Sunburn for 10/24 – 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. It was the Internet of its time, but maybe even more miraculous. On October 24, 1861, the first high-speed communications link between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts was established with the completion of a transcontinental telegraph line. From July 4 to October 24, the Western Union Company constructed a telegraph line between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, completing the first fast communications link across the continent. The first message, from California’s chief justice to President Abraham Lincoln, spoke of strengthening the bonds between East and West – even as the bonds between North and South were crumbling.

Now, on to the ‘burn…


Bush was blitzed with questions Thursday about his presidential ambitions in a private session with top South Carolina donors and business leaders, multiple sources at the meeting told CNN.

Bush was politely non-committal, as he is in public, but said he was seriously considering the possibility and would make a decision after the holiday season.

Bush … was also pressed on whether he thought his last name would be a liability in a national campaign. … The former Florida governor responded that “he quit worrying about that a long time ago,” according to two people in the room.

“He said that everybody has things about them that are positives and negatives, but he said he loves his brother and loves his father, and that every campaign is about telling people who you are,” said one source. “He said that my last name is the same, but I am not them. That my job is to show people who I am as a policy maker and a man, and that’s the same job everyone else has.”

The former Florida governor was in the state, which happens to hold the first presidential primary in the south, for a round of campaigning with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is expected to win re-election next month.

In the roundtable — where price of entry was $10,000 — Republicans exchanged pleasantries with Bush about his family before diving into questions about his political future.

“This wasn’t a politically agnostic business crowd,” said one person in the room who did not want to be identified. “They dialed right in and wanted to get into politics, the horse race of 2016.”

Bush, this person said, was “very engaging, but he was very non-committal about running. He said he has to have joy in his heart to do it. And he said he gets the question wherever he goes.”

Ed McMullen, a Republican lobbyist in Columbia, said the response to Bush from the donor crowd was “unbelievable.”

“He said that if I am going to run, I would run because I have a positive vision to take the country forward and unify people and do something that the other people in the race are not talking about,” McMullen said. “He had that positive Reagan vision of creating a majority that transcends parties and races and brings people together. I’ll tell you what, he makes it very easy to be for him.”


Almost $4 billion will be spent for this year’s midterm election, the Center for Responsive Politics is projecting. That figure makes this year’s election by far the most expensive midterm ever. The candidates and parties alone will combine to spend about $2.7 billion, while outside groups will likely spend close to $900 million on their own — a figure that veers close to the $1.3 billion spent by outside groups in 2012, when the hyper-expensive presidential race was fueling the fire.

By the end of the battle, when totals for every category are added together, Team Red will outspend Team Blue, CRP projects. GOP and conservative-leaning candidates, party committees and outside groups will spend at least $1.92 billion, compared to at least $1.76 billion their rivals on the Democratic and liberal-leaning side will spend.

In several categories — spending by House and Senate campaign committees, and money spent by secretive outside groups – conservative or Republican groups are projected to outdo their more liberal counterparts by a wide margin. Democrats and liberals will hold a slight lead when it comes to House and Senate party committee spending, and in the amount spent overall by outside groups. That lead in outside group spending, however, does not include money that groups spent on certain kinds of ads that didn’t have to be reported to the FEC if they were aired more than two months before the election (or 30 days before a primary); conservative groups appear to have dominated in that category.

The 2010 midterm cost $3.6 billion; this one will run an estimated $333 million more than that. The congressional portion of the 2012 race cost about $3.6 billion as well.

As with the 2012 cycle, the explosion in outside money is a dominant theme of this election’s spending story. So far, at least $663.3 million has been spent by outside groups like super PACs and 527s (a figure that is current within the last 48 hours), but CRP’s projections based on the pattern in the 2012 cycle indicate that at least another $233.5 million remains to be spent in the 12 days before Nov. 4; that’s a rate of $19.4 million a day.

Overall, liberal outside groups — including 527s — have spent $308.9 million so far, while conservative groups have spent $327.1 million. CRP is projecting that by Election Day, that dynamic will have flipped, with liberal outside groups slightly outspending conservative outside groups, $433 million to $424 million.

Those figures, however, come with a major caveat. Our estimate is based on spending disclosed to the FEC. Again, certain ads don’t have to be reported, and it’s difficult to get a fix on exactly how much they cost.


DOWNLOAD: uCampaign, a new iPhone app for politics, on a free trial basis for all battleground Senate races in the final two weeks before the election. … In addition to allowing users to follow and share the social media updates of their favorite candidates, the app tracks their activities, awards them points for growing the campaign, suggests friends for them to invite to the campaign. The app is here.

LAUNCHINGFacebook’s new 2014 Elections Dashboard – Across the United States, voters and candidates turn to Facebook to debate the issues, get news and information and engage with one another. … This interactive dashboard shows how many people on Facebook are liking and discussing the candidates in races nationwide.”


Scott is planning to be a no-show Friday for a deposition in a lawsuit he filed in California to block the release of information about Google email accounts used by him and his executive staff.

Attorney Steven R. Andrews was prepared to put the governor under oath in Tallahassee but Scott’s communications director, Frank Collins, said, “There is not going to be a deposition.” He could not immediately answer whether Scott’s lawyers are asking the judge to have the event postponed or if they plan to ignore it entirely.

Scott’s fundraisers have scheduled a $250 per person luncheon at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, featuring former Gov. Jeb Bush, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera.

However, if the governor is a no-show for a deposition in a case he initiated, it may not be without consequences. According to the rules of civil procedure, if Scott fails to submit to the deposition, the judge could dismiss his lawsuit, order the governor to appear later, or sanction him for refusing to cooperate.

The governor filed the lawsuit in September in a Santa Clara County court in an attempt to prevent Google from releasing information on who and when the private G-mail accounts used by Scott and two staff aides were created.

Andrews alleges that Scott set up the account to circumvent the state’s public records law. When the governor refused to turn over the information, Andrews got a Tallahassee court to approve a subpoena to seek the information from Google. Circuit Court Judge Charles A. Francis also ordered the governor to stop fighting the request.


The First District Court of Appeal will consider briefs filed by Common Cause Florida and a colleague of the late Gov. Reuben Askew in a case challenging the state’s blind trust law.

The First District Court of Appeal said it will accept documents from Florida State University professor Lance deHaven Smith and former House Speaker Jon Mills, among others, in a suit alleging the blind trust law is inconsistent with the Sunshine Amendment that Askew championed.

The Legislature approved and Gov. Rick Scott signed a sweeping ethics reform bill last year changing financial disclosure requirements. Rather than require officials to list investments on a disclosure form it provides a blind trust option, allowing individuals to establish a trust managed by a third party. That single account is what is disclosed. Critics argue this circumvents the constitutional safeguard alerting citizens to an official’s potential conflict of interest.

 It is believed that Gov. Rick Scott is the only official using the law to shield his investments from public disclosure.

The First District Court will review the trial Court record and additional materials submitted and decide if the trial judge may any legal errors that would warranting either a new trail or an outright reversal of Cooper’s ruling.

FLORIDA TIMES-UNION ENDORSES SCOTT: The Florida Times-Union editorial board says it is in an unusual situation when it endorses Rick Scott for governor. “Neither Republican Rick Scott nor Democrat Charlie Crist received this newspaper’s endorsement the last time they ran. With Crist, we’re not sure what we would get. With Scott, we see a businessman who is becoming more comfortable and more skilled in his public role. Scott is the better choice. ”

TWEET, TWEET: @adamsmithtimes: Squeezed between the nastiness from Crist/Scott on my TV, @JeffAtwater ads make him seem like Winston Churchill by comparison

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Dave Kerner: “Just left a firm-wide meeting where we have allowed our entire staff time to volunteer for Charlie Crist instead of coming to work all the way through the election, and giving employees time off on election day to allow them to vote. Very proud of my firm Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser and Zoeller, P.A.for doing this. Vote people!”


For Schale, the “single most important fact” is this: of voters who have already cast ballots, the GOP advantage is 10.4 percent, compared to 19 percent in 2010.

In addition, nine out of the 10 counties where Democrats see the largest gains since 2010 are in the all-important I-4 media markets of Southeast Florida. They include right-leaning swing vote regions of Pasco and Sarasota, as well as the Tampa media market, Crist’s home base, and key Democratic counties such as Broward and Dade.

The result is a stark difference between 2010 and 2014 at the same point in the election. The GOP held a 13-point lead at this point in the 2010 election. Today, Dems are leading by 7 points.

Taking in account the expanding electorate, Democrats is outperforming 2010 at this point in the election everywhere in the state, with the exception of 15 counties. Excluding Duval County, the remaining 14 counties combined make up a smaller number of voters than those who have already voted in Martin County.

In 2014, the GOP absentee ballot advantage is 12 points (versus 21 in 2010). Early vote is a wash, where it was 12 points at the same time in 2010.

Schale warns that Democrats need to vote; there is still a long way to go. Scott’s new influx of cash — from his most ardent supporter, himself — ensures a steady avalanche of negative ads until Nov. 4.

Twelve days is a lifetime in politics, Schale adds.

In all, trends suggest that Crist will have a much more welcoming election environment than Sink had in 2010.


Barack Obama won’t make it to Sunshine State before the election, it appears, but former President Bill Clinton is expected to headline an early vote rally in Tampa on 5 Sunday. It will be at Cyrus Greene Park.

EARLY BALLOT RETURN NUMBERS as of 10/23 (courtesy of St. Pete Polls): 1,152,132 Total ballots returned; 547,958 REP 47.6%; 408,528 DEM 35.5%; 195,646 IND 17.0%


Given how little the vast majority of voters think of Crist and Scott after all their negative TV ads, it’s pretty astounding that Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie failed generate sufficient support in credible polls to be included in any debates.

This seems like an ideal climate for a none-of-the-above candidate even if, like Wyllie, that candidate raises little money and offers up pixie dust policy proposals too vague for even the most cynical and shameless major party establishment candidate (Wyllie intends to cut 30 percent out of the state budget by—you guessed it — trimming unidentified waste and inefficiency).

But Republican consultant Adam Goodman points me to the David Jolly/Alex Sink special election earlier this year in a bellwether Pinellas County congressional district. Goodman, a Jolly adviser, said their internal polling consistently showed Libertarian Lucas Overby winning 8 to 10 percent, though Overby ultimately won less than 5 percent.

“I really think the Wyllie voters are going to decide this governor’s race,” said Goodman, suggesting that a good chunk of voters now identified as Wyllie supporters will end up voting for the major candidate they dislike slightly less than the alternative major candidate.

Forget the 5 to 10 percent of undecided voters, Goodman said. “I’m more interested in the where the 3 or 4 percent of Willie voters are going.”

Polls consistently show Wyllie pulling equally from Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning voters, though Goodman and many other observers see Libertarians more in line with small-government Republicans.

TRITE COLUMN OF THE DAY: “Turnout will be the deciding factor” via former State Senator Paula Dockery. A MESSAGE TO EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS: If the headline of a column is “Turnout will be the deciding factor,” you should just delete the whole damn thing. Saying “turnout will be the deciding factor” is akin to saying the team which score the most points will win the game. Like, no sh*t!


Gov. Scott’s chief elections official gave a pep talk to county election supervisors in which he reminded them to “expect the unexpected” in the upcoming election. Secretary of State Ken Detzner and his staff even spoke the word no one wanted to hear, the dreaded R-word: Recount.

Recent polls show a dead even race between Scott and Crist. Could it actually be that close? Yes.

On paper, the mathematical possibility of a recount seems extremely remote: The candidates would have to be separated by half of one percentage point or less. That’s 27,500 votes, if 5.5 million votes are cast. Scott defeated Democrat Alex Sink in 2010 by 61,550 votes, but that margin was greater than 1 percent, and not nearly small enough to trigger a recount.

But in the state where control of the White House was decided by 537 votes in 2000, election supervisors know anything can happen. On a monthly conference call Thursda with dozens of election supervisors, Sarasota’s Kathy Dent said: “The most important thing is to expect the unexpected. There’s always something that pops up that none of us expected.”

If the Scott-Crist really is that close, Detzner would order a statewide machine recount of the results. If the machine recount ends with the candidates being separated by a quarter of a percentage point or less, a manual recount would take place of all undervotes and overvotes in that race only. That’s the nightmare scenario that probably would result in both sides sending armies of lawyers to every county canvassing board in the state in a scene that would be reminiscent of the 2000 recount.

But even without a recount, this election will produce thousands of absentee ballots with defects such as voters’ signatures that don’t match those on file, and the decisions as to which of those ballots are counted are already being made by three-member canvassing boards, meeting in public.

ENDORSEMENT: The Tallahassee Democrat endorses Graham: “Despite what the commercials might lead you to believe, both candidates are genuinely nice people. Either would do well in Congress. Gwen Graham more closely represents the interests of a government town like Tallahassee, and for that, she earns our endorsement.”

WATERCOOLER HUMOR: Graham has Clinton in town on Sunday and Jimmy Buffett later this month. So Tallahassee gets the guy who wrote “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw,” and the guy who had the Marine band play it instead of “Hail to the Chief” when he arrived.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS:  Graham hosts an early voting ice cream social with U.S. Reps. James Clyburn and Sanford Bishop at 5:30 p.m. in the Gadsden County home of Nora Dean James, 86 Red Fern Court in Havana.


House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan is in Longboat Key today, appearing at a $500 a head fundraiser for Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan, Pinellas County Representative David Jolly and North Florida Republican Jeff Miller.

In anticipation of the visit, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz fired off a sharp broadside at the event, saying in a press release that the Ryan budget plan “that Congressmen Vern Buchanan, David Jolly and Jeff Miller have championed would be devastating for Floridians.”

There’s one little problem with that: Jolly voted against the plan.

Wasserman Schultz goes on to say in the release that the Ryan plan would “end end Medicare as we know it, increase premiums and provide for tax cuts for millionaires while raising taxes on middle-class families. It would also force our seniors to pay more for prescription drugs, cut vital funding for Pell Grants as well as early childhood education.”

The Ryan plan is controversial, and Democrats have been successful in campaigning against it because of its proposed changes to Medicare, the government health care plan for the elderly. There are lots of elderly voters in Jolly’s district in Pinellas County. And that’s why he opposed it.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam continues his re-election “Florida Grown” bus tour, where he attempts to visit as many of the state’s diverse electorate as possible through Election Day. Today, Putnam visits the Tervis Tumbler Tour from 3-5:00 p.m. at 201 Triple Diamond Blvd. in North Venice. Joining the incumbent Republican is Congressman Vern Buchanan, state Sen. Nancy Detert, Reps. Doug Holder, Ray Pilon and Greg Stuebe, and Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight. On Saturday, Putnam will join House Speaker Will Weatherford at the Making Strides to Finish the Fight Against Breast Cancer Walk from 8-10 a.m., 28211 Pasco Drive in Wesley Chapel, followed by a Corn Maze Meet and Greet from 12-1 p.m. at 13444 Moore Rd. in Lakeland.


A former Orange Park councilman and mayor, Cummings also previously served on the Clay County Commission — including a stint as the commission’s chairman.

Now Cummings is a House majority deputy whip, chair of the Clay County delegation and member of a select committee on the Affordable Care Act.

In private life, Cummings uses his financial expertise as a consultant regarding insurance and employee benefit plans. It has allowed him to take an effective leadership role in the effort to work out a compromise agreement regarding Medicaid expansion.

While he loyally supports the House’s decision not to accept Medicaid expansion in Florida, Cummings has at least shown an open mind on the issue.

Cummings told the Times-Union editorial board that job creation and the economy are the biggest issues in his Clay County district.

Cummings is being opposed by Libertarian candidate Ken Willey, a Navy veteran and hospital corpsman.


If you’ve seen his mailed-out advertisements, you’ve seen the new Blaise Ingoglia.

This Blaise, the Republican candidate for the District 35 seat in the Florida House of Representatives, usually wears unassuming polo shirts or respectable, pressed button-downs.

Remember the old Blaise, in his Government Gone Wild seminars, with his garish, open-collar shirts and gold chains? This Blaise thought nothing of throwing out misleading statistics to smear public workers.

He spread misinformation about Florida’s growth and his own prominence as a builder — he is not, nor was he ever, “one of the largest” in Florida — to sell houses at real estate seminars.

Old Blaise also has a long history of delinquent payments on the property taxes for his home in Spring Hill.

Who are his friends? Well, as vice chair of the state Republican Party, he has a lot of them, and no doubt many of them are fine citizens.

But during the home-building boom, he worked a lot with a property appraiser named Kim MacKeil. Her error-filled, cheerleading appraisals, the former chairman of the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board said in a 2009 interview, seemed tailored to justify Ingoglia’s pitch that there was easy money to be made by flipping his houses.

You won’t see her in his ads. Nor will you see the poker players Ingoglia hung out with on the high-stakes tournament circuit in Las Vegas.

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Bondi is opposing a bid by a gay South Florida woman to obtain a divorce from her former partner.

Bondi’s office filed papers late Wednesday in Broward County Circuit Court saying a judge should not grant Heather Brassner’s petition for a divorce from Megan Lade. The couple was united in a 2002 civil union in Vermont but broke up several years ago.

Among other things, the attorney general’s filing says a civil union is not the same as a marriage and should not be the basis to declare Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Bondi has defended the ban enacted by voters in 2008 in several state and federal lawsuits in which judges have ruled it violates constitutional equal protection guarantees. Those rulings have all been appealed.


The investment company that manages the wealth of the world’s richest man, Bill Gates, has been acquiring gobs of farmland in north Florida the past two years, real estate records show.

Lakeland Sands Florida, a subsidiary of Cascade Investments LLC, which oversees the Gates fortune, recently bought more than 4,500 acres in Suwanee County near McAlpin, an unincorporated community just south of here.

The price: $27,961,144.69, according to court records.

The farmland was sold by Seldom Rest Inc., an agriculture and forestry company based in Donalsonville, Ga.  John S. Bailey, the company’s vice president, declined to comment on the transaction.

Lakeland Sands has also acquired an abundance of properties in other parts of Suwanee County and in Hamilton and Madison counties, which abut the Georgia border, since 2012, public records disclosed.

Brothers Chris and Allen Heine, owners of Oak Hammond LLC, sold 400 wooded acres in western Suwanee County to Lakeland Sands for $800,000 in September 2013, not knowing who was behind the purchase.

The Wall Street Journal said in a recent article that the job of Michael Larson, who oversees the Gates real estate investment empire, is to quietly grow the Microsoft co-founder’s personal wealth to help fulfill the mission of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fight disease, hunger and improve education in the developing world.

TWEET, TWEET: @SaintPetersblog: Christine Sexton arguably the best health care reporter in the state. No small coup for us as she joins our expanding statewide presence.


Florida Power & Light Co., the state’s largest utility, will be lowering the average electric bill for South Florida households by about $2 per month next year.

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the Florida Public Service Commission approved a proposal by Florida Power & Light Co. to lower rates.

Starting January, the typical 1,000 kilowatt-hour household bill will drop by $1.83 to $99.68 per month.

The reduction, which makes the company’s rates the lowest in Florida, comes from a shift from oil to natural gas, a cheaper and cleaner alternative, to fuel power plants.

FPL’s rates will become about 25 percent lower than the national average, about 7 percent less than the 2009 rates, before its switch to natural gas.

Rates for FPL’s business customers will also dip by about 1 percent in 2015, subject to rate class and type of service, the company told the Sentinel.


Twenty years ago eighteen members of a Broward Grand Jury issued a scathing report that concluded the county’s mental health system was under-financed, fragmented and leaderless. They found the system was failing thousands of mentally ill and disabled persons and causing hundreds to wind up in jail or endure forced hospitalizations without needed treatment.

Twenty years later, we are still failing this vulnerable population.

Meet the Forgotten Soldier. He is a proud former Marine in his late fifties who has been consistently misdiagnosed and has languished illegally for years in facilities without appropriate care.

The Forgotten Soldier’s name cannot be used because his court-appointed guardian will not allow it. Privacy laws enacted to protect us are instead being used to protect a broken mental health system.

For 3 1/2 years after his arrest for nothing more than being unable to care for himself, the Forgotten Solider was confined in locked psychiatric facilities in South Florida. He has had multiple head traumas and suffers from dementia, a diagnosis that is becoming more common every day.

On the day of his arrest in January 2011 the Forgotten Soldier was homeless, had lacerations across his head and face, and was wearing a hospital ID bracelet.

According to the arrest report, the Forgotten Soldier walked up to a house and stood at the front door while dogs barked violently inside the home. The Forgotten Soldier pushed open the door about one foot and the homeowner pulled it shut. He then walked to the side of the house and down the street. He was arrested a short time later by Fort Lauderdale Police.

The Broward State Attorney’s Office charged the Forgotten Soldier with Burglary of an Occupied Dwelling, an offense punishable by 15 years in prison. His apparent dementia was ignored, as was his apparent victimization while living on the streets. Prosecutors saw a criminal and nothing more.


Larry Cretul, Capitol Insight: Guy Carpenter & Co.

Corinne Mixon, Juhan Mixon, Jessica Janasiewicz, Mixon & Associates: eSpark, Leonard Bus Sales, Inc.

SPOTTED: Dan Mica in The Hill‘s 2014 list of Top Lobbyists: “The former Florida congressman was on the frontlines for the Credit Union National Association for 14 years and still advocates on the group’s behalf.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Andrea Penton and Southern Strategy Group’s Kelly Cohen.

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

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.