Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Lloyd Dunkelberger and Jim Rosica.
DONALD TRUMP’S DISASTROUS DAY ONE via Shane Goldmacher, Ben Schreckinger and Katie Glueck of POLITICO – Trump’s supporters painted a dark and dystopian portrait of an America in decline on Monday, as a parade of people spoke about a country slipping from their grasp, cops getting gunned down in the streets, and their family members slain by illegal immigrants.
But a self-inflicted scheduling blunder — the Trump campaign put the evening’s headliner, Melania Trump, well before the prime-time hour ended — had the networks turning away before the precious hour of free TV had been used up. Worse, her speech bore a striking resemblance to a Michelle Obama speech from 2008.
People inside the hall streamed for the exits as Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn droned on, and NBC wrapped up its hour, after some banter between its anchors, with a shot of a shockingly empty arena.
It was a rough end to a day that began with Trump’s campaign feuding with the popular Republican governor of Ohio, and in between featured shouting and jostling on the convention floor as the party tried to stomp out the last embers of the Never Trump campaign. All day, cable chyrons spoke of disunity and chaos.
On stage, there was a red-meat buffet of raw emotion for an angry Republican electorate, with little talk of ideology or policy. Indeed, there were more mentions of fallen American soldiers than conservatism.
But there were even fewer signs of outreach across the aisle or to independents. For most of the night, the convention lineup felt and sounded more like a tea party rally on the statehouse steps — with little-known speakers delivering hardliner speeches — than a traditional national convention.
MELANIA TRUMP’S SPEECH SIMILAR TO MICHELLE OBAMA IN 2008 via The New York Times – Melania Trump earned praise for her speech on Monday at the opening night of the Republican National Convention, but her remarks almost immediately came under scrutiny when striking similarities were discovered between her speech and one delivered by Michelle Obama at the Democratic convention in 2008. The phrases in question came when Ms. Trump — who told NBC News earlier on Monday that she had written her speech herself — was discussing her upbringing in Slovenia and her parents.
Trump, Monday night:
“From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”
Obama, in her 2008 speech:
“Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”
“I was born in Slovenia, a small, beautiful and then-Communist country in Central Europe. My sister, Ines, who is an incredible woman and a friend, and I were raised by my wonderful parents. My elegant and hard-working mother, Amalija, introduced me to fashion and beauty. My father, Viktor, instilled in me a passion for business and travel. Their integrity, compassion and intelligence reflects to this day on me and for my love of family and America.”
— @EWErickson: It’s not just that they plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech; they plagiarize the section on honesty, character, and integrity.
— @MarcACaputo: If you say your word is your bond, make sure you’re not cribbing someone else’s words
A SCREWY DAY ONE via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Here’s how screwy the opening day of the Republican National Convention looked Monday … The only elected federal official from South Florida willing to show up in Ohio and talk about Donald Trump was U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the Democratic National Committee … Hundreds of Florida activists gathered for a delegation breakfast where Trump’s name was barely uttered, and the keynote speaker declared Hillary Clinton would be the next president if the vote were today. … The self-declared king of ratings promised a glitzy, celebrity-packed convention — and for opening night, Trump snagged actor Scott Baio, whose last big show, Charles in Charge, went off the air in 1990. … The 2016 Republican National Convention is shaping up as the most unconventional convention in modern history, befitting the most unconventional nominee. What it’s not looking like is a showcase for a GOP uniting behind its nominee.
THE BIGGEST WINNER OF DAY ONE WAS TRUMP’S AMAZING ENTRANCE:
— @: ‘we are the champions of the world and we are going to restore…by entering as a bi-sexual Englishman’
— @JohnGHendy: Trump’s entrance was good but it was no MJ super bowl ’93
— @WesleyLowery: Trump came out the gate like he was about to announce he’s challenging Stone Cold to a heavyweight title bout at Wrestlemania
LOOKING AT DAY ONE OF THE GOP CONVENTION THROUGH A MEDIA LENS
It’s a far different experience watching an hour of coverage on the ABC, CBS or NBC broadcast networks or the almost unlimited amount of time on the cable networks or PBS.
Melania Trump‘s speech about her husband was the centerpiece of the 10 p.m. hour when the broadcasters were on the air, and it consumed much of their attention. Donald Trump made a brief appearance to introduce her, striding onstage to the tune of Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” ABC teased his appearance as if it was a reality show.
Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was speaking as the broadcasters began their coverage, and they treated his appearance almost as an inconvenience. The networks’ own people needed airtime, and there were other things to talk about: NBC showed tape of Matt Lauer boarding Trump’s plane to interview the prospective first couple.
Meanwhile, the cable networks thoroughly covered Giuliani, as he delivered a ringing attack on President Barack Obama and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Regrets – MSNBC’s Chris Hayes took to Twitter to second-guess himself for not being more forceful questioning Iowa Rep. Steve King’s comment, in a panel discussion, questioning whether any other “sub-group” contributed more to civilization than whites. Hayes said he found the notion of debating who contributed more to civilization odious, “but I hear people who think I made the wrong call in the moment. Maybe I did.”
Chryon time – Whoever wrote the chyrons — those printed words that run on the bottom of the screen — at CNN had fun when reality star Antonio Sabato Jr. spoke. The printed messages informed viewers that Sabato had a reality show “in which women competed to be his girlfriend.” Another mentioned that Sabato’s Calvin Klein billboard hung across from the Trump Tower in the 1990s. “Soap star: I’m concerned about our country’s future,” read another.
Push back – Patricia Smith, whose son died in the Benghazi, Libya, attack, said she blamed Clinton, the former secretary of state, for his death and ended an emotional speech by suggesting Clinton should be in jail. Afterward, CNN and MSNBC pushed back. CNN’s Jake Tapper quoted Clinton when she had earlier contested some of Smith’s assertions. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said that “It’s wrong to have somebody get up there and tell a lie about Hillary Clinton.”
Floor fight- The fight by anti-Trump delegates to force a prolonged debate over convention rules was a throwback to a time when the midsummer party meetings were television shows with unpredictability, genuine conflict and old-fashioned displays of political muscle.
On Fox News, the commotion interrupted a discussion between anchor Stuart Varney and media watchdog Brent Bozell, who agreed the media would portray the convention as a series of confrontations that would reflect ill on Trump. Varney probably didn’t expect trouble to erupt so soon on his own network.
Alerted something was up on the convention floor, Varney threw to reporter James Rosen. “Stuart, it’s remarkable,” Rosen said. “It’s the type of scene you just don’t see in modern political conventions … Right now, the floor of the Republican National Convention is in a state approaching bedlam.” Fox analyst Julie Roginsky said that after years of watching stage-managed conventions, it seemed surreal.
Varney found a bright side. “It’s given a life that we have not seen at a convention in many, many years,” he said. “It’s also entertaining. People will watch this.”
MSNBC interviewed a delegate who complained of being intimidated by “brown shirts.” CNN’s Dana Bash offered swift, solid reporting on how the Trump forces quelled the uprising with a show of force. “It has actually almost been physical arm-twisting,” she said.
The best thing for the Trump campaign was that this happened in the afternoon — away from the eyes of prime-time viewers. The event seemed distant when discussed later at night.
STEPHEN COLBERT CRASHES RNC STAGE FOR ‘HUNGER GAMES’ PRANK via The Associated Press – A video posted online shows “Late Show” host Colbert taking over the microphone onstage in Cleveland in a “Hunger Games” themed prank at the site of the Republican National Convention … The video shows Colbert behind the podium saying it’s his honor “to hereby launch and begin the 2016 Republican hungry for power games” and banging a gavel. A man who appears to be security then confronts Colbert, who says “I know I’m not supposed to be up here, but let’s be honest, neither is Donald Trump” before being led off stage. Colbert dressed like “Hunger Games” emcee Caesar Flickerman for the spoof, complete with a blue wig. He’s worn the same getup on his show in a recurring bit about the presidential campaign.
MIAMI BILLIONAIRE MIKE FERNANDEZ TRIES TO PUBLISH ANTI-DONALD TRUMP AD IN CLEVELAND via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Imagine delegates to the Republican National Convention opening the local newspaper and finding an image of a stylized scorpion — wearing a signature red hat with white lettering. The hat reads: “The Donald.” That’s how … Fernandez wanted to portray his political party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Trump, in the GOP convention’s host city, Cleveland. But he won’t get a chance to — not in Cleveland, at least. The Plain Dealer newspaper asked Fernandez to remove Trump’s name from the ad copy for publication. They wanted Fernandez to call Trump “the nominee” or “the candidate” — and to do away with the red hat. Fernandez … has made a habit of publishing anti-Trump ads in newspapers across the country, said no. “I cannot believe that it was rejected because they would not allow me to have the name Donald Trump in the ad itself,” Fernandez told the Miami Herald in an email. “But where there is a will there is a way. I will be placing in every search engine within 20 miles of the convention center the pop up directing people to the ad that the Cleveland newspaper did not want them to see.”
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POLLSTER FRANK LUNTZ: DONALD TRUMP LOSING TO HILLARY CLINTON IN FLORIDA via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Pollster and political consultant Luntz told Florida delegates morning that Clinton is beating Trump in the Sunshine State, the Palm Beach Post reported. Speaking at a breakfast at a suburban Cleveland hotel before the start of the Republican National Convention, told the newspaper that “If the election were held today, Hillary Clinton wins” and said Florida can determine the winner of the presidential race.
USUALLY ELOQUENT RICHARD CORCORAN LESS THAN ELOQUENT ON DONALD TRUMP via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – To describe his attitude toward Trump now that he’s about to get the GOP’s presidential nomination, and Corcoran hesitates and smiles wryly. “I don’t — I don’t –” stammers Corcoran, who first backed Jeb Bush, then Marco Rubio, then Ted Cruz. “Um.” He finally settles on a word: “Encouraged.” Encouraged, above all, by Trump’s vice-presidential pick of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. “It sends a strong message to the conservative base that this could be good,” Corcoran told reporters Monday after the Florida delegation’s breakfast. (An unscientific survey of Florida’s 98 other delegates showed overall strong support for Trump). But is Trump himself conservative? Corcoran responds with a side-eye. “It’s certainly — there’s never — I’m –” he begins, undoubtedly trying to sound diplomatic. “I would argue that there’s never been…there’s never been a candidate you agree with 100 percent of the time. I’m not sure at times it exists in my own legislative chamber.”
HAPPENING TODAY — BEN CARSON SPEAKS TO FLORIDA DELEGATION — Former Republican presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson is scheduled to speak to the Florida delegation during Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam‘s Florida Grown Breakfast at 9 a.m. From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., the delegation is invited to attend the Southern States Game Day Tailgate at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. The convention starts at 5:30 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena. After the daily business, Florida delegates are invited to the Red, White, and Brew Reception with the Arizona delegation at 10 p.m. That event is hosted by House Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran and the Florida GOP and will be held at Nano Brew Cleveland.
TODAY’S LIST OF SPEAKERS: Dana White, of the Ultimate Fighting Championship; former attorney general Michael Mukasey; Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson; pro golfer Natalie Gulbis; Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; House Speaker Paul Ryan; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Tiffany Trump; Dr. Ben Carson. The theme? “Make America Work Again.”
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION BINGO — Not interested in the speakers at the GOP convention? “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” has you covered:
TRUMP NAMES NEW FLORIDA CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – “Jennifer Locetta has been promoted to Florida State Director after serving as the Deputy State Director. She will oversee day-to-day campaign operations in Florida through the general election. Jennifer has an extensive background in campaign management, data organization and grassroots voter outreach. In 2012, Jennifer served as Statewide Data Director for the Republican Party of Florida.” Karen Giorno had been Florida campaign director, but was promoted to national campaign adviser.
MEANWHILE … HILLARY CLINTON TO CAMPAIGN IN FLORIDA ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Friday she will be in Orlando, then Tampa for a rally at Florida State Fairgrounds. Saturday she will be in South Florida. “In Tampa and South Florida, Clinton will discuss her commitment to building an economy that works for all, not just those at the top,” the campaign said. Clinton could announce her running mate as early as Friday.
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FLORIDA GOP GETS $170K FROM REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE IN JUNE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The transfer marks the latest in a series meant to help gear up for the presidential election. The state party has received about $1.3 million from the Republican National Committee since January 2015. The money was transferred to the state’s federal account, and can be used for mailers, get-out-the-vote efforts and other campaign materials … A recent Quinnipiac poll showed Donald Trump led Hillary Clinton 42 percent to 39 percent in Florida. The poll marked a shift from a similar survey a month ago that had Clinton up by eight percentage points.
FLORIDA SENATE RACE ATTRACTS $26M IN TV AD SPENDING FROM PARTIES, OUTSIDE GROUPS via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – So far, more than $26 million has been spent on television ads, an amount that will no doubt grow as more groups join the fray and campaigns begin executing general election media strategies. The winner could tip the balance of control of the Senate. Though some television stations have already seen millions of ad-buy dollars, a vast majority of the ads have yet to air in the state’s 10 media markets. Some groups and candidates have started running ads, but most of the spending represents air time reserved for future commercials. When Marco Rubio announced last month he was seeking re-election, national groups eager to help Republicans keep U.S. Senate control immediately announced they were gobbling up TV time to run ads supporting him. Yet it is the national groups supporting U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, the candidate backed by much of the Democratic establishment, who so far are spending the most money on TV ads. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has reserved $8.3 million in general election air time for ads running the week of Sept. 20 through Election Day Nov. 8. Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC tied to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, has reserved $7.3 million in TV time to run in two waves. Overall, the amount Democratic candidates and outside groups will have spent through November will be $17 million, including almost $300,000 in TV ads promoting [Alan] Grayson. On the Republican side, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which supports Rubio, has already rolled out a nearly $1.3 million ad campaign running through the end of July. That ad uses scathing media reports to go after Murphy for padded his resume and exaggerating his work experience. While the ad dollars are flowing all over Florida, the lion’s share is targeting the long coveted Tampa and Orlando media markets, a 19 county region collectively referred to as the I-4 corridor. It’s home to roughly 5.5 million voters, nearly 30 percent of whom are considered swing voters because they are not tied to either major party. About $2.5 million in ads is slated for the Miami market; $1.5 million in the Pensacola area; $1.2 million in West Palm Beach; $1 million in Jacksonville; $365,738 in Fort Myers; $244,294 in Panama City; $46,424 in Tallahassee; and $2,383 in Gainesville.
HEAVY TV AD SPENDING IN CROWDED FIGHT FOR PATRICK MURPHY’S HOUSE SEAT via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – Overall, the top two spenders on TV ads are physician Mark Freeman, who is running in a crowded field of Republicans, and self-made multimillionaire Randy Perkins, who is favored by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a three-person field. They are all vying to represent Florida’s 18th Congressional District … Freeman, who contributed more than $1.2 million of his own money to his campaign, is currently outspending Rebecca Negron, wife of incoming Florida Senate President Joe Negron. Freeman has spent more than $680,000 on television ads so far, with more than $250,000 in ads still set to run on broadcast TV in the West Palm Beach area, according to data from The Tracking Firm, an agency that monitors political advertising spending. Meanwhile, Negron, has dropped more than $370,000 on broadcast and cable ads. But the bulk of her ads have yet to air, including about $250,000 in broadcast TV ads and nearly $90,000 in cable ads scheduled through the end of the primary. Other Republicans in the race have spent comparatively little on TV ads. Perkins – a self-funder who now eschews fundraising after raising $2.7 million last year – has spent the most on ads after Freeman, with more than $450,000 spent so far. Perkins has about $75,000 in ads scheduled through the end of the week, but nothing else through the end of the primary.
FEDS SEEK ORDER RESTRICTING RELEASE OF DISCOVERY MATERIAL IN CORRINE BROWN CASE via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union – Federal prosecutors asked Monday for a court order limiting how U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown’s attorneys use material the government releases to them before her trial on fraud charges. Brown’s attorneys have opposed the idea, saying she should be able to share material that undercuts prosecutors’ claims before the Aug. 30 Democratic primary. “If we were to receive exculpatory information in the process of discovery, Brown would be hamstrung from disclosing exonerating evidence,” defense attorney Jesse Wilkison told prosecutors in a letter Friday. That letter was attached to a motion prosecutors filed Monday asking for an order limiting discovery material “solely for the preparation, trial, direct appeal … and collateral attack” on prosecutors’ case. The request was sent to U.S. Magistrate James Klindt, who didn’t immediately rule on the request. Prosecutors asked for a ruling by Friday.
SPOTTED at a packed house fundraiser for Charlie Crist at Cassis American Brasserie: Rick Kriseman, Dick Greco, Darryl Rouson, Frank Peterman, Jeff Adams, Christina and Ben Diamond, Jessica Ehrlich, Mark Ferrulo, Susan Glickman, Jimmie Giles (yes, that Jimmie Giles!), Susan McGrath, Sarah Lind Ribeiro, Jennifer Rubiello.
IN FIRST TV AD, ANNETTE TADDEO CAMPAIGNS AGAINST … TRUMP via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – In her first congressional TV ad, Taddeo introduces herself to voters — while also name-dropping Trump as a chief foe. She makes no mention of her primary rival, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, or of incumbent Republican Rep.Carlos Curbelo. (Curbelo, for the record, said he won’t vote for Trump.) “I’m running for Congress, and she’s the reason why,” Taddeo says in the spot, standing next to her daughter, Sofia.
DANA YOUNG ADDS ANOTHER $25K IN SD 18 RACE, NOW AT NEARLY $395K via Florida Politics – Young brought in the money though 47 contributions, including a pair of $1,000 checks from South Florida attorney John Hoffman and his law firm as well as max contributions from pari-mutuel companies Isle of Capri Casinos and PPI. Young also spent $19,715 last month, mostly on consulting. Among the expenditures were $5,000 for Tallahassee-based Prosequence, $4,500 to Sydney Ridley and $3,800 to Trent Phillips, all for consulting work. The House Majority Leader’s main competition is Democrat Bob Buesing, who raised $15,176 and spent $10,423 during the reporting period. The Tampa attorney’s donor roll included three $1,000 checks and an additional $13,895 in in-kind support from the Florida Democratic Party. The report shows Buesing with a little more than $118,000 on hand.
BETTER FLORIDA FUND DROPS SECOND AD TAKING AIM AT MATT HUDSON via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – In a new advertisement, the committee is once again using a baseball theme to take a swipe at Hudson … It marks second advertisement the committee, which is affiliated with the Florida Medical Association, released in the Senate District 28 race. The ad links Hudson to President Barack Obama and Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor who is now a well-known Democrat. “We’re organizing a baseball team. Let’s look at our players’ names: Who’s on first; Obama’s on second, Crist’s on third, and Matt Hudson is in left field,” an announcer says in the 60-second spot, as sounds of a baseball stadium can be heard in the background. “Quite the liberal team, old Matt Hudson joined.” The announcer continues by saying Hudson was “with Charlie Crist in raising taxes” and “with Obama on cap and trade.”
MIGUEL DIAZ DE LA PORTILLA PASSES $500K RAISED FOR SD 37 RACE via Florida Politics – … now holds a more than 3-to-1 advantage over Miami Democratic Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez in the Senate District 37 race. Diaz de la Portilla’s $84,625 haul came in across 111 contributions and was offset by just $3,794 in expenditures for an on-hand total of about $466,000. The second-term senator also has more than $216,000 in his political committee, “Foundation for Conservative Values,” though the PAC has not posted any new contributions since the reporting period covering June 1 through June 24. More than half of Diaz de la Portilla’s contributions were for the maximum donation of $1,000, though very few came from within the newly redrawn District 37. The bulk of the money came from attorneys and law firms listing addresses in Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville. Rodriguez, the only Democrat in the race, raised $5,010 and spent just $450 during the two-week period for an on-hand total of about $195,000 July 8.
IN SD 40 RACE, FRANK ARTILES ADDS ANOTHER $17K TO CAMPAIGN WARCHEST via Florida Politics – Artiles’ haul came in across 22 contributions and included $1,000 checks from lobbying firm Southern Strategy Group and “Florida Grown,” the political committee headed up by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Though Artiles easily bested his five opponents in fundraising, he spent more than $37,000 during the two-week reporting period, including a $12,370 payment to Vision Concepts Ink for a mailer campaign. After expenses, Artiles had about $251,000 on hand in his campaign account July 8, with another $97,000 on hand in his political committee, “Veterans for Conservative Principles.” The total puts him far ahead of most of his competition, except first-time Democratic candidate Andrew Korge. The Miami businessman only raised $210 for his campaign account and spent $64,000, but strong fundraising earlier in his campaign left his campaign account with more than $122,000 on hand, while his committee, “Friends of Andrew Korge,” has more than $348,000 in the bank.
SPECIAL REPORT: PUTTING BIG SUGAR’S CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS IN MUCH-NEEDED CONTEXT via Peter Schorsch
Last week, the Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas reported Florida’s sugar industry has spent a “whopping” $57.8 million over the last 22 years on political campaign contributions.
This number sounds huge. But to those actively involved in Florida’s political process, the number is not so whopping when you’re plying your trade as a health care, theme park/entertainment, utilities or telecommunications industry lobbyist.
Here’s why: while Florida sugar companies have contributed significantly, their contributions are right in line or below what other companies have contributed to state lawmakers in recent years.
The Times/Herald’s reporting attempts to cast sugar companies in an unfavorable light, but politically speaking, they are just like everyone else.
Take U.S. Sugar, for example.
Based on the Miami Herald’s math, over the span of 22 years, U.S. Sugar’s political contributions averaged approximately $1.5 million per year. When you subtract dollars spent in years involving a constitutional amendment related to their industry, that average is significantly lower.
For comparison, here is an example of corporate political contributions in the most recent presidential and midterm election years:
2012 (presidential election year)
— Disney: $3.8 million
— Florida Power & Light: $2.6 million
— U.S. Sugar: $2.4 million
— HCA: $2 million
— Publix: $1.2 million
— AT&T: $1.2 million
— Seminole Tribe of Florida: $1 million
— The GEO Group: $1 million
2014 (gubernatorial election year)
— Florida Power & Light: $7.6 million
— Disney: $4.9 million
— U.S. Sugar: $3 million
— HCA: $2.4 million
— Publix: $2.8 million
— AT&T: $1 million
— Seminole Tribe of Florida: $2.4 million
— The GEO Group: $1.5 million
With these political contributions in mind, think about what has transpired on the Fourth Floor of the Capitol over the last several legislative sessions. When was the last time the entire health care industry has lost big? Does anyone recall a scenario where the lobbying corps for Disney and Universal have been shown the door? Or has anyone heard about the waning power of utilities?
Sure, some may not get the exact bill or budget request they wanted, but there’s simply no example of one of these industries completely taking it on the chin year after year. It simply doesn’t happen, because all of these industries pay for the smartest and best lobbyists to help them navigate Florida’s crowded, and at times confusing, political process.
The Times/Herald’s reporting is at its best when it is reporting on real scandals like corruption and criminal activity in the process. But there’s nothing scandalous about the ho-hum story of Florida-based agricultural companies showing consistent support for state legislators.
LANGE SYKES RELEASES FIRST AD IN HD 54 RACE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – “We have a wonderful quality of life here on the Treasure Coast, but I am deeply concerned about several issues that threaten it,” said Sykes … “I’m the only candidate in this race that understands both the problems with the Indian River Lagoon and the solutions that will save it, and I am ready to fight for them. And there’s no doubt that we’ve got to protect our economy from illegal immigration and the expansion of Obamacare.” In the 30-second spot, called “Conservative,” Sykes talks about his love of the Treasure Coast and says he is “concerned about our future … Obama’s liberal policies have cost too much money and threaten our national security. That’s got to stop,” he says in the advertisement. “I’ll fight wasteful spending and the expansion of Obamacare. And I’ll work to defend sanctuary cities for illegal aliens. Conservatives have the answers. Together, we must lead.”
ERIC LYNN GOES UP WITH FIRST TV AD IN HD 68 RACE IN PINELLAS COUNTY via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The ad begins with Lynn taking a stroll with his wife, kids and dog, and then places him in front of the Vinoy Hotel. A photo with … Obama also makes an appearance. Lynn began working for then Senator Obama in 2006, and then went to work in his Defense Dept. after Obama became president in January 2009. Lynn stepped down from the DOD in 2015. Lynn certainly has the funds to air an ad all the way through early voting and until Election Day. New fundraising totals show that he has raised over $75,000 in his campaign account, and maintains more than $300,000 in his political committee, the Pinellas County Voters Fund. Diamond has raised more than $159,000.
Francis Rooney, running for Florida’s 19th Congressional District, has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton.
Dennis Baxley, running for Senate District 12, has been endorsed by Lake County Property Appraiser Carey Baker.
Cord Byrd, running for House District 11, has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.
Lisa Montelione, running for House District 63, has been endorsed by state Sen. Arthenia Joyner.
C.J. Czar, running for House District 70, has been endorsed by Rev. Manuel Sykes.
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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Marco Rubio will hold media availability at noon at the Foreign Accents Furniture and Decor, 2301 S. Orange Ave. in Orlando. He is scheduled to meet with business owners that suffered significant losses because of mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub. Media interested in attending should RSVP with Kristen_Morrell@rubio.senate.
— PLAGUE BEAT —
OFFICIALS GIVE MARCO RUBIO AN EARFUL ON REGION’S WATER WOES via Amy Bennett Williams of news-press.com – Rubio was in town as part of a multicity tour to meet with officials about water issues, including how flows from Lake Okeechobee are affecting the Caloosahatchee and its estuary. His visit came on the heels of one by Sen. Bill Nelson last week for the same reason: to discuss water problems and possible solutions. “It is absolutely affecting our economy,” said Cape Coral Mayor Marni Retzer. “We have algae blooms throughout our canals and we have now closed our best-loved beach.” A grim-faced Bud Nocera told Rubio, “Fort Myers Beach (is) in a recession. … Businesses are down anywhere from 25 to 40 percent. People are getting laid off. Businesses are closing,” said Nocera, the island village’s chamber of commerce president. “Right now, today, that beach should be full of German tourists. It’s not. And you guys need to understand how bad it really is.” Sanibel’s Mayor Kevin Ruane echoed that. “You need to understand the severity of the problem,” he said. “We’ve got 161 cities now affected.”
RUBIO DISAPPOINTED BY ‘POLITICIZATION OF ZIKA’ via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Rubio said he was disappointed a $1.1 billion Zika funding plan did not clear the Senate before summer recess, as the number of cases in Florida rose to more than 300 this week … “I voted for every Zika bill. Every one of them. I just want the money to flow so we can get ahead of this.” The U.S. Senate left for summer recess last week without passing a $1.1 billion bill to combat the Zika virus. The House-approved bill included a provision to block Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rick from receiving money to fight the virus. Democrats opposed the measure, saying Republicans were playing politics with Zika funding. Rubio [said] both sides need to come together to act on the issue. Funding, he said, would allow federal officials to provide “more money for mosquito control, more research to help us get a vaccine, and the ability to make commercially available a test … Today the only way to get tested for Zika is to send it to the state Department of Health, which means a lot of people who potentially have it aren’t being tested,” he said.
WHAT TAMPA BAY CAN TEACH FLORIDA IN ITS LAKE OKEECHOBEE CRISIS via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times – On Florida’s Treasure Coast, where the blooms have spilled out of the lake into waterways, local and state officials are scrambling for a solution to stop the advance of the guacamole-green goop and its sulfuric smell before it affects any more people and wildlife … Around Tampa Bay, the crisis is bringing back memories of the region’s own struggles with pollution and the catastrophe it nearly caused during the 1970s. News reports then from Tampa and St. Petersburg might be mistaken for today’s accounts from Martin County. Headlines decried the foul odors from the shoreline and the eradication of sea life. Tampa Bay was declared dead and many worried it would never recover. But it did. Seagrass coverage here, a key measure of water quality and clarity, last year surpassed 40,000 acres – levels not seen since the 1950s and nearly double the low point. Fish and other wildlife populations have rebounded, as anglers testify, and the stench of algae blooms is rare. Now, some hope Tampa Bay’s stunning reversal can serve as a blueprint for reeling Treasure Coast communities. Leaders from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program have met with officials from there who are eager for solutions. “It hasn’t been that long ago that we had a similar fate,” said Tom Ash, the assistant director of Water Management Division with the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission. “They’re dealing with a different kind of algae down there but the same driving forces were here in Tampa Bay.”
WATCHING ALGAE POLITICS? HERE IS A RACE TO WATCH. via Steve Schale – What happens when the river in your backyard looks like a guacamole plant upstream exploded — when your concern for the Everglades becomes something you are literally staring at every day, impacting your perception of quality of life, and potentially negatively impacting your property values? Well, we might have a test case: House District 83 — State Rep. Gayle Harrell versus Crystal Lucas … this is a race worth watching given the unique nature of the local dynamics. Harrell is a well-known commodity in her community and Tallahassee, seeking her final term in her second go around in Tallahassee. She’s served the St. Lucie and Martin County area for 14 of the last 16 years in Tallahassee. She’s made her career working on health care and children’s issues, and outside of that, has been a generally reliable Republican vote. Crystal Lucas … her bio — or her yard sign isn’t why I find this race interesting. No, what is interesting is she appears to be running for the legislature by turning her race into a referendum on environmental issues, and specifically the algae issue. Now, I understand solving the algae issue is hyper-complicated. But if you are an outsider in politics, running on an issue like this isn’t. While this is not a race on anyone’s spreadsheet, it isn’t completely uncompetitive either. Obama won it in 08; Romney narrowly carried the district in 2012, and Crist narrowly won it in 2014. Without a question, in 2018, this should be one of the most competitive open state House races in Florida. Typically, legislators in ‘swinish’ seats get a pass in their final term, given the odds of beating someone in their fourth (in this case, eighth) state House race are far lower than winning an open seat. And if the algae bloom had not occurred, I probably wouldn’t have given the race a second thought.
EARTHQUAKE OFF FLA. COAST ACTUALLY EXPERIMENTAL EXPLOSION BY U.S. NAVY via FCN – A reported 3.7-magnitutde earthquake was actually an ‘experimental explosion’ caused by the U.S. Navy, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The explosion was reported just over 100 miles from Daytona Beach off the Florida coast at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Geological Survey reports that 68 people felt the force of the blast. First Coast News has reached out to Naval Station Mayport but was referred to SURFLANT, the organization that oversees all surface ships off the coasts of the eastern United States.
ALAN GRAYSON: REPUBLICAN PLAN FOR ZIKA — “DON’T GET BIT” via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Grayson reprised a version of his famous line about the Republican health care plan being “Don’t get sick” — this time about the failed deal on federal funding to fight the Zika virus. Grayson noted that his home Orange County was once known as Mosquito County in Florida territorial days. “Republican leadership has decided to go on summer vacation for seven weeks without voting on the Zika funding bill,” Grayson said. “So while they’re back in their districts begging their constituents to let them keep their jobs, more American children will be born with microcephaly; more seniors with health complications will be at risk; more picnics will be overshadowed with the fear of an impending epidemic. “It is clear that the Republican plan for Zika is simple: Don’t get bit,” he concluded.
IN MEDICAL MYSTERY, CAREGIVER OF ZIKA PATIENT GETS VIRUS via Lindsay Whitehurst of The Associated Press – A person who cared for a Zika-infected relative in Utah also got the virus, but exactly how it was transmitted is a medical mystery … They didn’t have sexual contact, which is how the virus is typically spread between adults when there’s no mosquito bite or mother-to-child transmission. “The new case in Utah is a surprise, showing that we still have more to learn about Zika,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention medical epidemiologist Erin Staples said. The caregiver has fully recovered, but authorities did not give further details. The person cared for an elderly man who contracted the disease overseas where mosquitoes are known to spread Zika and who became the first Zika-infected person to die in the continental U.S. The caregiver did not travel to an affected area, but it’s possible that a mosquito came back with the relative, perhaps in a suitcase, CDC Director Tom Frieden said. The man who died in late June had an unusually high level of the virus in his blood, more than 100,000 times higher than other samples of infected people. Health workers are testing others who had contact with him, and officials are trapping mosquitoes in Utah to test them.
WOULD MEGA MILLIONS BE OFF LIMITS UNDER GAMBLING AMENDMENT? via James Rosica of Florida Politics – That’s the question being asked by opponents of the citizen initiative behind the Voter Control of Gambling amendment. Specifically, the amendment aims to give voters more control over the expansion of gambling in the state … In a brief filed last month, Dan Gelber—the lawyer for Voters in Charge, the committee behind the amendment—said in a footnote that “Florida law is clear … A self-executing constitutional amendment repeals all statutes that conflict with the amendment’s plain language, (which) would repeal any inconsistent statutes if passed … That said, the ballot summary need not—and, because of space limitations, cannot—explain each and every statute, state or local, that would be repealed.” The amendment would “ensure that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling,” the ballot summary says. It’s aiming to get on the 2018 statewide ballot. Such initiatives need 60 percent approval to be added to the constitution. Marc Dunbar, the lawyer representing gambling interests across the state, opined in his own brief what that would mean for Mega Millions, a multi-state lottery game. “Mega Millions drawings are conducted in Atlanta by officials with the Georgia Lottery,” Dunbar wrote. In comparison, Powerball numbers are drawn in Tallahassee by the Florida Lottery. “The authority for the Florida Lottery to participate in Mega Millions was derived not from the state constitution, but from the state Legislature” through a statute.
JOHN MIKLOS AT CENTER OF CONTROVERSY AGAIN via Dinah Voyles Pulver of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – A proposed wetland mitigation bank on 315 acres of land in a state aquatic preserve between the Intracoastal Waterway and the barrier island is raising the eyebrows and ire of nearby residents. Among many concerns, the residents fear losing access to the network of canals and waterways near their homes and harmful impacts from the proposed restoration of old mosquito ditches. They’re also concerned about the role of consultant John Miklos. They hope to convince the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — one of two agencies that would have to approve creation of the bank — to conduct a local public hearing … It could also be a moneymaker, with developers who destroy wetlands on their own projects buying credits on the restored wetlands. Residents have concerns about the consultant Johnson hired to handle the permitting, Orlando-based Bio-Tech Consulting Inc. Miklos, the firm’s president, has been under fire elsewhere over potential conflicts because he is chairman of the St. Johns River Water Management District. The district is the other agency that must approve and oversee wetland bank permits. In DeBary, Bio-Tech was hired to represent the city in efforts to secure permits to use 100 acres of district-owned conservation land to support a public/private development around the SunRail station. The subsequent controversy spawned a Florida Commission on Ethics complaint about Miklos’ role. The status of that complaint is unknown because the commission doesn’t comment on active complaints.
CISSY PROCTOR NAMED TO BOARD FOR THE ‘FLORIDA HOUSE’ via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – No, not the Florida House of Representatives, but the actual building that serves as Florida’s “embassy” in Washington, D.C. Proctor, executive director of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, was named to the board of trustees for Florida House, “the beautifully restored 1891 Victorian house” across the street from the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court. It “has welcomed visiting Floridians, students, dignitaries, elected officials and those doing business in the nation’s capital” since 1973, according to its website. “Florida House was purchased and is maintained solely by contributions for the citizens of Florida,” the site says. “No state or federal tax dollars are used in any way to support Florida House.”
PERSONNEL NOTE: JEFF RAINEY JOINS COLODNY FASS via Florida Politics – Rainey is a former financial analyst for the Office of Insurance Regulation. He’ll be working in the firm’s Tallahassee office. “Jeff’s highly specialized experience … is uniquely suited to the core insurance regulatory services of our firm,” said Wes Strickland, who chairs Colodny Fass’ Insurance Regulatory and Transactions Practice Group. Rainey will join Colodny Fass’ national insurance regulatory practice. It’s also home to former Florida Chief Financial Officer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher and former OIR Director of Property and Casualty Financial Oversight Claude Mueller. Rainey has been with OIR since 2006. His efforts to streamline and upgrade OIR technology earned him an Individual Certificate of Commendation in the 2011 Prudential Davis Productivity Awards Program.
BY ELIMINATING BUSINESS LICENSE TAX, TALLAHASSEE LAYS OUT WELCOME MAT FOR AIRBNB via Lloyd Dunkelberger of Florida Politics – Tallahassee’s decision to become the first Florida city to eliminate the business license tax will open up the state capital to more economic opportunities and help develop innovative companies, like Airbnb, Mayor Andrew Gillum said. Gillum and the city commission voted unanimously last week to eliminate the business license tax, which is paid by some 12,000 businesses and generates some $2 million a year, starting in October 2017. “Repealing our business tax makes Tallahassee one of the most business friendly cities in the state, and will encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of our citizens and neighborhoods to become economic drivers of their own,” Gillum said. “I believe this is a game-changing step toward a more dynamic future for our city, as it removes barriers for innovative companies like Airbnb that are using disruptive technologies to create new economic opportunities. We are proud to send the message that Tallahassee is now more than ever, open for business.” Representatives of Airbnb … Said elimination of the tax will allow more Tallahassee homeowners to participate in the home-sharing service, which included 170 Airbnb hosts in the city in 2015 handling 4,100 guests, which was a 260 percent increase over the prior year. The hosts typically earn about $1,900 a year with 16 shared nights, Airbnb said.
DUKE ENERGY CEO: BUYOUT FORESEES GREATER NATURAL GAS DEMAND via Emery Dalesio of the Associated Press – Duke Energy Corp.’s purchase of Piedmont Natural Gas Co. will create a company with the financial resources to expand the distribution of natural gas across the country as utilities shift further away from coal to the cleaner-burning fuel, the chief executive of the country’s largest electric company said Monday. Duke Energy is spending $5 billion for Piedmont Natural Gas to secure natural gas and control costs for its own power plants and to position for a national expansion in future gas demand, Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good told utilities regulators in North Carolina. “Natural gas will continue as an increasingly important part of the nation’s energy mix as the shift away from coal continues,” Good said. “The combined company will be well-positioned for a future that may require additional natural gas infrastructure and services.”
WE HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN ABOUT YOU, JIMMIE SMITH — SCHOOL BOARD TO PROBE ALLEGATIONS BY COMMISSION CANDIDATE via the Citrus County Chronicle – The Citrus County School District has launched an investigation into allegations from State Rep. Jimmie T. Smith of unsafe buildings and instances of grade tampering by school administrators. Smith, now a candidate for county commission, said he never made any allegations. He said he told a parent of allegations he had heard from others during his six years in the Legislature but had not passed on to the district because he didn’t know if they had merit. Assistant Superintendent Mike Mullen said the allegations are serious enough to warrant the probe, which will be conducted by Steve Baumer, the district’s coordinator of certification and professional standards and Teresa Royal, policy compliance officer. Mullen said he was made aware of Smith’s comments after the parent met with him … to discuss certain budgetary comments posted on the school district website regarding the proposed half-cent sales tax surcharge referendum that will be on the Aug. 30 primary ballot. The parent, whom Mullen would not identify because of the investigation, wanted clarification on the sales tax because Smith disputed the district’s findings.
SAYFIE SUMMIT SCHEDULED FOR NOVEMBER 17-18 via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The annual event is meant to bring together Florida’s top business, government, media, nonprofit, and academic leaders to discuss issues facing the state and nation. Historically invitation-only, this year marks the first time the summit will have a general admission program open to Sayfie Review readers, said Justin Sayfie, publisher of Sayfie Review, in an email. The traditional invitation-only program will begin at noon Nov. 17. The general admission program will begin at 5:30 p.m. that same day, with a cocktail reception for all invitees and attendees. It will continue Nov. 18. Registration opens on Sept. 15 for both the invitation-only program and the general admission program. Invitation-only participants will receive their invitation by Sept. 15.
ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA – As the Republican National Convention kicks off this week, another tragedy threatens to overshadow opening festivities after three officers were killed and others wounded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, a look at how terror attacks and domestic unrest will shape convention speeches, reactions to the official logo for the Trump-Pence presidential ticket and how party leaders including RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia is working to show a united front within the party despite ongoing tensions. Plus, Gomes looks ahead to next year’s formation of Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission with political analyst Susan MacManus. Senate President Andy Gardiner offers up one issue he thinks the commission should put on the ballot for voters to decide.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AT POLITICO via Luke Mullins of the Washingtonian – After months of behind-the-scenes drama, Washington’s most successful media partnership in a generation was busting apart. And all the players had to get their stories straight … POLITICO published [Jim] VandeHei’s statement at 7:27 p.m. “I caught the entrepreneurial bug a decade ago when we started this place and can’t seem to shake it,” he said. “I plan to start a new venture when I depart.” One minute later, his boss, POLITICO owner Robert Allbritton, put out his: “Watching these extraordinary professionals blossom as leaders, stretching their areas of expertise as their responsibilities grew, has been one of my great satisfactions at POLITICO.” … The relationship ultimately deteriorated during a series of events that has not been reported until now. Late last summer, VandeHei began pushing Allbritton to consider selling a chunk of the company. If VandeHei’s vision had been realized, POLITICO would have joined forces with a European media giant. Such a change could have given global throw-weight to the growing news outlet and could have benefited VandeHei financially. But the owner—who would have had to relinquish full ownership of his juggernaut—refused to pursue it. In the end, the rift—whether it was over how best to manage growth or how best to compensate the people who had built the company into a behemoth—was too much for the partnership to bear. To understand why—and to understand how the story of Politico’s first decade is in many ways the story of Washington in the digital age—it helps to go back to the beginning … Like generations of reporters before them, POLITICO would prioritize scoops above all else. “Game-changers,” says Josephine Hearn, an early hire. But while established news outlets had a self-important tone, POLITICO reveled in tabloid energy. And unlike its competitors, which were still largely tied to the daily print cycle, it would feed BlackBerry-addicted Beltway insiders in real time, starting with [Mike] Allen’s early-morning newsletter, Playbook. Scooping the competition was only half the game. To achieve their second objective—”drive the conversation”— POLITICO’s founders worked tirelessly to attract attention. Reporters appeared on every TV and radio program imaginable, and spokespeople urged other media outlets to write the name as POLITICO, per house style, so it would stand out. Then there was the company’s mastery of the dark arts of internet traffic generation—learned from an unconventional source. According to a former executive, VandeHei and Allen developed a close relationship with Andrew Breitbart, a right-wing provocateur who helped edit the Drudge Report. At one point, VandeHei and Allen traveled to Breitbart’s home in California, where they watched him run the site from his basement. “[Breitbart] was a genius at understanding how to read [a story] and then pull from it what would move the needle on the left and the right,” says the former executive. Under Breitbart’s tutelage, VandeHei and Allen learned how to extract from an article the “very specific sentences or data points” that could catch fire with either liberal or conservative audiences, and then how to package and feed them to the online communities that would be most receptive. Certain items were perfect for the Huffington Post, others for [Matt] Drudge. This friendship served Politico well. Before long, Drudge was featuring so many Politico scoops that liberal conspiracy theorists argued—incorrectly—that VandeHei and [John] Harris pushed a conservative agenda. Other criticism was more legitimate. As Politico’s reporters scoured the Hill for anything resembling news, congressional press aides gained leverage. They could spoon-feed previously unreported materials to POLITICO, which—in its dash to be first—would publish these “scoops” with little regard for news value. Just like that, a line of Capitol Hill spin was rebranded as a POLITICO “EXCLUSIVE” and blasted across the internet.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to William Large of the Florida Justice Reform Institute.