Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 8.16.16 — 14 days until Florida’s primary elections

in Peter/Top Headlines by

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

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

ENOUGH ABOUT THE OLYMPICS…

… there are only 14 days left before Florida voters cast their ballots in the state’s primary elections. That is for the voters who will have not already mailed in their ballot. With this in mind, Sunburn is putting aside the Olympics coverage (that was fun, wasn’t it) and even the coverage of the presidential race for the time being and drilling down on the primaries. From the Democratic and Republican primaries for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat to the dozens of congressional and legislative races in play, Sunburn’s focus for the next two weeks will be on what’s at stake on August 30.

Beginning tomorrow and continuing until Election Day, we’ll lead Sunburn with deep-dives the most intriguing primary campaigns. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to offer you the most comprehensive coverage of congressional and state campaign news. Let’s start today with a ‘State of the State’ briefing on the money being spent in these elections, courtesy of Contribution Link, which is providing Sunburn readers a first look at these numbers.

CAMPAIGN SPENDING APPROACHES THE QUARTER-BILLION MARK

If money is speech, Florida’s politicians have gotten quite the talking to.

New analysis from the team at Contribution Link shows candidates and committees have raised $248.3 million through Aug. 5. Nearly three-quarters of that money went to political committees.

state of the state

That’s not surprising. Outside groups are spending big this election cycle, whether it be in TV ads or mailers. The analysis found committees have received $184.8 million in contributions so far this election. And the vast majority of that money — about 81 percent, or $149.7 million — went to political committees.

Party executive committees received about 11 percent of the contributions, or about $20.3 percent. Affiliated party committees brought in about $8 million; while electioneering communications organizations have received about $6.8 million.

Also unsurprising: Republicans are pulling in more campaign cash than Democrats and no party affiliation candidates combined.

Candidates have raised $63.5 million thus far for the official campaigns. Of that, 54 percent, or $34.3 million, went to Republican candidates. Democrats received about 28 percent of the total contributions, or about $17.5 million. Contribution Link found no party affiliation candidates received about $11.7 million, or 18 percent of the contributions.

Keep in mind, that number will only go up. There’s still two weeks until the primary, and campaign finance reports covering the final weeks of the campaign are due on Aug. 19 and Aug. 26.

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SOLAR AMENDMENT SUPPORTERS SHINE, RAISE SEVEN FIGURES IN 2 DAYS via Florida Politics – Consumers for Smart Solar has raised more than $18.8 million since it began operations in July 2015, mainly through massive support from the utility industry. As of Aug. 5, the committee has about $3.1 million of that money on hand. Between July 30 and Aug. 5, Smart Solar took in eight contributions, including six-figure sums from Florida Power and Light, Tampa Electric Company and Gulf Power Company. Duke Energy also came in with a $1.5 million check July 30. The committee also brought in $100,000 from the Associated Industries of Florida and $200,000 from “Floridians for a Stronger Democracy,” the political committee chaired by AIF’s Ryan Tyson. Expenditures for the month came in at $64,976, including $37,824 for polling from Alabama-based Hill Research Consultants and $27,102 for consulting and web hosting services from Winter Park-based Consensus Communications.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund and Patrick Murphy will host a press call at 10 a.m. Murphy will be joined by Tiernan Sittenfeld, the group’s senior vice president of government affairs, on the call. Media should RSVP to press@murphyforflorida.com.

— “In Tampa, Patrick Murphy says Marco Rubio is running to be President, not a full-time Senator” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

MARCO RUBIO STANDS BY ‘CON MAN’ REMARK BUT MAINTAINS SUPPORT FOR DONALD TRUMP via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “Do you still think he’s a con man?” That question, regarding Trump, was posed to Rubio … “I’ve stood by everything I ever said in my campaign, and that said, we’re in a different place now … Now we have a binary choice. Not a choice between 15 people or 12 people. There are two people in the world that are going to be the next president, either Donald or Hillary.” Rubio said he disagrees with Trump on “many issues,” but that he disagrees with Clinton more. (On some foreign policy aims, though, Rubio and Clinton are more aligned. They both once supported the trans-Pacific Parternship trade deal Trump now blasts.) “We’ve never had a choice like that before us … It’s the choice we have in 2016. I would just remind everybody that in our republic, while the presidency is powerful, there is a balance of power in this county and a significant amount of it resides in the United States Senate. it’s one of the reasons why I seek to run again.” He said that he signed a pledge to support the nominee, and added that it helped him gain access to GOP voter data.  

Rubio won’t say whom he voted for in Miami-Dade mayor’s race” via Patricia Mazzei and Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald

CARLOS BERUFF KNOCKS RUBIO OVER ATTENDANCE IN NEW AD — The 30-second spot features Floridians talking about Rubio’s time in the U.S. Senate, saying Rubio didn’t show up when Floridians needed him. “I liked Marco Rubio. When he was running for the Senate originally back in 2010 I liked him a lot. When he got to the Senate, he forgot who elected him and why they elected him. … He didn’t do what he said he was going to do.” Beruff trails Rubio in the polls.

VETERANS SHOW THEIR SUPPORT FOR MATT GAETZ IN NEW AD — The Gaetz campaign released a new advertisement featuring four veterans from Florida’s 1st Congressional District. The veterans talk about their support for Gaetz, saying the Fort Walton Beach Republican “fought for veterans” while he was in the Florida House. “When I needed Matt, he had my back, now I have his,” says Nathan Nelson, a retired U.S. Air Force captain. Florida’s 1stCongressional District is home to a significant number of military personnel, both active and retired. About 22 percent of the population of the district are veterans. “There is no higher honor than having the support of true American heroes like Col. Howard Hill, Col. Ron Webb, Mgst. Joe Deslauriers, and Capt. Nathan Nelson, and many other veterans here in Northwest Florida,” said Gaetz in a statement. “In the Florida House, I fought to make Florida the most veteran friendly state in the nation through initiatives like the Florida G.I. Bill, funding for homes and rehabilitative services for wounded warfighters, and the protection of our military personnel’s personal information from terror groups like ISIS. In Congress, I will fight every day to keep our military strong and care for our veterans, who sacrificed their lives to protect our freedoms.”

NEW HACKER DOCUMENT DUMP INCUDES DCCC NOTES ON CD 13 RACE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Files posted by hacker group Guccifer 2.0 include internal documents from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on congressional races in Florida. They explicitly contain “campaign overviews” and “paths to victory” in Congressional Districts 7, 10, 13, 18 and 26. The document related to the Pinellas County’s 13th Congressional District race is dated from April when Eric Lynn was still running against Charlie Crist for the Democratic nomination. The campaign document overview says this about CD 13: “The un-gerrymandering and elimination of minority-packed districts has changed the makeup of FL-13 making it much more favorable to Democrats … The district is entirely within the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater media market, which has a cost per point of $450 for candidates and $540 for issue campaigns. The Florida 13 will include Gov. Crist’s hometown of St. Petersburg, where he currently lives and spends much of his time. Eric Lynn is also a native of St. Pete.” … it does have a few things to say about former Mayor Rick Baker, still rumored at the time to be considering a run for the Republican nomination: Baker (Not announced but has been floated as potential R candidate). Attempted to withhold $2.3 million in pay raises from city workers, but received raises from City Council at 12:50 a.m. after television cameras left. Supported increase in utility fees. “Unsure” about whether he supported in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants.

HAPPENING TODAY — CHARLIE CRIST TOURS DUVAL PARK VETERANS COMPLEX — The former governor will tour Duval Park, a new affordable housing community for veterans with disabilities and their families. Crist, who is running in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, will tour the community with veterans. The event starts at 10 a.m. at Duval Park, 5025 Duval Circle in St. Petersburg. Media interested in attending the events should RSVP to franco@catecomm.com.

REBECCA NEGRON AND BRIAN MAST TRADE BARBS OVER CONTRIBUTIONS via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO – Congressional hopeful Mast slammed … Negron, for engaging in what he called “pay-to-play politics” in connection with the work of her husband, Florida Senate president designate Joe Negron. And her campaign is firing back, attacking him for taking money from the sugar industry – money he defended accepting in April and returned in June. Mast pointed to tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the dental industry that flowed to Negron’s campaign days after the passage of a bill sponsored by her husband that carves out dental services from the list of mandated benefits that HMOs must provide the poor, and directs an arm of the Legislature to study the effectiveness of the dental care the HMOs provide. The controversial bill was supported by MCNA Dental, which lost Medicaid contracts to provide dental care after the state moved to a mandatory Medicaid managed care program in 2011. Within a week of Gov. Scott signing the bill, MCNA executives, employees and their families gave well over $60,000 to Rebecca Negron’s campaign, and have given thousands more since. The Negron campaign responded to questions about the MCNA contributions by saying the company’s founder, Jeffrey Feingold, and associates in his company “know that Rebecca will always support and defend the state of Israel. They also appreciate Rebecca’s shared background in health care. Rebecca has known Dr. Feingold for many years and appreciates his support.” Negron campaign officials hit back at Mast for having taken money from the sugar industry.

RANDY PERKINS, JONATHAN CHANE TRADE NEGATIVE ADS AS PRIMARY NEARS via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – After more than a month of TV ads that seemed geared toward the general election, Democratic congressional candidate Perkins last week began airing an attack ad on primary foe Chane in the race for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 congressional seat. Chane has been bashing Perkins on TV for his past hefty contributions to Republicans. Chane, trying to brand himself to primary voters as the only true Democrat in the race, is running a TV spot and sending out mailers that attack Perkins for hefty contributions he’s made to Florida Gov. Scott and other Republicans. Perkins’ new ad calls first-time candidate Chane a “politician … hiding behind lies and attacks” and features tinted slow-motion footage of Chane.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ HITS BACK ON TIM CANOVA CALL TO DISARM MIDDLE EAST, ISRAEL via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – After Wasserman Schultz had accused her Democratic congressional opponent, Canova, of wanting to disarm Israel, Canova changed the wording on his website. But Wasserman Schultz is not taking her foot off the pedal on the issue. “The best way to protect American and Israeli security is to focus on disarming those actors who threaten it,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement … “Throughout my time in Congress I have co-sponsored legislation to impose sanctions on Iran and its proxies for their use of weapons … As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I have consistently voted in support of defensive weapons programs like the Iron Dome for Israel. Given that Israel is surrounded by dangerous state actors and terrorist organizations committed to its destruction, disarming Israel is not only unrealistic, it would be one of the gravest international security disasters of our time.” In Sunday morning’s debate on CBS4, Canova said he only meant Saudi Arabia and Iran, not Israel. The language on his website now says: “We should recognize that peace and security for Israel, the U.S., and the rest of the world is no longer possible without general disarmament and fundamental political and social reforms — specifically in Iran, Saudi Arabia and among other state sponsors of terror — throughout the Middle East.”

ANNETTE TADDEO RELEASES 2ND TV AD IN MIAMI CONGRESSIONAL RACE via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — Taddeo released her second TV ad Monday – and … it ignores her Democratic rival for Congress and takes aim at the Republican presidential nominee instead. “Our kids are counting on us to ensure working families can thrive, to protect healthcare for moms and daughters,” Taddeo says in the ad, “and to take a stand against the offensive rhetoric from Donald Trump that hurts so many of us.” Taddeo faces Joe Garcia, a former congressman, in Florida’s 26th Congressional District’s Democratic Primary.

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PROFILE: LINDA STEWART, DEMOCRAT RUNNING FOR SENATE DISTRICT 13 via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Stewart was a surprise rising star in Central Florida politics when she won a low-budget, grassroots campaign to upset an entrenched incumbent for the Orange County Commission in 2002, yet she quickly established herself as one of the best-known voices for Democratic politics. Now Stewart … is running for the Florida Senate in Senate District 13, which includes much of the areas she served as a county commissioner and as a state representative. Competition is tough, with another former state representative, Mike Clelland, and a longtime Orange County School Board member, Rick Roach, seeking the Democratic nomination, and well-financed Republican nominee Dean Asher waiting for whomever wins. What are 3 issues that you’re running on? “Environment, women’s rights, expanding health care.” In 140 characters, what’s a tweet that best describes your campaign message. “Linda Stewart has represented the Orlando area for over 10 years, serving as a commissioner from 2002-2010 and a State House Representative for District 47 from 2012-2014. She wants to bring her experience to the district to improve the community.”

RITCH WORKMAN CALLS FOR DEBBIE MAYFIELD TO RESIGN OVER RESIDENCY via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The reason? Mayfield appears to live outside of her district. According to bio box in Florida Today, Mayfield told the newspaper she moved to Brevard County in 2015. She listed her hometown as Rockledge. Mayfield was re-elected to House District 54 in 2014. The district encompasses all of Indian River and part of St. Lucie counties. No part of Brevard County, which is to the north of Indian River County, is located in House District 54. “This is stunning because Mayfield has been collecting a monthly pay check to represent a district where she no longer lives,” said Workman in a statement. “The people of Indian River and St. Lucie counties deserve a representative who actually lives in the district, not someone who abandoned them for personal gain.” Florida House rules require a member to be a legal resident of his or her election “at the time of the election.” The rules state a representative “shall maintain his or her legal residence within that district for the duration of his or her term in office.” Workman and Mayfield are both running in Senate District 17, which includes Brevard and Indian River counties. The race has become one to watch, and outside groups are pouring thousands of dollars into the Aug. 30 primary.

DANA YOUNG GETS INTO OLYMPIC SPIRIT IN NEW ADVERTISEMENT via Florida Politics — Young, a Tampa Republican, released the Olympic-themed message Monday. The 30-second spot is meant to focus on how the international sporting event brings people together. “The Olympics are a special time, when we put aside our differences, and focus on what unites us as Americans,” she says in the ad. “A time when we recognize what it takes to be a champion – the endless preparation, the personal sacrifice, the drive to win. Now, I was never really good enough to run the 440, but like you, I’m there in spirit, all the way.” The spot began airing on Aug. 12 and will run until Aug. 21, the final day of the summer Olympics. Young faces Democrat Bob Buesing in the November general election.

FORMER 2 LIVE CREW MEMBER ENDORSES STATE SENATE CANDIDATE, TRASHES ANOTHER via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell … once known by his stage name Luke Skyywalker, is now a fixture in Liberty City through his work with youth football programs, the defensive coordinator at Miami Jackson High School and a former candidate for Miami-Dade mayor. He announced his support for former Miami Beach commissioner Michael Góngora last week in the District 38 state Senate race and cautioned against voting for state Rep. Daphne Campbell. “In the crowded field to replace retiring state Sen. Gwen Margolis — forced out after making dumb comments about Haitians coming after her seat — the most recognizable names are state Rep. Daphne Campbell and former Miami Beach commissioner Michael Góngora,” Campbell said on his blog last week. “I’ve seen signs for Campbell all over northeast Miami-Dade County, but I never heard of her until a quick Google search revealed a trail of news stories documenting fraudulent schemes she and her family members have been involved in since she got into office. So I’m going with Góngora, who hasn’t been rocked by scandal and who has been reaching out to black voters.”

MDP NOW AT 457K FOR SD 37 BID – Miami Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla built up his lead over Miami Democratic Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez in the race for SD 37 after posting nearly $30,000 in contributions between July 30 and Aug. 5. With $456,000 on hand, Diaz de la Portilla holds a better than $200,000 campaign finance advantage over Rodriguez, though his major challenger this cycle is the new, more Democrat-friendly district, rather than the second-term representative.

SCHOOL CHOICE ADVOCATES ADVERTISE DEM. PRIMARY via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – In recent weeks, the Florida Federation for Children has sponsored mailers in support of Dianne Williams-Cox, who is running for a state House of Representatives seat representing west Tallahassee and nearby Gadsden County. She’s facing three other Democrats in an Aug. 30 primary that will decide the election, since the winner will face only a write-in candidate who hasn’t campaigned … According to one of the mailers, Williams-Cox will “stand up to Republicans and special interests who threaten our future.” Another says she will fight for raises for state employees, expand access to health care under President Barack Obama‘s signature Affordable Care Act and support job-training programs … While her positions on those issues likely appeal to voters in the Democratic stronghold of the state capital, they aren’t why the group behind the mailers is backing her. Rather, the group is interested in her support for alternatives to traditional public education, including privately run charter schools and a corporate tax-credit scholarship program that allows low-income students to attend private schools.

FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION ENDORSES DONNIE HORNER FOR HD 11 – “Every day, Donnie works closely with a number of Florida’s major retailers and knows firsthand how important they are to the success of our state’s economy and to Florida families,” said FRF President & CEO Randy Miller. “His goal of reducing taxes on families, growing jobs and improving Florida’s overall business-friendly environment will be a big help to retailers in his position as House Representative for District 11.”

HD 47 DEMOCRAT HENRY LIM DISMISSES 2015 GUN CHARGE AS OVERSIGHT via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Lim was arrested for carrying a gun into the Miami U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in 2015, a case he said was due to his unfortunate oversight. Lim, an immigration lawyer, said he was representing a client in Miami and left Orlando early the morning of Nov. 6, 2016, with a loaded Baretta 0.32-calber handgun he uses for self-protection in his briefcase. He said by the time he got to Miami he was tired from the long, night of work the night before and a long, early-morning drive, and forgot the gun was in there. But he was reminded it was in there after U.S. Homeland Security officers found it in the security check. There was a bullet in the Baretta’s chamber and the safety was off, according to his arrest affidavit. Lim was arrested by a Miami police officer for unlawful carry of a concealed firearm, a felony, and later released on a $5,000 surety bond. Lim did not have a concealed weapons permit at the time because the permit he once had expired more than three years earlier. Lim said that also was an oversight on his part, and he has since applied for a new permit. No formal charges were ever filed against him by the state attorney in the incident, he said. The case against him was dismissed with no action a month later. “I simply forgot to take the handgun out of my briefcase,” he told FloridaPolitics.com.

HOUSE DISTRICT 54 RACE GETS UGLY, OUTLANDISH via Laurence Reisman of TC Palm – Give Lange Sykes credit for at least attaching his name to the most outlandish message this election season: that a fellow candidate in the Florida House District 54 Republican Primary is associated with investor and liberal donor George Soros. A Sykes commercial — aptly titled “Shark” — accuses Erin Grall of volunteering for a Soros-funded organization that helps illegal immigrants. It comes on the heels of a mailing from the Conservative Leadership Fund, a political action committee, which falsely claims Grall’s “secret past” was as vice president of the group Equal Justice Works. Like most bogus PAC-funded junk mail, there’s a tiny shred of truth in its claim. As a law student in 2003, Grall was student representative on the national board of Equal Justice Works. The nonprofit’s noble belief: “the poorest and most vulnerable among us deserve the same access to justice and quality legal representation as more fortunate citizens,” according to its website … While Grall hasn’t gone negative, a Brevard-based political action committee, Truth in Politics, has. It has sent out fliers and made robocalls against Sykes. It has run a commercial showing Indian River County Commissioner Peter O’Bryan, during a hearing on the Oslo Boat Ramp, accuse Sykes of lying. In the nastiest race, state Senate District 17, Ritch Workman released a commercial Wednesday in which his wife and ex-wife team up to defend him from accusations made by Debbie Mayfield and a political committee supporting her. The two House members and Mike Thomas are battling in the Republican primary.

ADAM PUTNAM AND JEFF ATWATER BACK REBECCA SMITH FOR HILLSBOROUGH’S HD 60 SEAT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Atwater and Putnam announced their support for Smith three days after she snagged photos with the two officials at an event Putnam was speaking at in South Tampa. “I have known Rebecca Smith for many years,” Atwater said … “Rebecca is a proven business leader who knows how to get things done. Rebecca shares my conservative philosophy of lower taxes, less government, more personal freedom and personal responsibility. Rebecca has fought for our men and women in uniform, she will strongly support our law enforcement and first responders, and she knows how to create jobs and grow Tampa’s economy. Rebecca’s experience and background, combined with her true desire to serve and represent her community, make her well qualified to represent the residents of Florida House District 60.” Putnam followed suit, saying that, “Rebecca is a proven leader, who has served the community and fights hard for our shared values. I know Rebecca Smith to have the highest character and integrity and she put principles above politics. Rebecca Smith will stand strong for what’s right and we can count on her.”

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SLOWING GROWTH OF FLORIDA’S ECONOMY MAY LIMIT STATE SPENDING via The Associated Press –Florida’s economy continues to grow, but state economists concluded that there are signs of weakness in spending that could limit how much money legislators would have to spend next year. The new forecasts show that economists expect the state’s main budget account to grow 3.6 percent during the fiscal year that ends next June. They are then predicting growth as high as 4.6 percent in the 2017-18 fiscal year. These are smaller than forecasts adopted earlier this year. If those forecasts hold, then legislators will likely have a small budget surplus when they meet next spring, but not one that would make a lot of money available for new spending. Incoming Senate President Joe Negron has already announced his plans to boost spending on state universities. The Stuart Republican also wants to set aside money to purchase land south of Lake Okeechobee as part of a proposal to battle algae blooms along the coast. “It’s going to be tight,” said Amy Baker, coordinator for the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

RICK SCOTT APPEALS DENIAL OF FEDERAL STATE OF EMERGENCY FOR ALGAE BLOOMS via Isadora Rangel of TC Palm – Scott wrote in an appeal letter “the failure by the federal government to maintain and repair” the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee is the emergency. That’s despite the Army Corps of Engineers saying ongoing dike improvements aren’t designed to hold more water in the lake and, therefore, reduce discharges into the river that caused algae blooms. The Federal Emergency Management Agency “incorrectly” blamed Florida for not demonstrating a need for a federal emergency declaration, Scott wrote. And the Army Corps does not seem to have money to repair the dike up to “modern construction standards,” therefore making an emergency a necessity. FEMA denied the emergency request July 15, saying Florida failed to prove the state isn’t able to handle the “severity and magnitude” of the blooms. The blooms have decreased since then as Lake O discharges were reduced. Scott, who declared a Florida state of emergency in June, and state and local officials hoped a federal emergency would make more money available to address the algae.

TRANSGENDER WOMAN SUES STATE PRISONS AGENCY via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A transgender woman, currently held in a men’s prison, is suing the state Department of Corrections for denying her “hormone therapy and other medically necessary treatment.” The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which is representing Reiyn (pronounced “rain”) Keohane, filed suit on her behalf in federal court in Tallahassee. The complaint says the state is violating her constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. Keohane seeks a court order for the Department of Corrections to provide her with “hormone therapy, access to female clothing and grooming standards, and all other treatment for gender dysphoria deemed medically necessary,” the complaint says. In his filing, ACLU attorney Daniel Tilley says Keohane is so distraught from her “gender dysphoria” she has attempted to mutilate her own still-male genitals. It’s a medical diagnosis for “the incongruence between one’s gender identity and one’s sex assigned at birth and the clinical distress” that results.

DON GAETZ SAYS HE WILL APPLY FOR UWF PRESIDENCY via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – State Sen. Gaetz will apply to be president of the University of West Florida … The national firm conducting the search to replace retiring president Judith Bense informed Gaetz that several people nominated him to lead the Pensacola public university … “Today, I will submit a package in response to the nominations that I have received, and it’s up to the search committee whether they choose to interview me or how they want to proceed,” said Gaetz, a health care executive and former superintendent of Okaloosa County schools who has been weighing whether to apply in recent months. “I don’t think that I ought to be given any favorable treatment in the application process just because I have represented this area in the Senate,” he said. “I hope that the door wouldn’t be closed just because I’ve represented northwest Florida in the Senate. But if I’m considered, I ought to be considered as Don Gaetz, not as Senator Gaetz.” Gaetz, a former Senate president who served recently as chair of the chamber’s education budget committee, has been instrumental in setting higher education policy in recent years. Gaetz will be one of more than 60 applicants, according to recent reports. Provost Martha Saunders, who has twice served as a university president, told the Pensacola News Journal last month that she planned to apply.

ACT OF REVENGE? HOW THE ‘REVENGE PORN’ BILL ENDED UP SO FLAWED via Jason Garcia of Florida Trend – On June 10, Gov. Scott invited a handful of lawmakers and advocates to his office to watch him ceremonially sign a bill that makes it a crime to engage in “revenge porn” — posting intimate pictures of an ex-partner online. The triumphant image belied the fact that even some of the legislation’s strongest supporters believe the bill is deeply flawed. Sen. David Simmons, who carried the legislation through the Senate, says the law has “major defects.” Simmons says he was trying to resolve those defects near the end of the Legislature’s regular session this spring when House Speaker Steve Crisafulli suddenly shut his chamber down more than three days early — a move that the Florida Supreme Court later ruled violated the state constitution. Crisafulli’s move, amid a stalemate with the Senate over health care legislation, effectively killed hundreds of bills that were still being negotiated in the closing days of the session. And it forced some lawmakers to choose between accepting the House version of bills — without any opportunity to make changes — or allowing them to die. The revenge porn law makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to “sexually cyberharass” someone. A second violation is a felony. But there’s a caveat: The photo must also include “personal identification information” of the person who is depicted, which is defined elsewhere in state law as any “name or number” (such as address, date of birth or telephone number) that can be used to identify someone. Posting a sexually explicit photo by itself — to a Facebook page or a message board frequented by people who know the victim, for example — is not a crime. What’s more, the law only applies to photos that are posted to a website. Emailing or texting the photos to others — to everyone at a high school, for instance, or around a college campus — is still legal. The bill is “woefully restrictive” in what it covers, Simmons says. The Senate’s version of the bill would have applied to any photos in which the person could be recognized by his or her face and to photos that were emailed or texted to others, as well as posted online. The initial version of the House bill included those provisions.

INSURANCE COUNCIL COUNTERS CHALLENGE TO BIG WORKERS’ COMP RATE HIKE via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – An insurance industry council moved to block a legal challenge to proposed workers’ compensation premium increases of nearly 20 percent, warning that delay would threaten the solvency of Florida’s system for compensating injured workers. The state Office of Insurance Regulation is scheduled to take up the rate hike in Tallahassee. Delay, the National Council on Compensation Insurance warned, “could cause severe public harm, as workers’ compensation rates are currently not adequate to meet claims.” The group said in a legal motion that insurers could fall more than $1 billion short of what they need to pay claims. James Fee, a Miami lawyer who said he represents injured workers and buys workers’ compensation coverage for employees at his law firm, filed a lawsuit last week in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court seeking to block [the] public hearing. Aides to Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier asked the court to move the dispute to Tallahassee, citing a legal presumption that lawsuits against state agencies belong in Leon County Circuit Court. Fee’s lawsuit names the Council, the Office of Insurance Regulation and Altmeier.

APPOINTEDKymberlee Curry SmithBarbra Stern and J. Alex Kelly to the Florida Elections Commission.

SOUTHERN STRATEGY GROUP EARNS MORE THAN $2 MILLION FOR LEGISLATIVE LOBBYING IN Q2 via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics –The Tallahassee-based firm reported second quarter median compensation of more than $2.1 million for its legislative services. Those median earnings mean the firm will once again be among the Top 3 earners in the state. One of the firm’s top clients during the second quarter was MCNA Dental Plans … Spectra Energy Transmission and TECO Energy … Other clients included The Vestcor Companies … Mosaic Fertilizer, Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care, Inc., and United Insurance Holdings Corp. … American Traffic Solutions, Motorola Solutions and Tenet Healthcare Corp. Led by owner Paul Bradshaw and Chris Dudley, the team at Southern Strategy Group is made up of George AndersonThomas ArnoldLaura BoehmerMatt BrockelmanCaitlin BrongelDavid BrowningEdgar CastroKelly CohenNelson DiazMercer FearingtonSarrah GlassnerDeno HicksJerry Lee McDanielJames McFaddinPaul MitchellJonathan SetzerDavid Shepp,Clark SmithJim Smith, and Monte Stevens.

LOBBY TEAMS AT TOP LAW FIRMS REPORTED STRONG SECOND QUARTER EARNINGS via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The lobbying team at Colodny Fass reported a strong second quarter. Along with Michael Colodny, the lobbying team is made up of Douglas BruceTom GallagherNicole GraganellaTrevor MaskClaude MuellerMeredith Woodrum SnowdenNate Strickland, and Katherine Webb. Top clients … included Florida Peninsula Insurance group, HCA Healthcare, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and White Rock Quarries. Other clients included Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Dosal Tobacco Corp., and Florida Property & Casualty Association. Mark the second quarter of 2016 down as another healthy quarter for Foley & Lardner. Along with Robert Hosay, the Foley & Lardner team is made up of Erika AlbaKaren BowlingChristian CaballeroJonathan KilmanChristopher KisePaul LowellJames Andrew McKeeJustin Neal, and Jon Yapo. Top clients during second quarter included Cisco Systems, Inc., HNTB Corp., the Telehealth Association of Florida, Title Technologies and Xerox Business Services, LLC and its affiliates. Other clients included Tampa Bay Downs and Verizon … Gunster Yoakley & Stewart stayed busy in the second quarter … earning between $100,000 and $249,999 … The lobbying team at Gunster is made up of Joanna Lee Clary BonfantiDerek BruceLila JaberGregory MunsonJ. Larry Williams, and Cameron Yarbrough. Top clients … included the Coalition of Affordable Housing Providers, Florida Goodwill Association, Frontier Communications Corp., and RAI Services Co.  Other clients included SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Tampa Bay Downs and Henderson Beach Resort Hotel. The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners posted robust earnings during the second quarter of 2016. Along with Al Cardenas, the lobbying team is made up of Slater BaylissSarah BuskChristopher ChaneyJustin Day, and Stephen Shiver. Top clients … included Casino Miami Jai-Alai, which paid $20,000 and $29,999 for legislative services. Other clients during the second quarter included Duke Energy Corp., ecoATM, Inc., Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida, and JetBlue Airways Corp.

LOBBYING FIRMS FOCUSED ON TAMPA BAY STAYED BUSY DURING SECOND QUARTER via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Records show RSA Consulting Group stayed busy during the second quarter of 2016. The Brandon-based firm reported earning between $100,000 and $249,999 … Led by Ron Pierce, the lobbying team includes Edward Briggs and Natalie King. Top clients during the second quarter included the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center; David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa; the Pittsburgh Pirates, which holds spring training in Bradenton; the Tampa Bay Lightning; and the Tampa Sports Authority. Other clients included Uber and the Tampa Port Authority … Mark Anderson also saw healthy earnings during the three-month reporting period. Records show Anderson reported earning between $50,000 and $99,999 between April 1 and June 30. The strong quarter was buoyed by several Tampa Bay area clients, including Chief Executive Officers of Management Companies.  Other clients included the Art Institute of Tampa, the Florida Holocaust Museum, Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, and LM Funding. Anderson reported lower earnings in the second quarter than during the first three months of the year. Three firms — Moore Relations, Suskey Consulting and The Mallard Group — reported earning less than $50,000 for legislative services between April 1 and June 30Alan Suskey, the owner of Tallahassee-based Suskey Consulting, also reported earning between $1 and $49,999 in the second quarter. Suskey’s top clients during the second quarter included Dermazone Solutions, Great Explorations Children’s Museum, Gulf Power Company, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and the St. Petersburg Warehouse Arts District. Much like Anderson, Suskey reported lower earnings in the second quarter than during the first three months of the year. Travis Moore, the owner of St. Petersburg-based Moore Relations, also reported earning between $1 and $49,999 in the second quarter. Moore’s client list included the Community Associations Institute, Defenders of Wildlife, First Service Residential Florida, and the Corn Refiners Association. The Mallard Group, the Clearwater company owned by Jack Herbert, also reported earning between $1 and $49,999 between April 1 and June 30. Herbert reported having two clients — Florida Chiropractic Association and Fourth District-American Advertising Federation … Other firms with Tampa interests, like Louis Betz & Associates and Sunrise Consulting, reported strong earnings during the second quarter. Louis Betz & Associates reported earning between $50,000 and $99,999 in the three-month period, and boasted a portfolio that included the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and the Tampa Hillsborough County Expressway Authority. Sunrise Consulting also reported earning between $50,000 and $99,999 during the second quarter, and its client roster included the Pasco County Board of County Commissioners and the Pasco Hernando State College Foundation.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA – On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, a serving of politics and beer with freelance politics writer Ryan Ray who likes to keep track of all the trending topics in Florida politics. Gomes looks at the battle in South Florida between Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Nova Southeastern law professor Tim Canova as they face off in their first and only scheduled debate. Plus, a spotlight on some of the more interesting local races to watch. In all of the years Tampa Bay Times’ Tallahassee bureau chief Steve Bousquet has been covering politics, he tells Gomes he’s never seen anything like the last-minute maneuvering in the Leon County Sheriff’s race. Three of the four candidates ended up switching parties sending them all to the November ballot in a four-way race.

FLORIDA STATE’S QB DEONDRE FRANÇOIS FOCUSED ON HIMSELF, NOT JAMEIS WINSTON via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press – Francois realizes he isn’t going to escape comparisons to Winston. But as Florida State wraps up its first week of preseason practices, Francois is trying to gauge his progress by the expectations he has set. “If people want to compare me to Jameis they can do that. I’m not comparing myself to anyone,” Francois [said]. “I’m just trying to go out there and do the best that I can” … Francois is in line to become only the fourth freshman in 44 years to start an opener for Florida State. If Francois thought he would stop hearing about Winston after media day, the comparisons will intensify leading into the Sept. 5 opener against Mississippi in Orlando. Like Winston, who won the 2013 Heisman and led the Seminoles to their third national championship in 2013, Francois’ first start would come on Labor Day night in a nationally-televised game. Francois, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound redshirt freshman, was considered by many recruiting services to be the nation’s top dual threat quarterback in the 2015 recruiting class and continued to impress coaches by running the scout team last season. One person who is not comparing Francois against Winston is coach Jimbo Fisher. When asked what Francois has done well so far, Fisher pointed to his ability to physically make all the throws and doing a good job of preparing himself. “There’s not a part of the field he can’t reach,” Fisher added. “I like his offense. The run game, protections. He does a great job with the blitz stuff. I like his development so far.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rockie Pennington of Direct Mail Systems, Benjamin Kirby of the City of St. Petersburg, and Matt Choy.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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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