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Sunburn for 6.28.17 – Heath care politics; Bill Nelson knocks Rick Scott; $1.5 mil for the Crist view; Airbnb ponies up; The Kim McDougal sweepstakes

in Peter/Top Headlines by

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

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


In a bruising setback, Senate Republican leaders are delaying a vote on their prized health care bill until after the July 4 recess, forced to retreat by a GOP rebellion that left them lacking enough votes to even begin debating the legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the message to GOP senators Tuesday at a private lunch also attended by Vice President Mike Pence and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks from his office on Capitol Hill in Washington.

McConnell had hoped to push the measure through his chamber by week’s end, before an Independence Day recess that party leaders fear will be used by foes of the legislation to tear away support.

The bill, which would roll back much of President Barack Obama’s health care law, has been one of the party’s top priorities for years, and the delay is a major embarrassment to Trump and McConnell. At least five GOP senators — conservatives and moderates — have said they would vote against even beginning debate, and the bill would be derailed if just three of the 52 Republican senators voted against it.

GOP defections increased after Congress’ budget referee said Monday the measure would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026 than Obama’s 2010 statute.

Marco Rubio still undecided on health care bill, but liking what he sees” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – In his new 16-minute video released through Facebook Live, Rubio defended the bill’s Medicaid provisions – nationally universally criticized by Democrats, some Republicans and many major health care advocates for cutting Medicaid money – because he argued the cuts are not uniform across all states, and that he believes Florida actually could wind up with more money than before, while other states take the big hits. He expressed less confidence in what the bill could do to overhaul the individual marketplace for health care insurance, saying that remains uncertain, and he is still studying it. “I did not decide if I can support it yet,” Rubio said of the Senate bill. “We still need to run the numbers. We still need to see what this actually means for Florida. But there is the potential, we should know more later today, that for Florida, with this proposed change, that could actually mean more money, not less money. Maybe not a lot more, but certainly not a cut,” Rubio said.

GOP get-together: Gov. Rick Scott met Tuesday with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in advance of the Senate’s vote on its Obamacare repeal and replacement, now postponed. Photo credit: George Bennett.

Rubio and Rick Scott crisscross the Capitol as Obamacare repeal bill stalls in Senate” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – Minutes after he delayed a vote on a bill to repeal Obamacare when a number of Republican senators said they could not support it as written, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell retreated to his office. Scott and Rubio were waiting for him. The pair met with McConnell for a half-hour, and after the meeting Rubio said the vote delay was “helpful to us.” “I’m going to view this entirely through the lens of what this means for Florida,” Rubio said. “The one unique advantage that we have being from Florida is that we have done what this law is going to … encourage other states to do.” Rubio and Scott never publicly opposed the bill, which stalled after a number of senators told McConnell that they could not vote for the legislation in its current shape. But their tepid response, with Rubio summoning health care staffers from Tallahassee to review the bill and Scott declining to say how he would vote for it if he could, is evidence of the work Senate leaders need to do to get a bill passed.

Tweet, tweet:

Bill Nelson knocks Scott over health bill” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “Rick Scott is supporting and urging Republican senators to vote for a bill that makes huge cuts to Medicaid, takes coverage away from 22 million people and allows insurance companies to hike rates for older Americans,” Nelson said. “If he really cared about the people of Florida, he’d be doing the exact opposite of what he’s doing now.”

Nelson: Talk to this Florida mom before you call Obamacare a failure” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay TimesNelson spoke on the Senate floor about the health care reform debate, sharing the story of a single Florida mother trying to keep alive her daughter, kindergarten teacher Megan Geller, who died at age 28 in 2015 after a two-year battle with leukemia. “The mom of this girl, had she been faced with this without insurance coverage, she would be bankrupt. She wouldn’t have been able to even afford the first transplant, much less the two years of extra life that her daughter had fighting for her life. And anybody who goes through something like Elaine and her daughter Megan did knows that every second counts. That’s what this health care debate is really about, giving people peace of mind, giving them that financial security, that certainty, putting people’s health ahead of other things, like company profits.”

Click on the image below to watch the video of Nelson’s speech.

Andrew Gillum proposes constitutional amendment on health care” via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida — The Democratic gubernatorial hopeful wants Floridians to have guaranteed access to affordable health care. Gillum announced Tuesday his support for a proposed constitutional amendment that would declare affordable health care is a fundamental right of all Floridians and direct the Florida Legislature to make health care a priority when building its budget. … “When healthcare is under attack in Washington, we’re going to lean into the challenge of healthcare in the Sunshine State and live our values,” he said.

Gwen Graham denounces Senate repeal bill” via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Citing the CBO estimates … Graham noted that 22 million people will lose insurance coverage in the next 10 years and that Medicaid would be reduced by $774 billion under the Better Care Reconciliation Act being debated in the Senate. “These cuts to Medicaid would be devastating for Florida working families and seniors and those who depend on long-term care,” she said, adding the state should be expanding Medicaid as allowed under the existing health care overhaul … “I do not know how our Florida legislators sleep at night. I don’t know how they put their heads on their pillow knowing that the decisions they have made have caused people to die,” she said referencing the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Graham delivers health care petitions to Rubio’s office — The former U.S. representative delivered thousands of petitions signed by Floridians opposed to Senate Republicans’ health care proposal to Sen. Marco Rubio’s office on Tuesday. “This bill is heartless,” she said in a statement. “I’m calling on Senator Marco Rubio to listen to the thousands of people across our state who signed our petition opposing TrumpCare. Marco needs to be reminded he’s a Floridian first — not a partisan politician.” Tabitha Frazier, whose son was born with a congenital heart defect, and Tallahassee pediatrician Dr. Louis St Petery joined her in delivering the petitions.

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VISIT FLORIDA Vice President quits” via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily NewsAlfredo Gonzalez, VISIT FLORIDA’s Vice President of Global Meetings and Trade, will officially quit his job July 7. His $179,313 salary makes him the highest-paid employee at an agency that faced heavy scrutiny this year from Gov. Scott and the Florida House for bloated salaries, secretive spending and questionable contracts. Gonzalez’s departure leaves a hole in VISIT FLORIDA’s campaign to market the state’s tourism industry in lucrative markets such as the United Kingdom, Germany and the Middle East. He followed International Marketing Program Director Shari Bailey, who resigned Saturday.

Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market” via Susan Taylor Martin of the Tampa Bay Times – … for $1.5 million. The St. Petersburg Democrat is looking to sell the $1.5 million waterfront home he owns with his estranged wife, Carole. The couple bought the three-bedroom, three-bath condo in July 2015 for $1.036 million … it was during a time when Crist was first considering a U.S. House run. At the same point, amid Florida’s legal battle over congressional redistricting, the couple also bought a house on St. Pete Beach, which sold earlier this year for $1.030 million. According to the listing, the Beach Drive condo has: “Sprawling views of the waterfront and downtown St. Petersburg,” an area that continues to be a strong seller’s market. In the past six months, 30 condos have sold for $1 million or more, with one going for $3.725 million in early June.

This is the view from the Beach Drive condo in Parkshore Plaza owned by the Crist’s. The condo is on the market for $1.5 million. Photo credit: Amy Lamb.

Man accused of threatening lawmaker on Facebook says he was ‘fed up’ with Republicans” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald – After someone threatened his life on his Facebook page, state Rep. Jose Felix Diazinformed police … Northwest Miami-Dade resident Steve St. Felix, 33, was arrested and charged with written threats with intent to do bodily injury. Police said St. Felix was “fed up” with the Republican Party — and that he hadn’t taken his meds when he posted the threat. It’s unclear what condition the medications were treating.

Spotted: Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg talking about sober homes on Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly

Airbnb says county agreements should lead it to equal 2016 tax payments in first six months” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The company announced that its five-month totals in sales and tourist taxes paid to the state and individual counties surpassed $18 million through June 1, so it expects to clear $20 million by July 1. Last year the company’s combined total for the entire state and all of its counties was $20 million … Airbnb reported that in the first five months of 2017 it had delivered $14.6 million in new sales tax revenue to the Florida Department of Revenue. Among individual counties, Airbnb reported the following bed tax payments through the first five months of 2017: Pinellas, $774,500; Orange, $700,500; Miami-Dade, $522,000; Polk, $192,000; Hillsborough, $182,000; Broward, $191,000; Brevard, $165,000; Lee, $153,000; Okaloosa, $144,000; Sarasota, $86,500; and Santa Rosa, $32,000.


You know you’re a favorite when Gov. Scott throws you your own reception when you leave his employ.

That’s what Scott did Monday to see off his latest former chief of staff, Kim McDougal, headed off for greener pastures in the private sector, no doubt.

Where she goes next is still a water-cooler conversation in the Capitol and among the tony office suites of Adams Street. Her professionalism precluded her from shopping herself while still drawing a state paycheck.

But we think her services and institutional memory will be in high demand, especially because of her education policy background.

Probably not Ballard Partners, Southern Strategy Group or Capitol City Consulting; they have their own education specialists in place.

So who? Bill Rubin? Dean Cannon at GrayRobinson? Or Trey Traviesa‘s education policy-focused shop?

Lord knows Scott chiefs of staff haven’t had the easiest of times transitioning, compared to those of days gone-by. Just look at Adam Hollingsworth.

But they weren’t Kim McDougal. We have to expect a leak some time soon, telling us of her next workplace. Stay tuned…

“Personnel note: Megan Fay, Craig Carbone get new titles in EOG” via Florida Politics – Two Executive Office of the Governor officials have been named deputy chiefs of staff, according to a new organizational chart posted Monday. They are Megan Fay, who had been director of policy, and Craig Carbone, deputy director of policy. Karl Rasmussen, another deputy chief of staff, recently departed the Governor’s Office for a lobbying job at the Meenan Law Firm. Deputy chiefs Brad Piepenbrink and Kristin Olson are still with the office.


Associated Industries of Florida announced Tuesday their 2017 “Champion for Business” awards. Handed out each year, the awards recognize elected officials who provided leadership on key legislation for the success of Florida’s business community.

AIF presented Gov. Scott with his fourth “Champion for Business” award. The group applauded Scott for his work on maintaining the state’s economic incentive programs, like Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.

“Each year, AIF is proud to honor elected officials who take risks for his or her belief in the free-enterprise system, who defies the status quo when it is harmful to our state’s competitive climate, and who faces down opponents to the growing prosperity of Floridians,” said Tom Feeney, the president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida. “This year, we selected Governor Scott and six lawmakers who we deem are strong and forceful advocates for the business community, and who are the epitome of what a ‘Champion for Business’ should be.”

Rep. Jim Boyd also received his fourth “Champion for Business” award. The group saluted Boyd for leadership in reducing taxes for families and businesses. First time honorees are Sen. Keith Perry, Sen. Kelli Stargel, Rep. Ben Albritton, Rep. Jay Fant, and Rep. Danny Burgess.


Andrew Gillum: ‘Ultimate judgment’ of his leadership for others to decide” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee DemocratGillum declined to comment on how Tallahassee’s high crime rate and an FBI investigation into the city’s redevelopment agency reflect on his leadership. “I think others will have to make the ultimate judgment on that,” said Gillum … He didn’t want to conflate the latest FDLE crime rate report that Tallahassee had the highest crime rate for a third year in a row with the ongoing investigation into several high-profile developers and their work with the Community Redevelopment Agency. Asked whether the FBI investigation reflects badly on the city and the CRA, Gillum said, “I don’t know that we can draw conclusions that this investigation is about the CRA based on the requests made. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves about what this investigation is doing … I want them to be able to successfully conclude their investigation without interruption from folks like me.”

House GOP-backed PAC pledges anti-Nancy Pelosi campaign in Carlos Curbelo’s Miami district” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Congressional Leadership Fund, a political committee backed by the House Republican caucus, pledged to devote serious cash next year to running against Pelosi, the House Democratic leader. The group says it’s polled 11 competitive congressional districts — including FL-26 — over the past 60 days and found Pelosi is disliked. Her leadership came under political fire last week after Democrat Jon Ossoff lost a special election in Georgia. A defiant Pelosi, a Democratic fundraising machine, made clear she’s sticking around. According to Congressional Leadership Fund, 45 percent of poll respondents in FL-26, which is represented by Miami Republican Rep. Curbelo, view her unfavorably, compared to 37 percent who view her favorably.

Save the date: Sen. Travis Hutson will host an inaugural golf invitational at the World Golf Village, 500 S. Legacy Trail in St. Augustine on July 27 and July 28. The two-day fundraiser includes a dinner at the World Golf Hall of Fame Towner and golf at the Slammer & Squire Course.

Four members of Florida Citrus Commission back Ben Albritton in SD 26 — Citrus leaders are throwing their support behind Ben Albritton in his bid to replace Sen. Denise Grimsley in Senate District 26. The Albritton campaign announced Tuesday four members of the Florida Citrus Commission, including Chairman Marty McKenna and Vice Chairman Mike Garavaglia, have endorsed Albritton in his Senate District 26 bid. “Citrus is the heart of District 26, and as a grower and former board member, Ben Albritton has a unique understanding of the importance and needs of our industry,” said McKenna in a statement. Garavaglia called Albritton a “champion of Florida agriculture” and said he will “continue to be an effective advocate for citrus and the entire agriculture industry in the Senate.” Florida Citrus Commission members V.C. Hollingsworth III and Ned Hancock also endorsed Albritton. “We know Ben Albritton to be a man of his word. He is a passionate and enthusiastic representative of Florida agriculture and deeply enjoys serving our state and its people,” said Hollingsworth and Hancock in joint statement. “We look forward to his continued leadership in the Florida Senate.”

SEIU Florida, AFSCME Florida back Annette Taddeo — Two of the state’s unions announced Tuesday they were endorsing Democrat Annette Taddeo in the special election to replace former Sen. Frank Artiles in Senate District 40. “We have a great opportunity to elect Annette Taddeo who has a proven track record of being a passionate and determined voice for the residents of Senate District 40,” said Monica Russo, president of SEIU Florida in a statement. “Annette brings both grace and grit to this crucial race. She is a fighter and a negotiator. Should she win, expect Annette Taddeo to go toe-to-toe with the power structure to fight for the rights of working folks.” Representing more than 6,000 workers in Senate District 40, the two labor organizations said they will run an aggressive joint program focused on the needs and aspirations of their members and working class families in the district. “At a time when Tallahassee is in desperate need of new ideas and a commitment to transparency, Annette Taddeo is the leader we need,” said Andy Madtes, executive director of AFSCME Florida, in a statement. “SEIU and AFSCME stand united in Florida to make sure the voice of the working men and women is heard loud and clear in this important special election.”

Miami Young Republicans back Mallea in HD 116 — Miami Young Republicans announced Tuesday it was endorsing Jose Mallea in the special election to replace Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in House District 116. “Jose Mallea is one of the most qualified legislative candidates South Florida has ever seen,” said Rey Anthony Lastre, board member of the Miami Young Republicans. “As an entrepreneur and founder of the Biscayne Bay Brewing Company, he understands the needs of small businesses and the challenges that regulations create for our economy.” Mallea faces Daniel Anthony Perez in July 25 GOP primary to replace Diaz. “I am honored the Miami Young Republicans are supporting our campaign,” said Mallea in a statement. “They know me well, and I highly value and respect their energy and leadership in our area. I look forward to working with them to keep conservative policies working for our community.”

More legislative hopefuls file to run in 2018 LobbyTools’ Legislative IQ reports several legislative hopefuls have filed to run for office in 2018. Libertarian Kyle Baker has filed to run in House District 26. He is the third candidate to enter the race, joining Democratic Rep. Patrick Henry and Republican Michael Cantu. Henry is seeking re-election. Democrat Babar Ahmed filed to run against Democratic Rep. Loranne Ausley in 2018. Ausley, who served in the House from 2000 until 2008, was elected in 2016 and is seeking re-election.


“Personnel note: Jonathan Zachem appointed DBPR secretary” via Florida PoliticsGov. Scott on Friday appointed Zachem as the new Secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). Matilde Miller, who had been serving as interim secretary since January, has accepted the job of Vice President of Compliance for VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s public-private tourism marketing agency. Zachem was the department’s deputy secretary. Before that, he was chief attorney and then director of DBPR’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.

“Personnel note: Mark Pafford joins state League of Women Voters board” via Florida PoliticsPafford, the former House Democratic Leader, has joined the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of Florida, the organization announced Tuesday … Pafford, a West Palm Beach Democrat, served in the House 2008-16, when he was term limited. He rose to Leader for the 2015 and 2016 Legislative Sessions after being Deputy Whip and Democratic Policy Chair. The League also announced other new board members: Stephanie Owens, founder of St. Petersburg’s Dolphin Strategies consulting firm; Marty Sullivan, co-Chair of the League’s Natural Resources Committee; and Maggie Lawrence, media buyer and project manager with Tallahassee’s SalterMitchell PR firm.

“Personnel note: Shannan Schuessler now DOT chief of staff” via Florida Politics – With former Chief of Staff Mike Dew’s ascension to Secretary of the department, Schuessler was named the next staff chief, according to a new organizational chart. Schuessler was legislative affairs director, the top in-house lobbyist job at the department, after being deputy LA director. Before that, she was a legislative coordinator for the Lewis, Longman & Walker law firm, according to her LinkedIn page.

Appointed – Dr. Michelle Mendez to the Board of Osteopathic Medicine; Dr. Kay Tasso to the Board of Physical Therapy Practice.

New and renewed lobby registrations

Hayden Dempsey, Greenberg Traurig: Eagle Pharmaceuticals

Jonathan Kilman, Foley & Lardner: Starsky Robotics

Frank and Tracy Maynerick, The Mayernick Group: Aviat U.S., Inc

Happy birthday to Sen. Wilton Simpson, Walt Disney World’s Leticia Adams and the Associated Press’ Brendan Farrington.

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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