Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 7.12.16 – This is the end

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.


Bernie Sanders improbable year-long run for the Democratic nomination officially will end later this morning when he is expected to endorse Hillary Clinton in Portsmouth, New Hampshire – but his legacy on the party should last for years.

Although the Associated Press claimed Clinton had won the nomination on the eve of the California primary early last month, Sanders refused to concede for weeks, alienating some Democrats, concerned about the impact of Donald Trump’s ascendance. However, it’s now apparent that Sanders was attempting to maximizing his leverage in crafting the party platform that will go before the delegates at the party’s convention in Philadelphia in two weeks.

It appears to have paid off. While not getting language condemning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the platform does include a health plan that would allow those older than 55 to participate in Medicare, clearing the way for a public option for health insurance. It also calls for plans to address climate change, criminal justice reform as well as calling for a doubling  of the federal minimum wage.

“We have made enormous strides,” Sanders said over the weekend. “Thanks to the millions of people across the country who got involved in the political process – many for the first time – we now have the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.”

Sanders won 22 states and 45 percent of the pledged delegates in the race, and he consistently led Clinton overwhelmingly among 18-29-year-olds. His campaign drew a record 8.2 million individual contributions from about 2.5 million donors, raising about $228 million largely through fundraising emails to supporters.

In retrospect, his biggest failure was not being able to effectively communicate and win the support of blacks and Latino voters, two major demographics voting in Democratic primaries and caucuses. But the 74-year-old Vermont Senator has made an impact on the Democratic Party, a party he never belonged to until this presidential campaign.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 350 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***

ARE YOU CLEVELAND BOUND? Associated Industries of Florida is hosting a welcome reception for the Florida delegation to the Republican National Convention. Event begins Tuesday, July 19, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Pickwick & Frolic Restaurant & Club, 2035 E. Fourth St. in Cleveland.

LATEST FLORIDA POLL: DONALD TRUMP HAS NARROW LEAD OVER HILLARY CLINTON via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – … by two percentage points, 47 percent to 45 percent, according to a poll released by a group tied to Gov. Scott. “Four months out from the 2016 presidential election, both Trump and Clinton are badly upside-down by image in the state of Florida,” reads a polling memo from OnMessage. “That said, Clinton fares worse than Trump sitting 13 points in the red at 42% favorable to 55% unfavorable compared to Trump’s -11 (43%/54%). Among Independents, Clinton’s image falls to -20 (36% fav/56 unfav) while Trump fares better, in comparison, at just -8 (43% fav/51% unfav) … As the old adage goes, ballot follows image, and this is currently the case in Florida as Donald Trump edges out Hillary Clinton on the presidential ballot, 47% to 45%.” The poll was conducted for Let’s Get to Work by OnMessage Inc. Democratic strategist Steve Schale questioned the findings, nothing that pollsters did not release demographics.

JEB BUSH EXPLAINS THE ‘TRAGEDY’ OF TRUMP’S NOMINATION via Nick Gass of POLITICO – Speaking to MSNBC contributor Nicolle Wallace, who served as his press secretary in Tallahassee, Bush called Trump “to his credit … very smart at exploiting these kind of opportunities … He’s a master at understanding how the media works — more than anybody I’ve ever seen in politics. Kudos to him, for kind of creating the environment and then manipulating the environment to his effect” … There will be no wall built, Bush told Wallace, and Mexico will not pay for it, nor will there be a ban on Muslims. “This is all, like, an alternative universe that he created … The reality is, that’s not going to happen. And people are going to be deeply frustrated and the divides will grow in our country. And this extraordinary country, still the greatest country on the face of the earth, will continue to stagger instead of soar. And that’s the heartbreaking part of this, is I think people are really going to feel betrayed.”

10 ARRESTED IN SIT IN AT MARCO RUBIO’S ORLANDO OFFICE via Kate Santich and Gal Tziperman Lotan of the Orlando Sentinel – Nearly a month after the Pulse nightclub massacre, about 60 protestors assembled in a downtown building where Rubio keeps an office. Those arrested face misdemeanor charges after ignoring police officers who asked them to leave. They knelt by the building’s doors and sang “This Little Light of Mine” as officers put plastic zip-ties around their wrists and led them away. Another 50 protesters left the building without incident. There was no violence. The grass-roots group wanted to stay 49 hours — one hour for each of the victims killed in the June 12 shootings. They completed about 9 1/2 hours before being asked to leave the building.

***A message from Progress Florida Education Institute, educating and empowering Floridians to address the challenges facing Florida, including protecting reproductive rights for all Floridians. Abortion opponents are turning lies into laws to shame, pressure, and punish women. What happens when abortion opponents turn lies into laws? Women’s health care gets pushed out of reach. Politicians tell doctors how to practice medicine. Women are blocked from making their own decisions and their rights are being trampled in the process. Abortion is safe and legal. Enough is enough. It’s time to support women’s health, rights, and dignity. Get the facts.***

FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY HIRES RAPID RESPONSE DIRECTOR via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Lauren Cross [will] serve as its rapid response director. Cross was formerly with Planned Parenthood’s Washington office and with Obama for America based in Colorado … Cross works for the state party, but will be focused on the U.S. Senate race. Her party is in the middle of primary between Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson, but Cross will focus her attention on hammering the Republican field, which includes incumbent Marco Rubio and Carlos Beruff.

FIRST IN SUNBURN — VOTE NO ON 2 UNVEILS NEW WEBSITE, ADVERTISEMENTS OPPOSING MEDICAL POT INITIATIVE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The group, which is leading the charge against the 2016 medical marijuana amendment, unveiled its new website … puts a greater focus on video, and uses videos and photos to explain the group’s position. The group is once again pointing to loopholes, saying supporters of the initiative didn’t fix the problems … “Amendment 2. They say they fixed it. They didn’t,” a man is heard saying in a 30-second spot prominently displayed on the site. “Same people, same problems, same loopholes.” The video — called “They Didn’t Fix It” — outlines several aspects of the proposal the groups says are loopholes, including one it says allows caregivers “to push pot.” The new Vote No on 2 website features five videos — including “They Didn’t Fix It” and a 30-second video focused on “budtenders.” Four of the five videos are 30-second spots that will likely be used as advertisements.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Republican CD 1 candidate Matt Gaetz will be holding an event for military and veterans during which he will deliver remarks regarding his views on military policy event begins 1 p.m. at VFW Post 706, 5000 Lillian Hwy. in Pensacola.

JOHN RUTHERFORD DELIVERS REAL TALK ON FIGHTING TERROR via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – The 2016 campaign season has seen domestic terrorism as a backdrop … With that reality in mind comes a new radio ad (“Top Priority”) from former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford, a candidate for Florida’s 4th Congressional District. Rutherford, in an ad that begins airing in the Jacksonville media market Tuesday, speaks about his own experience fighting the terrorists here at home – and winning … “Washington has failed to protect our borders and failed to get serious about the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. As sheriff, I took a stand. We didn’t wait on Washington to solve our problems. I trained my officers to enforce federal immigration laws, leading to thousands of dangerous criminals being deported from Northeast Florida … Terrorists now threaten us here at home. I’ve worked with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and gone after jihadists who would do us harm. In Congress, I’ll work to increase our intelligence capacity and ensure proper cooperation between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies,” Rutherford said …  In messaging around these issues, which illustrate the intersection of the local policy realm and national policy, Rutherford is sending a message to his opponents: the campaign is getting serious from here on in. America is in an uncertain place. And in these times, certainty, a steady hand, and practical policy knowledge are essentials that not every candidate in the CD 4 race has.

DANIEL WEBSTER RELEASES SECOND TV SPOT IN CD 11 CAMPAIGN via Florida Politics – The commercial features Webster’s family and criticizes the failure of Washington to secure a better future for Americans. “This commercial highlights the principles and values that characterize Congressman Webster’s personal life and public service — faith, family and a commitment to the constitutional freedoms that make America great,” said campaign manager Andrew Tyrrell. “This election is about fixing a broken Washington. Congressman Webster knows what it takes to make government work. That’s why he took on John Boehner for Speaker of the House, and it’s why he is continuing to fight to fix Washington — to leave our children and grandchildren better off than we are.”

STRAIGHT FACE TEST? AFTER BURNING THROUGH CASH IN PRESIDENTIAL RUN, JEB! TO HELP CONGRESSMAN WANTING FINANCE REFORM via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Bush is going to campaign for U.S. Rep. David Jolly, who has made clamping down on congressional fundraising a priority. Bush has kept a low profile since abandoning his White House bid … without winning a single state, but burning through cash at an unprecedented rate. But Jolly’s re-election bid against Democrat Charlie Crist is bringing Bush out of early retirement. “I’m excited David Jolly decided to run for his congressional seat and I plan on actively campaigning for his re-election,” Bush said. “Rep. Jolly has done what any congressman should do and that’s do the job that he was elected to do. I am proud to support him in this race” … Bush raised the lion’s share of his $150 million presidential war chest through his SuperPAC, Right to Rise. Jolly also has a SuperPAC, called FloridAmerican Conservatives. Campaign financing wasn’t one of the issues Jolly highlighted in welcoming Bush’s help.

DAVID JOLLY SAYS HE HAS WORK TO GET ELECTED IN NEWLY DRAWN DISTRICT via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times – Jolly said he’s always considered his congressional district to be the whole of Pinellas County. By way of example, he told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board he attended the July 4 parade in Safety Harbor. His wife, Jolly said, reminded him Safety Harbor is no longer in his district, which became decidedly more Democratic after a state Supreme Court ruling led to south St. Petersburg joining the 13th District and big chunks of GOP-leaning north county leaving. “I couldn’t tell you where the lines are,” Jolly said. “It’s a part of the county that I haven’t ignored,” he said, ticking off his support for projects and contacts in south Pinellas. “I’ve always considered it to be one district. Now on introducing myself on the issues to the new part of the county, that’s a real task ahead of us.” So what will be the pitch?  Jolly said he’ll stress the “Bill Young Model” of strong constituent service, noting that he helped arrange medical care at MacDill Air Force Base for an Air Force sergeant stationed in Germany. That sergeant’s neighborhood? Midtown.

NATIONAL DEMOCRATS RESERVE MORE THAN $1.4 MILLION IN AIRTIME AGAINST JOLLY via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – House Majority PAC … have placed another major round of early TV reservations for the final weeks of the 2016 election cycle, including more than $1.4 million in the Tampa Bay market, as well $1.2 million in Miami, more than $900,000 in West Palm Beach, and more than $800,00 in Orlando. To date, the PAC has purchased over $24 million across 30 media markets … money will be spent in Tampa Bay trying to help Charlie Crist get over finish line in his battle against Republican Jolly … The money in Miami-Dade will be used for the Democrat who survives the Aug. 30 primary between Joe Garcia versus Annette Taddeo, with the winner challenging CD 26 GOP incumbent Carlos Curbelo.

PAUL RYAN WON’T ENDORSE IN DISTRICT 19 HOUSE RACE via Ledyard King of the Fort Myers News-Press – Ryan endorsed Chauncey Goss when he ran for Congress four years ago. Not this time. “Speaker Ryan knows both Chauncey Goss and Ambassador Francis Rooney very well,” said Kevin Seifert, executive director of Team Ryan (the Speaker’s political operation), in an email this week referencing the two leading GOP candidates. “They are not only friends, but also capable legislators and committed conservatives.” Goss, who never asked for the speaker’s blessing, isn’t surprised or disappointed. And he probably shouldn’t be. Back then, Ryan chaired the Budget Committee, where Goss had once been a top aide. Now, Ryan is one of the top Republicans in the nation. It’s probably not in Ryan’s interest either to anger Rooney, a top party fundraiser, by inserting himself in a race for a district that’s expected to remain Republican after the November election.

TIM CANOVA ADS BLAST DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ IN CD 23 RACE Canova released two TV ads ahead of the Aug. 30 primary against incumbent Wasserman Schultz. In one spot, called “America,” Canova says corporate interests have been able to “corrupt our government, because we the people don’t show up to vote.” It doesn’t mention Wasserman Schultz, although it does a flash an image of her. The other ad, called “#DebbieDodgesDebate,” rips Wasserman Schultz for not debating him.

DARREN SOTO LAUNCHING ENGLISH, SPANISH TV COMMERCIALS IN CD 9 via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The commercials will run in both the Orlando and Tampa TV markets because CD 9 includes south Orange County and Osceola County in the Orlando market and eastern Polk County, which is in the Tampa market. Soto’s English commercial, “Get Things Done,” focuses on his accomplishments as a Florida lawmaker, including writing the bill that increased the amount of time women have to report sexual assaults. The Spanish commercial, “El Momento,” which will run on Spanish cable channels, focuses on the prospect that Soto could become the first Floridian of Puerto Rican heritage elected to Congress, and the first Hispanic from Central Florida. The district has more than a 40 percent Hispanic base, and is the center of the large and growing Central Florida Puerto Rican community.

TWEET, TWEET@bsfarringtonSo @SenDarrenSoto‘s campaign ad is worth watching just to see him in a goatee.

AUGIE RIBEIRO POURS IN $300K OF HIS OWN FUNDS TO COMPETE IN SD 19 RACE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The civil justice attorney is by far the least known of the four major candidates in the Democratic primary … He got into the contest at nearly the last minute, filing just a day before qualifying ended, and he’s the only non-African-American in a minority-majority district. However, he does have lots of cash. Ribeiro announced he has raised more than $100,000 since getting into the contest less than two weeks ago, an impressive feat. However, he’s also pouring in $300,000 of his own funds to be able to get his message out quickly. “I knew, starting later in the cycle and without the support of special interests and lobbyists, that we would have to work hard to ensure our message was heard,” he said in a statement … “The tremendous amount of support we have received to date, and the energy we are gaining, further strengthens my conviction that the voters are ready to have a new voice fighting for them in Tallahassee.”

POLITICAL COMMITTEE SAYS IT ‘STANDS BY FACTS’ IN SPOT TARGETING JASON MAUGHAN via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Maughan sent a cease-and-desist letter last week to try to get stations to stop airing a commercial attacking him. The request came after a 30-second spot dramatizing a 1995 shooting involving Maughan began hitting the airwaves … paid for by Truth Matters, Inc., a Tallahassee-based political committee. Publicly available ad buy data show the group spent at least $39,000 on advertising at two Fort Myers-based stations. In both cases, the contracts began July 4 and run through July 14. “Truth Matters is a political committee that works to support the campaigns of conservatives in Florida,” said Brian Hughes, a spokesman for Truth Matters, Inc. “When Jason Maughan, a liberal trial attorney with a criminal record entered the race for State Senate District 27, the committee made the decision that voters deserve to know the facts about his criminal past.” The advertisement shows a person walking toward a vehicle with a gun in his hand, as a male announcer can be heard saying: “Two people sat in a car. Suddenly gunfire exploded their window, sending one victim to the hospital with a neck wound.” Maughan was charged in 1995 with reckless endangerment in the first degree and malicious mischief in the second degree, both felonies, in a Washington court. Prosecutors later added assault and perjury charges. The charges stemmed from a June 1995 incident involving Maughan. According to court documents, prosecutors said he shot out a window of a vehicle parked on the side of the road. The vehicle was occupied, but Maughan said he didn’t realize it at the time.

ALEX SINK SAYS SHE’S WAITING ON DONATION REFUND FROM ERIC LYNN via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times – in May, Lynnjumped ship to the House District 68 race to succeed [DwightDudley, where he faces St. Petersburg lawyer Ben Diamond in the Aug. 30primary. And, as campaign finance law allows, he took his now $752,933 in contributions with him … former state Chief Financial Officer and 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sink sent two emails to Lynn June 20 and 26 asking for a refund. Three weeks later, she said she’s still waiting for a response. “I emailed Eric directly and then emailed his campaign and never had a response, and I’m very irritated about it,” Sink told the Tampa Bay Times … During an on-the-record interview … Lynn said he “can count on one hand the number of people who asked for their contributions back, and we sent them back.” According to campaign finance records, Sink donated $250 to Lynn’s Congressional race April 23, 2015. She said she wants a refund because when it comes to the House District 68 race, she is supporting Diamond, her former aide.

HD 61 CANDIDATE SEAN SHAW ON GUNS, WORKING WITH THE GOP, AND GETTING ‘THE TALK’ via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – An attorney with the Merlin Law Group, Shaw said at a fundraiser in Seminole Heights his campaign has knocked on over 3,500 doors and spoken to more than 1,500 people on the phone as he attempts to win the Aug. 30 primary, which will essentially decide the race in this overwhelmingly Democratic district. Speaking on a day when the death of 32-year-old Philandeo Castile … Shaw said he was hearing from citizens in the district about the killing of black men by the police, which led him to talk about the one time his own father — former Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw — talked to him about how to conduct himself around the police. “Where to keep your hands. How you make eye contact. What you reach for, what you don’t. Where you keep your wallet. That’s a conversation that I don’t think all of America understands that we have in our community, and that’s something that these types of incidents show why we have to have those (conversations),” Shaw said. “And we’re supposed to be past that. It’s 2016! I’m not supposed to wake up from a nap at 1 a.m. to hear that two black men have been killed under suspicious circumstances. We’re having vigils and prayers — let’s have some action” … Shaw knows sensible gun control isn’t at the top of the agenda of the GOP-controlled Legislature …  “You used the word sensible, which means reasonable, which means closing loopholes, which means people on the watch lists don’t get guns, which means it’s harder to get a gun when you’re on a watch list … Those seem to be reasonable approaches to closing loopholes, but apparently that’s too much even for Tallahassee. But as a Democrat, I’m committed to work for that, and that’s why I’m a Democrat. I’m also a lawyer, and I know what the Second Amendment says. I know what it means under the court of law, but I also know that it does not mean that I’m allowed to have an assault weapon … and be able to kill 50 people, shoot up to 100 people before the police have a chance to get there. This is absurd” … Shaw said while it may be impossible for Republicans and Democrats to come to terms on issues like guns or Medicaid expansion, there are other issues that should transcend partisan lines. “When I go up to Tallahassee, when I talk about economic development and bringing home dollars for vocational programs or expanding mentor programs or incentives for small businesses to grow in my district, those are things that we can work with Republicans on,” he said. “Just because I can’t work with them on those other issues doesn’t mean I’m not going to be talking about them, because my constituents aren’t sending me to Tally not to talk about the issues that need to be talked about.” Shaw said when he makes the rounds visiting with the people in HD 61, transportation is something often discussed, though specifics differ, depending on where he is in the district.


Rebecca Negron, running for the 19th Congressional District, has been endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List.

Ed Narain, running for Senate District 19, has been endorsed by Les Miller, chairman of the Hillsborough County Commission.

Doug Holder, running for Senate District 23, has been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business.

Greg Steube, running for Senate District 23, has been endorsed by the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange.

Sherri Treadwell, running for House District 11, has been endorsed by Atlantic Beach Mayor Mitch Reeves.

Chuck Clemmons, running for House District 21, has been endorsed by Ag. Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Jackie Toledo, running for House District 60, has been endorsed by the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association.

— Ken Keechl, running for House District 93, has gained the support from SEIU Florida.

— Manny Diaz, running for House District 103, has been endorsed by Roberto Martell, the mayor of the Town of Medley.

Francesca Menes, running for House District 108, has received the endorsement of the Florida Young Democrats.

NRA FUNDRAISING GROUP PLANS 22 EVENTS ACROSS FLORIDA via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Friends of the NRA, the grassroots fundraising group for the NRA, will host events all over the state until the end of September. The events will be banquets aimed at joining Second Amendment supporters for an “an evening of food, fellowship, and fundraising for the shooting sports.” The first event will be held in Inverness, with the group ultimately winding its way back south to end in West Palm Beach at the end of September. Friends of NRA events usually include a dinner, games and raffles. Guest speakers are often present at events as well. According to an NRA press release, from funds raised at Friends of NRA events are equally divided between local and national projects. Local monies are distributed by State Fund Committees based on grant applications while The NRA Foundation funds projects on a national scope.

***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.***

FIRST ON FLORIDAPOLITICS.COM — MARIA SACHS “CATEGORICALLY DENIES” SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIMS, SAYS IT’S AN ATTEMPT TO STOP HER FROM PURSUING INVESTIGATION INTO AIDE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Sachs said … there is no truth to a complaint filed by Matthew Damsky, a former aide, with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In the complaint … Damsky claimed Sachs undressed in front of him on multiple occasions. Sachs said that never happened, and said she has “categorically denied” every one of his allegations. She went on to say she believes the complaint is an attempt to stop her from pursuing a criminal investigation into the unauthorized use of her personal credit card. “My belief is that, based on the late date that he filed the EEOC complaint and based on the ludicrous … the ridiculous allegations in the complaint, this was an attempt by him to get me to settle, and to bully me or to frighten me into trying to make me not want to pursue prosecution,” said Sachs. “I have always … been adamant that I will not be bullied into trying to excuse any prosecution or to minimize the process that had already been put into place” … she confronted Damsky in January 2016 after her American Express bill was flagged by another staff member in her legislative office. She said she was shocked by the number of charges and said Damsky was the only person who had the authority and opportunity to use the card. She said she spoke to him with her Chief of Staff present, and asked Damsky to designate which of the charges were his. She then asked him to sign a statement saying he did not have the authority to make the accusations. Sachs provided with an affidavit outlining the purchases and signed by Damsky Jan. 21 … According to that document, Damsky made more than $50,000 worth of unauthorized purchases using her American Express Platinum card between Aug. 27, 2015, and Oct. 10, 2015. Those purchases included a dozen airline tickets on Delta Air Lines. Sachs said she sent him back to Palm Beach County that same day, and alerted the Senate’s General Counsel of what she learned. She said she wanted to make sure there weren’t any problems with reports being filed with the state.

FLORIDA SETS ANOTHER RECORD HIGH WITH 13 NEW CASES OF ZIKA VIRUS via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Florida set another Zika virus record Monday — with 13 new cases, including one in Palm Beach County. Florida now has 276 cases of the mosquito-borne virus, all travel-related, including 43 cases involving pregnant women. Palm Beach County has reported 13 cases of the virus as of Monday. Congress started its final week before beginning summer recess, with no signs of a deal looming on funding to fight the Zika outbreak. New York and Florida are leading the continental U.S. in incidents of the virus.

ENDANGERED BIRD FLAP TRACED TO FEBRUARY MEETING, ALLEGED ARREST THREAT via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO – A dispute now between federal wildlife officials and South Florida water managers may be less about an endangered bird than about some ruffled feathers … Marco Rubio and Peter Antonacci, executive director of the South Florida Water Management District … blasted the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its recommendation that the district restore water levels in the Kissimmee River and discuss options to avoid harming endangered snail kites nesting there. The district was holding back water in lakes upstream along the Kissimmee River to reduce discharges from Lake Okeechobee that are blamed for algae fouling coastal waterways. But apparently the dispute traces back to a February meeting during which Antonacci says a federal agency supervisor threatened district officials with arrest under the federal Endangered Species Act. “In fact, the USFWS has even threatened the district with legal action,” Antonacci wrote in a letter to Rubio and U. S. Sen. Bill Nelson. “Their message seems to be: If you continue to provide relief for coastal residents and businesses then we will see you in court.” Rubio weighed in with a press release and a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe, calling the recommendation by the federal agency “beyond comprehension, and an example of the federal bureaucracy run amok.”

FIRST IN SUNBURN — AFP-FL ANNOUNCES NEW ENDORSERS TO “FIVE FOR FLORIDA” PLAN — More than 70 House and Senate candidates have endorsed American for Prosperity-Florida’s Five for Florida plan. The program outlines how lawmakers can focus their efforts to deliver the sort of “regulatory, tax, and free-market atmosphere that can propel the sunshine state to lead the nation,” said AFP-FL state director Chris Hudson in a statement. “We want to make Florida the most prosperous state in the country for families and businesses.” The five steps for reform are making taxes fair and end political favoritism; don’t make financial promises taxpayers can’t keep; be stewards of good, transparent government; empower students with the best education; and free entrepreneurs to  pursue the American Dream.

JEFF BRANDES BLASTS PTC OVER PROPOSED RIDESHARE FINE HIKE via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times – A PTC rules committee voted 3-0 last week in support of higher fines for both drivers and rideshare firms. If approved by the full board, it would raise the fine for a driver from $700 to $900. Rideshare firms also would be harder hit: The fine for allowing the operation of a vehicle without a permit would double from $200 to $400. Brandes, who believes rideshare firms provide an innovative boost to the area’s transportation options, said today he intends to file legislation to “prohibit the actions of groups like the PTC who stand in the way of innovation in our state … The Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission continues to bury their collective heads in the sand, ignoring the outcry of support from their constituents who support rideshare services like Uber and Lyft,” he said in a statement. “The PTC is standing in the way of services which have been proven to reduce DUIs and make our roads safer. The Public Transportation Commission is the very definition of crony capitalism, and we cannot allow this blatant corruption to continue.”

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA  As America continues to mourn after a week of violence, Sen. Rubio calls on President Obama, other public officials, including himself, to take a look in the mirror to re-examine their public discourse. On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, a look at efforts to calm the country dealing with grief and anger following the fatal shooting of five police officers while protests over how police use deadly force continues. Gomes also discusses U.S. Rep. Brown’s indictment in a conspiracy and fraud scheme involving a fraudulent education charity. Plus, Senate President Andy Gardiner talks with Gomes about his successes in fighting for programs that support people with disabilities and other highlights from being in charge of the Senate.

DOUBLETREE TO GET NEW TOPPER via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat – Fresh off a $8 million makeover, the downtown DoubleTree by Hilton is already primed to get a brand-new cap — a prefab pop-up that promises to radically alter Tallahassee’s skyline. Once finished, the stark white box will appear to float over the downtown landmark on South Adams Street. With a patio that cantilevers out from the building, it will look more like a superhero industrialist’s lair than a swanky hotel. A lime-green box along the exterior will house an elevator to take patrons from the 16th to the 17th floor. The 7,500-square-foot addition will house a restaurant and lounge and an outdoor patio looking over downtown. “If you’re impressed by the view at Level 8 at the Hotel Duval, this will be an even more impressive way to gaze over the city while you enjoy company and a beverage,” said M. Hays Layerd, senior designer for the project and creative director at the architects, Lewis & Whitlock.

LEGO VERSION OF CINDERELLA CASTLE COMING via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel – Disney fans soon will be able to build their own version of Cinderella Castle thanks to a new Lego kit that will become available Sept. 1. The Disney Castle set includes more than 4,000 Lego pieces, including five minifigures. Rooms of the 29-inch tall structure are inspired by Disney films. For instance, one area includes a golden mirror, red apple and glass vase elements. Another has a chest with book of spells plus mop and bucket elements, Lego says. The exterior includes a detailed facade with stone bridge, clock, arched entrance, balconies, towers and a four-story main building with a five-story, golden-spire main tower. Part of the roof can be removed to uncover a glass slipper and fairy-tale book. Included minifigures are Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Tinker Bell. The set will retail for $349.99 and will be available directly from Lego.

UNIVERSAL ORLANDO OPENING FIFTH HOTEL, TARGETING CONVENTIONS via The Associated Press – Tropical-themed Sapphire Falls Resort [opens] with 1,000 rooms. It will have 115,000 square feet of space for meetings and events and a covered walkway to another hotel’s conference area … Universal now advertises almost 300,000 square feet of meeting space throughout its Orlando hotels … “The average conventioneer spends three or four times as much as the average leisure tourist,” said Abraham Pizam, dean of the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. “Why wouldn’t a hotelier go into the convention business? If you do have the space and are willing to invest in and create convention facilities, you would want to do that.” The area around the Orange County Convention Center needs more hotel rooms than meeting space, said the facility’s executive director, Kathie Canning. Sapphire Falls is a couple of miles from the county’s 2 million-square-foot convention center. They may compete for smaller events, but the two facilities will complement each other, and the county expects to add Sapphire Falls to the list of hotels it works with to book rooms for larger events, Canning said. Orange County Convention Center Executive Director Kathie Canning says the county’s 2 million-square-foot convention facility expects to add Sapphire Falls to the list of hotels it works with to book rooms for larger events.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Rep. Cynthia Stafford. Celebrating today is former Attorney General Bill McCollum.

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.

Latest from Peter

Go to Top