Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
CONTINUING OUR HYPER-FOCUS ON THE PRIMARY ELECTIONS: TWO DEMOCRATS BRAWL IN HD 46
The mostly African-American east Orlando district includes neighborhoods from Parramore to Tangelo Park. It is a dense, urban area with few suburban communities on the west end of the district.
Most of HD 46 is challenged with high rates of poverty, unemployment, low education levels and crime.
Party officials and other political observers say there is a real chance that Meade might upset the veteran lawmaker because she appears to be far more active working door-to-door and showing up at civic meetings, churches and political events this summer. But they still figure the odds favor Antone.
The winner of the Aug. 30 primary is assured election since there are no Republicans or other party candidates. There is a write-in candidate, ensuring the primary will be for Democrats only.
Antone has represented the district since 2012, and previously served a similar region from 2002-06. A former legislative aide to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer when he served in the Florida Senate, Antone has been involved in public life for decades.
“The people know me,” he confidently proclaimed. “They don’t know her.”
Meade is a career union and political activist and married to political advocate Desmond Meade, who is president of the Florida Restoration of Rights Coalition. She’s used to taking to the streets and is convinced she’s going to take the district away from Antone. It’s an area Antone hasn’t been seen in a long time, she charges.
Antone, she says, has become a representative of the special interests, pointing to his campaign money.
Virtually all the $30,750 Antone collected through Aug. 5 has come from political action committees, including at least $7,000 from those representing liquor, gambling and cash-advance businesses, which Meade calls industries preying on the impoverished communities in HD 46.
By contrast, Meade’s $22,100 in campaign money includes about $3,700 from organized labor and a few other PACs, but most have come by way of checks from individuals.
“It’s time for a change and someone who will be a voice of the people, not for special interests,” she said.
On most issues, the two agree: the need to help deter both crime and police brutality, as well as Medicaid expansion. Their differences are priorities. Meade has pushed hard for the restoration of felons’ rights in Florida, a campaign for which her husband has garnered national attention.
Antone says he considers rights restoration necessary; for him, however, it’s not a crusade. His mission is better jobs for people.
Antone has won endorsements from police and firefighters unions, the West Orange Chamber of Commerce and Planned Parenthood, among others.
He believes the area’s education prospects can be best improved with early-childhood intervention. So he’s pushed legislation for preschool readiness programs, and for a center at the University of Central Florida to provide school-readiness training to day care workers.
At the other end of the process, Antone and Orlando City Commissioner Sam Ings regularly organize jobs fairs.
“District 46 needs everything,” he said. “If I had a first priority, it would be helping the residents of District 46 get a job or a better-paying job.”
Meade believes the voting rights restoration issue is one that will help restore power to a community that’s lost a lot of political clout.
She’s received endorsements from several unions, the Florida Progressive Democrats Caucus, the Young Democrats of Orange County, and the national group Democracy for America, which is sprinkling campaign contributions to her from throughout the country.
Rights restoration, she said, is not just a big part of her campaign.
“It’s a big part of my life. As much as we give back to the community, get involved in the community, my husband [who is a felon] cannot be a part of the Democratic process,” Meade said. “He cannot cast a vote. When I go door-to-door in District 46, a lot of people have our same story. Every other door, somebody has somebody who does not have their rights or is incarcerated.
“I am what the community is made up of.”
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IS MARCO RUBIO LOOKING PAST PRIMARY TOO MUCH? CALLS IT ‘PRACTICE’ DURING CAMPAIGN STOP via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Rubio spent most of a 10 minute campaign speech to supporters in Tallahassee urging them to get out to vote in November, scantily mentioning he was even being challenged in a Republican primary … “If you do your part and I do mine, we’ll win in November, we’ll keep the majority in the Senate,” Rubio said. The majority of the speech was about how, if Republicans do not keep the majority, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer … would dictate public policy debates and vastly improve the chances that the next Supreme Court appointment will be nothing like the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly earlier this year. Then in the final 30 seconds of his speech, Rubio squeezed in a request for votes in the Aug. 30 primary. “If you haven’t voted already, I need you to vote in the primary,” Rubio said. “We’ve got to practice.” After the event, Rubio said he wasn’t saying his opponent or the primary was practice, but that it was practice for getting voters out to the polls. “We don’t take anything for granted,” Rubio said.
HAPPENING WEDNESDAY — MARCO RUBIO TO ATTEND RPOF VICTORY OFFICE OPENING IN LEE COUNTY — Rubio is slated to attend the opening of the Republican Party of Florida’s Victory Office in Fort Myers on Wednesday. Rubio will be joined by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and state Reps. Dane Eagle and Matt Caldwell. “The Republican Party of Florida Victory Office in Lee County will serve as a central location in Southwest Florida for grassroots activists to further the conservative message and get out the vote. I look forward to meeting with volunteers as we work hard to ensure Republican victories across the state of Florida,” he said in a statement. The event begins at noon, and doors open at 11:30 a.m. The office is located at 7910 Summerlin Lakes Drive in Fort Myers. Media interested in attending must RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by 8 a.m. Wednesday.
STATE GOP GIVING INDIRECT FINANCIAL BOOST TO RUBIO DURING PRIMARY via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The Republican Party of Florida and the Republican National Committee have not endorsed Rubio in his primary, but both have made procedural moves that quietly helped give his nascent re-election campaign a big boost — nearly $2 million in TV ads bought in direct coordination with his campaign. The moves came at a time when Republican leaders were trying to appear neutral in the primary but also entice a somewhat reluctant Rubio back into the race. The Federal Election Commission allows local, state and national political parties to coordinate directly with campaigns, including “coordinated spending authority” — an outside political party making spending decisions in direct coordination with a campaign. The cap varies in every election cycle; in 2016 the FEC has limited those coordinated efforts in Florida to $1.5 million … parties sometimes don’t directly coordinate with campaign, but first transfer their spending authority to separate committees. In the case of Rubio’s campaign, rather than coordinate directly, the RNC and state GOP both transferred their coordinated spending authority — $3 million total — to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The NRSC endorsed Rubio as soon as he announced June 22 that he would seek re-election. Making that transfer is usually routine, but the shuffling is most often used to prepare for the other party in the general election — not fund TV ads during a contested primary.
RUBIO, PATRICK MURPHY INK AGREEMENTS TO BOOST FUNDRAISING NETWORKS via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Rubio has signed an agreement with a committee called Keep the Senate Red 2016, which has fundraising agreements with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, along with Rep. Todd Young, who is running for Senate in Indiana, and Rep. Joe Heck, who is running for Senate in Nevada. On Aug. 10, the Keep the Senate Red 2016 transferred $39,262 to Rubio’s campaign account. It was part of the $3.2 million haul Rubio brought in between July 1-Aug. 10. Of that, $2.8 million came from individual donors and $333,900 from political action committees. Joint fundraising agreements are a way for candidates and committees to share donor resources and share the costs of raising money. Under the agreements, a contribution from one donor directly to a candidate can’t exceeded the federal contribution cap, which is $2,700 each for the primary and general elections. Rubio … also has an agreement with the NRSC and the Republican Party of Florida. Murphy has a network of established joint fundraising agreements … His newest agreement is with Schumer Committee for the Majority, a new committee controlled by likely incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer … The committee has fundraising agreements with Democratic senators across the country, including those in Indiana, Ohio, Iowa and Pennsylvania.
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NEW WEBSITE HITS MARY THOMAS’ RECORD via Florida Politics — A super PAC supporting Republican Neal Dunn in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District now has unleashed a website against his primary opponent, Thomas. “North Florida Neighbors” is behind SomethingAboutMaryThomas.com, which recycles by-now-familiar attacks against Thomas, mostly comparing her to former Gov. Charlie Crist. She was a state government lawyer under Crist and now works in the Rick Scott administration, as general counsel for the Department of Elder Affairs. As explained previously, Crist — the Republican-turned-independent-
ESAFUND AD ATTACKS THOMAS FOR CHARLIE CRIST TIES IN CD 02 via Theodoric Meyer of POLITICO Florida – A new TV ad from ESAFund, which has stepped up its involvement in GOP House primaries this summer, also attacks Thomas as a “Charlie Crist Republican” in the final days of her run for an open seat in North Florida … The ESAFund ad echoes a recently released spot from another group, Right Way Super PAC, that also links Thomas to Crist. Meanwhile, the Club for Growth, which has endorsed Thomas for the seat, has attacked primary opponent Neal Dunn with a super PAC ad calling him a “Crist Republican” … “What’s worse than a political insider?” the ESAFund ad’s narrator asks. “A bureaucrat pretending to be an outsider. Like Mary Thomas, a Charlie Crist appointee backed by D.C. lobbyists and special interests. Thomas pushed Crist’s radical climate-change agenda by suing Florida cities. Now, she claims she never met Charlie Crist, but she worked for him for years.”
HANS TANZLER MAKES CLOSING ARGUMENT IN BIOGRAPHICAL AD via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The 30-second spot, called “Harry,” is meant to highlight Tanzler’s biography as a federal prosecutor and his endorsement from the former CIA director of counterterrorism. “I’m a first-time candidate, but I am not new to fighting for America’s best interests,” said Tanzler. “My career has prepared me to tackle the most pressing issues confronting us, including the harmful effects of federal overreach on our small business owners and our ongoing struggle against Islamic extremist terrorism.”
CORRECTION: An item in Monday’s Sunburn incorrectly stated the size of Conservatives United’s TV ad buy in Florida’s 4th Congressional District. It is $50,000 TV ad buy.
PACS GEARING UP FOR JOHN MICA STEPHANIE MURPHY IN CD 7 via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – National Democrats signaled they’re taking Murphy’s candidacy seriously, compared with those of most of Mica’s previous opponents, by gearing up an early money surge that has raised nearly $200,000 in her first two months, including $64,500 from political committees. That’s through the Aug. 17 48-hour campaign finance notice filed with the Federal Election Commission. Likewise, Mica’s campaign has geared up with a new urgency that was lacking in recent campaign fundraising activities. Since mid-June when Murphy first emerged, Mica’s campaign has raised more than $169,000, including more than $100,000 in PAC money through the Aug. 17 48-hour campaign finance notice. Mica’s campaign, stocked from years of underspending, doesn’t need the surge to stay well ahead of Murphy. He’s a 12-term incumbent. And at the Aug. 10 full filing deadline for the pre-primary deadline, Mica’s campaign had $789,000 in the bank. Murphy, whose campaign formally started June 22, had $154,000 in the bank Aug. 10. Mica’s PAC money is coming from both local and national organizations … The Walt Disney Co. Employees, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Florida Sugar Cane League and Gray Robinson, Nationally he’s received PAC money from the Associated General Contractors of America, Independent Insurance Agents, Comcast, the Bankers Association, the National School Transportation Association, Wal-Mart and the NRA Victory Fund. The NRA sent a $1,000 check to Mica June 14 – two days after the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando.
IN NEW TV COMMERCIAL SUSANNAH RANDOLPH FIRES AWAY AT DARREN SOTO OVER NRA SUPPORT via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The 30-second commercial “Rating” … also takes the Pulse nightclub massacre deep into Orlando congressional politics by starting with a June 15 news conference called by Soto and other Democrats, but introducing the event with words on the screen announcing, with a siren in the background: “THREE DAYS AFTER THE PULSE SHOOTING.” The image then cuts to Soto at the news conference, where a reporter asked him about his previous votes in the Florida Senate supporting National Rifle Association issues, and the A rating those votes had once earned him from the National Rifle Association. “Darren Soto voted seven times with the National Rifle Association against gun control,” the narrator then states, as the image switches to Randolph and her husband Scott Randolph standing with President Barack Obama. “Susannah Randolph stands with President Obama and would vote to ban assault weapons and expand background checks.”
TEXAS FUNDED PAC ATTACKS DENA GRAYSON IN DISTRICT 9 via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – Mailers paid for by “Common Sense Leadership for America” PAC claim Grayson “moved to the district in a hurry when she decided to run for Congress” and was registered to vote in District 8 shortly before she announced her congressional run. According to public records, the former Dena Minning, a Melbourne native, married current District 9 U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson in May and currently lives in Windermere, located in District 10. Several districts were redrawn since the 2014 election, with District 9 losing much of south Orange County. The U.S. Constitution does not actually require congressional candidates to live in the district they represent. The mailer also says Grayson and didn’t vote in the 2004, 2006 and 2010 Democratic primaries. “Why should loyal Democrats support Dena Grayson when she has never supported us?” the mailer asked. Common Sense Leadership for America PAC, based in Washington and listing an address on Central Boulevard in Orlando on its mailer, was created in May and funded almost entirely by Houston philanthropist John D. Arnold … Arnold contributed $366,000 of the group’s total $426,500 in contributions since May.
U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE HOLDING OFF SUPPORT FOR DAVID JOLLY … FOR NOW via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – One Republican member of Congress who the Chamber hasn’t lavished any largesse on is … Jolly, who, if he gets through his primary election next week, will be facing Democrat Charlie Crist in Florida’s 13th Congressional District in November. Jolly scored a 97 percent rating from the Chamber in 2015. A Chamber representative … had no official comment, but she did leave a lifeline open by saying that the Chamber often make endorsements on a “rolling basis and often times as states past pass primaries.” Such outside funding would be a critical boost for Jolly, who can’t depend on getting any financial help from the National Republican Congressional Campaign (NRCC) this fall. That group had a celebrated falling out with Jolly this spring over his remarks on 60 Minutes that he was told by “party leadership” that as part of his job, he would have to raise $18,000 a day. “Simply put, this meeting never happened,” NRCC Executive Director Rob Simms wrote to 60 Minutes producers days after Jolly’s interview … There was some hope on Team Jolly’s part that the impasse with the NRCC had faded after NRCC Chairman Greg Walden told C-SPAN back in July that, “We look forward to having conversations with him in about what kind of race he intends to run.”
JAMES DOBSON ENDORSES REBECCA NEGRON IN CD 18 — Dobson, a Christian author, endorsed Negron in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. In a letter to supporters, Dobson said he was honored to support Negron. “For years, I have joined millions of people across America in praying that God would raise-up leaders to restore this great nation. I am excited that Rebecca answered the call and has offered her services to the people of Florida’s 18th District as their representative in Congress,” he said. “As a private individual, I am honored to endorse Rebecca Negron for Congress, and pray that her election will be the start of a new generation of leaders who will return this nation to the constitutional principles upon which it was founded.”
TIM CANOVA ATTACKS DWS ON BIG SUGAR, PAYDAY LOANS IN NEW ADS — Canova released two new TV ads this week attacking Debbie Wasserman Schultz. In one 30-second spot, called “Cleaning Up South Florida Water,” Canova calls Wasserman Schultz out for accepting donations from Big Sugar. “Water is our most precious resource and the future of Florida depends on it. But polluters like Big Sugar are poisoning our waterways, killing our fish, our manatees and the tourism that drives our economy. Politicians like Debbie Wasserman Schultz take millions of dollars from Big Sugar to look the other way,” he says. The second spot, called “Integrity Matters,” says the “Democratic Party was right to ask her to leave.” Wasserman Schultz stepped down as DNC chairwoman earlier this summer.
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN GOES UP ON TV via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Ros-Lehtinen is on the air on South Florida television, in an apparent get-out-the-vote effort that could also help keep her favorable opinion ratings and name ID up through November.
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STATE RACES BRING IN MORE THAN $261 MILLION AHEAD OF THE PRIMARY — New analysis from Contribution Link shows candidates and committees raised $261.3 million through Aug. 12. Nearly three quarters of that money went to political committees. The analysis found 193.4 million went to committees. The vast majority of that money — 81 percent or $157.6 million — went to political committees. Candidates have raised $67.9 million so far for their official campaigns. The Contribution Link analysis found 53 percent, or $35.6 million, went to Republican candidates; while 29 percent, or $19.9 million went to Democratic candidates.
AUGIE RIBEIRO PUMPS ANOTHER $100 K INTO HIS SD 19 CAMPAIGN via Florida Politics – The St. Petersburg attorney has now loaned or contributed more than $500,000 to his campaign in the district, which covers parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Outside of self-funding, Ribeiro brought in just over $6,000 in contributions between Aug. 6 and Aug. 12, while spending about $150,000 for an on-hand total of $33,761 at the end of the reporting period. Most of the expenditures went toward a direct mail campaign with Palm Beach Gardens-based National Campaign Research Group, which picked up $133,338 for the week. Redondo Beach, California-based Fortune Media also took in $15,519 for an ad placement. Ribeiro far out-raised his three opponents in the Democratic Primary, though he trails Reps. Ed Narain and Daryl Rouson in cash-on-hand.
EMAIL INSIGHTS: BOBBY POWELL CRITICIZES OPPONENT FOR FAMILY ATTACKS, WHILE TAKING A SWIPE AT MICHAEL STEINGER’S FAMILY via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – In an email … Powell encouraged supporters to help him “finish this campaign strong.” The fundraising email reminds supporters they can donate until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, and calls on them to do whatever they can to help in the final days of the campaign. But the ad also takes a swipe at one of his opponents in Senate District 30. In the email, Powell criticizes Democrat Michael Steingerand his campaign putting his father’s mugshot in a commercial. “This is the part where the campaign gets tough. Not because of the long hours or the huge effort we put into talking to each and every voter. Anybody who knows me you won’t outwork me,” said Powell in the email. “The tough part is knowing the impact this campaign can have on my family” … Powell’s father was accused of hitting a woman and shooting at her in his home in 2014 … “I must say, I was shocked to see that my opponent put my father’s mugshot in a commercial,” said Powell in the email to supporters. “If my father were currently serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison after being convicted of a $1.25 billion Ponzi scheme (as Mr. Steinger’s father Joel is), I don’t think I would bring family into things.” Joel Steingerwas sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2014, after he pleaded guilty to a pair of fraud conspiracies. In his email … Powell tells supporters the “race isn’t about our parents — which is why I’ve never talked about his father.”
— “Brent Artz withdraw his candidacy from SD 39” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools.
DIRECT MAIL ROUND-UP: NEW IRV SLOSBERG MAILER TAKES A SWIPE AT JEFF CLEMENS CAMPAIGN via Florida Politics — A new mailer … accuses Clemens of trying to hide his “dangerously conservative record” from voters. The mailer, paid for and approved by Slosberg, called Clemens a liar, saying he’s making things up “in order to confuse voters.” “Clemens is even making up dates of quotes and implying quotes made about another campaign were on behalf of his campaign,” reads the mailer. “When will Clemens stop lying?” At issue are advertisements supporting Clemens that use quotes from former Rep. Robert Wexler. Some of the ads featuring Wexler’s comments contained the wrong date. According to an Associated Industries of Florida tracking poll released last week, the Lake Worth Democrat leads Slosberg leads the field with 33 percent support. Slosberg is in second with 29 percent, followed by Emmanuel Morel with 4 percent. The survey found 34 percent of voters were still undecided. A similar survey back in July found Slosberg ahead of Clemens, 44 to 13 percent.
SD 40 CANDIDATE ANDREW KORGE SAYS HIS RIVAL THREATENED TO ‘KICK HIS ASS’ via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – The Coral Reef Library polling station in South Dade is a house divided … They’re split over whether Ana Rivas Logan, candidate for the state Senate, yelled at primary opponent Andrew Korge: “I’m going to kick your ass.” About 20 campaign workers present Sunday morning, with no apparent ax to grind for either candidate — they work for other people on the ballot — were about evenly divided about what they saw and heard. Not even the police — yeah, they were called — know for sure. The cops filed a vaguely written report and left. The dispute actually began Saturday, when Korge showed up at the library to woo voters. Korge was surprised to see Norma Estela, a campaign worker handing out literature for Rivas Logan. About six weeks ago, Rivas Logan said she was suspending her campaign. Korge and Rivas Logan are running in a compact, Kendall-based district. Estela said [Korge] got in her face, snapped pictures from inches away, demanded to know why she was at the polls and knocked Rivas Logan literature out of her hand. Korge denies that he touched Estela. The same thing happened Sunday: Korge came to campaign. Estela said she was harassed. Korge denied it. This time, Rivas Logan herself showed up after Estela called her — and the police. Rivas Logan arrived first and stepped out of her car. That’s when the accounts diverge. “Yeah, I raised my voice but I never said I was going to kick his ass,” Rivas Logan said. “I am a teacher. I would never use that kind of language. I said he was going down” in the election. The police arrived a few minutes later, and basically told both candidates to go to their neutral corners.
SHEENA MEADE SUPPORTED BY ACTRESS VIVICA FOX IN HD 46 RACE via Larry Griffin of Orlando Rising – Fox came to Orlando … to promote her hair line, but used part of her time before an audience to promote Meade’s candidacy. “I’ve donated and supported Sheena because she cares about the community,” Fox said. “Please go out and vote for her.” Meade said it was “pretty cool” to get a nod from Fox. “I think it is pretty cool to have someone like Vivica Fox who also is a surrogate for Hillary Clinton to throw public support behind my race here in Florida,” she wrote. “She has witness my passion for the community especially when it comes to young women and girls, it is a passion that we share. Many of the women that came out to see her Saturday were women who share my story as woman and mother, they got excited when they saw I was someone they can relate to.”
Rebecca Negron, running for Florida’s 18th Congressional District, has been endorsed by Dr. James Dobson, evangelical founder of Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Matt Hudson, running for Florida Senate District 28, has been endorsed by the Florida Nurses Political Action Committee (FNPAC).
Kathleen Passidomo, running for Florida Senate District 28, has been endorsed by the Naples Daily News.
Stan McClain, running for Florida House District 23, has been endorsed by John Stemberger, President of Florida Family Action.
Sean Shaw, running for Florida House District 61, has been endorsed by SEIU Florida.
Wengay Newton, running for Florida House District 70, has been endorsed by the Bradenton Herald.
Robert Asencio, running for Florida House District 118, has been endorsed by state Rep. Kionee McGhee, who represents House District 117.
AIF & TRIAL LAWYERS WORKING TOGETHER? THAT WOULD MAKE FOR STRANGE BEDFELLOWS by Peter Schorsch
On Monday, Jason Garcia tweeted about how “new record suggest two very unlikely lobbies may have aligned in certain House GOP primaries.” He then tweet-stormed the details of several money transfers between political committees active in this cycle’s legislative primaries.
Curious about what Garcia was suggesting, we followed the money.
The trail beings with “Truth in Politics,” a political committee formed in May and chaired by Jason Steele, with Betty Gonzalez serving as treasurer. It’s based in Indialantic.
Looking at state campaign finance records, the committee poked along until this month, when it received a $125,000 cash injection from another PC, “Conservatives for Truth,” in Coral Gables.
Where does Conservatives for Truth get its money from? Let’s look at the big board.
It received $50,000 this month from the Florida Justice PAC, the political committee of the Florida Justice Association, formerly known as the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers.
The group got another $100,000 from Rebuild Florida, which is affiliated with state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Miami Republican who currently chairs the influential Regulatory Affairs Committee. Among other things, it oversees gambling issues.
Rebuild Florida itself got money just a few days earlier from Floridians United ($50,000) and Florida Prosperity Fund (also $50,000), two PCs under the command of Associated Industries of Florida, the prestigious lobby for several major business interests.
That was after Rebuild Florida hadn’t reported raising a nickel since October 2014, by the way.
But wait, let’s go back to Conservatives for Truth. It also benefited from a donation of $130,000 in July and August from Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy, chaired by uber political consultant Anthony Pedicini.
And where does Pedicini’s Citizens Alliance get its dough from? Yep, $100,000 this month from Florida Justice PAC – the trial lawyers – and $10,000 from Floridians United, the AIF-controlled fund – that is, from Big Business.
And, as an added curiosity, it got another $25,000 this month from state Sen. Jack Latvala‘s Florida Leadership Committee.
What conclusions can be reached from tracing the origins of all of these spider webs?
The honest answer is not much. We hear that AIF is none too pleased with Garcia’s assumption about it working with the trial lawyers.
The three races at the center of all these transfers are HD 4, HD 21, and HD 54 — races where AIF hasn’t even endorsed a specific candidate. That said, AIF’s membership, however secret, is made up of some donors who don’t always go by the traditional playbook. Some business folk don’t go along with the endorsements of the Florida Chamber of Commerce (this is probably what’s going on in HD 21 where Wenda Lewis has as good of pro-business credentials as her opponent).
GOOD READ – PAC MONEY, SCHOOL CHOICE AND FLORIDA SCHOOL BOARD RACES via Travis Pillow of redefinED – Earlier this year, Louise Penta seemed like a clear favorite to win an open spot on the Collier County School Board … she raised more than $50,000 in campaign donations — one of the highest totals ever raised in a Collier school board race — and loaned her campaign another $15,000. She is a longtime Republican running in deep-red Southwest Florida, with backing from the local GOP, with a conservative platform that emphasized curbing the Common Core State Standards and reining in spending in a district whose lucrative property tax base yields some of the highest local revenues in the state. She had logged many hours mentoring local schoolchildren, which she said put her in touch with the needs of students in the school district. This summer, however, the tenor of her race changed dramatically, as local mailboxes were flooded with messages boosting her opponent, Stephanie Lucarelli … three local women had formed a political committee, backed by a $3,000 donation from the local teachers’ union. But over a two-month period in June and July, two donors lavished the PAC with more than $200,000, a sum unheard of in local school board races and unparalleled even by the most costly campaign in neighboring Miami-Dade County. The political committee, called Preserve Our Public Schools, spent thousands of dollars on opposition research, and tens of thousands more on Alexandria, Virginia-based media consultants. Then it began a $79,000 deluge of mail pieces, some of which attacked another school board candidate, Lee Dixon, after discovering incendiary social media posts from accounts under his name. The two local donors behind Preserve Our Public Schools are Sheilah Crowley and Karen Clegg. Crowley an active member of the local League of Women Voters, which has been sharply critical of school choice policies.
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STATE REVENUES CLIMB AS RICK SCOTT EARNS KUDOS FOR TAX CUTS via William Patrick of Floridawatchdog.org – The American Legislative Exchange Council is crediting Scott for pushing some of the strongest tax cutting proposals in the country. At the same, state economists are predicting four years of state revenue growth. “With record state revenues, despite having no income tax, and record economic growth, Florida is an example of how pro-growth policy works,” a new ALEC analysis of reads. Scott … has made cutting taxes a hallmark of his six-year administration. Earlier this year, he proposed a $1 billion tax cut package. A Revenue Estimating Conference concluded at the Capitol this week with expectations of 3.6 percent growth in tax revenues next year, creating a $1.7 billion budget surplus. The healthy revenue outlook is a sign that Florida’s economy is improving, according to the government economists. Population growth and rising property values are major contributors. State tax collections are expected to rise by 4.6 percent in 2017-18, with a $1.4 billion surplus. The rosy projections include a $267 million expected drop in state tourism over the next two years due to Zika virus fears and Britain’s departure from the European Union … 4 percent revenue growth is predicted through 2020.
FLORIDA SENDS ANOTHER $5 MILLION TO FIGHT ZIKA IN MIAMI-DADE via The Associated Press – Gov. Scott announced that the Florida Department of Health is allocating another $5 million in funding to Miami-Dade County for Zika preparedness and mosquito control. Earlier … Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine asked for more federal resources to combat Zika’s spread in South Florida, where the first cases of the virus transmitted by mosquito bites on the U.S. mainland have been found in the neighborhoods of South Beach and Wynwood. The mayor said “we need the federal government to step up.” President Barack Obama requested an emergency $1.9 billion in February for mosquito control and vaccine development. But lawmakers left Washington for their summer recess without approving the money after Republicans tied the funding to a dispute over abortion.
MIAMI BEACH MAYOR BLAMES GOVERNOR FOR SLOW ZIKA RESPONSE via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Philip Levine … blamed Gov. Scott for the confusing way in which his city conveyed information about the Zika virus outbreak. “The governor made, I believe, a big mistake by not believing the folks that are on the ground — myself, [Miami-Dade County] Mayor [Carlos] Gimenez — informing us, telling us what he knows,” Levine told reporters at a news conference. “This issue is serious,” Levine continued. “To play politics with people’s lives is wrong, and there’s no place for that. Information must be timely. It must be coming out.” Levine, a Democrat who wants Scott’s job, had insisted to reporters … that Miami Beach had no confirmed Zika cases — even after the Miami Herald and later other news media reported otherwise, citing sources inside the Florida Department of Health. The next day, Republican Gov. Scott traveled to Miami to announce the new Zika cases on the Beach, making Levine look like he was either uninformed or more interested in protecting the city’s tourism business. Levine, who has taken to cable TV and radio interviews to defend himself, maintained to reporters that he wasn’t spinning a positive business message but rather relaying the limited information he had received from the state. “We’re all about transparency. What we know, we tell the media,” he said, arguing it would have been worse for his office to remain silent. “What we were hearing is specifically two unconfirmed cases. Unfortunately, we had to go out and tell the public that. The following day we learned new information.”
RICK SCOTT SAYS ENTIRE STATE NEEDS TO BE INVOLVED IN ZIKA PREVENTION via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Florida has done its part to slow the spread of Zika, but Gov. Scott said it is time for the federal government to step up. We all have to be part of this. We have to get rid of standing water, wear bug repellent, wear protective clothing,” said Scott during a stop in Fort Myers on Monday morning. “If we do that, then we’re going to continue to do well. This state does a good job with mosquito control.” But the state can’t do it alone, and Scott said federal lawmakers need to do their part to help Florida. Scott said the state has asked federal health officials to send more Zika prevention kits, which it hasn’t done. He also criticized Congress for taking a recess before passing a Zika funding bill. “The federal government has not been a good partner,” he said.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will host a Zika preparedness roundtable at 10 a.m. at the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, 310 North Myrtle Ave in Clearwater. He’ll hold a second roundtable at 12:45 p.m. at the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County, 10841 Little Road in New Port Richey.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and NARAL President Ilyse Hogue will hold a conference call to discuss the Zika virus at 10 a.m. Media must RSVP to Press@MurphyForFlorida.com.
BOB BUCKHORN SAYS TAMPA IS ABOUT TO GET AGGRESSIVE IN TRYING TO COMBAT ZIKA VIRUS via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Standing in front of an empty pool in an abandoned home in Tampa’s Wellswood area … the mayor announced a plan to attempt to combat the chances that the virus will spread to the region. “We’re going to be aggressive about going out and identifying in those areas and those circumstances and those situations where we can affect some change,” Buckhorn said. “These abandoned pools are one of these circumstances.” The Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. They tend to breed in standing water, which is why the city will begin utilizing all 45 of their code inspectors and 38 additional neighborhood enhancement personnel to locate areas around the city where standing water has accumulated. Those inspectors will be equipped with 3,600 dunks to drop in those pools of water. These dunks contain BTI (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis), a bacterium that naturally kills mosquito larvae before they can grow up to become flying, biting, disease-spreading adults. BTI is deadly to mosquito larvae, but it is harmless to people, plants, pets, fish, wildlife and beneficial insects. Code Enforcement will distribute those dunks to residents, and also use them throw them into pools, retention ponds and other areas where they know standing water exists. They’re also available at Home Depot and Lowe’s for the general public.
SCOTT’S UNDISCLOSED INTEREST – VIA FIRST LADY – IN ZIKA MOSQUITO CONTROL COMPANY via Dan Christensen of Floridabulldog.org – Scott has an undisclosed financial interest in a Zika mosquito control company in which his wife, Florida first lady Ann Scott, owns a multimillion dollar stake through a private investment firm she co-owns. The company is Mosquito Control Services LLC of Metairie, Louisiana According to its website, MCS “is a fully-certified team of mosquito control experts – licensed throughout the Gulf Coast, including Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.” On June 23, Scott signed an executive order allocating $26.2 million in state emergency funds for Zika preparedness, including “mosquito surveillance and abatement, training for mosquito control technicians and enhanced laboratory capacity.” It is not known whether MCS, whose services include monitoring and aerial spraying, stands to benefit from Florida government funds. Company manager Steven Pavlovich holds an active Florida “public health applicator” license with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services through April 2019, but MCS is not a registered state vendor. The Department of Health contracts with two other two mosquito control vendors.
PSC OPENS HEARINGS ON FPL RATE HIKE via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The Florida Public Service Commission opened hearings on Florida Power & Light Co.’s request for nearly $1.3 billion in rate increases during the next three years, with an array of customers on hand to oppose the hikes. The increases are “unprecedented and unwarranted,” said Patricia Christensen of the Office of Public Counsel, which represents ratepayers before the PSC. Instead, she said, a rate reduction of $807 million would be more appropriate for 2017. The PSC, chaired by Julie I. Brown, will hear technical testimony about the utility’s rate request for two weeks. FPL has called for rate increases worth $830 million effective Jan. 1 and $230 million after Jan. 1, 2018. It seeks $209 million to begin operating a new natural gas-fired power plant in Okeechobee County, to take effect June 1, 2019.
STATE FILES EXCEPTIONS TO CARD GAME RULING via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Florida gambling regulators have objected to parts of an administrative law judge’s ruling on poker-style card games being run at a Jacksonville card room. The Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, part of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, filed exceptions last week to Judge Suzanne Van Wyk‘s Aug. 1. order. Specifically, it disagrees with her decision to dismiss part of the case in which the state alleged the third-party company workers did not have occupational licenses. But Van Wyk’s 54-page order is only a recommendation that must be adopted by the Department, which can modify it. The exceptions seem to telegraph that officials intend to do just that. In what was considered a test case for wildly popular poker-type games, Van Wyk said Jacksonville Kennel Club—operating as the bestbet Jacksonville poker room — was “conducting unauthorized card games” and recommended a $4,500 penalty. Her order found that the games were too similar to blackjack, which is only offered at casinos run by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Pari-mutuels, or horse and dog tracks, can and do offer card games in which people play against each other and not the “house.” These are known as “designated-player games.” Regulators said card rooms offering such games were flouting state law by allowing third-party companies to buy their way into the games, using a worker to act as a virtual bank.
PERSONNEL NOTE: LEAGUE OF CITIES PICKS NEW PREZ via Florida Politics — Susan Haynie is the newest Florida League of Cities president. She’s a former Boca Raton city employee who rose to become its mayor. Haynie, a 44-year resident of the city, was installed Monday at the organization’s yearly conference in Hollywood. Haynie’s signature policy initiative for her term will be “Safe Cities, Safe Florida,” she said. It will focus on training city workers on public safety; providing citizens with online and other educational material and partnering with agencies and organizations to create “a network of experts for city officials to turn to when needed.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Kurt Browning, Sarrah Carroll of Southern Strategy Group, and former state Rep. Dennis Baxley. Celebrating today is one of the best in Florida politics, Peret Pass.