Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
That will be the length of the legislative career of Republican state Representative Alexandra “Alex” Miller when her resignation, as first reported on Florida Politics, is effective September 1.
Not even a year.
Miller’s campaign spent more than $294,000, plus whatever dark money was expended on her behalf, to see her win her a GOP primary and then defeat Democrat Edward James in the general election.
Back of the envelope math pegs it that Miller spent approximately one day as a Florida lawmaker for every thousand dollars she raised and spent on her campaign.
It’s doubtful that was a wise investment on anyone’s part.
Why is Miller resigning?
She says her obligations to her family and to her business require her to spend more time in Sarasota than her legislative duties would allow.
“As a mother with two teenage boys who is the CEO of a rapidly growing business, I have come to the conclusion that I must spend more time at home than my service in the Legislature would allow.”
Did those teenage boys suddenly appear after she was elected? Is that business rapidly growing only now?
Perhaps, as some in The Process suggested on Twitter after learning of Miller’s resignation, she should have considered all of that before running for office.
As much as we want to believe that Miller is “giving up committee meetings and floor debates in Tallahassee for football games, and homework checks” (her words), we can’t help but think that part of the reason she is stepping down is because she gambled and lost so spectacularly on the 2022-24 House Speaker’s race. Remember, it was Miller who sent the text message which pretty much blew up the whole affair.
Miller’s other claim to fame as a freshman lawmaker was when (per Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald) the Florida House was engaged in deep discussion over things like whether to give more power to law enforcement to crack down illegal immigration, she and Rep. Jackie Toledo circulated a survey in search of a colleagues “most likely to fall asleep,” or the “best dressed” or the “life of the party.”
With Miller’s resignation, Gov. Rick Scott will have to call a special election to fill Miller’s seat, which covers a portion of Sarasota County.
Maybe whoever replaces Miller — likely James Buchanan, the son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan — will take more seriously the responsibility that comes with being elected to the Florida Legislature.
… which reminds us. The most ironic aspect of Miller’s resignation the platform on which she campaigned.
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— CAPITOL INSIGHT —
“Richard Corcoran creates committee to investigate Democrat’s residence” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Corcoran has created a special committee to determine whether freshman Miami state Rep. Daisy Baez should be sanctioned for potentially violating a state law that requires her to reside in her district … it appeared that Baez, a Democrat, does not reside in House District 114 that she represents but instead lives in a Coral Gables house about half a mile away. Florida requires lawmakers to live and vote in the districts they represent by Election Day. Before Baez was elected Nov. 8 of last year she changed her voter-registration address to a Coral Gables apartment within the District 114 boundaries, election records show. Reached at the property in May, which is located in House District 112, Baez told the Herald: “I have kept this home, and I have a rental. I am renovating this house to put it on the market.”
“Corcoran: House is ‘right’ in office complex suit” via Florida Politics – Corcoran says “we are right” about the House of Representatives’ demand for a jury trial in a dispute between the owners of a Tallahassee office complex and several state agencies who bolted on the master lease. As detailed in Wednesday night’s “Last Call,” the House intervened in the pending lawsuit by Northwood Associates, owners of Northwood Centre, against the state. The former shopping mall-turned-office complex had been home to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and others. “The House is confident we are right and we will always move swiftly and forcefully to protect the health of state employees,” Corcoran said in a statement Thursday. “In addition, we will protect taxpayers from corporations that feel entitled to taxpayer money even when they don’t do what was promised.” Critics called the complex a “biological hot zone” after inspectors found 10 pounds of bat feces in a ceiling. Mold and more animal droppings were also discovered.
“Lauren Book proposes eliminating Confederate holiday” via the News Service of Florida – The bill (SB 214), filed by Plantation Democratic Sen. Book comes amid a national debate about Confederate symbols in the aftermath of a white-supremacist rally this month in Charlottesville … State law includes a list of 21 legal holidays, including Confederate Memorial Day April 26. Book’s bill, which is filed for the 2018 legislative session, would eliminate Confederate Memorial Day from the list, though it would maintain legal holidays for the birthday of Robert E. LeeJan. 19 and the birthday of Jefferson Davis June 3.
“Lawmakers say greyhound racing persists only because of an outdated law” via Julia Jenae of WTLV – As the law stands now any establishment that has a card room license and a dog track must race at least 90 percent of the races it held the year before in order to keep its card room license. The card rooms rake in money; in Florida the profit of card rooms has gone up from $1 million to $8 million since 2006. The greyhound racing is another story; racing brings in only 50 percent of the profit it brought in 2006 … A bill approving “decoupling” would allow the card rooms to operate without the races if they choose. “Name one other industry where we tell a business you have to run your business like you did in 1998. It’s completely ridiculous. There’s no demand for this, so if owners had the option they would end it because they are losing money,” said Florida House Representative Jared Moskowitz. Senator Dana Young has been proposing and working on similar bills every year since 2011. Greyhound racing is an artificial market. You know why they have that market?” Young asked, “Because the state gave it to them.”
“Services set for Greg Evers” via Florida Politics – A visitation will be held Monday, 5-7 p.m. (Central time), at the First Baptist Church of Milton, 6797 Caroline Street, Milton. A funeral service will be held Tuesday, 1 p.m. (Central time), also at the First Baptist Church of Milton. For more information, visit here.
— In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for contributions to the Greg Evers Florida’s Heroes Memorial Fund. Donations will support Operation American Dream, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which provides education scholarships to the children of Florida law enforcement and fire rescue personnel who fall in the line of duty. Click here for more information.
“Ex-lawmaker Dwayne Taylor’s trial set for Monday” via the News Service of Florida – A trial is scheduled in federal court in Orlando in a case that alleges former state Rep. Taylor improperly used campaign funds for personal expenses. Taylor, the Daytona Beach Democrat who served from 2008 to 2016 in the House, was indicted in March on nine counts of wire fraud. The indictment alleged, in part, that Taylor “would withdraw cash from the Dwayne L. Taylor Campaign Accounts at automated teller machines (ATMs) … and, within minutes or hours, deposit the same or a similar amount of cash into one of Taylor’s personal accounts.” Under Florida law, campaign money may not be used to defray normal living expenses. The trial is scheduled before U.S. District Judge Carlos E. Mendoza, according to an online docket. Taylor left the Legislature in 2016 because of term limits and ran unsuccessfully for a congressional seat.
“Florida executes convicted killer using new drug” via The Associated Press – … its first execution in more than 18 months on an inmate convicted of two racially motivated murders … 53-year-old Mark Asay, the first white man executed in Florida for killing a black man, was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m. at the state prison in Starke. His death followed a three-drug injection that began with the anesthetic, etomidate. Though approved by the Florida Supreme Court, etomidate has been criticized by some as being unproven in an execution. Etomidate replaced midazolam, which became harder to acquire after many drug companies began refusing to provide it for executions. Etomidate is the first of three drugs administered in Florida’s new execution cocktail. It is replacing midazolam, which has been harder to acquire after many drug companies began refusing to provide it for executions. The etomidate is followed by rocuronium bromide, a paralytic, and finally, potassium acetate, which stops the heart. It is Florida’s first time using potassium acetate too, which was used in a 2015 execution in Oklahoma by mistake, but has not been used elsewhere, a death penalty expert said.
“Despite scrutiny Florida’s tourism agency paid out bonuses” via The Associated Press – Florida’s tourism marketing agency paid nearly $441,000 in employee bonuses this summer despite months of scrutiny from legislators over spending. A VISIT FLORIDA spokesman said the use of bonuses was approved in May 2016. Stephen Lawson added that VISIT FLORIDA wouldn’t use employee bonuses in the future. VISIT FLORIDA paid the bonuses in July to 119 employees with amounts ranging from a few hundred dollars to nearly $29,000. State legislators passed a law this year that prohibits Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida from using any public money for bonuses. Lawson said the bonuses came from private sources.
“Legal challenge to education law grows to 10 districts” via Erica Breunlin of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – A lawsuit is expected to be filed against the state by Oct. 1. The districts represent about 1.35 million public schoolchildren, with nearby Orange County the latest to sign onto the suit, according to Michael Dyer, general counsel for the Volusia district who presented an update on the suit during a board meeting this week at the district’s DeLand office. He described the suit as “a work in progress.” “The good news is that the more school districts that do join and the larger they are, that reduces our overall cost,” Dyer said. Districts involved are sensitive to the cost of the lawsuit, according to Dyer, with Volusia covering nearly 5 percent of total costs — up to $25,000 as approved by School Board members.
“FDLE releases review of agency’s response to Pulse nightclub shooting” via the Orlando Sentinel – Overall, the report found the agency handled the shooting well, even though “no one could completely anticipate the resources Florida and FDLE would need to respond to the state’s first terrorist incident in history.” But there were critiques and suggestions for changes the agency should make in the future. The report stated that FDLE wasn’t prepared to notify families of a loss, which led to “chaos” because the agency had “no plan of action for the operational processes.” It also detailed problems that led to a statewide intelligence agency not immediately sharing information about the shooting, which led to a significant delay in getting details to law enforcement.
“FSU seeks dismissal of library shooting lawsuit” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida – Florida State University is asking for a lawsuit filed by a former student paralyzed in a 2014 shooting at the university’s Strozier Library to be dismissed, asserting the school is not liable for the “action of a madman.” Farhan “Ronny” Ahmed filed a lawsuit in June against FSU in Leon County circuit court, seeking damages in excess of $15,000 for pain and suffering, disability and medical expenses. The lawsuit alleges Ahmed was paralyzed from the waist down and has limited use of his right arm following the Nov. 20, 2014, shooting at FSU’s main campus library. Ahmed was shot outside the library by Myron May, a former FSU student and 31-year-old lawyer who had returned to the campus. After shooting an FSU employee in the leg and wounding another student, May was shot and killed by campus police officers responding to the emergency. FSU, in a response to Ahmed’s lawsuit, denied liability for the incident, while asserting Ahmed’s injuries were the result of May’s actions. “Despite the university’s sympathy for plaintiff and all of the students, employees and other members of the FSU community who were exposed to the shooting, it respectfully denies that it is liable in any sum or manner for the action of a madman,” the court document said.
“Major GOP donor quietly wins regulatory fight with local governments” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Max Alvarez is a businessman who owns more than 300 gas stations in South Florida and is a top donor to scores of Republicans. So when he sought to keep local cities and counties from regulating his use of signage and advertising on his business properties, Florida lawmakers paid attention. And, in the end, Alvarez got his way. The Republican-dominated House and Senate each approved bills this year that contained specific language banning local governments from passing or enforcing ordinances that impact advertising used by franchisees that have agreements with national companies. Alvarez is owner and president of Sunshine Gasoline Distributors, which has gasoline sales agreements with several major oil companies, including Citgo, Chevron and Exxon Mobil Corp., among others. The larger bills containing the changes … received bipartisan support from lawmakers and was signed into law by Gov. Scott, whose political committee received $25,000 from Alvarez’s company March 31, three days after state Rep. Bryan Avila filed an amendment continuing the language in the House. It was the first contribution Alvarez had given to Scott’s committee.
“While moving it in the middle of the night, crews break Confederate monument” via Mark Young and Hannah Morse of the Bradenton Herald – Manatee County removed the Confederate war veteran memorial from the Manatee County Courthouse grounds at 3:30 a.m.Thursday, “when no one’s around,” said County Administrator Ed Hunzeker. Commissioners discussed the removal at Thursday’s meeting and it was revealed that the monument was broken in the process. The top portion of the monument wasn’t attached to its base — on which the names Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee were engraved — and it toppled over during removal, breaking in half. “But it’s a clean crack, so it should be fairly easy to repair,” Hunzeker said. No one was hurt in the process, he said. Woodruff & Sons, the local contractor hired to remove the statue, “has extensive experience in moving heavy objects,” according to the county’s press release. It cost the county $12,700 to remove the statue.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Speaking at USF, Andrew Gillum takes aim at Gwen Graham’s voting record” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Gillum took issue with a number of votes cast by Graham during her one term in Congress. “I did not like her vote to weaken Obamacare. I did not like her vote to approve the Keystone Pipeline. I did not like her vote on Dodd-Frank, I did not like a host of her votes on various environmental issues, and I certainly did not like her vote on the Syrian refugee crisis where she joined with the overwhelming majority of Republicans where Democrats voted with the president to practically change the refugee system that would have brought to a halt the immigration of refugees into this country,” Gillum told a crowd of about 80 college Democrats gathered at the Marshall Center on the USF campus in Tampa. Gillum was speaking as part of his “Back to School Tour” of college campuses. “Where Gwen and I had a part of departure was on a lot of her votes,” he said.
Assignment editors – Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam will join the Latin Builders Association for its monthly luncheon beginning 1 p.m. at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave. in Coral Gables.
“Rick Scott backs Richard Corcoran’s push to eliminate public campaign financing” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – “Governor Scott believes that taxpayers should not be asked to fund political campaigns,” McKinley Lewis, a spokesman for Scott, told POLITICO Florida … Corcoran and state Rep. Jim Boyd sent a letter to the Constitution Revision Commission asking it to recommend abolishing the state’s public campaign finance system. Under the state’s public financing system, statewide candidates who agree to limit their expenditures can receive taxpayer-funded matching dollars. Outside contributions of up to $250 are matched and contributions above that amount are matched to $250. Corcoran calls the system “welfare for politicians,” while supporters have said it helps insulate candidates to a degree from outside special interest money. Senate budget chief Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican running for governor, will use public financing in 2018. Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has not yet said if he will use public financing for his gubernatorial bid.
“Matt Caldwell: ‘I won’t take public dollars to campaign’” via Florida Politics – Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Caldwell announced Thursday he would not “take public finance dollars for his campaign for Commissioner of Agriculture” and “called on his opponents to make the same commitment.” In a statement, Caldwell said, “It is one thing to say you’re a conservative and another to lead as a conservative. As I campaign to serve as Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture, I will not take any public finance dollars … Furthermore, I challenge the other candidates for Commissioner of Agriculture – Democrat and Republican – to make the same pledge,” he added. “Public financing of statewide political campaigns is a waste of taxpayer dollars and a disservice to Florida’s hardworking families.” The announcement comes one day after House Speaker Richard Corcoran asked the state’s Constitution Revision Commission to consider an proposal to repeal a section of the state Constitution that provides for public financing of statewide political campaigns. Caldwell is currently a state representative from North Fort Myers.
“Democrat Dawn Antonis files to run for HD 44 in 2018” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – That seat is open now and awaiting a special election this fall to fill it for the last year of the current term. Unofficially, Democrats have apparently lost their candidate and party officials are eagerly and nervously waiting for Paul Chandler to file his paperwork to make his withdrawal official, so that they can name a replacement. Orange County Democratic Chair Wes Hodge said … several potential candidates are interested, but the executive committee has not yet met to make any decisions on a replacement, while waiting for Chandler to formally leave the race. Hodge said Antonis likely will be considered, but that she is not the only potential candidate. “I’m sure when we have our meeting she’ll be asking us to consider her for nomination for the special election,” Hodge said. Antonis is the first vice president of the West Orange Democratic Women’s Club, and had been active on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2016.
“Fundraising quiet in Miami-Dade House race” via the News Service of Florida – With a special election little more than a month away in Miami-Dade County’s House District 116, fundraising has slowed for Republican candidate Daniel Perez and Democrat Gabriela Mayaudon. Perez raised $18,435 for his campaign from July 21 through last week, while Mayaudon did not raise any money … Perez had $5,137 on hand as of Friday, while Mayaudon had about $18, the reports show. Perez … raised an overall total of $186,635 as of Friday. Mayaudon had raised $1,950 and loaned $1,000 to the campaign. Gov. Scott called the Sept. 26 special election after Miami Republican Jose Felix Diaz resigned from the House seat to run in a special election in Senate District 40.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“David Jolly, Patrick Murphy team up again to talk about fixing D.C.” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – Republican Jolly and Democrat Murphy – are teaming up again to make a tour of the Sunshine State to “pull back the curtain on Washington and shine a light on the inside reasons why D.C. is in a state of chaos and dysfunction.” … [making] four appearances across the state to focus on “Why Gridlock Rules Washington and How We Can Solve the Crisis.” “Working across the aisle was a hallmark of my two terms in Congress, and the relationships I formed with members of both parties were invaluable,” Murphy said. “I look forward to joining my former colleague as we share our perspectives on ways we must work together to improve our broken political system.” … “Even in times of great disagreement there are ways of finding common ground, there are opportunities for bipartisan leadership to solve some of our country’s toughest issues,” Jolly said. “I’m excited and proud to join my friend on a statewide tour to discuss how this can be accomplished in today’s hyper-partisan world of politics.” The two will be hitting college campuses across the state with an appearance at the University of South Florida in Tampa in September. Come October, they will appear at Florida International University, the University of Miami and the University of Florida. They also expect to appear at additional events.
Assignment editors – U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist hosts a town hall with Pinellas County residents beginning 11 a.m. at the St. Petersburg Florida Clearwater Arts Auditorium, 2465 Drew St. in Clearwater.
“Paul Spain running for Congress again in South Florida” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – Spain made his political debut in 2014 when he was the Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel … who was up for a second term. Frankel beat Spain 58 percent to 42 percent in the Democratic district, improving on her 2012 performance when she beat former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, 55 percent to 45 percent. In June 2015, Spain jumped into the crowded Republican primary field to replace then U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy who was leaving the House to run for the U.S. Senate. But Spain reversed course in March 2016, getting out of the CD 18 race to seek a rematch with Frankel. After the latest round of redistricting, Spain lost by an even larger margin that he had two years before. Frankel won with 63 percent while Spain pulled 35 percent and 2 percent opted for Michael Trout who was running with no party affiliation. Spain is now hoping to take on U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch the top Democrat on the House Ethics Committee and the House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee.
— OPINION —
What walking the Edmund Pettus Bridge taught me about civil rights today” via Jack Levine For the Tampa Bay Times – Reading history and watching documentary videos and dramatic films are certainly good ways to learn about our past. But making the effort to personally visit iconic locations magnifies the impact of the experience. Being there matters. Our motivation to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which spans the Alabama River in Selma, was to have our shoes follow the path of the hundreds of brave souls of all races who made their way in March 1965 on the 53-mile journey to the state Capitol in Montgomery, highlighting the movement for voting rights on behalf of African-American who were denied this most basic tenet of citizenship. As visitors more than 50 years later, we walked across that same bridge and learned a few lessons. Courage is an attribute needed not only on the battlefield. Facing up to danger is also an essential ingredient in advocating for change, which can bring its own physical peril, requiring brave fortitude and powerful passion for the cause. I believe we have come to a critical crossroads in our nation where a direction needs to be chosen. Will we travel the high road of equal human rights or muddle along the path of hypocrisy? If we truly believe that we are all created equal, and we have the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is time to renounce discrimination and move forward without fear, hate and rejection.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Enterprise Florida marketing chief Joe Hice leaves diminished state agency to join USF” via the Tampa Bay Times – He is expected to join the University of South Florida as chief marketing officer for the USF system that includes the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota/Manatee schools. “Very excited to be coming ‘home’ and working for USF,” Hice said … Hice played a big role in launching Enterprise Florida’s fresh ad campaign last year anchored by the tag line “The Future is Here” and initially backed by a $10 million advertising budget. Before joining Enterprise Florida in late 2015, Hice had worked for Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center, as well as the University of Florida, North Carolina State University, Harley-Davidson Motor Co. and Segway Inc. He managed UF’s Gator Nation campaign and Segway’s “Get Moving” campaign. Most recently, he served as a founding partner at Well Strategics, a Tampa public relations firm whose clients include BayCare Health System and Publix Super Markets.
New lobbying registrations
Jennifer Green, Melanie Bostick, Tim Parson, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; Vote Solar
Jeffrey Branch: Florida League of Cities
Katie Flury, Joseph Salzverg, Robert Stuart, GrayRobinson: Allergan USA
Jonathan Kilman, Foley & Lardner: Our Children PSN of Florida
Jeff Kottkamp: Hale Law
— WEEKEND TV —
Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: James’ topic: “How can the president unite the country when he can’t unite his party” with political analyst Dr. Lawrence A. Miller.
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues that affect the area’s citizens.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Panelists this week include FloridaPolitics.com’s Mitch Perry, columnist Joe Henderson, Republican political consultant Deborah Tamargo and Democrat John Dingfelder.
In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: The topic is a discussion on the digital divide between those connected to the internet and technology and those who are not. Guests include Florida State Rep. Sean Shaw, Lakeland Commissioner Don Selvage, Dr. Tina Barrios, and Ethylee Stephens.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Democrat Ryan Torrens on his campaign to be Florida’s next Attorney General; PolitiFact Scott-O-Meter updates the status of Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign promise to examine all standardized tests administered in Florida.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon will speak with Bob McClure from The James Madison Institute and Dr. Ed Moore.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week, topics include Confederate monuments and the Jacksonville City Council with AG Gancarski a FloridaPolitics.com and talk show host Ed Dean. Justice also speaks with Ashley Moody on her bid for Florida Attorney General.
This Week in South Florida with Michael Putney on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC) In Miami-Dade: Putney and Glenna Milberg discuss changes coming, costs rising for South Florida building codes and property insurance; VP Mike Pence’s South Florida visit addressing the crisis in Venezuela; the apparent acoustic attack on U.S. diplomats in Cuba; and a roundtable on the big news of the week.
— ALOE —
“Merchandise push for new ‘Star Wars’ movie includes a digital treasure hunt” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times –The marketing machine for the latest Star Wars movie will officially rev to life Sept. 1. Toys from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which opens Dec. 15, hit the shelves in stores that day. But on what is being billed as Force Friday II, fans with the Star Wars app will be able to find digital characters from the movie. The augmented reality ploy is similar to Pokémon Go, sending fans on a smartphone treasure hunt for characters superimposed in their real-world surroundings. The digital characters are connected to displays found in stores selling the toys. New characters will be revealed each day Sept. 1-3, Disney has said, and there will be 15 in all. While the emphasis will be on these new characters for the weekend promotion, fans have been promised the store displays will be active through the end of the year, with the characters continuing to cycle through on a daily basis. It starts with the Star Wars app, which has a history of creating these kind of digital characters since it launched in 2015. The app has been able to summon an AR Stormtrooper, BB-8 and K-2SO.
Happy birthday to the best Capitol reporter, Gary Fineout. Best wishes also to Tallahassee Democrat publisher Skip Foster. Celebrating this weekend are friends Christian Camara and Joy Friedman.