gov. Rick Scott will be there. An ardent supporter of the New York Republican, Scott was the chairman of the super PAC that backed Trump’s presidential bid. He traveled to D.C. on Tuesday, and hosted the Florida Sunshine Ball with his wife, First Lady Ann Scott on Wednesday evening. That is, of course, after meeting with congressional leaders and the Trump transition team.
Susie Wiles, the Jacksonville political guru who helped lead Trump’s Florida campaign, traveled to D.C. on Wednesday. She’ll be on hand for all of the festivities; as will lobbyist Brian Ballard, the chairman of Trump’s Florida finance committee.
And it should come as no surprise that state Rep. Joe Gruters and his wife, Sydney, will be there. Gruters was one of the first big name Floridians to back Trump, and never wavered in his support throughout the campaign. The couple is heading there Thursday, and will be at attend the swearing in. Gruters made sure to pack his dancing shoes so he can boogie down at the Liberty Ball.
Former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli — joined by fundraisers Trey McCarley and Kris Money —will be there. Crisafulli was another top Trump supporter, who played a key role in getting him to the Space Coast for rallies throughout the campaign. He won’t be the only Florida Speaker in attendance. House Speaker Richard Corcoran will be there, even though he was a slow to warm to Trump. And look for Senate President Joe Negron, who as Republican elector helped Trump officially clinch the presidency, in the crowd.
You’ll likely see Capital City Consulting pros Nick Iarossi and Scott Ross, along with their wives Debbie and Ashley, dancing the night away at one of the parties this week.
Meanwhile, Jim Smith and Monte Stevens with Southern Strategy Group will be enjoying the festivities in between work. They’re in town with Ambrosia Treatment Centers in hopes of raising awareness about the need to make top-notch care available to as many people who need it as possible.
And you can bet Hayden Dempsey, Fred Karlinsky, Meredith O’Rourke, David and Melissa Ramba, Michael Fischer, Andy Gonzalez, Evan Power, Bill Helmich, Todd Lewis, Robert Hawken, Richard DNapoli, and Carey Baker will all land on a “spotted” list this week.
Even Rep. Charlie Crist, the state’s former Republican governor, will be on hand. The St. Petersburg Democrat said last week that he was looking forward to attending the event. And he won’t be the only Florida Democrat in attendance: Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, Bill Nelson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz are all planning to be there.
With all that firepower in Washington, D.C., there’s just one question we have: Exactly who is running the state this week?
SPOTTED at Vice President-elect Mike Pence‘s dinner: Attorney General Pam Bondi, Senate President Joe Negron, Brian Ballard.
SPOTTED at Wednesday’s Sunshine Ball hosted by Gov. Scott: U.S. Reps Matt Gaetz, Francis Rooney, Tom Rooney, Florida lawmakers Joe Abruzzo (!) Jose Felix Diaz, Byron Donalds, Blaise Ingoglia, David Santiago, Kelli Stargel, Jackie Toledo, Carlos Trujillo, former Speaker Crisafulli.
MORE SPOTTEDs from the Sunshine Ball: Bettina Inclan-Agen, Debbie and Sebastian Aleksander, Adam Babington, Slater Bayliss, Matt Bogdanoff, Steve Cona, Jon Costello, Angela and Hayden Dempsey, Brittany Dover, Carol Dover, J.C. Flores, Chris Finkbeiner, Erin Gaetz, Adam and Jillian Hasner, Chip LaMarca, Jesse Panuccio, Casey Reed, Jay Revell, Ashley and Scott Ross, former Sen. Maria Sachs, Chester Spellman, Ryan Smith, Christian Zieger, George and Donna Zoley.
PINELLAS FRIENDS SPOTTED IN D.C.: Jay Beyrouti, Erica and Nick DiCeglie.
HERE’S TODAY’S INAUGURATION SCHEDULE
10:35 a.m. – Performances begin at Lincoln Memorial. “Voices of the People,” the first act of a day-long public concert, will feature groups such as the DC Fire Department Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, the Republican Hindu Coalition, high school marching bands, choirs and baton twirlers.
3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Trump and Vice President-elect Pence participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of the nation’s veterans.
4 p.m. to 6 p.m. – Trump will deliver remarks during the second act of the concert at Lincoln Memorial, dubbed the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration.” The event, broadcast live nationally, will be headlined by country stars Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood and feature a fireworks finale.
Trump is expected to spend Thursday night at Blair House, the presidential guest residence across the street from the White House.
WHAT’S SELLING AT THE INAUGURATION: SOCKS, MUGS AND TRUMP-SCENTED CANDLES via Abha Bhattarai of The Washington Post – There are Trump-shaped cookie cutters, “Drain the swamp” sweatshirts and candles meant to smell like the president-elect — a combination of “all of the classiest smells,” according to the product’s description. Keep searching among the Trump-inspired flasks, paperweights and peppermints and you’ll find coffee mugs that say “Build that wall” and a penny stamped with “Trump” selling for $2.75. Online shops, street vendors and high-end boutiques around town are preparing for Friday’s inauguration with equal parts sincerity and snark as they try to cash in on fans and foes of the next president … on District streets, vendors said they just haven’t seen as much demand this year for Trump-related mugs, T-shirts, shot glasses and key chains as they as they did ahead of previous inaugurations. In a town where 91 percent of residents voted for Hillary Clinton, they say it has been difficult to sell Trump-related merchandise.
HOW DONALD TRUMP CAME UP WITH ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN’ via Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post – It happened on Nov. 7, 2012, the day after Mitt Romney lost what had been presumed to be a winnable race against President Obama. Republicans were spiraling into an identity crisis, one that had some wondering whether a GOP president would ever sit in the Oval Office again. But on the 26th floor of a golden Manhattan tower that bears his name, Trump was coming to the conclusion that his own moment was at hand. And in typical fashion, the first thing he thought about was how to brand it. One after another, phrases popped into his head. “We Will Make America Great.” That one did not have the right ring. Then, “Make America Great.” But that sounded like a slight to the country. And then, it hit him: “Make America Great Again.” … “I said, ‘That is so good.’ I wrote it down.”
TRUMP DUBS MAR-A-LAGO THE NEW ‘WINTER WHITE HOUSE’ via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – … in a Twitter message that includes a picture of him at the estate penning the first speech he’ll give as president of the United States in 48 hours. “Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago,” Trump wrote. “Looking forward to Friday.” … Trump couldn’t have picked a more historic spot in Florida for a Winter White House than Mar-a-Lago, a stunning Mediterranean-style estate was completed in 1927 by Post Cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, who willed the property to the federal government in 1973 for use as a presidential retreat. Unwilling to pay for the upkeep, the federal government returned the property to the Post Foundation less than a decade later and Trump ultimately purchased it in 1985.
— “Florida man charged with making online threat against Donald Trump” via The Associated Press
THIS NEW SPECIES OF MOTH HAS ‘YELLOWISH-WHITE SCALES’ ON ITS HEAD. IT IS NAMED FOR TRUMP. via Sarah Larimer of The Washington Post – In an article published in the journal ZooKeys … “The new species is named in honor of Donald J. Trump, to be installed as the 45th President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017 …The specific epithet is selected because of the resemblance of the scales on the frons (head) of the moth to Mr. Trump’s hairstyle.” We’re talking about Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, a new species of moth named for the president-elect. The moth is a small guy, with a wingspan of less than one centimeter … It has orange-yellow and brown wings, and sports bright yellow scales on its head.
TRUMP WAX FIGURE DEBUTS BEFORE INAUGURATION via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Madame Tussauds locations in Orlando, Washington, D.C., New York, and London unveiled wax figures of Trump ahead of Friday’s inauguration. A team of 20 artists worked around the clock for six months to create the wax figures. It took five weeks just to fashion Trump’s famous hairstyle with each individual hair inserted by hand. “Mr. Trump was the most-searched person globally on Google in 2016 so the pressure was on to perfect his iconic features in time for inauguration,” said Therese Alvich, general manager of Madame Tussauds Washington, D.C. … Dressed in a patriotic dark blue suit, red tie and Made in America flag lapel pin, Trump will replace Obama in a White House Oval Office set.
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DAYS UNTIL: Rick Scott Orlando Jobs Summit – 15: The Batman Lego Movie opens – 22; Pitchers & catchers report for Spring Training – 24; Valentine’s Day – 26; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 47; Florida Capitol Press Corps Press Kits – 54; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die – 106; Election Day 2017 – 291.
OBAMA: WET FOOT, DRY FOOT ‘WAS A CARRYOVER OF AN OLD WAY OF THINKING’ via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – At his final White House news conference … Obama made his first remarks about ending the special immigration policy for Cubans last week: We underwent a monumental shift in our policy toward Cuba. My view was, after 50 years of the policy not working, it made sense for us to try to reopen diplomatic relations to engage the Cuban government, to be honest with them about the strong disagreements we have around political repression and treatment of dissenters and freedom of the press and freedom of religion. But to make progress for the Cuban people, our best shot was to suddenly have the Cuban people interacting with Americans, and seeing the incredible success of the Cuban-American community, and engaging in commerce and business and trade, and that it was through that process of opening up these bilateral relations that you would see over time serious and significant improvement.
RICK SCOTT SAYS HE’S HELPING TRUMP CRAFT REPLACEMENT HEALTH CARE PLAN via James Rosen of the Miami Herald – Scott said he’s talking with Trump every week or two while working closely with Rep. Tom Price, the president-elect’s choice to run the government agency that oversees Medicaid, Medicare and the landmark 2010 health-insurance law. Mirroring previous comments by Trump himself, Scott indicated that the two men are not looking to repeal the entire law, unlike some fellow Republican members of Congress. “I’ve spent quite a bit of time already with Congressman Price, who I’ve known for a long time, to try to come up with a plan to repeal what doesn’t work and to replace it with something that’s going to drive down costs and improve access,” Scott told reporters in Washington.
SCOTT ON PAM BONDI: ‘I HOPE SHE STAYS IN FLORIDA’ via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – If Attorney General Bondi is preparing to take a job in the Trump administration, Scott gave not an inch in acknowledging the task of appointing a replacement. “She’s been a good partner in our governor and cabinet meetings,” Scott said. “I hope she doesn’t leave. I hope she stays in Florida.” But if she does leave, do you have plans in place? “I’ll worry about that when it happens,” he said. “I hope she doesn’t leave.”
JOHN RUTHERFORD REMAINS IN THE HOSPITAL via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Rutherford, who collapsed last week in the U.S. House of Representatives, did not suffer heart issues as was feared, he nonetheless is still hospitalized recovering from a severe allergic reaction. “Congressman Rutherford is much improved and thanks everyone for their continued well wishes and prayers of support. His doctors are pleased with his recovery, but continue to keep him in the hospital to eliminate all inflammation caused by the allergic reaction he experienced. Doctors are expected to release him sometime over the next several days,” Chief of Staff Kelly Simpson said.
DANIEL WEBSTER: CONGRESS WILL NOT PULL RUG OUT ON HEALTH CARE COVERAGE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – In his newsletter to constituents of Florida’s 11th Congressional District … Webster pressed his assurances that the Affordable Care Act could be replaced. He also made clear the laundry list of concerns that he and many other Republicans have been trying to raise for seven years, with a survey for his constituents, seeking responses. “The House is working on a plan to provide Americans with the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a price they can afford. We do not intend to pull the rug of coverage and care out from underneath anyone,” Webster insisted.
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MEGYN KELLY-PRODUCED COMEDY ‘EMBEDS’ SHOW MAYHEM ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL IN FIRST TRAILER via Shirley Li of Entertainment Weekly — Reality may be stranger than fiction when it comes to the current political landscape, but Megyn Kelly — who announced her departure from Fox News for NBC — is taking it one step further as an executive producer for Embeds, a political comedy following young journalists on the presidential campaign trail. In the … trailer for the six-episode, half-hour series … characters fight over sound bites, grow together and apart, and make a mess while trying to cover their candidate’s race toward the White House. Executive produced by Kelly, Michael De Luca (Fifty Shades Darker), and Scott Conroy, a former embed himself with co-creator Peter Hamby, the series is inspired by Conroy and Hamby’s experiences as journalists for CBS News and CNN on the road with Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin’s presidential campaigns. The series from Complex Network’s Seriously.TV will premiered Wednesday on go90.com. Click on the image below to watch the trailer.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will be in Florida City to visit the incident response center conducting surveillance and response related to the recent case of New World screwworm in Homestead. He’ll hold a news conference at 10 a.m. at the Home 2 Suites, 77 NE 3rd Street to discuss screwworm in Florida.
EXCLUSIVE – DENISE GRIMSLEY EYEING AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER RUN IN 2018 via Florida Politics – The Sebring Republican is considering a 2018 run for Agriculture Commissioner. A registered nurse and hospital administrator, Grimsley said in an interview via text message that agriculture has always played a big role in her life. “It’s a big decision and one I’ve been discussed with both my family and my employer,” she said. “Agriculture has always been a big part of my life and having someone hold the office who brings the unique qualification of hands on farming and ranching is important to me.”
SUPREME COURT THROWS OUT SCHOOL VOUCHERS CASE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The decision comes as a major setback to vouchers opponents, including the Florida Education Association (FEA), the statewide teachers’ union, but was applauded by school choice advocates. The court denied a request to review the case, but did not comment on its merits. “No motion for rehearing will be entertained by the Court,” its 2-paragraph order said. “Who is allowed to challenge the constitutionality of the tax credit vouchers?” FEA President Joanne McCall said in a statement. “This ruling, and the decisions by the lower court, don’t answer that question.” McCall is the lead plaintiff in the case.
BONDI MOVES AGAINST TOBACCO COMPANIES FOR MISSED PAYMENTS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Bondi filed an enforcement motion in Palm Beach County circuit court against ITG Brands and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR). The attorney general said in a statement that R.J. Reynolds “recently sold three of its most iconic cigarette brands – Winston, Kool and Salem – along with a legacy Lorillard Tobacco Company brand, Maverick, to ITG for $7 billion.” But neither company included the sale into consideration when making their payments to the state under the settlement, she said. Bondi says they’re now “liable for millions of dollars of missed payments to Florida,” and her motion seeks a court order “requiring payment to Florida for the past and future sales of these cigarettes.”
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FLORIDA GOP LAWMAKERS HOSTING ANNUAL ‘MARDI GRAS’ FUNDRAISER WEEKEND BEFORE START OF SESSION via Florida Politics – Ever wanted to ask Senate President Joe Negron what he’d do to earn some Mardi Gras beads? Well, you’ll have the chance to do just that if you take part in a “Mardi Gras Celebration” at Universal Studios in Orlando where Negron, Speaker Richard Corcoran, Senate Presidents-to-be Bill Galvano and Wilton Simpson and House Speakers-to-be Jose Oliva and Chris Sprowls and other legislative leaders will come together for a fundraiser the weekend before the start of the 2017 Legislative Session … on March 4-5, the Republican lawmakers will take part in a full schedule of activities, including VIP tours. There will be a lunch and dinner, followed by a VIP viewing of a Mardi Gras Celebration Parade & Concert. Funds raised at the event will benefit House Majority 2018, one of the campaign arms of the Republican Party of Florida.
COME FOR THE MOVIE, STAY FOR THE BLOOPER REEL – House Speaker Richard Corcoran might have a future in the pictures. Days after the Land O’Lakes Republican released a 90-second video featuring an endless stream of House members talking about how they’re “one House,” Corcoran released a second video featuring the outtakes (which everyone knows is the best part of any feature film). The 2-minute video features shots of members flubbing their lines, poking a little fun at the crew, wacky green screen action, and even Rep. Jose Felix Diaz spitting some rhymes. “I am thankful to all who participated in our ”One House” project. Because, as the video says, “all of them, are all of us,” elected officials also make mistakes,” said Corcoran in his email to colleagues sharing the video. I hope you enjoy this video, share this video, participate in the next video, and most importantly, always remain honored, again – even when we disagree – to serve together.”
— “Jack Latvala says he’ll support legislation banning fracking again in 2017 Session” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
— “Kathleen Peters asks state for millions to help solve sewage problems in St. Pete, St. Pete Beach” via Anne Lindberg of Florida Politics
— “Bill banning ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBT teens returns to the Florida House” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics
ST. JOHNS DELEGATION HEARS COUNTY WISHLIST via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – On Wednesday, the St. Johns County Commission presented its ambitious legislative action plan to the county’s legislative delegation … Transportation asks are significant, including $95 million for the proposed State Road 313 (SR 313) Extension/Bypass from State Road 207 (SR 207) to State Road 16 (SR 16) … $90 million for the proposed County Road 2209 (CR 2209) from County Road 210 to SR 16 … the county commission wants a total of $31 million for septic tank removal in West Augustine, stormwater remediation in Davis Shores, and the elimination of sanitary sewer overflows in St. Augustine … The county also wants access improvements to the beaches, especially toward the South Ponte Vedra Beach area, along State Road A1A.
NRA WANTS TO STOP UNIFORMED SHERIFFS FROM FIGHTING ITS AGENDA via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – What truly rankles [National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion] Hammer is the spectacle of sheriffs traveling to Tallahassee at taxpayer expense, armed and in uniform, to battle elements of the NRA’s agenda such as open carry or campus carry legislation. Hammer said a sheriff who wants to lobby for stricter gun laws should be required to take a day off from work, switch to street clothes and travel to Tallahassee at personal expense … She said she has found a House sponsor for a bill to address the issue, but no such proposal has surfaced yet, and the idea will face resistance because the timing seems all wrong … An obvious target of Hammer’s wrath is Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who again this session will be the Florida Sheriffs Association’s point man on legislative issues and who has never backed away from a fight with Hammer.
COUNCIL SEES BREAKDOWN OF TRUST WITH OFFICE OF INSURANCE REGULATION via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Proposed reforms to Florida’s continuing care retirement community regulations ran into heavy flak during an advisory council meeting Wednesday, with the body’s president lamenting a breakdown of trust in the Office of Insurance Regulation. Joel Anderson, chairman of the Governor’s Continuing Care Advisory Council, complained that office staff unexpectedly unloaded a 61-page rewrite of the statute governing the facilities, also known as CCRCs. … “I promise you that these proposed changes to the law would cause an immediate impact on good-performing CCRCs with proven track records, and also lead to severe consequences for the future of Florida’s CCRCs,” he said. As an executive at the Village on the Isle retirement community in Venice, he impresses on his colleagues the importance of “trust, rapport, and credibility with each other,” he said. “These core beliefs apply to us as well, and I am concerned that they do not exist in today’s working relationship with the office and the council and for the Florida CCRCs.” … Following hours of testimony and debate, the council voted to encourage the office to continue to investigate increased oversight of ownership changes in financially troubled communities. But the members turned thumbs-down on proposals to tighten minimum liquidity reserves and other proposed regulations. They wanted emergency repairs where necessary this year, and time to draft broader reforms for the 2018 legislative session. … Rich Robleto, deputy commissioner for life and health, replied that staff members were trying to solve a serious threat to senior citizens who place their trust in an insurance product. “That trust relies in part on the understanding that the office oversees the CCRC industry, and they expect that the office can intervene when the CCRC’s ability to meet its promises is in jeopardy,” Robleto said.
FDLE OPENS INQUIRY INTO FORMER HILLSBOROUGH PTC CHIEF’S HANDLING OF PUBLIC RECORDS via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times – The new inquiry is expected to focus on whether public records were illegally deleted from Kyle Cockream‘s agency cellphone. A forensic investigator reported recently that the phone Cockream used for almost a year had recently been reset, a process that wipes it clean. FDLE officials said they had received information about the case from the PTC. “We’re looking at the new information,” said spokeswoman Jessica Carey. Cockream’s phone was handed to a forensic investigator in November to extract public records, including text messages, requested in June by a Sarasota law firm. The firm sued the PTC in September for not fully complying with the request. At a hearing last week, a judge gave Cockream five days to provide the investigator access to an online account that backs up phone records to see if he can retrieve missing data.
FIRST ON FLAPOL – PERSONNEL NOTE: DEAN IZZO DEPARTS DEO FOR CAPITAL CITY CONSULTING via Florida Politics – Izzo, who also has been chief financial officer and chief information officer for DEO, begins Jan. 30. He had been with the agency since its creation in 2011. “Dean will be a true asset to our current and future clients seeking partnership with the state and we are excited for him to join our growing team,” said Nick Iarossi, a partner at the firm.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Jayer Williamson.