Sunburn for 8/1 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the state’s dominant public affairs PR firm: August 1st is International Beer Day. Floridians know that after a long week of work – or an interminable regulatory hearing, nothing is better than winding down with a cold one on a hot Friday afternoon. Chug it, Florida!

Now on to the ‘burn…

AS US JOB MARKET STRENGTHENS, MANY DON’T FEEL IT via Josh Boak and Christopher S. Rugaber of the Associated Press

The U.S. unemployment rate has plunged since the start of last year to a five-year low of 6.1 percent. And the July jobs report being released Friday will likely show a sixth straight month of healthy 200,000-plus gains.

The Gallup Organization has found that consumers’ view of the economy is the glummest it’s been in seven months.

As the economic recovery enters its sixth year, a number of factors help explain why many Americans don’t feel better off: Income hasn’t rebounded. Millions are working part time even though they want full-time jobs. It’s taking longer to find work. People are still struggling with mortgage debt. Some feel down about the economy because of their political views. And most people don’t feel free to spend as much as they used to.

Most people are still earning less, adjusted for inflation, than before the recession struck at the end of 2007. Even many who kept their jobs through the recession — or easily found work after being let go — are no better off. The typical family income in current dollars is $52,959, according to Sentier Research. Factoring in inflation, that’s $3,303 less than before the recession — a nearly 6 percent drop.

Finding a steady full-time job has become harder. There are 27.4 million part-time jobs, representing 18.8 percent of jobs in the U.S. economy, according to the Labor Department. Before the recession, 16.5 percent of all jobs were part time.

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Rubio will be the special guest at a summer picnic held by a prominent GOP donor this weekend in Hardin County.

Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter says Rubio, who is weighing a 2016 bid for president, will top the list of out-of-state political visitors to his annual party, which is also expected to include Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another prospective presidential candidate.

Rastetter, an agribusiness company founder, has become one of Iowa’s leading Republican donors. He helped encourage Gov. Terry Branstad to return from retirement to seek the governorship again in 2010, and tried to recruit New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to run for president in 2012.

The guest list for the private party includes about 1,200 Iowans from politics, business and higher education.


Florida Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Rubio have a lot in common.

But there is one area where Scott and Rubio are vastly different. With women.

Public polling shows that Rubio does 13 percentage points better with women than Scott when voters are asked if they disapprove of the job the two are doing. While 39 percent of women disapproved of the job Rubio is doing (actually 7 points better than President Barack Obama), Scott has 52 percent of women disapproving of the job he is doing.

Recent polls over the past few months by SurveyUSA and another by PPP show very similar struggles with women for Scott.

Rubio joined with Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, at a press conference in standing up against sexual assaults on college campuses.

Earlier this month Rubio forcefully called for a tougher response to human trafficking worldwide and back in February tried to bring pressure on the Obama administration to do more to crack down on sexual assaults in Guatemala.

Charlie Crist announced that if elected, he would sign an executive order calling for fair pay for working women. The Scott campaign, instead of highlighting what they’ve done to improve the lives of working women, chose to have five surrogates – all men – call Crist’s attempt to sign executive orders dangerous.


A hedge fund billionaire-turned-environmentalist who is seeking to boost the political importance of climate change has his eye on knocking off Gov. Scott.

San Francisco-based NextGen Climate Action Committee last month gave $750,000 to its Florida committee, the first contribution in the state. On its website, Scott is listed as one of seven Republican candidates the group is targeting.

Tom Steyer, who built a $1.6 billion net worth as a hedge fund manager, founded the group. He’s now using that personal wealth to bankroll campaigns against those he sees as bad for the environment.

“Maybe Tom Steyer didn’t get the memo that Charlie Crist’s commitment to the environment is all hot air,” Scott’s campaign responded. “After all, Charlie flew on a polluter’s private jet last week from Gainesville to Tallahassee (a two-hour drive), then hopped into a Prius to get to an event where he pretended to care about the environment.”

The chair of the NextGen organization’s Florida political arm is Chris Fadeff, NextGen’s chief financial officer. Its political director is Joshua Romero, the former legislative assistant for state Rep. Victor Torres.

NextGen also has received $100,000 from Barbara Stiefel, a Democratic donor from Coral Gables. This election cycle, she has given nearly $1 million in support of a constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana and another that aims to boost conservation spending.


The Crist campaign released on Thursday “Up Here,” a new television ad it says “highlights the stark contrast between Charlie’s record of fighting for middle class families and Rick Scott’s focus on special interests, big corporations, and those at the top.”

“Charlie understands that while things may be going well for those at the top, too many Floridians are feeling left out and left behind – those are the folks he’s fighting for,” said Omar Khan, in a release. “Rick Scott showed whose side he was on when he gave tax breaks to corporations while cutting Bright Futures scholarships and cutting K12 education by $1.3 billion.”


The importance of the Latino vote in a Florida statewide election has never been more apparent than in this year’s gubernatorial contest. Two weeks ago, Crist chose Miami-Dade County Democratic chair Annette Taddeo to be his running mate if he wins next month’s Democratic Party primary against Nan Rich.

Taddeo was actively working the Hispanic vote recently, coming to the Latin-rich West Tampa area to press the flesh with voters, many who appeared to only speak Spanish, in her first solo campaign appearance since being asked to join the Crist campaign.

When asked if immigration was an issue in the contest, she said Gov. Scott made it one when he supported an Arizona-style immigration bill when he first ran for office in 2010, and then vetoed a bill last year that the GOP-led Legislature had nearly unanimously approved that would have allowed children of illegal immigrants to get temporary Florida driver’s licenses.

A native of Colombia who came to Miami when she was 18 years old, she said that the Scott administration’s stance on immigration had “sort of seen the light” this year, but said voters need to be wary about such a timely election-year conversion. That was a reference to Scott’s signing of a bill this year that would grant children of undocumented immigrants and even those high school students who are undocumented themselves to qualify for in-state tuition rates to Florida universities.

Taddeo told CL that she hadn’t forgotten the now months-old story regarding Gov. Scott’s former co-finance chairman Mike Fernandez, who dramatically quit his position in the campaign amid stories that he was disgusted by two campaign aides’ attitudes about Hispanics. “It’s that culture of insensitivity of not understanding us as a community,” she said, before adding that African-Americans and Hispanics had also been hurt by Scott’s presiding over cuts to the Bright Futures college scholarship program.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gwen Graham and her father Gov. Bob Graham continue their eight-day “Grilling With The Grahams” tour with three events: 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Apalachicola River, U.S. Forest Service Campground at Owl Creek, Hickory Landing; 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Apalachicola Community Center, Battery Park, 1 Bay Avenue in Apalachicola; 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Crawfordville  at the Women’s Club, 64 Ochlockonee St., behind Hudson Park.

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at***


Gov. Scott is demanding that the head of the state’s largest property insurer explain travel expenses.

The Scott administration on Thursday asked Barry Gilway, executive director of Citizens Property Insurance, to appear next month before the governor and Cabinet.

The Palm Beach Post reported last week that officials with the state-created insurer had made trips abroad to Bermuda, London and Zurich, Switzerland. Citizens had promised to rein in travel expenses after Florida’s chief inspector general in early 2013 criticized some of them as excessive.

Scott’s director of Cabinet Affairs said in a letter that the governor wants to know why the international trips are necessary. Citizens officials have defended the trips because they are meeting with companies that sell back-up coverage known as reinsurance.


Florida will start a three-day “sales-tax holiday” that will allow back-to-school shoppers to buy clothes, school supplies and other items without paying sales taxes. Also, the tax exemption will apply to the first $750 of the price of personal computers and certain computer-related accessories.


WPTV Wast Palm BeachGet ready for back-to-school tax-free weekend –  … expect a lot of action at cash registers this weekend. Miami Herald, Tax-free holiday: Back-to-school shopping break starts Friday – This year,  the rules are even more generous than in past years … Lakeland LedgerA Break and a Boost: Sales Tax Holiday to Alleviate Back-to-School Spending – … 17.4 percent plan on supporting a local business during their back-to-school spending spree. Florida TodayRetailers count on back-to-school tax ‘holiday’ bump in sales – Florida Retail Federation … would have preferred the holiday period to be … at least a week longer. State Sen. John Legg/Pensacola News JournalTax holiday starts Friday – while you are shopping for these items, please purchase additional supplies to donate to your child’s classroom teacher or a nearby school. Forbes, Can Tax Free Weekends Revive Retail Sales? Retailers, having been hurt by the lack of momentum in the first half of the year and they will not be conservative when it comes to getting their customers to open their pocketbooks.


Florida’s back-to-school sales tax holiday begins. From August 1-3, Floridians can shop tax-free on items to prepare students, teachers, and maybe even mom and dad, to take on the classroom this fall. Purchases of clothing, school supplies and computers will go untaxed for three days.

Since 1998, $407.6 million have been saved by Florida taxpayers during the back-to-school sales tax holiday. That’s $407.6 million of Floridians’ hard-earned money that families kept to pay bills, save for college, or make the back-to-school season a little more fun.

This year’s sales tax holiday is expected to save taxpayers nearly $40 million over three days at the register. The savings are a small part of a nearly $500 million tax cut that the governor and Legislature supported this year to provide tax relief to hardworking Floridians.

Certainly, $500 million is welcome relief for Florida taxpayers, but the Legislature could do more. By implementing cost-savings recommendations from the TaxWatch Center for Government Efficiency, lawmakers can improve public services while creating savings, which they can then pass on to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts, such as sales tax holidays, or even a reduction in the base sales tax rate.

***Today’s SUNBURN is sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. One of Florida’s Top Lobbying Firms, Corcoran & Johnston has demonstrated the ability to navigate government and successfully deliver results for clients, time and again.  To learn more visit***


Proponents of a new school choice law for special-needs children had harsh words for the Florida Education Association. The state’s largest teachers union went to court earlier this month to stop implementation of a personal scholarship account. The suit argued lawmakers violated the single-subject provision of the constitution when it approved the bill authorizing the program.

Six families with special-needs children want to intervene in the suit to defend the measure. A member of the Goldwater Institute, which developed the idea that Florida’s Personal Learning Scholarship Account is based on, joined them.

The attorney for the FEA had said the lawsuit was a “procedural attack” on how the law came to be. He called SB 850 that combined expansion of a school voucher program and creation of a special-needs scholarship  a “poster child for logrolling.”

Many had assumed the scholarship bill would pass as a standalone but then lawmakers attached a failed voucher expansion proposal creating the constitutional challenge. As part of its suit, the FEA cited a House analysis, which points out where different provisions of the omnibus education bill are not germane or reasonably connected.


Florida TaxWatch and the Florida Ports Council reviewed port governance, examining how the state’s ports were doing as they ready for the Panama Canal expansion. 

“Florida seaports are performing very well under a decentralized governance model, managing and meeting their local needs while implementing a state level strategy to holistically enhance Florida’s economic climate,” said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. 
“What this data shows is that Florida ports already share the characteristics that determine long-term success for ports around the world,” said Doug Wheeler, the president and CEO of the Florida Ports Council. “We are always looking for opportunities to improve and will continue to strive toward increases in efficiency and innovation.”
The two groups looked at other states with decentralized ports and found they were some of the best run in the nation. The report can be read here.

STUDY BLAMES LOST CALVES ON PANTHERS via Jason Dearen of the Associated Press

Since Florida’s frontier days when cattlemen drove their herds through the state’s vast fields and forests, ranchers and native panthers have been natural enemies.

But with Florida’s panther population recovering, some ranchers complain the protected 6-to-7-foot long predators are once again killing their calves.

A University of Florida researcher hired by federal wildlife officials has found that panthers are killing calves in an area where the predatory felines are thriving. Her study, the first to quantify the kills and losses, was given to The Associated Press exclusively.

The research marks the first step toward the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considering a program that would pay ranchers for preserving acres of panther habitat, instead of undertaking the impossible task of verifying every kill.

It’s estimated that at one time, more than 1,300 panthers roamed Florida before their numbers dwindled – at one point in the 1800s, the state’s government offered $5 for panther scalps. There were as few as 20 panthers in the 1990s, but the population has rebounded thanks to conservation efforts.

The problem began to draw the attention of state and federal wildlife officials about four years ago, after third-generation Florida rancher Liesa Priddy, owner of the 9,300-acre JB Ranch near Immokalee, became suspicious when a new calf vanished.


With the passage of updated state ethics laws, Florida’s five water management districts have entered a new era of transparency.

Beginning July 1, lobbyist regulations now apply to all of the state’s independent special districts – the limited-purpose governments that acquire and spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Water management districts expect to spend up to $1 billion this year combined, with approximately half from property tax revenues.

Since Gov. Scott signed SB 846 into law last month, 27 lobbyists have registered at the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD).

In the proposed 2014-2015 fiscal year, SWFWMD expects an operating budget of nearly $180 million, to manage water resources for roughly 10,000 square miles over 16 counties, serving 4.7 million people.

Previously, water management districts were the only state agencies not requiring lobbyists to register. Those having business with state employees in the legislative and executive branches were already obliged to register.

SB 846 changed that. Lobbyists must now register annually and identify the entities hiring them.

***SUNBURN is sponsored in part by Floridian Partners, LLC, a statewide Public and Government Affairs firm with offices in Tallahassee, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Their firm’s success is measured by its clients’ success. Outreach and Public Advocacy; Strategic Issue and Campaign Development; Grassroots and Grasstops Coalition Building – Floridian Partners is a one-stop firm for clients needing assistance at all levels of government in Florida.***


Now, this is not something you see very often. And in Florida politics, that’s saying something.

Republican state Sen. Kelli Stargel brought out a poison pen for an op-ed published in Lakeland’s Ledger, attacking not a Democrat or another politician, but political consultant Anthony Pedicini. (Disclosure: Pedicini, as much as I disagree with his political views, is a longtime friend of both my wife and me.)

Writing to “The Republican voters of Polk County,” Stargel lays the blame at Pedicini’s feet for the rash of negative political campaigning in the race for House District 40 between Colleen Burton and John Shannon, who is a client of Pedicini’s. Actually, Stargel blames Pedicini not just for the attacks in the HD 40 race, but for the slings and arrows she endured in her 2012 campaign for the state Senate.

“When I saw the negative attack ads against Colleen Burton, it brought back memories of my recent campaign when my opponent’s consultant tried to bill me as the ‘Liberal Creature from Tallahassee,’” writes Stargel in her op-ed (which probably should have included a political disclaimer for Burton on it). “You probably remember. It was a rather dramatic commercial with the Creature from the Black Lagoon. It would have been comical except it was deliberately trying to deceive the voters and it was done, not from my opponent, but from a shadowy third-party group.”

“The consultant for my opponent at the time was Anthony Pedicini from Strategic Image Management, the same consultant John Hugh Shannon has hired,” concludes Stargel.

From there Stargel explains how she researched, Googled and connected all of the dots to show that Shannon is using Pedicini to attack Burton.


Boca Raton’s mayor and City Council are endorsing one of their own — Rep. Bill Hager for re-election to House District 89.

Prior to his move to Tallahassee, Hager, a Delray Beach Republican, served three terms on the Boca Raton City Council.

Mayor Susan Haynie, Deputy Mayor Constance Scott, Council Members Scott Singer and Michael Mullaugh have each backed Hager’s re-election effort. Haynie had worked with Hager during her five terms on the council before her election as mayor in 2010.

“I have worked directly with Bill Hager for more than a decade. He has shown that he is committed to the City of Boca Raton with seven years of service to the City Council,” she said in a statement. “Now in Tallahassee, he has worked equally hard for our City and the people House District 89 and has put our interests first.”


>>>The NFIB endorses Brad Drake in House District 5 and Jay Trumbull in House District 6.

>>>The NRA has given HD 15 hopeful Paul Renner an “A” rating.

>>>The Florida Medical Association has endorsed Rep. Jason Brodeur’s re-election to House District 28.

>>>Ag Commissioner Adam Putnman endorses Colleen Burton in House District 40.

TWEET, TWEET: @AbelHarding: Great event tonight @IntuitionAle supporting @Paul_Renner. @keymer, @WilliamEAdamsJr and @DanJDawson’s hair in attendance.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you in part by the Florida Medical Association: Affordable, safe, patient-centered health care in Florida starts with a physician-led team, with all health care professionals playing valuable and appropriate roles. Learn more here.***


On Context Florida: Whether it is accountability in education, protection of environmentally sensitive lands, or transparency in government, Florida has led on issues with national implications, Peter Schorsch writes. Now, the state has another prospect in the burgeoning movement of medical marijuana regulation. Former Gov. Charlie Crist says if elected governor again in November, he would again issue executive orders dealing with climate change. Bruce Ritchie says we have been down that road before — and it did not take us very far. Florida needs a state constitutional amendment to ban all wagering in Florida, according to Stephen Goldstein. Oddly, raising taxes is considered a cardinal sin, but gambling is supposedly a blessing — especially since the state began pimping it through the Florida Lottery. Two weeks ago, Context Florida asked why former Gov. Jeb Bush, an advocate for immigrants, remained silent while more than 50,000 unaccompanied child-refugees crossed into the United States. However, Julie Delegal notes that on July 23, in an op-ed in theWashington Post, Bush abandoned that advocacy in favor of right-wing partisan politics.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to blogger Kartik Krishnaiyer, Pinellas power-broker Brian Shufford, and Jeb! alum Karen Unger.

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