Sunburn for 10/15 – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the firm best known for smart, strong and strategic counsel across the diverse and ever-changing media landscape: “Lucy, I’m home!” On this day in 1951, a redheaded comic and her Cuban-born, Florida-educated husband made television history with the premiere of “I Love Lucy” on CBS. Lucille Ball became one of the nation’s most beloved stars and musician Desi Arnaz established himself as a leading television producer. Arnaz was a teenager when his family fled Cuba after a 1933 revolution and relocated in Miami, where he attended St. Patrick Catholic High School. Though he went on to help produce such legendary programs as the Andy Griffith Show and even Star Trek, Arnaz wil always be remembered as the beleaguered husband who was sure his wife had “some ‘splainin’ to do!”

Now, on to the ‘burn…

AD SPENDING IN 2014 ELECTIONS POISED TO BREAK $1 BILLION via Stephanie Condon of CBS News

Spending on television ads for 2014 House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates is poised to surpass $1 billion, according to the Wesleyan Media Project.

More than $917 million has been spent so far in the 2013-2014 election cycle, the nonpartisan transparency group reports. The most money — $426 million — has been spent to purchase more than 700,000 ads in governor’s races around the country. Another $337 million has been spent on about 728,000 Senate ads, while $154 million has been spent on House races.

Wesleyan Media Project co-director Travis Ridout said in a statement that spending should break the $1 billion mark in about one or two weeks, just ahead of the Nov. 4 elections. That could amount to at least 2 million ad airings in House, Senate and gubernatorial races by Election Day, he said.

In Senate races across the country, there have been 17.6 percent more ad airings in this election cycle than there were in the 2012 cycle. Ad airings from interest groups account for 40 percent of the Senate ad airings in 2014, compared with 32 percent in 2012.

Meanwhile, the group found that in a recent two-week period (from Sept. 26 to Oct. 9), the ads have been largely negative. Just over half of the ads related to gubernatorial races have been negative, while 47 percent of the ads aired in House races were negative, as were 44 percent of Senate ads. Just under a third of the ads were positive, while the rest were “contrast” ads, which mention both a favored candidate and their opponent.

Just under 26 percent of the ads that aired during that two-week period were paid for with “dark money,” the Wesleyan Media Project found in conjunction with the Center for Responsive Politics — in other words, from groups that aren’t legally required to disclose their donors.

DRIVING THE NAT’L CONVO – BACK TO REALITY FOR DEMOCRATS AS HOUSE CHANCES FADE via Donna Cassata of the Associated Press

Democrats’ high hopes of mitigating House losses in a rough election year have been dashed by reality.

The question now is not whether Republicans hold the House — that’s a given. Rather, it’s how many seats could the GOP add to its majority on Election Day? And how close could it get to its post-World War II high of 246 in Harry S. Truman’s administration?

Three weeks to Nov. 4, the House outlook remains bright for the GOP as national Democrats bail on once-promising opportunities in Virginia and Colorado, canceling television advertising to shift money to efforts to save vulnerable incumbents in Democratic-leaning states such as California and Illinois. Democrats also are transferring some of the cash to races where they stand a better chance.

President Barack Obama’s dismal approval ratings and midterm malaise have been a drag on Democrats, but the situation grew bleaker as Republican-leaning outside groups such as American Crossroads and American Action Network started pumping in millions of dollars targeting Democratic lawmakers.

Democrats cut $2.8 million in spending in northern Virginia, where John Foust faces state Del. Barbara Comstock in a seat that Republican Frank Wolf has held for 34 years. The party also scaled back its spending in the Denver suburbs by $1.4 million despite its high expectations that former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff could upend three-term Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in a district with a growing Hispanic population.

2016 QUESTIONS ABOUND AS JEB BUSH STUMPS FOR SON via Michael Mishak and Will Weissert of the Associated Press

Jeb Bush headed deep into the plains of West Texas, eager to campaign for his favored candidate for the office of state land commissioner. That would be his son, George P. Bush.

But amid the cattle auctions, smokehouse barbeque and fried pies, the voters the former Florida governor was trying to win over were already sold. They’re eager to vote for a Bush, and not just for land commissioner. For president, too.

The campaign swing, a bus tour that started early in Fort Worth and headed toward the oil town of Midland, was designed to inject some of Jeb Bush’s political celebrity into George P. Bush’s campaign for an office with a sleepy title that’s a stepping-stone to bigger things in Texas politics.

That celebrity comes in no small part because so many Republicans are waiting on Jeb Bush to decide what he’s going to do in 2016. His son, a 38-year-old attorney and officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve, is a part of that calculus: Bush has repeatedly said that he must determine whether a presidential campaign would be right for his family.

For his part, George P. Bush stayed on message as a candidate up for election in just a few weeks. He’d like to help his father run for president, he said, should Dad decide to do so, but “he knows that if I’m privileged to serve the state … my focus has to be on this agency.”

Unlike several other Republicans said to be considering runs for the White House, Jeb Bush has kept a relatively low profile for much of the year, sticking to paid speeches and private fundraisers. He has headlined more than two dozen fundraisers for Republican candidates and committees, including campaigns for governor in Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada. Those will be three of the first four states to hold early presidential primaries.

Now, in the final stretch of the midterm campaign, he is making a public push to boost candidates in some of the most heated Senate and gubernatorial races in the country.

TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: Charlie Crist is running away from Obama so fast that he’ll campaign with Michelle Obama. Voters will never know Crist backs POTUS now…

TAMPA BAY TIMES POLL: SCOTT 40%, CRIST 40% here

CNN POLL: SCOTT 44%, CRIST 44%

A new CNN/ORC International poll shows each candidate has the support of 44 percent of likely voters, while Libertarian Adrian Wyllie pulls a significant share (9 percent) of the vote.

“And with one in five likely voters saying that they could change their minds between now and Election Day, it’s really anyone’s ballgame,” said CNN polling director Keating Holland.

TWEET, TWEET: @gbennettpost: In CNN poll, Obama’s approval rating among likely Florida voters is 39%, disapproval 57%

SALT SHAKER TEST ON THE CNN POLL here

0PTIMUS FL POLL: CHARLIE CRIST TOPS RICK SCOTT 41-39%; WYLLIE AT 13% via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

The new Republican-leaning data-analytics firm, 0ptimus, has released its latest survey in the Florida governor’s race, and it looks a lot like the last survey: a basic tie between Crist and Scott.

Crist gets about 41 percent of the vote to Scott’s 39 percent (it’s 40.5 to 39.4 percent to be exact). Libertarian Adrian Wyllie is still pulling an impressive 13 percent in the poll. The margin of error is 1.3 percentage points.

So the race is basically frozen.

Two ways to look at the poll (and the other recent ones all showing a basically tied race:

Good news for Scott: Democrats, despite their numerical advantage on the voter rolls, tend to underperform in mid-term elections, when Republicans overperform. If the race remains essentially tied, there’s probably a better chance that the Republican will win. Also, unlike in other races where undecideds break slightly more for the challenger, this race basically has two incumbents because Crist is seeking reelection to the post he left in 2010.

Good news for Crist: Crist is winning. And this poll has a Republican turnout advantage of 3% points — that’s lower than 2010 but higher than 2006. If Crist can get Democratic turnout to at least equal Republican turnout, almost every poll shows he wins. Most polls show he wins with a Republican turnout advantage of 1% point. Also, it’s important to note that this and many other recent surveys is a robo-poll, which can lean more conservative. To compensate for that, 0ptimus surveys thousands more voters than most (this poll is 6,384) and adjusts the responses to give younger and minority voters (i.e., those who are more cellphone-oriented and more likely to vote Democrat) more representation.

So my forecast is the same: Flip a coin, if it lands on its edge, it’ll be the best predictor of who wins the race right now.

SURVEY USA POLL: CHARLIE CRIST 45% RICK SCOTT 41% Full blog post here

With three weeks to go until Election Day, Charlie Crist may have the wind at his back.

Crist now leads 45 to 41 percent, doubling his lead over Gov. Rick Scott to four points, according to a new Survey USA poll released today.

Topline trends from Survey USA show Crist gaining momentum, as compared to earlier polls. Just a few days ago, a similar survey gave Crist a two-point lead, 44-42 percent; before that, the same pollsters gave Scott a slim lead, by 43-42 percent.

SALT SHAKER TEST ON THE SURVEY USA POLL here

EARLY BALLOT RETURN NUMBERS as of 10/13 (courtesy of St. Pete Polls): 468,770 ballots received; 226,420 Republican – 48.3%; 161,857 Democrat – 34.5%; 80,493 Independent 17.2%. Seminole Co. SOE Mike Ertel emails: “Florida has a lot to be proud of as it relates to our maturation relating to convenience voting. This election will be the first general election where more votes will be cast before Election Day than on Election Day. This convenience voting has changed elections much in the same way restaurants around every corner changed the family dinner table. Nearly half of the state’s voters will still use “Voting Classic” as their method of choice, but those who have already voted will outnumber them. From my standpoint, I’ve been tracking the numbers and demographics of voter patterns very closely, and we can better anticipate turnout models in every precinct, and by every category. This helps us to administer elections in a manner which is efficient for the voter, no matter which method they choose.”

CRIST STAKES ELECTION VICTORY ON BROWARD COUNTY TURNOUT via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Broward County is smack in the center of South Florida and is bigger than a dozen states, but most people couldn’t find it on a map.

This vast and increasingly diverse place is where Florida Democrats are counting on a victory that would end two decades of futility in the fight for the Governor’s Mansion.

For Crist, it’s ground zero. He has largely staked this election on Broward, home to 545,000 Democrats, more than in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties combined. He set up a headquarters here and rented a condo on Fort Lauderdale beach.

Broward takes center stage at when Crist and Gov. Scott face off at Broward College in Davie in their second TV debate.

Crist’s burden in Broward is clear: It’s notorious for complacency in off-year elections, leading to low turnout, defeat and finger-pointing among feuding party factions. Broward is a midterm mirage for Democrats as a mountain of votes seems to vanish by Election Day.

This time, hopeful Democrats say, will be different from four years ago, when voter indifference to Alex Sink produced a turnout of 41 percent, well below the state average, and she lost to Scott by 1 percentage point.

Broward wasn’t alone. The turnout in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties was 41, 42 and 48 percent respectively. If the three counties had voted at the state average of 49 percent, Sink likely would have beaten Scott by nearly 250,000 votes statewide, instead of losing by 61,550 votes.

JEB BUSH’S NEW TV AD FOR SCOTT: “THE CHOICE FOR ME IS EASY.” (SPANISH-VERSION NEXT?) via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

Gov. Scott’s campaign features a not-so-new but pretty-effective spokesperson in a new ad: Former Gov. Jeb Bush.

“In my experience as governor, I’ve found that there are two kinds of politicians,” Bush says. “Those that are driven by personal ambition. And those that deliver results.”

In case anyone was wondering, the first politician Bush references is his successor and Scott predecessor and current Scott challenger Charlie Crist. What makes the ad effective is that this somewhat-negative message is shown, not told. That is, Bush never says Crist’s name. The camera just cuts to B-roll of Crist on the campaign trail.

The rest of the spot revolves around Scott’s record.

Now, the question is, how effective is Bush as a spokesman? Republican endorses Republican is only so newsy. And Bush never really liked Crist, even when he was a Republican. But, in a smaller election in Crist’s home county of Pinellas (CD-13), Bush’s endorsement and support probably helped David Jolly win. And Bush left office with high favorables (thanks to his leadership after back-to-back storms). He’s also a frontrunner in the early race for president.

Expect this same ad to have a Spanish-language version, which would be highly effective in Miami-Dade, a county where Scott’s having problems but where 72 percent of registered Republicans and 55 percent of the general electorate is Hispanic.

MIKE FASANO ENDORSES CRIST IN TV AD: ‘HE’S A GOOD MAN’ via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

It was inevitable, but it’s still going to infuriate Republicans.

It’s a new TV ad that features Republican Mike Fasano, the former state legislator from Pasco County who was appointed tax collector by Gov. Scott, explaining why he supports Crist for governor.

In the 30-second spot, Fasano describes Scott’s campaign for re-election as being all about “tearing people down.”

“When I saw the smears from Rick Scott against Charlie Crist, I had to say something,” Fasano says, facing the camera. “Listen. I’ve known Charlie Crist for decades. We don’t agree on everything, but he’s a good man and was a good governor.”

The ad, shot in Dade City (with the historic courthouse in the background) is classic Fasano with the informal style and his New York accent, gesturing with his reading glasses in his hand. It hits the air in Tampa Bay on Wednesday. A recent poll showed Fasano with an unheard-of 95 percent favorability rating in his former West Pasco House district.

FIRST IN SUNBURN — NEXTGEN CLIMATE RELEASES AD ATTACKING SCOTT/DUKE ENERGY CONNECTION Full blog post here

NextGen Climate released a new TV spot in the Tampa Bay market, blasting Gov. Scott for allowing Duke Energy to “gouge” Tampa Bay consumers, while taking in more than $1.2 million in campaign contributions.

“And Counting” is latest ad that is part of the $7.1 million NextGen Climate as spent so far in Florida to unseat the incumbent Republican. The environmental political committee, founded by billionaire hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer, focuses on taking down climate change skeptics like Scott, and now has 21 Florida offices with more than 500 staffers and volunteers.

The 30-second spot follows up on charges leveled at Scott in “Pay the Price,” an earlier NextGen Climate ad, which also highlighted how Scott accepted Duke’s dirty campaign money, while also allowing the utility to take advantage of Tampa Bay ratepayers.

In a statement, NextGen Climate representatives point out that while millions of Floridians are threatened by climate change, Scott “continues to deny basic science, and put powerful special interests first.”

“It’s time for Floridians to pull the plug on Rick Scott’s shady deals,” the ad says.

CHRIS INGRAM: CRIST AN EMPTY SUIT, YES; CORRUPT POLITICIAN, NO via the Tampa Tribune

“Between the two of them, Scott and Crist and their respective allies have already spent over $50 million to sway voters’ attitudes — mostly through 30-second television ads that no Floridian is safe from viewing.

“Of course, the ads we see are often misleading, sometimes they are flat-out lies, and every now and then they are even embarrassing — to the campaign that is running them (as was the case two times this year when Rick Scott’s campaign had to pull its own ads — one that featured a convicted fraudster, and another featuring a Tampa man with a conviction for human trafficking). Ouch!

“But those mistakes happen, and can be forgiven.

“What can’t be forgiven is when a campaign runs an ad making a completely false statement. Such as a Scott ad currently airing that says Charlie Crist is corrupt.

“Now let me make one thing perfectly clear: I don’t like Charlie Crist.

“Crist is a chameleon. He lacks real leadership skills. He’s an empty suit. He’s a self-serving political ladder. He lacks conviction. He wasn’t a good governor. He will take a position on something today and flip-flop on it tomorrow if it serves himself well. I won’t be voting for him for governor.

“But one thing Charlie Crist is not, is corrupt. Corrupt people sit around thinking about how they’re going to scam people or game the system. Crist is not a schemer because his suit is so empty there aren’t any bad bones in his body.”

SCOTT DRAWN DEEPER INTO RECORDS LAWSUIT via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

A bitter public records dispute is now forcing Gov. Scott to dip into his own pocket, and may force him to testify on his own behalf before next month’s election.

Tallahassee attorney Steven Andrews, who clashed with Scott even before he took office, wants information on private Google email accounts that he says were used by the Scott administration to sidestep state law. A Florida judge sided with Andrews, but now Scott has hired lawyers to fight the request in California.

Scott’s office initially hired an outside law firm and state records show that the administration signed two state contracts worth $110,000 with Tanner-Bishop to fight the effort to find out about the email accounts. Andrews wants information on when the accounts were established and by whom. It does not require that any actual emails be turned over.

But now Scott is paying the firm of Dean Mead out of his own pocket to continue the battle. That firm, which includes lobbyists and a former top official under Republican Gov. Bob Martinez, is representing both Scott and two former aides who also had Google email accounts.

The decision by Scott, who is a multimillionaire, to dip into his own pocket comes as Andrews served Scott a subpoena requiring him to answer questions next week for a deposition.

Andrews is currently suing Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi over whether they hid records related to a dispute over land near the governor’s mansion.

Andrews wants to buy the land since his law office is located on it. The Scott administration wants the land as part of a plan to turn the adjacent historic home of former Gov. LeRoy Collins into a museum. Andrews contends state officials were not interested in the property until Scott found out that he was involved. Andrews won his initial lawsuit, but the case is being appealed.

OCT. 15 IS TAX DAY FOR LATE FILERS LIKE SCOTT — WILL HE RELEASE HIS OR NOT? via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Gov. Scott has touted the fact that he and his wife have released an unprecedented amount of financial data — more than their opponent — this election cycle. But that is not quite true.

Crist has released his 2013 tax return, although his wife who files separately has not. Scott, who files jointly with his wife, Ann, has not released his 2013 return.

(Today), the governor has a chance to close that gap.

According to the IRS, Oct. 15 is the deadline for anyone who received a six-month extension to file their return.

After tomorrow, Scott can’t say his tax return is still in the works. Will he release it? His campaign won’t say.

Maybe it will be his break-through news during the Leadership Florida/Florida Press Association debate in Fort Lauderdale.

LG CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA’S RELATIVES PROFITED FROM HIS STATEHOUSE CAMPAIGN via Francisco Alvarado of BrowardBulldog.org

Lt. Governor Lopez-Cantera is a generous big brother.

On October 09, 2008, about a month before then-state Rep. Lopez-Cantera won re-election by nearly 20 percentage points, his sister and her husband, a Miami-Dade police lieutenant, got into the electioneering business, forming High Ridge Consultants.

Eleven days later, Lopez- Cantera’s campaign cut High Ridge a $7,500 check — the first of several payments totaling $37,500 for claimed re-election campaign work done in 2008 and 2010.

Lopez Cantera’s all-in-the-family arrangement became the focus of a public corruption probe four years ago by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office into the alleged theft of campaign funds.

BrowardBulldog.org obtained a close out memo that explains how investigators determined that Lopez-Cantera’s sister, Monica Cantera-Serralta and husband Gadyaces Serralta, made a profit of nearly $10,000 during the 2008 campaign. Detectives did not examine payments made during the 2010 campaign.

Assistant state attorney Howard Rosen, who authored the March 14, 2011 close out memo, concluded that no crime was committed.

Miami-Dade police reprimanded Lt. Serralta, who makes $120,000 a year as a robbery bureau supervisor, for failing to tell his bosses he was moonlighting as a political consultant, according to his internal affairs file.

DEBATE NIGHT IN FLORIDA

WYLLIE LOSES LEGAL BID TO BE PART OF TV DEBATE via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

Wyllie lost a legal bid to be included in the statewide television debate between Gov. Scott and Crist at Broward College.

U.S. District Judge James Cohn issued the ruling, saying that debate sponsors Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association had made it clear for more than a year that candidates would have to draw at least 15 percent in generally accepting polls to be included in the debate, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Wyllie has fallen short of 15 percent mark. But he but argued in his lawsuit that FPA once floated the idea that if he reached 12 percent he could have been allowed into a separate debate held last July.

The judge in his ruling pointed out that “has nothing to do with the Oct. 15 debate.”

A final Wyllie argument that because the debate was being held at publicly financed Broward College that he should be allowed entry also was rejected by Cohn.

“This decision is an injustice to those millions of Florida voters crying out for fairness and for their voice to be heard,” Wyllie said.

TWEET, TWEET: @TroyKinsey: Conducting walkthrus of the #FLGovDebate site this afternoon: star operatives including @DanGelber & @alaskan. All systems go!

DWIGHT DUDLEY KEEPS THE HEAT AND FOCUS ON DUKE ENERGY FLORIDA via Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing Tampa

Since being elected to the House two years ago, St. Petersburg House Democrat Dwight Dudley has been an obsessed zealot in blasting the state’s energy policy and politics, and in particular, Duke Energy Florida’s business practices. And with just three weeks before Election Day, he’s not about to cease and desist.

The first-term Representative today introduced new legislation to mandate that electric utility companies in the state perform audits on customer accounts, and charge those customers the most advantageous rate, thereby potentially saving homes, businesses and institutions like churches millions of dollars per year.

Dudley, who is facing off against Republican Bill Young in an ultra-competitive state legislative race, said in a statement that, “It is an absolute outrage that customers depend on Duke Energy to provide them a fair rate — whether they’re a home, business, church or government agency — and Duke will not do that unless they are asked. To find out that many of these customers have been over-billed by millions of dollars is just beyond belief. I’m going to put a stop to that.”

Dudley’s bill will require the utility to provide any customer information as to the derivation of billing, the billing cycle, rates and approximate date of monthly meter reading, and to provide to the customer a copy and explanation of the utility’s rates and to assist the customer in obtaining the rate schedule which is most advantageous to the customer’s requirements.

Dudley was expected to announce the proposed legislation Tuesday morning. Undoubtedly it will get him a little face time on local television news, a nice kicker for the Pinellas Democrat locked in a tight battle for re-election against Young, the son of the late Pinellas Congressional legend, C.W. Bill Young.

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FLORIDA’S INSURANCE FUND REMAINS STRONG via the Associated Press

The Florida fund that helps private insurers pay out claims after a hurricane is remaining strong near the end of storm season.

New estimates approved Tuesday show that the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund should have nearly $13 billion available. Wall Street firms estimate that the fund could also borrow an additional $8.3 billion if needed.

Those totals exceed the amount the “Cat Fund” would need.

The financial health of the state-created fund is important to Floridians because the state can impose a surcharge on most insurance policies to replenish it if it runs out of money. Some critics have called the surcharge a “hurricane tax.”

The amount of money in the fund has grown because Florida hasn’t been hit by a hurricane since Wilma in 2005.

WHAT REP. RICHARD CORCORAN IS READING: “Google is testing live-video medical advice” via The Washington Post

BIG BEER CAVES ON GROWLERS — BUT STILL FIGHTS ‘DEEP DISCOUNTS’ via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel

After two years of intense pressure, the Big Beer boys in Florida say they are ready to allow legislators to de-regulate some of the craft beer industry.

Right now, Florida is one of only three states in America that won’t allow independent craft brewers to sell take-home beer in the 64-ounce “growler” size that is most popular everywhere else.

Beer can be sold in 32-ounce bottles in Florida. And 128 ounces. Just not the size everyone wants. It is liquefied stupidity. And the real point has been to stifle the booming business of craft beers that has been cutting into the profit margins of Miller/Coors and others.

The size restrictions are also wildly hypocritical for legislators who claim to support free-market economics.

So, after two years of intense pressure from newspapers, the drinking public and supporters of entrepreneurship and free markets, it looks like the Big Beer Boys are caving.

In a creative (yet also odd) video, the Beer Industry of Florida says it will back a growler bill this year. (In other words, it is giving legislators – who do as told – permission to do the right thing. The puppetry of all this is really pretty naked.)

That’s the good news. The bad — or perhaps just plain silly — is the second half of the video, where the Beer Industry of Florida says it wants to keep other regulations in place to keep craft brewers constrained. Why? Because too much competition in the beer world could lead to, among other things, “deep discounts.”

MIKE HORNER IS UP TO WHAT?

In the summer of 2012, former State Representative Mike Horner was rising up the political ladder on his was to bigger and better things in the Florida House of Representatives. As the Chairman of the powerful House Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations budget, Horner was in charge of nearly $10 billion of the state’s budget. He had four more years left to serve in the House and was considered by many to be the future Number Two man to future Speaker-Designate Chris Dorworth. Then the sh*t hit the fan. An ongoing prostitution probe linked Horner to a man running a brothel in Central Florida. Horner resigned quickly from the Florida House. Meanwhile, less than two months later, Dorworth would lose his re-election bid.

Had Horner remained in office, the man knows as “the Congressman” in investigation documents would now most likely be known as the Speaker-Designate and the man sworn in as the next Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives on November 18th, instead of Steve Crissafulli. A Carl Hiassen novel this is not — this actually happened in the state of Florida two years ago.

A year later, Horner was hired to “consult” with a local nonprofit agency funded by the City of Kissimmee, Osceola County, and the Osceola County School District. Known as OLE (Osceola Legislative Effort), Horner was instrumental in advising one of the most important legacies of his term in office, the creation of the Osceola County Expressway Authority.

In 2014, Horner watched as that legacy was dismantled by incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner. Inspired by two grand jury investigations, Gardiner’s vision was that of a regional expressway authority that encompassed Orange, Lake, Seminole, and Osceola counties.  It was a vision with a broader Authority Board, made up of local elected officials, who would make transportation decisions on behalf of the region and not solely by county.  Osceola County opposed those efforts and managed to find enough breath for another few years of survival.

Unless the Gardiner vision could be altered.

Today, Horner serves as a consultant to Team Florida, an entity comprised of the state’s expressway and transit authorities along with the state Department of Transportation and private sector companies who do business with these agencies. Team Florida is chaired by Atlee Mercer, the current Chairman of the Osceola County Expressway Authority.  It will be interesting to see the direction these two Osceola County leaders take this organization. Their first shot will be at the end of this month, when Horner leads a panel of four former colleagues  – Senators Jeff Brandes and Darren Soto and Representatives Jason Brodeur and Lake Ray – on a legislative panel.

It would appear Osceola County’s transportation officials are ramping up their efforts to stay alive. But who can win when you are standing in the way of the Senate President Designate’s vision?

PERSONNEL NOTE – MCKINLEY LEWIS NAMED DOC PRESS SECRETARY Full blog post here

The Florida Department of Corrections formally named McKinley Lewis as Press Secretary for the Department’s Office of Communications, according to a statement.

Lewis, formerly with the Florida Department of Health, assumed his new role effective September 22, 2014.

“We are very pleased to welcome McKinley Lewis to our team,” said DOC Communications Director Jessica Cary. “He contributes valued public relations skills to our office that aptly serve its goal of providing accurate, transparent and timely information about the Department of Corrections.”

Lewis’ experience features grassroots advocacy, public affairs, media relations, and strategic public relations and digital marketing campaigns.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Brian Ballard, Greg Turbeville, Ballard Partners: Strategic Property Partners, LLC; Tampa Bay Lightning; Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment, LLC.

Michael Corcoran, Matt Blair, Michael Cantens, Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: The Florida Orchestra; Sharon Robinson, Guardian and Personal Representative

Michael Cantens, Corcoran & Johnston: Ronald Miller

Katherine Juckett, VISIT Florida

Mark Logan: Strategic Property Partners, LLC; Tampa Bay Lightning; Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment, LLC.

NEW ON THE TWITTERS: Tim Meenan @Meenan2Tweet

AS HIS VISION FOR DOWNTOWN TAMPA UNFOLDS, DEVELOPER JEFF VINIK HIRES LOBBYIST BRIAN BALLARD Full blog post here

As developer Jeff Vinik continues to play an expensive game of Monopoly, acquiring and buying up swaths of the Channelside District and other parts of downtown Tampa, he may be turning to Florida lawmakers for help with realizing his vision for the area.

Three of Vinik’s business entities — Strategic Property Partners, LLC, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment, LLC — have retained Ballard Partners, the governmental affairs firm headed by one of the state’s most prominent lobbyists, Brian Ballard. On Monday, lobbying registration forms indicating Ballard would be representing Vinik’s interests before the legislative branch were filed with the state. The forms also list Ballard Partners’ Greg Turbeville as a representative for the Vinik companies.

… A source familiar with Vinik’s plans say Ballard is expected to play a role in helping to persuade the Legislature to fund the relocation of USF’s medical school to downtown Tampa.

In addition to Ballard Partners, Vinik’s companies also recently hired Tallahassee lawyer Mark Logan.

Longtime Tampa Bay Lightning lobbyist Ron Pierce of RSA Consulting will continue to play a vital role in the team’s lobbying outreach efforts. This is the second client Pierce and Ballard will share as both lobbyist’s firms represent the Port of Tampa.

TWEET, TWEET: @SaintPetersblog: Me at 6 a.m. Vinick hires lobbyist Brian Ballard. @TB_Times at 7 p.m. Vinik hires Tallahassee lobbyists… No h/t, not even a reach around.

***Today’s SUNBURN is sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. One of Florida’s Top Lobbying Firms, Corcoran & Johnston has demonstrated the ability to navigate government and successfully deliver results for clients, time and again. To learn more visit www.corcoranfirm.com.***

CONTEXT FLORIDA: OCS, MARKET-READY GRADUATES, BLACK MEN AND IMPOSSIBLE DREAMS

On Context Florida: The U.S. is in the middle of a devastating epidemic of “Obsessive CEO Syndrome” (OCS), says Stephen Goldstein. It is a debilitating condition where victims are deluded into thinking that those at the top of organization charts have the best minds, answers to all of our problems, and, should they choose to abandon their boardrooms, make the best public servants and elected officials. Todd Dagenais, head volleyball coach at the University of Central Florida, notes that simply completing the necessary coursework and earning a high grade point average isn’t enough to make students productive members of today’s fast-paced and complex global economy. But the UCF Student-Athlete Leadership Institute is working to make graduating athletes “market-ready.” Historically, Florida has been a hellish place to live for black men, but Chris Timmons says the state may be turning a corner. Marc Yacht posits an impossible dream: bipartisanship, wise reforms and corporate restraint.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

TODAY AT THE SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL, A SWITCH TO DIGITAL THINKING via Kristen Hare of Poynter

Staff at the South Florida Sun Sentinel will have to think differently about how they report, write and present the news — and differently means digitally.

Everyone but a designated team will focus solely on reporting and producing news online. A separate print production desk will then choose from what has been produced each day to create the next day’s printed newspaper.

It’s also a natural progression from a change made three years ago, when the Sentinel gave the print section editors responsibility of their sections online and merged the digital team with the newsroom.

Three years ago, the Sun Sentinel was set up “pretty much in the way that I think most newsrooms today are still set up,” said associate editor Anne Vasquez in a phone interview.

Digital production was a separate operation. Reporters wrote stories; editors edited, got them ready for the newspaper and sent them to the online folks.

“The problem with that is digital is what our future is,” Vasquez said, and digital needs to be intimately tied to the creation of content, “not just the receptacle. It needs to be there at the beginning.”

With the change, there was no longer a digital side, and editors had to learn the digital skills to use the content management system, update the homepage, send text alerts, and update social media, along with a lot of other skills. It just made sense, Vasquez said.

TWEET, TWEET: @SaintPetersBlog: Breaking election news: @ChrisSpencerFL elected to board of directors of St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Florida Chamber’s Edie Ousley.

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.