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Sunburn for 5.10.17 – Adam Putnam launches; … so does Jay Fant; Session epilogue; Med. marijuana special session?; Parks boost Disney revenue

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

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

Session ended at 8:52 p.m. Monday. By Tuesday morning, the 2018 election cycle had begun in earnest.

Rep. Jay Fant launched his 2018 Attorney General run at the Florida Capitol, before kicking off a day-long, three-city swing to discuss issues like commerce, homeland security, and immigration.

While Fant’s the first person to jump into the race to replace Attorney General Pam Bondi, the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott is already heating up.

Democrats Andrew Gillum, Chris King, and Gwen Graham already launched their bids, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who filed to run for governor earlier this month, is scheduled to officially launch his with a speech on the steps the Old Polk County Courthouse in Bartow at 11 a.m. From there, he’ll embark on a 10-day, 22-city bus tour.

Candidates aren’t just jumping into statewide races. Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez announced he plans to run for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s seat in 2018. And with a special election to replace Sen. Frank Artiles scheduled for later this summer, you can expect several more candidates to hit the campaign trail in the weeks and months to come.


As Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam prepares to embark on a 10-day statewide bus tour, beginning with an expected announcement Wednesday in Bartow that, yes, he’s running for Governor in 2018, let’s harken back to January.

Putnam was speaking at The Associated Press’ annual Legislative Session planning session at the Capitol. Afterward, we asked him about what could be considered as a dig at the career politician.

Gov. Scott, just days before in an interview, said the next Governor needs to have experience in the business world. The 42-year-old Putnam, also a Republican, was first elected state Agriculture Commissioner in 2010 after serving 10 years in Congress.

“I think someone having business experience that they bring to public life is very helpful,” Putnam answered without missing a step. “As a guy who is part of a small business, I get it.”

Therein lies the bother. Yes, the Putnam family owns Putnam Groves in Bartow, but it will be a hard sell to many Floridians that Putnam is a “businessman” when he’s been in office since he was legally old enough to drink.

“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,” he added. “It’s helpful to know what it means to create jobs in this state.”

Perhaps, but oh, if ever there was a statement ripe for PolitiFact.

It’s also funny how Putnam kept telegraphing his political aspirations without ever acknowledging that he wants to keep climbing the elective ladder.

Florida “needs to be the kind of place that attracts people four decades sooner,” he said at the AP event, “so that they raise their families here, and they start their businesses here and grow those businesses here, because that’s a very different emotional investment for the long-term good of Florida.”

That was a near repetition of remarks he made at his political committee’s “Friends of Florida Agriculture Barbecue” the previous April at Peace River Valley Ranch in Zolfo Springs.

“I want Florida to be the place where people come as a young person, graduate from our universities, raise their families here — start, build and grow their businesses here, so that they are passionately, emotionally invested in the long-term good of Florida, where Florida’s going, how Florida got to be what it is, and what makes Florida special,” Putnam said then.

Putnam may soon say, “get on the bus,” but skeptical voters will need convincing before they take that ride.

“Putnam lines up top tier campaign team” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – The operatives on Putnam’s team include veterans of Putnam’s two decade political career, including Mac Stevenson of Sarasota-based Political Insights, and Justin Hollis, handling fundraising. Amanda Bevis, Putnam’s former deputy chief of staff at the state Department of Agriculture, is handling communications. … The Tarrance Group … is the pollster. … Helping lead the campaign is Kristin Davison, who has worked with on the campaigns of Sens. Marco Rubio and Roy Blunt and as chief of staff at Karl Rove and Co. A senior adviser is former 2010 Rick Scott senior campaign adviser Ward Baker, fresh off a widely praised run as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Flashback – “Did ‘Putnam for Governor’ Twitter flub break election law?” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO FloridaPutnam appeared to skirt state election law when his Twitter account mistakenly posted a message that bore an “Adam Putnam for Governor” logo — even though he (wasn’t) an official candidate yet. But Putnam’s top consultant said the Twitter message wasn’t the fault of the Republican or his political committee, Florida Grown. So, he says no law was broken. “The image was inadvertently posted by our digital partner. We immediately asked for it to be removed,” consultant Justin Hollis told POLITICO Florida. He declined to name the vendor. Under state election law, people can’t make a campaign expenditure until they become a candidate.

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“Andrew Gillum calls for ‘strengthening’ Obamacare in Florida” via Florida PoliticsA day after the end of the 2017 Legislative Session, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on Monday called on state lawmakers to pass a bill “strengthening insurance protections for those with pre-existing conditions.” Gillum, the sitting mayor of Tallahassee, appeared at the Florida Press Center with two local women who told of their family members’ troubles getting coverage and treatment … Gillum’s proposal, a priority if he’s elected in 2018, has three goals: Prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions; charge them the same premiums as those without such conditions; and “end the discriminatory practice of charging women higher premiums than men.” The first two already are part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Jay Fant launches Attorney General bid” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – Fant made his opening pitch, calling for government to get out of the way of free enterprise. “I am running because I believe so strongly in defending our constitutional rights and protecting Floridians from the excesses of the federal government … But that can only happen if we make sure government is on the side of the people.  We will fight to keep our business climate free and fair so entrepreneurs can pursue their dreams and create jobs. We will stand by our law enforcement community that works so hard to keep us safe.”  Fant also tried to claim the mantle of current state Attorney General Bondi … “I will continue Attorney General Bondi’s fight against prescription drug abuse, human trafficking, and predators who target seniors and children … I will keep pushing back against the federal overreach that chokes our small businesses. And the most vulnerable members of our society can count on me.”

Mayor Jack Seiler continues to mull Attorney General bid” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald Seiler said he is in no rush to decide whether to run in 2018 and will make up his mind at some point this year … he initially thought he would have to reach a decision by the spring but doesn’t feel pressure to do so now that no one has announced on the Democratic side. “The campaign starts the day you announce your decision — I don’t need to have a 15, 16, 17-month campaign if I don’t have to,” Seiler said. “I have time to make a more educated and informed decision. I am looking at all the factors: Can a Democrat win statewide? Can a Democrat win in an off-year?”


José Javier Rodriguez hops into Miami congressional race” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Rodriguez of Miami announced he will run for Florida’s 27th Congressional District now that longtime U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is calling it quits after next year. Rodriguez joins a crowded Democratic primary field, but party insiders are abuzz about his chances because of his record and because 65 percent of the voters in the congressional district are registered to vote in Florida’s 37th Senate District, which Rodriguez currently represents. “It’s the right time to run and to represent this district in Congress,” said Rodriguez … “A lot of the issues of my district are relevant to the congressional seat: health care, tax policy and the environment, especially sea-level rise.”

Tweet, tweet:

— Democrats had tried to recruit Miami-Dade County schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho to run for the seat, but he was noncommittal. Former school board member Raquel Regalado, a moderate Republican in the mold of Ros-Lehtinen, is eying the seat. The Miami Herald reports that Republican Maria Peiro has filed to run and that Republican Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro said Friday he will seek the seat.

— Horse before cart alert: “Unless there’s some huge problem, Jose is the next congressman from the district. He checks all the boxes,” said one top Florida Democrat, summing up the mood of other consultants and insiders.

“Obama Democrats buzz about Miami lawyer’s possible bid for Ros-Lehtinen’s seat” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Francisco Cerezo, a top Latin America attorney and son of a former Puerto Rican leader and judge, is seriously considering a run for outgoing U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s seat at the urging of former Obama campaign fundraisers from Miami. … Freddy Balsera, a fundraiser for former President Barack Obama who led his 2008 campaign’s Hispanic outreach, said Cerezo is a friend as well as a dream candidate because he’s a new face who’s well-respected in top legal circles and might be able to self-fund some of his campaign if need be. Balsera said Cerezo also served as a Spanish-language surrogate for President Obama.

Could race for Ros-Lehtinen’s seat hurt Democrats seeking Carlos Curbelo challenger?” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald— In this week’s episode of “Beyond the Bubble,” McClatchy newspaper’ weekly political podcast … asked Florida Democratic political consultant Steve Schale about the race to replace Rep. Ros-Lehtinen — specifically, whether it might hurt Democrats hunting for someone to challenge Rep. Carlos Curbelo. “I worry about that,” Schale said. “Good candidates for any elected office tend to be very rational actors,” Schale said. “If you look at history, it’s always easier to win an open seat.” Ros-Lehtinen’s 27th district “is probably four to five points better for a Democrat” than Curbelo’s 26th district, Schale added. “I do think that a lot of your top-tier candidates are going to look at this seat first.”

is Daisy Baez Democrats’ consensus pick to replace Frank Artiles?” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Here’s a sign Florida Democrats might be coalescing around state Baez to run for former Sen. Artiles‘ seat: Baez won the backing of not one but two contenders for Florida governor. Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum endorsed Baez within minutes of each other.


In our annual list of who emerged from the Legislative Session as a Winner or a Loser, we wrote about how Gary Fineout’s bosses at the Associated Press need to find a better way (or several) to utilize ace reporter Gary Fineout. And on Monday morning, the big man roved our point with a must-read entry for his blog, The Fine Print. In the post, Fineout drills down on the titanic battle being waged by Speaker Corcoran and his allies versus Gov. Scott.

— “There’s a war going on for the soul of the party,” Corcoran said. “Are we going to be who we say we are?”

— [Corcoran] also mentioned politicians who campaign saying they want to crack down on illegal immigration and are opposed to “the liberal socialistic health care policy called Obamacare” but then change their position when they get into office. Without using his name directly, it was clear that Corcoran was taking aim at Scott.

— “I think what we need to do is elect leaders who say what they mean and mean what they say,” Corcoran said.

— His exchange with reporters showed Corcoran … finishing the 60-day session with the same provocative, confrontational stance he had before it started. Given everything that has happened over the last two months of the session it’s not really surprising.

— Along the way, he pushed back against anyone – whether they were in media, his own party, or whomever – who challenged his statements or positions. Sometimes he did it in a lawyerly fashion … But other times it was through sheer force.

— In one way, (Corcoran and Negron) have given Scott an easier path to a budget veto.

— The main general appropriations act is $82.4 billion, but it doesn’t include many key elements. Legislators have placed more than $700 million worth of spending for Negron’s Lake Okeechobee plan, Schools of Hope, VISIT FLORIDA and the state employee pay raise OUTSIDE the main budget bill.

— Of course, if Scott does veto the entire budget (a rare occurrence in recent Florida history) then we get to watch Round 2 between the Speaker and the Governor. And the war for the “soul of the party” will rage on.

Time to say goodbye — The House Speaker’s Office, which has produced video after video this Legislative Session, it closed out 2017 Session with a 3-minute video narrated by House Speaker Richard Corcoran. “I’m often asked, where are the leaders worthy of the title and I tell them they’re right here, in the Florida House,” he says in the video. In an email to members, Corcoran said while every member isn’t featured “the sentiment applies to all” of them.

Scoop – “House GOP freshmen fail to adopt rules for Speaker’s race, putting leadership battle into chaos” via Florida Politics– A caucus to ratify rules — drafted by Reps. Ralph Massullo and Michael Grant — to guide the freshman class’s decision-making process met during a break in the House. Only 23 members of the freshman class were present, and neither Rep. Jamie Grant nor Rep. Paul Renner, both in the running to be Speaker in 2022, were present at the meeting. The rules had been debated at length by within the class. The most recent version of the rules called for an organizational meeting to be held June 30 to select their leader. Under those rules, if more than two candidates are running, the lowest vote-getters would be eliminated from consideration. The caucus needed 18 votes to ratify the rules, a tall order with only 23 of the 27 caucus members present. But ahead of the vote, Rep. Joe Gruters made a proposal for secret balloting on the rules. Secret balloting on rules and all future votes is in theoretically in place, but the rules were voted down. A copy of new rules was provided to members, but were marked by Rep. Randy Fine so the caucus could know which member leaked the rules to the media, according to a House member who attended the meeting. The failure to adopt new rules means the Speaker’s race is still governed by House Caucus rules, which means no June 30 conclave to pick a leader. It also means the “survivor” rule proposed under the Massullo-Grant rules aren’t in effect.

Hillsborough County enacts hiring freeze after Tallahassee moves property tax cut” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times – Administrator Mike Merrill has enacted a hiring freeze for government departments, effective May 2. That’s the same day the Legislature gave the greenlight to a 2018 voter referendum that would increase the homestead exemption by another $25,000, which would effectively cut local property taxes. The hit to Hillsborough’s coffers would be roughly $30 million a year … Merrill told department directors the freeze was necessary “to allow greater flexibility and options” for the 2018 and 2019 budgets. The freeze applies to all positions, excluding season employees, like lifeguards, and instances when a job offer was made and accepted before the May 2 memo.


Rick Scott has a friend in White House and foes back home” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – For years, Scott complained and criticized President Barack Obama and contended he wasn’t helping Florida. Now with Trump in office, Scott has worked out a deal with federal officials to provide at least $1 billion for the state’s hospitals and he obtained a promise to move forward with repairs to a federally-operated dike that surrounds the state largest freshwater lake. But that didn’t help him with the Republican-controlled Legislature. Instead by the end of this year’s session, Scott’s legislative agenda was in tatters, ignored by GOP legislators he has feuded with for months and criticized during visits to the lawmakers’ hometowns … he bashed the newly-passed $83 billion budget, giving his strongest sign that he may veto the spending plan and force the state House and Senate to reconvene in a special session. He criticized legislators for assembling most of the budget — which covers spending from July of this year to June 2018 — in secret and for refusing to set aside money for his top priorities including money for business incentives.

Scott will make veto decision ‘based on what’s best’ for Florida families” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics Scott took a swing at state lawmakers, saying the Legislature turned its back on economic incentive deals that have helped Florida “out compete … top competitors for important jobs.” … Scolding legislative leaders for passing a budget that “was done largely behind closed doors.” Scott said he has begun the process of reviewing the budget, and said he will make a decision about whether he vetoes the entire budget “based on what’s best for our families.” “I ran for Governor to fight career politicians and it’s backroom deals like this that make families think politics is nothing more than a game,” said Scott in a statement. “I am beginning to review the budget and I have the option of vetoing the entire budget or vetoing the items that circumvented the transparent process and do not have an acceptable return on investment for hardworking taxpayers. Just like I do every year, I will make my decisions based on what’s best for our families because my job is to wake up every day and fight for Floridians.”

“Scott signs SB 10, the Lake Okeechobee restoration plan, into law” via Florida Politics — Gov. Scott signed legislation Tuesday pledging $800 million toward Senate President Joe Negron’s signature project — a $1.5 billion plan to restore Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades by building a reservoir south of the lake. Scott had signaled his intention to sign the legislation earlier in the week, calling Everglades restoration “a top priority.” SB 10 did not include Scott’s call to invest $200 million in the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding the lake. Still, the governor said President Donald Trump had pledged federal money to the project and that “Florida cannot miss this opportunity to partner with the Trump Administration for a project that will significantly benefit Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades and our environment.”

Gov signs landmark ride-sharing legislation into law” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida PoliticsScott signed a bill that creates statewide regulations for ride-booking companies, like Uber and Lyft. “I’m proud to sign this legislation today to make it easier for ridesharing companies to thrive in Florida and help ensure the safety of our families,” said Scott in a statement. “Florida is one of the most business-friendly states in the nation because of our efforts to reduce burdensome regulations and encourage innovation and job creation across all industries, including transportation.” The legislation, among other things, requires ride-booking companies, like Uber and Lyft, to carry $100,000 of insurance for bodily injury of death and $25,000 for property damage while a driver is logged on to their app, but hasn’t secured a passenger. While with a passenger, drivers would be required to have $1 million in coverage. Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes in the Senate and Reps. Chris Sprowls and Jamie Grant, it also requires companies to have third parties conduct local and national criminal background checks on drivers. The law pre-empts local ordinances and rules on transportation network companies.

Other bills signed into law Monday include:

HB 111: Public Records/Identity of Witness to a MurderThis bill creates a public records exemption for criminal intelligence or criminal investigative information that reveals personal identifying information of a witness to a murder.

HB 151: “Therapy Dog for Children Bill”This bill allows children, victims, and individuals with intellectual disabilities to use therapy animals and facility dogs in legal proceedings.

HB 239: Public Records/Protective Injunction PetitionsThis bill creates a public records exemption for petitions for protection against domestic violence, stalking or cyberstalking if it is dismissed.

HB 305: Law Enforcement Body CamerasThis bill allows a law enforcement officer using a body camera to review the recorded footage before writing a report or providing a statement.

HB 399: GuardianshipThis bill revises procedures relating to incapacity hearings and the circumstances under which the court may approve divorce for persons under the protection of a guardianship.

HB 401: Notaries PublicThis bill allows public notaries to accept a veteran health information card issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a valid form of I.D.

HB 671: Reemployment Assistance Fraud This bill authorizes the Department of Economic Opportunity to access digital records maintained by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to prevent reemployment assistance claims fraud.

HB 805: Relating to Insurance Policy TransfersThis bill allows an insurer to transfer a residential or commercial residential property insurance policy to an authorized insurer of the same group or owned by the same holding company.

HB 6533: Relief of Jennifer WohlgemuthThis bill directs Pasco County and the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office to compensate the family of Jennifer Wohlgemuth for injuries sustained in a 2005 accident involving the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.


Joe Negron says he’ll ‘look at’ a special session on medical marijuana” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – “We’ll confer with the House and with the governor and then make a decision on whether that’s something we should do,” Negron told reporters following the end of the legislative session … “I think the Legislature does have a responsibility to be involved in that implementation, so I think that’s an option we’ll look at.” House Speaker Richard Corcoran was standing next to Negron at the time, and smiled and nodded. A wide-ranging bill to implement a constitutional amendment passed by 71 percent of voters blew up in the final hours of the regular session … The main sticking point: Whether or not to place caps on the number of dispensaries each licensed grower could open. Now, it’s up to the Florida Department of Health to create a medical marijuana infrastructure in the state. On Saturday, activists including John Morgan, the Orlando trial lawyer who bankrolled the medical marijuana campaign last year, called on Gov. Scott to call a special session of the Legislature. Scott’s spokeswoman said in a statement that they were “reviewing our options.”

— Gwen Graham wants a special session – “I watched my husband battle cancer and the sickening effects of chemotherapy. So many patients with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating diseases could use medical marijuana as a way to treat their pain. Floridians spent years begging the Legislature to take action before taking their case to the voters, but once again, the legislature is ignoring them. If the people of Florida give me the honor of serving as governor, their voices will be heard.”

Ben Pollara’s emotional mea culpa on John Morgan split, marijuana bill failure” via Florida Politics – In a lengthy, emotional email Pollara explained some of the motives behind what happened, and why the bill ultimately died — taking some (qualified) responsibility. Much of the friction behind the final approval of the bill came in part from disagreement over the number of allowable medical marijuana treatment centers under the law. Lawmakers could not agree on how to best balance the needs of patients with that of licensees — refer to by some as “cartels” — authorized by the state to produce and distribute medical pot. “The initial bill out of the House was horrendous,” Pollara wrote. “Partially drafted by Mel Sembler and Drug-Free America, it was severely restrictive and not only banned smokable, edible, and vapable forms of marijuana, but it also added onerous restrictions on patients, such as a 90- day waiting period and recertification period.” “I advocated strongly for the Senate position, believing — as I still do — that it would result in better access for patients,” Pollara said. Unfortunately, it set off a “very intense lobbying battle on both sides” leading to neither side coming to terms in the end. “Morgan is livid over this and blames me entirely for the failure to pass legislation this session … I accept that I deserve some of that blame … However, the choices we faced were ‘bad,’ ‘worse’ and ‘the worst.’” What happened, Pollara wrote, was “the worst.” … Signed “with love and sorrow,” Pollara concludes his letter by apologizing to all those he let down. “And I want to — from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of everyone at Florida for Care — thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do to advance this cause.”

Meanwhile, Morgan responded with this video…

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Kevin McCarthy says he sees a ‘great opportunity to get the money’ for Everglades restoration projects” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Rep. Francis Rooneytook House Majority Leader McCarthy on a tour of the Everglades and the Lake Okeechobee Watershed … The tour — similar to one the Naples Republican took Rep. Ken Calvert, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment on back in March — was meant to highlight the importance of funding projects that have already been approved, and in some cases designed, within the watershed. “He’s been telling me about this since before he was elected and he invited me before even getting sworn in,” said McCarthy, a California Republican. “This is a natural treasure … I see what we’re going in Congress right now, when we go to tax reform and when we go to infrastructure, I see the funding already coming now,” said McCarthy. “But I see opportunities that we can speed it up to save the taxpayers money, finish some of these projects earlier. And I see a great opportunity to get the money.”

State appeals court upholds 14.5 percent workers’ comp premium increase” via Florida Politics – A state appeals court has upheld a 14.5 percent increase in workers’ compensation insurance premiums, rejecting legal arguments that it was approved in violation of Florida’s open-government laws. … The ruling followed adjournment of a Legislative Session that failed to address attorney involvement and other factors driving increases in insurance premiums. … “NCCI is pleased with this outcome, as the court validated that our rate filing process is in full compliance with the law,” the Boca Raton company said in a written statement. … The court found no evidence that the insurance office had delegated its rate-approval authority to NCCI in a way that justified coverage by the open-government laws.

— Associated Industries of Florida says today’s ruling is reminder solid reforms needed for works’ comp via AIF President and CEO Tom Feeney: “At AIF, we support restoring a stable, self-executing and affordable workers’ compensation system for Florida’s injured employees.”

“Constitutional review panel will meet” via Florida Politics – The Constitution Revision Commission meets Wednesday, 5-8 p.m. at Florida SouthWestern State College’s Suncoast Credit Union Arena, 13351 FSW Parkway in Fort Myers. The commission is a 37-member appointed body that meets every 20 years to review and suggest changes to Florida’s governing document. We’re the only state that has one. It has been holding public hearings throughout the state before considering any constitutional amendments.

Florida Supreme Court suspends former lawmaker’s attorney license” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Former state Rep. Phillip Brutus’ alleged negligence in managing a trust account has led to a yearlong suspension from practicing law and two years of probation, Florida’s Supreme Court ruled last week. Brutus, who served as a Democrat in the state House from 2000 to 2006, called the ruling extreme and theorized the court may want to send a message to other attorneys by making an example of a public figure. “I agree it’s wrong, but one year?” he said, adding he was unsure how he would remain financially afloat without his job. The suspension stems from a 2014 complaint from the Florida Bar alleging Brutus violated Bar rules by disbursing funds to his client in a divorce proceeding without court approval. After learning his client’s ex-husband had taken out a $100,000 home-equity loan against their home and spent $40,000 of it, Brutus filed a motion to preserve the assets. The presiding judge issued an order directing the remaining money, about $60,000, into Brutus’ trust account. That money was deposited March 3, 2008, without a court order or settlement regarding how the money would be distributed. Brutus said he wasn’t motivated by self-gain but by the “dire” circumstances his client faced, including being temporarily forced out from her home.

Ouch column – “Judge Pop Tart: Rep. Eric Eisnaugle attacks judiciary for years, now named judge” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel – (T)his week, Gov. Scott elevated Eisnaugle from the legions of lightweight legislators to one of Central Florida’s top judges as a member of the 5th District Court of Appeal … as an attorney, he has never actually taken a single trial to a jury verdict. … has rarely set foot in a courtroom. Despite all that — and despite the fact that gobs of other experienced judges and attorneys applied for that post — Eisnaugle will soon be Judge Pop Tart. His bench will be the last stop before the state Supreme Court. The appointment was a reward for a legislator who reliably backed Scott’s agenda, including pushing to protect Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida, even when other Republicans did not. It was a way of ensuring that a relatively young pick will remain on the bench for many years.

Violence erupts at a Florida airport after Spirit Airlines cancellations” via Jonah Engel Bromwich of The New York Times – According to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, the arrests were made after customers screamed at and threatened Spirit Airline employees, inciting unrest in a crowd of about 500 people at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Their anger was set off by the flight cancellations … and deputies were sent in to calm the crowd … 11 Spirit Airlines flights were canceled at the airport Monday and that 30 were delayed. Arrest reports assert that those detained were threatening bodily harm to the airline employees and challenging them to fights. All three of the people who were arrested were charged with disorderly conduct, inciting a riot and resisting arrest. Paul Berry, a spokesman for the airline, said that Spirit was “shocked and saddened” by the violence. He blamed the cancellations on airline pilots who he said were engaged in “unlawful labor activity” that was “designed to disrupt Spirit operations.” But the pilots’ union disputed that statement.

With Betsy DeVos slated to speak at black university’s graduation, Trump foes sound the protest alarms” via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – In the days since DeVos was invited to speak at Bethune-Cookman University’s graduation, the NAACP chapter in Florida has called on the institution’s president to resign and teachers unions have helped gather petition signatures in opposition. Adding to the outcry are the voices of graduating seniors and alumni, who in interviews, petitions, open letters and social media posts have denounced DeVos and detailed why they don’t want the billionaire GOP donor and prominent proponent of private-school vouchers to enjoy the honor of addressing the class of 2017. Some, though, are afraid they’ll get in trouble if they protest. Protesters argue her policies would hurt students’ ability to access financial aid or pay back student loans. They see her focus on vouchers and charter schools as an effort to defund public schools like the ones where many of them were educated. And they accuse her of representing the privileged wealthy class rather than all Americans, as evidenced by her controversial characterization of black institutions that were founded during racial segregation as “pioneers” of “school choice.”


New and renewed lobby registrations

Larry Overton, Joel Overton, Larry J. Overton & Associates: CleanSlate Centers, Inc.

Amy Bisceglia, The Rubin Group: Children First Specialty Plan, LLC; Elite DNA Therapy Services; Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority; Weedmaps

Christopher Finkbeiner, The Rubin Group: Fluor Enterprises, Inc.

Bill Rubin, The Rubin Group: Blue Cloud Pediatric Surgery Centers, LLC; Elite DNA Therapy Services; Fluor Enterprises, Inc.; Weedmaps

Matthew Sacco, The Rubin Group: Orthodox Union

Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: Great Explorations Children’s Museum; Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority; Tampa Bay Innovation Center

Steven Uhlfelder, Uhlfelder & Associates: Florida Medical Horticulture LLC

Tampa-based Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick law firm launches Shumaker Advisors Florida” via Florida Politics – The group will offer legislation advocacy, issue management and business-to-government and business-to-business services. Heading the new Shumaker Advisors is partner Ronald Christaldi as president and CEO. Christaldi said in a statement: “Shumaker Advisors will allow us to better serve our clients from an advocacy perspective and help them navigate challenging regulatory policies and legislative matters. We have assembled a top-notch team to begin working for clients immediately and are actively adding new members to it.” Joining Christaldi on the newly created Shumaker Advisors team are public affairs specialists Patrick BasketteEd Miyagashima and Carlye Morgan.

On this week’s edition of The Rotunda — Did Gov. Scott send a kiss of death to Florida’s budget? On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, a recap of the tumultuous remaining days of the legislative session. Did Speaker Corcoran live up to his promises of transparency? Citizen advocate Gary Stein explains why Florida for Care Executive Director is “swimming with the fishes” after a breakdown in negotiations over the medical marijuana bill. Also, Florida Times-Union reporter Nate Monroe gives a heaping scoop on the fraud trial of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown, who also served up ice cream before her court hearing.

— ALOE —

Firework Oreos feature popping candy cream, but a better Oreo flavor idea could win you $500,000” via the Tampa Bay Times — Oreo is the latest brand getting in on the whole let-your-customers-invent-a–flavor trend, launching the $500,000 “My Oreo Creation” contest today to create a new cookie flavor. To get the ball rolling, Oreo introduced a wild new flavor of their own making called Firework Oreos, featuring its traditional cookies around a cream center flecked with rainbow-colored bits of “popping candy” (just don’t call them Pop Rocks). The limited edition Firework Oreos are set to hit stores nationwide (Monday). If you’re feeling like you have a better idea, you can submit your own flavor ideas to Oreo through text, or by using #MyOreoCreation and #Contest on Instagram or Twitter. Submissions will be taken through July 14, and finalists will be determined in AugustDetails on the contest are here.

Disney parks and resorts boost company revenues in 2017” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – The Walt Disney Co. today reported a 3 percent increase in revenues over last year during its quarterly earnings report. Parks and Resorts revenues for the quarter increased 9 percent to $4.3 billion and segment operating income increased 20 percent to $750 million. Operating income growth was due to the opening of Shanghai Disney Resort in the third quarter of the prior year and an increase at Disney’s domestic parks and resorts. Disney’s domestic parks and resorts showed increased attendance and guest spending on food and beverage, as well as higher operating income from Disney Springs. These increases were partially offset by higher costs like labor and higher expenses for new guest offerings.

A look at Disney World’s new Pandora-World of Avatar land” via Mike Schneider of the Associated Press — It’s not a movie set, but visitors to Disney World’s new Pandora-World of Avatar land are in for a cinematic experience. The 12-acre land, inspired by the “Avatar” movie, opens in Florida in late May at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. It cost a half-billion dollars to build. The marquee attraction is Flight of Passage, where a 3-D simulator plunges riders into a cinematic world. You feel like you’re riding on the back of a banshee, a bluish, gigantic, winged predator that resembles something out of the Jurassic era. Wearing 3-D glasses and straddling what resembles a stationary motorcycle, you’re strapped in, then the lights go out, a screen in front lights up and you’re swooped into a world of blue, gigantic aliens called Na’vi, with moon-filled skies, plunging waterfalls, jumping marine animals and towering ocean waves. The ride provides an enchanting and intoxicating five minutes that touches all the senses. Blasts of air and spritzes of mist hit your face, and as you fly through a lush forest, a woodsy aroma wafts through your nostrils. A visitor could go on the ride 20 times and not catch half the visual details. Disney designers are quick to say the new land is the star of the action, not the backdrop.

Shaq For Sheriff? Shaquille O’Neal wants to run In 2020” via Briana Koeneman and Katherine Biek of WFTS – The NBA legend told Atlanta station WXIA he plans to run in 2020. It’s unclear exactly where Shaq would enter the race for sheriff. He’s currently a resident of both Florida and Georgia, so he could run in either state. But no matter where he runs, O’Neal has one goal. “When I was coming up, people love and respected the police, the deputies. And I want to be the one to bring that back,” O’Neal said. He’s been sworn in as a deputy city marshal in Lafayette, Louisiana, and a sheriff’s deputy in Clayton County, Georgia. And, last year, he paid a surprise visit to the Gainesville Police Department to play a game of basketball with officers and local kids.

Happy birthday to the pride of the Panhandle, Ryan Wiggins.

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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