Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, and Jim Rosica.
DONALD TRUMP DELIVERS A STEMWINDER
Donald Trump has accepted the Republican nomination for president, promising anxious Americans that they will be safer and richer if he is elected in November.
Trump painted a dire state of affairs in the United States and the world — instability abroad and crumbling infrastructure at home — and blamed those problems on President Barack Obama and his former secretary of state, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton,” he said in Thurday’s primetime speech. “Death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”
The billionaire businessman, 70, was looking to win over skeptics in his party. Republican disunity was on display the previous night when Trump’s primary rival, Ted Cruz, stopped far short of endorsing Trump and drew loud boos.
What to know about Trump’s speech and the final night of the convention:
— Safer America —
In an appeal to Americans shaken by violence at home and around the world, Trump promised that under his presidency, “safety will be restored.”
He stuck to the controversial proposals of his primary campaign, including building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border and suspending immigration from nations “compromised by terrorism.”
But in a nod to a broader swath of Americans voting in November, he vowed to protect gays and lesbians from violence and oppression, and said he would ensure that young people in predominantly black cities “have as much of a right to live out their dreams as any other child in America.”
— Uniquely Trump —
In typical Trump fashion, he cast himself as the only one who could solve America’s problems.
“No one knows the system better than me,” he said. “That’s why only I can fix it.”
Still, he set aside much of his usual bravado. As the crowd, fiercely opposed to Clinton, broke out in its oft-used chant, “Lock her up,” he waved them off, and declared, “Let’s defeat her in November.”
He was introduced by his daughter Ivanka, who announced a childcare policy proposal that the campaign had not mentioned before.
“He will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all,” she said.
— A richer country —
Trump said he will overhaul tax laws and energy rules, get rid of regulations and decrease taxes, while offering few specifics. He said he will not sign “bad” trade agreements.
“I have made billions of dollars in business making deals — now I’m going to make our country rich again,” he said.
— Tension over NATO —
In his speech, Trump did not repeat comments made to The New York Times that the United States might abandon its NATO military commitments if he were president.
Leading Republicans and world leaders reacted swiftly Thursday after the comments were published. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN that he “totally” disagrees with Trump’s suggestion that U.S. support could be conditional. In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance agreement was crystal clear: “We defend each other.”
HOW DID TRUMP’S CONVENTION SPEECH GET LEAKED IN ADVANCE via Callum Borchers of the Washington Post – While the details remain murky, it shouldn’t be hard for the Trump campaign to put together a plausible, media-bashing narrative of how things played out. It goes something like this: Some media member in the pool shared the speech with Correct the Record and Politico, knowing that a pro-Clinton super PAC and a politics site Trump hates would not feel bound by an embargo they never agreed to. It was a sleazy way to get the speech out early and sabotage Trump — which is what the media has been determined to do all along.
IVANKA TRUMP RAISES ISSUES FATHER RARELY MENTIONS via Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press – Touting a side of her father rarely seen on the campaign trail, Ivanka Trump cast her father as a leader who would fight to address the student debt problem and would be a champion for equal pay for mothers and single women. “As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put in place at a time when women weren’t a significant portion of the workplace, and he will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all,” Ivanka Trump said.
Trump has not addressed childcare costs or the gender pay gap so far in his 2016 presidential bid. These are issues usually touted by Democrats. Trump’s past statements on women in the workplace have included calling pregnancy “an inconvenience” and telling a voter in New Hampshire last year that women will receive the same pay as men “if they do as good a job.” On Thursday, Ivanka Trump said her father “will fight for equal pay for equal work.”
BEFORE IVANKA’S SPEECH, THE TRUMPS GAVE US THIS SLIGHLTY CREEPY MOMENT:
TWEET, TWEET: @Ryan_N_Wiggins: a daddy’s hands should never be on his daughter’s hips. Note how she pulls away.
MAKING GOP HISTORY, TRUMP VOWS TO PROTECT LGBTQ COMMUNITY via Josh Lederman of the Associated Press – Trump’s call in his speech to the Republican National Convention for protecting the “LGBTQ community” was a watershed moment for the Republican Party — the first time the issue has been elevated in a GOP nomination address. Four years ago, Mitt Romney never uttered the word “gay,” much less the full acronym — standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning.But Trump, as if to drive the point home, said it not once, but twice. “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology,” Trump said, adding for emphasis: “Believe me.”
In another Republican first, an openly gay speaker acknowledged his sexuality Thursday from the podium — and put fellow Republicans on the spot by saying he disagreed with parts of the platform. Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, said only Trump was being honest about how “fake culture wars” distract from America’s economic decline. “I am proud to be gay,” Thiel declared. “I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all, I am proud to be an American.” He was greeted with wild cheers and extended applause as some delegations jumped to their feet — another striking moment for a Republican gathering.
THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT:
THE LOWLIGHT OF THE NIGHT – TRUMP’S CAMPAIGN MANAGER SUGGESTS THAT THE FBI’S DECADES OF CRIME DATA AREN’T TRUSTWORTHY via Phillip Bump of the Washington Post – CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Manafort, “How can the Republicans make the argument that somehow it’s more dangerous today when the facts don’t back that up?” Manafort noted that people don’t feel safe, which is true. He then said he didn’t know what statistics Tapper was referring to, to which Tapper replied, “FBI statistics.” “Well,” Manafort replied with a smile, “the FBI certainly is suspect these days after what they just did with Hillary Clinton.” … Manafort is implying that the FBI’s data collection is somehow inept. The numbers are compiled annually through the Uniform Crime Reporting system, through which 18,000 law enforcement agencies submit data that is then tabulated. Is the suggestion that the FBI, which didn’t make the recommendation Manafort hoped, somehow massaged the data it received from those thousands of agencies?
AND I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO MAKE OF THIS:
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SPOTTED IN THE VIP BOX AT THE RNC:
RICK SCOTT’S MEDIA TOUR AT THE GOP CONVENTION via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Scott seemed to relish his presence this week at the Republican National Convention — especially among radio and television stations. Scott camped out twice over two days at Media Row across from downtown Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena. He gave so many interviews that his office had a hard time keeping track of them all. “He’s done around 50,” spokeswoman Jackie Schutz told the Miami Herald. The high number is surprising, given Scott’s reluctance to indulge detailed interviews in Florida. He routinely “gaggles” — takes questions from scrums of reporters at his public events — but his Cleveland interviews were sit-down affairs, held back-to-back-to-back. Scott also held several gaggles, including impromptu ones. The interviews — before and after Scott’s Wednesday night convention speech — didn’t just boost his national profile. He also spoke to local Florida TV stations covering the convention. He even went on the air in Kansas, the state where he spent his childhood.
TAMPA WOMAN (OUR FRIEND DEBBIE COX-ROUSH) PLAYS PIVOTAL ROLE AT RNC via Julie Gargotta of Bay News 9 – Four years ago … Deborah Cox-Roush was the volunteer coordinator for the last Republican National Convention in her hometown. This year, she received an even bigger invite. “I packed my bags, left my dog, my husband and I came to Cleveland,” she said. “But, what a beautiful city. They’ve been so welcoming.” That was five and half months ago, and this week has been filled with sunshine and a lot of work for Rousch: 15-hour days, wrangling 1,200 volunteers. “We have everything from way finders, greeters, credential checks, transportation,” she said. “They’re the first impression and the last impression.” Rousch said roughly 60 percent of volunteers come from out of state, paying their own way to put in the hours in Cleveland. Many of those volunteers, she noted, are repeats from the last convention. “From the out in, these volunteers make this convention happen,” she said. “It takes all of us working together. We had four-and-a-half, five weeks instead of the usual six to eight weeks, because of the Cavs (NBA title) wonderful win. It’s been crunch, but a great time.”
ROGER STONE CRASHES THE YOUNG TURKS BROADCAST AND EVERYONE WENT NUTS via Mediate – The progressive political show The Young Turks faced off with the far-far-far-right Alex Jones and Roger Stone at the RNC today. It was, um… just wow. Jones crashed the Young Turks live broadcast and teased them a little. Cenk Uygur got combative with Jones, told him off, and they started arguing. Jones handed Uygur a Bill Clinton “RAPE” shirt, which caused Uygur to grab his microphone and tell him 1) that he’s “sick” and 2) that Trump has been accused of rape too. Stone jumped in to back up Jones, and that’s when things got nuts.
40.1 PERCENT — Probability of Trump winning the presidency of the United States of America, according to the latest FiveThirtyEight polls-plus projection.
TRUMP TAUNTS GOP IN PRIVATE DONOR MEETING via Alex Isenstadt, Rachael Bade and Andrew Restuccia of POLITICO – During a luncheon with 300 top donors just blocks from the convention center … Trump said the Republican National Committee wanted him to sign a loyalty pledge last year because it was afraid he’d run as an independent and it knew he would beat the GOP’s candidates. “I was the only one who wasn’t going to sign the pledge, and Reince [Priebus] is going crazy because he thought I was going to run independent, and if I ran independent I promise you the Republicans would have had zero chance, OK?” he said. Laughter lit up from the audience. “So Reince every day… was calling, asking me to sign the pledge. And so I said, ‘You know what, I’ll sign, but only if everyone else does.’ And so I did, and everybody else did. … The pledge was only because of me.” He pledged to work hard for the party as the nominee … Trump also laid into Ted Cruz‘s performance … when the Texas senator refused to endorse him and encouraged conservatives to “vote your conscience” … “Honestly, it could have been a career-ending thing, what he did,” Trump said of Cruz. “He got booed out. His Texas delegation was expecting him to and really thought he was going to endorse. Honestly, I don’t care.”
TRUMP BLESSES MAJOR SUPER PAC EFFORT via Alex Isenstadt and Ken Vogel of POLITICO – Trump spent the primary bashing major donors and insisting he didn’t want super PAC help, but his campaign … signaled that it has dropped its opposition to both and is now openly encouraging donors to give to a super PAC that has raised $5 million in recent days. At a meeting of about 30 major donors organized by a pro-Trump super PAC called Rebuilding America Now PAC, operatives displayed a slide that offered an overt endorsement from Trump’s vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence. … Trump’s top strategist Paul Manafort called into the meeting to discuss the campaign and make clear that the PAC was the only one he is addressing.
TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I-4 CORRIDOR IS “BIG ENCHILADA IN NOVEMBER” via Sergio Bustos of POLITICO Florida – Karen Giorno, Donald Trump’s national campaign adviser and former Florida campaign director, says the GOP presidential nominee is eyeing Florida’s I-4 corridor as “the big enchilada” in winning the state in November, Bay News 9 reported Thursday night. “That’s what we call the big enchilada,” she told the St. Petersburg TV station. “You have to win it. But, all of Florida matters.” She told the TV station that the Trump campaign is finalizing plans for an event in South Florida next week.
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HILLARY CLINTON IN THE SUNSHINE STATE; WILL SHE ANNOUNCE VP?
Just days before she is nominated for the Democratic nomination for president in Philadelphia, Clinton comes to Florida today three events over the next 24 hours – and is expected to name her running mate before leaving the Sunshine State Saturday afternoon.
The former secretary of state comes to Orlando and Tampa today. The Orlando event is not a public event, so you can probably surmise that the VP choice will not be unveiled there.
At 4:30 p.m., Clinton will give a speech on the economy at the Florida State Fairgrounds Fox, a spacious room that Bernie Sanders drew an estimated 8,000-10,000 people back in March. And on Saturday, Clinton will speak at noon at a rally at Florida International University.
Speculation continues to center around Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as being Clinton’s top choice. The 58-year-old Kaine appears to check off a variety of boxes; he has executive and foreign policy experience as a former governor and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.He also chaired the Democratic National Committee from 2009-2011, gaining media exposure and national campaigning and fundraising experience. And he speaks Spanish, something his supporters often mentioned.
A surprising number two on some short lists is Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the former two-term governor of Iowa, who might be expected to help with the white male vote for Clinton in the Midwest.
Both Kaine and Vilsack are white males, and considered extremely safe picks.
Labor Secretary Tom Perez and HUD Secretary Julian Castro – two Latinos – are also believed to still be in the mix. Clinton has also met with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in the past week. Although Elizabeth Warren would excite the base (and is already scheduled to speak at a La Raza event in Orlando on Saturday), she isn’t considered to be on the short list.
TIM KAINE EMERGES AS FAVORITE IN HILLARY CLINTON’S VP SEARCH via The Associated Press – Kaine … has been a favorite for the vice presidential slot since the start of Clinton‘s search process. He has been active in the Senate on foreign relations and military affairs and built a reputation for working across the aisle as Virginia’s governor and mayor of Richmond. “I’m glad the waiting game is nearly over,” Kaine told reporters … deflecting questions about whether he was about to join the ticket. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a longtime friend of Hillary and Bill Clinton, is still in the mix, according to one of the two Democrats, who is close to the Clintons. Kaine’s selection would not be without complication. Liberals have expressed wariness of Kaine for his support of putting the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement on a “fast track” to approval, which both Clinton and primary rival Bernie Sanders oppose. They also note that Kaine recently signed onto a letter asking for less burdensome regulation of regional banks. But President Obama has told the campaign he believes Kaine would be a strong choice.
KAINE MAY NOT BE LIBERALS’ FIRST CHOICE AS HILLARY CLINTON’S NO. 2 via Amy Chozick of The New York Times — One group is already disappointed at the prospect of Kaine on the Democratic ticket: liberals. Many of the groups that backed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in his Democratic contest against Clinton had hoped she would extend an olive branch to the liberal wing of the party and choose a vice-presidential candidate whose stances on Wall Street and global trade deals closely aligned with Sanders … with the Democratic National Convention beginning in Philadelphia … the prospects have dimmed for the two liberal senators who were being considered, Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown. That has led to more liberal scrutiny of Kaine’s record … Kaine has been an outspoken advocate of free trade and has defended the North American Free Trade Agreement, which many voters in Rust Belt states blame for the loss of manufacturing jobs to Mexico. He voted in support of “fast track” authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade pact that President Obama has championed.
CLINTON ‘CAN LOSE’ FLORIDA, STILL WIN WHITE HOUSE via Nick Gass of POLITICO– Clinton can fall short of victory in three major swing states and still beat Donald Trump in November, according to former 2008 Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. “Hillary Clinton can lose Florida, Ohio and Virginia, and I think she’ll win all three, and still be president,” Plouffe remarked during a Bloomberg Politics event in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention. While acknowledging that Clinton has an “enthusiasm” issue, Plouffe predicted that the presumptive nominee’s poll numbers will improve after next week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The election will not be close, Plouffe said, because although the Clinton campaign’s voter models are not as sophisticated as Obama’s, they are miles ahead of the Trump campaign in that respect. “The truth is the Clinton campaign knows almost with certainty who is going to vote in this election” and how they will do so, Plouffe added.
CLINTON HAS MORE CASH; TRUMP FORGIVES LOANS via the Associated Press – Clinton and her party entered July with nearly $11 million more on hand than her Republican counterpart’s operations, a strong showing of fundraising as both campaigns dive into the general election … Trump also zeroed-out more than $47 million in personal loans he’s made to his own campaign since last year. Trump and the Republican Party … had $41 million cash on hand compared with Clinton and the Democrats’ $52 million … Despite being outraised by Clinton, Trump had more appeal among small donors. He raised more than $12.1 million from contributors giving $200 or less, since making his first-ever appeal for online contributions June 21. That small-donor harvest was about double Clinton’s, despite Trump’s late start. Trump’s haul comes after a disappointing May report, during which the billionaire’s campaign finished with only $1.3 million to spend. On the GOP side, the Republican Party made up about half — or roughly $21 million — of the available cash on hand. For the Democrats, Clinton’s own fundraising accounted for most of the money left in the bank at the beginning of July. She had $44 million to spend.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Gwen Graham will kick off a “Stronger Together” phone bank for Hillary Clinton at 2 p.m. at the Hillary for America Tallahassee Headquarters, 302 W. Jefferson St. in Tallahassee. Media interested in attending should RSVP with firstname.lastname@example.org.
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JOE BIDEN TO RETURN TO TALLAHASSEE via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Biden will return to Tallahassee in August to campaign with … Patrick Murphy. The South Florida congressman is locked in a primary battle with Congressman Alan Grayson. It will be Biden’s third visit to the capital city. He campaigned here as a candidate in 2008, poking fun at protesters during an appearance at Florida State University’s Langford Green and reminding his audience of the need to come together after the election. He returned in 2012 to discuss a higher education affordability plan with Florida State University students and staff.
PATRICK MURPHY, ALAN GRAYSON AGREE TO U.S. SENATE PRIMARY DEBATE via Kristen Clark and Michael Auslen of the Miami Herald — Murphy and Grayson have accepted invitations to participate in a Democratic primary debate next month on an Orlando TV station. The debate is set to be a taped one-hour event sponsored by WFTV News. It is expected to air Aug. 12, with anchor Greg Warmoth moderating. It’s not clear which other Democratic candidates were invited to participate. Also in the Democratic race are Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith, former assistant U.S. attorney Reginald Luster and California real estate developer “Rocky” Roque De La Fuente. Murphy’s campaign, in particular, has been called out for being difficult. Murphy declined to participate in both a Aug. 3 debate for Orlando public radio station WMFE and in the Grayson-Jolly debate. For the latter, Murphy’s campaign contended he was never invited, but the debate sponsor provided emails that proved otherwise. No debates have been scheduled on the Republican side, between incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio and challenger Carlos Beruff.
MARCO RUBIO’S MAJOR TALLAHASSEE FUNDRAISER PLANNED FOR AUGUST 22:
CARLOS BERUFF LOOKING FOR THAT TRUMP/RICK SCOTT COATTAILS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – In a modestly housed and attended town hall meeting in Orlando … Beruff made it clear he’s still striving for that image identifying him as the outside warrior, Trump/Scott-style candidate. Beruff, whose chances … primary plummeted when incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio filed late for re-election in late June, showed he has lost little of his “I’m-not-Washington” swagger, even as the appearance showed his campaign looking like it might have been in the opening days of a seven-month run, not in the closing weeks. His town hall meeting was held in the backroom of a small, noisy downtown Orlando pizza parlor. It was attended by only 14 or 15 citizens, not including three or four local Republican officials and candidates who came to support or watch him. Almost all of the regular voters there were over 70. And many seethed the kind of anger common among Trump supporters, in this case, aimed almost equally at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Rubio, whom many blamed for having abandoned them and his conservative promises of 2010. The 58-year-old homebuilder from Bradenton made it clear he felt their pain, as well as his own, after he saw Rubio jump in with millions of dollars and legions of party regulars. “Me, I have to work to get people to come hear me,” Beruff said. “I’m Carlos Nobody, right?”
SAVE THE DATE: Republican Neal Dunn, running for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, hosts a fundraising reception Monday, July 25, beginning 5:30 p.m. at the Haughty Heron, 117 Sailors Cove Dr. in Port St. Joe. Information and RSVP with Ieva Smidt at 850-567-8022 or Ieva@flfstrategies.com.
NEW KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO AD FEATURES RICK SCOTT — In a new advertisement, called “Leadership,” Gov. Scott highlights Passidomo’s work in the Florida Legislature. “Kathleen Passidomo is someone I’ve had the opportunity to work with for six sessions and she does an outstanding job. She’s one of the hardest working members of the Legislature that I’ve dealt with,” the governor says in the advertisement. The 30-second spot also features local leaders who commend her work for the community. Passidomo faces Matt Hudson in the Senate District 28 primary.
REGGIE FULLWOOD RAMPS UP HOUSE CAMPAIGN WHILE CASE IS PENDING via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – Fullwood, running for re-election despite a 14-count federal indictment, finds himself one of the rare incumbents this year to face both a tough primary and, if he wins that, a formidable candidate in the general election. Fullwood’s campaign was slow to ramp up while he and his lawyers dealt with the indictment on fraud and failure to file tax return charges. He pleaded not guilty. Over the past month though, Fullwood has become more visible on social media. His website launched this week. While he retreated from the public eye, other candidates launched campaigns not knowing if the incumbent would stay in the race or not.
JOE DAVIDOW SAYS HE’S TELLING ‘TRUTH’ ABOUT BYRON DONALDS IN HD 80 RACE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – A new website — called LyinByron.com — launched this week to inform voters about Donalds’ criminal record. According to the disclaimer at the bottom of the page, the website is a “political advertisement paid for and approved by” Davidow, who is running against Donalds in House District 80. “Someone has got to say something. We didn’t have a choice,” said Davidow … “It’s not mudslinging. This is a fact. The voters have a right to know about it. I would be concerned if I was a voter.” Donalds was arrested in 1997 for possession of marijuana. The case was put into pre-trial diversion, and Leon County court records show he paid a $150 fee. He pleaded no contest to bribery in 2000 and served two years of probation. Those records were sealed, Donalds told a FOX 4 reporter in 2014. “If I had that on my background, I couldn’t be licensed to be an attorney,” said Davidow, a trial attorney. Donalds said he was “thoroughly looked at” when he applied, and he was “still appointed and confirmed” by the governor and the Florida Senate. “My opponent is obviously desperate. He knows he’s losing and this is what happens,” said Donalds … “I’ve never been proud of the mistakes I’ve made when I was a young kid. It was 20 years ago. I’ve changed my life and moved on.”
Greg Evers, running for Florida’s 1st Congressional District, has been endorsed by conservative leader John Stemberger.
Jonathan Chane, running for Florida’s 18th Congressional District, has been endorsed by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
Matt Hudson, running in Senate District 28, has received the endorsement of the Eagle Forum PAC.
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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Rubio will attend a dedication ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Port Tampa Bay, 2002 Maritime Boulevard, 17680 Ashley Drive in Tampa. Reporters interested in covering the event and joining Rubio on a tour must arrive at the port entrance no later than 9:15 a.m. Media must RSVP to Andy Fobes, email@example.com, with full name, organization and drivers license number.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce June jobs numbers at 10:30 a.m. at the Port Tampa Bay, 2002 Maritime Boulevard in Tampa. Media interested in attending should RSVP to Andy Fobes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PAM BONDI JOINS FEDS IN LAWSUIT TO BLOCK MAJOR HEALTH INSURANCE MERGER via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Bondi is joining an effort to block the merger of two of Florida’s largest health insurers. A lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice, eight states and Washington, D.C., says that the $37 million deal for Aetna to acquire Humana would hurt competition and increase insurance prices across the country. It’s an odd move for Bondi to join forces with the federal government. Under her leadership as attorney general, the state has joined or filed several lawsuits contesting the Obama administration’s immigration policy and Environmental Protection Agency rules. Last year, she and Gov. Scott sued the federal government over health care funding, claiming the Obama administration was “coercing” the state into expanding Medicaid. “Competition in our health insurance markets is crucial to keeping premiums down and the quality of care up, particularly when it comes to our seniors and other vulnerable populations, the individuals most affected by this proposed acquisition,” Bondi said in a statement. “It is important that we do everything we can to preserve competition in these markets.” In particular, the governments behind the lawsuit say less competition could hurt seniors and low-income families who buy health coverage from the insurance exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act, according to a court filing.
VETERANS’ AGENCY OPENING BRINGS RANGE OF APPLICANTS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – More than 300 applications now have been turned in for the open position of head of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, records show. The application deadline was Friday. Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet — Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — will make the final pick. The last high-profile vacancy, for state insurance commissioner, also brought out a variety of interested parties, from pharmaceutical executives and business consultants, to a bail bondsman and an engineer. David Altmaier, a former deputy commissioner, eventually was promoted. Some names for the veterans’ post are expected: Glenn Sutphin, who is interim executive director of the department, applied for the permanent position. Others, perhaps even most, are the equivalent of “Hail Mary” passes. Take Tameka Collins-Smith, a programs director for Leon County, who submitted two applications for the job.
BRAZILIAN SCIENTISTS ID COMMON MOSQUITO AS A ZIKA SOURCE via The Associated Press — Brazilian researchers … found that another species of mosquito is able to transmit the Zika virus to humans. Fiocruz institute said that additional studies will be needed to determine what role the widespread Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito has played in the Zika epidemic. The research was done at Recife, a city in the Zika epicenter of northeastern Brazil where the Culex is 20 times more common than the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The researchers collected hundreds of the Culex from the city and found Zika in some. The Aedes aegypti has been seen as the main spreader of Zika. Most of Brazil’s anti-Zika initiatives are aimed at that bug, which also transmits dengue fever and Chikungunya. A related mosquito, Aedes albopictus, has also been found to be capable of spreading Zika. But health officials say it has not been a significant source of Zika transmission. The latest finding could complicate efforts to limit the Zika epidemic. However, Fiocruz chairman Paulo Gadelha said he is still cautious about the findings since another study of Zika virus presence in Culex mosquitoes made in Rio de Janeiro has not indicated contamination so far. One of the possible reasons why is that Culex mosquitoes in Recife may have a genetic variation that makes them different from those in Rio or elsewhere, the institute said. Other studies have suggested Culex may not be good at spreading Zika.
FEDS TO VIEW ORLANDO ZIKA EFFORTS via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy will visit the Orlando Mosquito Control District Monday to review their efforts to combat Zika and alert the public to ways to prevent the virus from spreading. Scott has urged Obama to issue executive orders to bypass Congress to fund Zika kits from the Centers for Disease Control, new mosquito control equipment and lab work to discover a vaccine. Congress has adjourned for summer vacation until September without funding a Zika package. Obama, who originally asked Congress for a $2.9 billion Zika bill in February, didn’t respond to Scott until this week, when a Zika case in Miami was suspected of being contracted locally. Health authorities haven’t yet ruled it out as a travel-related case.
ONEBLOOD TO START TESTING BLOOD DONORS FOR ZIKA VIRUS via the Tampa Bay Times – The goal, OneBlood said, is to have Zika-screened blood available for high-risk patients like pregnant women if Florida experiences an outbreak … state health officials announced that they were investigating a possible non-travel-related case of the mosquito-borne virus in Miami-Dade County. If confirmed, it could be the first local transmission of Zika in the United States. Hundreds of other cases have involved people who traveled and contracted the virus in other countries. OneBlood said if any mosquitoes in Miami-Dade are confirmed to have Zika, it will stop collecting donations in the immediate area and bring in blood from areas free of the virus.
INSURANCE COMMISSIONER ATTENDS FIRST HEALTH ADVISORY BOARD MEETING EAGER TO LEARN via Christine Sexton of POLITICO – Commissioner David Altmaier met for the first time with members of the Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board … telling the group he wants to learn everything he can about an area of insurance that is new to him as an insurance regulator. “I am very much looking forward to the new dynamics, – I guess existing dynamics, new to me – of the health insurance marketplace here in Florida,” said Altmaier, whose experience over the past seven years was in property insurance. He started his new job April 29. The advisory board briefly discussed issues in connection with its 2017 legislative recommendations, but did not take up any votes … navigators report that families cannot tap into subsidized insurance coverage on the health insurance exchange if a working adult in the family has access to affordable employer- sponsored coverage. What is affordable to an employee – whose insurance is offset by their employer – isn’t always affordable for the employee’s family members … FHIAB member Joan Galletta said changes should be made to make it clear that employers can offer employee-only coverage, which should make families eligible for subsidies on the exchange. Moreover, she said the Legislature should consider addressing whether its consumer-friendly to offer coverage to employees at 25 hours and that the benchmarks should be moved to 30 hours. That means that more employees could qualify for subsidies through the exchange if they weren’t offered employer-sponsored insurance.
BOYD GAMING QUITS ITS TALLAHASSEE LOBBYISTS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Nevada-based gambling operator “canceled” its representation by The Mayernick Group last Monday, lobbying registration records show. Firm principal Frank Mayernick declined comment and Boyd spokesman David Strow did not respond to an email or phone call. The company has nine casinos in Las Vegas, one in Atlantic City and 12 others across the South and Midwest, according to its website. It once was part-owner of Dania Casino & Jai Alai in South Florida but sold its interest to a team of investors in Argentina three years ago. Since then, Boyd had sought to put up a new casino adjacent to the Florida Panthers’ arena and the Sawgrass Mills shopping center in Broward County. But its plans, like other casino operators’, idled under a Legislature that historically has choked in the face of any gambling-related legislation.
PERSONNEL NOTE: ERIN HELLKAMP POWER MOVES TO FRLA via Florida Politics – Power joined the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association as its new press secretary on Wednesday. Power previously was an associate lobbyist with Guy Spearman at his Spearman Management Inc. “This is an exciting change for me,” she said in an email. “I am very much looking forward to the challenge and opportunities that this job will provide.” Power, a 2009 graduate of the University of Central Florida, also was public policy director for the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association. She married Evan Power, a lobbyist with Ramba Consulting Group, last month.
CENTRAL FLORIDA FUTURE TO CEASE PUBLICATION via Carolyn Glenn of Central Florida Future – After 48 years in circulation, the Central Florida Future will cease publication. The student-run paper, which serves the University of Central Florida and its 63,000 students, will print its last issue Aug. 4. “The recent investments Gannett has been making to build out the USA TODAY Network nationally and in the state of Florida have created new demands for our time and attention,” said Jeff Kiel, Gannett’s regional president. Owned and operated by FLORIDA TODAY in Melbourne, the Future is a multi-award-winning publication. Most recently, it was named a national finalist for “Best All-Around Non Daily Student Newspaper” by the Society of Professional Journalists. Additionally, it was a Mark of Excellence Award winner for feature writing, breaking news reporting and in-depth reporting in its region this year.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Audubon Florida’s Eric Draper, Jamie Miller, Missy Timmins, and Creative Loafing’s David Warner. Celebrating this weekend is Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice and Mike Fernandez.
JARED LETO’S JOKER GETS A CLOSER LOOK IN NEW TEASER — Leto’s take on legendary “Batman” villain The Joker in “Suicide Squad” will be the third time the character has hit the big screen, and while the actor has some big shoes to fill following Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger‘s iconic performances, based on everything we’ve seen so far, Leto looks more than up to the challenge. Now, a new teaser for the villain team-up flick is giving fans a closer peek at the character ahead of the film’s release next month.