Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 8.10.16 — Katie Ledecky did what? Donald Trump said what?

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

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

HOW KATIE LEDECKY STOPPED HERSELF FROM VOMITING AND WON ANOTHER GOLD via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports – Ledecky almost puked in the middle of an Olympic pool Tuesday night. The feeling hit her with 25 meters left in the 200-meter freestyle race, the one distance that sets her nerves aflutter. This wasn’t butterflies, though. It was her body telling her enough, her internal combustion engine redlining, the previous 175 meters and the previous four days having taxed her so deeply she came up for a breath and instead unleashed a burp that nearly called for a cleanup on Lane 5.

And it was at that point, with world champion Sarah Sjostrom gaining, with another gold medal slipping away, that Katie Ledecky did what Katie Ledecky does. Which is to say she ignored all external factors – and, in this case, internal ones as well – and powered her way atop another podium.

U.S. WOMEN JUMP, SPIN AND SOAR TO GYMNASTICS GOLD via Victor Mather, Carla Correa and Meghan Louttit of the New York Times – Led by the world’s best gymnast, Simone Biles, the powerhouse American women’s gymnastics team romped to the gold medal at the Rio Olympics … The team of Biles, Laurie HernandezAly RaismanGabby Douglas and Madison Kocian lived up to expectations as prohibitive favorites by putting up the highest total score on every apparatus. Russia won silver and China bronze. The margin of victory was a whopping 8 points.


The medal, the Americans’ third team gold after 2012 and 1996, came in the final Olympics for the national team coordinator, Martha Karolyi, a crucial player in the rise of American gymnastics for more than 30 years. Here’s how they did it. The Americans opened up with the vault. Two of them, Raisman and Biles, tried the difficult Amanar, in which the vaulter does two and a half twists with a blind landing. Raisman scored a 15.833, and Biles did even better at 15.933, despite making a hop on her landing. After one rotation, the Americans were already out in front, by 0.7 points over Russia, who performed on the bars. The bars were the one chance of the day to compete for team members Douglas, the 2012 all-around champion, and Kocian, a bars specialist and a 2015 world champion in the event. Both delivered. Douglas got lots of height on her release skills and hit her handstands, then stuck her double layout dismount to get a 15.766. Kocian performed one of the most difficult routines at the Games, and nailed it, scoring a stellar 15.933. The United States extended its lead to a comfortable 4 points over China. Russia slipped to third.

HILLARY CLINTON SPENDS BIG ON OLYMPIC ADS, WITH DONALD TRUMP ON SIDELINES via Julie Bykowicz of The Associated Press – The Democratic presidential nominee is airing $13.6 million in campaign commercials during the Summer Games, seeking to reach the millions of television viewers who can’t skip past the commercials as they watch live coverage of the Olympics. She has the audience to herself, as Trump has yet to air his first paid TV ad of the general election campaign. While Trump’s campaign has requested advertising rates from stations in key states, including Florida, the Olympics are quickly slipping beyond his reach. The opening ceremony was Friday and this week features some of the most popular sports, including swimming and women’s gymnastics. “I’d love to know what they’re waiting for,” said Will Ritter, a Republican ad maker … Trump’s eschewal of political norms such as advertising “cannot survive the professionalized deconstruction that Hillary is doing every day,” he said. As anyone watching the games can attest, Clinton‘s advertising is as omnipresent as NBC’s commercial breaks. Her spots appear alongside those of corporate behemoths such as McDonald’s and Chevrolet.

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TRUMP SUGGESTS ‘SECOND AMENDMENT PEOPLE’ COULD ACT AGAINST CLINTON via Nick Corasaniti and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times – Trump appeared to raise the possibility that gun rights supporters could take matters into their own hands if Clinton is elected president and appoints judges who favor stricter gun control measures to the bench. At a rally here. Trump warned that it would be “a horrible day” if Clinton were elected and got to appoint a tiebreaking Supreme Court justice. “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd began to boo. He quickly added: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.” The Trump campaign released a statement insisting opaquely that Mr. Trump had been referring to the “power of unification” … “Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power,” said Trump’s spokesman, Jason Miller. “And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.” Reacting to Trump’s statement on Twitter, aides to Clinton expressed immediate horror, suggesting that even by Mr. Trump’s standards, the comments were jarring. “This is simple,” Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said in an email. “What Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.” Even those in Trump’s audience appeared caught by surprise. Video of the rally showed a man seated just over Trump’s shoulder go slack-jawed and turn to his companion, apparently in disbelief, when Trump made the remark.


@SecretService: The Secret Service is aware of the comments made earlier this afternoon.

@elizabethforma: .@realDonaldTrump makes death threats because he’s a pathetic coward who can’t handle the fact that he’s losing to a girl.

@BerniceKing: @As the daughter of a leader who was assassinated, I find #Trump’s comments distasteful, disturbing, dangerous. His words don’t #LiveUp. #MLK

TRUMP SAYS HE MAY SEEK CONDITIONS FOR DEBATES via David Jackson of USA Today – “I will absolutely do three debates,” Trump told Time magazine. “I want to debate very badly. But I have to see the conditions.” That includes the identity of the moderators, he said, who have yet to be named. “I’ll have to see who the moderators are,” Trump told the magazine Tuesday. “Yeah, I would say that certain moderators would be unacceptable, absolutely.” Trump also pointed out that he changed rules for Republican primary debates. “I renegotiated the debates in the primaries, remember?” Trump said. “They were making a fortune on them and they had us in for three-and-a-half hours, and I said that’s ridiculous … I’m sure they’ll be open to any suggestions I have, because I think they’ll be very fair suggestions.”

DONORS FOR JEB BUSH, JOHN KASICH AND CHRIS CHRISTIE ARE TURNING TO HILLARY CLINTON MORE THAN TO DONALD TRUMP via Adam Pierce of the New York Times – In a typical election year, donors whose candidates have dropped out of the race funnel additional contributions to another candidate in the same party. But this presidential election is different. Of the donors who gave at least $200 to BushKasichChristie or Senator Lindsey Graham in the Republican primaries, more of them have also contributed to Clinton than to Trump, according to Federal Election Commission filings through June. People who give to multiple candidates are a small percentage of Republican donors. Of the donors to Bush who also gave to one of the current nominees, 303 — more than 2 percent of the total — gave to Clinton. Less than 1 percent of them gave money to Trump, the filings showed. Those crossover donations are adding up. Clinton has received $2.2 million from donors to candidates who dropped out of the Republican presidential primary, about $600,000 more than Trump has received from such donors, the filings showed. Donors do not always adhere to their candidate’s lead. Since February, when Christie endorsed Trump, 103 of the governor’s donors have given to Clinton and 49 have given to Trump. Trump has received money from a smaller proportion of his party’s donors than any candidate since 1980, the filings showed.

FLORIDA POLL: CLINTON 46%. TRUMP 45% via Steve Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – The Quinnipiac University Poll showed Clinton leading Trump 46 percent to 45 percent among likely Florida voters in a head-to-head match-up. With third party candidates included, Clinton and Trump are tied at 43 percent, with 7 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 3 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. “Florida we knew was close; it’s been close for so long,” said Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida. “Some people point to changing demographics, but Trump has expanded the voter base a little bit.” In the other swing states polled, Clinton has a 49 percent to 45 percent lead over Trump in Ohio and a 52 percent to 42 percent lead in Pennsylvania. “This swing state poll shows a mixed result for the presidential candidates, although certainly with an overall edge for Secretary Hillary Clinton,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. ” … but Florida, with the largest cache of Electoral College votes, is a tie,” he said.

TRUMP SCHEDULES BROWARD RALLY via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Trump plans to rally supporters in Broward County. The Republican presidential nominee will be at the BB&T Center in Sunrise — where the Florida Panthers play hockey — at 7 p.m. He’ll also hold a rally at 7 p.m. Thursday in Kissimmee. Trump hasn’t held a rally in Miami-Dade or Broward since October. He won the March 15 Florida primary in a landslide, but trails Clinton in the latest state poll, by Suffolk University, by 48-42 percent.

HAPPENING THURSDAY — LGBTQ ADVOCATES TO HOLD RALLY TO END HATE #FORTHE49 — Equality Florida, joined by community partners and individuals directly impacted by the June 12 shooting at Pulse nightclub, will gather at 11 a.m. for a peaceful rally and press conference to demand an end to hate and violence. The rally comes as Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio are scheduled to attend an anti-LGBTQ event in Orlando. The Equality Florida rally is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. outside the Orange County Convention Center-South Concourse, 9809 International Drive in Orlando.  The organization will hold a press conference at noon.

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WITH MOSTLY QUIET SUMMER, IS PATRICK MURPHY AVOIDING VOTERS? via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – This summer, the Jupiter congressman has actually had relatively few public campaign stops — prompting opponents to accuse him of hiding from voters with less than three weeks to go before the Aug. 30 primary and as mail-in ballots are already being cast. Based on media reports, campaign announcements and social media posts by Murphy … just 14 campaign events Murphy has made publicly known between June 1 and Aug. 9. More than half of those were since July 25, the week of the Democratic National Convention when Murphy ramped up his campaign. It’s fair to assume Murphy has held or attended more events than that in the past couple of months — in private, unannounced or unadvertised — but his campaign won’t provide the congressman’s schedule to back up Murphy’s claim … during the past two weeks, Murphy has held more events — including a couple of press conferences, endorsement announcements, visits to two Democratic clubs in northern Florida and a private fundraiser and unannounced campaign stop with Vice President Joe Biden. Murphy was scheduled to briefly address the Plantation Democratic Club in Broward County … As the Democratic establishment’s chosen one, Murphy is under pressure to step up his game if he is to take on Rubio, the Republican favorite, in November and help Democrats win back the Senate. “Patrick Murphy’s campaign isn’t about talking to voters or debating ideas,” said Ian Prior, spokesman for the Senate Leadership Fund, a GOP super PAC that supports Rubio. “It’s about raising money, saying as little as possible, and airing generic television ads that cover up the fact that he’s nothing more than a fraud who’s trying to buy his way up the political ladder.”

VALLERI CRABTREE VOWS TO “SHOW UP” IF ELECTED TO CONGRESS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Kissimmee Democrat launched a television ad in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, promising to show up and work for Floridians if elected to the Congress. The 30-second spot — called “Crabtree Shows Up” and airing on cable — features a photo montage of Crabtree at local events as she talks about her work in the community. “I’ve learned about the strengths and diversity of our area. And when I’m elected to Congress, I will not disappear. Today, tomorrowand during my term, Crabtree shows up for you,” she says in the ad. Crabtree faces Dena Grayson, Darren Soto and Susannah Randolph in the Aug. 30 primary.

DANIEL WEBSTER FOCUSES ON CUTTING DEBT IN NEW ADVERTISEMENT —  The Central Florida Republican released his third advertisement of the election cycle, focusing on the need to cut the federal debt. “Washington is spending money so fast, our children may need two lifetimes to pay it off … Here’s what we do to fix it: One, pass a balanced budget amendment. Two, lead by example. That’s why I cut my own office budget, refused to travel abroad on the taxpayers’ dime, and cut my own salary every year,” said Webster in the ad. The ad began running on digital platforms and television across Florida’s 11th Congressional District on Tuesday. Webster faces Justin Grabelle, who served as chief of state to Rep. Rich Nugent.

FAMILY OF DENNIS ROSS SAYS HEART SURGERY WAS SUCCESSFUL via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — Cindy Ross, the Lakeland Republican’s wife, said the operation to repair a common bicuspid aortic valve birth defect went well, and the valve replacement was highly successful. Ross announced Monday he was undergoing heart surgery correct the birth defect. First elected to Congress in 2010, Ross has worked his way up Republican ranks, currently serving as deputy senior whip in the U.S. House. Ross the expected to recover for a few weeks before beginning his re-election campaign in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. He’ll face Democrat Jim Lange in the November general election.

FRANCIS ROONEY ON BOARD OF OIL CO. SUED FOR ALLEGEDLY BILKING LANDOWNERS via Matt Dixon of POLITICO – Rooney sits on the board of an oil and natural gas company that was sued by landowners who in 2012 claim they were bilked millions of dollars from leased lands. The class-action lawsuit, filed by Chieftain Royalty Company, alleges that Oklahoma-based Laredo Petroleum underpaid landowners by $10 million in royalties. Oil companies typically lease land from individuals or businesses, and pay them royalties, or a percentage of the money made from oil produced on their property. … In 2013, Laredo sold any assets tied to the legal challenge to a private equity firm that later settled the issue for $6.6 million. That settlement was made to avoid a costly trial. Laredo continued to claim the allegations were frivolous.

CLINTON BACKS DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, PRAISING HER ‘FIGHTING SPIRIT’ via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Clinton formally endorsed Wasserman Schultz, who faces her first primary challenger in 24 years in Tim Canova, a political novice backed by Clinton’s former rival, Bernie Sanders. “I have to have her in Congress, by my side, working day after day,” Clinton told die-hard Wasserman Schultz supporters packed in the strip-mall campaign office. She hugged the Weston congresswoman and kissed her on the cheek — and told activists to give Wasserman Schultz a victory in the Aug. 30 Florida congressional primary.

clinton dws

“I really respect Debbie’s fighting spirit,” added Clinton. She also touted Wasserman Schultz’s budget-committee role in Congress — a senior position Canova wouldn’t immediately be able to fill — and the fact that Wasserman Schultz is the mother of school-age children. Canova is unmarried and doesn’t have kids. “We are going to make sure that Broward and Miami-Dade counties carry you,” said Wasserman Schultz, whose district extends to northeastern Dade. Clinton’s support for Wasserman Schultz is hardly surprising. The congresswoman is an honorary chairwoman of one arm of Clinton’s campaign. And Clinton praised Wasserman Schultz after the congresswoman stepped down last month as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, a resignation prompted by a leaked-emails scandal that exposed how some party staffers preferred Clinton to Sanders.

BERNIE SANDERS CONTINUES TO FUNDRAISE FOR TIM CANOVA via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – Sanders sent another fundraising email today on behalf of Canova who will face U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary Aug. 30. “Much like in our campaign for president, Tim started off as a major underdog in this race, battling a well-known and well-established person who was the chairwoman of the Democratic Party,” Sanders wrote. “He is running a tough campaign on the kind of progressive platform we need to see in this country: opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, backing free tuition at public colleges and universities, reforming a corrupt campaign finance system and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Tim is on the side of working people and that’s why we need to help him win.” No word yet on whether Sanders will appear in the Broward/Miami-Dade district on behalf of Canova.

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PRIVATE PRISON VENDOR MAKES BIG INVESTMENT IN JOE AND REBECCA NEGRON via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – In very organized fashion, the nation’s second largest private-prison company has steered at least $288,000 to the political enterprises of Rebeccaand Joe Negron, the Stuart Republicans hoping to become Florida’s most powerful political couple. The Geo Group contributed $43,000 to the congressional campaign of Rebecca Negron on two separate days in 2015 and 2016, and gave another $50,000 June 22 to the super PAC that is supporting her, Conservative Congress Now! according to federal campaign finance reports. The Boca Raton-based mega-corporation has also given $27,500 to the political committee of Sen. Joe Negron, Treasure Coast Alliance and $167,500 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Committee which he controls. Negron has been designated the Senate’s next president for the 2017-18 cycle. Why the deep investment into the Negron family? Neither the company nor the candidates would answer that pointed question.


ny fundraiser

KEITH PERRY, ROD SMITH BRING IN BIG MONEY IN SD 8 RACE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Perry and Smith have raised a combined $712,000 in Senate District 8. State records show Perry, a state representative since 2010, raised $16,760 between July 23 and July 29. The one-week fundraising haul brought his total fundraising to $330,237. The Gainesville Republican received $1,000 donations from The Celebration Company, Disney Photo Imaging, Disney Vacation Development, and the Walt Disney Travel Company. Perry spent $8,299 during the one-week fundraising period and ended the period with $190,326 cash on hand. Perry will face Smith, the former chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, who raised $12,435 in the one-week fundraising period. He received $1,000 donations from the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, ABFD LCC and Ashbritt, Inc.

BY ALLOWING MONEY TRANSFER, OSCAR BRAYNON AND SENATE CAUCUS NOW BACKING ED NARAIN IN COMPETITIVE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY via Florida Politics – Narain has emerged as the preferred choice of Braynon and his caucus over state Representative Darryl Rouson, former state Representative Betty Reed, and trial attorney Augie Ribeiro. The four Democrats are competing for their party’s nomination in Senate District 19, a seat stranding Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and currently held by term-limited Arthenia Joyner. The predominantly African-American district was at one of the seats at the center of the contentious effort to redraw Florida’s legislative districts in accordance with new constitutional directives against political gerrymandering. “After much consideration, the members have decided that Representative Narain has the best chance of winning this seat and that he also best reflecting the ideals of our caucus,” said Braynon in a telephone conversation. While the Florida Democratic Party has allowed the transfer of so-called soft money from political committees engaged in competitive statewide primaries (such as in the Charlie Crist versus Nan Rich race in 2014) and also in primaries where an incumbent legislator was being challenged (for example, Geraldine Thompson and Reggie Fullwood both received party support in their re-election races), there is no precedent for the party getting involved in a competitive race where there is not an incumbent.

FLORIDIANS FOR ETHICS AND TRUTH IN POLITICS RELEASES AD SLAMMING GREG STEUBE — The ad slams Steube for cronyism, and says the Sarasota Republican has “lost our trust.” The 30-second spot — called “Just Plain Steube-Cronyism” — focuses on legislation passed in 2013 that creates a framework for public private partnerships. Becker & Poliakoff, the law firm where Steube is an attorney, saw a financial benefit from the legislation. “This is cronyism. This is despicable. And Greg Steube has lost our trust,” an announcer says in the advertisement. Steube is locked into a tough primary against Doug Holder and Nora Patterson in Senate District 23.

LIZBETH BENACQUISTO RAISES ANOTHER $44 K IN SD 27 PRIMARY via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – State records show the Fort Myers Republican raised $44,475 between July 23 and July 29. The one-week fundraising haul boosted her total fundraising to $394,316. Top donors included the Florida Society of Pathologists, JLR Medical Group, Liberty Partners, Ocala Breeders Sales Co., Walt Disney Travel Co. and Waste Management Inc. of Florida, all of which gave $1,000. Benacquisto spent just $230 during the one-week fundraising period. All told, her campaign has spent $328,372. She ended the one-week fundraising period with $65,943 in the bank. First elected in 2010, Benacquisto served as the majority leader from 2012 until 2014. She’s a top ally of Senate President Designate Joe Negron and is expected to play a prominent role in the Florida Senate in the coming years. Benacquisto faces Sanibel Island Republican Jason Maughan in the Senate District 27 primary.

IN DUELING POLLS, ERIC LYNN SAYS HE LEADS IN HD 68; BEN DIAMOND SAYS NO, HE IS LEADING via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Lynn’s campaign announced a survey of 400 likely Democratic voters taken last week showing Lynn up by double digits over Diamond, 39 percent to 27 percent. “Eric Lynn is building a lead in the Democratic Primary as he introduces himself to voters across every region of the district,” said pollster David Beattie, senior principal at EMC Research. “With a strong grassroots team and a well-funded communications campaign, Eric Lynn is positioned to win the Democratic Primary.” Not so fast, countered the Diamond campaign. Just a minute or so after Lynn sent out his statement, the Diamond campaign announced they would be issuing out their own internal poll. An hour later, they released a statement saying their poll shows Diamond leading Lynn by nine points, 36 to 27 percent.


Dennis Baxley, running for Florida Senate District 12, has been endorsed by the Florida Medical Association Political Action Committee (FMA PAC).

Peter Vivaldi, running for Florida Senate District 15, has been endorsed by the Personhood Florida Pro-Life PAC.

Brian Hodgers, running for Florida House District 52, has been endorsed by the Florida credit union political action committee (CUPAC).

Robert Asencio, running for Florida House District 118, has received the endorsement of Teamsters Local 769.

HAPPENING TOMORROWAlan Williams is hosting a fundraiser in his bid for Leon County Supervisor of Elections beginning 5:30 p.m. at Table 23 Restaurant, 1215 Thomasville Road in Tallahassee. Suggested contribution is $50. RSVP via email at

HANDWRITTEN NOTE OF THE DAY left on the car of Tampa Bay political activist Tim Heberlein:


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JOE NEGRON ENDORSES MASSIVE LAND BUY TO EASE LAKE OKEECHOBEE RUNOFF WOES via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Senate President-designate Negron … will push for a massive, $2.4 billion public works project to create 60,000 acres of water storage south of Lake Okeechobee, signaling a major break in one of Florida’s longest political and environmental battles. Negron … said the land-buy is needed to ease the deadly environmental effect of discharges of Lake Okeechobee water fouled by runoff from sugar and vegetable farms and nearby residential and commercial development. The Indian River Lagoon, in Negron’s district, has turned green with toxic algae this summer, fueled by the nutrient rich water pushed out of the big lake to lower the risk of flooding. “For too long, our community has been plagued by tremendous environmental and economic impacts as hundreds of millions of gallons of water are released from Lake Okeechobee each year,” Negron said. “Permanent storage south of Lake Okeechobee is unquestionably needed as part of the overall plan to solve this catastrophic problem, particularly given the very devastating effects the current algal blooms are causing in both our estuaries and the Everglades.” Environmental organizations have been demanding the land buy for years to create new reservoirs for water storage. But Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature have denied the approach as too costly and scientifically unproven.

CLINTON VISITS GROUND ZERO FOR ZIKA AS NUMBER OF LOCALLY TRANSMITTED CASES CLIMBS TO 21 CASES via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – “I’m very disappointed that the Congress went on recess before agreeing what resources to put in this fight,” Clinton told the medical staff of the Borinquen Medical Centers of Miami-Dade County, which is testing those worried they may have contracted the Zika virus. Clinton’s remarks dovetail with news that the number of locally transmitted Zika Virus cases in Florida increased by four, bringing the number of locally transmitted cases up to 21. Gov. Scott announced in a statement that the new transmissions were in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood and called on Congress to immediately come back in session and fund a Zika preparedness plan, saying a national response is needed. Scott, meanwhile, continued to express frustration with the Obama administration and Congress … Scott said the Obama administration had not fulfilled the state’s requests for an additional 10,000 Zika prevention kits for pregnant women and that guidance on tapping into available Federal Emergency Management Association dollars hasn’t been made available … “The federal government must stop playing politics and Congress needs to immediately come back to session to resolve this.” The governor has pushed for national funding, while touting his decision to make available through an executive order $26 million in state funds to help prevent the spread of Zika. However, just $1.9 million has been spent.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA BLOOD BANK TESTS DONATIONS FOR ZIKA VIRUS via The Associated Press – The SunCoast Blood Bank, which supports hospitals in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties, is testing all donors for the Zika virus … although no locally transmitted cases have been reported in southwest Florida, the blood bank is testing all donations …  SunCoast Blood Bank’s testing for the virus, which causes severe birth defects if acquired during pregnancy, could also help boost the blood bank’s overall supply. Throughout the summer, as the Zika virus has spread throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America, the blood bank has turned away donors who have traveled to Zika-affected countries within 28 days of their blood donation. Now the blood bank will test all donors and could potentially accept blood from people who have traveled to affected areas.

ZIKA REPORTS BLAMED FOR BUSINESS DOWNTURN IN MIAMI’S WYNWOOD via The Associated Press – At an emergency meeting … the Wynwood Business Improvement District urged state, local and federal officials to hasten efforts to clear mosquitoes that carry the virus from the area. It also asked for recovery funds to make up for lost business since the U.S. mainland’s first locally acquired Zika cases were reported in the neighborhood north of downtown Miami. Ken Bercel took out a $15,000 loan to keep his Lost and Found Saloon open after customers stopped coming … “Money is coming out of our savings, our banks, our lenders, just to keep the business open right now,” said Bercel. “How do we finish this summer?” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned pregnant women to avoid traveling to Wynwood. Pregnant women who live there have been told to take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Miami-Dade County is using aerial spraying of pesticides in the affected area, in addition to door-to-door inspections. [RickScott has urged people to continue patronizing Wynwood businesses. The Miami Parking Authority has announced special rates in Wynwood for its monthly art walk Saturday and on Wednesdays through Aug. 31. An international “open for business” campaign by the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau will help promote special events and deals in Wynwood, said Rolando Aedo, the agency’s senior vice president of marketing and tourism. Some residents and tourists remain undaunted by the advisory and have continued visiting the neighborhood with trendy boutiques, a lively bar scene and bold outdoor murals. But the Herald reports business owners are taking significant losses. At R House, a restaurant and lounge, executives said business Saturday was down 90 percent. “You’re saying we’re open for business but nobody is coming,” R House owner Rocco Carulli said.

— “Texas reports its first Zika-related infant death” via Helen Branswell of

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will attend a consumer protection fair and hold media availability at 9:30 a.m. at the Eisenhower Regional Recreation Center, 3560 Buena Vista Blvd. in The Villages.

UNLIKE OTHER STATES, FLORIDA STILL BANS FOOD STAMPS FOR DRUG CONS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Some states recently have been moving to ease or eliminate restrictions on food stamps for people with drug convictions. Florida isn’t one of them. It’s now one of a handful of states that still prohibits drug-felony ex-cons from getting help. Earlier this year, Georgia removed its ban on drug felons receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, a program more commonly known as food stamps. The feds enacted a blanket ban in 1996 as part of the ongoing war on drugs begun by President Richard Nixon in the 1970s. Food stamps are paid for by the federal government and administered by the states. As Stateline explains, “It prohibits those convicted of felony drug crimes — but not other felonies — from receiving food stamps and cash assistance, but states have the option of relaxing those rules.” Florida and six other states — Arizona, Indiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia — “still have full bans on drug felons receiving food stamps,” the blog reported. Indeed, especially with the easing of the recession, the Sunshine State has made it harder to get benefits. The state restored its work requirements earlier this year. A four-person family, for example, has to have “net monthly income” of $2,021 — the poverty line — to qualify.

PSC APPROVES DUKE NUKE FEES via Florida Politics – In a pro forma move, the Public Service Commission OK’d Duke Energy Florida‘s plan to charge customers for its nuclear energy costs. The commission unanimously approved the roughly $52 million in recovery in a five-minute hearing on the request for next year. The utility will use the money to defray costs from shutting down its Crystal River nuclear plant in Citrus County. The approval comes after last year’s request from Florida Power & Light to charge its customers $34 million in nuclear power plant projects for 2016. Public utilities can charge their customers in advance of building nuclear power plants thanks to a state law passed in 1996, but nuclear cost recovery remains controversial in Florida. Customers with Progress Energy, which was acquired by Duke, paid nearly $500 million for upgrades to the Crystal River nuclear power station, a plant that was permanently shut down in 2013 because of damage involving cracks to a containment building.

FPL PROPOSES $24.5M REFUND AFTER FRACKING VENTURE APPROVAL OVERTURNED via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Florida Power & Light Co. is proposing to refund $24.5 million to customers in costs associated with a fracking venture in Oklahoma after the Florida Supreme Court overturned approval. The Supreme Court in May ruled that the exploration, drilling and production of fuel fell outside the purview of an electric utility as defined by state law. That sent the case back to the Public Service Commission Tuesday. The case was a lightning rod both for critics of the state’s largest utility and critics of hydraulic fracturing, the controversial oil and gas extraction process.

JANET CRUZ MAKES CHANGES TO MINORITY OFFICE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO – Incoming House minority leader Janet Cruz has let go the office’s longtime staff director, Durward Brewer, as she installs her own leadership team. … She also let go communications director Paul Flemming, who was hired by outgoing Minority Leader Mark Pafford in 2014. Prior to that, he worked for the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.


Michael Abrams, Brian Ballard, Amy Young, Ballard Partners: City Year

Stacy Arias, Southern Strategy Group: Appriss

Adam Corey, Unconventional Strategies: Broward College Foundation

Jonathan Costello, Gary Rutledge, Rutledge Ecenia: Exacta Systems

Thomas Culligan: Publix Super Markets

Marc Dunbar, Jones Walker: American Sportfishing Association

Mark Thomasson, Littlejohn Mann & Associates: American Water Works Association (Florida Section)

AUTOPSIES: A THIRD OF PULSE NIGHTCLUB VICTIMS SHOT IN HEAD via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press – More than a third of the 49 patrons killed during the Pulse nightclub massacre were shot in the head, and most of the victims had multiple bullet wounds, according to autopsy reports released this week. Only two victims had traces of soot, gunpowder or stippling, meaning most of the victims were likely more than 3 feet away when they were shot in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The autopsies show that about half of the victims had five wounds or more, and one victim had 13 wounds. “It shows he shot a lot and had a lot of ammo,” said Dr. Stephen Cina, a Colorado-based forensic pathologist, who has no connection to the case. The large number of head injuries and multiple wounds on victims suggests Mateen was targeting his victims rather than shooting randomly, said Josh Wright, a former Florida Department of Law Enforcement firearms analyst who now has a forensics consulting firm in Tallahassee. “I wouldn’t expect to have those many hits on those many people if you weren’t actually trying to take aim and make sure you hit your target rather than running around, spraying bullets,” said Wright, who also has no connection to the case.

WHY I’M LEAVING TEACHING: A FLORIDA TEACHER’S PAINFUL DECISION via Andrew Marra of the Palm Beach Post – Here, Megan Webb, who spent a decade as an elementary teacher in Palm Beach County, Florida’s public schools, talks about the role that slow wage growth played in her recent decision to leave: For the first time in 10 years, I am not anxiously preparing my classroom, anticipating the arrival of 20 energetic children and a new year full of learning, laughter and excitement. Instead, I am preparing myself for a new career in the business world. And not because I wanted to. I absolutely loved my teaching job at Equestrian Trails Elementary. But sadly, love just isn’t enough. Why am I leaving? I am being forced to make a decision between the absolute love of teaching and living up to my potential to support myself. Since graduating from college, I have been fortunate enough to focus on my work, and ignore my stagnant income by living with my parents. It has been a very comfortable living arrangement that’s worked well for my family and me, and I just assumed I would move out when I “met the right guy.” But, that hasn’t happened yet, and at the age of 32, I decided it is time for me to move out on my own and become a fully independent adult. There is just one giant obstacle standing in my way: I simply cannot support myself comfortably with my current income. When I started teaching in the Palm Beach County School District a decade ago, I made $33,830. Today, I make $43,239. While that’s a lot more than I made in my first year of teaching, it’s just $2,464 more per year than an incoming first-year teacher today, or an additional $274 for each year of experience.

DOLPHIN SNATCHES IPAD AT SEAWORLD ORLANDO via Fox 13 News – It only takes a second, but a visitor to SeaWorld Orlando learned the hard way to keep your valuables away from the touch tank. Over the weekend, video caught by another park goer shows a dolphin reaching up and out of a swim tank and snagging a woman’s iPad right out of her hands. As if that wasn’t unusual enough, the dolphin appeared to swim around jubilantly afterward. The video was shot by Kuadiel Gomez, a season pass holder from Wesley Chapel. They were at the dolphin viewing tank over the weekend and it happened when they were allowing people to touch the dolphins. “That dolphin just lunged and reached the lady, which was unbelievable,” said Gomez. There’s no word on the fate of the iPad. “As you can see, the dolphins can reach your loose items,” a SeaWorld worker is heard on video saying.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of the great gentlemen of Tallahassee, my friend — and many dogs’ best friend — Jack Cory.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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